Tag Archives: Business travel

Patience when on the road with inexperienced travelers

I travel for business. I have my TSA pre-check, my second set of toiletries that I just throw into a bag and go, my favored car service to and from the airport, etc. It is a beautiful thing, being prepared and having this travel thing down to a science.

And tomorrow, I will be traveling with a husband who only travels occasionally for vacation, and a 3-year-old. I’m already feeling my impatience pulsing through my veins, and we’re not even packed yet!

I’m trying to internalize the fact that a business trip is fundamentally different than a family trip, even the getting-there and coming-back parts.

No: priding myself on how closely in time I can make it to the gate before actual boarding occurs.
Yes: leaving enough time for the toddler to walk slowly and explore all the parts of the airport she will inevitably like to see.

No: throwing some travel-friendly stuff into a bag, and voila! Done.
Yes: thinking about kid gear, and helping my husband remember some things that infrequent travelers might be prone to forget.

No: zipping through the priority security lane.
Yes: going through the regular lane as a family.

That last one is a heartbreaker, but it’s important to my husband. I get it.

Patience, patience, patience!

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ESPN as part of my business strategy

I like sports, I do. I like for local teams to do well, and I root for them.

But I no longer watch games or go to games since the promotion to executive and having a kid. There’s always the park to get to, finger painting to do, or that deadline to meet.

One thing I learned a few years ago was to watch ESPN at the hotel whenever I was away on business. (Actually, what I learned was that it really sucked and I hated to be in a meeting of men while they talked about “the game” and I had nothing to contribute because I didn’t watch said game.) It happened 99% of my meetings. I discovered that watching Sports Center that morning gave me all the headlines I needed to be aware of in order to avoid sitting there like a lump with a stupid smile on my face, waiting for the conversation to turn or burn out. Maybe I could follow it, or contribute.

Same with kids. Before I had one, trading stories about their kids was The Great Icebreaker if sports wasn’t the go-to topic.

Them: “Have kids?”
Me: “No, I don’t.”
Them: “Not yet? Planning on them?”
Me: stewing with a clipped smile, considering telling them about my 3 miscarriages to put the Q&A to rest already…

Small talk in business circles can be very awkward. Sports and kids/parenting are considered universal enough to tread upon. But let’s be clear: they’re not actually universal. I’m not suggesting people avoid these topics altogether, but maybe we can talk about other things too, or be sensitive and aware of everyone around the table?

By the skin of my teeth

On Tuesday, my daughter was 364 days old. I felt like a bad mom that morning because I decided to spend time with my husband the night before instead of doing the work I needed to do, so I was scrambling to get work done in the morning instead. I was paying more attention to my laptop than to the kiddo. I was also feeding her breakfast and preparing her lunch for later. She was content to eat her bread and bananas, didn’t fuss except when she wanted some more, but I couldn’t help thinking I was missing out on a morning of her life and now I can’t get it back. To top it off, our part-time nanny was late, causing me a lot of stress since I had a packed day at work and was going to be late, and I had done nothing to prepare for family who was coming in from out of town, much less the housewarming-plus-first-birthday party that was scheduled for the weekend. So my daughter got a stressed out mom who basically ignored her. Lucky kid.

Whatever, it’s fine. Nobody died, right?

But that was the morning. Here’s how the day actually turned out:

Got to work, was late for my 9 am call but the host pushed it back to 9:30 anyway so I had time for coffee and breakfast. Score!

Then I had a company manager meeting where I was able to report how I kicked ass in the past month and I proposed something totally off the cuff that everyone voted yes on and will be implemented. Score!

Then I had to drive to the boondocks of the East Bay to try and land a new client. I wasn’t careful about my GPS and it took me to their manufacturing facilities rather than their headquarters. %&$#!! I was a half hour late. I walked into the office and there are a dozen people staring at me from inside a glass wall conference room. I thought I was meeting with 2 people. %&$#!! I made my apologies and got introduced, and learned the CEO deigned to come to this meeting. I ordinarily love that, but I’m somewhat unprepared. %&$#!! So I had to wing it and didn’t show my slide presentation at all because it was a little weak anyway. (So much for ignoring my daughter in favor of working on slides in the morning.) Turns out the discussion was awesome, the CEO was very interested, and when I hit on something in particular, he said, “Hold on, you can do that for us?” I said, “Yes. We’re currently doing it for 5 other companies right now.” He said, “When can you start work for us?” Score!

I drove back to the city, parked the City CarShare car in its little cubby, and I quickly decided that my day needed to be topped off right. I called my husband, who reported that his sister landed safely and since they were taking care of the kiddo, they didn’t need me to come home immediately. (My poor daughter really got the short end of me today.)

And here is how the day ended:

I sat at a bar taking advantage of happy hour cosmos for a bit, then headed home to a loving husband, a delighted sister-in-law, and a happy, chirpy baby girl who would be turning 365 days old the next day, full of hugs and kisses for Mom.

Not a bad ending to a sketchy beginning.

Weaning an infant in executive fashion: My nursing BHAG

Ten to fifteen years ago, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) was all the rage in executive circles. The way for people to buy into your vision was to have one giant phenomenally zany there’s-no-way-we-can goal and believe you could get there. And chances are, you would. I started to apply BHAGs to my professional and personal life.

My baby girl was breastfed exclusively for 3 months, received breast milk from me or a bottle until she was about 4.5 months old, had some formula supplements beginning around that time, and will continue to have a mix until she’s around 9 months (maybe longer!). Then she will be on formula exclusively until she can have cow’s milk at a year old.

This was not my original plan. In fact, as time passed, my plan kept changing into something bigger and more ambitious. At first, I thought, “It would be great if I could nurse her at all; very few of my family members nursed their babies, so I don’t really have a good support network in that way. But I will do my best.”

When breastfeeding her became well established, my goal changed. I then thought, “It would be awesome to get to 6 months!” Providing breast milk after I went to work was my new challenge.

When I worked out a way to pump reliably when I went back to work, my goal changed again. I thought, “Wow, I can build up a stash. I’ll try to nurse morning and night, but even after I dry up or my daughter decides she doesn’t want to nurse anymore, I’ll still be able to give her breast milk in a bottle from the freezer stash.”

These truly were BHAGs for me, an executive with no family experience in nursing their babies (it was the 1970s, what can you do?) who has a very demanding job with travel requirements and high stress, high profile, high impact, and high risk management duties.

For *ME* to nurse a baby longer than *SIX MONTHS* while working full time?! Seven months ago, I wouldn’t have said, “Wow that’s extremely ambitious, but I will try to make it happen!” Instead, I would have just said, “No. I don’t even know what that looks like. How can I possibly?”

Baby girl is 8 months old, and we’re right on track. In fact, if anything, she’s the one who is telling me she’s more interested in the world around her than nursing. A little independent thing, she is.

Next up: early toilet training. This one is made for a BHAG approach.

On the road while pregnant

At the Executive level, you can be on the road … a lot. My life as a consultant has taken me all over the country, and when I look back over the past 12 years on consultant travel, I have to admit that I’ve loved it. Sure, travel has its inconveniences and annoyances, but there’s nothing like setting foot in a town or city you’ve never been to before and checking it out and developing an opinion on it. There’s nothing like having a successful trip, accomplishing what you set out to do. And of course, there’s nothing like coming home, taking that first whiff of familiarity when getting out of your home airport.

But as a pregnant Executive, travel inconveniences and annoyances can suddenly escalate to serious discomforts, especially at 32 weeks.

  • Eating on the road is already generally unhealthy, and while pregnant, the food options are even more limited. And when those pregnancy cravings kick in (milkshaaaaaaake!), it’s harder and harder to stay focused for the sake of the baby.
  • The baby’s constant rolling and kicking and jabbing can be distracting at the least, very uncomfortable at most. It would be awesome if the baby settled down during important meetings, but when the stakes are high and my adrenaline is running, the baby notices and starts rollicking like crazy in response. D’oh!
  • Adjusting to time changes can be rough on its own. But add on bad heartburn and joint pain and constantly getting up for bathroom breaks in the middle of the night, and there’s no getting enough sleep to be fully effective.
  • So much about being on the road is multi-tasking even more that you would in the office since you are “robbed” of standard work time when driving on being on a plane. Go Go Go! It can be hard to remember that I can’t move as quickly or be as spry as I used to be! Carrying an extra 20 pounds gained in a matter of months will slow a person down.

But you know what? I still knock it out of the park. Because I have to. It’s my job, it’s my career, it’s my family’s livelihood.

This was my last business trip for a while. The last stretch on the plane on the way home, I was practically climbing the cabin walls, even if the baby thought it was party time in my belly. But I like the idea that the baby is already pretty well traveled before birth 🙂 And I like that I haven’t had to compromise being effective at work while focusing on taking care of myself and this little one. I’ve battled through it, and now I’m in the home stretch of this pregnancy!