For my 40th birthday a few years back, my team gave me a poster from FlightMemory.com that plotted all of my air travel for a full 12-month period on a world map: 34 airports, 90 flights, 157,000 miles. While it was entertaining to know that I circumnavigated the globe 6.3 times that year—and while I am not immune to the perks of getting upgraded for being a frequent flier—that was a very sobering moment!
Business travel is inevitable. I've done a ton of it throughout my career no matter what job I've had. The reality is that no matter how connected the world is, sometimes there's no substitute for showing up for something in person. As CEO, you need to do a lot of this. Even if your company is 100 percent in one location, you are your company's main ambassador, which means you need to be out of the office and meeting with customers, partners, suppliers, and speaking at industry events regularly. All of those are likely to involve some degree of travel, even in the most local of businesses.
SEALING THE DEAL WITH A HANDSHAKE
While you have to watch expenses, sometimes it's worth traveling 5,000 miles for a five-minute meeting. I relearned this lesson a few years back: We were negotiating a big deal with a company on the West Coast and we were at a tense and critical spot in the negotiations. I knew that the only way to move the deal forward to a handshake and a term sheet was to meet face-to-face with the decision makers on the other side of the table, ...
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