Friday, February 6, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Business Trip

Since I write a lot about my life, and often, that includes travel, I wanted to do a “day in the life” post about what a day is like when I am on the road. Last year at this time I did a "Day in the life of a long run" and decided to mimic that a bit.  Now, one of the things I love about when I do travel is that days are not the same. It is a fun change to office life and my days on the road can vary greatly.  However, here is about 1.75 days from my business trip that ended today, wrapping up when I got on my flight to return home.   I don't like to talk work on here, but wanted to get across some of the craziness and fun of what I do and what my days are like (i.e. family and friends... this is why you don't often hear from me.)

------ WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4th -------

5:00 a.m.:     Alarm goes off. I didn’t get to bed until after 11:00 p.m. the night before and it feels too early. Can I please sleep more? Snooze.

5:30 a.m.:     Okay, time to get out of bed. Stretch a bit, put my contacts in. Wash my face with cold water to help wake up. Check some e-mail on my phone and change into gym clothes.

6:00 a.m.:     Hop on the treadmill at the hotel gym. I was here the day before and it is rather boring to run on the same treadmill. It’s dark outside and I am overlooking a highway as I start my workout.  I think about how I wish I could run outside to add to my list of cities around the world I have run in, but know it is better to be indoors.  Today is Wednesday so that means it is tempo run day. I need to do some math before I start my workout… 35 minute workout with 15% warm up, 70% 10K pace, 15% cool down… plus converting from miles to kilometers in order to find the right setting on the treadmill… Ugh... math is hard.

6:15 a.m.:     Running. Okay, math is hard but this pace is really hard.

6:16 a.m.:     Before checking the clock thing it must have been at least 8-10 minutes that I've been running since I last checked.  What the heck?  I am not done yet?

6:30 a.m.:      I think I might die.   Time is CRAWLING.

6:40 a.m.:      Dear lord, thank you for letting me finish that run. Grab a mat after guzzling some water (from a water bottle, I’m not sure if it is okay to drink water from the bubbler) and sit down to do some stretches and abs.

7:00 a.m.:      Head back to my room.

7:25 a.m.:     Realize I just spent nearly a half hour watching videos of Gronk dancing, reading articles about the New England Patriots celebrations, and the Jimmy Fallon/Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart lip sync battle and decide it’s time to get ready. Hop in the shower.  Get myself dressed and ready to go.  Blow dry my hair and throw on eyeliner and mascara.  Eat a Quest Cookies and Cream protein bar as I power up my laptop for some e-mail.  The hotel has a free breakfast included, but I know myself well enough to know that I will eat too much there, so I had brought the protein bars to eat in the mornings.

8:30 a.m.:     Walk across the street from the hotel to the office, get coffee at Starbucks, & set up in a conference room with my IT partner at work whom I traveled with from Atlanta, and our local host in Mexico and coordinator of the meetings, Andrea, to get started for the day. Recap the previous day for a bit and discuss what our agenda for the day will look like.

9:00 a.m.:     One of the sales leaders pops into our conference room with a customer asking if I have time now to present to them. Was unexpected and I feel a little surprised, but immediately get down to business and start the first meeting of the day on a whim. That meeting ends after a half hour and then turns right around into another meeting after the sales leader returns with a different customer to present to. I’m already game ready so I just keep going.

10:00 a.m.:     Second meeting ends. Deep breathes and a sign of relief after the two surprise meetings. All went really well though!

10:45 a.m.:     Stop by to say hello to a colleague who I had just found out in the previous meeting was also visiting Mexico City this week!  He is based in the U.S. in Connecticut and I had been trying to connect with him for a couple months so it is a funny coincidence that we finally are able to in Mexico!  We decide to try and meet up later in the day.

11:15 a.m.:     Head out for the office for our first outside customer meeting with Andrea and my IT partner. Andrea is driving and has been kind enough to shuttle us all over Mexico City over the past few days. During the drive I ask her about the stereotypical traffic crime and kidnappings that you hear about in Mexico. She lets us know that recently a coworker in the office was robbed while in his car and her husband was at one point kidnapped in his car for half a day! Although it’s scary that it is a possibility, you just take precautions and don’t let fear affect how you live your life.

12:00 p.m.:     Meeting was supposed to start at this time but we’re stuck in major traffic in transit. We call ahead to let them know we will be arriving late.

12:30 p.m.:     Finally arrive at the meeting, go through some craziness trying to find a place to park and head to the customer’s office and through their security process. Meetings eventually begin, only 45 minutes late. Woops..

1:30 p.m.:     After wrapping up, we head from the office looking for a place to grab lunch. We all agree we want to eat before moving the car and heading to the next meeting and there isn’t a ton of options nearby. We end up at a place called “Bips” that Andrea tells us is similar to a Denny’s in the U.S. – fast, cheap, chain diner type place with lots of options on the menu. There’s not a ton of time to look around so we end up eating there and it worked out fine!  We then jump in the car and head to the next meeting and hit more traffic.

3:00 p.m.:     We struggle to find a place to park and finally are able to start drop the car and head over to the customer offices, with another lengthy security process to go through.  Meeting starts only 15 minutes late this time

4:30 p.m.:     Things wrap up and we say our goodbyes to the customer and head out to the car.  We discuss how everything is going on the way out and our plans for the rest of the day.  Andrea has a person errand to run and my colleague and I had a call to take at 5:00 p.m.   She offers to put us in a cab back to the office, but we decide to just do the call from the car while we wait for her to do her errand.

4:50 p.m.:     We park, Andrea runs out for a bit, and I chat with my coworker, catching him up on the topic of the call we are about to dial in to.   At five, I dial in to the call.

5:50 p.m.:     Call ends, but another starts immediately after with a smaller group to debrief what was discussed.  Andrea is still not back yet and it's a little odd because we thought she'd be faster, but we're on the call anyways, so it's not like we have much else to do.

6:10 p.m.:      Andrea returns and we head back to the office.   My second call wraps up on the way there. Sky looked pretty.

6:45 p.m.:      We arrive back at the office and catch up on some e-mail and discuss the meetings that we had that day. We’re all really happy with how things went and we learn that the sales team thought that it would be valuable for us to meet with even more customers and set us up for a last final  meeting in the morning. Awesome! At the same time, another member of the local team in Mexico City stops by for a last minute discussion about what we're working and and we start to go over some materials.

7:15 p.m.:     My colleague from the U.S. who was also in Mexico City stopped by our conference room and invited us to join him and his customers, whom we had met with that morning, for dinner. Sounds like an awesome opportunity for us so all decide to join!

8:30 p.m.:     Arrive at dinner, which is an Argentinean steak house.  I follow Andrea's lead and order a frozen margarita and appetizers start coming out that are all really delicious.  Some weird cheese thing, chorizo, vegetables, an empanada, etc.  Conversation is awesome about living in different cities around the world, differences in accents from regions within countries, favorite songs and movies, the Super Bowl and favorite international sports, and if you could have a beer with anyone, who would it be?  [My answer for the evening was Gronk.]

9:30 p.m.     People start ordering dinner but I don't need a whole full meal!  One of our customers sees my confusion and says he doesn't want a full meal either so says I can split the fish he ordered with him.  I have no idea what kind of fish it is or if I like it, but I say yes.  The food all comes out and it is massive, so I have a bit of fish and some grilled vegetables and a bunch of these crazy delicious potato things that were like little hollow pillows made out of french fry.

10:30 p.m.:     Dinner wraps and we say goodbyes and head back to the car.  I am so wiped and my contacts are so dry they are pretty much stuck to my eyelids every time I blink.  Not fun.  BUT, I should mention that they restaurant had little pieces of chocolate that they had by the door.  Those were delicious.  Another restaurant where we had lunch, there was a bowl of gummy bears at the exit!  Mexico is on point with their post-meal leave-the-restaurant treats.

11:00 p.m.:     Arrive back at the hotel, head to my room, and drop into bed. I pulled those contacts out of my eyes and vowed that I would be wearing glasses the next day.  I do a little e-mail on my phone and respond to some text messages.

11:15 p.m.:     Lights out.  Time for bed.

11:20 p.m.:     Or is it?!?  I can’t stop thinking about other things I need to do and realized I had forgotten to put together a slide that I needed for a review the next day. I grab my phone to set my alarm for a little earlier in the morning to get that done before I go to the gym.

11:30 p.m.:     Lights out for real… Goodnight!


5:00 a.m.:      Alarm goes off. I cannot snooze today so I force myself out of bed even though absolutely no part of my body wants that to happen.  After changing into gym clothes, washing my face, brushing teeth (with water from a bottle!) and such, I power up my lap top and start doing some e-mails and creating the slide I was supposed to send over to people the night before. Woops! We’re an hour behind EST in Mexico City, so hopefully having the slide arrive before 7:00 a.m. will still be helpful.

6:00 a.m.:     Head to the gym and back on my same treadmill from the day before. My body is still so tired so I take a while to stretch and walk a little bit before starting to run. Three miles at an easy pace is on the agenda for the day.  It still feels tough though.

6:35 a.m.:     Off the treadmill and now it’s time to do some weights. Wednesdays are usually my “leg day” with the weight training I’ve been doing, but everything is a day off this week since I did pull day on Sunday, push day on Tuesday, I was doing leg day on Thursday. I do some squats, “good mornings”, and some funny exercise that is supposed to target my obliques. Abs and lunges are also on the agenda, but I run out of time at 7:00 a.m. which I had said was my cut off for when I needed to get back to my room.

7:30 a.m.:     After showering and getting dressed and packing my bag to check out, I head down to the lobby to meet my coworker from Atlanta and wait for Andrea who is supposed to pick us up at that time.  I drop my bag with the bell check for the morning.

8:30 a.m.:     We headed out a few minutes behind schedule, but so far the drive has been going really well and we’ve made really good time.  THEN, when we're 1.5 kilometers away (~1 mile) from the meeting, all of a sudden we are STUCK in traffic. Literally we cannot move and in a stand still. Cars are honking like crazy and poor Andrea is ready to scream trying to navigate.

9:20 a.m.:     Took us 50 minutes to move the 1.5 kilometers and then park the car. I suggested walking but there was no way for us to even get around or out of the traffic we were in. I was using the time in the car to catch up on work and help try to solve an issue I was having and needed help desk support. WiFi mobile hot spots are the best!

9:30 a.m.:     Finally, finally, the meeting starts! I realize that I ran out of business cards and am mad at myself that I didn’t pack more.  It also occurs to me for the first time that I didn't bring or use the business card holder that I bought in Korea.  I wonder what it is that I did with that...

10:15 a.m.:     Meeting wraps, we say goodbye to Andrea (so sad – she was an awesome host and I had so much fun with her!) and head in the car with a different local coworker from Mexico who had also attended this meeting. He takes us back to the office and we chat about work the whole way and have a really insightful and interesting conversation which makes me really glad I was able to meet him!

11:30 a.m.:     The traffic is NUTS in Mexico City. After arriving back to the office, I pop in to say hello to another leader who I had been trying to connect with since we arrived. We start a great conversation but unfortunately I have to cut him off when it is time to leave at 11:55.  I apologize and let him know that I hope we can continue to talk again soon.

12:00 p.m.:     Return our visitor badges, grab our bags from the hotel, and find our hired driver to take us to the airport. All while simultaneously dialing into a call with my headphones on, as we have an important leadership review that I can’t miss.

12:05 p.m.:      Once we’re on our way to the airport, I put the call on speaker in the car and pull up the slides on my phone and follow along to the review.  Thank goodness for the mute button or else everyone else on the call would be hearing crazy honking and traffic from Mexico City on the way to the airport.

1:15 p.m.:     Arrive at the airport, call wraps. We have some challenges getting checked in and through security and it takes longer than expected, so we’re glad we gave ourselves the time to get there early.

2:15 p.m.:     Grab lunch, discuss the overall trip, plan how we’ll report out when we get back. I try to find some candy or something fun to buy at the airport gift shops for the team back in Atlanta or for my niece and nephew (I like getting them things from around the world.) Nothing seems too cool and I also feel a bit lame just buying things from the airport when I really didn’t see a lot of Mexico culturally (beyond office/work culture.) Decide against buying anything and just grab some water for the flight.

3:30 p.m.:     Time to board!

3:50 p.m.:   Wheels up! Once we're about 10,000 feet I pull out my laptop to write this blog and write what feels like 100 thank you notes to all the individuals I met with over the past few days.  Draft all my follow up notes, start to organize my thoughts on the meetings, and feel really bummed that I forgot to take a picture with Andrea before I left!!  I feel really good about the trip and happy with how things went and am excited to get back to Atlanta for the weekend ahead!

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