I know I mentioned this before, but for those of you who didn’t catch it while in print: Zeit Campus recently released the article they did about me and (mainly) the content of my suitcase on their website.
So, in case you were wondering what the heck a consultant has in the black trolley, this is your chance to get the inside scoop.
“Der Typ mit dem Koffer” (Zeit Campus online)
Thanks again to Inge Kutter and Malin Schulz from Zeit Campus who made this a really pleasurable experience, and to Achim from my employer’s press department who gave me this fun opportunity.Read More
I just finished “Air Babylon“, and it only took me two days because I had bought other books in between and had to get started at them as well. It is a made up story about people working for an airline – but based on real tales from people in the industry – taking the reader along for an event-packed ride of one working day at a british airport. It features ground staff, from baggage handlers to the chaplan to the girls at the check-in desk, and also the pilots, the stewardesses and last not least, passengers. There’s fun, grief, blood, drugs, sex, love, crime, the whole lot and then some.
One word: Hilarious.
So much for the fun part. The book got that down pretty well.
But wait, there is more! Every consultant should consider this mandatory literature… because it teaches you a hell lot about what to do and what not to do when dealing with airline personnel, and I take it you all do this more or less every bloody week, enjoying it or not. This book might just save you from getting the worst seat in the airplane, or having your coffee spit in. Not that I assume any of you do behave in any way that might tickle such behavior. Of course you don’t.
But maybe you have a cousin – you know, that bloke who behaves really badly sometimes, especially when it is 6am on a Monday morning and he just wants to get on that f’ing flight and really has no time to be friendly or stuff, and happens to be a consultant. Just by chance, of course. Then you should really recommend this book to your cousin.
On a sidenote – yeah, I am back. I really had no nerve for blogging in the last months, but the skies are clearing now, so let’s kick this thing back into gear, shall we?Read More
Just a little piece of self-promotion: If you live in German-speaking continental Europe and fancy meeting me and my suitcase – this is your chance. The magazine ZEIT Campus did a feature on Consulting, and they asked me to show them what a Consultant packs for a normal week of travel. You find me in the current edition (September/October 2008) on pages 52/53.
For those of you who are wondering if there are some rules to follow when packing your bags – well yes, there are! My heroes at Manager Tools recently started covering travel-related topics, and as luck has it, they cover packing your bags first. You find that podcast here.Read More
At many of my assignments I need a rental car to get from the nearest airport to the client, the hotel and back. The travel policy of my company tells me what class of cars I can rent – but of course, this is just were the game begins: What upgrade can I get for free?
- Get the plastic
Every car rental I know of has a bonus card. The standard ones are usually free for everybody and only carry your details, so that you don’t have to provide address, etc. every time you rent. The better ones (“platinum”, “privilege”, etc.) often entitle you to free upgrades. You get them by either simply renting a lot of cars (just a matter of time) or, if you are lucky, your company already has a deal with them, so that you not only get a special rate, but also that desired piece of plastic. Check with your colleagues when you are new – everybody plays this game, so it should not be hard to find someone in the know.
- Build a relationship to the people at the counter
This works great when you are renting in smaller airports / train stations / cities, where the crew at the desk of the rental firm does not rotate too much. In the best case, there is always the same person there when you arrive, half awake, on Monday morning. This is your chance! Those at the desk have, most often, direct influence on what car they give you. The hold, so to speak, the keys to your rental luck. Be nice to them. Cheer them up. Don’t be pushy, and don’t force it. The key (again!) lies in making it a positive experience for THEM, so that they can happily reward you with a bigger/faster/nicer car. If not this week, then next.
- Ask for an upgrade. NICELY.
The times I got a shiny sportscar while paying for a Golf? That was when the customer before me was a rude idiot who tried to push the clerk at the desk into giving him a big car. Of course, he did not. If I remember correctly, he walked away with a Ford. Serves him right. When it was my turn, we first shared a laugh about that ridiculous guy, and when I gave her my piece of plastic and said that I had a reservation, I just said “something that fits the good weather would be great!”. Her response: “Hm, let me see. Wait a minute!”… off she went to the back office, and when she came back she was almost apologetic – “I am sorry, there was no convertible left… but I think you’ll like it still!”. Let’s just say I was never faster at client side than that day.
Remember: Asking for an upgrade is perfectly fine. Just be nice and casual about it. And don’t bitch if it doesn’t work – see point two, you might see her again next week!
On a sidenote: I do recognize that it does not matter at all in a real-world-sense what car you get as long as it takes you where you want to go. Still, being a road warrior, it often is a very welcome goodie that makes the Monday-morning routine just a bit more fun.
Today’s “staying alive” is about liberating yourself from the gym. Why, you ask?
Needing a gym for your workout gives you too many excuses for not working out at all.
I mean, let’s face it. We all prefer to stay at really fancy hotels with great gyms (why not a full spa!), and of course also prefer heading to that fancy hotel while still awake and that gym is still open. But reality often speaks a different language. The hotel might be nice, but it has no gym, or one that would rather not enter. Or it is full of sweaty old men… and even if there is a gym, chances are that it is closed once you return from the client site.
Introducing: The gym-liberation-set.
First. The mindset.
It starts in your head first. Don’t worry, in a minute I’ll tell you what you can do in terms of exercise and what equipment you might like to take with you – but we gotta take care of the attitude first. So let me make this clear. Sports-is-not-an-option. It is a necessity. Without regular exercise, you will end up out of shape (fat?), you will lose well needed energy, you will feel bad and you will look bad. It just comes with the demands of the job: At the desk all day, high stress level and a bad mix of fast food (before milestones) and very good food (after reaching milestones).
Don’t make sports optional. Build it into your week. Twice, at least. Half an hour, at least. Good boy.
You don’t need a personal fitness trainer to get good info on workouts that you can do with minimal or no equipment – the internet gives you an abundance of places to look:
- Hotel room workout tips from Work&Travel Magazine
- Hotel room workout from Times Online
- On the road? Don’t skip workout from CNN health
- A plan for the road from BodyBuilding.com
- The already mentioned hotel room workout video from cbathletics
I said this was about liberating yourself from the gym, and now I talk about equipment? Right. You do not need anything except your own body (and willpower) for most of the exercises described here. But to expand your possibilities, you might want to take some things on your shopping list.
- Running shoes.
Of course, your sneakers take you around the corner well, but if you pick up the good habit and get running (especially good when you get on a project on the countryside!), treat yourself for some good running shoes. Go to a specialized store. Don’t look at brands or design, it is about function only in that case.
- The Reebok Travel Gym.
No, this is no product placement. I just happen to have gotten that as a birthday present from my loved one last Monday. It contains wrist weights, a skipping rope, a resistance band and a pair of hand grips – all in a little case that fits easily in your luggage. Can be obtained at various places, for example at Amazon - and I think it is great. With the pack you get a little leaflet that gives you many exercise options, which perfectly complement and/or enhance the exercises you can do in your hotel room without any equipment already.
There you have it. Now go, do something for yourself!
And once you tried out your new habit – come back here and share your experiences in the comments!Read More