Q: I read that you have flown millions of miles. I don't see how you do it. Do you have any suggestions for making air transportation less painful?
A: In my work, I spend a lot of time on the road. In the past four weeks, I have made separate trips to Abu Dhabi, Zurich, and London - along with many stops in the U.S. On American Airlines alone I have logged over 9.5 million frequent flyer miles.
Lots of people have asked me, "How do you do it?"
Here are some of my suggestions:
o Pack light. (This is easier for me than most humans, since I wear a green Polo shirt and Khaki pants almost every day.) Take what you need. Don't give yourself options. Make a decision on what you are going to wear - and just wear that. Use the hotel laundry. If you are staying for more than one day, they can clean your clothes. You probably won't have to have a unique outfit every day.
o Don't book the last flight. Things happen. Whenever you can, give yourself a back-up option.
o Get to the airport with time to spare. Given today's security precautions, last minute arrivals can be a disaster. I have seen many late passengers trying to jump ahead of everyone in line - and get angry with the security people for doing their jobs. Life is short. Don't do this to yourself and other people at the airport.
o If at all possible, don't check your bags. If I checked my bags on every trip, hundreds of hours of my life would be spent standing by conveyor belts. This doesn't even factor in the extreme hassle and aggravation that comes when your bags are lost or misplaced.
o Eat before you get on the plane. I have heard hundreds of passengers sitting next to me grumble about how bad airplane food is. You don't have to eat it. While some components of air travel have gotten worse, others have improved. The quality of food and quantity of options at major airports is exponentially better today than it was thirty years ago - when I started flying. If you don't have a chance to eat before you leave for the airport, you can still eat before you get on the plane.
o Don't drink alcohol on the plane. The only time that I ever drink when flying is when I have two glasses of wine before an overnight flight. If you are not going to sleep immediately, drinking does more harm than good.
o Learn to sleep on the plane. I have a unique approach, which works for me. I put on a blind-fold, put the blanket over my head - then go to sleep. I often speak in front of large groups. I have to think about my voice. Having the blanket over my head holds in my body moisture and helps prevent the dry throat problem that occurs when we sleep on a long flight. Another benefit - when you have a blanket over your head - no one talks to you.
o To help conquer jet lag, forget about where you have been - and be where you are. As soon as you board the plane, set you watch to the time zone where you are headed. Never say, "Do you realize what time it is where I began this journey?" This type of thinking just screws up your mind and makes things worse. If you are in Bangalore and it is 10pm, say to yourself, "I am in Bangalore and it is 10pm."
As much as we complain about the air transportation, I am amazed at how well the system works. In my thirty years of being a "road warrior", I have only missed on client meeting because of travel issues (a blizzard in Chicago).
Life is good.
Every two years there is a global survey to determine the world’s top 50 business thinkers. In 2009 Marshall's friend the late CK Prahalad was ranked #1 and Marshall was ranked #14. To participate in the 2011 Thinkers 50, visit http://www.thinkers50.com/vote.
My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.