Sunday night I returned home from my summer vacation. And my head is filled with inspiration I picked up along the way. I consider vacations to be critical to my creativity.
To feed your creativity you have to do, see, hear, feel and taste interesting things. Then you put all of those experiences and knowledge into your processor. Which enables you to create valuable new connections that lead to new ideas and inspirations.
Here are 23 sources of inspiration I collected over the last 9 days:
The power and wonder of Niagara Falls. (And the natural ability for trinket shops to capitalize on natural wonders.)
2. How simply setting a time and place for a reunion can draw people together from all over the country. (It’s easier to create these events than you think.)
3. The thrill of learning how to wake surf, and seeing your children learn too.
4. The beauty and artistry of handblown glass at Simon Pearce. (But thinking it should really be called mouthblown glass. Or maybe lungblown.)
5. Visiting my childhood home in Norwich, Vermont, and seeing both the change and the unchanged.
6. The magnetism and fun of the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
7. The way smoke from wildfires in Oregon can eventually alter the sunlight in New England.
8. The energy of Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. (Yet there is no Church’s Chicken.)
9. A fun hike on Mt. Philo and the panoramic view of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. (You can tell the Green Mountains from the Adirondacks by looking at the chairs.)
10. How amazing cleaned wedding bands look when you take them back to their birthplace to be polished up. (Not like Polish Sausage.)
12. Partaking in the summer tradition of rock jumping at waterfalls into deep pools of icy cold water. And how natural swimming spots are better than man-or-woman-made spots.
13. The joy of coordinating an impromptu meetup on the side of the road with my baby sister who I hadn’t seen in 2 years because of Covid. We realized the Venn Diagram of our travels overlapped for a brief moment in Concord, New Hampshire.
14. Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston and remembering the power of rebellion.
15. Witnessing the power of the Witch Hunt by visiting Salem, Massachusetts. (Then signing up for a witch-hunting safety course.)
16. The polish and panache of the shops and establishments on Newberry Street in Boston.
17. The serendipity of running into friends and family on the street when I saw my cousin Brooks Albrecht randomly on the sidewalk in Boston.
18. The draw of a winner at Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place in Foxborough, MASS. (Go Pats!)
19. The natural beauty of Newport, Rhode Island, and the wow of the Mansions on the Cliff Walk. (People do the walking, not the mansions.)
20. The vibrancy of Dublin, Ohio, where our family called home for 7 years. Dublin continues to innovate and transform itself. (I think they are trying to woo us back.)
22. Showing my family The Weaponry’s Columbus office for the first time.
23. An appreciation for home after an extended time away.
Take your vacation time. It is critical to your creativity, mental health, energy and inspiration. See and do new things. Revisit old favorites. Stimulate your brain. spend time with friends and family. Make new friends. And profit from it all in your professional and personal life.
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In July my family and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. ‘Visited’ is probably an understatement. We fully immersed ourselves in the experiences available within the park for 2 full days. For anyone who hasn’t been there, Glacier is one of the greatest places on Earth. Full of spectacular scenery, animals and, as the name would indicate, glaciers.
One of our many hikes in the park was along a glacial-fed stream. As a reward after the hike, my 3 children and I swam in the swiftly flowing, ice-cold stream. We slid down the long, flat rocks just under the crystal clear water. The rocks were like giant non-yellow Slip N’ Slides that dropped us into deep, swirling pools. It was the kind of waterpark that would have offered Pebbles and Bam Bam a yabba-dabba-doo time.
Despite the very cold water, our hardy viking children frolicked and played as if the water was the perfect temperature. Which it may have been, given the July heat that was eating the glaciers like Joey Chestnut.
While my kids and I swam and played in the frigid trailside stream, a regular trickle of hikers trekked past us. After a few minutes I spotted an interesting trend. The hikers all stopped to watch us. As they did, they looked on with a sense of envy. It was as if we were more interesting than the epic natural beauty that surrounded us. And despite the fact that everyone there was on vacation, my kids appeared to be having a better time than anyone else.
Why? Because we weren’t just following the trails. We were diving into the water. We were playing. My kids and I were drinking it all up and fully experiencing all the wonder the national park had to offer.
When I stopped swimming to watch my kids awhile, I saw what the spectators saw. My kids were like otters in the water. They were having more fun than anyone else in the vast national park. They were finding the full joy in a glacier-fed stream. They were as alive as humans get. It was clear that we were watching a lifetime memory in the making.
Be the otter. Dive into all that life has to offer. Take on adventures. Play and enjoy the simplest things. Create fun. Do what others wish they were doing. Be a model for others to follow. Life is a one way trip. Make sure to experience each day fully, both in your work and in your play. Don’t settle for memories of watching others having fun. Experience it for yourself. Or someday you will wish you had.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
My family and I just returned home from a 4100-mile road trip. It was one of the great adventures of my life. I know that sounds dramatic. But the trip itself was dramatic. And I don’t just mean the dramatic splattering of bugs on the front of our car.
We pulled into our driveway last night just before 6pm, parked and began unloading our Family Truckster. As my 10-year-old son Magnus and I were walking into our home for the first time in a week and a half he turned to me and said,
I feel like I am a different person now. -Magnus Albrecht (10 y/o)
I told him I felt the same way. Over the past 11 days we had seen and done too much to be unchanged. We had seen a Jolly Green Giant and the world’s largest Holstein cow. We had seen famous presidents’ faces carved on a mountainside, creating the greatest marketing tactic in the history of state marketing.
We got an all-access tour of my cousin Rita and her husband Joe’s 2000 cow dairy where my kids got to pet wet and wobbly calves the moment they were born. If you want to follow a really great blog check out Rita’s blog So She Married A Farmer
We chased Lewis and Clark across the land and water they first navigated over 200 years ago. We saw fields of sunflowers, and I heard Post Malone every time.
We saw the world’s only Corn Palace. So there’s that.
We visited the Minuteman Missle National Historic Site and learned about all the nuclear missiles that dotted the Northern Great Plains, designed for peace, but ready to destroy the Earth and its inhabitants in just 30 minutes. Like a Dominoes pizza.
We had close encounters with moose, mice, mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, a fisher, prairie dogs and a dead snake.
We were surrounded by a herd of buffalo at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We swam in glacier-fed streams in Montana. We went cliff jumping. We saw geysers and gal-sers, glaciers and bubbling mud volcanoes.
We hiked to a lake fed by no less than 6 waterfalls. We hiked in badlands that looked like the moon, only closer, and less made of cheese. We camped just feet from where dinosaur fossils were found and can still be seen, and we lived to tell about it.
We connected the dots of 4100 miles of America. As a result, our brains, our lives, and our image of our country and our planet will never be the same. We developed new mental maps that showed the connections between previously unconnected places, experiences and ideas. Which is exactly why we adventure in the first place. To see, do, learn and grow.
Experience as much of life as you can. See the world. Understand it. It will help you grow and expand your views and thinking. It improves creativity and innovation. It will make you more compassionate and empathetic. It will help you relate to others. It helps you refuel and reset and come back smarter and more capable than before. You know, like a whole new you.
I recently took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest with my wife and 3 children. We visited amazing places, including Seattle, Mt. Rainer, Mount St. Helens, The Columbia River George, Multnomah Falls, Cannon Beach and Astoria. We visited Forks and Port Angeles, Washington, of Twilight fame. We also visited Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Which taught me that one nation’s Pacific Northwest lies directly below another nation’s Pacific Southwest. #mindblown
That corner of the world is incredibly beautiful and picturesque. Which explains why we saw so many people taking pictures. However, I noticed many of the people were actually taking pictures of themselves, even though those people were not nearly as beautiful as the natural surroundings that, well, surrounded them.
The selfie is an interesting cultural phenomenon. We take pictures of ourselves with people and things that we think will make us look cooler, more interesting, richer or more attractive. Sure, selfies can help capture a memory. However, I can’t help but feel like the selfie snappers I encountered on vacation were missing the essence of the experience. Because the goal is not to take a picture that make it look as if you are having a great experience. The key is to actually have an amazing, fulfilling and rewarding experience.
The key to a great life is not to collect selfies. Instead, we should collect Self-A’s. A Self-A is a slangy and shortened way to reference our feelings of Self Actualization. Self Actualization, for the uninitiated, represents the highest rung on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the ultimate state of human existence. It is the moment when we feel we have achieved our full potential. They are moments of completeness. And moments of bliss. But they only occur for a brief time. So you have to be self aware, or you’ll miss them.
The Next Level
You can only experience Self-A, if all your basic needs are met. Which means that you need food, water, shelter, sleep, safety, relationships and confidence first. But once you collect all of those prerequisites you can go for the bonus round of Self-A.
Living the Dream
When you experience Self Actualization, you are literally living your dream. Over the past 3 years, since I began my own entrepreneurial adventure, and took more control over my life, I have been experiencing more and more moments of Self-A. In fact, the increase in Self-A’s is the most quantifiable and meaningful change in my life.
The moments occur at work, when I am ideating, when I am with my team, when I am with friends, and when I am driving my John Deere lawn tractor. However, these magical moments of Self-A seem to happen most frequently when I am totally present on a family adventure.
On my recent visit to the PNW I noted that I was allowing myself to be absorbed into amazing moments. While I noted that others were whipping out their mobile phones or selfie sticks to capture the moment. Stopping to capture a selfie kills your Self-A. Because you start focusing on the photo, not just the feeling.
A Notable Notebook Idea
To fully enjoy these moments we should carry notebooks to document the details of our Self-A, making the following notes:
Where were you?
Who were you with?
What were you doing when you felt a moment that feels as good and real and amazing and as close to your dream as life ever gets?
By collecting notes on your Self-A’s you’ll gain insights into how to experience even more of these priceless moments. Which is how you win at life.
Don’t settle for selfies. Don’t aim to take pictures of yourself doing cool things in cool places with cool people. Focus on experiencing the moments. Aim for more moments when your reality feels as good as, if not better than the dream. That feeling creates the best memory of all. Aim to feel that way as often as you can. You’ll be rewarded with a life well lived. Rather than simply a life well photographed.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.
My childhood friend, Marcus Chioffi, once made an interesting statement about me. He said,
‘Adam would be the best person I know at solitary confinement. He would just entertain himself.’ -Marcus Chioffi
I was reminded of Marcus’s statement on my recent work trip to Bangalore, India. I had two 24-hour travel days: one going to India and one coming back (you probably could have guessed that, but I didn’t want any confusion). I had back to back 10-hour flights each way. And what I did on those 10-hour flights is not as interesting as what I didn’t do.
6 Things I Didn’t Do On My Travels To India.
I didn’t watch any movies.
I didn’t watch any TV.
I didn’t listen to any music.
I didn’t play any games.
I didn’t do any puzzles.
I didn’t mind the travel at all.
Solitary And Confined.
The long flights gave me a lot of time to think, which is one of my favorite hobbies. I watched the flight tracker on the screen in front of me, and I looked out the window. Combined, those two activities provided me with plenty to think about.
I connected dots about global geography. I flew over beautiful places like The Netherlands. I flew over inhospitable places in the Middle East that have been boiling with cranky people. And I realized that I may be cranky too in such a desolate environment.
I finished reading the book Thinking Fast and Slow, about behavioral economics. I read Yes, And…, which is about Second City, and what we can all learn about life and business from improv. My friend, and regular Weapon, Tony Sharpe gave me the book. Thanks Tony.
I also read the body laungauge of a couple of seatmates that said, ‘Don’t talk to me you smiley American! It’s the middle of the night!’ So I didn’t talk to them. Their loss.
The Weaponry has several exciting projects going on right now. So I had a lot of enjoyable work to do. I even texted a project estimate to a new client just after takeoff, because sometimes client service and FAA rules are in opposition.
I also wrote. (In fact, as I write these words I am flying over Thunder Bay, Ontario). I wrote a lot of notes about my trip and my experience. I found almost no time to write when I was in India because my sleep-eat-work* schedule was so dense there was no time for anything else. (*not to be confused with my Eat. Pray. Love. schedule.)
I enjoyed my flights to the other side of the world and back a great deal. They never felt painful, prisony, torturey or claustrophobic. I never felt like I needed to be entertained. I loved having so much time to think, read, write and observe. Most importantly, I never felt like I was killing time. I felt as if I was using the time I had. Which is what I hope to do if I ever do end up in solitary confinement.
I recently traveled to Bangalore, India for work. My ad agency, The Weaponry, was hired to film a very impressive business based in Bangalore. And I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go. Not only was it my first time in India, it was my first time traveling anywhere in Asia, that wasn’t actually in Orlando, Florida. #epcot
Between my readings, my Indian friends, the people I know who have traveled there themselves, and my consultation at Passport Health, I felt fairly well prepared for what I would experience in India. But nothing compares to visiting a place yourself. It was truly a perspective-altering experience. To summarize this once-so-far-in-a-lifetime trip, here are the Top 20 things I noticed during my travels.
Top 20 Things I noticed on my business trip to India.
#1 Language One of the things that makes traveling to India easy for Americans is that so much of the population speaks English. In the area I was in about 60% of the population speaks English. But I never encountered anyone who didn’t. You can quickly understand why it is so easy for Americans and Indians to do business together. Which is why I was there.
Other languages spoken in Bangalore include Hindi and Kannada (the local language that is pronounced like the song, O Canada, without the O. The pervasive English definitely helps make you feel at home, even though you are 10,000 miles away.
#2 Climate The Climate in Bangalore is perfect. Highs are typically in the 80s and lows are typically in the 60s. This is extremely pleasant weather (although I am not sure pleasant can be extreme). Bangalore is close enough to the equator to be consistently warm, yet at 3000 feet above sea level, the heat is moderated by the elevation. I can understand why people enjoy living there.
#3 People The people were fantastic. They were excellent hosts. They were hardworking and responsible. They always greeted me with a smile (except at immigration at 2:30 am). I, like so many other visitors, were struck by the remarkable people. I don’t mean struck in a Reginald Denny kinda way. More in an Eat. Pray. Strong-like kinda way.
#4 Food The food was a surprise. I have eaten Indian food before, but not in such quantities, qualities or with such great diversity. It all felt very different from American food. Different flavors, different textures, different smells, different seasonings. I would have liked to have tried an even greater range of the most adventurous food options, but I was on an important work assignment, and didn’t want to risk missing any of the work because of a gastro-tastrophe.
#5 Traffic The traffic was crazy. The craziest I have ever seen. In the city, during hours when humans were awake, there were vehicles everywhere. There was no adherence to lanes or signaling, or safe distances. It was like the wild, wild east. And I LOVED it! The traffic was pure entertainment. It was like high-caliber improv show, because the drivers seemed to be making up their wacky performances on the fly.
Our driver, Alfton, said, ‘If it wasn’t for the traffic I would be bored driving.’ My friend Tarun said, ‘Here, if I leave more than 4 inches between me and the next vehicle, someone is going to fill that space. But for all the crazy, I never saw a crash. Even better, I never saw anyone angry or hostile. There seemed to be an appreciation that everyone else was trying to get somewhere too, and nobody was trying to prevent you from getting where you were going.
I also noticed that the traffic never seemed to stop moving. Unlike in LA, Chicago, and Atlanta, where you can sit or creep for an hour, this traffic was denser, less organized, but almost always flowed forward. Maybe this self-regulated traffic can teach us something.
#6 Motorcycles There were motorcycles everywhere. Not giant, muscle-y hogs like we have in the US. All kinds of small, efficient, people-moving motorbikes ands scooters. These little bikes moved large quantities of humans, produce, and other random cargo.
A favorite game was finding bikes with more than 2 people on them. While 2 is the maximum allowed by law, the law didn’t seem to have a huge influence over the traffic participants. However, for the rule-less behavior, almost everyone wore helmets. Although several times we saw a father riding with a wife and children, and the man wore a helmet and the others did not. The dynamic was surprising. I later heard that the man would be ticketed for not helmeting up. But the women and children would not.
I also saw many women riding the motorcycles side-saddle. This always drew my attention, as I expected that any moment I would see the women un-saddle off the other side. But thankfully, I never did.
#7 Motorized Rickshaws There were little green and yellow motorized rickshaws everywhere. These mini taxis are like 3-wheeled, partially enclosed motor trikes. They are also kinda like motorized wheelbarrows. They have handle bars, not steering wheels. And they seemed to be able to navigate traffic faster than the cars.
#8 The Smells India smells like no place I have ever been. It is a combination of the plants, the natural environment, the spices and scents that the locals use in cooking and in the general scenting of their environment.
My hotel scented the hallways to make it smell like India. I wish I had a better nasal identifier to be able to tell you exactly what it smelled like. Although one morning during our film shoot the room we were working in smelled so good I finally asked what it was that I was smelling. The answer was cinnamon oil. I had no idea that was even a thing. But it is. And it smells amazing. Probably like being inside a bubble of Big Red gum.
#9 Poverty The poverty in India was impossible to ignore. I saw it as rundown buildings, homes and structures that had fallen apart and were not about to be fixed. It seemed to be intermingled with everything else. There were parts of the city that clearly were more poverty-dense than others. But there were few parts of Bangalore that didn’t exhibit a sense that there were fewer financial resources than there were people who could use them.
#10 Service The service was excellent everywhere we went; from the hotels to restaurants, to our drivers, to the places we worked. The people were extremely accommodating and responsive. It felt as if it was part of the culture to be thoughtful and offer great service to others. I will remember that as a core part of the brand experience in India.
#11 Cows Ever since I was a child I heard that cows are sacred in India. I read that you would see cows wandering the streets in India. I didn’t think that was still the case. But sure enough, I saw plenty of stray cows. But maybe not as many as in Moo-mbai. They seem to congregate near markets, where they benefit from produce being tossed out at the end of a day. It was both very odd and very interesting. I also never saw a cow related menu item either. But then again, I never visited McDonald’s.
#12 Tourist Attractions We had one afternoon to do some sightseeing. We had a driver and a host, Loknath, to take us around to various places he and his team thought we should see. Based on what we saw, Bangalore was not a city of obvious tourist attractions. We saw a historic palace, a historic temple and some interesting government buildings. The palace and temple both had the potential to be impressive. But both of them lacked for the resources needed to impress as a well-kept destination worth visiting.
In other words, the building were visually interesting, but the overall experience lacked because the building were not well cared for, or supported. The government buildings were large and impressive. But I left feeling as if Bangalore could use the help of a business dedicated to offering tourists interesting experiences, and investing in the things worth seeing. #businessopportunity
#13 5 Star Hotels I stayed at two amazing hotels in Bangalore. The Ritz Carlton downtown Bangalore, and the Taj Hotel, next to the airport. Both of the hotels were important to my stay in a couple of ways. They both offered a wonderful experience. The service was excellent. The rooms were extremely comfortable. The food was outstanding. And they both felt extremely safe. When in a place so far from home it is important to have a sense of safety and comfort. These places provided this and more. Which played an important part in enjoying the overall experience. Plus, they were easily the least expensive 5 star hotels I ever paid for. So If you go, I recommend 5 star-ing it up.
#14 American Knowledge It is an understatement to say that the people of India know America better than we know India. Among the people who I worked with, and socialized with, not only did it seem most had a very good knowledge of America, many of them had either lived in the US, gone to school in America or traveled to the US regularly. I was a bit embarrassed by the lack of American travel to India. And I was wowed that so many of the people I interacted with had spent time in America, given the fact that it is neither cheap nor easy to travel between the two countries.
#15 GI Attack If you travel to India prepare for an assault on your GI track. You have to be careful with things like water, ice, and fruits and vegetables that were likely washed in said water. Also the food is interesting and different and potentially spicy enough to create a glitch in your digestive system.
I traveled prepared. I had Travel-Ease tablets before each meal, I had Diahrease in case I ran into trouble, and I had antibiotics in case I ran into a lot of trouble. My stomach definitely got knocked off course by my gastronomic adventures, and I used everything in my weaponry just to make sure my work and flight home were not negatively impacted. The tablets and pills really helped keep me between the ditches. I would never travel to India without such reinforcements.
#16 The Beautifulness of the people I thought the people of India were beautiful and handsome. I had a great appreciation for how visually interesting so many of the people were. It reminded me of when I traveled to Iceland and was impressed by how good-looking the population was. Maybe I just like the looks of people from countries that start with ‘I’.
#18 Namaste I was not at all prepared for all the Namaste-ing I received. It is a beautiful greeting. But I didn’t know how to receive it. Was I supposed to respond with thank you? By replying with my own ‘namaste’ and pressing the palms of my hands together? Did I offer a high-five? Should I wink and point back at them? I still don’t know. But I do know that every time I was namasted, I thought of my friend Suzanne Darmory, who frequently drops a nam-bomb as a funny response to a frustrating situation.
#17 Billboards There were billboards all over Bangalore with no advertising on them. That made me sad. In a city of 12 million people there should be plenty to advertise, and plenty of people who would rather see your ad than a big empty board on the side of the road. I am still mulling over what I can do to help this situation. If anyone wants to collaborate on a “Make Bangalore Beautiful with Billboards’ initiative with me, let me know.
#19 The Head Bobble The most perplexing thing I encountered in India was the head wobble, or bobble. This head movement is neither a head nod, nor a shaking of the head, but both and neither at the same time. In fact, it seems to be the head moving in all the ways a head can move that are neither a nod nor a shake.
I found that I have no way of processing this gesture. So I was confounded by how to interpret it. Did it mean there was a problem? Is it the equivalent to the stink face? Or does it mean everything is ok? Eventually I came to realize it is not a bad sign. And no one was mad at me. But it still feels like an input that my processor doesn’t know how to interpret.
#20. The Time Zone The time in India is 10.5 hours later than US. Central Time Zone. I could not have kept this straight without the World Clock feature on my iPhone. I have never visited another place that did the .5 hour difference. Which made India feel just a bit more exotic than it already felt.
India was amazing. I have a new-found appreciation for all that I saw and experienced there. It all started with the very special people. It also ended with the people. In fact, the final night we were in India we were invited to the beautiful home of Parth and Roshen Amin. They treated us to a wonderful dinner and an unforgetable evening among our new friends on the other side of the planet. It was the cherry and whipped cream on top of our trip.
If you ever have the chance to travel to India for work or pleasure, I strongly encourage you to go. Interact with the people. Enjoy the food. Avoid the water. Smell the air. Look out for cows. Pack your pills. Grab some popcorn, and watch the traffic. And if you figure out how to interpret the head bobble, please let me know.
As children in America, we are taught that if you dig a hole in your yard deep enough, you will pop out in China. I now know that if you ever do dig such a hole, and I encourage you to try, two things will happen:
You will miss out on a lot of frequent flyer miles.
You will find yourself in India.
Brew City to The ATL
This week I decided to opt for the frequent flyer miles, instead of the tunneling workout, and I flew to India. I traveled there because one of our great clients hired The Weaponry to film a video of a business in Bangalore. The travel started with a flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Which was like a light jog before a marathon. I spent most of the flight talking to my seatmate John, who is a lawyer in Milwaukee. It was social and pleasant and short. It was a flight I have done 100 times before. So John was the highlight of the trip.
I met up with my fellow Weapon, Adam ‘Henry’ Emery in Atlanta. We grabbed some Arby’s, because Mexican food before two long flights had the potential to be a really bad idea. As we ate in the food court at concourse E, we sat next to a group of 60-somethings from Iowa heading to a two-week river cruise in Europe. It made me look forward to party-traveling with our couple friends in another twenty years. When they asked us where we were headed…, actually, they never asked. And when you are headed somewhere really interesting like India, you always notice when people don’t ask.
Atlanta to Paris
I washed down my roast beef sandwich with a Malaria medicine chaser. Then we boarded the plane for Paris. My next-seat neighbor looked like he may be Indian, so I was excited to chat him up. Turns out he lived in Warner Robbins, Georgia and was heading to Oslo, Norway for some work with the US Air Force. Oh, and he was originally from Pakistan. (Nice job with the racial profiling Adam!) From here on I will refer to my seat mate as Warner, because I never caught his real name.
The most noteworthy part of the flight was when we were served breakfast. Well it was breakfast if we acted like we were already in Paris. But in Atlanta it would have been a midnight snack. Moments after the flight attendant placed Warner’s breakfast on his tray and handed him a generous cup of water, Warner spilled his entire cup of water on his crotch.
I don’t know about you, but when I see someone de-planing after an overnight flight with a totally soaked crotch, I assume they suffer from nocturnal bladder control. Warner tried to soak up the water on his tray and nether regions with his blanket. But the damage was done. He was soaking wet in all the wrong places.
I tried to console him, saying, ‘Well at least you got a story out of it.’ But what I really meant was, ‘At least I got a story out of it!’
Soon the joke was on me.
As I opened my utensil pack, my plastic spoon fell to the ground by our feet. With our seat-back trays now loaded with food and drinks there was no way to retrieve the spoon within the allotted 5 seconds.
Suddenly I had to figure out how to eat my yogurt, and minced fruit cup without a spoon. So I had to go MacGyver Mode. I found a little package of jelly on my tray. I opened the jelly package, dropped the jelly into my plain yogurt (or is that plane yogurt?) to try to add a little flavor. Then I used the tiny empty plastic jelly dish to scoop out the yogurt and tiny bits of fruit in the fruit cup. Hunger avoided. And just 8.5 hours after takeoff, we were touching down in Paris.
Any time you start your morning in Paris, you know you are going to have an interesting day.Henry and I got off the plane and had to navigate another security checkpoint. While in line, we spotted the two clients we expected to catch up with in Paris. One was traveling from Boston and the other came from Cincinnati. It’s pretty wild to see people you know on another continent. And after a night with no sleep, it felt surreal. Like Sir Reals-a-lot.
The four of us made it through a highly inefficient security procedure and suddenly had three hours to kill. Our client-friends, Nina and Jake, had access to the Air France lounge, and could each bring a guest. So we got our lounge on.
Now I have traveled a lot. But I have never been any place nicer in an airport than the Air France lounge in Paris. We enjoyed complimentary breakfast and drinks. We lounged in comfortable chairs. Some of us took showers. Others of us worked on our blog and re-applied deodorant.
We were also learning to cope with our newly developed sleep deprivation. Which I enjoy. My favorite thing about being around people suffering from mild sleep deprivation is humor inflation. Thanks to humor inflation, very small bits of mild to moderate humor elicit much larger laughs than they deserve. In these situations my attempts at comedy typically receive greater rewards than they merit. The rest of the world is funnier to me when I haven’t slept much too. It is as close to drunk as I ever get. And I was laughing it up Paris.
Paris to Bangalore
As our departure time neared we grabbed a few extra beverages from the lounge for our flight, and made our way to our gate. It was there that we were told our flight was delayed because of a mechanical issue. I always secretly appreciate these delays. I think they are a sweet gesture from the airline. They say, ‘I know we don’t know each other that well, but we don’t want you to die on our plane.’
The delay was only about 45 minutes long, and we were on our way. The 9.5 hour flight from Paris to Bangalore, India was comfortable and uneventful. I had a window seat and got to see things like Southern Germany, The Austrian Alps, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and something that looked like Narcolepsy.
Then we crossed over Syria, Iraq and Iran.I saw much of the tense-est political areas on the globe from 35,000 feet. It all looked like Nevada.
We landed in Bangalore a little after midnight. But the immigration process was very slow and joy-less. This 2-hour slog through immigration in the middle of the night, after 24 hours of travel and spotty sleep would prove to be the low-light of the trip.
At 2:30am local time we made our way to baggage claim, and then outside the airport where drivers in white shirts were gathered like paparazzi trying to get the attention of those of us trying to find our drivers.
Somewhere in the drivers lineup we finally found Alfton, our driver for the week. I actually don’t know what his name is. At such a late hour I remember thinking his name sounded like my Grandpa Alton Albrecht’s with an additional F. So it may have been Falton, Alfton, Altfon, or Altonf.
As we walked with Alfton to his van we could see the fancy Taj Hotel directly across the street from the airport. This is where we would be staying every night of our trip, other than tonight. This night had sold out before we booked it. So now, at 2:30 am, we had to make a 50 minute drive into the city of Bangalore.
The air travel was an adventure. And it was long. But it really wasn’t that hard. I got enough sleep to keep powered up. Now, with that leg of the journey behind me I was curious to see what India had in store for me. And that is what I will be sharing next.
I start my journey to India today. The team at my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, are working on a project with a really impressive business in Bangalore. But the first big moment of the trip actually came yesterday. 24 hours before takeoff I received a push notification from Delta that it was time to check in for my flight. I have traveled so much that the mere check-in notice doesn’t usually get me excited. But this one did. There is so much unknown ahead of me in the next 30 hours that I got a fun flock of butterflies flittering in my stomach. I love that feeling. It makes me feel both alive and buttery.
The first big question is, How will I tolerate 2-hour, 8.5-hour and 10-hour flights back to back to back? I have a regular-person seat for both long flights. No first class or business class. No exit row. No incrementally-less-discomfortable seats. The second question obviously is, Do I have enough material to maintain over 20 hours of conversations with my seat mates? I am sure whoever sits next to me on the long flights is going to expect us to have an ultramarathon conversation, like at a no-sleep sleepover. And I don’t want to disappoint.
I leave Milwaukee just before 1pm today and fly to Atlanta. I have a 2-hour layover in my other-home airport, and meet up with my fellow Weapon, Adam Emery. Adam, or Henry as we call him, is our Associate Creative Director, and has been a full-time employee of The Weaponry for a year. When you celebrate an anniversary as a full-time team member of The Weaponry, we like to offer a special project, like working with a celebrity athlete or something that allows you to fly to the other side of the planet. #benefits
From Atlanta, Henry and I have an 8+ hour flight to Paris. There, we will try to find an all-you-can-eat croissants buffet during our 3-hour layover. We will also meet up with the two clients who are traveling with us. I envision us filling our lengthy layover with sitcom-style airport hijinks, and general foreign country hilarity. After 3 hours of ooh la la-ing, we will jump on the final leg of the journey to India. Our 10 hour flight will take us to Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru, where we plan to watch Hulu with a guru.
If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in India just before midnight on Sunday night. Then Henry and I will catch a ride with a transportation service to our hotel in the city center, which is about 35 kilometers from the airport.
This will definitely be interesting adventure. I have watched a bunch of movies to prepare me for this experience. My Pre-India Film Festival included Gandhi, Eat. Pray. Love., Slumdog Millionaire, Lion and Hoosiers. I later realized that Hoosiers actually took place in Indiana. Oops. (or should I say Hoops?)
Thanks for following the journey. I also plan to post updates, pics, vids and stories on Instagram at @adamalbrecht if connectivity allows.
My career in advertising has been an amazing adventure. The interesting experiences I’ve had at work could fill a book. Or at least a blog. I have never taken any of this for granted. And I always look forward to what each new project will bring.
One of the great benefits of my career is that I have done a lot of travel. I have spent more time in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago than I can count. I love each of those cities, and feel at home in all three. But these great American cities represent a small sliver of my business adventures.
My work travel has taken me to Alaska where I was awed by the Northern Lights. I have snowmobiled on glaciers and ATV’d on black sand beaches during the summer solstice in Iceland. I have worked with 100 men in pink bodysuits in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I spent a week in a camper in the Baja peninsula of Mexico while filming trophy trucks bombing across the desert. I have ridden a 1500 foot zipline in Whistler, British Columbia. I have flown to Quebec City on a private jet to ride a secret snowmobile on a 50 mile long private trail. And I was being paid to do it all.
My Entrepreneurial Journeys
When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I wondered how long it would be until I added to noteworthy travel. Over the past couple of years I have certainly traveled a good bit. My journal says that work for The Weaponry has taken me to the following places:
Salt Lake City
Taking It To The Next Level
Today I am thrilled to share that I have some really exciting new travel coming up. This Saturday I am going to India! The Weaponry is filming a fascinating global business based in Bangalore, which for those of you who don’t know, is the Silicon Valley of India. Bangalore may be the largest city you’ve never heard of. At a population of 12 million people, it is 12 times larger than any city with 1 million people! (I did the math)
I have never been to India. So this is an exciting new experience for me. The travel itself will be an adventure. Total travel time each way will take 25 hours. I will be in India for just 75 hours, because I need to get home for my wedding anniversary. Which means that my ratio of traveling-time to being-there-time is nothing to envy.
Shots! Shots! Shots!
Last week I got shots for Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A (which I thought is what Canadians call Hepatitis). I received Malaria medicine and anti-diarrheal medicine. This is the first time anti-diarrheal has appeared in this blog. You know you are embarking on an epic journey when you get counseled on Malaria and diarrhea strategies.
I also called Global Rescue to cover me while I am traveling. This membership-based organization is a life saver. Because if you become ill or injured when traveling internationally, they will come and get you, and bring you home to the hospital of your choice. Even better, Global Rescue was The Weaponry’s founding client, and we are thrilled to be members today.
Once again, my entrepreneurial journey is presenting an opportunity to do, see and learn new things. Thanks to this business I launched, I am going to visit a new continent, a new country and a new culture on the other side of the world. From the beginning, I expected The Weaponry would enable me and my team members to do amazing things together. And it has. But this upcoming trip takes the proverbial cake.
*I will share updates throughout my experience. If you want to follow along, consider subscribing to this blog.
I am not a control freak. I believe there is more than one way to skin a cat. Although most cats I have met strongly prefer not to be skinned at all. I like to hire good people and let them do their jobs. I am very comfortable delegating responsibility. With one notable exception.
When it comes to business travel I become a micromanager. You will never find me handing over my travel planning to an assistant or simply booking what everyone else is booking. Because when I travel for work I always have a hidden agenda… (cue the sinister music).
As the Founder of the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, my first priority on every business trip is to take care of business. I call this my Bachman-Turner Overdrive Philosophy. I want to arrive with plenty of time to prepare for the meeting or the shoot, or whatever I’m travel to do. And I build in enough time for a travel backup plan in case anything goes wrong.
But once the work plan is set I always turn my attention to my hidden agenda. It’s not finding great restaurants or a fancy hotel or seeing a great show.
My People Plan
When I travel for work I always think about the people I can see. Business trips offer us all a chance to keep in touch or reconnect with friends and family. I take advantage of this every chance I get. You should too.
The moment I know I need to travel I start working on my people plan. I study the location I am traveling. I look at a map to see who I know within a reasonable radius of my business.
Then I build my itinerary.
The 3 Parts To My People-Seeing Travel Plans.
Flight: I look at flight options that will get me in early enough and allow me to leave late enough to see my people. Often I will take the last flight home on any given day to help open my schedule and improve my odds of connecting.
Lodging: My lodging is always an important part of my plan. I book hotels that make it easy to see my people. This is either because the lodging is centrally located, or because it is in the middle of a pod of my peeps. However, sometimes the lodging is not a hotel at all. I stay with friends or family members whenever they offer to host me. This allows for the best people experience of all.
Car Unless I am staying in Manhattan or a similar car-unfriendly location I rent a car from Hertz. That’s because Hertz has the best cars, the best service and the best loyalty program. A rental car gives me the most flexibility to see my people. And it gives me the greatest people-seeing range. If I am ambitious, which I usually am, a rental car enables me see several people, over a large area, for a fixed price. This is a major advantage that rental cars have over a ride sharing service.
A Recent Example
Last Thursday The Weaponry conducted an all-day branding workshop with a client in Minneapolis. I scheduled a flight that landed in Minneapolis at 5pm on Wednesday afternoon. I picked up my rental car, then Jeanne, our amazing account director and I picked up two of our clients and went to a really enjoyable dinner. (Side note: One of those clients was a friend before she was a client. And the last time I had seen her was on a people-seeing side trip in Atlanta earlier this year.)
Then I dropped off Jeanne and the clients at their hotels before heading to my sister Heather’s house for the night. There I got to see Heather, her husband John, my nephew Addison, and nieces Rebekkah and Rachael.
Thursday was the branding workshop. It was great. Productive, insightful and fun.
Thursday evening I had dinner with Heather’s family at one of our favorite restaurants.
Then I met my friend Tom Burger for after-dinner lemonades. Tom and I were college roommates and track teammates at the University of Wisconsin. It was really great catching up on family, friends and careers.
Friday morning was special. I got up early and drove 70 miles west of Minneapolis to Hutchinson, Minnesota. I went to surprise my 98-year-old Grandma Albrecht. And boy was she surprised. Which made me think that surprises and 98-year-olds may not be a healthy mix.
It had been too long since I saw Grandma. It was a real gift to be able to spend a couple of hours alone with her. This was all the more special because I lost my other grandmother, Grammy Sprau, two months ago at 100 years old.
Then I drove back to Minneapolis and met my friend Mark Setterholm at his production company, Drive Thru. Mark and I had worked together on a fun Ski-Doo project many years ago and have kept in touch ever since. I got to see his latest office space, I reconnected with members of his team, and met new DriveThruvians. Mark and I had lunch, we updated each other on our latest work developments and talked about life in general. It was great.
Then I headed to the airport and home.
In the past two months alone I have had three business trips just like this. All of them were greatly enhanced with friends and family time. By integrating my work and personal life I am able to get the most out of both.
LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram offer us a great way to stay in touch with our friends, family, and business associates. But it is not the same as seeing your people in real life. Take advantage of the opportunities to grow, maintain, rekindle or develop relationships while you are away from home. You’ll be glad you did. Life is short. And nothing matters more than our relationships.