Home, Sweet Home

Back from a great trip to Bogotá, Colombia where I gave a speech at a conference and visited family. After missing a connection in Houston coming home last night (and painfully watched my plane back out of the garage without me on it) due to extra long lines in customs (a blog is coming – believe me), I arrived completely back home at 1:30 AM. All in all a terrific trip. I thought I’d share a few photos with you…

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© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Boston Journal #2

Boston is quickly becoming a new favorite city for me.

Yesterday, the girls and I went to Fenway Park and watched the Red Sox win 2-1 over Baltimore. The game came down to the last batter being struck out with the bases loaded. Perfect weather, competitive game, hanging out with my daughters… With apologies to MasterCard, this was priceless.

After the game, we met with my colleagues from Alan Weiss’s consulting community. We all went out to dinner at a terrific Italian restaurant downtown near the Boston Garden. Afterwards, three of us found a cool, underground cigar bar and shared a cigar and scotch together. We then caught up with the others and ate dessert from Mike’s Pastries. This is a new group that has been formed within Alan’s community, and the chance to build relationships by eating and having fun together is, well, also priceless. It was a real treat to include my adult daughters in the evening.

Today was our day with Alan. We discussed a myriad of strategy and tactics related to our consulting careers. The best way to improve and grow is to learn from your peers. It was a value laden day. The girls spent the day touring Boston. I am a little jealous, but plan to do some catch up tomorrow!

Tonight, we watch the Seahawks play on Monday Night Football. A real treat to watch our home town team play on a national stage from the other side of the country. We are meeting one of my daughter’s classmates, who I also coached in basketball in high school. She went to college here, and is now working in this great city.

Full day, with more fun ahead. Stay tuned to tomorrow for more!

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New York Journal # 1

One and a quarter days into our Big Apple experience and we are having a simply terrific time. Just like to famed “New York” minute, our time her has flown by. Let me give you a recap…

  • We arrived on Sunday late afternoon. We were picked up by the town car and I started a conversation with the driver, Eduardo. Turns out he’s from Colombia (my heritage) and we had a great conversation. He gave me a chance to practice my conversational Spanish, and I did pretty well if I say so myself!
  • Sunday night we walked over to Rockefeller Center. The line was too long to go to the top and watch the sunset, so we found a great little burger joint and grabbed dinner. The place is inside Rock Center and is called Bob’s Burger & Brews. I had a juicy burger, but substituted the brew for a smooth Malbec. Nice way to start.
  • We are staying at the Princeton Club in Manhattan. The reciprocal arrangement with the Washington Athletic Club gave us the opportunity. It’s a nice place in a superb location right near Times Square. One of the cool things about it is outside they fly several school flags.  A University of Washington is proudly flying the purple and gold among them. I feel right at home!

That wa just Sunday. I’m getting prepared to visit Alan Weiss for the business part of my trip. After that, I will catch you up on a whirlwind Monday.

P.S. for some reason, my photo stream from my iPhone to iPad doesn’t seem to be streaming. Photos will follow…

Chao for now!

Providence Journal #1

I love technology.

Here I am at somewhere around 25,000 feet (give or take a foot) pecking away on my laptop and working on the Internet. Makes these cross-country flights much more productive and fun.

I’ve posted a survey on my Facebook page. I asked my “peeps” a question about visiting cities. Basically, if you are at an airport and have a 3-hour plus layover, does that count as a city you’ve visited? My reason for asking is that I’ve been to many an airport where I’ve dined at excellent restaurants, watched games at the sports bar while sipping on a local beer; purchased “stuff,” and basically acted as if I were a tourist. Shouldn’t any of this count towards plopping that pin on the map saying you were there? Does driving through the panhandle of Idaho mean you’ve been to Idaho even if it takes less time than an airport layover? Just asking…

I’ve received fun and humorous comments on my Facebook page. I hope they keep coming. What do you think?

By the way, I will be chronicling my trip to Providence as I always do with my trips. The main event is Friday when I will be at an Alan Weiss workshop, which I am looking forward to as always. More to come…

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Bogota Journal # 7

One day left…

I’ve told my wife, Barb that this is my perception of Bogota….

1. The food is awesome

2. The people are warm, friendly, and very hospitable.

3. The women are beautiful (including my primas…I thought I should get that in)

and…

4. A new one. They use caddies to play golf. No carts. And this is quickly moving up the line!

They don’t use carts in Colombia. They have caddies. My caddie was a dude named Sebastian. He was awesome. I didn’t have to clean my ball, fix my divots, or even read the green. He would say, “Excuse me Mr. Dan,” and then move me out-of-the-way to read my putt. He was always right…my execution wasn’t. When I’d line up to hit the ball off the tee or fairway, he would say, “Excuse me Mr. Dan,” and then point me in the right direction or fix my alignment. After I hit a bad shot, he told me what I did. If I could stick him in my baggage home, I would! My lasting memory of Sebastian will be reminding me of what I was doing wrong in my swing – he would line me up and then walk away and say “finish.” Gracias Sebastian!

After golf, I went out with my primas and the esposos to dinner. We went to the Gaira Cafe and Cumbio Club. This place is out-of-bounds. The food is great, but it’s more about the music. Cumbio is akin to our blues in American music, however let me tell you there is nothing “bluesy” in this music. It’s all upbeat, up-tempo, exciting, and a lot of fun. The place was jam-packed on a Wednesday night until midnight.

Okay…final preparations for the last day. I will have an epilogue coming up soon. Thanks for following me on my journey…

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

with my caddie Sebastian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bogota Journal # 6

Down to my last 2 days and it really has been a whirlwind “tour.”

Yesterday, my cousins took me to the Salt Mines at Zipaquira. It’s one of only two salt mines in the world with a cathedral underneath. The entire mine and all its relics and sculptures are made of pure salt. When you touch the salt structures, they feel just like marble. I took a taste and I will tell you pure salt is so much better than the refined stuff!

The facility is unique. They’ve basically turned it into a small theme park. It’s apparently the #1 tourist attraction in Colombia. After visiting, I know why!

On the way home, we ate at a very cool spot in Sopo where there is a large dairy plant. They have a cool little place to eat with products from the dairy. On the way back, we came into Colombia a different way and were able to view the city from a spectacular view.

Last night, was a much-needed break to just relax and catch my breath. More fun in store today and tomorrow, so stay tuned!

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

The Nativity sculpted out of pure salt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

with my cousin Eduardo at Sopo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specacular view of Bogota

Bogota Journal # 2

View of the Park in Bogota

My first full day In Bogotá just rocked. The people are all wonderful and the food is out-of-bounds (that’s a good thing).

I met Mario, the General Manager of the hotel and he pointed me in the direction of a beautiful park right next to the hotel. It’s 2 and a half miles if you walk or run the entire thing. The sub came out and I took a walk mid-day. Sort of reminded me of Central Park – not as big but the variety of people and activity are the same. I saw jugglers, business people, mothers with kids, boys playing soccer, and a whole lot of dogs walking (Captain Jack and Bella can learn manners from these Colombian dogs).

I enjoyed a terrific massage in the hotel. I’ll tell you, a full day of traveling (especially 9 hours in the plane) can be brutal on body and mind, and the massage was a needed treat to be ready for today.

Now the food. I told you I got a tip on a great Colombian dish called Ajiaco (Ah-ee-yaco). It’s a chicken soup with Colombian potatoes, spices, capers, cream, and a whole lot of flavor. The capers are what brought it for me. The side dish was rice, corn on the cob, and a delicious slice of avocado. I think we should be doing more of the avocado on the side in our restaurants. I had a terrific house “tinto”…red wine with dinner. For dessert, I had Postre de Natas. No idea what it was but my server Tatiana recommended it and she was right! Not bad for a smooth $46,164. Oh…pesos. About $27 in dollars;)

I ended the evening meeting with one of my fellow speakers, Tim Ludwig. Tim is a professor and consultant out of North Carolina. He’s an expert in behavior science as it relates to safety o the job. I’m eager to hear him speak.

Well, now it’s game time. I’m ready to knock it out of the park for these folks. It will be a different experience using an interpreter. As you know, humor in stories is predicated on timing and gestures. I really use the audience reaction as part of my speaking. This might have a “delay” through being interpreted. I will let you know how it goes.

Another great day in Bogotá in store!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Bogota Journal #1

A beautiful morning here in Bogotá. As far as the weather goes, I might as well still be in Poulsbo or Seattle. It’s about 60 degrees, gray overcast, but very pleasant. It will probably get up to 65 or so today.

I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant with the doors to the patio open so I could see the street. Like I said, with the weather, it seems like I’ve never left the Puget Sound. I ate a terrific scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast with a mocahchino. Hey, I’m in Colombia…I’ve got to have coffee, right? My favorite barista at Starbucks know I take decaf, however that didn’t seem to translate here. Full octane for me so I will be ready to prepare for my program tomorrow!

One thing I found unique that I didn’t expect. I watched a little television before turning in last night and I was surprised to find at least a third of not more of the channels were in English. CNN, TNT, and others were on just like on my TV at home and had Spanish subtitles. Heck, I watched the end of Flashdance on VH1 trying to brush up on my Spanish and reading the captions!

Full day to enjoy the hotel and prepare for my presentation. It’s advisable to any business traveler, especially if you are a speaker, to get to your destination a day in advance to relax and rejuvenate. Game time tomorrow!

I will keep you posted on my activities so you can learn a little more about this wonderful city and country!

P.S. The waiter gave me a great tip for dinner. I’ll let you know how it goes…

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Dan Weedin’s 19 Tips for Better Business Travel

As I sit and type this, my Mac Book is scrunched up to my stomach as the guy in front of me has leaned back as far as possible, thus eliminating the already limited room I had to move. As all of you who have traveled by air already know, all the best laid plans and precautions are not foolproof. Inevitably, you end up with your laptop on your stomach.

That being said, this trip I am taking to Las Vegas to study risk management principles (what are the odds of that) has led me to write this quick, down and dirty, guide to help you enjoy your business travel. Let’s also agree that these strategies apply to your personal travel as well, though much will be geared to the business warriors who must on a regular basis disrobe, delay, and de-plane.

In no particular order here are my 19 strategies for better travel when flying:

1. Leave early. My wife laughs at me for being a stickler to getting to the airport early, but I hate the stress of being rushed. “Stuff” happens – traffic delays, bridge closures, construction, and detours to name a few. I’ve even had to turn around and go back home to get important things I’ve forgotten! I doubt I’m the only one to do that, although my wife thinks it’s only me. If you commit to leaving in time to get to the airport 90 minutes in advance to carry-on and 2 hours to check baggage, you will ease your stress from the start.

Note – More often than not, my wife or daughter drives me to the airport. We enjoy the time to relax and talk. However, there are many times they can’t make it work. Do yourself a favor and rent a town car or limousine. You will find the majority of limo services are only slightly more cost than taxis, but the investment is worth it. You get friendlier drivers, more comfort, air conditioning, better driving, and a more relaxed experience. I’ve found a regular service in Seattle that will frequently pick me up at the ferry terminal and drive me to the airport. My cost, including a generous tip, is $50. The taxi is $38 without tip. Do the math on your comfort and take the limo.

2. Bring snacks. I always carry a couple energy bars with me on my carry on bag. I learned my lesson the hard way. In December of 2001, on a flight to Juneau, AK, we were diverted twice to Sitka. The first time they wouldn’t let us off due to security issues from a few months earlier after September 11th. They almost didn’t let us off the second time, except a different type of mutiny almost occurred. I was starving, and if you know me that tends to make me cranky. I now make sure I have at least something edible to munch on so I don’t have to rely on airplane food (if there is any left).

3. Carry-on if at all possible. I’m headed to Vegas for four days. I was able to get everything in one duffle bag and my briefcase. I will be in class all week, it’s 95 degrees out, and I have nothing that requires business attire. Carrying-on is the only way to go. I understand business travel often requires that you must check baggage, BUT I encourage you to find ways to avoid it if you can. I purchased a fantastic roll-up carry-on case for my suit from Men’s Wearhouse. He suit stays wrinkle-free and I can carry it on with shoes and accessories. It’s by far the best travel purchase I’ve ever made. Same time and frustration whenever possible by carrying-on.

4. Charge your laptop the night before. If your airport is anything like Seattle-Tacoma International, outlets are few in number, in difficult locations, and in great demand. Take the time the evening prior to fully charge your laptop AND cell phone. Eliminate that stress with a little planning.

5. Carry George W. with you. No not George W. Bush’s photo! I’m talking about the other President named George W. You will constantly need one-dollar bills for tipping, vending machines, newspapers, or other items. I hate wanting to give a $3 tip and only having a $20 bill. If you’re rushing off to the cash machine on your way to the airport, don’t expect them to distribute anything less than a $10 bill. You may get an occasional $5, but that’s it. Keep a stash of George W’s on hand.

6. Become a frequent flyer member for your most used airlines. This should be a no-brainer but just in case, I’ve included it. The membership s free and you often get advantages in addition to miles. I have memberships in Alaska, Southwest, and Delta because those are my most used airlines. If you fly on any regular basis, consider joining their “board room” or whatever each one calls their special membership in the airport. You have better availability for high-speed Internet, food and beverage, and comfortable seats while you wait for your departure.

7. Fly first-class when possible. I wish I could fly first-class all the time I travel, but I don’t. That being said, about 35% of the time, I’m able to for just a few extra bucks. One of the airlines I frequently use, Alaska Air, will upgrade you to first-class if there is room for only $50. That’s a great deal! I usually check in early and get on the waiting list. More often than you might think, I get called and get to enjoy a more comfortable journey. Remember, I’m writing this with my Mac Book squarely in my stomach. If you have an extended trip cross-country, use whatever perks you have to go first-class because it will be worth it. The investment of you being fresh for your meeting or business event will be worth the extra cost.

8. Get your laptop or book out before you get comfy. I’ve finally learned (after too many mistakes) to get anything I plan on using out of my bag before I sit down. It eliminates the gymnastics you have to go through to pull out your bag from under the seat or above in the bin.

9. Sit on the aisle. I like to look out the window as much as anyone, but if you are traveling for business consider the following:

  • You’ve travelled enough in your life and one cloud looks like the next

  • It’s easier to get out to go to the restroom.
  • My favorite – you can at least stand up when the plane stops and you are waiting to get off.

10. Plan on using your time wisely. It might be sleep, reading the newspaper or a book, or writing your next position paper. The bottom line is that your time is valuable so take advantage of the time in the air. Get work done, catch up on rest, or improve yourself in the time you are flying at 33,000 feet.

11. Stake out your airports. I’ve found the best food places, quickest security lines, and most convenient ground transportation in my most common destinations. I’ve got my favorite shoeshine guy in Seattle and save time by getting my shoes shined every time I travel. Security gates are not all the same. Some are made to move quicker and it pays especially if you are in a rush. Know your airport and save time and frustration. As an aside, I learned on this trip that all coffee shops are not made equal. I wish I had waited in line for Starbucks instead of heading to my gate and going to another place. The coffee was average and the scone terribly dry. That’s the last time I make that mistake. I know what to expect at Starbucks and it would have been worth it.

12. Be courteous to others. I don’t like hearing other people’s cell phone conversations sitting on the plane. The thing in the ear, the histrionics of talking with your hands, the rising voice levels…give me a break. I’m not sure what’s so urgent that it can’t wait until you get off the plane. Think about the comfort of the other passengers. Okay, I’m now off my soapbox.

13. Print out your boarding pass at home before you leave. It makes life easier for you. Technology can be a great thing and being able to have that pass on hand is golden. In addition, use the business center of your hotel to print out your return trip-boarding pass in the same way.

14. Print out your hotel confirmation with your boarding pass. If you’re like me, you’ve had hotel personnel look at you funny when you gave your name to check in. Have it handy as proof that you are in the right place. By the way, you should make sure you ARE in the right place!

15. Buy travel insurance. I used to not do it and now almost always do. You never know when you will be delayed, lose luggage, or miss a plane. Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive and worth the small investment.

16. Get updates on your flight by text on your phone. You will find this to be critical to advise you of gate changes, flight delays, and other important things related to your flight. Don’t use text? Learn! It’s a free service available with every carrier.

17. Stay hydrated. Traveling takes a physical toll. It’s even more important to drink water.

18. This has been an issue for me at times – pack over-the-counter medications just in case. I’ve caught the flu and recently had a stomach virus on a trip. Packing your favorite “feel better” medications, like Alka-Seltzer, Sudafed, or Tylenol may come in handy, so you don’t have to run to the nearest drug store.

19. Relax! This may be the most important. There are very few issues in travelling that are critical. Even the most pressing business meeting can be missed due to a travel snafu without detrimental consequences. Understand that when you travel you will inevitably run into delays, missed connections, crying babies, and rude people. Don’t let it add stress to your day. Life is too short to be worrying about travel related issues. It’s bad for your attitude, which affects your business and stress level. Relax and enjoy the flight.

As I said, even if you do all of these things, there are too many factors out of your control. However, if you commit to most of these strategies, you will find that a lot of “luck” will come your way and you will enjoy a more stress-free and relaxed business trip.

You may now return your tray tables to their upright and locked position…

© 2009 Dan Weedin All Rights Reserved