30 AprMore Business Travel. The Show Must Go On

03:00 Lennox Hill Hospital Emergency Room, Upper East Side, New York City. Its early December 2001. I am far from home and one of a dozen people waiting for help. My throat is aching, I can hardly speak. Not life threatening, but painful.

At the very least I need some drugs to make this bearable and I can’t wait because I am due to fly to Boston for a client pitch first thing in the morning. Some time around four I make it to the front of the queue, really grateful it is mid-week and my wait is not as bad as it would be on a Friday or Saturday night. Nothing terrible said the doctor, plied me with some drugs and sent me on my way. I head back to the hotel, set the alarm clock for six a.m., swallow a few pills and try to put my head down for a power nap.

A mere 90 minutes or so later, the alarm rings and sets me on the way to the airport with my partner in crime on this mission, our sales head, Colin Nutt. In the cab on the way to La Guardia, I croakingly try to explain my plight to Colin. He is nodding, but his hearing is shot; something he picked up on the flight over from Zurich. What a pair.

We pitch up in Boston to find a veritably huge cast waiting for us. Fifteen odd people and a few more on the end of a phone. We let our hosts know about the impaired quality of our talking and hearing and then do our best to plough through a two hour session that I am sure must have been almost comical for the audience. This is followed by a lunch with just two of our hosts, and by this time I can’t get more than about one sentence at a time out.

We finish lunch and gratefully say our goodbyes. The strain of focussing has left the two of us totally drained of every ounce of energy.  We are both fast asleep before the plane even takes off and don’t wake until the wheels hit the runway back in New York.

Lessons Learned:  Turning up is important. We were somewhat short of our best, but thankfully we pitched up as planned. Leaving a gathering of some 15 people disappointed would have turned any re-arranged event into an uphill struggle.

Now Ossie Grübel may have said: “If you want loyalty, buy a dog”, but in the middle of the battle that is daily work, professional pride will drive you to make that extra effort for the Cleint, if not for the Company.

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