Saturday, July 17, 2010

Business Travel

As I write this I prepare for a week long business trip to my
company's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia for the first session
of a 22-week Leadership Development Program designed to prepare myself
and 19 others for promotion to a multi-unit level of responsibility.

As you read this I have already returned home from that trip, and
these are some of the highlights (and possibly lowlights) of that

Sunday, July 10, 11:15 am

We'll be leaving for the airport in an hour and fifteen minutes for a
3:12 flight. I haven't traveled overnight on business in almost seven
years. While I'm honored to be chosen for this program and considered
for promotion, I'm not crazy about spending the next five nights away
from the wife and kids. The closer it gets to time to leave the more
my dread increases.

Sunday, July 11, 12:40 pm

This is the worst part of any business trip: the actual leaving. We're
on our way to Indianapolis International Airport right now, where I'll
be boarding a U.S. Airways Express flight to Philadelphia. One other
Manager from Indy is traveling with me, which gives me a head start on
the networking aspect of the trip. But, given the choice, I'd rather
network with the three people driving me to the airport right now.

Sunday, July 11, 3:34 pm

In order to make things a little less hectic for my wife dropping me
off at the airport with two kids in tow, we said our goodbyes at the
curb. It was a sad moment, as it appeard that my son might be on the
verge of tears as we said goodbye. The last time I was away from home
for any considerable amount of time he was less than two months old.

The process of checking in at the airport went relatively smooth. I
was "randomly selected" by the security gates for a pat down by a
latex-gloved TSA agent. Other than that, I sit her now on a well
loaded but not packed flight wishing I had selected a different book
to read from my carry-on bag before stowing it away.

Sunday, July 11, 8:23 pm

After what seemed like a very bumpy flight, and a very long wait to
taxi to our arrival gate, we arrived at Philadelphia International
Airport at 5pm. The adventure continued as we tried to figure out
where to pick up our baggage as the sign showed it on one carousel
while the bags came rolling out on a different. one.

We then boarded a taxi for the drive from the airport to the Crowne
Plaza Hotel. No, not that one -- the one on City Avenue that doesn't
quite live up to its name. It's nothing any fancier than a Days Inn,

Upon checking in at the hotel we learned that we were set up two to a
room. Luckily I was put in the same room as another Manager from my
market in Indianapolis, so I'm not stuck in a room with a stranger.

Dinner tonight was at Potbelly Sandwich Shop on City Avenue. A warm
roast beef sandwich on wheat with kettle style potato chips and a dill
pickle. Pretty good stuff -- I recommend it.

Monday, July 12, 10:25 pm

Today was a full day of training activities at the company's corporate
headquarters after a less than stellar continental breakfast at the
hotel. Cold eggs, cold potatoes, and stale tasting coffee started the
long day. I learned today that the Crowne Plaza Main Line on
Philadelphia's City Avenue used to be a Holiday Inn. I don't know how
accurate that is, but it would certainly explain quite a bit.

Our training sessions today included some in-depth exercises from
Kouzes & Posner's Leadership Challenge. Some informative and
enlightening information. We also spent some time with the CEO and
Executive Vice President.

Training sessions such as this are often held at corporate
headquarters for a certain motivational factor involved. Of course,
what I'm motivated by right now is the anticipation of being home
again with my family.

Dinner tonight was a quick Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza from Target.
It was as good as it sounds (I'll let the reader figure that one out).

Tuesday, July 13, 11:58 pm

I just finished watching the Major League Baseball All Star Game,
which was the highlight of the day, as the National League (including
four Reds) broke a 14-year AL winning streak with a 3-1 victory. More
importantly, the NL champions will have home field advantage in this
year's World Series, and that could very possibly be my beloved
Cincinnati Reds.

The training session today was much like yesterday's, as we wrapped up
Kouzes & Posner's "Leadership Challenge." Tomorrow we will meet with
our assigned mentors and work on an improvement plan from these

Dinner tonight was provided by the company at a place called The Pour
House. It appears to be a bar or pub in which the upstairs was
reserved for our gathering. Wings were served (of which I am no fan)
and Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches (which were very enjoyable). While
I wouldn't recommend the place for it's atmosphere, the sandwiches are
highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 14, 9:25 pm

Today was the most beneficial day of this entire training program for
me so far. I met with my assigned mentor throughout the day and we
worked on developing a plan to help guide me through the program
toward promotion on the other end. I was quite impressed with him, the
relationship we've already struck up, and how someone accidentally
paired me with someone who has workplace values so closely aligned
with my own.

After today's session we had the second of two company-sponsored
dinners -- this one designed for us to meet informally with our
mentors and do some networking. The Vice President of Human Resources
joined my table and we had some of the most stimulating and
enlightening conversation of the week. The dinner was at the hotel, so
I obviously can't recommend it as a place to dine, but I can recommend
that you take any similar opportunity to dine that allows you to
network with people you might otherwise not have the chance to meet

Thursday, July 15, 8:13 pm

Today felt like the longest day of the week. Maybe because the
material was starting to become repetitive, maybe because it was the
last full day of training and I'm looking forward to going home
tomorrow evening.

In addition to classes today a couple of members of the executive
staff came by to speak to us about the company's expansion (yes, we
are opening new retail locations while other retailers are closing in
this economy -- we did it last year, as well) plans as well other
thoughts about our people.

So I've packed my things with the exception of what I'm wearing now
and what I'll wear tomorrow. I've already checked-in online for my
flight, printed my boarding pass, and checked and paid for my baggage.
I'm ready (anxious, really) to get back home to see my family.

Friday, July 16, 2:54 pm

Class is over and we're on our way to Philadelphia International
Airport -- 13 people with luggage packed like sardines into an
extended Ford Econoline 350 van. I'm hoping to get on an earlier
flight home. Currently I'm booked on a flight for 6:05 pm.

Friday, July 16, 5:12 pm

Sitting in the airport right now and my plane just pulled up to the
gate. We're supposed to be boarding in about 20 minutes. Getting

Friday, July 16, 11:38 pm

The flight back from Philadelphia landed in Indianapolis about twenty
minutes early. The plane was nearly filled to capacity.

My wife and kids picked me up at the airport and we went to Donatos
for pizza. When we got home the kids gave me a HUGE homemade welcome
home card they made for me. We had brownies and ice cream, then my son
had a song he wrote (literally wrote the lyrics out on paper) for me
that he sang and played on his new guitar. I can't even begin to
explain how exciting that was!

The trip was informative. I got to network with some great people. But
it's wonderful to be back home!

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