Will that be a Window or Aisles Seat?

20140321_133818We’ve all been there.  You’ve made the decision to travel and fly to your destination.  Once that decision is made and your ticket is booked, next comes the second decision, choosing your seat.  If Business class is your style or covered by an expense account, this story is not as relevant since space isn’t as much an issue.

Strategy is required to make your seating decision.  If it’s a longer haul and you need to catch up on sleep…window has always been my first choice. In fact, I choose the window for short haul’s as well.   I get settled in my little corner, unpack my things, stuff my shawl between the seat and window and know  my journey  will be as uneventful as possible unless I have to arm wrestle to place my elbow on that joint arm rest, I’m pretty much left alone.  Not the same for those who choose the aisle seat.  And for those poor people who sit in the middle seat…..God bless you!

Aisle seat selection means you will have some level of interruption.  It comes with the seat.  People like me tucked away in the corner, with a view of the tarmac and the sky at some point, eventually need to stretch our legs or go to the “toilet”.  Unless you’re wearing a “Maximum Absorption Garment” aka adult diaper, you need to move and displace a number of people.  I often think of that former female Nassau astronaut who drove 900 miles across 5 states in her effort to kill, unsuccessfully, her former lover’s new girlfriend in Florida.   She wore her diapers as a time saving strategy to reduce pit stops and bathroom breaks which would have slowed her down. Perhaps she was on to something i.e. flight pants! 

Today’s planes are designed to stuff as many people as possible, especially if you have not upgraded within the coach section of the plane.  I can’t believe we now have 3 areas to upgrade within coach class.  Who would have believed the airlines could get so clever.  But they did, and at a great cost to comfort.  If you don’t want to pay for the extra leg room (only a few seats here) or agree to pay to save lives and direct traffic in an emergency….you are in tight quarters.

You cross your legs for as long as possible, refuse to drink and decrease your chance to get up, but these strategies are not guarantees.  I was on a flight to Denver recently and found myself in need to reach the restroom.  I nudge my neighbor and declare my intentions.  She then nudges her neighbor, the guy in the aisle seat and we start the symphony of movement.  My balance is pretty good but you’re standing in an awkward position, knees bent like in a sitting position, you try not to cling to the seats in front of you but no luck there and you move as fast as you can across the row.

It’s not one swift saunter across the row.  Oh no.  There are a couple of pit stops along the way.  There is no other way than to find some balance by sitting on the 2 arm rests to get out.  Now if this doesn’t get you in the mood to move a little faster, nothing will.  A little pressure down there just makes you wish you had a pair of those astronaut flight pants.   Unlike those anticipated slow dances from your high school Sadie Hawkins dances, where you waited for the “grinder” songs, this is reminiscent of grinding but with no Donna Summers within hearing distance.

You hope like hell no one is watching but you know they are.  I too like to see the techniques of others trying to do the same thing.  You’re stuck and this is one form of in-flight entertainment not mentioned in the company magazine.   Besides, you interrupt at least 5 people in your attempt to perform the bathroom athletics so the least they can do is watch and learn.  The return trip to the window seat requires as much effort only this time, you can only laugh at yourself, enjoy the ride and start designing those in-flight pants for shy people who just want to go while staying in place!

 

From the Pages of Canada’s Globe and Mail

I was recently interviewed by Leah Eichler, Globe and Mail journalist,  for a story on digital overload.  It was fun and interesting looking at the habits we build over time and how I manange my life (or try to) with both old and new school techonology and life approach.  Enjoy the piece!

Mobile devices improve productivity, but the compulsion to be plugged in all the time can lead to exhaustion and underscores the need for better work-life balance.

Thinkstock

Taking a break from digital overload

LEAH EICHLER

Published Friday, Nov. 09, 2012 06:49PM EST

Last updated Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 09:05AM EST

Lately, I fantasize about taking a holiday.

Not a destination holiday – which are hardly relaxing now that my Android phone and iPad accompany me everywhere – but a digital one. I crave a break where I can go for an hour or two without checking one of my digital devices. It’s more complicated than it sounds, given that I have been sleeping with my iPad for more than a year. Before that, my BlackBerry never left my side.

During moments of work stress, I find myself moving from one device to another to check e-mail or social media notifications. I want to stop but, in true Pavlovian style, the new e-mail chime proves irresistible even if checking it doesn’t bring relief.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology and, despite the jokes about “crackBerries,” research shows that mobile devices improve productivity and our lives. But this compulsion to be productive all the time can lead to digital burnout. I worry that one day I will direct my resentment at some unwitting sender who harmlessly CCs me on a lengthy e-mail chain.

I recognize the irony of running a digital media company while advocating for some offline time, but I’m not alone in my stance. The whole reason for Silicon Valley’s annual Wisdom 2.0 conference is for executives from leading technology companies to gather to discuss how to achieve balance in the digital age.

Canadians should take heed. A 2012 comScore Inc. report showed we lead the world in online engagement, spending more than 45 hours a month online, five more than the U.S. average. We also spend an average of 2.8 hours daily on mobile devices.

Rather than joining ranks with the Luddites, a middle ground on the technology front may be available that not only saves our sanity, but also proves beneficial for businesses.

In her book Sleeping with Your Smartphone, Harvard Business School Professor Leslie Perlow recounts an experiment at the Boston Consulting Group in which each member of a six-person group took turns disconnecting at 6 p.m. until the next morning – sometimes against their will. This “predictable time off” led to more collaborative and efficient teams, the experiment found.

Some companies impose similar limitations. For example, Volkswagen shuts off e-mails for some of its employees 30 minutes after their shift ends and starts them again 30 minutes before their next shift.

But without an enforced structure, most people find their own way to cope.

Ottawa-based Janice McDonald, co-founder of iStyleOriginals.com and mymusic.ca, took an unintentional digital break when her BlackBerry took a spin in the washing machine on a recent holiday.

“After the initial panic and withdrawal, I learned that there are far fewer urgent e-mails that need to be answered immediately. Most can wait for a more convenient time that suits my schedule,” she said.

The impact of that unexpected break proved beneficial for her business life; Ms. McDonald said she no longer treats her BlackBerry as another person at meetings and e-mail no longer drives her day, allowing her more time for strategic thinking.

Francine Gingras, vice-president of global public relations at Elizabeth Arden in New York, is an advocate of undertaking a “digital detox.”

Three years ago, when the Welland, Ont., native learned that her family’s nickname for her was “BlackBerry mama,” she decided to take a two-month, technology-free trip across Asia with her daughter. Four days into the trip, both of them had rediscovered how to be fully alert and attuned to their experience, likening it to donning a giant “do not disturb” sign.

Ms. Gingras said that clear division between digital time and face time continues to influence her managerial approach. “I am a communicator so there are some realities where I do need to be connected,” she explained.

“Giving my team and management all of my attention while with them is not only respectful; it helps me be more efficient and sets an example for this next generation of digitally savvy millennials,” she added.

The influence of the digital break extends to her daughter, Josephine Sullivan, 19, a student at at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “I don’t think it’s healthy to be reliant on temporary things. Sometimes I need to disconnect to get some quiet time to do other things,” Ms. Sullivan said.

Even smaller companies are beginning to see the value of a digital disconnect for increased productivity.

In September, Adrienne Graham, chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Empower Me! Corp., a business strategy consulting firm, took her family on a Caribbean cruise. Not only did she leave all technology behind, she gave her team the time off from work – and their devices – as well.

“I can’t say what they did with their time,” said Ms. Graham, but she credits the break for a boost in creativity. “I came back and the ideas started rolling in,” she said. “I was a lot more relaxed upon my return and that allowed me to be able to jump in to work without the usual stalling or dreading.”

Leah Eichler is founder of Femme-o-Nomics, a networking and content portal for professional women and r/ally, a mobile collaboration app.

E-mail: leah.eichler@femme-o-nomics.com

Leah Eichler is founder of Femme-o-Nomics, a networking and content portal for professional women. E-mail: leah.eichler@femme-o-nomics.com

© 2012 The Globe and Mail Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Career Lessons for the Next Generation

 

I recently have been working with a number of young women, one as my summer intern, and all of them curious to  know what I thought were important lessons for them as they embarked on their own career journey.  So I decided to capture what I would want to share with them and with my own daughter.  Starting out as a nurse and moving to the ranks of a senior communications executive has had its shares of ups and downs and a ton of learning along the way.  

I decided to capture those lessons from different times in my career to demonstrate what one can learn wherever they are.  You don’t learn it from any one book, person or job.  It’s the combination of everything that eventually builds confidence and a sense of knowing what to do.  I’ve been blessed to have many teachers over my career, most of which never knew they were teaching.  The popular “mentoring” efforts people formalize today didn’t exist much for me but it never precluded me from learning.  Most of what we learn, we learn from watching, listening, paying attention and then trying things out. 

So what advice would I give my own daughter? What would I want her to be aware of as she grows into being her own person?  The first thing I would tell her is that where you start is not where you end up.  I started my career as a Registered nurse, mostly ICU and today I head global public relations and corporate communications for a publicly traded beauty company…yes, a beauty company.  So how does that happen and what have I learned? 

Career transitions or I call them “career takeovers” happen when you let your professional life unfold by following your passion and building on your strengths.  As a nurse, I learned that great communication skills are at the basis of great patient care and focusing allows you to deliver what’s needed to get the job done.  When someone’s life becomes a straight line, there is no room for error.  Focus and timing is everything.  Listening to my patients, asking the right question, being specific and understood and working collaboratively matters in a hospital and everywhere else.

Solid communications translate into selling skills, so I moved out of the hospital into the arms of a drug company to become a “detail man”.  That term was transitioned into sales rep soon after most companies realized that women could sell.  I left nursing, not simply because of the night shift (I could never stay awake past 5am and that’s a problem when you work in ICU) but I was curious to move on and learn something new.

As a sales rep, I learned the importance of “your word” and “your action”.  If you say you are going to do something and you do it…people trust you.  Trust is the foundation of great relationships and positive relationships are needed to move beyond a certain point.  Trust is also what people buy into when they move you up the ladder and it’s what people remember most.  Your boss’s will only raise you and your career if they trust you.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  No trust = limited movement.

Working hard and then some is what separates you from the others.  Working hard is expected.  And the “and then some” is the icing on the cake.  It’s what’s your employer is looking for when thinking of advancing your career.  Just doing your job is not getting you where you want to go unless of course you are happy to stay where you are.  Some people are happy to stay put and knowing that, understanding how far you want to go and being happy about that decision is perfectly fine.  We don’t all want the same things and thank God for that.  

I started to move up the pharmaceutical ladder and took sales management positions I never believed I was ready for, but those who I worked for saw things differently.  It was challenging at times, a constant learning curve but if you are willing to grow where you are planted…good things can and will happen.  There are three types of people in the workplace (same in the world at large).  People who make things happen, people who look at others make things happen and people who don’t even know anything happened. That third category kills any career!  We all think of doing great things and some of us actually do them.  If you want advancement, you need to be both a thinker and be a doer.  Early in your career you do things.  Eventually you get to think about what needs to be done and do them.  If this works out well for you and people trust you, eventually you do the big thinking (called strategy) and inspire, motivate others to carry out your plan. 

Then one day, a challenge (in my case the advent of AIDS drugs) happens and you leap forward in uncharted waters where it’s all gray.  No black or white road signs, just a lot of unknown.  Unknown territory really means opportunity.  I was placed in a role that had not existed before in a category that was fraught with peril and yes people were dying.  Bravery or stupidity? I wasn’t a journalism major or a professional in public affairs, but none of that prevented me from taking a role as head of public affairs for the company in Canada.  I was a nurse who could sell and I didn’t let myself or others “pigeon hole” me into one thing or another.   Realize that you can repurpose your skills and experience to do other things.  What I did have was a solid foundation of what would be needed (strong communication skills, common sense, perseverance and tons of energy) to figure things out and a supportive management that yes…trusted me.  It is your cumulative experience and knowledge that prepares you.  Not just your education or past experience.   The sum of all of your parts comes to play in your thirties.  Those gray areas are where careers are made and broken.

Faced with unprecedented challenges in dealing with AIDS activist (and they were a tough bunch I admired) reporters looking to portrait the pharmaceutical industry as greedy and a government (Canada) paying attention, I learned that I needed much more than me.  I needed a network of collaborators and needed to constantly communicate up, down, sideways, inside and outside of my role.  Others had to travel with me if I was going to get anything accomplished.  In time and with experience you learn who needs to know what when.  Not everybody needs to be involved at the same level all the time. 

Judgment, context and common sense always prevail.  We’ve all seen those people who report on absolutely everything and in the process; even if they are doing good work, disengage people because they are seen as “climbers” and “brown nosers”.  A sure career killer if there was ever any.  Yes, you might see them getting some traction but eventually, the world catches up with them and their careers become limited.

There were many dark days in that role and I didn’t always believe I would get through it.  It was hard, grueling and emotional work but I persevered.  Perseverance is the art of moving forward no matter what.  I was once told by one of my mentors that all forward movement is good.  Even when you fall down, you fall in a forward movement, rarely backwards.

With success in my sails, I was promoted to move to the big leagues in New York.  Probably the scariest position I ever accepted.  This was after all the Big Apple and I was sure people would make mince meat out of this little French Canadian girl.  I changed everything in my world yet changed nothing about me.  I wasn’t going to pretend to be anything but who I was.    Being your authentic self and not pretending to be anyone else is easy and it’s what people remember.  The “you” we are does evolve over time, and we build and develop with experience.  But your values, those things that you are known for, stay pretty much the same.

I had many lateral moves once in New York.  Different business divisions working on different projects for different people.  By my late 30”s, I established myself as a strong crisis and issues manager.  AIDS drugs was the first crisis of many to  follow inclusive of silicone breast implants, counterfeit infant formula products, cancer allegations and hair dye safety, mislabeled products in China, natural products movement and others.  The one reason I believe I was successful in taking on these issues was my ability to simplify the complexity of what was going on and keeping things as simple as possible for the masses and being able to go deep with only the few where it mattered most.  None of what I was dealing with was simple but the ability to express the complex in a simple manner is a great skill to develop.  I have seen many people in my career who are way smarter than me and have much more education.  But if they can’t express themselves in a way that will bring others along and get to resolution, they don’t move up the ladder at any great neck speed.

Life happens and I was blessed with a daughter in 1993.  The most important and cherished milestone in my life!  All of sudden you are faced with the questions of “life balance”.  What is it, how do you get it, how do you manage it, what role do you and your husband play in it, what does it look like, on and on, like a roller coaster.  Bottom line, you can have it all but not all at the same time!  Accept this simple reality and you will have less stress and more fun.  This is also a time in your career where you need to know yourself enough to know what is non-negotiable for youWhat are you willing to sacrifice and what won’t you sacrifice or put on the back burner?  It could be any number of things and it’s different for all of us.  But knowing this is critical for you to have “balance” if you will work and be someone’s mom, wife, daughter, sister, neighbor etc all at the same time.  For me it was my daughter’s doctor’s visits; regular visits or emergency visits.  Birthdays and Sunday dinners…I had to be there no matter what.  Did I always get my way?  Not always.  But knowing where I wasn’t going to cheat myself helped to limit the emotional damage that often plagues young professional women.

I eventually found myself at a beauty company, was acquired by a much larger company (Fortune 50), survived a decade of growth and retired to be home with my 12th grader who was preparing for college.  Following a full time career of hard work, long hours and global travel, I needed to be present for this college prep year.  It became a non-negotiable item on my bucket list.  She wasn’t the one needing me.  She had grown up to be independent, beautiful and strong.  I was the one who needed her.  I was the one who needed to be present and enjoy that journey with her.  Time is the one thing you can’t buy, re-do or reclaim.  It really is the most precious asset, don’t waste it.

With my daughter moving into her next chapter, I decided to go back into another career chapter for a smaller company where I knew I could make a difference.   I also realized that I had more to give and really loved working.  I now head PR and corporate communications for a global beauty company and am privileged to work with amazing young women and men (mostly women).  I leverage and share all that I know, have experienced and continue to learn and grow with them.  I mentor and teach as I go.  I welcome people to shadow me and learn from the front lines.  I explain and give background.  Sharing what you know builds community, strength and a positive workplace.   I challenge people and ask of them only what I would ask of and expect from myself.  I also keep putting things into perspective.  Unless things are life threatening…anything can be managed!

 

 

 

Twelve Lessons From the Ground Up

 

1)      Where You Start is Not Where you End Up

Don’t let the location or position of where you are today limit where you can go tomorrow.  Job skills and experience can be repurposed into new adventures.  Always think about what skills you have, not which ones you don’t have.  Follow your passions and build on your strengths.

2)     Develop Strong Communications Skills

Your ability to listen, ask the right questions, and use positive language that is understood is at the basis of anything good happening to you.  Communicate often as needed, up, down, sideways internally and externally.  Know who needs to hear what and when.

3)     Say What you Mean and Mean what you Say

Stand on your word.  If you commit to something, do it!  At the end of the day, you are only as good as your word.  Trust is build form this simple principle.

4)     Work Hard and Then Some

Always do more then what is expected.  That’s when you get noticed.  You need to be both a thinker and doer.

5)     Grow where you are Planted

Do your best wherever you are, even if you aren’t happy to be there.  Nothing lasts forever and be able to grow and learn in any situation bodes well on your abilities and flexibility.  Don’t be afraid to leap forward in uncharted waters.  Careers are made there. 

6)     Collaboration

You are nothing if you don‘t learn to work with and ask other’s for their help.  We live in a society where partnership is the only way to get anything done.  Love to collaborate and love the energy and diversity it brings along.

7)     Judgment, Context and Common Sense

It seems simple but sometimes people forget that your instincts have strength and context is critical as it can change your thinking.  Who are you talking to and what do they need?  This question alone will propel any career!

8)     Change Everything and Change Nothing

Be willing to do adapt to a new world.  Embrace change but stay true to yourself.  Being your authentic self is easy and natural and it’s what people remember.

9)     Simplify the Complex

Complex matters need to be dissected and reassembled in a way that will be understood by all.  Those who can do this well… win.

10)  Share Your Knowledge and Experience

Don’t keep knowledge to yourself.  People who can share the wealth build better and successful teams.  Keeping knowledge to yourself will make you look like a control freak and will limit your possibilities.

11)  Perseverance

Persevere until it’s obvious you need to stop.  And if you do stop…stop and move on.

 

12)  Having it All…Not all at the Same Time

Except the fact that multi tasking and being a super women is a short term plan.  Except the reality that you can accomplish a great deal more when you focus on fewer things at the same time.  You will be better organized, less stressed and more successful.  No what you want and know what is non-negotiable in your life.

I have shared these lessons with you, now its your turn to share with others who could benefit!

Magical and EmotionalTransformations

Every year in August, the largest blogger conference takes place in the US.  BlogHer, the largest network of bloggers have their two and half day conference where bloggers from all over come to learn, be inspired, share and teach.  I have had the pleasure of attending twice and each time I come back home with more information than I know what to do with!  This year wasn’t any different.

But there was one event, where I was not only a blogger on site, I was part of a team that came in to help prepare 12 bloggers for the fashion show, hopefully a new tradition for the conference.  I was fortunate to be in the make-up room where Elizabeth Arden, lead by famed global Make-up artist Rebecca Restrepo and her team of creative artists transformed our bloggers and made them red  carpet ready.

These were not professional models, they were bloggers.  Women who  have passion and share their stories,  ideas and opinions with thousands of other women just like them.  But by the end of the night at that magical “showtime” moment, they all had the confidence, spirit and “savoir faire” of any professional model.    Some of the bloggers teach you to love what you got , how to make the most of it and how you can make a difference by knowing more than you thought you knew .  All inspiring in their own unedited way. That’s the beauty of blogs.  They are unfiltered by the traditional editorial process that we find in magazines and newspapers.  Some of these women become their own brands, write books and become spokespeople for their point of view.

Back to the makeup room, or shall I say the room that serves “medicine for the soul”.  For many of us,  the rituals of applying the “oh so perfect” make-up and having that fit your personality “stop them dead in their tracks” hair updo, it makes us feel good.  And when we feel good, we look great!  I spoke to many of the models and each has her own story, each has her level of excitement for the show that was about to happen.

There was Erin, a popular BlogHer staffer who has been recovering from an illness this past year and half and this was her “coming out party” as she described.  Life has been difficult for the last  little while but nothing was going to stop the positive energy that radiated from her gorgeous smile…nothing was going to get in her way!

Laura, a wonderfully smart, kind and funny young women with Spina Bifida, was no stranger to cosmetics.  Growing up, her mother (who I fell in love with, what strength and wisdom) made sure that no outing was without proper skin care and make-up applications.  A ritual passed on by generations of women before her.  The Elizabeth Arden  make up room was like a candy store for grown girls!  The other women were just as engaged, excited and left the room looking fabulous!  Their own perfect blend of color and beauty.

I was a hospital  nurse at one point in my career and knew female patients were recovering when they asked for their lipstick or blush.  This was a clear indicator that they felt better and wanted to be themselves .  We all know what one product we would take with us on a deserted island (if you’ve ever been asked that silly question). Ffor me, it would be a lip product…color and care of course!

When Laura came to the stage, wheelchair in tow with the music clamoring of excitement, she got up to walk the runway in her chic printed dress and the crowd went wild.  She was in her element and her poise and radiance lit the room.  I looked for her parents in the audience, knowing that they too were as happy as I was cheering her on.

Erin. our grand finale girl, took the stage by storm.  Elegantly dressed in a long dress, carrying her sassy generous self up the runway and signaling to all that she was back with vigor.  Her mile long smile along with her glistening eyes suggested that she was on the mend and happy to be back amongst her community.  She never missed a beat and showcased her model like turns and head swings to an adoring audience.

I am teary eyed as I write this because the whole experience for me was so memorable and such a happy one.

The power that we have as individuals when we feel our best is unstoppable.  If we believe  we can…we do.

You can reach and follow Laura’s blog at http://www.holdinoutforahero.org/ and Erin’s at http://queenofspainblog.com

    Laura ready to get going…with mom at her side.

 

 

This One Made Me LOL…Really

I have recently started to play with Tweeter, not knowing what I would find and how it would entertain or educate me. I have to tell you that in the last 48 hours, I’ve been entertained,I  have been laughing more often and have found a community of witty people with great stories. This one I share form GS Elevator (unedited) . The site claims these stories come from those who ride the elevators of of the esteemed financial giant GS.  You can also visit the blog http://gselevator.wordpress.com/  to read more stories like this one.

The Mile High Club

It’s been a whirlwind 3 days in Miami – a city that I have always detested until now. It’s got no substance, and even the rich people are seedy. This, however, was a bachelor weekend to remember, the details of which are to remain forever sealed, mostly because I don’t remember many of them.

I’ve got nothing left in the tank, so I’m sitting in the bar at the Fontainebleau, killing time until I have to head to the airport. Normally, I’d do my pre-flight drinking at the airport, but MIA is a fucking shithole, and the Fontainebleau isn’t half bad. The rest of the group has long since departed, as I am the only one with an international flight.

I’m doing what I do best, self-medicating. Mentally, I’m already dead inside, so it’s just the physical pain of a 3-day binge of booze, girls, and some narcotics. Some of the groomsmen-to-be are from places like Cleveland and Albany, so I felt a moral obligation to show them you don’t need a bowling alley or shotgun to have fun.

I make the caloric-conscious switch from Bloody Mary to the Dark and Stormy – the refreshing mixture of dark rum, lime juice, and ginger beer. It’s good, but still doesn’t compare to ones at the Milk & Honey on Poland Street in London. After a few of these, it’s about that time to head to the airport. I don’t care how much the hotel bill is, and I really don’t want to see it, so I sign the bar tab to my room and leave without checking out. It’s sort of like trying not to see your available balance at the ATM when you get back from a trip to Las Vegas or Macau.

Manny gets me there in good time, although he talks too fucking much. My last trip out of Miami had been on a PJ, so already I’m a little irritated at having to deal with the terminal riff raff. I check in on American Airlines; no point going to the lounge – it’s fucking disgusting, and my flight is boarding soon anyway. I swing by a bar, chug a beer with my Klonopin and head to the gate.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, the takeoff doesn’t bother me at all. The steep turn the plane makes at what feels like a stall speed doesn’t concern me in the least; a crash would’ve put me out of my misery. I don’t know if there is a Hell, but I’m definitely on track to go there at this point, especially after the decadence and debauchery of the last few days. I quickly mumble what I could recall of the Lord’s Prayer as insurance, and go back to my iPod.

I know they say you can’t have electronic devices turned on during takeoff, but that’s such bullshit. As Douglas Bader once said, “rules are for the obedience of fools, and the guidance of wise men.” Given my fear of flying, I need my iPod for takeoffs and landings. My usual go-to tune is a Britney Spears song; it doesn’t matter which one. Not that I love Brittney Spears, but I am confident that it is not my destiny to die while listening to ‘Baby, One More Time.’

Once the plane levels off, my mood totally turns. First of all, the chick next to me is smoking hot by airplane standards. In addition, the clientele on the Miami-London flight is totally different that what I am used on the New York-London flights – bankers and BP executives.

It’s like one big First Class party, and I am the life of it. The drinks are flowing; every one is up, talking, and moving around. It’s like everything Virgin Atlantic promises but never delivers; I’m wondering if I dropped my keys in a hat somewhere.

As a world-traveling banker, but not the lacrosse-playing, Brooks Brothers kind, I can relate to most people – especially the fun-loving jet-setter types you find on a Miami-London red eye. I’m ordering people drinks, telling stories, and making jokes – I am Lloyd Christmas lighting farts at the party.

I happen to be a connoisseur of inappropriate jokes. I have the confidence and security to tell such jokes with ease, mainly because my delivery is impeccable and hits exactly where the funny overtakes the offensive. Let’s be honest, most people love to hear off-color, rude or racist jokes. As long as you can pull them off, you’ll be a hit.

I immediately seize on this unexpected atmosphere to impress Andrea, the chick sitting next to me. I soon realize that there is a chance that I might just get lucky, and that the flight attendants are cool enough that they’d let me do it. At the very least, I can set the framework to be her London tour guide, and we all know what that means.

So I ask for 2 glasses of champagne and go in for the kill. Sadly, this is right about the point where everything catches up to me and, just like that, I’m out. I don’t literally pass out; I just have no memory of what I say or do for the next hour or so before I eventually do pass out.

Subsequently, I have no recollection of landing, and very little memory of clearing customs. It’s really only once I’m showered and am heading into the office that I start to sober up. Fuck, I hope I didn’t embarrass myself. Fuck it. Who cares? I never got her number, so it doesn’t matter any way.

A couple of days go by and I’ve more or less forgotten about the trip back, when a mysterious email lands in my work inbox:

Dear [me],

I just had to send you an email.

I have to say that you are by far the most interesting, entertaining, and funny person I have ever had the privilege of meeting on an airplane. You are a beautiful soul, inside and out.

I felt an immediate connection with you, and sense that the feeling is mutual. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the courage to be sending you this email.

I fly to London 2-3 times a month, and am usually there for a couple of days at a time. I would love nothing more than to see you again.

I have been a flight attendant for 14 years, and have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most fascinating and interesting people in the world from celebrities and politicians to business leaders and pro athletes. But I have never enjoyed meeting anyone as much as I enjoyed meeting you.

Sincerely,

Andrew

A Day in My New York

I have always been an adventure seeker and it is no surprise for those who know me, know and  understand that my life path was inevitably going to take me to a big city one day from my small town upbringing in Canada.  The reason is simple….adventure starts when you walk the streets of New York. It cost nothing to be entertained, stimulated,challenged and find yourself laughing out loud or wondering what I’m doing here.

The truth is, I can’t think of a better place to live for now, and probably for a long time to come.  Here are a few pictures, gathered simply walking the streets of New York.  From the rainbow man and dog who can been seen at the Union Square Farmers Market, NYC Subway map dress, Hula dancing in Central Park and a lash extension bar on 14th street.  Yes…all in just one New York  day!