Most people when they hear about how much I travel to give lectures sit there for a moment and then say, 'I can't imagine travelling like that.' Well there are indeed long hours in the car and long waits at airports. That's true, that's really the JOB of travel. That along with sleeping in impersonal hotel beds, finding mysteriously placed bathrooms at night, waking up with a brief panic 'I am everywhere, I am nowhere.'
I do not quibble with these things. I add more to the list, the blandness of restaurant food, and where is the universal access to beans on toast? So, yeah, I get it.
A number of years ago, on the road, it was all put into perspective for me. I was having breakfast down stairs in the hotel restaurant. A suit traveller was there. Joe and I see ourselves as business travellers but not suit travellers. Most suit travellers take us for retired. I was chatting with one such traveller. He asked what I was doing in (pick a city) and I explained to him about what I did and the lecture I was about to give.
He grunted into his eggs and said, 'You're one of the few lucky ones, you travel for purpose, I travel for business.' And that really did sum it up. I felt that as I took to the podium up a ramp built just for me but will be used by others. Over the course of the day I could feel that what I was saying was mattering. I took questions during break and could see that people were thinking hard about the material being presented.
It was a great day for me in Columbia. I won't know for a week or so how I scored. Public speaking is the only job you do and are evaluated every day. But in my heart I felt that Columbia had my back. They got what I was saying. On leaving I heard some people talking about the conference applying concepts I'd taught to their everyday situation. That feels good.
Today, Saint Louis... and another day on the road.