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2 posts from November 2013

19 November 2013

Up in the air: Travel essentials for the savvy road warrior

I must say that when you love your job time can really fly.  In this regard, I can hardly get my head around the fact that I’ve been operating in global roles with PwC for nearly eight years now.  And when working in a global role, time isn’t the only thing that flies, I fly too.  As with most internationally focused roles travel (and sometimes a lot of it) is a critical component of what I do.  At this stage, I feel I’m more expert than many when it comes to the art of being a savvy business traveller; however there is still plenty of room for improvement. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Delilah Panio, Founder and CEO of Stiletto Dash in New York recently. Delilah shared so many great tips with me on the art of business travel that I just had to ask her to write a guest blog so we could bring these great tips to our Gender Agenda blog readers.
Enjoy!

Aoife

To many people, business travel seems glamorous – dashing off to exciting cities, meeting new people, dinners with top clients and executives, and of course the potential for shopping. But the corporate road warrior knows that the realities of travel, like living out of a suitcase and missing friends and family, can be tough. While great for the career, it can take a major toll on the body, mind and relationships.

Stiletto-DashAt Stiletto Dash we know business travel doesn’t have to be brutal… and in fact can be instrumental to your personal and professional development. The key to successful travel is to get set up for success by arming yourself with the best tips and tools to stay happy, healthy and connected on the road.

Gear Up – Avoid major aggravation by getting the best gear from tote to suitcase to toiletry kit. Nothing slows an airport dash like the wrong carry-on. Spend the time to research and buy the best gear that works for you. Always keep your essentials packed and ready to go. Replenish items after each trip, have duplicates (especially of phone chargers!), and create a packing list or download a packing app.

Freshen Up – There is nothing like plane cabin air to suck the life out of you… literally! So keep fresh with travel sized hand sanitizer, face mist, essential oils (lavender for calm, peppermint for energy), and lots of water which is the best thing for energy and good skin. If you are feeling off or sick, a simple concoction of lemon, honey and cayenne pepper can kill those travel bugs. Also, many airports now have mini spas where you can enjoy a pre-flight mani/pedi or massage. Download your airport app to check for spas, oxygen bars and sleep pods.

Style Up – Even if you are committed to a carry-on, you can still look good on the road with the right travel wardrobe. Choose travel-friendly fabrics, multi-functional suits and pieces, and accessories! Shoes are the biggest issue for women, so wear the bulkiest on the plane (we are in fall boots season), switch out sneakers with lightweight flattening shoes like Skechers.

UP

Eat Up – We all know the deal with airplane food so it’s best to bring your own food for at least your departure flight. While you are trekking between airports and meetings, carry snacks like almonds, seaweed chips or dried fruit to avoid getting hangry (hungry and angry) or pigging out at the conference cocktail reception. Avoid mini bar treats (over priced and bad for you), take high quality vitamins, download airport apps to find healthy food options, and indulge in some healthy snacks like dark chocolate almonds or berries to keep you smiling.

Drink Up – Water, water, water! We can’t say enough about the miracle of water to keep hydrated and to avoid fatigue and jet lag. You can also jump on the latest healthy beverage craze with choices like Naked Green Machine or coconut water that are sold in most airports.

Step Up – Probably most critical to travel wellness is that you have to get moving or the pounds will pile on. If the hotel gym isn’t up to par, then walk the airport or your destination city (get a FitBit to track your progress and keep you motivated), download yoga (yogaglo.com) or calisthenics workouts (youtube), or ask the hotel if they can provide work out gear in your room.

Dial Up – Stay connected to home and office with the latest tech tools. Skype, Facetime, Facebook Chat, Google Hangout and ooVoo are some of the best options for video chatting with loved ones. To keep up with the office, sign up for Go-to-Meeting or MobileMeet. And to keep working on those long flights, many airlines are now offering in-flight WiFi and in North America, you can buy WiFi through GOGO.

Listen Up – Sometimes the best part of travel are the downtimes in airports (turn delays into a good thing) and on planes. Be sure to keep your smartphone loaded with your favorite music playlists, meditations to get through long days (Simply Being app), Flipboard for the latest news, Rosetta to learn a new language, TedTalks for inspiration, and audio books for a little mind escape.

Meet Up – Another huge bonus of business travel is meeting interesting people. You just never know who you are going to meet on the plane, at a client meeting or corporate event. Capitalize on the opportunity to expand your personal and professional network by checking out local professional associations, asking your contacts for the local watering hole for your industry, searching local social groups (meetup.com) and downloading social apps (hereonbiz).

Lighten Up – While you are traveling on business there is no reason not to take advantage of the many travel perks. Explore your destination’s history, music, events, shops; volunteer at a local non-profit; kill time between meetings by playing games on your smartphone (hello Candy Crush); or turn your hotel room into a spa with bubble bath, travel candle and a soothing music playlist.

Delilah-PanioKeep Up – Get the latest tips and tools by going to stilettodash.com and subscribe to get your FREE copy of the Fall issue of the Stiletto Dash e-magazine.

Delilah Panio is Founder and CEO of Stiletto Dash. Stiletto Dash is the premier online destination for women business travellers. Their mission is to help women be healthier and happier on the road by providing original and curated content, products and services.

08 November 2013

Sunshine is the best disinfectant

Last month’s New York Times article on the Harvard Business School gender case study intrigued me because it demonstrated modest but encouraging success that interventions can level the gender playing field in high-performing settings.

The experiment – meant to surface and address gender biases in the prestigious MBA program by changing how students spoke, studied and socialized – surfaced those, and much more. By graduation, due to interventions like stenographers in class to guard against biased grading, private coaching after classes for untenured female professors, and a departure from case-studies, the school had become a “markedly better place for female students.” This was based on more women participating in class, an unprecedented number of them winning academic awards, a “much improved” environment according to faculty and students, and the feeling of solidarity among students – most had the sense that the improved participation of women helped everyone.

The study shows that interventions have the potential to level the playing field and make a difference in the success of female leaders. But it also revealed that a culture open to difference goes far beyond gender lines and is in fact more about how inclusively we behave. In the study, for example, being overweight or not being part of a social club created barriers that bled into the classroom.

The Harvard dean’s ambitions were high, his claims refreshingly audacious. Seeing HBS as the standard-bearer of American business, he felt that turning around the school’s record on women would have a significant cascade effect on Fortune 500 companies: what he called leading the way and then leading the world in doing it.

I think we should pay attention to the sliver of hope in this case study as well as HBS dean Nitin Nohria’s belief that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

I was aghast when I first heard Sheryl Sanberg’s account of her 2011 speech to Harvard graduates. She said:

“If current trends continue, 15 years from today about one-third of the women in this audience will be working full time, and almost all of you will be working for the guy you are sitting next to.”

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I tried this line on a group of undergraduates recently. Most of the students (equally split between men and women) stared at me blankly. Some of them laughed uncomfortably. In short, they did not believe this applied to them in the least.

A Harvard undergraduate degree costs about $200,000, an MBA about $100,000 USD – so the degree is far more than an imprimatur. And yet a study earlier this year found that many women who graduate from such top-tier universities choose to stay home once they have children, perhaps because their elite degree gives them the confidence that they’ll be able to reenter the workforce. Even then, the article points out that taking time off can be a setback – women lose 16 percent of their earning power and a quarter of them will return to fewer management responsibilities. So, the pure economic incentive for women to pursue such elite degrees is less potent.

Since female graduates of elite schools work less, they influence corporate culture less since there are fewer female role models in business and fewer women in executive positions.

I believe the Harvard study provides some hope that interventions can make a difference. I also believe that the awareness, time, and dedication to the topic in and of itself will have an impact on how the next generation of leaders – male and female alike – comport themselves in the business world. And that’s good news for all of us.

a bientot,

Dale