How to Create Life-Changing Experiences While on a Business Trip

ICSC RECon, 2016

Picture this: You and your friend fly into McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, grab your rental car and head west. You stop at REI to pick-up snacks, and then head to the grocery store to buy dinner for tonight and lunch for tomorrow. You check-in at your hotel — it’s late — slam dinner, and go to bed.

Your alarm goes off at 4 AM local time, but you’re on central time and feel good. You and your friend hop in the rental and drive 60 minutes northwest to the Mount Charleston Wilderness within the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest, throw on your pack and head up into the mountains. It’s beautiful. The air is clean, fresh and crisp. It’s calming. There’s no cell phone service.

You’ve done this before — spent time in the mountains, at altitude — but your friend never has. He’s suffering a bit, but excited. You’re in Las Vegas, but there are no bright lights. No casinos. No smoke. No street peddlers. Just nature.

It’s mid-May, but there’s snow halfway up the mountain. It’s a bit chilly. Actually, you’re surrounded by snow-covered peaks. It’s awesome.

You’re a couple hours into the hike, and the summit is at just over 10,000 feet. You’re at 9,300'. Your friend is really starting to feel the altitude now. You tell him that you’ll see him at the summit, and take off running. Your lungs burn, but you keep going.

You hit the summit — by yourself — and climb a tree. Those views!

Your friend gets to the summit out of breath, but with a huge smile on his face. He throws his arms in the air and yells “YEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!” He just summited his first mountain… and it was over 10,000'. People told him he couldn’t do it. But he crushed it.

Adrenaline is high, so we keep following the trail and head down the other side of the mountain. We come across a tree. A big tree. It’s a Bristlecone Pine and is over 3,000 years old.

We decide this is a good turn-around point, and head back to the car. We drive halfway down the mountain and find a good overlook site on the side of the road and stop to eat lunch on the hood of the car. The views are on fire.

We hop back in the car and head down the rest of the mountain, stopping at the ranger station to change and top off on water. Back to the airport, drop off the car, hop in cab, and head to the strip. We’re back in time to shower quick and then head to dinner with 3 other friends — actually all 4 are my coworkers — this is a business trip after all.

We crush dinner, run through a casino or two, and then head to bed. Tomorrow’s a big day. ICSC RECon starts — the Global Retail Real Estate Conference. RECon is fun, but also hard work… 15–20 miles per day. Meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting. Late night dinners. A little gambling. Repeat for a few days, and then fly home.

I used to do RECon (and other conferences) like everyone else— fly into town on Sunday, go to the pool, go do dinner, hit the conference Monday and Tuesday, fly home Wednesday. Blah.

Life is about creating experiences, and work conferences provide the perfect opportunity to experience adventure. It’s almost a “free” vacation — you’re already there… do something that you’ll remember for a long time. You might have to tack an extra day on the front or back of the trip. Your legs might be a bit more tired. You might have to pay for a rental car or an extra hotel night. It’s OK. It’s worth it.

But I can’t leave early I have a family.” Leave a day early, and then take the red-eye home. You can do it.

But I’m traveling by myself what do I do?” Find an adventure by yourself. You’re a big boy, Karl.

But I have to walk a lot at my conference — my feet and legs will be tired.” Suck it up, you’ll be OK.

But I want to sit by the pool — it’s nice and warm here.” You’ve been sitting by the pool for the last 10 Years, Rick. Do something different.

But doing extra things is expensive.” No it’s not Alice! Plenty of things are free… like walking in the mountains.

There’s a famous saying — “Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you.

This is the best way I’ve found to hack a “free” vacation. You (or your company) is already paying for this trip — put in a little effort and do something extra that you’ll remember years from now when you’re lying on your deathbed. You won’t remember that $0.10 that you blew on the penny slots at the Golden Nugget, but you’ll remember the 10,000' peak that you crushed on a whim.

Get out and explore the country we’re so fortunate to call home.

Have suggestions or agree/disagree with what I’ve said? Engage with me on Twitter at @MKZjosh and keep the conversation going.

PS. This was our pre-trip attached to RECon 2015. I was solo pre-trip 2016 and went stand-up paddleboarding in Lake Las Vegas and hiked Valley of Fire State Park. RECon 2017 is big — we’re doing Zion National Park in Utah before the conference.

Valley of Fire State Park, 2016

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