What I Learned in Business From Traveling With My Babies
Just so you know, I love to travel. For me there’s nothing better than getting in a plane and flying off to some new place and immersing myself in the sights, sounds, smells and culture of the country in which I find myself.
I’ve loved to travel for as long as I can remember and when it came time to have kids most people told me that I would simply have to stop indulging my passion. Frankly, that was never my plan.
So upon my first son’s 6th week birthday we boarded a plane and headed off on a vacation overseas. I waited a bit longer with number two and in his 11th month we found ourselves crossing the Atlantic for a wonderful week in London and a long list of child friendly places to explore. (Keep in mind that the 3 year old was along for the ride as well.)
And so on, year after year to countries abroad and places right here in the US too.
But enough of the past (although the memories of these trips are fodder for family chat and remembrances).
The lessons I learned on these trips have helped me in business too. Here’s what I mean:
Flexibility rules. Sure you plan and sure you take steps to have everything buttoned up but come on, s..t happens. You can spend weeks tying up all the details and despite everything, there will always be a bump in the road. (When in France with my 3 and 5 year old sons, the hotel assigned them their very own room. Sounds pretty cool, and it would have been if that room was adjacent to Mom and Dad. Only problem — it was way down the hall and well, yes, we needed to come up with Plan B.) And so it goes in business that sometimes you need to have a Plan B and then be flexible and open-minded enough to deploy it exquisitely and without too much angst. Only have a Plan A? Not smart and it can be scary when Plan A disintegrates.
A little planning goes a long way. So yes, even though you have to be flexible that doesn’t mean that you dispense with any sort of planning. A good solid plan will help you through some difficult times and make it easier to handle upsets when they do come your way. (Parents, you can never have enough diapers when sitting on the tarmac for 8 hours. Trust me. Plan for delays and then be happy you didn’t need those diapers after all.) But I digress. There are lots of businesses, in all sorts of industries, that simply fly by the seat of their pants with nary a marketing plan, sales plan or 1, 3 or 5 year growth plan in place. Don’t be one of those companies!
Someone has to be the boss. Kids need grownups to help lead the way. Employees need a boss to help lead the way. Let me repeat that, employees need a boss. Someone has to take responsibility and have a vision. If you have employees and you’re running the company by default that responsibility falls to you. Rise to the occasion.
Not everyone is going to love you. Not everyone is going to love having your kids in their restaurant or hotel even if your kids are perfectly well behaved. They just don’t like kids. You simply move on. Equally true, no one has a 100% close rate despite how facile they are at the business development game. There are plenty of times that you’re going to sell your heart out and still not win the business. That’s perfectly okay as long as you take some time to learn WHY you didn’t win the business and then take that information and do it differently the next time (assuming you can of course).
Be extremely proficient at diffusing objections and hesitancies. Oh c’mon, my kids were great travelers but still, they occasionally got stubborn about the agenda we planned for the day. It was at this point that their obstinacy came out and our objection handling skills had to be deployed and deployed well. Objections and hesitancies are critical moments in the sales dialogue. Respond to them proficiently and you can still win the business. Become tongue-tied and the moment passes and so does your opportunity.
So, if you’re thinking about traveling with your kids, do it now. You’ll forge unforgettable memories and have some tactics that will work for you in business as well.