Yoshito Hori, president of GLOBIS University, managing partner of GLOBIS Capital Partners, shares his views from an entrepreneur's perspective.
People whose jobs don’t involve much traveling sometimes think that flying around the world for work is glamorous. They couldn’t be more wrong. With long flights and jet lag, international business travel is brutal physical punishment.
The worst fallout from flying I ever experienced was in 1998. (I was 36 at the time.) That year I spent six months traveling to and around Asia, the US and Europe. I ended up crossing the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Eurasian continent six times each.
The first sign of trouble was the sudden and unstoppable nosebleed I got in a meeting with a key investor on the US East Coast. Apart from the physical discomfort, “bleeding red ink” in front of a potential investor was probably not the best form of subliminal advertising!
Things only got worse later in the year.
I had gone to Israel to train with a private equity company there. On the first morning, my eyes were so dry and bloodshot when I woke up that I couldn’t open them properly. Luckily for me, the partner from the firm who came to collect me at my hotel had been a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force (IAF). As well as taking me to a pharmacy where I could buy eye drops, he gave me some advice about air travel, which I follow religiously to this day.
First of all, he stressed that despite airlines doing their best to replicate the feel of a business lounge and to distract you with meals and movies, the cabin is in fact a wholly unnatural environment for five reasons.
1. Humidity is close to zero.
2. Air pressure is below normal levels.
3. Cosmic radiation is higher than normal.
4. The space you’re in is more cramped than normal.
5. Your circadian rhythms are thrown off by jet lag.
He then gave me five tips.
1. To deal with the dry atmosphere, apply moisturizing lotion to your face and eye drops to your eyes. Hydrate yourself internally by drinking plenty of water. Wear a surgical mask to trap moisture around your nose and mouth to help soften the air you breathe.
2. To deal with the low pressure, it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol. Low pressure reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can cause symptoms like fatigue, nausea and dizziness. Having alcohol in your system will only make those symptoms worse.
3. After deplaning, get rid of any excess electromagnetism either by taking a shower or “earthing” yourself by walking barefoot on sand. If you’re lucky enough to be in Cannes or Rio on business, you can simply go to the beach and have a swim! Sadly most central business districts are rather short on sandy beaches.
4. Deal with prolonged immobility in a confined space by doing a proper exercise routine. There’s no need to feel shy in front of the other passengers. (In a way, they have more to feel ashamed about because they’re not exercising!) I always go to the space by the door and do a whole Ichiro-like routine of stretching and pushups for fifteen minutes.
5. Deal with jet lag by setting your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you’re on the plane, and behaving accordingly.
Of course, since the 1990s, awareness about flying-related problems has improved a great deal. Airlines now actively encourage us to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and to stave off deep vein thrombosis by moving around the cabin.
Despite this change of mood, certain elements of my Israeli friend’s “survival package” remain quite hard to implement. For example, while surgical masks are available in any convenience store in Japan, they can be hard to find in the West (plus people tend to feel shy about wearing them). Also, the recent strict policing of liquids in hand luggage may force you to put your eye drops and moisturizing lotion in a clear plastic bag to get them safely through the security check.
Some parts of the IAF business flyer package may seem a bit of a hassle, but I still urge you to follow them all.
After all, if you don’t fly smart, you’ll certainly have trouble working smart at your destination.
(Cover photo: Pressmaster / shutterstock )