Fly Smart to Work Smart: 5 Tips

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 )


Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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