I never like the idea of leaving home for business travel on a Saturday. A Sunday is bad enough, but a Saturday just feels worse. I don’t like arriving home from business travel on a Saturday either. There’s something special about both Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Something that can’t be replaced if I miss either.
Last weekend I had to leave on Saturday afternoon. I was heading to Texas for a Symposium and needed to arrive late Sunday afternoon. No matter how we looked, it just wasn’t possible with a Sunday departure. Saturday evening flight to Washington followed by Sunday morning to Texas was the only way. My family are amazing but their faces told their own story as they waved me good bye.
I made it to Texas on time. Time was my biggest problem. US switched to Summer Daylight Savings early Sunday morning. UK does not move until month end. I woke up Sunday morning in DC with each of my time keeping devices telling me a different time…and my outlook calendar was all over the place all week.
Sunday night in Texas was helpful and important. These major international Symposia (>5000 attendees) are always an invigorating experience. Stimulating, engaging and thought provoking. It was a great opportunity to create, refresh and strengthen personal networks. And this is why Sunday night was so valuable.
I always enjoy these sorts of meetings. I am always present. I have long since got out of the habit of sitting in meeting rooms but not really ‘being there’. I always seek out people; I ask questions, seek advice, and identify colleagues – old and new – for discussions. It is a long way to go – and much family time to commit – Saturday evening and all Sunday…so I really should make the most of it.
Over the years I’ve found that some of my most beneficial conversations take place – relationships developed or partnerships created – over coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Getting people together and talking often has that effect. It’s partly the food and drink. It’s partly the fact that we are not in anyone’s office. And it’s partly just that science…idea creation and problem solving…really are – at their heart – social activities.
A culture where information and knowledge is shared and received is not an easy culture to foster, but it is a very attractive culture in which to work. Symposia like the one I attended in Texas create time, place and opportunity to congregate and discuss…to enjoy and participate in social aspects of work. It’s a simple but very effective strategy. It succeeds at a Symposium in the same way it succeeds at work.
It is easier for us all to trust people we have met and spoken with. It is easier for us to trust a person than it is to trust a company or to trust written words. And trust inevitably builds mutual confidence.
Any good partnership survives and succeeds on a combination of trust and confidence. Trust is all about us having a positive expectation about someone else’s motives. Confidence defines the level of certainty we have that a partner will behave in a desirable manner. Trust is all about expectations; confidence about behaviours.
In Texas I spoke with work colleagues, with partner colleagues; with consultants and with analysts. I spent time with big companies and with small companies. I met individuals and teams. I put faces to names for the first time, and had lunch with someone I first met over twenty years ago.
I enjoyed investing in relationships…we all benefit from building trust.