It’s a long way to the mid-west of the USA from the UK. I always fly to Chicago and make an onwards connection from there. I really like Chicago airport as a place – there’s a lot going on with lots of people rushing to lots of places, but there are also lots of cafes, and bars and restaurants. If you ever sit or stand anywhere for more than a few minutes someone will talk to you, or ask you, about something.
Spring is the best time to travel through Chicago. But as with a lot of US states, spring in Illinois can sometimes come and go in the blink of an eye. It can switch from freezing cold and deep snow, to warm sun and longer days in a matter of weeks or even days.
Summer travel through Chicago is at risk from thunder storms. Winter travel through Chicago is at risk from snow and ice storms. Autumn can be complex mix of late thunder and early snow. Spring is definitely the time to travel through Chicago.
And I did. On Monday. Daylight Savings started in the US on the Sunday. Summer time in the UK does not start until the end of March. But it definitely felt like summer had arrived in Chicago. My flight arrived on time. My transfer was smooth. My onward connection left on time. I arrived at my hotel early. The sun shone. Jokes were told. People smiled. It was a great day to travel.
I was on site in the mid-west for three days. The first I met people and groups. I dialled into calls and I met friends and colleagues in their offices. There were lots of other visitors on site. Some I knew well and others I met for the first time. There are always many new people to meet after a Big Deal. Meeting old and new people. Building relationships and renewing friendships is good. New ideas; new opportunities; new connections; new networks is very good. It was a great day on site.
My main purpose for the week as a leadership team meeting. Most of the team, plus a couple of delegates were in the room. We had remote connections and special guests by video and telephone. I always feel accountable for the meeting, and our time. I know the team feel they have to come because it is my meeting. I want them to come because we do good work and they get high value. I want them to leave looking forward to the next time.
My meeting agenda are a similar format. We see data and opportunity together. We work on owning and solving together. It can be intense. It is frequently inspiring. It is always engaging. I leave each day optimized. I depart the meeting energised. Both days were great days.
Some team members were at their first meeting of this team. One guest was at their last. We welcomed and we wished well. Everyone participated and everyone contributed. There were tears and laughter. Emotion and passion. Agreement and disagreement. Innovation and consternation.
Science is a social activity. Research is a social activity. Life is a social activity. Days and times I enjoy most are always with other people. People I love and people I appreciate.
Some of what we discussed last week will inevitably not change anything…I know that. But I also know for sure that some of what we discussed will change everything we do.
I was given three great days at work last week. I value my great days. They sustain me. And energise me. They stay with me.