How business travel can help you get good business ideas

It never fails for me – I get great ideas by travelling and by “doing nothing”.


I’m reminded of the words of  Alain de Botton in his book The Art of Travel:


“…large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places.”



I find I get my best ideas when I am travelling – either for leisure or for work – and I encourage you to try this method.


You’ll need to switch off from work mode and relax and do nothing.


My “method” started off by accident – and now I “do nothing” deliberately.

I seem to get a lot of good ideas when I am flying. I connect to creative ideas by disconnecting from all my technology.

In the past I would usually try to use flying time (especially on business trips) to catch up on reading work documents – or I’d watch the in-flight news or read the business sections of the paper. I always had to be doing something.

Do you feel compelled to always be doing something? – especially reading something.

plane window

Now I “do nothing” purposefully. As tempting as it is to want to use the time “productively” – I just sit in my seat and stare and out the window – the blue sky and fluffy white clouds during the day or the darkness at night. I deliberately “think of nothing in particular” and I find after a while ideas pour into that emptiness and space. I know it sounds very “zen” – emptiness is full of potential – but it works for me every time!

One thing I do however is I make sure I have a pen and paper to capture the ideas. I now have a special plane idea notebook I take with me when I fly. I used to write all my ideas on my boarding pass – but now I have the special notebook.

plane notebook pen

One time I was wrestling with a particular work problem to create some content to help clients improve their proposals. The harder I tried the harder it was to find a solution. I remember I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne for work.

It was one of those sparkling clear days you couldn’t help but want to take in the beauty. I was just staring out the plane window thinking about “nothing” when a solution came to me. I think the idea came because I was relaxed and I “wasn’t trying”. I wasn’t distracted by reading or watching entertainment.

Ever since that flight I use the disconnect, relax and do nothing “technique”. Now I don’t want you to think I do this every moment when I’m flying. When I am on overseas flights I take advantage of the movies (as I’ve written about in previous posts) but I might “do nothing” for 30 minutes or so – get some good ideas – then enjoy the entertainment.

So next time you fly – try doing nothing. I know it will be hard and you will be tempted to read or listen to music or watch the in-flight entertainment or your own iPad or other gadget – but try doing nothing.

Just, make sure you have a notebook to capture the ideas that flow to fill the “space” you have created by doing nothing.

The “secret” of allowing some space in your life.

I know I often refer to a great web resource and book – Presentation Zen – by Japan-based American professor/presenter Garr Reynolds.

In my opinion he is one of the “most interesting” professors on the subject of presentation and visual communication. Then again, I like his style because I also am a big fan of what he is a fan of – the Zen minimalism style, music (he’s a drummer which is almost like a musician! Only joking Garr!) Star Wars and being a dad.

Anyway, the reason I am writing about Presentation Zen in this post about getting ideas is – one of the best bits of advice I ever got from Garr’s book and website was this idea of “not always cramming in too much and filling up every moment your life with activity”.

Garr talks about the Japanese idea of hara hachi bu – only eating until you are 80% full – satisfied but not stuffed.

We, especially in Western business culture, tend to cram out lives too much in our “hunger” for productivity.

And yet, if we don’t feel compelled to fill every space with activity and action – our lives can be more peaceful and pleasant and yet we can still be productive and actually more effective. And, the space allows “good stuff” like ideas to flow into it.


podcasts on a plane

Enjoy, and please try “doing nothing” and see how it works for you!


TB Media mosaic

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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE

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What simple thing would persuade you to return to a hotel – this business performance booster?

Taking Care of BusinessTravel

If you travel a lot for work, as I do, do you find that many hotels can look and feel the same?


Same-looking robes and slippers, same beds and furnishings, same bathrooms?

Sure, they’re good – but they can look “the same”.

A client I was helping in Singapore booked me into a hotel I hadn’t stayed in before – and I can’t wait to go back there – and all because of the simplest thing…

the colourful and healthy morning juices.

colourful juices

Yes, there was a juice bar – and I just loooove different juices.

Juice bar

Tb juice bar

Now, if you’ve been on lots of business trips, you’ve probably filled yourself with lots of coffee to get you through your busy day.

For me, I find good juices more sustaining. I’m not as “jittery” for meetings and presentations. I seem to be calmer and more focussed. Good juices can also maintain my immune…

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Turn travel time (even business travel time) into some YOU time

Taking Care of BusinessTravel

Business Travel – trips away from your loved ones.

Lose the guilt – use the time

Back on a plane again last night – travelling for work.

  • Time to sit (without that guilty feeling you should be doing something productive!).
  • The joy of being “unplugged” for a while – no phone or e-mail
  • Not a bad meal  – and best of all
  • an episode of Modern Family I hadn’t seen before – BLISS.

Reminded of me of a blissful plane ride I posted about in another blog Busy Dad to Better Dad – specifically about how busy business dads can be more engaged dads and how you need short bursts of time to yourself.

You also need to use the time well and enjoy it.  Just sit, rest without being exhausted, pause, breathe – smile.

Travel – even business travel can be an opportunity – a pause –…

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Tips from Chris Adams on how you can be more effective on your next business trip

Chris Adams Project (CAP)

I get lots of advice from Chris and this was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from him – something I’ve really struggled with – travelling lots of business and balancing business travel with family life.

It’s so good I’ve shared it in 2 other projects and topics I am passionate in writing about:

1. Taking Care of BusinesTravel – in particular when you have to travel for business

2. Busy Dad to Better Dad – how corporate dads can be more effective at work so they can be more engaged at home

(links at end of post)

Chris Adams is a movie man, former Hollywood and Facebook exec who now lives in Australia.

In Australia, Chris runs a digital media agency (Beachball Media) and helps develop Australian movies, He travels hundreds of thousands of miles a year for business and is away up to 150 nights…

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What to do when you come back from a business trip and everybody wants a piece of you!

Chris Adams Project (CAP)

We’ve had a lot of positive response to a Chris Adams video post where he gave tips and advice on how to perform better on business trips. Chris is a very experienced traveller, an former Hollywood and Facebook exec and jet-setter! he advised how to be more effective by being less busy on your business trip and by being “effectively selfish”.

Here is a response/request  from Melinda – a busy female business traveller who wanted some tips on what do you when you get back from a business trip and everyone (family and work colleagues) seems to “want a piece of you”.

What do you do? How do you handle the “backlog” of tasks.

Chris’s advice is, as usual, honest and colourful – and useful.

Chris Adams – veteran business traveller

I personally put his tips to use of a business trip and the trip was much more productive…

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Lose the guilt, take a breath, and perform better on your next business trip – and on your return

Taking Care of BusinessTravel

Tb Singapore departures

If you travel a lot for business – you are probably carrying too much baggage – excess guilt baggage. It’s weighing you down and making you less effective in your professional and your personal life!

I know – I carried excess guilt baggage too – until I took the advice from an American former movie exec – Chris Adams (my collaborator on The Chris Adams Project)

I travel to help clients in Singapore every couple of months. I would usually work hard all week, race to the airport at the end of my last day, and jump on the first plane home (so I could get back to my family as soon as possible).

I usually get little rest – arrive home exhausted  – have to sleep for 8 or so hours to get over the trip away. I’m usually frustrated and cranky – and useless because of exhaustion. I’m

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What you can learn from a jet-setting Hollywood exec so you can perform better on your business trips

Taking Care of BusinessTravel

Chris Adams is a movie man, former Hollywood and Facebook exec who now lives in Australia.

In Australia, Chris runs a digital media agency (Beachball Media) and helps develop Australian movies, He travels hundreds of thousands of miles a year for business and is away up to 150 nights a year.

I learn a lot from Chris and you can too. I learn from him about business (pitching and negotiation etc.) and also about business travel (and juggling work and family.)

I like Chris’s honesty about challenges he faced with travel and how he had to learn to be “effectively selfish” to be a better business traveller (and family man when he gets back home).

Chris has a young son and used to cram too much into his business travel so he could get back home faster – but he found his work on his business trip suffered and he…

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