Tag Archives: work

A Wonderful Whirlwind in Japan

japan-112722_640While traveling for work, I always make an effort to carve out at least a small pocket of time to enjoy my destination… through cuisine, local acquaintances, or a drive-by sight-see. When I found out I was going to go to Japan for work recently I wasn’t sure what to expect. Meetings, dinners, train rides, repeat. While I was excited to return to Land of the Rising Sun, it was hard to imagine having any time to enjoy the culture.

Without really trying, my experience of traveling to Japan for work exceeded expectations by a mile. My trip was full of out of this world food and flavors, unexpected hospitality, meaningful local connections, and exposure to a new side of global business. I even was able to wrap up some unfinished business from my trip 10 years prior…

asdf

My American colleagues and I were lucky enough to have a few of our local Japanese colleagues with us for the vast majority of our week. When did this become invaluable? Not only when navigating the intimidating train systems, but even more so when it was time to eat. From ramen and rice to sashimi to shabu-shabu (above), I ate some of the most delicious Japanese food. The most adventurous selection of the week went to sea urchin.

14233984984_8ca6325c24_k

I’ll try everything once and that’s a great attitude to have in Japan, especially when you’ve got locals ordering on your behalf.  A dictionary of food came in handy at one meal to help in our interpretation of the beautifully presented edibles.

Name that sushi?

Name that sushi? My favorite is on the top left.

When traveling on business, you have to work to see the sights. That's why one night I kidnapped my colleague and took him on a field trip to Shibuya crossing to see the famed intersection. With little research we hoped on the train, found our way, and even stumbled into a local watering hole.

When traveling on business, you usually have to go out of your way to see some sights. That’s why one night I kidnapped my colleague and took him on a field trip to Shibuya Crossing to see the famed intersection. With little research we hopped on a late night train, found our way, and even stumbled into a local watering hole for a sake nightcap.

Coworkers

Getting the chance to do business in Japan was invaluable experience. Business in Japan is built on a foundation of respect, honesty and follow-through. I am a wiser professional after building relationships with colleagues from some of the most successful and well-established companies in the world.

Umeda Sky Building

I’ve always had a fascination with skyscrapers and tall structures, and the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka had me entranced from the moment I laid eyes on it. I had never seen or heard of it and it became the subject of early morning exploration. While I didn’t have time to go up to the hanging gardens on the top floor, it will forever be in my memory as one of the most unique buildings I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps the most

After 5 non-stop days of meetings, presentations and train rides we finally earned some official sightseeing time. Thanks to the never ending hospitality of my local colleague, we enjoyed Kyoto with visits to the Nijo Castle and the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). While I had been to both spots during my study abroad in 2004, being back was a time to reflect on how I’ve grown in the 10 years since my first visit.

Because of the nature of this trip, we spent a lot of time on the Shinkansen (bullet train)…  traveling from Tokyo to Hamamatsu to Osaka to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. During my premiere trip to Japan 10 years ago and during our ride early in the week south to Osaka, I missed the opportunity to see beautiful Mt. Fuji out the train window due to less than desirable weather. On our final train ride back to Tokyo, the day before we were to depart, as the sun was setting, without a minute of sunlight to spare, we lucked out and I finally got to see the majestic mountain.


It was a spectacular and satisfying way to wrap up an unforgettable week. More photos and memories on Flickr.

5 random treasures from CES 2012

20120111-214713.jpg

iDevices was showing off three of its latest technologies. iGrill, iShower and iNotebook. iGrill was my favorite...

20120111-214722.jpg

iGrill is a cooking device, with thermometer prongs that stick into your meat when you're grilling. You set the cooking temperature for each piece of meat and then it will alert you through your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch via Bluetooth when your meat is done cooking. How convenient! Right? Think of all the grilling multi-tasking you'll be able to do.

20120111-214730.jpg

The Romibo is a build-it-yourself robot for therapy and education, for children with physical and developmental disabilities. It was designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and it can be used to stimulate social engagement, promote emotional response and reinforce positive behavior, especially in children with Autism. I loved how passionate the woman was that we spoke to about these fuzzy still-in-development gadgets. Great to see this kind of technology at CES and I hope they were successful in finding distribution partners!

20120111-214749.jpg

Amidst a sea of iPhone accessories was this useful-in-theory but hard-to-actually-use laser keyboard.

20120111-214916.jpg

I've heard a lot about 3D printers in the last few years and this was one of the first times I've actually seen one in action. The Cube 3D printer launched at CES this year and it prints a variety of things of your liking, like chess pieces, bracelets and 5 inch shoes. It retails for $1299. What a bargain!

20120111-215005.jpg

A gadget on a bigger scale, the 2013 Ford Escape is SUV eye candy, in my opinion. The auto industry has increased its presence at CES over the years especially with all the new technology finding its way inside the car like navigation and GPS, streaming music and in-dash web browsing. Go Ford!

Aeropuerto emptiness

Is anybody workin' here?

By no means am I the world’s most frequent traveler. But I do my fair share of flying, averaging about one round trip every month or so it seems. I’m kind of surprised then, that I just now had my first overnight, stranded-at-the-airport experience.

After several delays in Grand Rapids, I missed my connecting flight (which was the last of the night) from Minneapolis to San Francisco by about 5 minutes. (I ran across the airport after landing only to watch my plane push back from the gate and cruise into the moonlight.)

The next flight out? 7:15 am the next morning… an approximately 9 hour, overnight layover. ugh. I called a few hotels nearby but they were all sold out. So I accepted my fate and settled in for the night.

Rather than immediately try to go to sleep on what we all know is bound to be one of the most uncomfortable make shift beds (you know the rows and rows of airport waiting seats), I decided to boot up the old laptop and do some work.

To my surprise, the conditions yielded great amounts of productivity. I uploaded about a hundred pictures from my iPhone to Flickr, put a nice dent in my post-vacation inbox, teed up a few new blog posts, caught up on Facebook and started planning a weekend camping trip.

Who knew a creepily dead airport at 2 am would be such a great workspace?

(Author’s note: This post was gleefully written at 4:44 am with 2.5 more hours of waiting on the horizon, followed by a 3.5 hour flight AND a full day of work ahead.)


Conversation piece

If you know me even a little, you certainly are familiar with my minor monkey fetish. I like to read about monkeys (even monkey biographies), I like to watch tv shows about monkeys (Orangutan Island is the best) and I’ve been known to use my fair share of monkey paraphernalia in the decorating of my apartment.

Work is certainly not immune to monkey madness. Shortly after starting
my job at Dolby, I broke my favorite (and hand-painted) coffee cup. I schlepped to nearby Pier 1 and found the perfect replacement.

It has since become quite a conversation piece on the job. My coworkers have an unexpected fascination with this mug and it’s led to many joyful discussions while fueling up on espressos and cappuccinos. (Certainly to the dismay of my coworker Brian who was with me when I purchased the mug. The best he could score was a cow udder mug, which as you can imagine became a hit in its own right.)

Are you influenced in your purchase making decisions over whether or not something will be a conversation piece? I think it can be fun. Everyone needs at least a great coffee table book. (We have several. Including, as you might assume, at least two monkey ones.)

Trip report: New York, New York


Coming in for a landing!

I spent the better part of the past week in New York City for a work event. This was my third visit to the Big Apple this year, but it was by far my favorite trip. I left the last two stays with a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth and very uninterested in the city overall (it was hot, I didn’t go out, I was lazy). This time around however, I sorta feel in love with the city. I don’t think there was one or two particular thing about this visit that made it a stand out trip, rather the compilation of many positive factors.


Evening run around Central Park

First of all, I was traveling with great company (Kevin and Whitney from my team at work) and we spent quite a bit of time out enjoying nightlife, including time in fun neighborhoods like the West Village, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, with plenty of chill time at fun places like the Standard Hotel Beer Garden, a few random gay bars and an awesome bar with Jenga tournaments.

Second, the weather was beautiful (oh, except for those tornado warnings in Brooklyn on Thursday night).  Third, I loved my hotel location (Midtown this time, versus Gramercy Park and SoHo the last two times). I took advantage of my proximity to Central Park (and the great weather!) and did some great mid-week runs.

My favorite NYC pastime!

Fourth, quality time with Meagan is always great, especially because it’s so easy to convince her to see Broadway shows with me. This time around we saw A Little Night Music starring Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch and it was great. I had no desire to see this show when Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury were in it but Bernadette and Elaine were  a big draw (justifiably so). If you are a discount ticket fan, I highly recommend getting TKTS tickets from the Brooklyn booth. Times Square is always packed and the South Street Seaport location is hard to get to. The Brooklyn booth is two subway stops past where you’d get off for South Street Seaport and there was no line when I went on a Thursday afternoon.

Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity

And finally, it’s especially awesome when Meagan is down for hitting up tick-tackity tourist traps like Serendity 3. Not only was the service awful but the prices were completely out of whack, the food was not that great and they sold some really stupid crap in their little gift shop.

The big takeaway from the whole trip was that this city and the people that live here really never do sleep (and I question whether the people actually work). I know its an overused saying but I’ve always carried with me this story of when Dave and my sister came here in 2001. We stayed in Murray Hill and we got back to our hotel late one night after a show or day of touristy activity and couldn’t find a  single open pizza place nearby. This made me question that whole “city that never sleeps” mantra. No one that lives here ever believes that story but I swear it’s true. This time around I spent more time out late into the night (and in a few instances early into the morning) and I can definitely say that people are out and about until the very wee hours and there are pizza places open at single digit hours… during the middle of the week, no less.

Overall it was an amazing 4 day stay and I look forward to coming back very soon and continuing my explorations!

You know you send too may Outlook invites when…

My desk

In addition t0 my outstanding work ethic and exemplary PR skills, I was known at Racepoint Group for having a rather… how shall we put it… colorful desk… with an eclectic collection of tchotchkes, photos and miscellaneous paraphernalia. So needless to say, packing up my desk this week (yes, it did take all week) was one of the more bittersweet parts about leaving.

Before

photo

After

photo 2