One of the perks of being an entrepreneur is the ability to schedule yourself according to activities that you choose, and also, unlimited vacation days. While the perk of unlimited vacation days sounds unheard of in Corporate America, it is the backbone of the American Entrepreneur; however, the vacation days are all unpaid.
Nevertheless, I excitedly accepted the plum job of attending the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's 7th Annual Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong. I was the only American press representative invited. I eagerly looked forward to this trip as the promise of being privy to Asia/high-net-worth (HNW)/financial services/technology was really thrilling. The conference would prove to be professionally thought-provoking but the backdrop of Hong Kong is always exciting!
This invitation to Hong Kong was how my around-the-world trip began. Since I would be in Asia all week, attending the conference and scheduling meetings, I thought that I should take one side trip to an exotic locale. I contacted my friend, Harvey, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with his wife, Jo Ann, and their three kids: Jack, Zoe, and Gabe. "Bejing?" I asked Harvey. No, he emailed back to me, it's too cold in January. Go to Bangkok for the weekend.
What? Bangkok for the weekend? He said it like we might say, "Boston or San Francisco, for the weekend" here in the United States. What an exotic suggestion; suddenly this trip was getting very interesting! Before I could even Google a map of Southeast Asia, Harvey said that he and his wife would plan the weekend and meet me there. When he gave me the name of our hotel, the Banyan Tree, I bookmarked it so that I could gaze at the 61st-floor bar until the day that I actually arrived. So my plan was to work all week in Hong Kong, and then meet Harvey and Jo Ann for the weekend. What a great trip!
As we all know, the enemy of good is better. The following day, I opened an email inviting me to be a keynote speaker at an ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW)/ wealth management conference in Shanghai. I glanced at the conference dates and noticed that it overlapped with my proposed trip to Hong Kong - ugh! And then, I was supposed to go to Bangkok? These are not my usual everyday problems. I Googled the map of Southeast Asia again to check the distance between Hong Kong and Shanghai. After all, it is all China, right? Not really...
Despite the distance, I decided to visit all three, so my new itinerary was Hong Kong, Shanghai, and then Bangkok for the weekend. I was exhausted just looking at the screen! The map was overwhelming, the amount of flying was tremendous, but the adventure was that of a lifetime! I quickly went to the Android store to choose some currency converter, translation, and travel-itinerary organizer apps. Then, I went to Amazon and ordered universal chargers by the dozens.
When I looked over my itinerary to finalize it, I noticed that my trip from Bangkok back to NYC required a stopover in Tokyo - one of the cities that I longed to visit. "Why not?" I thought. I quickly booked four days in Tokyo before returning home. When I got back to my Google map, I realized that I would be circumnavigating the globe - not something many people have the opportunity to do, though they should, especially if they are looking to expand their businesses. As I've explained in my recent blogs on Asia, the region has a fast-growing contingent of HNW and UHNW individuals, agencies such as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to help companies easily enter the region, and amenities such as golf courses, new hotels, and up-to-date infrastructure to attract talented ex-pats. But the first step to helping your business grow overseas is expanding your own global knowledge via traveling. If you haven't already, it's time to get a passport and book that overseas trip.