Late January found me wandering the San Francisco airport waiting for a flight to Toronto. We had just finished a tour of Silicon Valley and I was feeling overwhelmed by the vast amount of new projects I’d received. Casting about for something to do during the five hour flight, I absentmindedly wandered through the bookstore near my gate.
Such were the depths of my ennui, that for the first time in my life I stopped to consider the “Business” shelf.
Immediately, one cover in particular caught my eye: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
The analytical part of my mind feebly coughed and sputtered into life:
I have a lot of things that need to get done…
I am not as good at getting things done as I’d like to be…
I too would like to be more productive with less stress…
In my overwhelmed mental state, casting about as I was for anything that might help me shoulder the burden of expectations that had been placed upon me, the cover’s promise was enough: stress-free productivity. I was in.
Twenty minutes later, copy in hand, I boarded my flight to Toronto, nestled down in my seat, and began reading.
It was, without hyperbole, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My work takes me all over the world. In the past 2 years I’ve set foot in more than two dozen countries. The nature of the work never changes – sales, service, negotiations – just typical international trade.
But the people! Have I ever met some fantastic people. If I ever leave this company or this position what I’ll miss most, by far, are the people around the world that I’ve gotten to know and become friends with be they partners, customers, or just other dudes and dudettes struggling to make it in the same industry.
Alexey is one such awesome dude.
Alexey is our new business partner in the Moscow area. His father was a submariner. His grandfather was a submariner. How hard was it to be a submariner in the Soviet Navy? They retired and went on pension at age 32 to 35 depending on how many days at sea you had accrued. That’s some brutal living.
No matter how strained the relationship between the US and Russian governments, the Russian consulate in Shenyang continues to issue me visas, so I continue to do business there.
I feel a profound sense of happiness and hope whenever I visit Russia and see friends like Alexey, because I know our relationship would be unthinkable only 40 years ago. Despite hiccups and setbacks here and there, I do believe society is progressing in a net positive direction.
Here are Alexey and me at the Russian Museum of Astronautics in Moscow. In the photo behind us are the crews from NASA and the Soviet space program that docked in orbit during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, a major moment in Cold War détente and essentially the end of the Space Race.