In the NFL, every road trip had one goal: to win the game. Even when the game was in your hometown, winning was the goal. We would get in the day before and leave a couple hours afterwards, or the next morning. A true one-day event.
After I left the NFL, it shocked me how many people go on goal-less business trips, missing out on huge opportunities not only to win, but to grow their network and enjoy existing relationships.
I want to share with you how to do it all on a one-day trip—socialize, network, and get the business of the day done—all while feeling rested and having fun.
The answer is to make it a 36-hour trip, just like you were on an NFL team: fly in the night before, stay the whole day of your event, and fly back the morning after. Let me show you how that crushes your goals, in five simple steps.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS FOR THIS TRIP, AHEAD OF TIME
Speaking of goals, first identify your goals for this trip, so you can hit them. What does a win look like on your business trip?
Every game on every team, I noted the kickoff by writing it as a win:
7:05 – Beat the Saints
Now create your schedule and write in your wins.
In the NFL, the main goal was winning the game, plain and simple. What’s your main business goal? Learning? Making new contacts? Closing a deal? Greater brand awareness? Giving a speech? What’s the schedule of your conference?
On trips in the NFL, using this 36-hour formula, we would usually have time to see family or friends the night before. To get the most out of a business trip (and be in a great mood for your event), you want to add in some form of fun—reconnecting with existing relationships like a friend or family, or trying a new restaurant in a new town (shoutout to Café du Monde on every New Orleans trip!)
Next, write out what you need to do to achieve these goals. Start with sleep—performance and reaction time have been shown to improve with 8-12 hours of sleep. How much time do you need to review your pitch, your win? Write in when you will work out, or plan your activities from the conference schedule. Now you can schedule it all. All your wins.
Benefits: When you know your goals and what you need to do to achieve them, you can schedule and hit them all.
2. FLY OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
It’s tempting to fly in early the morning of your event, but you will feel rushed, tired, and distracted, not at your best. And how early did you have to get up to do that?
I have woken up at 4 am to make the 6 am flight only to land exhausted, hungry, and longing for the pillow. This doesn’t work. I had to make a change, and fast.
Also, what if something goes wrong with your flight?
Travel like the pros. Get in the night before to establish a solid night of sleep. No matter what time the next day’s event is, you will be in win mode.
Benefits: Flying the night before gives you a good night’s sleep, extra time in case of travel troubles, plus time for networking or fun the evening you arrive.
3. CONNECT: STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS OR BUILD NEW ONES
The goal of a business trip is usually to network, whether it’s on the plane with somebody, or setting up a meeting ahead of time. The only way to accomplish this is to be completely present. Extending your trip from 24 hours to 36 hours also gives you the flexibility to add a couple meetings while you feel rested.
Additionally, it’s tough to go to a city where you have a business goal, and you have friends. You know that if you don’t see them they’re going to be like, “What the hell, man? You came to town and you didn’t even say hello?” Lol!
When you get in the night before, you get a good night’s sleep, and hey, you can do dinner or a quick hello that first night, an early breakfast on the main day, some kind of lunch during or around your event, and dinner or event afterwards with your friends. Maybe even breakfast before you fly out that morning. The possibilities are opportunities.
Using the 36-hour trip formula gives you so many options for connecting with people. This adds fun, opportunities, and trust. Who needs less of any of those? Not this guy.
Benefits: The 36-hour trip gives multiple options to reconnect with people you know and love, or spend time with new business contacts or friends.
4. BE PRESENT FOR YOUR EVENT
How do you want the people you meet to think about you? At your event, because you’re present, because you’re focused, because you’re well rested, because you saw family or a friend or made a business connection already, because you’re feeling good and enthusiastic, and because you scheduled your win, you are now ready to make a good impression on the people around you.
Benefits: Flying in the night before allows you to be present, enthusiastic, and make the most of your event.
5. FLY OUT THE NEXT MORNING
When you fly out early the next morning, it gives you the evening of your event to hang with your new friends or business contacts, or to just relax and take time for yourself. And when you get home around noon, feeling rested, you still have half a day of productivity ahead of you.
It may seem clever to take a red-eye flight home, but you end up trashing your effectiveness the next day. Pushing your travel schedule too hard can affect your goals, your relationships, and your ability to build new relationships.
Benefits: Flying out the morning after your event, after another good night’s sleep, lets you be productive when you get home too.
Shortening your trip creates too much angst. The truth is, you really do have the time to turn a 24-hour trip into a 36-hour trip because it’s that much more productive.
If you’ve been pushing yourself, try out the 36-hour trip. How good you feel when you get home makes the extra half-day worth its weight in gold.