Up in The Air
We’ve just taken off from San Francisco international airport, and we hit that little patch of clear air at about four thousand feet, not jostling, but just enough drop in altitude to make your stomach rise just a bit. A cheap thrill, a strange comfort brought on by a familiar feeling.
I think back to my former life, the one where I traveled more than half of the time, flying hundreds of thousands of miles every year. Some days I miss it, the excitement of being in a strange place, meeting new people, closing a big deal or sorting out some vendor issue that other people in the company didn’t have the stomach to deal with.
A few years ago I cut my traveling down significantly. Having attained the highest position possible at my previous firm, I set my sights on a dream I had deferred for far too long: going back to school to pursue my MBA.
My father, a source of many valuable insights, advised me that I should consider leaving my current job and getting a paper route for the 2 years that I would be in school. “I don’t mean literally a paper route, I just mean, with the hours that you put in at your firm, and amount of travel that you’re doing these days, it would do a disservice to both your job and your studies to attempt both at once” I knew he was right, but it was still hard to make such a change consciously. I loved my job, I really did. But I knew there was little future in it, and so in the spring of 2008 I left my former company, signed up for more loans than I could fathom at the time, and registered for classes at Thunderbird.
Things have not necessarily turned out how I planned. I managed to quit my job just prior to the onset of the global economic downturn. Needless to say, recruiters were not exactly beating a path to business schools in late 2009 to recruit recent grads.
Looking back, I would do it all again in heartbeat. Really. Thunderbird was an amazing experience. Life since then has been an amazing experience. Even the job that I looked at as my “paper route” has taken my life in new and interesting directions, teaching me valuable lessons about business and entrepreneurship along the way.
I think the thrill I get from travel is based in potential. Step off a plane in a new city and the world is your oyster; it’s all about potential energy. Graduating from Thunderbird felt similar; full of potential, not sure where it’s going to go, but thrilled to be traveling.