Robin Sharma is the chief executive officer of Sharma Leadership International Inc. and the author of 10 bestselling books, including The Greatness Guide and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
How many days of the year are you on the road?
I'd say two to three short trips a month, then every quarter I'll do an extensive tour.
Why do you travel so much?
I'm a leadership adviser to medium- to large-sized organizations like Microsoft, FedEx, Nike, Yale University and Harvard Business School, and basically I teach people how to show leadership in whatever they do. So my work takes me to emerging markets like Latin America or parts of the Middle East or parts of Asia.
Do you ever tire of travelling?
No, I don't. I have something called Travel Four. So, for example, I did two weeks in Europe in February and I could have seen it as a hard two weeks of extensive travel but instead I committed to myself to do four things in each city. No. 1: I decided to stay in a cool or innovative hotel in each city; No. 2: I wanted to see some great art; No. 3: I wanted to have at least one beautiful meal in an interesting restaurant; and No. 4: I wanted to have a great conversation with someone who would leave me better than I found them. And that's what I try to do whenever I go into a new city or new country.
Do you have any practical tips that can help people relax when they fly?
Being a great traveller is in many ways about personal management. So I have some really practical tips. I learned this one from Sir John Templeton, the great financier: Never go anywhere without a book under your arm. The second is that I always bring my journal with me, so in any downtime I record my observations, record my insights, learn more about myself. No. 3, I always carry an iPod and I have a video iPod, so that way I can download programs that I like to watch. And often I'll rip out magazine articles that I want to read and I put them in a single clear folder and I'm left with just a few articles that are important to me.
How do you keep fit on the road?
My secret weapon is massages. I get a lot of massages, especially if I'm on a long trip. And also I love running and I love weights, so I generally stay at the boutique hotels that have great gyms. On the plane, I just mostly have water. I don't have the nuts. I have a little common scheme I play, which is if I feel like having dessert, I take one spoonful of dessert and then I'll take the ketchup or the pepper or the salt [and mix it in]so I won't be tempted to eat [the rest of it] I have only carry-on luggage, so I can be two or 2 ½ weeks with only carry-on.
Really? What do you take to last you that long?
Well just like in my days as a backpacker I roll all my clothes into my carry-on and also I extensively use the dry cleaning services at the hotel so I can cram a lot in. I have tea lights so after a busy day I can light some candles in the room and I'll play some music with my iPod speakers, put up some photos of my family and some of my adventures around the globe, and it really makes for a powerful and peaceful adventure.
So you create that ambience for yourself rather than expecting the hotel to provide it?
Absolutely. One of my key philosophies for leadership is leading without title, which is everyone can show leadership whether we work in the mailroom or in the C-suite. And in my personal life, it's the same thing. We all have choices to create the lives that we want. And even on something like travel we can really influence our environment by doing some of these simple things to make the experience a lot better and to enjoy the journey a little bit more.