Why Travel is Critical to the Work We Do

It’s easy to get sucked into the office. For all of us.

I can literally spend hours at my computer reading reports from Forrester, referencing my dashboard on Radian6, or scouring blogs and forums. And while the desk research we do as strategists is necessary, it’s not really where we get the good stuff. The stuff that acts as a catalyst for great ideas and real innovation. The stuff that allows you to connect the dots and make discoveries about yourself and the consumers you are charged with representing.

To get that stuff, you have to get out into the world. You need to watch and listen and be present in real life. Sometimes that means just sitting in Union Square Park in New York or Neal’s Yard in London. Or wandering through the streets of the La Boca neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Sometimes it means taking the train from Mumbai to Varanasi in India. 

In other words, the good stuff requires you to integrate yourself into the real world. Put yourself out there and experience things that make you a wee bit scared and uncomfortable. Listen even more closely when you feel like making a point. Be in the moment, keenly aware of the small and big things. There are hidden problems and unique solutions out there, and it’s up to you to find them.

When you do all of these things, when you open yourself to the world around you,  you start to make connections and see things in a different way. Your observations turn into insights. You start to understand human motivations and build solutions with consumers in mind. When you do all of these things, you add real value to the agency’s work, work that everyone is proud of.

Regardless of your discipline or your industry, dive into the world. Discover an underground whiskey bar in Tokyo. Talk to a street artist in Sao Paulo.  Seek out the one and only “pretzel croissant” in NYC. Listen and watch as the sun sets in Jakarta. Get out there and let me know what you discover.

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