I am writing this from a Times Square hotel — the nice kind, not the kind that charges by the month. Or the hour. Staying in Times Square is like trying to sleep in a casino. No wonder this is the City That Never Sleeps.
I am here in New York on a business trip. The last thing I did yesterday before heading out to catch my train was to swing by my office to pick up more business cards. I was carrying a few when I left the house, but the thought of running out made me nervous. What if I wanted someone to remember me and I had to resort to a cocktail napkin? Classsssy.
That’s the thing about leaving the office behind: you only have what you take with you. You don’t carry around the context that informs everyday interactions. When people see me in my office, their sense of who I am and what I can do is shaped in part by what they see around me. On the road, I have the benefit of my job title and the name of my employer, to be sure, but not the thousand subconscious signals that lend me additional authority and know-how, at least in the eyes of some others.
On the road, I am more responsible for how people see me. It’s a bigger burden, but also an opportunity to present myself with fewer preconceptions. I don’t know if I’d have the stamina to put out that kind of energy every day, but today, at least, it feels like a welcome change.