This is the first business trip I've done post Camino.
I've done things vastly differently this trip, because of what I experienced on my pilgrimage.
By way of background, I've been an independent film producer / director for more than thirty years, and during that time I've traveled a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean up to three to four times a year, often around-the-world trips.
Everywhere from Australia is a long way. There were a few years where I was on the highest frequent flyer level on both Star Alliance and One World.
When you travel as much as I do, you establish a set routine, and you do things a very particular way. You do this to protect yourself from the visissitudes of jetlag, and to make life easier on the road.
This trip I busted that all wide open.
For starters, and I mentioned this before, I am traveling with just carry-on luggage.
I used to have carry-on (my trusty battered Lancel wheelie bag) plus a suitcase which invariably weighed 20kgs+. My carry-on would weigh 12kgs+.
This time I got everything I needed for three weeks on the road, attending business meetings and packing for cold weather, into a small Samsonite case that weighed 11kgs. Most of that weight was my MacBook Pro, and my Nikon kit.
Whenever I stay in London, I usually stay at a small boutique hotel in Soho. It's called Hazlitts. It's very exclusive, (for “exclusive” read “expensive”) and it's very cool. And it's right in the heart of the film industry in London.
Whenever you go to a business meeting, you're always asked where you're staying, and you're judged on that. If you're in London and you're staying at Hazlitts, then it means you're cool and you're successful.
This time I booked into a pub in Wandsworth.
Wandsworth is in the suburbs. It's across the Thames from Chelsea. It is definitely UN-cool. But it's REAL.
Why this particular pub? It's what's called a “gastro-pub,” which means it's got terrific British pub food. And as I say, it's in the suburbs. It's about as far away from hip Soho as you can get.
(Well, not really. I could go way the hell out of town, but I had to be practical.)
As well, usually when I'm in London I take cabs everywhere. A cab to and from the airport, cabs to and from business meetings, cabs back to the hotel.
This time when I landed at Heathrow, instead of blindly heading straight for the cab stand, I found the tube. The subway.
I bought what's called an Oyster card, which is an electronic travel card for use on the tube and buses. I put £25 credit on it for three days traveling around London.
The cab fare from London to Hazlitts in Soho used to cost me close to £75. This time the tube to the pub in Wandsworth cost me £3.80.
I have been traveling the last couple of days around London, from meeting to meeting, using the underground. I will leave London with about £8 credit remaining on my Oyster, which I can reclaim at Gatwick.
Before the Camino, I would never have considered doing a business trip this way.
In one of the meetings – a very important one with the head of a very prestigious sales company whom I'd never met before – the bloke asked me where I was staying, and I told him. He looked at me, mystified. He said: Wandsworth? Why?
I told him I wanted to do things differently. I was tired of doing the same things the same way. Staying in the same place, eating at the same restaurants, going to the same coffee shops. I wanted to have new experiences.
He said: Yes, okay – but there is a very nice pub in Knightsbridge. I put my eccentric actors there all the time. It is very good food, and the rooms are very beautiful.
I explained that I wanted to see a different side of London. Not the Harrods London, the Tesco London. I think I totally confused him. I didn't care.
And here's the thing post Camino – I don't care about impressing anyone anymore. I don't care what people think of me. They can judge me on my work – what I've done, and what I can do in the future. If they wish to judge me on what hotel I stay in, then more the fool them.
Perhaps the biggest change in me this trip though has not been cab vs tube, fancy hotel vs local pub, big suitcase vs hand luggage – it's been internal.
On previous trips I set myself very definite goals, and sought very particular outcomes. This time I didn't. I've approached this trip the way I approached my Camino – trusting that my PGS will guide me the right way to my highest good.
On my Camino I would lob Into a town and allow my PGS to guide me to the best place for me to sleep that night. And it always did. This time I lobbed into London and allowed my PGS to determine what was best for me this trip.
What it meant was this – I went into each business meeting totally relaxed. Because I didn't want anything from it. I trusted that my PGS would guide me to what was best for me.
If the financier I had lunch with today (in Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in the Savoy) wants to put $7m into my movie, and if that's the best thing for the film and for me, then it will happen. And I don't need to worry.
If my PGS determines that it's best I don't have that financing, then it won't happen.
Either way, I'm sweet. So why worry?
It's the first high level financing meeting I've done in my time as an independent producer where I've gone in completely at ease, not wanting anything other than to have a nice lunch with an interesting person.
I'd let go the rope.
And you know what happened?
The financier kept on wanting to talk about financing the picture. Without any effort or prompting from me. She was the one who kept talking about the timing of contracts, and if the film would be ready for the Venice Film Festival etc.
I just sat back and enjoyed the foie gras.
Will the financing happen? Who knows. I don't care. Because only the right thing will happen. I know that as certainly as when I walked into Hontanas late that afternoon and found a bed for the night.
I love my new life!!