‘I’m told I’m going places, who can say. I might arrive but I’ll be gone the very next day.”
‘1000 Miles Away’ Artist: Hoodoo Gurus, Album: ‘Electric Soup: The Singles Collection’. 1992
Your faithful correspondent is writing this blog post awaiting the ‘red-eye’ from Darwin. My first journey here for work was four years ago. It was exciting times; we had just launched our internal learning brand, the Academy, and with it a renewed investment and focus on capability building. I remember taking photos of bankers learning in that first Darwin workshop I ran. The photos were used in the launch publication for the Academy to show our employees the commitment to learning being run locally.
It’s my fourth week on the road in succession, and I’ve settled into the life of the business gypsy. That groove includes not fully unpacking my suitcase on the weekend. It also includes rocking up to the airport with about 5 minutes before check-in, dashing to the gate and being first on the plane. To combat home-sickness, my rule of a minimum of 3 pairs of shoes per trip has NEVER been broken (a habit from camping as a cub-scout, would you believe). And I have never, ever, sat by myself in a restaurant to eat dinner. It’s a holding pattern of a life with its own rituals.
On the flight here, I spotted my Uncle Bob on the plane a few rows in front of me. Being first on board, I probably didn’t notice him being one of the last to board (Bob would have been in the Qantas Club. The fancy Business one. If there was anything better than Platinum Frequent Flyer, Bob would be it). Like me, Bob runs workshops around the country, except he works for himself, and he goes to some remote places.
It was so good to share a meal with Bob later that night; I actually ate in the restaurant too. After some imbibing, we agreed on the curious loneliness of the business gypsy life. One thing that keeps me doing this is the feeling of waking up and forgetting where you are. This week, every morning I have remembered I’m in Darwin. This town is so quintessentially something, and that something is elusive.
Running a workshop at a place of business rather than a training site means some trade-offs. I lugged along my own slinkies, calculators, speaking ball and Prockey pens. The catering was the charity mints in the lobby, and the bankers went back to their desks to cram in some work at the breaks. But it’s the real world. I got to hang out with the locals, and be where it all happens. I hung out at their sales meeting. I met their community partner. I chatted with their customers. And I weaved it all into the workshop to embed the learnings.
Learning professionals, like any support people in a big company, can easily forget what their actual purpose is. The beautiful thing about bringing a workshop to the learners is that you are not allowed to forget who and what you are there for. I’m here to help them do their jobs. Their job is to help our customers. Our customers are the business people of Darwin. I’m a travelling piece of the value chain.