By: Zeynep Ilgaz
Have we forgotten the fun of the business trip amid our briefcases, business cards, handshakes, and big words?
Sure, when you go away for work, donning your game face is important; there are contacts to be made, deals to be struck, and reputations on the line. But here's a wild idea: Maximize your travels by inviting your children to be your business trip buddies.
I started taking my son on business trips when he turned 9. He's now 11, and we try to take at least two trips a year. It gives us a chance to get to know each other in new ways and to make special memories. It happens to have worked wonders for my business as well.
Here's why inviting your children to join your next trip could be your best business decision yet:
1. You Will Learn About Each Other
The business trips I've shared with my son have strengthened our bond. We become a mini business team when we get on a plane together, dress up for dinner, or walk into a conference ready to impress.
My son gets to learn how I work and who I am when I'm not "Mom," and I get to learn about him. When we have dedicated quality time together, my son opens up about his life, his feelings, and his ambitions. And by observing how he talks to others -- and the maturity level involved -- I see a wonderful young man in the making.
2. You Will Have Better Business Conversations
Another advantage of bringing my son on trips is that I actually make better connections when he's there. Confident and eager in his sharp business suit, my son exudes a fun energy that allows me to exude the same. Businesspeople feel more comfortable approaching us than when it's just me. They ask about him and why he's with me -- an immediate icebreaker -- and, in turn, we discuss business in a livelier, more genuine way.
3. It Will Inspire Your Children
One of the most special trips I took with my son was our visit to a Stevie Awards banquet. The experience was more rewarding because he was with me, and I could see his proud face in the audience when I received my prize.
Yes, kids like winning shiny trophies, but the win of the night was seeing my son inspired by the moment. After the ceremony, he said, "I hope I can win an award, too, when I grow up." Winning the award was admittedly a thrill, but it didn't come close to discovering my son's obvious inspiration and motivation as a result.
4. It Will Draw Them Out Of Their Shyness
Communication is an important part of traveling for business, whether making good impressions in networking sessions or speaking clearly and effectively to crowds. Schools likely can't provide the chance for children to meet and impress people or to practice public speaking; real-world situations can.
5. It Will Supplement Classroom Learning
When I bring my son to a meeting, he sometimes has to entertain himself. However, he loves reading books while I work, sitting in on meetings and taking notes, or pretending to understand (and sometimes actually understanding!) what the adults are discussing.
Further, travel itself adds perspective to his studies and expands his thinking. Recently, after a meeting in Virginia, we went to Colonial Williamsburg and saw firsthand a topic his teacher had been covering in class. He was so excited to return to class with material to share.
6. You'll Work Harder
When I bring my son on business trips, it reminds me why I work so hard and how big an influence I am in his life. I want to live up to the respect he has for me. I want him to see me leading others effectively -- being bold but fair. I want to show him how to communicate and collaborate.
As long as you plan your trip carefully, giving your children fun and freedom while still prioritizing your business objectives, your new travel buddies could be the best things that ever happen to your business.
Originally from Turkey,Zeynep Ilgazand her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases, their love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-foundedConfirm BioSciencesandTestCountry in San Diego and Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented testing technologies for drugs of abuse and health.