BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : AUGUST 30, 1999 ISSUE

The 21st century belongs to the fleet of foot. People will think nothing of moving to Nanjing, then Nairobi, and then New York in search of riches. Forget Ellis Island. The richest can become tax exiles, pledging allegiance to no flag except the one flying off their boat. Others will stay put but will become economically and spiritually detached from their homeland as they make their living abroad. Technology has not freed road warriors like John Gruetzner from the constraints of travel. It has freed him from staying at home


NAME: John Gruetzner

AGE: 38

OCCUPATION: Executive vice-president, Intercedent Ltd., a Canadian consulting firm with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Beijing, and Singapore.

COMMUTE: Lives in Toronto but spends two-thirds of his time consulting throughout China. Also travels elsewhere in Asia and North America.

CONVERSATION STARTER: Wakes up to ask his seatmate where the plane is landing. Seventeen flights in two weeks have left him confused.

ONE HORRID WEEK: a) Leaves Singapore with the flu. b) Arrives home in Toronto to discover that a frozen pipe has burst. c) Immediately boards a plane to Chicago for two days of teaching. d) Back to Toronto. e) On to Detroit, battling jet lag and the flu. f) Back to Toronto, running through the Detroit airport ''like O. J. in the Hertz commercial'' and throwing his briefcase into a closing door. g) Takes brief break in flooded house before boarding another plane to China.

UPSIDE: ''You get to see how the world really turns. And the benefits of having an eclectic soap collection shouldn't be underestimated.''

DOWNSIDE: ''Subtract all the years living abroad and I have the social development of a 26-year-old. My friends have more in common with my parents than they have with me.''

NOMAD MOTTO: ''We always describe ourselves as 21st century grape pickers with fewer social problems.''

By DIANE BRADY

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