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Pascal Dennis, president of management consultancy Lean Pathways, started keeping a daily journal when he regularly traveled three weeks a month for work. Dennis, the author of five other business books, combines his experiences from doing business around the world into a new book, Reflections of a Business Nomad: Stories and Poems From the Road, a collection of musings about everything from flight delays and meetings to conversations with cabdrivers, often peppered with historical and philosophical references, such as Virgil and Epictetus.
A sample verse:
Eyes dry, neck stiff, unable to leave—or stay.
If my flight’s cancelled I’ll sleep in a strange hotel
and come back in the morning.
Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to Dennis about Reflections, which he chose to self-publish with a first run of 5,000 copies.
Do you find anything funny about some of these stories, in terms of how mundane they are?
Within the mundane flight delay or cab ride, there are always interesting things there. There are a number of pieces about cabbies, and I really like cabbies. They are almost always interesting characters and sometimes they are wonderful storytellers.
Does business travel inspire you?
Business travel is pretty bad. The airline industry is one of the worst. Traveling itself is not pleasant, but once you get to the place and see people in a business situation, it’s extremely interesting and stimulating. I’ve seen such drama and comedy and tragedy, often all at the same time, at these international companies. I just wanted to write it down. I’d just scribble things down at the end of the day, usually at the hotel bar, to try to make sense of what I’d experienced.
The words found their own shape and form on the page. I was trying to tell the story in the simplest, clearest way possible.
Are you a romantic?
I think so. On one level, the book is a travel log. But if the reader is so inclined, they can dig deeper and connect with some of the philosophic and ethical questions. I am a romantic in that sense.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Never. I just do it. I was trained in engineering and business, so writing to me is such a pleasure, such a respite. It doesn’t feel like a job. It’s something I get to do at the end of the day to decompress.