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How to Maintain a Routine on The Road

'And I always promised I’d be home for dinner on Friday. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve broken that promise over the years.'

I’ve known Jorge Salgueiro for years—he’s a friend and Deloitte partner, and we both live in paradise (aka Miami, FL). Between serving his clients, sitting on the Board of Directors of both Deloitte’s US and Canadian member firms, and being part of the internal organization that provides services to our partners—Jorge doesn’t just have the proverbial “full plate,” he’s got an entire banquet! But he maintains his well-being and his connection to his family by sticking to some “rules of the road.”

Jen Fisher: Jorge, I’ve always admired some of the things you do when you travel, the boundaries around how you spend your ‘free’ time, when you choose to participate in group dinners, how you schedule yourself.
Jorge Salgueiro: I think a lot of young people struggle with saying no or feel like they have to show up at a group dinner and stay out as late as possible. I learned early on that it’s important to create and stick to my own personal ‘rules of the road.’ Because when I don’t, I’m not at my best, at work or at home.

JF: What does your travel schedule usually look like?
JS: Normally when I travel, its Monday through Thursday, though an occasional Friday sneaks in. Actually, this is the first week of the year I haven’t traveled. It’s a busy schedule but I enjoy what I do.

JF: What do you do/think about when you’re planning travel, what do you do proactively to make sure you’re ensuring your health and well-being while you’re traveling?
JS: Rule #1, I committed to my family that I only travel if I have to. There’s got to be a real reason for me to travel; if I can do a conference call or videoconference, I prefer that. And I always promised I’d be home for dinner on Friday. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve broken that promise over the years. We’re empty nesters now, but even when the kids lived at home, if something required me to be away on Friday, my wife Maybel would come with me. Also, if I’m going to a city she wants to see—or see again—Maybel comes with me. Rule #2 is around exercise. I make sure that whatever hotel I stay in has a gym. But beyond that, I try to pick a hotel that’s within walking distance of wherever I’m working. For me, it’s super-refreshing to walk to wherever I’m going. It energizes me to get some fresh air and people-watch…and if there’s a double espresso along the way, even better!

JF: Do you have any rules around flight times?
JS: I try to spend as much time at home as I can. Even if I have to take a red-eye—if it’s a little sacrifice on the body I’d rather do that than spend a whole day traveling. I try to make sure my meetings start after noon, so I don’t have to fly out the night before.

JF: That’s good guidance for people that plan meetings. If you can avoid it, don’t start your meeting at 8 a.m., so your people can fly in that morning.
JS: I also encourage the teams I work with to do the same thing and not travel unless they have to. I’ve sent people home: “Get out of here, go get an early flight, have dinner at home.” Many people have reached out to me afterwards to thank me because they were able to make a baseball game or birthday party.

JF: Do you have any rituals on the road?
JS: I’m a creature of habit. I keep the same schedule wherever I am; the only thing that changes is where I get my morning coffee. When I’m at home I get up at 5:45 in the morning and the first thing I do is go to a Cuban bakery near my house and have an espresso. When I’m on the road and the hotel has espresso, I’ll stay there or I’ll go to the nearest coffee shop. Then I go to the hotel gym and work out for at least a half-hour; an hour if my schedule permits it.

JF: Do you check your email before, during or after your workout?
JS: I try not to look at electronics until after I work out. But if there’s something I’m waiting for, I will check earlier. If there’s something going on, I’ll know I’ll have a better workout if I can get it off my plate. I also don’t require any type of group activities when I travel, especially if I’m at a client site where the team lives and I’m the only one from out of town. We work all day and I want people to go home to their families. On rare occasions we’ll have a celebration dinner, like at the end of project. But I don’t go to their city and make them have dinner with me. I’ll go back to the hotel or a nearby restaurant, sit at the bar and have dinner by myself. That’s a time of reflection for me, thinking about the day’s work or the days ahead.When we do have group outings I keep it to an early dinner, 5:30-6 p.m. I think the brain stops working at a certain time, so I don’t want people to be working past 6:00. We’ll eat and socialize for 90 minutes, maybe a couple of hours. And then everybody gets to go home early.

JF: Eating early, promoting good choices, good decisions. By being the leader and doing those things, you’re modeling good behavior. Giving your people permission to do things that go against society’s cultural norms.
JS: I had a mentor who was super successful at a very young age. I asked him what he thought the key was, and he said that he always went to events and social outings when leaders came into town. I’m a big believer in showing up, but you don’t need to show up for five hours or keep going with other people after the event is over. Show up for an hour, be visible, and then leave. Some people have criticized me for it and that’s okay; I believe strongly in it.

JF: Anything else you tell your people?
JS: Take your vacation! When people tell me they’ve lost PTO by not using it, I tell them it’s their fault. You have to manage your life and say, “I’m going on PTO—period.” We can find someone else to cover your work for a week or two.Listen, our clients are important; our work is important. But it’s not life-and-death important. Caring for your family, caring for yourself—including rest and vacation time—and staying true to your core values. Those are the best ways I know to foster well-being, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

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