A Letter from America

I write this through bleary eyes whilst trying desperately to stifle another severe attack of yawning  (Readers – it is my fervent hope that you do not suffer a similar reaction upon reading what follows).  The cause?  A long and most restless night fuelled with panic, nerves, excitement and an unnerving sense that something was missing.  (No – my beloved Charlton Athletic FC were not playing!).  In truth, it is always the same on the eve of an overseas trip.  My worries were varied.  How would my three little ones cope without me for nine days?  How would my dear wife cope?  (Not without me you understand but with the aforementioned children!) Then there were more mundane or surreal panics about not being able to find my passport; the boarding pass being eaten by a dog I don’t even have; the visa being refused at the point of entry; and getting stuck on the M25 for hours and missing my flight.  You get the picture.   Irrational? Yes  (well excepting the M25).  Irritating? Certainly.  It wasn’t a great night.  And now I am paying for it.

But do you know what panicked me the most?  The fear that by the time I complete my transatlantic flight, the PowerPoint based storyboard that is my sole companion on this journey will be out of date. The pace of change we are experiencing; the release of yet more economic data and even more headline grabbing political rhetoric; and the ensuing fog of analysis, will all combine to greatly heighten the risk of this and make the task of calling the market harder than it has been at any time in the decade I have been trying to do so.

Still for now it’s out of my control.  So I sit here, tired, aboard flight BAxxx bound for San Francisco.   We are ten minutes into a near ten-hour journey.  The guy in front of me has catapulted himself backwards to within a matter of inches of my nose and in so doing has made me even more attached to my MacBook Pro than I already was (ah the delights of economy!).  The incessant screaming of babies shows no signs of abating (though I have a deep sympathy with the parents, having the t-shirt and all) and the stench of ‘lunch’ slowly cooking in foil containers has already permeated the cabin (but I know that intrigue will see me devour the kaleidoscope of foodstuffs that will shortly appear before me).  Yet, despite this auspicious start, I am excited about what awaits.

Because what awaits is an amazing opportunity to gauge the temperature of Corporate America.   Over the next nine days I will be presenting to more than 300 corporate real estate professionals via direct client engagements and a speaking slot at CoreNet’s Annual Global Property Review.   What better way to feel the pulse of a corporate audience that has been at the very forefront of real estate outsourcing and innovation?   What better way to get some sense of direction for our industry; a sense of the strategies that people are adopting in these difficulty times; and a sense of where the opportunities exist – because they always exist, just not necessarily in the places or practices of the past.

I expect to learn a lot.  I expect to be surprised.  Moreover, I fully expect to be in the spotlight.  Europe right now presents more questions than answers.  It’s only right that clients look to people like me for direction and insight if not fully baked answers.  I can’t wait to get started.  I will be sure to share my findings and my thoughts with you via further blog entries. You will know by now that I have a penchant for using song titles for my blogs (Yes I couldn’t break the habit here and yes I admit I do have that short but perfectly joyous album that is The Proclaimers Greatest Hits).  With that in mind, I thought it only right to let you know that tomorrow will see me making my way to San Jose to explore what’s preoccupying the tech sector. You know what’s coming … don’t say I didn’t warn you!