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A Rapid Entrepreneurial Trip to London and Birmingham England – An Interesting Tale

A quick back story….
I was asked by my friend Jon Le Toq to speak at his fitness business event (Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp) in Birmingham, England. The event was held at Aston Business College, within Aston University.

I would only be gone for 4 days. That’s a fast turn around for an 11 hour flight. 

I flew from LAX direct to London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic. I like the airline because of the level of service, newer planes, and great entertainment system at each seat. And, I must be honest…. I just like everything that Richard Branson does, and that’s part of the reason I fly Virgin. I didn’t sleep much on this overnight flight, so jet lag took over quickly. 

When I arrived in London, I took a train to Paddington Station in central London. I was reminded by Kelli to “Mind the Gap” which is a nice way to say if you do not look down and pay attention when you get on the train, you will likely break your leg on the tracks below. NOTE: I did not by my buy my train tickets in advance and had no issues getting my ticket at the exact time I wanted.

If you do not “Mind The Gap” you will fall to the tracks below and then have a very bad day!

I have to admit; figuring out the UK trains without any prior experience is a bit challenging. But, I found myself understanding the system by the time of my return trip.

When I arrived at Paddington Station in London, I was met by “JP”. He learned of my trip from our mutual friend Topher Morrison (my good friend from the U.S. who often works in the UK). By the way, Topher used a community forum within the KPI (Key Person of Influence) to find my tour guide for the day. JP quickly volunteers. It was like meeting a long lost brother. He also raced bicycles, does Muay Thai, is a life coach and fitness pro. His fiancé also does design…. what are the odds! Hard to believe, but true.

After stowing my luggage at a central London gym, we grabbed some great food, and walk in the rain for hours while he showed me iconic London landmarks. To my surprise, many of the famous landmarks that people from the States learn about are all very close to each other. We even went into an old cathedral to duck out of the rain for a bit. Under the cathedral was a beautiful cafe where many other people had the same idea and also has a relaxing lunch.

This is the really beautiful cafe under the cathedral in central London.
buckingham palace
At Buckingham Palace in a light London rain

Later in the day, JP helped me navigate a cab and a train to my final destination of Birmingham. One more short cab ride to the hotel/university and I about collapsed. It had been nearly 36 hours without more than 1 hour of sleep. I looked like death warmed over.

The accommodations where simple, but perfect. The hotel and conference room are both on the university campus (interesting set-up). It did make things highly efficient. There is also a traditional English pub about 80 feet from my room. More on that in a bit.

After meeting a couple of the attendees and my host, I had to get some sleep. The event started at 9am sharp, and I was up to speak at 10am.

I woke up feeling better than expected.
I needed to “attempt” to reset my circadian rhythm by doing my stereotypical hotel room workout. This includes, every kind of jumping jack, dynamic stretching, shadow boxing, push-ups, chair dips, lunges, plyometrics, Pilates and yoga. I go non stop for 45 minutes and then jump in the shower. I’m sure the people in the room next to me thought I was dying, or out of my mind. 

As far as I can tell, my first presentation went really well (at least I felt good about it). We’ll have to read the speaker reviews. The other speakers are people I really respect and want to learn from each time we get together. However, by noon, my body was feeling the 8 hour time difference. I bailed out and took a 4 hour nap. I obviously needed it. 

At 7pm, we all got together for a round table dinner and Q and A session. It was awesome. I think this type of learning is so important. This is why people go to events. The friendships that are formed are generally much stronger than those just online.

Enjoying Tepanyaki dinner in Birmingham with Nick Nanton and Dax Moy

After dinner, many people retired for the night. Others went to the bar. I didn’t want to miss out on my time in the UK, but felt myself still tired from the trip. After a bit, a called it a night.

 The next day, I gave two presentations, Both were received with enthusiasm and incredibly insightful questions. I had to take a break between each presentation and get some sleep. I have never experienced jet lag like this before. It was intense. 

After my second presentation…. you guessed it, I took another nap.

My friend Nick Nanton also flew over from the States to present. He wanted to go to his favorite place to eat in Birmingham – a tepanyaki restaurant just a 5 minute cab ride away. The food was excellent and “tepan” is always a great show. 

Enter the traditional English pub. There were 5 old Englishmen in there and “us”. A ragtag group of weary fitness entrepreneurs who were ready to relax and have fun. The lady at the bar had such a thick accent, I couldn’t understand her when she asked If I wanted ice in my drink. I finally figured it out.

 I stopped at one drink, but that was not the norm of the group. They had training in this. Serious skill.  I was both astonished and entertained. Actually impressed!

Imagine how challenging it is for an American to understand some dialects in the UK. Now add in a mix of people from Whales, Isle of Man, London, Ireland and Scotland. My friend Nick also speaks so fast, you also have to lipread to help make sense of it all. Eventually, the entire conversation was incomprehensible, but highly entertaining.

After about 2 hours, we walked back to the hotel, said our goodbyes and called it a night.

The next morning I woke up at 7am, took 3 trains to get back to Heathrow airport. I didn’t want to cut it too close because the whole “train thing” was new to me. I arrived 4 hours before my flight (2+ is recommended for international flights). Heathrow has the smartest revenue producing retail design I’ve ever seen. As with a casino that makes you walk through the gaming tables and slots before you can do anything else, Heathrow carefully steers you through the labyrinth of designer handbags, cologne, perfumes, clothing, souvenirs, duty free alcohol and a variety of great places to eat. 

It worked. Normally, I would never buy anything at an airport. It’s just not my thing. However, I indulged in the shopping experience. After a hardy mid-day English breakfast, I got to my plane with ease and flew home to digest my new knowledge, my UK experience, and that enormous English breakfast which stayed with me the entire 11 hour flight home.

The “work” part of my trip to the UK was to share 3 presentations to a group of fitness business entrepreneurs. The group was smart, fun, funny and made my trip well worth while.

Just as I did on the way to the airport, I used a town car service to take me home. I did the math on gas and parking fees, and it was exactly the same as having a luxury car take me to and from the airport in comfort and style.

I’ll be back….

TravelTrep Notes:

Technology used: 
Macbook air

iPhone No international service for this short trip.
I just used Viber free calling/text app and the hotel’s wifi.
Powerponts were sent to Jon in advance and I just used his computer and remote for the presentations.

Work: 65%
Play: 35%
Sleep: ?

Special Notes: Virgin Atlantic is an awesome airline.
I think I’ll get a SIM card to make international calls next time.
Allow yourself plenty of time to learn the trains if it’s new to you.
Virgin also has a train system in the UK, but my train times and destinations didn’t match up with the trains they operate.
Remember to bring your electronic converters.

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