International business, Italian style
I'm headed to the airport to fly to Brussels tomorrow. From there, I'll wind my way south, visiting St. Claude in the Joura mountains as the first stop on my trip. I'll visit the Genod workshop, have lunch with folks there, and head east to Switzerland, where I'll spend the night, before going on to visit Ardor, Castello, and Radice over the following two days. And from there, south into Italy, visiting folks, then across the peninsula, visiting more folks, up into Germany and eventually back to Brussels.
I'll blog as I go, with photos and descriptions, but much of the reason that I like visiting our suppliers and partners in Italy is that we, as one might expect, do everything Italian style. This means that we actually talk business for about, it seems, four minutes. Then we eat lunch for two hours. Then business resumes for about six minutes. It's not that Italians don't work hard; these guys really work hard. It's just that business is done over great food. That, I think, is yet another Italian import that we Americans need. Breakfast meetings at 7:30am with everyone scribbling on legal pads while sucking down tepid coffee do not count, my fellow Americans.
About a year ago at the IPCPR show in New Orleans, we had four person team: three veterans (Tony, Susan, me) and one person new to the whole experience (Lisa). Lisa couldn't quite figure out the division of labor. It seemed to her that I spent more time trying to figure out what restaurants we wanted to eat at (this is New Orleans, after all) than I did on the business. Susan and Tony expected this. The three of us had eaten our way through Las Vegas for the previous IPCPR. But Lisa was baffled. I knew I'd done all the prep I could do back at the office, that I'd be at the show or in outside meetings with folks ten hours a day, and that I really wanted to make sure I could experience the culinary delights that New Orleans had to offer. Such as Susan Spicer's restaurant Bayona, which if you ever happen to find yourself in New Orleans (or, well, within 200 miles of New Orleans) is a must visit. Food is really important. Returning to my original point, the Italians have it right.
So, starting in a couple of days, I'll blog diligently about my first love, pipes and pipe tobacco, and I'll probably squeeze some meal descriptions in there while I'm at it. I couldn't be more excited to make this trip. I'm in Denmark and Japan each annually, but this'll be my first trip to Italy in a couple of years.