Most people know John Thompson as the chairman of Microsoft and iconic decade-long former CEO of Symantec.
He also spent 28 years with IBM, rising from salesperson to a top executive, in charge of IBM Americas.
While that seems like a career enough for any human, it’s not for Thompson. He’s still going strong as the CEO of a fast-growing San Jose, California, startup called Virtual Instruments.
What do all of those jobs have in common? Travel. And lots of it.
Thompson’s schedule is downright nuts, he told us in an interview.
In a two-week period in February, he will travel from the Bay Area to Detroit to Toronto back to the Bay Area and then to New York, London and to Columbus, Ohio with his wife, “to see our granddaughter in her first play.” Then back to the Bay Are for one night, and then off to Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong for ten days. And in between, he’ll romp off to Seattle for a Microsoft board meeting.
Does he ever suffer jet lag?
Nope. “Jet lag is psychological,” he tells us, “If you don’t think you’re gonna have jet lag, you won’t.”
That said, he does have a few strategies for avoiding it. There’s the classic one: “live on local time,” he says.
The key tip to that is to sleep on the plane before you arrive.
“Let’s just take my trip to Europe next week. I get on the plane, I take two Excedrin PM, and I go to sleep. And I wake up and it’s typically 10:30, 11 o’clock in the morning in London, and I work all day. You don’t take a nap, you take a shower, you go to work and you work all day, and you run your body on local time.”
The other tip is also essential. “At some point over the course of about 2 or 3 weeks, you do need to kind of catch up,” he says. So plan on taking your nap and/or going to bed early for a night or two every few weeks.
And the best tip of them all: own your own plane.
Thompson, who was one of the highest paid tech execs in the industry during the heyday of Symantec, does own a plane.
But, interestingly enough, he doesn’t tend to use for the trips that can cause jet lag, he says.
“When I travel internationally I take commercial flights. I often take commercial flights here in the US. I don’t use my plane for every trip that I take, it depends upon how many stops that I’m making, and that kind of stuff. If it’s a simple go to New York and back, a commercial flight is just as fine.”