I doubt that a consultant’s bag is anything you’ve ever thought about, but I know the first image that comes into my head is something like a soft leather attaché case sitting on the passenger seat of a gleaming Mercedes or similar. Well the reality in my case has more in common with my childhood schoolbag, crammed full of bits and bobs that help me as I visit the various tour operators and travel technology firms I work with. And as for the gleaming Mercedes, well mine travels at the same speed but tends to have 8 carriages and a buffet car.
I recently realised that I rely pretty heavily on the contents of my bag when I am on site with clients. There are some things which come out every time, and other things which I use less often, but make life a whole lot easier. So partly out of my own curiosity, I decided to unpack and take a look at what I found.
Probably the most important thing for any client visit is my laptop. Even if it is just a meeting or discussion, it normally comes out of the bag at least once. With the laptop comes charger, a tiny mouse with retractable wire, an adapter for use when I am in Europe/America (not sure why I carry this round when I don’t carry my passport?!). There’s also a big jumble of headphones, wires and adapters so I can connect things up as needed. One of the most useful things I carry is a USB memory stick – I use it a lot to transfer things onto client machines where email is not appropriate. This little thing has saved the day several times when we have faced technical problems.
Writing it down
I am a big note-taker. Sometimes I work in 5 different places in one week, so I find it invaluable to note things down on paper so I can quickly get back into the work next time I visit. I think taking notes on a computer diminishes the engagement you have with a client when they are present, whereas using paper can actually improve it – they can see what you are writing and you can also draw rough diagrams etc to explain things or work on them together. I recently bought a notebook with coloured sections so I can keep the notes for each client together in the same section. Brilliant!
2 Aardvarks subscribes to a mobile internet contract, separate to my phone. The mifi dongle means that I can access the internet on my laptop whilst travelling to and from clients’ offices. It has also been quite useful inside clients’ offices when there are wifi connectivity problems.
I get the train a lot, and I use the ‘Boris Bikes’ to cycle in central London rather than using the tube. I am normally carrying a helmet, fluorescent jacket, front and rear lights for the cycling, as well as oyster card and railcard for the train.
Sometimes I have to stay away from home, both in the UK and abroad. The loyalty schemes offered by hotels are great – I think I have used points earned on these schemes to pay for nearly every holiday I have had in the last few years. I was surprised how many stowaway hotel pens I found in the bag too!
Business cards, water bottle, sachets of cup-a-soup (emergency food when you just have to keep going with no lunch!)