Up in the air, unable to land. And about the traits of highly successful people.

First course for dinner
onboard Turkish Airlines
from Casablanca to Istanbul

About 36 hours ago, I was up in the air circling Manila for over an hour after having just crossed halfway around the world on an overnight flight on Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, and we were waiting to be given clearance to land.


It’s quite irritating to be made to wait so long to land after having already flown so long. But the clincher was that after this long wait, the captain came on the loudspeaker and said: “We’re #13 in the queue to land.

In airline speak that translates to 26 planes: 13 planes to land alternating with 13 planes taking off.

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I could hear invectives being muttered all over the place. I’m a very impatient person myself, so to take my mind off the long wait, I began leafing through a pile of issues of the Financial Times that I’d brought with me since I was flying back by myself.

Aside from my own magazine, the FT Weekend is the only publication I read from cover to cover. Last weekend’s travel pieces in the FT Weekend weren’t great, but I thoroughly enjoyed an account of lunch with Novak Djokovic onboard his private plane, the world’s greatest tennis player in the world, and an interview with Gerard Aurard, the openly gay French ambassador to Washington.


Then I turned to one of the daily editions of the FT and to my surprise the name of an old acquaintance popped out of the headlines as he’d just become a very big player in the global financial scene.

I met him about 15 years ago and he was already a big fish then, but now he’s making even bolder headlines in the global financial news.

This delicious main course onboard Turkish Airlines
from Casablanca to Istanbul
sure made me crave for Turkish food.
Happily, I’m headed there in a couple of weeks,
after a party for Yoko Ono in Tokyo


To pass the time up in the air, I recalled the first time I met him, which was when he and his wife visited Tokyo and I was asked to pick them up for a very fancy dinner as our host was going to join us at the restaurant.

For this purpose, the host had given me one of his stretch limousines with a driver in white gloves, and I’d gone over to the Park Hyatt Tokyo to pick up this couple I’d never met before.

Fortunately, we hit it off from Moment One.

First course at breakfast, just before landing,
or not landing, in Manila…


One thing about him that is also true about other very successful people — and here I mean big fish in big ponds — was that he had razor sharp focus that aimed at you like a torpedo for that moment when he was talking to you and his attention was on you.

Most people have a diluted focus, and many others have none at all. But there’s no mistaking the focus intensity of a highly successful person.

The challenge here was that he had a very short attention span.

I basically had 15 seconds to try and catch and keep his attention. And, even more challenging was the fact that this 15-second span was ongoing — meaning I had to catch and keep his attention every 15 seconds with something very interesting or very worthwhile, or he would close the window and that was the end of that.

Think of it like playing volleyball with a very quick and good player the whole night, if you’re going to dinner.

Fortunately, Japan interested him greatly as a culture and as a profit centre, and I can write books about it. So we got along fairly well, enough for him to say publicly in a crowded room of his top executives some days later: “We should’ve hired her.


And we all met up for meals at smart restaurants in New York or London when we were all in the same place at the same time, and I followed him in the international newspapers with interest.

But in the past years, I’d been so busy that I forgot about him and his lovely wife until I read about him again the other day, living it up in the world, while I was up in the air,  living a never-ending #Travelife.