Paul Hutchinson is a machine. There is more than enough to back up such a statement, as a casual look at his LinkedIN profile will show that this man knows what he’s talking about and has the cred to back it up. Not satisfied with 15 successful businesses under his belt, Paul is almost as well known, if not more respected, for his philanthropic endeavours and his deep commitment to eradicating child poverty and trafficking.
As a person who has individually flown more than anyone else we could find (including some pilots), we could think of nobody better suited to give us some advice.
You’re reputed to have flown over 5 million miles, is that all for work?
First and foremost, it’s business. I have offices in Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York and Orlando and there are people all over the world who want to invest in projects here in the US. These include things like $100 million from a government pension fund in Asia and $750 million from The Big Group in the Middle East, so lots of business deals need me to travel.
Secondly, and more importantly, is charity. There is an entire world out there filled with people less fortunate than us here. How is it that there are still people today who don’t have running water? There are billions of people in need and I focus a lot of my time on children in need. I see it as a massive injustice that you have 9-year-old children with lives that they are powerless to change and who find themselves in horrible situations of hunger and trafficking. Eradicating this is something I can get behind in a big way. I travel the world to find people in need and to provide them with the assistance that they need.
HOW I FLY
How do you like to fly?
If you’re flying international, going private is awesome! On one trip that springs to mind, we flew to Thailand and took a Gulf Stream 650. It was for a child rescue project funded by a fantastic donor who sponsored us the jet. I paid for the fuel… which was $100,000 there and back…but we were able to sleep on queen-sized beds on the way over, there was a kitchen right there to make you whatever you wanted and a living room area where everyone could talk. It’s definitely the way to go.
I don’t get the chance to do that often and that is definitely not how we usually travel, but it’s worth mentioning because it was as impressive as hell.
If you have to fly commercial, Virgin Airlines are second to none, especially if you can upgrade to their high-end business class it is above and beyond.
Do you have any flying tricks?
I have trained myself to sleep anywhere. When I was building my business I didn’t have the money to fly business class and I especially didn’t have the money to fly private, so I was flying commercial a lot. What I would always do, and still do, is take a travel pillow and a hoody sweater, earplugs, face mask and take a Unisom and I’d be out. I’d fly to Asia in 16 hours and be asleep for eight of them. I’d wake up, eat some food, take another Unisom and sleep another 8 hours and arrive. Boom! I’d be ready to go.
If I’m not sleeping on a plane and if I’m not sat next to somebody interesting, I have internet connectivity and am focussed on getting stuff done. I’m as productive on an airplane as I am in an office, but I like making connections with people sitting next to me. You can’t have relationship arrogance because you learn something from everyone.
I like audio books. I do read normal books at least one a month, but generally, I listen to audio books at double speed and glean all the information I need. This is how I listen to Atlas Shrugged, which teaches a lot about creating wealth and building relationships and is a must-read for anyone starting a business.
I fly Delta a lot and I use their lounges a great deal but there are a number of major airports across the world that offer rooms that you can rent by the hour to sleep in. This is hugely important if you have a layover of a good couple of hours, as instead of trying to get comfortable on a couch, you can just crash in a bed. If you travel frequently and spend a lot of time waiting for flights, you’ll know the value of a quiet, dark room with a good mattress and the guarantee of being woken up in time for your connection.
Do you have travel insurance?
What about packing? Are you a planner or a last minute packer?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to drop everything and rush out of the door for a meeting in another country and I’ve packed in about 10 minutes. I got a phone call once from Tim Ballard (CEO and founder of Operation Underground Railroad), to go to California to speak with Apple Executives that night. Luckily, I have a lot of stuff in my drawers and I just grabbed everything; an extra suit, extra shirt and boom, I’m gone.
This is how I pack. I have my Tumi bag. I roll everything; my underwear, my workout clothes, I even use elastic bands, with my suits I have my suit bag in which I’ll have a change of suit, some shirts and I’ll wear a suit so I have two.
I also don’t check in bags if I can afford not to. I’ve lost so much luggage over the years that I don’t do it. If I can’t fit everything I need into carry-on luggage it doesn’t come with me. This also gets me out of the airport faster.
What phone do you have?
You have to have an iPhone! Seriously, you have to have one so I can message you when I only have Wi-Fi on a plane. It means I can have more access. I have an iPhone 7 and can’t wait for my iPhone X!
From your perspective, how important is appearance and physical health?
Is it important? Vital. Your first impression happens in seconds and it lasts. So I like to be slightly overdressed. If there is an option to go casual or wear a suit, I always suit up, as it gives me credibility. When I was in my early 20s, I was working with people older than me who were working for me so I needed that extra credibility. I also always shave, as psychological studies have been completed that show when you’re closing billionaire dollar deals, if you’re clean cut you have an easier job of gaining trust and credibility.
And is staying in shape important to you?
Yes. When you first meet someone and they’re a sloppy dresser and overweight you can’t help but judge them. 80% of your weight is what you eat. When I’m flying I order water with no ice and a lemonette with every meal. I work 16-hour days between work and charity and I need to be in shape, that takes training and eating healthy. I like to complete two or three things simultaneously and I have someone train me in Krav Maga every morning for an hour.
So you’re a successful businessman with an intense sense of responsibility and you train in martial arts? Paul, are you Batman?
(Paul was unable to comment.)
No worries Paul, I think that answers that one for all of us. Tell us about your favourite destinations.
My favourite place to travel is actually South East Asia. Thailand is amazing. Stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok Thailand for New Years, as they go all out and it is an amazing experience. Fireworks, live music, five-star service all the way. But don’t just stay in Bangkok! Go to Phuket and Chiang Mai as well. The water there is so clear that the boats look like they’re floating on air.
Any bad experiences travelling?
I was on a plane on the way to China and it was the middle of the night and I was out cold with earplugs in and a face mask on and there was a five-year-old next to me and his mother on my other side. It was dark and I felt this warm liquid running down my leg and wake up and this kid has his arm outstretched and is pouring his apple juice all the way down my leg!
Now, I was in a suit because I had a meeting as soon as I got off the plane. His mother didn’t speak any English and didn’t care about what her son had done to my suit so I had to get up and clean myself up and sit for the rest of the flight with an eye on everything this kid did, just in case he had it in for me.
Honestly though, I have just as many bad experiences as any one can have on a plane but I travel so much so that they do wrack up. I tend to not dwell on them. I’ve been stuck on the tarmac for three hours before, but I had a good book and great people to talk to. You have to make the best of every situation, so I just roll with the punches. Everyone goes through crap; you have to go through it fast though and not dwell on it.
Who would you love to sit next to?
I’d like to sit next to Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder). He’s a $100 billion man now, although he probably has his own private 650. And it’s the chance to sit next to someone who’s created something as important as what he has created. What an opportunity for a conversation! Elon Musk is definitely on my list too. He has such a great vision of the future and he’s such a visionary leader. His ideas of clean energy and how to get there, as a world nation, are just inspiring.
Finally, what do you want to do next?
I work with the Child Liberation Foundation and would love to work with Operation Underground Railroad. Tim Ballard is the founder of Operation Underground Railroad and he’s also the chairman of the Child Liberation Foundation. His purpose is to focus on the task of finding parents for children after they’ve been freed. Identifying good families for these children is critical. We help with rehabilitation, identifying good families and helping the adoption process to run as smoothly as possible. This is what I call the second rescue of the children.
I was wrong. You’re better than Batman.
Read: #Howtheytravel. Exclusive interview with Scott Warner. CEO of Gigg.