welcome to week No. 4 of Road Warrior: Adventures of the Business Traveler, Wanderlust's compendium of tips and tales from people who spend the better part of their lives on the road. We launched with worldly advice and eye-opening anecdotes from digital visionary Esther Dyson and Web and print designer Roger Black.
This week's featured interview is with the energetically pathbreaking co-founder and head of Yahoo!, Jerry Yang. Also take a look at Tip of the Week, which tells you how to win a free trip to Korea, and Informed Sources, where road warriors share their queries and advice. Last week's letter from a female executive about sexist service in first class sparked some spirited responses. Check out what our readers wrote. And see if you're inspired to respond to this week's query about how to keep hotels from charging for phone calls that never connect. We welcome your questions, suggestions, tips and ideas -- send them to email@example.com. And make us a regular stop on your weekly itinerary!
Three years ago, Jerry Yang realized a dream, creating an Internet-based online guide called Yahoo! One year later he co-founded Yahoo! Inc. The rest, as they say, is history. Yahoo has become one of the largest online navigational guide sites in the world, and has gone on to become involved in numerous subsidiary ventures, ranging from city guide sites to a print publication. Yang is a native of Taiwan who was raised in San Jose, Calif. He is currently on a leave of absence from Stanford University's Electrical Engineering Ph.D. program and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford. He goes by the title of Chief Yahoo.
Yang is almost always somewhere else these days, according to Yahoo's public relations manager, Jennifer Hwang, and so I conducted this interview by e-mailing questions to Hwang, who forwarded them to Yang -- "I don't even know exactly where he is right now," she said, "but I know he always checks his e-mail" -- who ended up answering them somewhere between Tokyo and Singapore.
How often do you travel in a year?
It's seasonal. Usually 2-3 trips per month.
How do you deal with jet lag?
I stay really, really tired -- that way I can sleep whenever, wherever.
Do you have a favored plane or seat?
The newer 777 or airbuses. I don't care which part of the plane so much, but I always like to sit on the aisle.
What places do you visit most often?
New York, Tokyo, L.A., Seattle.
In these places, how do you get from the airport to your hotel?
What's your favorite hotel?
I'm not picky -- except it has to have a fax and second phone line.
What's your favorite restaurant?
I like to try local dives, noodle shops -- the kinds of places residents go.
If you have an afternoon free, where do you go?
I sit in a cafe next to a park and read the paper.
What's your single favorite place or thing in your most frequented cities?
In Tokyo: the Tsukiji fish market for sushi.
In L.A.: the freeway signs.
Have you made any memorable cultural or business faux pas?
I always bow when I go to Japan -- but it wasn't until recently that I was told the way I bowed was more like a woman (with hands in front of me), than like a man (with hands on the side).
Do you have any cultural or business secrets you could pass along?
It helps a ton when you learn people's names and don't butcher them when trying to pronounce them. (Unfortunately, I haven't mastered this yet.)
How do you cope with loneliness on the road?
Frequent long-distance phone calls to check e-mail; staying in touch with family and the business.
What's your pet travel peeve?
If you could change one travel-related thing, what would you change?
I would create shorter lines in Immigration at airports.
Do you have any essential packing tips?
Always pack for one more day than you expect.