In the Around the World Interview series, we interview different personalities from around the world on their travel style, travel tips and insider secrets. For our first interview, we sat down with Jason L. Ma, who has logged more than 2 million miles flying across the world as a CEO, speaker, coach and author.
Name: Jason L. Ma
City: Palo Alto, CA
Trusted Strategic Advisor to Global CEOs & Parents/ Mentor of Millennials and Teens, Preeminent Expert & Coach on Leadership, Career, and College Admissions Success, Feature Keynote & Fireside International Speaker
Author of Young Leaders 3.0: Stories, Insights, & Tips for Next-Generation Achievers Contributor, Forbes (2011 to 2016) Delegate, Forbes Global CEO Conference (8 years) Member, Employment & Education Taskforce, The B20 (Part of The G20 Process)Member, SMEs Cross-Thematic Group, The B20 (Part of The G20 Process) Member, Global Advisory Council, & Speaker, World Chinese Economic Summit Member, Steering Committee, & Speaker, DC Finance Luminary Expert & Speaker, If Only Guest Lecturer, Stanford University Guest Lecturer, UC Berkeley
Travel Style: Having logged more than two million miles of world travels through the decades, I’ve become a globally fluid minimalist who's learned to travel light, efficient, and safe. Think and act high ratio: maximize productivity with some pleasure (numerator). Minimize burden, unnecessary resources, and risks (denominator).
In North America, New York City and Hawaii. In Asia-Pacific, I love Hong Kong (which is the Asian New York City and my birthplace!) and Bali, Indonesia. In Europe, I enjoy London and parts of Italy. And in the Middle East, Israel is my favorite place, though I haven’t gone to Dubai yet. You get a sense I’m a city kid by heart, but I enjoy a bit of tropical paradise!
Being a minimalist, I always physically carry my Raymond Weil watch. More importantly, I always need fully reliable people, working equipment, and processes anywhere I go. All of the latter are a pipedream, however, so my expectations are set not high. I’m secretly awaiting for the next Tesla Model S design and the 2019 Audi A7 or A6 supercharged sports versions (the A8 is nice, but I prefer the design and slightly better nimbleness of the former).
Three Travel Items You Can’t Live Without:
My MacBook Pro and smartphone, Clinique M Lotion for men or Moisturizing Lotion for women (I’ve learned from Nordstrom staff that these are the same facial lotion product, but in different packaging and not available worldwide) and hair gel (and a backup blowdryer!)
What does luxury travel mean to you?
I already live in luxury—constant safety, great health, so much love with family and close friends, and ever-increasing wisdom. It's always good for us to step back and appreciate just what abundance we already have. That said, I do enjoy an exotic family vacation now and then. I may take my family to Tokyo for the first time this summer. Japan’s culture is just incredibly distinctive and it’s a blast to visit. We also haven’t been to Europe and Israel and parts of Asia togerther yet…a wild safari trip is also in my plans. To enjoy a bit of space tourism amd see the visual beauty of our Earth and the serenity of space is in my dreams.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Culinary delights. I love to eat and manage to stay fit physically and mentally. I love fine restaurants of various cuisines worldwide. But I must admit by default my favorite is still fine (authentic) Hong Kong Cantonese, especially fresh seafood in choice Hong Kong seafood restaurants. Have you tried the fresh star rock cod steamed with green onion, ginger, and sweet soy sauce, or fresh shrimp wanton noodle soup (at a mom and pop shop, naturally), or other delights done by authentic master Hong Kong chefs? Surreal! I also enjoy fine red wine and, occasionally, XO cognac. These are best enjoyed in the great company of friends or clients!
Your Favorite Luxury Item?
I’m not particularly materialistic. I’d say I most enjoy spending quality time with family or close friends.
One Thing you Couldn't Live Without:
My iPhone. It’s always close at hand.
How do you stay grounded on the road?
Fitness and sleep. When in NYC or Hong Kong, I walk a lot. I hit the hotel gym if time allows. I get my sleep and even dare to advise people to attempt to schedule your work around your sleep. That tests the power of your belief system and skills. Stay hydrated with good water. Avoid too many sweet drinks. On the plane, get up periodically and stretch and do squats. During some trips, I even manage to complete a new audiobook during breaks and walking time.
Your Favorite Travel Story:
Where do I start? One is when my wife and I (then before children) indulged in Bali, Indonesia, staying at the Four Seasons Bali. Have you experienced Bali’s sight, sound, smell, taste, people, culture, and the hospitality? The island is like a smaller, Asian Maui, but with a unique and magical culture. We booked a tour guide and a private car for a few days and explored both inland and by the beach, sightseeing and diving into great seafood. There was another time that I was in Bangkok when a coup was happening and got out safely. I traveled to Karachi and Islamabad in Pakistan, missing a bomb that went off at the Lahore airport around that time. I’ll save my Nauru (a former Australian colony till 1969 and the world’s tiniest island country) story for another time. I was there at ages 1 to 4 and 6 to 9.
Your Best Travel Tip:
Be prepared, be friendly, be curious, be safe, be productive. I find that most cultures worldwide are actually very open and friendly. You treat people nicely and they will treat you even nicer in return. Different faiths, languages, skin color, etc. may be different but we are all human beings with basic needs. I’ve been to endless cities in 40 countries across Asia-Pacific, Europe, Israel, and the Americas. Although I have made my share of mistakes, I’ve never recalled a time of trouble anywhere. Be friendly and treat people nicely.
Best advice you were ever given?
Be kind and consistent. I’m still trying to hone the latter!