James Kaplan, CEO of Tai Ping Carpets. Photographed in Hong Kong
Jim Kaplan, CEO of Tai Ping Carpets © Berton Chang/FT

I am based in New York and Tai Ping [a luxury carpet company] is headquartered in Hong Kong. I travel about eight times a year to HK for board meetings. I also regularly visit our Europe HQ in Paris.

My main commute is in New York, where I take the subway from my home on the Upper West Side to the office in Union Square. It takes 20 minutes door to door and I usually listen to music and read the news. Or if I am tired I hop in a taxi. I exercise every day at 5am — I never miss a day even when I am travelling. It keeps me sane and clears my head. I am usually at the office by about 7.30am.

As for business travel, I am a 1m mile flyer on Cathay Pacific. I hit a million miles on a trip I took a while back and the pilot came out and congratulated me. The team gave me a little bit of a song and a birthday cake. I said to the pilot that I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

When in HK and Paris I take a taxi ride from my hotel to the office. In Paris I usually stay off the phone and look out of the car window at all the sights.


I read both the Financial Times and the New York Times, which I pick up from a newsstand on my way to the subway. On the train I typically check the business and sport sections of the NYT. I am an avid follower of basketball — I played at university. I have been a season-ticket holder at the New York Knicks for 25 years. I am also a fan of [American football team] the New York Jets and [baseball team] the New York Mets.

I will then go through the FT when I get to the office. I also subscribe to the South China Morning Post, which gives me all the relevant news for the Hong Kong region.

Hotel Lancaster Paris, Hillary Clinton's 'What Happened', New York Knicks Kristaps Porziņģis
Hotel Lancaster in Paris, Hillary Clinton's 'What Happened' and New York Knicks' Kristaps Porziņģis © FT montage; Hotel Lancaster Paris/Amazon/AP


In Hong Kong I stay at the Grand Hyatt — Tai Ping did its carpet. It is well appointed with a great club lounge and is just a 15 minute taxi-ride from the office.

In Paris I stay at the [Hotel] Lancaster, just off the Champs-Élysées. It is a small hotel, so I feel like I am staying at home. They give me the same room every time and they know what I like and what I want for breakfast. The office is just across the river in Saint-Germain.


I download lots of stuff on my iPad to watch while I am flying. I watch quite a lot of television series. The Handmaid’s Tale was particularly dark and interesting, and very relevant, especially given the current US president. I watch a lot of BBC series too. I liked The Missing, which explores the fallout of a child’s abduction, and The Fall, where Northern Irish police are in pursuit of a serial killer.

I also subscribe to NBA TV and the NFL Network. If there is a game when I am in HK, I have to get up in the middle of the night to watch it.


I am obsessive about arriving early at the airport and buy lots of magazines when I check-in, such as Architectural Digest or Vanity Fair. I enjoy the different subjects in Vanity Fair, like politics, fashion and general human interest stories.


I tend to read before I go to sleep — I read novels and non-fiction. A recent one was Hillary Clinton’s What Happened. I read a lot of business biographies, that of Steve Jobs, for example. They are interesting stories and help me with the running of my business. In terms of fiction, I will read something by Nelson DeMille, an author of adventure and suspense novels. This is good light reading and it’s entertaining.


I use Spotify at home and download songs on to iTunes when travelling. On the subway I go for something as mellow as possible like Cat Stephens — New York’s subway is not as sophisticated or civilised as London’s underground. I often listen to very contemporary music when I am exercising — the techno DJs are good for that, Calvin Harris and Avicii. I blow 18-year-olds away with my knowledge. They are like “how do you know all this?”. When you work out for an hour and half, seven days a week, you need to find lots of stuff to listen to. I am not really going to listen to concertos while on the treadmill.

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