14 Very Short Stories of How World Travel Made Me an Entrepreneur
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
The Pursuit of Adventure…
In a word, my mission and purpose comes down to Exploring. In every sense of the word. That is the best way I know how to help others and how to live a life of meaning.
Tomorrow I leave for a trip to Turkey with nine close friends. And I actually started writing this on a flight to Montreal for another buddy’s 30th birthday last week.
Just being in the international terminal in SFO gives me the chills. It always has.
Nothing has changed me more than the trips I’ve taken, the places I’ve explored and the people I’ve connected with.
I would not be an entrepreneur without it.
In fact I wouldn’t be a lot of things…
While living your normal life, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of getting your head out of the sand and seeing things from a different place. But sadly, most who’ve never really traveled, don’t really see the point.
I’d like to remind you all that there is a very big point. And in all the learning I’ve done, no single practice has had a bigger impact. There is no more influential classroom.
This is a tribute to the gratitude I have for what the world has taught me. And the businesses it has inspired me to create.
May it encourage you to dust off that passport…
How Travel Made Me an Entrepreneur: 14 Very Short Stories
1. When I studied and lived with a family for six months in Sevilla, Spain I learned that happiness can (and should) be prioritized over money and status. It turned out there was indeed another path.
2. Studying at the London School of Economics taught me the importance of understanding other cultures. That seeing things through others’ eyes actually made a difference – and was normal in most countries aside from the U.S. That business is not about what you think will help, but about what others need help with.
3. Seven weeks backpacking around Europe with a close friend (and now business partner) introduced me to a few people who unknowingly convinced me to take a crack at working abroad instead of jumping into American corporate life. That seven weeks turned into a year.
Oh, and that one early July 8th morning running with the bulls in Pamplona taught me that, while many things are less risky that we think, some actually involve more danger than meets the eye (but that’s a story for another post…).
4. When I moved back to Sevilla for that year, as a tour guide and founder of an English teaching business, I learned that with the right models, inspiration and passion – happiness and money could actually exist together. I never looked back. Eric and Jorge, thanks for welcoming me and inspiring me with your work at Discover Sevilla. That showed me my first glimpse of true possibility.
5. Martín, a very talented street-side painter in Lagos, Portugal, showed me what it meant to embrace a talent and help people in a simple meaningful way. I feel it every time I walk by that sunset on canvas hanging in my hall.
6. Two Portuguese brothers, Mario and Selmo, proved to me that your path never has to be scripted. As they got their undergraduate and MBA educations in Boston, and then moved to Lagos to start what has become one of the top party hostels in Europe. And as proof that friendships don’t stop at borders, Mario flew out last week to tackle the Goruck Challenge with me in San Francisco.
7. A few late nights in Russia showed me a bit more about the freedom that too many of us take for granted.
8. A stint in Dubai around 2007 showed me why it’s best to stick to building things where demand already exists. Flooding the market with hundreds of luxury high-rises does not necessarily create a bunch of buyers. Build what people want. Simple.
9. Spending weeks around the locals in Botswana, Zambia and South Africa taught me a new form of entrepreneurship and micro business. That a business can be anything as long as you decide to offer value and charge something for it.
10. It also made me promise myself to not take another moment or opportunity for granted, and to do everything I could to help people and make an impact, no matter how small. Because it’s all too easy to forget how much we have at our fingertips. It became an obligation to do something meaningful.
11. A week at a wellness retreat in Mexico allowed me to cross paths with Richard Leider, internationally recognized Purpose Coach and bestselling author, whose mentorship, friendship and guidance, along with that of Dick Bolles‘, became a lot of the foundation and inspiration for Live Your Legend. I recently did an interview with Richard, which I’ll share soon.
12. A few weeks in the Italian countryside with my family (and a few more times since then) planted the idea that one day I wanted to have a business that could be run from anywhere and would allow me to see as much of the world as often as I wanted. That was years before I had my first website. The subconscious is more powerful that we realize – crazy what an idea can turn into.
13. While laying out on a sunny log along a river in Chilean Patagonia, during a fly-fishing trip with my dad, I was struck with the name and vision for Live Your Legend (very much inspired by Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, which I’ll be reading for the 6th time while I’m in Turkey). I launched the new brand right after getting back to the states.
14. And a honeymoon spent cruising a rental car (with no rearview mirror) up the Croatian coastline reminded me of all the above, and inspired me to stay true to a path I’d unknowingly committed to on one of those first trips.
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Every Adventure Is a Reminder
Each trip is a shot of adrenaline.
A wake up call.
A way to suck yourself out of the laptop, out of your bubble and out of the world you think is so worth worrying about.
A reminder that there is so much left to see. So much to experience. So much to do and people to learn from.
There is endless inspiration and education to be sought out – but only if you’re willing to find it.
Every adventure going forward will do the same. They always do.
Because it’s not until we get our head out of our own world, that we come to grips with what actually matters and what we’re really working towards.
Life is clearer when seen from a hiking trail towards Machu Picchu than it is from your desk.
Because of that, I will always keep moving.
In fact I’ve even toyed with the idea of creating some 1-2 week Live Your Legend adventures throughout the world, for a few eager LYL readers and myself. Anyone want to join?? (I’ll keep you posted).
Travel does not have to be something you only dream about.
If you haven’t left your town or country in a while, I suggest it’s time you book a flight.
There will always be reasons to put it off. Do it anyway.
Leo Babauta travels with a family of eight (more on that next week) and Adam Baker and his wife spent a year seeing the world with their newborn on their back. Excuses don’t have to be excuses.
Especially when it comes to cost.
Chris Guillebeau, on his quest to visit every country in the world, travels to dozens of countries a year, usually flying First or Business Class. But he rarely pays for airfare. He calls it Travel Hacking. Chelsea and I happen to be flying business class to Turkey, thanks to what his Travel Hacking Cartel has taught.
I promise you the money is not what’s holding you back. You can spend a week in some countries for the cost of what most weekend-waiting job-haters spend on a couple nights out trying to forget who they are.
Those who haven’t traveled, simply have a priority issue. There is no other barrier.
Ideas are born through experiences, not sitting at your desk.
Because of what the world’s taught me, my desk can now be anywhere.
I’m forever grateful.
The how and the why are easy to answer.
My favorite question is…
Where to next?
If you need me I’ll be in some beach town in Turkey with my wife and eight friends – stockpiling inspiration for my next big project…
P.S. A good friend and past client, Jon Giganti just launched his new site and blog, The Catalyst Project. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re an employee and don’t plan on leaving your job. His intro video will get you fired up too.
Jon has built an amazing career as an employee in a big company and he actually enjoys what he’s doing (yes, that is possible ;)). He believes that you can do great work, even if you don’t work for yourself.
The way he’s helping people is by providing tools, techniques and approaches for the people who don’t ever plan to leave their corporate gig, but want more out of their career. It’s a niche that I haven’t see too many people tackle. Instead of quitting your job, make what you have more meaningful. If this sounds interesting, check out The Catalyst Project. He’s got some impressive expert contributors, and is giving away a pretty cool Catalyst Assessment Test during his launch.
Congrats on being live Jon!
Ok, now go put that passport to work.