Archive | March 2006

Some thoughts on being back

So how am I fitting back into the world?

I’m on a new mission: To make a billion dollars. In that sense, I’m still traveling. Moving forward, trying to absorb as much of my new life as possible. Which is? I live in the bay area. Within a few days of getting back, after having a little shin-dig with about 20 friends or so, I packed up my truck, motorcycle in the back and moved to a new place 500 miles away to head the coffee division of MoreFlavor Inc. My friends know one of the brands well, MoreBeer – but the company has since started putting a lot more beef behind the wine and coffee divisions. I manage nearly every aspect of the division, which requires me to be an expert on everything coffee, in addition to marketing, sales, public speaking and everything that comes along with those. And it’s been a fast paced 6 months. I haven’t really had much time to think about much else.

One of the biggest challenges has been separating the coffee and the wine from a beer website. This implies a lot more than just a site switch. It implies that everything has equal importance and quality. And so in addition to drinking and professionally sampling tons of coffee, I’ve put together the coffee site and nearly all the content within. The site revolves around the idea that people can roast their own coffee. It’s fresher, you have a huge selection of top quality green beans to choose from (I sample many lots before I make a decision on which to carry), it’s 1/3 the cost of the roasted stuff – and it’s just damned cool, fun and interesting. Roasting your own coffee takes 10 minutes and it’s really fun to see how much people get into it.

I just got back from Guatemala in January, actually, for work and that was cool. I visited some processing plants and coffee farms.

And I’m loving the Bay Area. It’s fun to take the train down to San Francisco and hang out every once in a while. It’s pretty cold right now but it will warm up soon and I can go hiking again. There are tons of places to hike around here and I bought a new tent and backpack for the tail end of summer last year. I’ll be away nearly every weekend this coming spring camping and hiking. It’s just so much fun – and I don’t have to fly all the way to New Zealand or Nepal!

So how am I different after a trip like this? I don’t know. I like to think that I have a bit of a better understanding of people. I’ve met a lot more people than many will ever meet in their lives. Observing and interacting with them has given me a lot of experience. I had a lot of time for introspection while spending a lot of time doing nothing while I was gone, too. I like to think that I have a pretty good understanding of my shortcomings and flaws, and what I need to do to work around them. I realized that often times, people have shortcomings that make them who they are, and upon which their strengths are built. Eliminate the flaws and the rest of the person comes tumbling down, great qualities and all. So life is then a process of examining which flaws are parts of those pillars (meaning which you can do away with without consequence – and only makes you a better person) and which you need to either compensate for, or tame – because they are with you forever.

It’s humbling to realize that you aren’t as great as you thought you were when you were younger. At least for me, it is.

I also have no home. And I don’t think I will have a “home” mentality for a long time to come. Right now I am following the money. That may take me as far away as China. Or I might stay in the same place for a long time. But buying something like a house just seems like bad business right now. For one, it ties you down. Two, the housing market is just coming out of a peak. Three, I make very little money. And based solely on that third point, I’ll be renting for a while. I get paid on profit, however, so hopefully my paycheck will steadily increase. Sales are up exactly 156% for the year, after being on a steady decline before I took over. The funny thing is, though, that I could live out of a box if I had to. I’m so focused on this empire that I want to create that a few cold nights would be nothing to me if it meant that I could save a lot more money and put it towards my goals. This is something that very few people seem to understand, having slept in a nice warm bed every night of their lives. For those of you who followed my posts: you remember when I slept in that cave in Malaysia and woke up to rat droppings next to my head. It doesn’t faze me. Anything is luxury, here.

I’m sometimes kept awake at night by my goals and dreams, and a million memories swirl around in my head. Throughout my day, a thousand funny stories constantly want to come out of my mouth because I’m reminded of something in some far off country, but I bite my tongue because I don’t want to sound pretentious, “when I was in (a country you’ve never been too), this guy once said to me….” My experiences have opened my eyes to perspectives and ideas that I never dreamed of. I’ve learned more about myself than I thought possible. But I’m alone in this growth. And there are very few people I can relate to. But I only have to take a look at my pictures – which I will have for a lifetime to be taken back to any moment in time. Staring at each is a private pleasure that only I can enjoy to the fullest extent. Each picture is a moment in time with a thousand stories attached to it. I took over 15,000 pictures on this trip and I’ve narrowed them down to about 230 of some of the most stunning pictures I’ve ever seen. There are no captions and no explanations in this album – the photography speaks for itself.

This will be my last post. I’d like to thank everyone for following me through this saga. But at the same time, keep in mind that the real trip has only just begun. You’ll understand when you suddenly start to see me on the cover of all those business magazines.

And I’ll end this on what I think the two most important things I pulled out of this whole experience: 1) Everyone deserves your utmost respect – and it helps to make your respect for this person as evident as possible. The only way they should be able to end up in a place where you disrespect them is if they slowly chipped away at the foundation you started the relationship with until there is nothing left. And when you disrespect someone, it is best to maintain as profound a distance from that individual as possible.

And 2) confidence in yourself causes other people to have confidence in you. And trust. A confident person will have many more opportunities in life than an insecure individual, but they both have the same potential for these opportunities. Confidence generates luck like nothing else.