One year later–same shirt, same shades, opposite side of the world!
For the third year in a row I’d like to recount what I progressed on over the last twelve months, as well as the things I still need to keep working at. The reasons for doing this are as follows:
1.) to make me think back to all of the things I am grateful for during the past year,
2.) to brainstorm some of the ways I can improve in all areas of my life, and
3.) to publicly set quantifiable goals for the next 365 days.
I started off 2014 strong, with just ONE goal set in front of me.
So, did I accomplish that goal? Read on… (it’s a long one folks)
So, did I manage it? Well, didn’t put myself in a place to make it happen, as I already had the first half of the year booked solid with travel. With this in mind, I set my sights on focusing hardcore and churning out some work after my rickshaw trip through India. I figured I’d travel back to the states and have a good block of time with which to work with. I even set about looking for a private cottage (with wifi) up in Northern Michigan where I could hole up and get some work done with minimal distractions.
Did that happen?
Like usual, I returned back to the states and spent much of the time there taking care of errands, catching up with friends and family, prepping for Burning Man, and fixing my damn car (which had three separate issues during the 6 weeks I was home, ending in 30+ hours of labor and over a thousand dollars of expenses, not including the gas and insurance costs).
I lost the last ten days of August and the first few of September to Burning Man. After that was a whirlwind tour through Europe (although I got some work done in Barcelona), ending with my third trip back to Thailand that year. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get a block of time together in which to get shit done.
Of course, that’s just an excuse–there’s always time, but the distractions got to me. I’m very easily distrac–SQUIRREL!!!
Embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t get any solid work done on Pamoja until November. I could already see the way things were heading during my trip home over the summer, and knew that I had to take drastic measures. My business partner Josh and I decided I would fly to Tanzania in early November, base myself at his house, and spend a good month just eating, sleeping, and working.
No friends, no parties, no networking, no drinking, no distractions.
In order to up the productivity quotient, I enlisted my friend Ryan at Video Vision 360 to fly from Detroit to assist me in shooting some promo video for the Pamoja web site. In turn, Ryan, along with his friend Calvin, was able to set up a charity soccer drop at a local orphanage, where we had a great time playing with the kids and donating hundreds of items of soccer gear provided by Adidas, Soccer.com, Rush Soccer, and Chevrolet’s One World Futbol program. Check out the video Ryan made below–it’s pretty amazing.
At the end of my month in Tanzania I had learned and accomplished just as much–if not more–than I had since we founded the company in late 2011.
I’d say that counts as Success.
Still a lot more work to do, but I’ve made a solid dent in the backlog.
Lesson learned: it’s easier to change my surroundings than to change my habits. I know it’s a bit of a crutch, as many people are able to be productive no matter what their surroundings, but this will have to do for the current me.
Other than Tanzania and working on my company, I’ve been keeping myself pretty occupied during the past 365 days:
RIP Adventure Metrics Podcast
My podcasting partner and I decided to amicably part ways at the beginning of the year. It had become evident that all of the time we were putting into the podcast was getting in the way of each of our respective major projects, so we decided to call it a day. As I detailed in my 2013 Overview post a year ago, I’ve been working on Pamoja Safaris, while Matt has been putting in most of his energy into getting his project ready, which will be a tool to assist entrepreneurs safely and effectively form their own companies online.
It was a bit sad to let go–the two of us had spent several hundred hours on the project and a fair bit of money, even going so far as to incorporate a business together.
We had a great time doing the podcast–we met a lot of super interesting people doing amazing things around the world, while also learning a thing or two about podcasting, processes, and promotion in doing so. A huge thanks to all of the guests and listeners we had during our 16-episode run–without you it would not have been possible.
Prior episodes will be kept online for the time being–check them out at AdventureMetrics.com.
Travels: 18 Countries in 5 Continents, 8 New
It hasn’t been the most intensive travel year for me (2012 takes the cake on that), but I definitely can’t complain. With nearly 20 countries–eight of them new–I’m well on my way to accomplishing my goal of 100 countries by 35 years old.
I started off the year in Colombia with friends, and then headed back for a whole five days before taking an impromptu solo trip to Lebanon (scored the round-trip ticket for just $400 because of a pricing error by Norwegian Airlines).
From Beirut I went back home for two days before heading off to my buddys’ entrepreneur’s retreat, Execute, at a giant mansion in the desert outside Phoenix. From there Mike Hrostoski and I headed to Thailand on separate flights, where we met up with four friends. The six of us explored Thailand the entire month of February, everywhere from the Golden Triangle in the north to Koh Samui in the south.
In March I spent the month leading a group of nine friends around Japan on a sort of culinary cultural tour. We dined everywhere from three-star Michelin restaurants, to Kobe steakhouses, to 9-course puffer fish banquets, to mom and pop ramen noodle stands. Everyone involved had a great time, as did I (which is why I plan to do something similar in 2015).
April was taken up by the Rickshaw Run, which then led me back to Thailand for some R&R after crossing the finish line. Myanmar (Burma) has been on my must-go list for years, and I finally took a trip to Mandalay and the far north of the country in late May. The power situation and Internet coverage isn’t the best, but the people are super friendly, the food was excellent, and the sights are definitely something to behold.
I headed back to Thailand after Myanmar, and attended Awesomenessfest in Phuket in the middle of June. July and August I returned back to the states and spent the best part of the year–the summer–at home in Detroit, with a couple side-trips to NYC and Chicago to meet up with friends. The end of August finished off with Burning Man, and then I hopped a flight to Reno to Vegas to Barcelona to attend friend Nick Reese and Yardena Levinsohn’s wedding.
Post-wedding I spent some time in a new city for me–Barcelona–and had a blast while there. Thereafter solo travel commenced for a time while I made my way up to Zurich, Switzerland and then Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest–something I had wanted to attend for years. Three visits to the beer halls and one week later and I felt I had properly enjoyed the Oktoberfest vibe to the fullest, so I headed north to Copenhagen, finally ending up in Malmo, Sweden for a while before heading towards warmer climes back in Thailand.
October was a busy month, as I bounced from event to event, country to country. Starting off with a single night in Bangkok, I flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to attend Mindvalley’s Makers Week. Heading back to Bangkok, I spent a week networking with new friends and partying with old one’s at Dynamite Circle‘s third annual DCBKK event. From there I flew to Vietnam (also one my must-go list for the past few years), where I explored Hanoi, Sapa, and Halong Bay. Returning back to Bangkok after ten days, I flew from there to Chiang Mai to witness the Loi Krathong festival for a few days (yet another must-see event crossed off the list), thereafter returning to Bangkok for a single day before heading off to Arusha, Tanzania.
The orphanage visit and safari video shoot were notable highlights at the beginning of my time in Tanzania, but I spent most of of my time hunkered down, taking care of business. Most days were spent in the home office, trudging through to-do lists for upwards of ten hours per day (when the power and Internet were working at least). Lucky for me, I had a great place to live and work, thanks to the generosity of my partner and his family.
From Arusha I flew to Saudi Arabia, where a friend had helped me secure one of the more difficult visas to obtain in the world. I can’t really say that Saudi was ever on my “top places to visit” list, but we had a great time visiting what sites there were to see and SCUBA diving in the Red Sea. From there we flew together to the UAE where we spent Christmas in Dubai, heading out to Oman the day after.
Which brings us to Oman, where I am currently stationed.
2014 was my lowest earning year since 2009. Ouch.
Of course, this was to be expected as I change career paths, moving from one business to another. It would have helped had my largest retainer web development client (that I had worked with since 2010) NOT gone out of business at the same time as the transition, but luckily I had an inkling that was going to happen, so I had some savings on which to live on during the past year.
Add to that the whole Ebola scare happening since mid-2014, which has made getting my safari company off the ground that much harder. Bad timing eh? This of course means my partner and I won’t see as much of a return on the time and money as quickly as we had hope, but nevertheless, we shall persevere!
I’d still love to learn to play guitar, fly a plane, or re-learn my Spanish, but if I’ve learned anything from setting goals it’s that I don’t do well when I have ten goals and devote 10% of my energy to each one. I require focus, which means one goal at a time in my case.
My goal for 2015? Pamoja Safaris, yet again. This year it won’t be as much about the framework of the company as it will be about the sales aspect. The company is set up and ready to go, so now it’s time to get some reservations.
Safaris aren’t usually something that needs to be sold–a large percentage of people already have it on their bucket list. What I need to do is:
- let people know that Pamoja Safaris exists
- explain why our company is the best company to make their dream vacation become reality
- educate that no, there is no Ebola within thousands of miles of Tanzania, and yes, it is very safe
- and lastly, inform people that it is financially viable to do a safari trip in Africa, right now–a week-long, private, all-inclusive, luxury safari costs the same as a week in a 4-star hotel in Paris. No need to wait until retirement!
My ask of anyone who is reading this is to please pass along anybody that is interested in a safari to me, or send them to the Pamoja Safaris web site at pamojasafaris.com for more info.
I’m all-in on this one guys, and I’m relying on word of mouth to support my latest venture.
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
I’m currently in Salalah, Oman, not far from the border with Yemen. It’s warm and sunny, the sunset over the desert mountains is amazing, and the major hotels cost a measly amount of points to book.
Yes, all is good, and I’m relaxing a bit after a few long weeks in front of my laptop. Not much here in terms of New Year festivities, but it is a very unique spot to celebrate. I think I’ll go SCUBA diving later on to celebrate…