How Travel Turned My Life Into a Startup

How Travel Turned My Life Into a Startup

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There are two kinds of people in this world:

a.) The kind that are relieved that they know what they’ll be doing in a year.

b.) The kind that are totally bummed out that they know what they’ll be doing in a year.

When I realized last year that I wasn’t going to be able to get through the next twelve months without signing an apartment lease, buying a car and investing in silverware, I quit the job that I’d be doing that for. I canceled the return flight for a vacation I was about to take in Istanbul. I informed ChangeLab23, the startup I had been working with on the side, that I was going to bootstrap with them (read: work full-time with no immediate pay) for a while, until I run out of money. Best case scenario: we’d turn a profit and I could keep traveling. Worst case scenario: I didn’t really think this far ahead. I was moving to Istanbul.

The logic is simply this: I didn’t want 23-year old me to look like 24-year old me. Or for 24-year old me to look like 25-year old me. I’ve watched friends get older, hit cruise control and fall into a sense of complacency with each passing year. I figure that if I pack each year with a set of distinct experiences and obstacles, I could maximize what I learn in a year. I’m happy to report that barreling into my adult years with last-minute tickets to foreign countries, a laptop and no real certainty of when a paycheck might follow, does the trick.

Why? Because time spent traveling is not time idly passed. If you’re doing it right, you’re sleeping on at least a few couches, eating whatever the person kind enough to host you put on the table, observing the company they keep, the things they prioritize, the way they spend their time and money, learning how they feel about their country, how they feel about your country and anything else you can pry out of them.

If you’re really doing it right, you’re questioning the hell out of everything you ever believed. You’ll ask yourself whether the way you’re doing things can’t be done differently, since you’ve seen it work perfectly well. You will create your own experiences and interpret what you learn with new eyes. You will not act as a result of inertia, but because it makes sense. Once that happens, you won’t be able to accept the mediocre. You’ll always be gunning for something better.

Glomads are predisposed to entrepreneurship. We ideate and prototype ourselves. Usually with only a suitcase to our name, own lives are constant MVPs. A glomad is a social networker, an anthropologist, social researcher, a political observer, and a risk-taker that knows how to handle pressure – for many of us have missed our flights, lost our passports, walked around foreign cities on a sprained ankle and watched our bank accounts empty out faster than we can fill it.

Those that live out of a single suitcase know what is essential. Those who travel know the value of a year.

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  • Jared Broad

    Nice post 🙂 Check out the book Shambhala Path of the Sacred Warrior, I think you’ll like it.

    • Ah yes, I stumbled across this in college. Helped me realize that mastery transcends anything you can count.

      • Jared Broad

        And the “sacred path” is a constant cycle of challenges one higher than the other, breaking out of the newly acquired comfort zone with each passing cycle. i.e. You’ve just broken out of one, in 12 months you’ll find your next comfort zone…and whether you’re on the “sacred path” depends on whether you break from it 🙂

  • Brittany Magnin

    love it, thanks Nandini!