Visiting 27 Countries Has Taught Me These 4 Incredible Things About Entrepreneurship
My first passport was issued when I was 2 months old. I've lived in 9 countries and I've traveled to 27. My experiences traveling the world have taught me a significant amount about people, culture and myself.
Many travel in search for answers or an "Eat, Pray, Love" pivotal moment in their lives. When in reality, there is no one "defining moment" that turns someone knowledgeable or cultured. It's the culmination of all our experiences that creates who we are as people.
I've recently noticed how much I pull from my experiences traveling when making entrepreneurial decisions, like what decision to make next, or how to better relate to and understand different kinds of people.
Here are the four biggest lessons I've learned.
1.The Importance of Perseverance
Perseverance is key part of being successful at anything in life--whether you judge success based on external approval, wealth, etc., or internal fulfillment and happiness. .
The simple act of traveling detaches you from reality in the same way entrepreneurship can. People who go after what they want in life have to be buoyant and willing to move with the tide. But it's in that detachment that you grow.
It's kind of a balancing act.
It's tricky to be able to detach yourself from everything you know, and everyone you love and completely immerse yourself into something new. It's even more complicated to do that, and still stay rooted.
Traveling (especially traveling a lot) teaches you that level of perseverance. And not in the way that schools do, where concepts are learned in theory and not in real life experience.
To be an entrepreneur you absolutely need to be perseverant. When you're faced with rejection and doubt, you're the one who needs to stay positive, carry your team, and find a solution.
Travel is a luxury, and honestly so is entrepreneurship. You're never going to do what you want, where you want, when you want, if you're not perseverant.
2. Humility Is an Asset
When you travel to impoverished cities in South America, Africa, and the Middle East you always see the same thing.
You always see little markets of thriving entrepreneurs making it work. All of them selling their trinkets, luring gringas (foreigners) into their tourist traps and charging them six dollars for a bracelet that only costs two cents to make.
You also will see where they live. In India, it's the slums. In Brazil, it's a favela. In South Africa, it's the townships. In Mexico, it's el barrio bajo. And in America, it's the ghetto.
Last year, I was on a beach in Colombia getting my hair braided. I asked this thirteen or fourteen year-old girl, who was giving me cornrows, how many hours she works in a day. "10, 12, sometimes even 16. I've been on this beach since 5:30 am," she said.
A wave of humility hit me. I couldn't help but laugh at myself. It was funny to think about how hard I thought my startup grind 13 hours works days were. I thought of the soft silver edges of my Macbook air, and my pair of favorite Calvin Klein leggings I always wear when working out of coffee shops.
Traveling has given me perspective, and in that, humility.
Being humble means appreciating the hours of work you have--no matter how grueling, or sleepless--and seeing them as an opportunity. We're all very fortunate to be able to hustle the way we do.
3. Understanding Opportunity Cost Is Critical
A massively important life skill you learn when traveling is budgeting, but an even bigger one is opportunity cost.
I could decide to get the cheaper red eye flight, but then I'll be running on little sleep the next day. I could meet with this influential investor, but then I'd be shaving three needed hours off my week. I could go ziplining and hiking today, but I'll be exhausted by the time we go out for dinner and I need to get some work done tonight.
School doesn't teach you about opportunity cost. Life does. Especially the life of a traveller. Understanding and being able to decisively weigh out what will be better for you, your day, and even your business will help you play the game of longevity.
And longevity is everything.
4. Being a Go-Getter
The most valuable lesson traveling has taught me is to go after what I want. You'll never start your entrepreneurial journey if you don't. Traveling has taught me to speak up, even when I don't know the language. It's taught me to rely on and believe in myself, but it's also taught me to know when to ask for help.
Going after what you want isn't as easy as it seems. You'll face doubt and confusion from your peers, friends and even your family.
"Why do you want to go to Africa? Isn't that dangerous?" they'll ask.
"You're quitting your job? What are you going to do when you don't have health or dental insurance?" they'll demand.
Having the confidence to bet on yourself, do what you want, and work as hard as you can to get it is what trailblazers do.
Whether you're traveling to a new city for the first time, or starting your own company, you need to be okay with the unknown and even the illogical.
You need to go after what you want.