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Travel Rewards (#106)

As I mentioned in last week’s note, I am just returning from an extend trip in Australia with my family. This trip reminded me of the many personal and business benefits of travel. In fact, many founders of well-known companies, including Warby Parker and TOMS shoes, have credited travel as the inspiration behind the launch of their companies.

Acceleration Partners recently created a new travel-focused benefit for our employees which requires staying unplugged from work for at least five days. That means no responding to Slack messages, work emails, phone calls, etc. The goal is for them to be truly immersed in their experience. We also recently helped make a few employee’s travel dreams a reality.

I decided to keep track of the benefits I was experiencing from this trip and three major themes emerged from doing so.

  1. Challenges Comfort Zones

Although most of us know that getting out of our comfort zone is important, many of us struggle to do it regularly. When you travel, you’re pushed out of your comfort zone by default because you’re removed from your regular routine. As such, it becomes easier to try new things which, ultimately, leads to gaining new perspectives.

For example, despite her fears, my daughter scuba dived for the first time at the Great Barrier Reef as she did not want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She loved it and now, we’re talking about getting certified together.

Similarly, I always said I would never drive on the other side of the road as I thought I would get too overwhelmed and make a critical mistake. Then, at the last minute, we decided to rent a car while in Australia. I was very nervous and cautious at first, but then really enjoyed the experience.

  1. Turns Off Our Autopilot

Ever drive home and have no idea how you got there? Related to the one above, when your routine is altered by travelling, it takes you off autopilot; the use of your conscious mind is called upon so much more.

On this trip, even walking on the right side of the sidewalk wasn’t taken for granted. I couldn’t get from point A to point B without keeping my head up. The same was true for crosswalks and driving. This awareness led to more observation of what was around me and more presence in each activity, something I realized I need to get better at in my daily life.

  1. Questions Our Assumptions

When you have a routine of doing something in a certain way, it’s easy to not question whether there is a better or different way to do it. Many deep-rooted assumptions are tested when travelling.

For example, when I tried to tip several people on this trip, they seemed offended or even refused. My friend from Australia explained to me that service employees are generally compensated fairly; many feel that they should simply do their jobs well without the need to be tipped.  Also, many casual restaurants were set up so that after you ordered your food and beverage at the bar and found a table, it was brought to you. Not only was this efficient, the bill was already paid when you wanted to leave, which was ideal for a family with tired kids.

That model of prepayment has led me to think about some new business ideas and how it could be applied to our existing business. When you see things being done successfully in ways that differ from what you’re accustomed to, it can make you question the status quo and think about both new problems to be solved and new solution to existing problems.

As you kick of 2018, I’d encourage you to make a plan to change your scene or your routine, whether that is through travel, taking a Bucket List trip, or simply changing what you do each day so you can see the world in a different light. Pick a different stop for breakfast/lunch or change how you walk or drive to work. When you do this, you will get off autopilot. At the very least, you’ll experience something new.

Quote of the Week

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

Mark Twain

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RV Reflections – Part One (#86)

I am just returning from 10 days travelling aboard an RV through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with my family. It was an off-the-grid trip that recharged my batteries and gave me enjoyable, quality time with my wife and kids. This time off also lead to several breakthrough business ideas and lessons that I thought I would share.

1. Rip-off and Duplicate: “R&D” is a widely-used term in Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Instead of the traditional meaning of Research and Development, it stands for “Rip-off and Duplicate.” The idea is that, rather than trying to figure it all out on your own or reinvent the wheel (which many entrepreneurs are known to do), it’s better to find process and best practices that have proven successful (and unsuccessful) and then modify them to fit your needs and circumstances.

This is exactly what my wife did in planning for our Wyoming trip. She collected itineraries from several friends who had taken the same trip before and learned what they liked and what they regretted doing/not doing. By adapting their experiences for our trip, we saved a lot of time and were able to pack in a lot of wonderful adventures in our 10 days together.

2. Don’t Overlook the Backyard: A few months ago, while on a flight, my daughter met a mother and daughter from Australia who had been travelling the entire world for six months. In her conversations with them, they shared that their favorite place was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. This is not the first time we’ve heard this. I’m continuously surprised how many families we’ve met from Asia and Europe on this trip who have traveled so far to get here and we had overlooked it in favor of places further away, even though we live so much closer.

In looking forward and seeking the “new,” we often overlook or take for granted the things that are in our own backyard, be it places, people or experiences. For example, we might conduct a nationwide search for a new employee while overlooking an existing team member from within our organization who might be a perfect fit for the role we’re looking to fill.

3. Use your Built-In Camera: The human eye is estimated to have the equivalent of about 480 megapixels, far more than any camera we use. Too often we don’t take advantage of this built-in super HD camera and rely instead on technology to watch key life events. We worry more about preserving the moment than enjoying it, ultimately taking way more videos and pictures than we will ever be able to watch or enjoy.

I’ll admit, I took a lot of videos and pictures during this trip and got my share of “Dad, not another picture” groans. Upon reflection, the most memorable moments of the trip were often when I just enjoyed it. This included our early morning encounter with a herd of Bison crossing the road and witnessing a solar eclipse, experiences that no camera could truly capture the magnificence of.

Deeply engrained memories are created by engaging all our senses and I am going to work on doing a better job of watching events with my own eyes and creating more organic memories.

4. Following the Herd

Sometimes, crowds do know best. On a few poorly marked tourist sites, we decided to follow the crowd and it led us where we needed to go. That said, this should be done with caution. There were times when we saw a bunch of people pulled over on the road with binoculars and glasses. When we asked them what there was to see, they responded that they had pulled over because they saw everyone else had pulled over. Blindly following without asking the right questions can lead you astray.

To be continued next week………….

Quote of the Week

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”

Seneca

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