I’m writing this from my hotel room in the town of Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, overlooking a medieval castle. My fiancee and I are headed to London tomorrow morning for the remainder of our trip. Woot!
In October of this year, I get to marry the woman of my dreams. As an early wedding gift, her very gracious and loving stepdad sent us to explore the United Kingdom for a week.
Here we are before dinner at Llanerch Vineyard, in Vale of Glamorgan, Wales:
The intangible character traits that can be developed while traveling are invaluable for our entrepreneurial journeys, and life as a whole. Obviously, it is our intangible traits that make up the people we are, which affect the type of entrepreneurs we become. I go “all in” on any way to develop my intangible character traits.
My future stepfather-in-law and I were talking about traveling, and how sometimes you don't realize what to appreciate until you leave. The conversation became the spark that led to this column as I pondered the different experiences I have enjoyed in the moment.
Here are some ways world travel can help build those intangible traits and empower you to succeed as an entrepreneur:
1. Increased gratitude
Traveling is fun, exciting and exhilarating. No matter where you go, there’s always a new adventure and new experiences, assuming you’re also the type of person that travels “eyes-wide open.” However, there’s a reason why we live where we live, and as much fun as traveling is, there are points throughout where you might catch yourself missing the small luxuries that home provides. It is in that moment we can develop an appreciation for what we have.
Developing gratitude, at least in my entrepreneurial experience, can help improve influence because people enjoy being around positive people.
2. Appreciation of currency
One pound is equal to roughly $1.66. Ouch. If that doesn't help you appreciate your hard-earned dollars, I'm not sure what will. Additionally, the money looks totally different. It feels and looks like fake money. It's easy to start shelling this stuff out mindlessly, until you realize that it's actually costing you real money.
For whatever reason, experiencing a different currency in a different land has given me a newfound appreciation for currency. This led to new insights into my startups. I am already thinking of creative ways to create new value.
3. Exposure to new cultures
Exploring new cultures gives you insight into how other people live. You can see their values and share in their customs. My favorite part of traveling is eating other cultures' food. I believe food says a lot about a culture, and you can really get to know and understand that culture through food.
Exposing yourself to new cultures can open your eyes to new ways of life. For me, it has helped me be more open to seeing how other people think, how other people communicate and ultimately how other people live. This helps me on my entrepreneurial journey by forcing me to think outside of my own limits, and to have a more worldly mentality.
4. Improved communication
I’m in a foreign country and don’t speak the language. British English is quite different from American English in everyday words and slang. Accents add even more complexity.
Conversely, attempting to communicate with others has made me cut down on my slang, speak simply and overall be a better communicator. Improving communication, for us entrepreneurs, can help with our marketing messages, help us secure funding and land big new client projects. Communication is a key element to a successful startup and business career.
5. History lessons
Plain and simple, in order to appreciate the world we live in, you must understand where it has evolved from. There is especially a lot of history in Europe. When I visit London, I plan on visiting the bunkers that Churchill slept in during World War II and the London Tower where Henry VIII used to behead his prisoners and view the Crown Jewels. Yesterday I visited medieval Castles.
These lessons help me appreciate the rich history of the world, and allow me to envision how I want to leave a dent on the universe (like these female entrepreneurs I recently wrote about).
6. Creative inspiration
I’m in a foreign country and everything is different: the architecture, food, shops, signs, language, cars.
I build websites and mobile apps. I write. I create. I am constantly seeking new inspiration. Traveling opens my eyes to a world I’ve never seen or known, and has given me all sorts of new creative fodder. I've already thought of a new web design I am going to attempt based on the architecture of a building I saw in Cardiff.
7. View new problems
As entrepreneurs, it is our duty to solve problems. There aren't only the daily problems we have to overcome building our startups, but there are worldly problems we can help solve and create solutions for through our businesses.
Getting out into the world can help you see new people and new problems. It can help open your eyes to new business ideas and help you solve bigger problems.
8. Prioritizing life
It's easy to sit in a room and hack away at your startup for 14 hours on end. I know, because I do it. Fortunately, for us humans, there's more to life.
At the end of the day, business is business. I’m sure we’re all passionate about what we do and we have huge visions for our dreams and startups, but traveling also helps to prioritize the other important things in life we sometimes forget about.
Traveling is tons of fun. Exploring new cultures and experiencing new people are among the many cool perks.
As entrepreneurs, we must always remember to have fun and enjoy what we're doing, or it's just work. Traveling can help remind us about the fun of creating and building our dreams.
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I believe in constantly pushing my mental boundaries, to going further, to testing my limits. Traveling is a great way to push past what you know, and to become an even better entrepreneur. Get out there and explore the world.