So they’re sending me to…China?

One of the perks of working at a big company is the paid travel. One of the downsides to working for a big company is the paid travel. So in about 6 weeks, they’re sending me to…China?

I am someone who hasn’t done much traveling in his life. When I was younger I lived in Florida for a few years, so I have had the chance to live on the ocean, which was great. I remember driving back and forth from Columbus, Ohio to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and mentally checking off all the states I passed through as “states I’ve been to.” For some reason, it was a big deal to me to say I had been to 8 different states in my life. I don’t know why.

Anyway, as I grew up, the opportunities came and went and I added a few more states to that list (this time only checking them off if I ACTUALLY stayed there and saw more of the state than food exit signs and gas station bathrooms). I went to Oklahoma and Mississippi to play baseball. I went to Texas, New York and Washington D.C. for school trips. Then more recently, with my wife, I’ve gotten to check off Nevada (VEGAS!!!), upstate New York, Georgia and a few other weekend trips off my list. But I had still never been outside of the country.

Then I started working for an international company that is based out of Japan, that has production factories in Mexico and China, warehouses in Texas and a US headquarters in California. Well, they sent me to California to give a presentation and Texas to see how the product comes and goes, but then it was time to get my international sea legs wet. I went to Mexico a few weeks before my wife and I got married. She was certain that I would be decapitated by the cartels, but luckily I was only going about 3 miles past the US border and I made it back to the States in one piece. 

Then my wife and I went back to Mexico for our honeymoon to a place slightly more exotic than Reynosa (although I hear the winters there are…just about the same as the summers probably).

So now I have to turn to a new page in my mental checkbook where I can start adding international destinations to the places I’ve been. 

Then, about a week ago, I got told I am going to Tokyo to our head office, then to Shanghai, China to visit another one of our factories and meet some of our international employees. Before I come home, I’ll fly into Hong Kong where I’ll board a flight back to the US. 

I guess part of me is excited about the idea of going to Tokyo and Shanghai. My wife, not so much (although she does get to sleep with the dog when I’m gone which I know she loves to do, but I wonder if she prefers it sometimes to having me there). When I first told my wife about the trip, the first thing she said was “Malaysia Airlines. You’ll eat dog. I’ll never see you again.” 

I promised her I would be very careful and also learn how to say “no dog” in Chinese before I went. 

Anyway, I am glad I am finally getting a chance to see different parts of the world outside of what I’m used to. I really wish it wasn’t a work trip and I could bring my wife, but I guess when these kinds of opportunities come up, you have to make the most of it and try to look at the bright side.

So get ready, China! And please, “Meiyou gou!”

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Thinking BIG

My wife and I are starting a start up business. Scratch that. My wife and I have started a start up business. We met with lawyers, we have set up a functional website, and we have been starting to reach out to people to spread the word about what we’re doing. 

We still have a lot of things to figure out. Our business model connects people to people, so there isn’t any tangible “thing” that we’re selling. So, we have to figure out how we’re going to make money and allow the business to grow. We have to figure out how to reach as many people and expand our horizons as far as how many people we can connect. We have to figure out how to raise capital and track progress and all of those other pesky things you do when you launch a business. 

The old me would have focused on that last paragraph and lost hope. The old me would have stood at ground level and looked up at the mountain of work, sweat, arguments and hours it was going to take to even make a dent in conquering that mountain and stayed the course with my 9-5…

The new me is thinking BIG.

To help motivate myself, I have been reading a lot of books about strategy, how our brains work, and even continuing to read Atlas Shrugged because (1.) I have been reading this book since I MET my wife and just got past the half way point and (2.) because reading books like that help me feel like I can do anything, think like a business tycoon, and believe that I can do whatever it is I want to do if I want to do it bad enough.

Another book I am reading is called, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David J. Schwartz. This book reinforces, more than anything, a positive outlook on everything from relationships to business to the way we dress and how we can motivate ourselves to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can be. In it, Schwartz constantly reminds you that you don’t have to be the smartest or richest person to get where you want to go, but the most determined. 

I actually put into practice one of his lessons the other day. I was driving out to meet with a customer and Schwartz said to give yourself a pep talk. If you take 5 minutes before a big presentation or meeting and tell yourself 3 things that you think are your strongest attributes, and tell yourself why whatever it is you’re about to do will succeed, you’re bound to impress. 

So I was driving out, and I turned the radio off as I was getting off the exit ramp. I told myself that I was confident, that people like me, and that the customer was going to walk away from our meeting getting exactly what it was he wanted to get out of it. I couldn’t help but think of that old Saturday Night Live bit where the guy looks in the mirror and says something about “you’re good enough, smart enough, and dog gone it, people like you.” The funny thing, though, was that it actually worked. I WAS more confident and it showed. Instead of trying to be the people-pleaser that I usually am, I was confident and whatever he asked me I answered in a confident manner. 

Anyway, I think that taking this attitude towards launching a business is exactly what I need to take the business from the “I hope we make it” phase to the “we will make it” phase. I will not doubt that my wife and I will make this a success. And here’s the part that would have scared me off before:

We don’t have the next FACEBOOK idea and we’re not going to ever be as big as Google. 

Our idea is good — really good, but I know that our business model will shift and move to whatever it is the business will ultimately become. 

I don’t know how we will make money doing this right now but I know that we will do this until we do make money and we accomplish what we’re setting out to do. 

It’s not about making a million dollars or living in a 3 story beach-front house. It’s about the realization that I want to dictate the direction I go in life on my own terms. I want to be able to say that I made a choice, stuck with it, and followed through (and was successful at it).

So while I might not be ready to make it today, I am determined enough to know that I am making it today and that tomorrow holds much, much bigger things for me.