Friday, April 29, 2011

A Walk On The Nomad Side

Earlier this month I got on a flight to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. The trip was a mix of business and pleasure. Business comprised of visiting the operations of the biggest tobacco grower in the world, and pleasure was every other minute I spent in the country. This small Central American country is a land of beauty beyond my expectations.

As a global Nomad I have traveled extensively in Europe, Middle East and North America, but Central and South America are virgin territory. My expectations were low, but what I experienced during my 5 day visit was key rules of the Nomad Influencer that somehow I had filed away in the vaults of my mind.

The essence of a place is it's people, it's culture, it's history and it's food. If you use these four dimensions to understand the place you are in this very moment then you are well on your way to becoming a nomad. And you learn to appreciate places in a very real way.

It's easy to forget these simple things when one is so caught up in life. And there lies the secret IMHO to what makes a good life.

For the past nine months I have been heads down focused on building my business with my partner Bill, and I realized I had lost a grip on the balance you need to lead a healthy, happy and successful life. It does my family and health no good if I'm consumed by my work. And ironically it does my business no good either, no matter what you read in these opinion heavy times.

Simplicity is the true secret to a good life. My grandmother told me this so it must be true. And everywhere I went in Tegucigalpa and the surrounding towns, I was reminded of this. Not to confuse poverty or lack of means for simplicity, there is a lot of that too, but people for the most part are content and live a pure life.

The minimum wage per the government is $10 a day. This alone should make a good business case for setting up production in this country and it's neighbor, Nicaragua. There were two things I noticed in people here: they are extremely friendly, making eye contact and smiling no matter who we encountered, and they are eager to work.

I can't remember the last time I was in a place where people were so eager to work. I have a few High Tech clients that have a culture of loving to work, and we certainly had that spirit in the early days of FreeMarkets where we believed we were changing the world and thus on a mission...from least it felt that way. But here, in third world Honduras, people are eager to work because it means putting food on the table and having a purpose filled life.

Carolina's Tamales
Out of necessity is born entrepreneurship. And everywhere we went there was creative entrepreneurship. My favorite part of the trip was when we pulled over by the side of the road to have beer and tamales at Carolina's Tamales. In the middle of nowhere this Honduran family had set up shop under the sawed off roof of a yellow school bus, selling cerveza and home made tamales over a wood fire stove. The front of the former school bus was the bar, behind it was the kitchen, and behind that they stored everything. If you continued past the bus there was a tent where this family of four slept.

The views were breathtaking, the beer cold and the tamales perfect. As we watched the sun go down and puffed on our Rocky Patel Old Worlds in the middle of the mountains of Honduras, I couldn't help but feel blessed to be alive.

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