A Bike, An Adventure, And a New Career: How To Chart a Path To New Professional Adventures
January 14, 2014
I am the kind of guy who likes adventure and doing things I haven’t done before. I get a rush from it. And, I enjoy getting other people to try things they never thought they would try. It’s in my DNA.
The first years of my professional life were spent developing and nurturing a very successful career in sales. I worked for software and technology companies that were creating revolutionary tools that paved the way for the speech and handwriting recognition tools that we are accustomed to using today. As part of my job, I was able to help well-known brands adapt to and leverage these new tools before they became commonplace – it was an adventure in itself for me. But, as time went on, I found myself craving something new and challenging – I was ready for a change.
So I made the decision to take a short break from my corporate life and go for a motorcycle ride through South America. My plan was to ride for a year – and, when I got back, begin looking for my next adventure. I had some money in savings, a rough plan to finance this exploration and the desire to experience something new. What did I have to lose?
Over the next year, I motorcycled through 18 countries, ending in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the year was up, I unexpectedly found myself deeply in love with South America – Ecuador in particular – and I wasn’t ready to leave. Yet, through a series of unexpected events, I also knew at this point that my financial plan wasn’t going to pan out the way I anticipated. I had to make a decision, I needed a source of income, but I wanted to stay. What could I do?
My priorities had shifted, and I found myself craving a different kind of fulfillment, something I knew I wouldn’t find in the corporate world. I wanted to do something positive – something that would bring happiness and pleasure to people in the way that the experience of the past year had done for me. So in 2009, a close friend and I started Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, a first-class motorcycle adventure touring company intended to make it easier for people to do what I had done – feel the absolute freedom of being on a motorcycle in Latin America.
It wasn’t an easy shift, but over the past 4+ years we’ve been able to tap into our networks to help grow our business, while also leveraging a combination of platforms to build our customer base: word of mouth, our website and of course, social media -- including LinkedIn.
I frequently get asked for my advice by others looking to make a transformative move in their own careers and lives, so I’ve pulled together a few simple rules to live by that helped me make the leap.
- Embrace risk and be willing to adapt: I started my adventure thinking I had everything perfectly squared away. It turns out, not everything goes according to plan, but it doesn’t necessarily need to either. If you open yourself to untold possibilities and give yourself enough time for things to work out, things will eventually become clear. Start slowly and see what works for you, then build on that.
- Leverage your network: Both professional and personal – remember who your friends are and remember that good friends are just as happy to help you as you are to help them. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with others in a new industry – it’s a tool that can help, whether it’s by helping you find new suppliers or enabling you to connect with people in a similar business to find ways to work together – it can be a valuable asset for any professional to have in their back pocket.
- Don’t give up on your goals: One of my favorite quotes comes from Canadian novelist Douglass Coupland: “Adventure without risk is Disneyland.” Things are going to go wrong at some point and you need to expect that you will make big mistakes. Just keep going!
Best of luck in your own adventures!