Tag Archive for: travel

A Theory on How Travel Makes You a More Authentic Leader (and Individual)

Traveling can provide a remarkable experience, building and transforming your story. Each step, each inquiry, each surprise is original and quality raw material for another chapter of his autobiography. So, time to turn the page and start the next one?

Saint Augustine already said “life is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”. In that spirit, I write here to expose the hypothesis that, yes, leadership and creativity can be developed and cultivated through the expansion and possible irreversible disruption of our microbubbles.
This reasoning is based mainly on the personal experience of the HIKE team, but it certainly draws on the literature produced by travelers, poets, philosophers and thinkers in the field of leadership.

I agree that the association between travel and leadership in academic books or articles is not obvious, but you see, all we need to do is piece together the evidence.

To begin with, there is a consensus among leadership thinkers and great leaders that there is a direct correlation between leadership and individual characteristics such as:
. intelligence
. flexibility and ability to adjust
. extroversion
. conscience
. openness to the new and experience
. self-sufficiency

Yes, there are those lucky enough to be born with all these attributes, but science believes that most of them are developed during life. Experiences that force adaptation to the new, open communication with strangers, the awakening of perceptions to a new world that reveals itself, and survival in the apparent chaos — even if for a short time-, bring a practical, visceral, and authentic. Out of the bread and butter of everyday life and “navigating” the unknown, we are uncomfortably pressured to act smartly and efficiently, quickly and sensitively to the challenging source.

You already got it, didn’t you? Connecting the dots, it is imperative to relate the development of all, absolutely all of these attributes, with the experiences that can be gained through a good independent getaway. Generally, the longer and further away than usual, the greater the shock and the better the result.

Traveling takes us away from the traditional way of thinking about our microbubble — work, friends, family, society, pains and loves. Facing the world — the big bubble — through another lens results in the rupture of that microbubble, possibly reaching very different spheres. The different can be bigger, smaller, worse, better… in short, the focus is on experiencing what was previously unknown.

When we stumble and life gives us a fright, seeing through a different perspective leads to an understanding beyond your current condition. The result? You become more self-confident when you realize that the situation is much less complex than it seems. Traveling also forces you to reconnect with yourself, renewing your spirituality and expanding your self-esteem. An extra dose of self-confidence is always welcome to lead indispensable changes, on a personal and professional level, in a world in constant transformation.

Convinced? Far be it from me to fill you with theory, so I suggest that you validate (or reconfirm) this hypothesis yourself. Put it into practice! Get away from your comfort zone for a few hours, days or weeks, embarking on a new experience where the most different is the most attractive. For those who do pack their bags and decide to leave, going solo potentially enriches the experience, as you’re likely to face surprises unusual for group travelers. Book your tickets and the first two nights of accommodation; for everything else, adapt according to demand. Ideally, the shock should be complete: inversion of time zones, language, culture and season. Your money will also be limited, forcing open communication with travelers in the same situation: which restaurant offers the best barbada? The best way to move from A to B? Does everything seem wrong to you on this side of the world too?

The destiny? The expansion of your micro-bubble, now perhaps a stretched-out mini-bubble through an intense workout centered on flexibility and adaptability, exercises you did without even realizing it. Oops, there’s more out there: being the author of your own story, bringing with you a dose of lifelong courage to experience creative possibilities in life that will make your autobiography increasingly rich and authentic.
Of course, traveling all the time is unrealistic, but experiences like these can be practiced easily in virtually any context. Exploring a new neighborhood, learning to play the guitar, becoming interested in the mysteries of the deep sea, trying a different cuisine, taking a circus class, studying macroeconomics, feeling the pleasures and (potential) frustrations of vegetarianism for a week: what What matters is leaving your comfort zone and exploring, immersing yourself in a new world. What happens next boils down to renewal: reconnection with your own values, goals, dreams, fears, and everything that relates to being human and being alive.

Start small: experiment small, and build a platform for bigger, more ambitious goals. Big changes are based on small steps towards a big idea. Be prepared to adapt to the unpredictable and see harmony in chaos.

The bottom line: breaking your micro-bubble, as daunting as it sounds at first, can become a tool capable of positively impacting every facet of your life: work, home, community, and individual, including mind, body, and spirit. Then, proportionally to the size of the expansion of your microbubble, self-confidence and self-esteem are inflated. To lead — be it your life, a business, a team, or a project — these elements are absolutely essential.

Finally, remember that we are today a reflection of yesterday. What we have seen, felt, tasted, heard, learned and experienced in the past shapes our behavior and attitudes today. So is it time to turn the page and start writing the next chapter?

My personal narrative, the longer format

Backpacking in Vang Vieng, Laos, 2008

This writing is an exercize in connecting the dots, which we should all do from time to time. It’s a journey through memory lane as well as a recollection of moments registered through journalling, which I have been practicing for more than 20 years (everybody should do it too, it’s like doing therapy for free).

As a Brazilian, being born in a working-class family basically means that you are fated to have your life pre-designed. Typically, you follow the steps of your parents, beginning with standard education, heavy pressure to get into a public university, some odd jobs to raise all the pocket money possible and, after graduation, facing the usual battle to get the first job. Once you have made it, you are supposed to consider yourself happy, get married, and enjoy life playing soccer and drinking beer with your best friends. That was all, my mom had thought, until early 2003 when I took the initiative to apply for a traineeship program in Potsdam, Germany. Enthusiastically and doubtful, I put all my efforts into that application. Two months had passed, and the German-stamped envelope finally arrived; it was a “yes”, and that was the beginning of a series of events that led me to found HIKE today.

Following that amazingly surprising outcome, many beer cans were opened, numerous cheers celebrated, smiles, good laughing, and some tears at my hometown’s airport. Suddenly I was hit with different feelings, assorted faces, and an odd language; I had arrived in Berlin. Back then I hardly spoke any English, and my German was non-existent. Now I realize how pretentious I was in expecting that a place would be exactly as my mind had projected. From Berlin’s airport to Potsdam’s train station, I realized that some feelings are simply so profound that they belong only to the ones who’ve been through them, and alone, during those 65 minutes, I experienced scents, temperatures and emotions that would seem silly if written here. They were mine, and if translated into one word, that would be “discovery”.

Since then, my journey has been illustrated with significant independent-driven discoveries. It hasn’t always been easy or romantic, but by walking off the beaten path I could experiment things that otherwise would never have come across my way. Essentially, in my past 20 years I have witnessed that it’s out of your comfort zone that you truly become aware of your inner soul, beliefs, fears, dreams, passions, prejudices, and everything related to self-awareness. I have been fortunate to allow myself the freedom to explore the beauty of self-awareness; consequently, I have realized that I want to drive my existence towards something meaningful and tangible.

I have always been curious and passionate about designing products and services that have the power to add real value to people’s lives by offering solutions to their physiological and psychological needs. Consequently, today I am glad to introduce myself professionally as a scientist, turned entrepreneur, investor, coach, mentor; above all, I am and have always been a strong people-person. As you can see through my Linkedin, I have been fortunate to work with world class people and companies, having excelled on the startup and scale up world, where I deeply connect with the culture of pragmatism, dynamism and purpose-driven leadership. Despite all the good-looking brands on my CV, these are external metrics; on the other hand, the experiences I had through all the amazing people I’ve met are all internal and there’s no dollar sign I can put on them. I feel grateful and privileged for the journey so far.

Through the Jungfrau mountains in Switzerland, 2009

I learned that I thrive when working with people who are curious, open-minded and ambitious on their own terms; through authentic conversations, I feel the power and joy of inspiring and getting others to reach their potential. This is my calling and what I want to deploy, develop and grow at HIKE.

I am always driven to walk the talk, and I love talking to strangers. I am not afraid of initiating new ventures and am passionate about entering new territories. Through my own initiative, I have lived and worked in Germany, UK, Canada, Switzerland, USA, China, and Malaysia. I truly embrace diversity and I like to think I was born to be a citizen of the world. As a good citizen, I have independently — and with very limited resources — explored more than 60 countries. I am also a father of two, a marathon runner, surfer, and a lover of the world and all its nuances.

With the iconic Jack Welch, in Harvard Business School, 2012

I truly believe that authentic leadership — learned through intense and multiple experiences driven by your own initiative and with the support of strong communities — is the key to making this world a more tolerant, accessible, real, and possible place. I work to empower and cultivate more of such leaders.