How to find and go on a quest
(that will bring meaning and fulfillment to your life)
Taught by Chris Guillebeau of “The Happiness of Pursuit”
Master Class: How to find and go on a quest
Andrew: This session is about how to find a quest that will bring purpose to your life. The session is led by Chris Guillebeau, an entrepreneur and adventurer who visited every country in the world, 193 in total, before his 35th birthday. He’s also the creation among other things, unconventional guides who’s guides include empire building kit, about how to build a business in one year by doing one thing every day, and travel hacking, which shows you how to earn hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles. The conversation he and I are going to be having is based on this, let me bring the camera to me and show it; based on this book, The Happiness of Pursuit. We pulled out a few ideas that we’ll be covering. My name is Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy. I’ll be helping facilitate. Chris, good to have you on here.Chris: Hey. Great to be back, Andrew, and hello to all the freedom fighters.Andrew: Yeah, thank you. Hey, I want to ask you about your story, but why don’t we start off with this woman. There she is. This is Sandy Wheaton. She was brought into an office and told what?Chris: Sandy Wheaton is a Canadian who is working in Detroit for General Motors, and she’d been working for them for long time, a number of years, and she was brought into that office along with a number of other employees, and was given some bad news. She was given the news that there was no longer a job for her, and that she had done a great job but that the company no longer was able to provide for her, was no longer able to issue that regular paycheck, no more benefits, etc. And, she had to leave right away.
Andrew: Leave the company for many people would mean, be a disaster. What did she end up doing instead?
Chris: Yeah. I mean, at first that was her thought, is, ‘This is a disaster and I am a career employee and all I know how to do is to work in this security of this kind of company,’ and especially at that time, with lots of other folks being laid off, that at GM she noticed that all of her colleagues kind of went into this panic mode and started thinking, ‘I got to contact everybody that I know. I need to go on LinkedIn and do some stuff. Really got to start sending out my resume.’ And, she decided to do something a little bit different and she hit the pause button, and she said, ‘You know, maybe I should actually use this time to think about what I really want to do for myself. I’ve spent a number of years, something like 10 years, essentially giving my life over to a company, and maybe I don’t regret that, maybe I do. Who knows? That’s in the past. Here I have this moment. Let me think about doing something for myself.’
Andrew: And what did she end up doing?
Chris: She had always wanted to travel on America’s Route 66. She was an amateur photographer and she decided to set out on this quest, camping along the way and taking, I forget, how many hundreds of thousands of photos, and just kind of going through this whole journey for herself. And, she decided to do that before looking for another job. She did eventually, of course, want to work again, but before she did that, she wanted to fulfill this lifelong dream of traveling, meeting people, and documenting her photos.
Andrew: As a result of it, from what I understand, she started to get lots of offers to speak, people wanted to hear and learn from her, she got on the cover of Prominent Art magazine. I’m looking here at my notes. She started leading groups through Maritime Provinces. So really, instead of being in General Motors, where all this creativity was stifled, because of her quest, creativity just came out of her. She had a much better life. And, that’s what we’re going for here, that kind of quest.
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. So, the external consequences were eventually very favorable, as well, as you mentioned, she created this whole new career, whole new life, that was a lot different from just going to work from maybe Ford Motor Company down the road, or something. But also, in the beginning she talked about how comfortable she felt, how empowered that she felt by pursuing this dream, and she said, ‘Even if the external consequences are not amazing later, I’m so glad that I did it. I’m so glad I did this for myself. I’d always wanted to do it, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t.’
Andrew: Yup. All right. And, that’s our goal here for today. I know it’s easier said than done. How do you find what your mission is, how do you decide what the first step to take is what do you do to keep from giving up along the way, and so on. That’s why we pulled up all these ideas directly from the book that we’ll be discussing here today. But, before we get into the specific how-to’s, Chris, I mentioned that you decided that you were going to see every country on the planet before your 35th birthday. What set you off on the path to do that?
Chris: Well, I had always liked to travel. I had been a traveler and I have worked overseas in West Africa, and had been to a bunch of countries, and I was also a list maker. I liked to write things down, and so one day I found myself writing down all the different places I’d been, and I said, ‘Huh, that’s interesting. It would be fun to combine this love of travel with my love of goal setting, and have a project. At first I thought it would be 100 countries. I thought it would be awesome if one day in my life, I could say I’ve been to 100 countries. So, I started working toward that, and then eventually I realized it wouldn’t actually take me super long to do that, and it also wasn’t super hard, because if there’s 193 countries in the world and my goal is just to go to roughly half of them, I could kind of pick and choose which countries. So, that’s when I decided to set a goal of every country in the world. And then, I think every good goal has a deadline, so that’s why I gave myself the deadline of my 35th birthday, which was 8 years ahead at the time.
Andrew: 8 years ahead. How old were you when you hit them all?
Chris: Last year on my 35th birthday–
Andrew: Wow. Right on time.
Chris: I arrived in the final country. Yes.
Andrew: All right. Let’s get into the how-to of it, and the first step that we’re going to be talking about today is to pay attention to your discontent, to your passions, to your problems. In your book – I love the name by the way, The Happiness of Pursuit – In the book, you talk about Tom Allen, a guy who just was about to graduate and something happened to him that a lot of graduates hope for. What happened?
Chris: Oh, he was offered the job of his dreams, essentially. He interviewed really well, it was his company and he was young, up and coming, and like, ‘This is going to be my first big job,’ and he found himself in this strangely uncomfortable situation in a sense that the interviewer called him back and said, ‘Hey, we want to offer you the job.’ And, he wasn’t excited about it all of a sudden, and he said, ‘Do you mind if I just think it over a little bit.’ The interviewer said, ‘Okay, sure, whatever.’ He just realized maybe it actually wasn’t the job of his dreams, or at least it wasn’t the life of his dreams that he wanted right at that time.
Andrew: One of the things you say is that he felt that he was just sick and tired of other people being in control of his decisions. I know having gone through school that that is what life was like every day. Someone else making decisions for me and every ounce of creativity they were going to stifle. Why do you want to sell candy in the school? Why do you want to read other books beyond what we’re giving you, and so on; I get that, not wanting that life to extend into your first job, no matter how ideal it is. So, that’s the discontent. What did he do with that? That’s not enough to just say, ‘I don’t want people to tell me what to do.’
Chris: Absolutely, absolutely. So, a lot of things began with this content, which again doesn’t mean that you’re miserable necessarily, doesn’t mean you’re terribly unhappy. It just means maybe you’re a little bit unsettled and you want something more, and that’s what we saw with Sandy. Tom’s situation was the same. He always wanted to cycle the world. His dream was, I would actually like to go out on my bicycle and just leave England – that’s where he was from – head south, go to Eastern Europe, maybe even go down to Sudan. I want to go on this mission of self discovery. I’m not even sure where it’s going to lead but this is what I want to do. So, he combined discontent with inspiration essentially. He was discontented with the idea of just jumping straight into this traditional way of life, and he combined the discontent with the inspiration of, here’s what I want to do instead. I would love to be out on the open road. Initially, he left with his friends, but then his friends returned to England. He continued on his own. He found his quest, essentially, which is what the book is about, by combining discontent with inspiration.
Andrew: Here’s the site where we got that image from. Is that him?
Chris: That is Tom. Yes.
Andrew: That is Tom. Way to go, Tom. These photos are beautiful. All right. So, he found his discontent and that led him to get out on a bicycle and explore the world, and through that, he’s living the life that he wants instead of the one that is basically an extension of the life where other people tell him what to do. Not everyone though, has an opportunity to travel, frankly, to even get out of the house on a regular basis. I just had a child recently and I know how tough that can be.
Chris: Sure, sure. Of course.
Andrew: Just going to see my friends is a problem at times. That happened to this woman. Let me bring Sasha up on this [right here]
Chris: That’s right. There she is.
Andrew: I think sometimes just getting to see a person gets you more connected with her. There’s Sasha Martin. She felt entrenched in her life in Oklahoma. She had a six month old daughter, about the age of my child. What’s the challenge then?
Chris: Sasha’s story is one of my favorite ones from the whole book. Sasha’s experience was, okay what can I do? How can I live this life of adventure? She had grown up overseas and then she found herself in Oklahoma. Okay, I can’t visit every country in the world like Chris does or like somebody else is doing, like Tom is cycling. She had a background in culinary arts and so she decided to cook a meal from every country in the world. She turned this into a whole process and it was kind of a weekend thing. The whole week would lead up to it, and then she would document the recipes and post them online. She would play music from that country, serve this complete meal with appetizers and the main course, and dessert. Her young daughter essentially grew up with this international perspective for the first three and a half years of her life. Every week, she’s eating all kinds of different food. People from around the world started following along as well. She had this website, Global travel for global table adventures. She talks about the transformation that it’s made in her life. You know, she wasn’t able to cycle to all these different countries but she brought the world to her home in Oklahoma. She, you know even though she was busy, even though she had this young daughter you know time was limited, she found a way to bring the scope of adventure into her life.
Andrew: What a great headliner on there: ‘Global Table Travel, Let’s Eat Our Way Around the World; 195 countries, 195 meals, 195 weeks’.
Chris: Right. She even had three extra countries to make, which I was really impressed by. I was like ‘wow, I only had 193 countries’.
Andrew: What did you miss?
Chris: She just has a different counting system.
Andrew: I see.
Chris: You know, I use the UN member states and I think she added on Taiwan and some other territory or something.
Andrew: Makes sense. Did you get to eat your way through all of those countries or you someone who’s less adventurous about food?
Chris: I’m probably less adventurous than Sasha is, definitely.
Andrew: Alright. Onto the big board, the next thing we’re going to talk about is to make your large quest manageable by breaking it into small tasks. You did that… here’s the large quest, by the way I love this piece here. You know what, there we go there it is, a plan to see every country on earth by age 35, that one we ripped from The Year 2000, about four years before you finished.
Chris: That’s right, that goes back a ways.
Andrew: Yeah, so, that is a big challenge and you talked earlier about how it started as pieces. Can you talk a little more about that, about how you did it?
Chris: Yeah, so the quest became so much more manageable for me, or maybe not even manageable but relate-able and I could just kind of grab on to it once I started thinking ‘okay, yes there’s this big quest but it’s not like, you know, day one I begin and at the end of ten years I end’. There’s going to be lots of milestones along the way so I tried to focus on those milestones. I probably just say ‘okay, my quest for example, there’s all these countries, they’re broken up into regions you know I can probably combine a bunch of countries on different trips. I go on one trip I might be able to go to four to five countries. Just thinking logically and thinking linearly made a huge, huge difference and at the beginning of the whole adventure someone said something to me that they intended as kind of a criticism, they said ‘you know, this isn’t that complicated of a thing, anybody could do it, it just takes enough time and enough money’. So, at first I was offended as you always are, but then I started thinking about it more and I was like ‘okay, I can actually use this to my benefit this kind of thinking, if I think about how much time it takes, how much money is required, and what are the other costs, what are the uncertainties, what are the challenges? That’s actually going to benefit me’. That’s going to actually help me to achieve the goal.
Andrew: Do I have this right here? I’m looking at my notes, the estimated cost of scaling from 50 countries to 100 countries was going to be about 30,000 dollars.
Chris: That’s exactly right; 30,000 dollars you know to go to 100 countries. For me I was incredibly happy with that cost, you know, like obviously 30K is not a small amount of money. I never want to say it’s nothing, right? But, when I considered all the experiences, the value that I would get out of that, I was more than happy to spend that much.
Andrew: And that’s over, what, 5-7 years?
Chris: Yeah, that was over a number of years. You know, at the time like when I chose to make that investment I didn’t have a lot of money but I also have friends that were buying cars for 30,000 you know?
Chris: Nothing wrong with buying a car if that’s what you’re into but for me I chose, you know I wanted to invest in this experience.
Andrew: What about this Chris to say ‘I want to go to 100 countries’ feels bigger than everyday life but doesn’t feel as big and epic as going to every single country on the planet. When you break down goals into smaller chunks and say ‘alright, I’ll go to 100’ doesn’t it take away a large part of the enthusiasm also? A large part of the sense of mission?
Chris: I don’t think so, I mean it’s a great question but it certainly didn’t for me. I guess for me it was a lot easier to get my head around a long term goal. I mean, I was still working toward that; you know, every quest has a destination. Every quest has an ending, and for me the ending wasn’t just the first batch of countries or whatever but I can still take pleasure in saying ‘okay, like every country in Asia completely wrapped’ you know, ‘every country in Africa’. Like I said, huge accomplishment by itself and instead of looking forward to the end but I guess it actually helps, for me at least, it helped me to really think of it in terms of a smaller task.
Andrew: You talked about the expenses… before we go to the next point what about the revenue from it? Is this, when we’re talking about a quest is it something that has to take money out of our pockets and be like a fun thing that we decide we’re going to spend money and time on or is there a way to make sure we do make back enough money and that we get the kind of reputation that you got largely because you went to every country and we all got to follow along with you and the same kind of big reputation as some of the other people in the book? How do we get to that?
Chris: Yeah, sure. Yeah, that’s also a great question because I think it’s a little complicated because I don’t necessarily think you should undertake a quest as a career move. I think you should undertake a quest if you’re super excited and passionate about something and you are willing to sacrifice to some regard, you know to achieve that goal or achieve that quest. When I say ‘sacrifice’ you know it’s not meant to be a heavy word but you know anything that really involves true adventure I believe requires some amount of trade off. You have to be able to say yes to this thing and say no to other things. In my case, I had begun the journey just from my own motivations, and I wanted to challenge myself. Nobody did follow me, I didn’t even have a blog or social media or anything.
Andrew: There was no sense right from the start where it was going to produce business results. People were going to read you more because of this. They were going to buy from you more because you’re a guy who did all this traveling.
Chris: No. Absolutely not. I’m fortunate that I was able to develop a career out of it. I think it’s great but I don’t think that was ever the goal. I think if it was strictly a business goal, and lots of great business projects – I’m an entrepreneur myself, so I’m pro-revenue – I guess if it was strictly a business goal, there would probably be a lot easier ways to make money than–
Andrew: Than to go on an epic quest.
Chris: Than spending 10 years, 10 years sleeping on the floor of airports and taking another trip to Central Africa, or going to the islands of South Pacific where there’s almost no internet access. I feel like there’s probably a better way to make money.
Andrew: Am I a big philistine for not just seeing the passion and the art of all this and saying, ‘Where is the money’ too?
Chris: No, there’s nothing wrong with money. Money’s great. A lot of people do have quests of building businesses, but I think maybe a quest has to be a little bit of a higher level. There has to be a greater passion or purpose behind it, and I think many of the great entrepreneurs, no doubt including some that have been on Mixergy, they have that passion. They do very well for themselves. They have a lot of revenue, but they’re driven by something that is greater than money, I think.
Andrew: I see what you’re saying. Right. If I were going to cycle around the world, at some point that I would realize that there are better ways to make money than that.
Andrew: It has to be about more than that to carry us through. The first step of the journey builds confidence and reliance and self-reliance, not reliance actually, that’s opposite, self-reliance. That happened to this woman here. Once again, we went online to look at these people, just like I did with your other books, to see where are they now. Is this really true? This just came right off the web. She makes hats, there’s her site, you know? I love how you use real people. You don’t use hypotheticals. Well, if somebody wants to knit, then it’s possible. No, you use real people, real examples, and this is a real person. Anyone out there who’s like me, who’s a philistine and wants to check on all the facts, can go and see Robin Devine [SP]. That’s her name. She began a quest. What was her quest?
Chris: That’s right. Robin from Omaha, was always a knitter and a crafter, and she began this project of making hats. Originally, her goal was to make something like 100 hats, and she was like, ‘Well, I can do that relatively quickly.’ She’s like, ‘I need a big goal.’ She believed in tying structure to the goal, which is a big part of the quest. At first, it was, ‘I’m going to make 1,000 hats’ but she realized that wouldn’t be a big enough of a challenge. So, her project is to make 10,000 hats, and she’s doing that over a number of years. You can go on this awesome website she has and you can actually put your name down to receive one of these hats. It may take a little while since she’s making 10,000 of them. There’s a whole charity component to it. So, it’s a way of introducing this craft that she loves with the structure of a long-term pursuit or adventure. I like stories like hers that are relatable. Again, just ordinary people embracing these values of quest and adventure. I also talk to lots of other people doing what we might think of is really, really big things. Like, In my story, I was doing this travel thing by myself. I didn’t necessarily expect anything to come of it, in terms of career-wise, but then this whole community came to embrace it, and it did become a business in some ways. But, just as importantly to me, it’s community. I feel like my work is now much more community-oriented than it ever was, and that was a direct result of pursuing a quest and being willing to embrace something than what I’d done before.
Andrew: I see. So you’re saying, don’t walk into this with the idea that I am obsessed with this cycling thing because I love reading about people who cycle or run long distances. I mean, multi-month running and cycling. Anyway, but if I were going to do that, it wouldn’t be about, I’m doing to do this so I can develop my independence, or I’m going to do this to develop my self-confidence. You’re saying just do it and allow the inner growth to happen. You don’t know where you need to grow, you don’t know what inner growth, you can’t program that inner growth is what you’re saying.
Chris: Yeah. I think what I’m saying is, if you have a crazy idea in your head, you should pay attention to that crazy idea. That’s what I’m saying. It’s not necessarily, like every person out there has to go out and do something completely outlandish, because maybe they don’t want to, right? Again, it’s not a good business model to travel every country in the world if you’re probably not going to be able sustain whatever that difficult thing is, if you’re not really excited about it. But, the converse is if you are excited about something, don’t forget about that. Don’t just put it off, don’t just say, ‘I’ll do that later when I’m out of school, when I have more time, when my kids are grown.’ I really believe you have to pay attention to that discontent or whatever you choose to call it.
Andrew: All right. One more personal thing before I go into the next point. You have one earbud in your ear, right? Not the other. And, it goes in your shirt, right?
Chris: That’s right.
Andrew: I don’t know that I could actually fully show this. I love the attention to detail. Where does that come from? Did you sit down and say, ‘How do I look good on camera, how do I make sure that I have an earpiece so that we don’t have an echo?’ What’s the thought process that gets you to do that?
Chris: I don’t know if I’m that good at that, Andrew, but you’re kind to say that. I just thought, “I’m going to be on this. I’ve been on Mixergy before. I know it’s a fantastic audience. I know it’s an audience that watches the whole interview, start to finish. Even if I screw up or say something dumb, they’re going to keep watching for some reason.’ So, what can I possibly do to better serve that audience? I know you think the same way. It’s audience-focused, it’s community-focused.
Andrew: I do. All right. Onto the next point, which is motivate yourself along the way. Track the progress with a list. You mentioned earlier that you like to make lists. Here is a woman who needed to do that. Let’s bring her up. 50 dates, 50 states. She had to kick-start a campaign for it. Tell me about her, if you could.
Chris: Yeah. This is Alicia Austerello [SP], also from San Francisco. She had just recently gone through a break-up and she had noticed that in some of the relationships she had before, she was dating the same kind of person, and she thought, ‘I want to learn more about the world, first of all. But, I want to learn more about relationship also.’ So, she started this project, which you’re showing, about 50 dates and 50 states. She would take this epic road trip together with the producer, and then eventually, of course, they would fly to Alaska and Hawaii, and just meet different people and write about that experience, write about relationships, write about dating, also about the challenge of the experience of doing something like this in public. So, it wasn’t a ten year huge mega epic kind of thing, but it was still something different for her. It was something challenging and unique. Maybe it had a little bit of a career goal for it as well, because she helped to write a memoir and maybe build a little bit of platform over it. But again, I don’t think that was the primary goal. I think the primary goal was self-discovery and exploration.
Andrew: I remember talking with Marc Suster [SP], the venture capitalist, who said, ‘If it’s important, measure it.’ And, of course, everyone says that. But for some reason, in that conversation with him, it hit me. Yes, anything in business that you really want to grow, you should measure it and you should pay attention to it. Same thing for quest, that it helps if you’re going to have a quest to say to yourself, I’m not just going to cycle. I’m going to cycle for a certain number of days, or I’m going to cycle for a certain distance, or I’m not just going to make hats until forever. It has to be 10,000.’ Why is the number so helpful?
Chris: Yeah. There’s two different things there. There’s the documentation part of it and then there’s why is the number in the first place? I really believe that the number is important. I really believe that it’s not a quest without that. It could still be a passion, it could be a hobby, it could be something you like to do, all those different things. But, I really believe that having a structure is what takes it to another level. Just in my case, if I was just a traveler, there’s Chris, he’s this guy who goes to a bunch of countries. You know? What is that? But for me, it was like, every country in the world. Okay. That’s pretty cool, right? It couldn’t just be like, going to 150 countries and then stop. Right? It’s not like I could just be, you know, “I almost made it.” here’s this guy who ran 250 marathons in a single year. Maybe that was you, Andrew. I don’t know. But, I thought that’s pretty awesome. But, most people are not going to hear about that and say, ‘Oh, I wish I could do that.’ You know? Most people don’t have that passion or that drive or that ability. But, most people, I believe, are like Robin in the sense that they do have something that they love to do. They have something that they’re interested in, and if they can focus that interest in the form of a quest, I think it will bring greater purpose to their lives.
Andrew: Let’s talk about the inner progress. We use the hero’s journey format for all the Mixergy interviews where an entrepreneur talks about how he or she built the business. And, if all we get to is, I didn’t have any money, didn’t have an idea, and suddenly I got an idea, made some money and now I’m healthy, it becomes a very boring progression. What we always look for as a team here at Mixergy, is what’s the underlying growth? What beneath the surface allowed them to get there? Was it finally overcoming their insecurity? Was it finally overcoming the fact that they felt for a long time out of the Silicon Valley structure, and because they discovered that they had enough in them that they didn’t need venture capitalists, they were able to do all this. Where does that fit in here, with Robin’s story or in general, how do we use these quests to bring out the better part of ourselves and not just be about cycling and hats?
Chris: Right, right. I think one of the other key features of quests, in addition to the challenge and the hero journey that you mentioned, one of the other features that’s usually, maybe not always, but almost all the time, something else happens along the way. Usually, there is an element of change or transformation that can’t always be predicted. I mean, you know that something’s going to happen but you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It’s not like I could just, you know, “Oh, I almost made it.’ You know what I mean? That’s my story is like, Chris is the guy who almost did it. So, that’s why I feel like those specifics helped. But after the documentation, you have to document, I think in some ways, in whatever way that you like to document the quest, then you should. And, different people do that in different ways. Not everyone likes to write. Some people are much better at photography than I am. There are other mediums as well, but I do think it’s helpful to kind of mark off or lineate that progress as you go along. I had a Wikipedia article that I just copied and pasted into my EverNote of every country in the world, and as I made progress over the years, I would literally go and put a little X next to it. So, I saw that EverNote fill up with X’s as I got closer to the end, and I was a little bit tired toward the end, I was focused on other stuff, but I got to keep going. I got to keep going because I’m almost there.
Andrew: I had that list. It’s going to keep me going.
Andrew: Push through the monotonous middle so you don’t give up too soon. This is someone who had that situation. Boy, did he? This is a better way to bring him up. There we go. There’s Gary Thorp, who had a quest. Do you remember his quest?
Chris: Yeah. Gary Thorp is a classical music DJ from Brisbane, Australia. Huge fan of classical music, of course, and one time when he was in London, many years ago, more than 30 years ago, he saw this symphony performed. And, this particular symphony was considered the largest symphony in the world, one of the most difficult. It required more than 800 performers, multiple choirs, all kinds of instruments that aren’t usually used, and therefore it wasn’t performed very frequently. You know, Beethoven, much more common. And, Gary was touched by this symphony. He thought that just the whole audacious nature of it was incredible, but he also liked the music. So, he wanted to bring the symphony to Australia. He tried and he tried and he tried. I don’t know if you were going to say something else there.
Chris: Took many, many, many years. There were lots of failed attempts. It’s a classic quest story because it actually took 28 years.
Andrew: 28 years.
Chris: 28 years to bring this symphony to Australia. And, during that time, by the way, it wasn’t performed anywhere else in the world. I mean, that was the last time it had been performed, was nearly three decades earlier because it was such a complicated thing. And normally, if it were to ever be performed again, it would be in London, it would be in Vienna, it would be in New York, you know, a place that had a lot more resources. Maybe more appreciation for classical music. But, his dream was, I want to bring this to my homeland. I want to bring this to my city, and eventually he was able to do it, but there was a lot of false start and failure along the way.
Andrew: Do you remember a moment in your monotonous middle where you had to really push through?
Chris: I remember sleeping on the floor of again, so many airports. I remember getting turned away in different countries. I got deported from one of them. I remember–
Andrew: Which is the one that made you feel closest to giving up, or if you weren’t Chris Guillebeau, you would be giving up; which one?
Chris: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which one would be? That’s great. That’s great. Probably somewhere in Central Asia. One of the Stan countries. They’re beautiful countries but I think it’s just that time of my life, it was around country 140 or 150, I think. That’s when I was like, ‘Yeah. I’ve been doing this awhile.’ I think once I got to 170, 175, then I’m like, ‘Okay. Almost there.’ You know? I always want to be brutally honest with Mixergy viewers because I don’t ever want to B.S. anyone and say, ‘The whole thing was amazing.’ There were lots of monotonous moments, but I also don’t want to seem ungrateful, because I can look back and say, ‘Even though that particular moment sucked or whatever, I’m still glad to do it overall.’
Andrew: What pushed you through? Was it this feeling that you had to finish what you started, that’s who you are and you don’t stop? Or was there something else?
Chris: I think that’s a good way to describe it. It’s that I believed I could do it, I knew that I would always regret it if I stopped. I think that’s probably what drove it. I don’t think it’s always good to say, ‘You should never quit something,’ because there could be all kinds of things that you should quit, right? But, I didn’t feel that way in the first hundred countries. I didn’t feel that way until I was getting close to the end. So, since I was there, why not? You know, and I didn’t want to look back, as I said earlier, and be like, ‘That’s what I did with my life. I went to almost every country, but not quite.’ You know? That’s what drove me forward.
Andrew: Yeah. All right. Final point that we pulled out of the book is to believe in yourself even when no one does. I imagine that happens a lot when you set out on a quest. I know when I first started to interview, people didn’t believe, they thought it didn’t make sense. I remember starting my first company right out of school. People didn’t believe, and then those same people were the ones who were so proud and talked about, ‘Hey, look at what Andrew did.’
Andrew: The Dutch government didn’t believe. We’re talking about real serious non-believer. The Dutch government didn’t believe in this woman. This is Laura Decker.
Chris: That’s right.
Andrew: She wanted to do what?
Chris: Laura Decker had always been a sailor. She was actually born a boat off the coast of New Zealand. She was a Dutch citizen, her goal was to circumnavigate the world, to sail the world on her own, solo, and to be the youngest person ever to do it. When she was 16, she had actually tried to leave a couple of times before and was stopped by the Dutch government, and then she essentially sued her own government for permission to do this, and was granted that permission. So, then over the next year, she sailed around the world.
Andrew: You know, how do you know if the Dutch government isn’t right, you know? It’s one thing if your friend says, ‘Don’t do it. It’s a jerky idea.’ It’s another idea if the government, a reasonable government says, ‘You know what? You might be too young. Why are you putting your life at risk?’ How do you know if that outside voice is something you should be ignoring or maybe it’s something you should actually pay attention to and say, ‘Let’s wait until I’m 20.’
Chris: No. Totally agree. I’m glad you brought it up. In her case, she did sue the government. She went through a legal process and eventually won that right to pursue her adventure. If she hadn’t had won that right, would she have snuck off in the middle of the night? Would she have waited? I don’t know. That’s a tricky thing. I do think though, that we often judge the riskiness of something or the worthiness of something in retrospect. We often look back after the thing has already been done, and then that’s when we determine, that was a really awesome idea, or that was a really stupid idea. I thought about this a lot when I was out there in some random countries. I thought, ‘You know, if something happens to me, there’s going to be a lot of people who would just say, ‘That’s just stupid. Why was he doing that? Why was he going to a place like that? He deserves what he gets.'” Right? But, because I went there and then I came back and everything was okay, it’s like, oh, that’s awesome. Right? So, it’s almost like we’re applying this lens, we’re applying this filter, looking back on the outcome of something, when in fact, life itself is very risky. Every decision that we make in some way involves risk of something. So, I don’t think anyone should do something fundamentally unsafe. I think, in her case, she was a sailor her whole life. She knew far more about this than many other people much older than her. But of course, you never know. It is a risk.
Andrew: Yeah. And a bigger risk, the one that we tend to fall into more often, is the one of just living an ordinary life and looking back and saying, ‘What happened?’
Chris: Yup. That’s a big risk.
Andrew: You know, the cool thing about this book is, and I want to ask you one other thing, but the cool thing about the book, let me bring the camera on myself, there it is, The Happiness of Pursuit, is that we all tend to want to emulate a little too much. I have to tell you, over the years I’ve heard your story and I kept thinking, ‘I could never do that. Frankly, I don’t even want to do that.’ So, maybe this whole thing isn’t for me, because I kept thinking of traveling to every county on the planet, instead of thinking outside the specific to the more general idea, which is to say, ‘Find a meaningful, big journey to go on.’ What I like about this book, I see you’re nodding, I’ll bring you back up here, what I like about the book is you’re showing, here are all these other ways of doing it. That happens, by the way, Chris, a lot to my interviews. I interviewed Jason, why can’t I think of Jason’s last name. Because in my head, I keep thinking JasonHeadsets.com because you sold his last name, headsets.com.
Chris: That’s right. That’s right. Surfer App?
Andrew: Is that the newest one?
Chris: Yeah. He sold his name to Surfer App now.
Andrew: So, Jason did an interview with me about how he decided he was going to wear a different company shirt every day of the year and charge the company for the right to do it. After that, I got, well I’m going to do a hat, and me and my girlfriend are going to do a shirt, and I got these shoes that I’m going to wear. You know? And it was just thinking a little too similarly to his idea instead of taking a bigger picture and saying, ‘What else is out there? What is in me?’ You’ve given us a bunch of examples. Again, as someone who talks to authors and entrepreneurs all the time, the more examples I can get, I know the more interesting and relatable it is to the audience, and I think the more it feels like the authors had the right to talk about it. You know? If it’s all just you just talking about one example, the Apple example keeps coming up over and over again.
Chris: Right, of course.
Andrew: And you maybe didn’t do your work. All right. So, here’s the final thing I want to ask you about. I was going to go to your website. Don’t worry, this is not a trap. I was going to go to your website, findthequest.com, and bring it up on the screen and say, ‘Here’s the place to go.’
Chris: Oh yeah. That’s right.
Andrew: It’s leading to Chrisguillebeau.com.
Chris: That’s right.
Andrew: Where should I be sending people?
Chris: Yes. Well, we should fix that. So, you are happy to send people wherever you want.
Chris: Findaquest.com, by the time that this is live, should actually go somewhere that would be great.
Andrew: Gotcha. All right. Does it bother you, by the way, that that happened and I just pointed it out?
Chris: I should fix it. I’m making a note. I’m going to go in and do it.
Andrew: I was looking at you and I said, ‘Oh. If he feels a little uncomfortable,’ (inaudible)
Chris: No, no, no. I was just like, ‘Where is he going? I have no idea.’ That’s totally cool.
Andrew: Findthequest.com. The site will be up. We intentionally, frankly, the team and I were just talking about how we rush this faster than any other program because I freaking love you, Chris. You’re a great guy. I see the way, the attention to detail and all the things that you put together. I said, ‘Let’s find a way and have Chris on here, even if it means that we have to rush it and we’ll make it work. We’ll put other things aside.’ All right.
Chris: I really appreciate that–
Andrew: And it is, I think to me–
Chris: And thanks to you and all your team. It’s really a fantastic team. Thank you.
Andrew: Thank you. Yeah, I should always say over and over again, it’s not just me. It’s Ben who actually went through and picked out the ideas that would work best for the audience and found and did the research. It’s Anne Marie who kept following up with you and organized this and produced it. And, it’s me who just gets to sit here and have a conversation with you. The headset, I want to say why I pointed that out. It’s the attention to detail and the little things, like the sales page that you have, like the feel of the book here. It’s not just, I don’t know what you did to it, but it feels a little bit worn, you know? It has the sense of details.
Chris: I didn’t do it myself, Andrew. I didn’t actually go to the warehouse.
Andrew: You always say that to me too, and I know you have a team too, but it’s the person who I think sends this out, the message to the team. And then the team gets to work together on it. Anyway, that’s why I wanted to have you on here. I like to see the details behind what you do, and I like the magnitude of the way you think. You think bigger, not just a hat, but how do we make a thousand hats or thousands of hats. All right. Thank you so much for being on here. The book is right up there, there. The Happiness of Pursuit. Chris Guillebeau, thank you.
Chris: Thank you again, Andrew. Thank you.
Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye guys.