Day 42: All Business

Dear friends – I am sorry I have failed to blog so far. Finally found a minute on our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin (no private televisions, otherwise I’d likely be watching a movie and relaxing my brain instead). Since day one, my journey has been 100% nonstop whirlwind business. I have not had a weekend, day or single hour free from taskmastering this television series. We are wildly understaffed, under-budgeted and under-scheduled. When people regard my trip with envy, I shrug because this has been all grind and no play – perhaps the most difficult job I have ever had. I have not been able to engage in the places traveled because I spend nearly 60% of my waking hours buried in a device. All things considered, I have been to some pretty incredible locations. I fancy it a sampler platter of countries and have every intention of visiting many of them again.

After a stressful prep period in Dubai (which I shall revisit in a later post), we started filming in Singapore. Definitely an awkward first date for the crew, network and show but I anticipate a strong first episode. You can see a video recap of our trip below. Singapore was incredibly friendly to startups and foreigners. Many people we met in the city were not native and moved there for a change of pace. Everything was pretty clean and tidy, not much stress or chaos as far as cities go. We were there during Chinese New Year which meant that many businesses were closed and costs for everything else were much higher. If you ever get a chance to eat stingray, please do – absolutely delicious. Special thanks to Ken, our local production manager and guide, for taking care of us so well.

From Singapore, we ventured to Istanbul. Dear lord, amazing city. So much history, such ripe culture. Video below as well. I’ve never been to a place that’s so ancient. My inner architecture nerd couldn’t contain itself. We spent almost all of our time on the European side of the city in a district known for nightlife and trendy youth. We met some very talented people and shared several evenings with them. There’s a lot of incredible opportunity in Istanbul, but it’s clear that history and tradition stand in the way of an otherwise progressive mentality sometimes. Many of the entrepreneurs we met were looking elsewhere to start businesses. We ate a lot of street food and drank the absolute best Turkish coffee. Smoke everywhere – everyone smokes and every restaurant or bar we went to was filled with it. Until ten years ago, most of the city was still heated by coal, so you can imagine how polluted it might still be. With ancient urban planning, traffic was untenable the entire time. Our local production fixer, Berk, was an outstanding gentleman and an absolute blast to hang out with. We were very well taken care of in Istanbul and I look forward to returning.

Our next episode to film would have been Stockholm, but drama ensued – our shows hosts, Emiratis from Dubai, secured the wrong visas and were not allowed to board our flight. We discovered this when the rest of the crew landed in Sweden. A damn shame we couldn’t film the episode because Stockholm is a remarkable city. Packed with gorgeous people, flawless urban planning, and a selection of the world’s best cuisine, whiskey and beer. Outrageously expensive, so it’s probably good for our budget that we couldn’t stay the whole time scheduled. Partly from the smoke of Istanbul and partly from stress, I got wildly ill and spent half our stay in my hotel room. Blessing in disguise that we didn’t film. The rest of our time there was spent in uber trendy coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Every detail of Stockholm is painstakingly designed. Interior decor junkies would cry everywhere they go – even fast food joints were ornamental and carried world class brews. I’ll be damned if I don’t spend a lot more time in Stockholm before I die.

We reached Dublin yesterday two days early to regroup. We will film the Ireland episode this week and plan ahead for our future tours of travel. We will head back to Dubai and Abu Dhabi after we wrap Dublin March 7 to edit and prep our second tour of four countries in Asia. With the Stockholm error, we will have to reschedule the rest of our show – and milk an extra country out of the deal to replace Sweden (which I personally cannot complain about). We’re reevaluating difficult countries to enter and film like India and Brazil. If all goes well, we may get the chance to visit countries on all 6 continents which would be wild.

I will do my best to keep you posted along the way. The closer we get to the end, the less planning I will have to do and hopefully be able to win some minutes back to write you. No promises of course.  But please know that I love you.
Advertisements

Dehumanize Stressful Situations

It is extremely difficult to see straight when the world is crumbling around you. Emotions overwhelm, logistics tangle and solutions feel farther away than ever. Sometimes it is necessary to strip the humanity out of situations. Disregard feelings and look at the numbers. Treat prospective casualties and gains as data on a page. Sounds very cold, but every once in a while you need to find your footing to get through. To make hard decisions, it helps to break them down in front of you and see them clearly. Emotions do not translate well onto a page – but statistics, dollar amounts, time and body counts do. Get the situation out of your heart and out of your head. Only then will you be able to think straight and act diligently.

Make It Fun

If you lose control of your situation or time, do what you can to live in the moment and make the situation fun. Look at the bright side, drink a glass half full and turn it into something you can appreciate and enjoy. At the very least, every moment in life has an embedded learning opportunity – it should not be too difficult to make everything that happens to you count. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of mindfulness and optimism. Crack jokes, puns or witty comments. Make faces if that’s your thing. Whatever it takes to polish a dull moment and give it to some shine. Those who cite you as unprofessional do not deserve your time.

Triggering the End of Vacation

Vacations should only end after three things happen: 1) you feel rested, 2) you miss home, and 3) you actually want to get back to work. If those three things do not fall into place by the end of your sojourn, your vacation failed. That, or you 1) have health problems, 2) do not feel at home where you live or 3) hate the work you do. Vacations can help you distance yourself from your normal life enough to realize any one of these three issues and tackle problems accordingly.

Calculated Gluttony

Of all the seven deadly sins, gluttony is my favorite. We have no excuse to abuse our bodies with regular exorbitant consumption of any kind – but minor infractions cannot hurt every once in awhile. To celebrate, I do not mind eating five meals in a day or downing a hefty dose of alcohol. Mark the occasion as you please. You should not do it every night and you should not do it to pass time. But feel free to do it to bookmark a moment in your life as memorable. Gluttony all the time is not memorable. Gluttony on a rare occasion sticks with you for life. Make it count.

Vacation

To be completely honest, I’m too far gone (tired, distracted, buzzed, relaxed) to write an insightful piece today. It’s Friday, it’s the Summer, it’s my vacation weekend. I encourage you to take one as soon as you can – it’s good for you. How’s that for daily wisdom? Love you. Be back soon.