While my travels have been extensive, I can’t experience every type of travel. Occasionally I like to let my friends have the podium to tell their travel stories. Today’s post is from Scott Jordan, the founder and CEO of Scottevest, one of my sponsors. We spoke about his upcoming trip when I was in Las Vegas and invited him to guest post on my site. His recent trip to Indonesia was an eye opening experience for him and it was an interesting look what happens when a CEO has to step away from the office. Here is Scott…
Three weeks ago, I made the decision to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Two weeks ago, I went on that trip. Like most things I do, it was a whirlwind process. I have not traveled much recently, despite owning one of the most innovative travel companies in the world. Traveling used to be part of my life, but my wife and I have been so dedicated to our business in the last decade that leaving for extended periods of time has been difficult. Our rather remote location (Sun Valley, ID) also makes traveling a challenge. The timing was right, however, and the opportunity was one that could not be missed.
The invitation was from a good friend of mine, author Amy Tan, to celebrate her 60th birthday (I apologize if she didn’t want her age publicized…) on a private island in Indonesia with a small group of her close friends. I was honored to be included on the list and tempted by the thought of being “stranded” with some of the most interesting people in the world, but I have to say that I almost immediately dismissed the idea of going. I am extremely committed to my company and the trip followed a very busy period in our history; my appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. Finally, I have to admit that I am also rather attached to the internet. The thought of being “unwired” for 10+ days? Think again.
A few factors encouraged me to change this position. Ironically, one of the reasons I thought I shouldn’t go away turned into a reason why I should. My team and I worked non-stop leading up to and immediately following Shark Tank, and I realized it was a good time to get away: to gain a new perspective and take some time to slow down and think. My wife and my team at Scottevest encouraged me (with an almost suspicious exuberance) to accept the invitation. I was crazy not to go, they said. I started to think about the company I would be in and the opportunities to learn from such diverse and accomplished people and the unprecedented chance to really “road test” (or “plane test”) my products.
I had made up my mind, but I wasn’t appropriately excited until a conversation that I had with Gary. We’ve been working with Gary for a few months, sending him gear and co-sponsoring his travels, but I didn’t meet him until the Travel Goods Association Show in Las Vegas last month. Gary is a truly inspiring man. His sense of direction? Not so inspired, surprisingly. This is a man who has explored every continent, but he could not find my booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center if his life depended on it. Maybe he’s used to using the sun to navigate.
Gary and I had dinner together one evening, and it was over dinner that I began to really understand the magnitude of what he does. He has had countless incredible experiences and thousands of stunning photographs, not a single one of which he has ever printed, he told me. I guess by the time one adventure ends, it’s on to the next. Gary mentioned that of all the people who buy and subscribe to travel magazines, most of them don’t get the chance to go anywhere. The simply love to learn about these experiences and imagine them and best they can through magazine articles, travel shows, photographs, and bloggers like Gary. I realized that I want to be a conduit in the same way so I could not only travel and share my experiences, but that I can make it easier for people. This is already something that Scottevest aspires to do, ease the hassles of travel, but it became more tangible to me as I thought about the approaching trip. After meeting with Gary, my excitement and my expectations trumped my anxiety about the hassles of travel: the days spent on plane after plane, being away from email, etc.
I departed from Sun Valley with renewed enthusiasm and with the following plan of action: to embrace the actual traveling. People often say that they love travel, but that they don’t like the actual getting there. This trip would entail a long period of “getting there,” so I decided to make the best of it. I wear Scottevest gear every day, but traveling with it was a whole new experience. It really was the best solution getting through airport security. It also gave me new ideas about what I want in the products and what might be most important. I also liked interaction face-to-face with other travelers. I engage our fans online all the time, but my preferred method is always in person.
At the LAX International Terminal I encountered an entire family of Scottevest fans. I always approach people when I see them wearing Scottevest, and this was no exception. I looked like a fool I’m sure. Green plaid shirt, red vest, and a fedora hat that my wife hates, but I walked up to this family outside McDonald’s and asked the father how he liked his vest. The daughter looked at me and said, “Hey, we saw you on Shark Tank!” It was a great interaction. The gentleman gave me some useful feedback about the sizing and position of the iPod pocket. It set the tone of the trip, and I decided that I need to be meeting travelers. My trip ended with another SeV sighting, with a man dressed head-to-toe in the Salt Lake City airport. I did the math later, he had to have at least 35 pockets…I didn’t ask if he was wearing the Travel Boxers.
Although I was committed to this project of enjoying the actual getting there (at the very least tolerating it), I have to say I was relieved when my destination was in sight. By the time I arrived on the island…via Hong Kong, via Los Angeles, via Salt Lake City, I had no idea what time or day it was. The location was stunning as I knew it would be, but you can never really imagine or anticipate that kind of beauty. Nor can you capture it. The photos I took pale in comparison to what it was really like. Of course, travel is about so much more than blue waters, beach huts and photographs. What I took away from the trip will change me and it will change my business. In future posts on my blog I will discuss the highlights of the trip and the perspective it gave me, the importance of camaraderie and company when it comes to travel and the retrospection that being “away from it all” allowed me. Like any significant trip, I could never have anticipated the things that I saw, the experiences I had, or the things that I felt. I’m excited to organize my thoughts about the trip and looking forward to planning more adventures in the near future.
I think I got the travel bug!