Episode 14- Traveling
The Hosts Ravi Gundlapalli & Rajesh Setty talk about Traveling and it being an enriching experience. Learn how traveling can change your worldview and perspectives in a powerful way. Great humour in this episode.
Ravi: Hi welcome to episode number 14 of Spontaneous Conversations. The topic we selected before we hit the record button is traveling. The joy of travel or the power of traveling. This is Ravi Gundlapalli, founder, CEO of Mentor Cloud.
Rajesh: This is Rajesh Setty, I’m a serial entrepreneur in the Bay Area.
Ravi: Excellent, you know Rajesh, I love travel. Maybe that’s why the topic came to my mind, and I find traveling is such an amazing way to meet new people, and kind of have some time for yourself to kind of reflect on where you are going, and I’ve had some amazing, amazing stories just on traveling; going to new places. So, that’s the first thought that comes to my mind is I love to travel.
Rajesh: Yeah, I’m with you. I used to travel until we had our son Sumukh in 1998, Kavitha and I traveled to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, France, Belgium; finally, we came here. And my life is so much more interesting because of the travel. In fact, my dad had a just government job as an engineer in the Public Works department so, we almost had no choice, Ravi, but to travel every three years to a different city, cause you…with the passport, and whole family will move. And that time, I would think, when I travel to a new town, or city or place or anything, which means, I just let go of my relationships with my friends, my colleagues, school, teachers, and everything.
Ravi: Hmm, you were constantly moving.
Rajesh: Well, it was a nomad kind of thing. With looking back, I think that was one of the best things to have happened to me. Because now, I have pockets of networks; from my childhood school, my private school, from middle school, from high school, from college. In India in college, everywhere I travel, there’s groups of people, each with a different mind-set, different outlook in life; from a different city, different outlook, different backgrounds. So, that alone changed the perspective with which I look at life, which is change is inevitable.
Ravi: Exactly, and especially in today’s world, we have to work with people from all over the world. Like with different ways they think so, by having that outlook towards traveling, and really meeting new people, your ability to work in teams that have people from other parts of the world becomes that much better because you’re that much more understanding of other people’s perspectives right?
Rajesh: Yeah, because remember Ravi, we wanted to make it a fun episode, I’ll tell you a traveling story, and I went and told this to before. Right after I left Madras I moved to Malaysia. Used to work in a place called Patel and [indiscernible 3:19] and [indiscernible 03:22] is like a big. I know that there will be different cities; it’s like in Bay[inaudible 03:27-03:32]. Kavitha had not joined me yet, and the office was in [foreign language 03:37] so, and I asked them, oh, will the cab pick me up, what should I do. He said, no, it’s very easy. And the guy drew a map, just walk. It’s like less than, less than a mile so you can just be a great time to walk. I said, OK, no problem, but I did not want to miss the house. So, I went walking and then I was noting down landmarks.
So, and at the end of the street, there was a sign called Jalan sehala. I said OK, now I got it, Jalan sehala is where I live. And I went to the office and they greeted me, and everything. And they asked, where are you staying Mr. Setty? I said I stay in a company guesthouse in Jalan sehala. Company guest house, they said, where we have 16 guest houses, which one? I said the one in Jalan sehala, and they all started laughing, and I was thinking, what is… And then I looked at my notes and it was clear, it was Jalan sehala only. They said are you sure? I said, yeah, yeah, I’m very sure, I wrote it down, and so, I showed them. Then one of them explained Jalan sehala means one way street.
Ravi: [laughs] So, that’s a great, that’s a very interesting story. You know, how important it is to know that sort of the local language and so I think again, traveling is an opportunity to have some fun in life, to reflect. One of the episodes we talked about, white space. So, traveling can be a best way to choreograph that white space; and traveling with friends because you get to talk about things that you normally don’t talk when life is so busy when you’re driving to work, coming back and making meals, and catching up on shopping and stuff. You got to create some time where you get to know people and I’ve had some amazing trips with people and I know exactly who they are and what really drives them every morning. It’s not their job. Everybody has something that they really believe in and you can only explore that when they go on trips with people.
Rajesh: Yeah, I agree with you. In fact, I always believed, until our kid was born, I always believed that not only we had to travel, we had to just live there, so that way you get a very different perspective. So, one is travel; you get to see all the tourist places when you live there, you get to see not so touristy places, which is where the real life happens and that’s a different perspective altogether.
Ravi: It’s almost, you know, you traveling to [inaudible 06:10] Is that a good way to say it?
Rajesh: Yeah, beautiful.
Ravi: Because you discover a lot about yourself; about your habits, about your… like for example, two years ago we went to Mexico City, sorry not Mexico City, Mexico, to build homes for the homeless people. And we went with about 500 people; students and we had to live in tents with no running water for a week. And we were building homes which we have never done. And while the trip sounds very strenuous, it helped us discover as a family, as friends, what really brought us joy. It’s not the shower in the morning, it’s not a a plate full of breakfast or anything, but it’s the joy of living for somebody else that we discovered it. And since then my wife and I and my daughter were looking for ways to be of impact to other people. Because you can always travel to see, take photos, put on Facebook. Everybody’s happy. But what have you done? People have done that. But imagine trips like this where you are doing things because, and you’re having fun because of took a totally different reason.
Rajesh: Yeah, I totally agree with you. So, travel with some purpose which is higher than OK, let’s just go and have fun. It makes it even more interesting.
Ravi: Yeah, I mean, I’m like, so one of the things that I want the listeners to keep thinking is when you travel, just don’t go for taking photos or kind of checking off boxes. Yeah. I’ve seen the leaning tower of Pisa. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen Paris. But really, yes, that’s important. We all have to do those things. They’re all part of the bucket list, but I challenge everybody when you’re going to travel, use the excuse as a way to increase your network. Make friends with somebody. Suddenly now you now have a friend in Paris, and a friend in Italy. And because of the social networks power, we can actually be in touch with them. And who knows, five, six years from now, somebody will be needing some help in Italy and you have somebody you can help. And you’re using travel as a way to increase your network I think is one, I would like people to be conscious about.
Rajesh: Have I introduced you to my friend Kiruba Shankar?
Ravi: No, I’ve heard the name before.
Rajesh: Kiruba is the instigator for a set of conferences I do called Cerebrate. Like celebrate, cerebrate the brain. So, Kiruba and I have been friends for close to 15 years now and he has, he’s also a big traveler. He speaks at conferences and everything. Exactly, he’s a good example of what you said? Travel with a way to enrich his own network can also be a contribution to the networks that he touches. And one of the things he said, Raj, you don’t have to even travel. So, he opens up his coach to some interesting people that come to Chenai. So, and then very interesting people stay there and then what do they do, they have conversations. They’ll have conversations with the, it’s free of course, if they want they can pay for it, but it’s not the important thing because they come from… somebody comes from South America.
Somebody comes from Ireland, and then they finish their work in Chennai, and of course they have a meal and during the meal and after the meal, what will they do? They share who they are. Why did they come there?
Ravi: It opens up a new world, isn’t it?
Rajesh: These kids are so enriched [inaudible 09:59] … in Calcutta. They themselves are so enriched because they get to meet their uncles and aunts from somewhere else, right? Because they’re strangers, it becomes uncles and aunts for them and they get to learn from the best minds from all over the world. Right in their hall.
Ravi: Yeah. Because again, you can either travel to have those experiences or you can, bring travelers to you. And again, it’s basically travel for business or travel with family. You always want to make sure that there is more to it than just taking photos and having food in a place and having stories that are all about you.
Rajesh: In fact, one of my friends Phil Gabishack, he gives keynote speeches and everything; he always tells me that whenever he travels, that he tries to find the people in the local scenery. When he comes to the Bay area, and when he is meeting with me, he’ll also invite somebody else that I might not have met in the local area, but here they are friends with him. So, we all have a meal together, now not only he reconnected with me and a few other friends, he also expanded my network in the local area.
Ravi: That’s very, very true. Again, once you have the network of friends in various parts of the world, when you travel, you can actually kind of help other people expand their network. Right?
Ravi: That’s beautiful.
Rajesh: And Jason and Jody, our friends, they always do coffee chats.
Ravi: Yes, yes. In fact, I was just thinking about it because Jason does this… whenever he goes, he travels, what, 200 days a year. And he has a full bundle of energy. And this whole idea of coffee chats is so powerful because just going to… let’s say I have a talk in New York. OK. I land there, I give a talk and I just come. Of course, I’m going to Starbucks to have a cup of coffee, but instead of just sitting there, here we are with someone with so much experience in a particular domain, why not make that an event and invite some people to come. I think Jason’s idea is just awesome because how many brilliant people walk through Starbucks without ever having a conversation.
Rajesh: I totally agree with you. In fact, I met some amazing people. Just by listening on Twitter. Sometimes, the first person I remember is the CEO of Redfin, called Glenn Kelman. So, he was somebody. He was supposed to meet someone in Mountain View, but that person was running late, like two hours or something. So, he tweeted out, I am here at Mountain View, I’m all alone if somebody wants to come and chat with me. So, I was here in Cupertino, I said I’m there. And then we just met because he’s from Seattle or Portland, I don’t remember. But he was open and willing to have a conversation and we both had a great time talking all because I just there wait, I was looking for an opportunity. I was able to rearrange everything and his travel, made one more new friend for me.
Ravi: Fantastic, in fact, on our platform, we are encouraging this notion of open office hours, where you can make this available when you go on a trip. Could then maybe somebody that’s guaranteed that somebody in that part of the world can benefit from your presence, from your expertise, from your perspective, and just kind of telling them that you’re there. So definitely even if you go with the family, you don’t want to make this all through the travel, but at least one morning like for example Jason does, it’s so beautiful because he’s making his presence kind of his leaving an impression in a way. Not just going to have a cup of coffee and coming out; six or 10 other people are kind of learning something from each other.
Rajesh: Yes. And also, I don’t remember who said it, but he said it very beautifully. He is from a business development and sales angle, he said you weren’t in another city for a meeting, right? So, let’s say you go for a meeting and then they have five, six hours to just to be there because you can’t time everything, but he says it is very easy to get meetings when you’re traveling. You supposedly want to go to… you are in Seattle and you wanted to meet a bunch of people and then you went to Seattle to meet, maybe it’s one person John and he wanted to make Bob, Becky and a Mallory, and he’ll reach out to all of them, and he says, I’m here for a day. Do you have 15, 20 minutes to have coffee. He might have had difficulty meeting them, but they know that he’s here only for a day. If there is anything that they can rearrange, they will because he’s here only for the day.
Ravi: Exactly. And you know, most people are kind of in the contemplate, they’re accommodating. They are good people. So, I think this whole topic of travel, again, it’s about unraveling certain things that you haven’t discovered about yourself, so rather than just looking at your project alone, whether it’s a family project or a business project, use the travel. Any idle time you have to do something special like Jason Womack’s coffee chats, like basically going and visiting a local organization or the church or somewhere where you can leave your impressions, and you would come back extremely enriched.
Rajesh: Yes, not to put so much pressure on people. I also say that, suppose you are writing a book and because in your hometown, you’re always having a lot of meetings and you meet a lot of people, you have no time, you can use the travel to complete those pending projects because there is nobody else there. And then it can save it for the three days in a row, I’ll be in a hotel room; let me use this and go on a sprint to complete my projects. That’s another way to look at it.
Ravi: Absolutely. So, travel is another excellent way to get things done that you always wanted to do and it allows you for that space. So, I think in closing, travel is not just to see a place or check off a box, but it can open up a new world of people, of mindsets that will become very, very handy as you go. And you never know. A single trip can be an inflection point.
Rajesh: Yeah, beautifully said. In fact, continuing what you said, travel may not be checking off boxes. It could also be for creating new boxes to check off later.
Ravi: Ah, interesting. Excellent way [laughs]. OK with that shall we close? I’m Ravi Gundlapalli at Mentor Cloud dot com.
Rajesh: This is Rajesh Setty, you can read more about me on my blog, Rajesh Setty dot com slash blog.
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