The Last Leg

I had to take a bit of a break after the last leg of my trip. There were a couple of reasons for this. As I started to take on a more active role in planning the activities on my trip, there was less and less time to actually write about it. It was a little sad. I would begin a post, only to let it languish, forever buried in the draft doldrums of the blog separated from release by one little point of metadata. In the mean time, I watched my mother experience the real joy of traveling to a place she would have never been able to go. Many of my posts still lie in the doldrums, begging for resurrection. I can assure you that I will get to them slowly. Now that I have had some time to process what I observed in my travels, the content will be much better polished.

The Leg

Also, when I returned from the trip I fell ill. Very ill. Even as I crossed back over into the states, I ached from within. What I thought was simply a longing to be home gradually spawned a fever. When I walked through the door, the fever relegated me to the couch and continued to sap all energy until it blossomed into a pain in my lower leg and ankle. The leg pain put me on notice, and I ended up in the emergency room on iv antibiotics.

For some, that occasionally the way it is with travel. When trying to take in all of your surroundings, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Only now that I am rested up, can I expound on that thought. There is this element of moving through new places that makes you forget where you came from. You are forced to divert your attention to the present because you have never seen it. It is a bittersweet release of everything you know in exchange for the newness of the unknown. The distraction from yourself is intoxicating. Everything you normally take for granted is replaced with something new. It is exhilarating to leave your world behind for a time being. Escape.

The Return

That temporary diversion creates a problem when you finally return home. The time you spent in the present was so intoxicating that you long for it to continue. You are woke. You begin to realize that it wasn’t your surroundings that were holding you back, after all. It was your response to them. What you think about the world around you either drives or limits your behavior. How you interact with the world and your willingness to explore is what either hampers you or severs the chains that have been holding you back all along.

Maintaining a Change

I’m not necessarily an activist. I want look at the world around me with new eyes every day.  Like everyone, I will struggle to maintain that vision now that I have returned home. I am thankful for my little corner of the world and my trek to arrive here. I don’t think that I am different from anyone else. I have stumbled through harsh storms and over jagged rocks to appreciate the things that truly build others up. I appreciate how frail we are as people. How temporary our lives are. I understand how one harsh word can tear down a person and how one harsh person can be the difference between achieving something great and failure.

I have also become even more thankful for what makes the United States special. At the root, it is our ability in this country to talk about the things that are happening without fear. Our freedom to talk about those beliefs and solicit effective change. Our inclination to be passionate about the beliefs we have and long for a time when we both retain our freedoms and prevent the permanent loss of those freedoms at the hands of those who wish to take them.

Make no mistake, that is what makes this a great country. We can speak and move freely. With that ability, it becomes incumbent upon all of us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to truthfully echo the faint voices of the afraid without an agenda. It becomes incumbent to speak the truth without the intent to destroy others, but speaking to guide, encourage,  and correct. It is those who have been trained and disciplined by experience who produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.

What uniquely lifts my spirit is to see others find the success that elevates their own.

Back in the City

Iowa City

I was back at my alma mater in Iowa City yesterday. 20 years ago I was completing my studies at the University of Iowa. It seems like just yesterday that I stepped foot on campus as an unprepared undergraduate. When you spend a considerable amount of time in a place and don’t go back very often, memories of how the place was back then seem stickier. It is easy to remember it just as it was. There is both familiarity and newness at the same time. Memories flood back of things that happened at Daum, Burge Hall, or Pappajohn. Some of those memories are good. Other memories are nearly forgotten. Whole buildings are in place now that were not there when I last took a course on campus. Old buildings have been destroyed.  Old making way for new.

Somewhere out on that horizon
Faraway from the neon sky
I know there must be somethin’ better
And I can’t stay another night

In the City
-Joe Walsh, The Warriors

We were there for the Global Learning trip to Hong Kong next month. This is also the reason for the blog reboot. I want to record this experience on which I am about to embark. More importantly, more than just taking pictures, I want to record and share what I thought about on this trip. These are the things that you can’t take pictures of. Not yet, at least.

Mind Reading

Did you know that, by using mind-reading algorithms scientists can reconstruct what you are seeing using brain-scan data? By using a functional magnetic resonance image of the brain, it turns out that it is possible to statistically represent what the brain is seeing. Think of it like a fax machine, only your brain is the fax, your eyes are the scanner and all you have to do is scan the image and allow your brain to process it. Using a brain scan a scientist can recreate that image. Of course, the image is just a representation of what is seen.

I am forced to use words on this journey. Perhaps someday someone will develop a way to interface with our brains directly. Could thoughts to text be a thing in the next 20 years? Perhaps.

The Classroom

I was surrounded by brilliance today. It was energizing. It is difficult to not be intimidated by some of the most amazing MBA students in the country. My peers in the PMBA program, working professionals, are some of the finest and most motivated employees in the city of Des Moines. Just incredible people.

The plan for the session was to cover some of the things that businesses must consider when employing a global strategy for expanding their business. I’ve already taken Global Business Strategy, but exposure to some of the ideas was refreshing and challenging at the same time. Topics like Ethnocentrism, Expatriate, Exit Strategy came flooding back to me. It is such a challenge to give each of these the attention they deserve.

The Core

What struck me about today were two core concepts. The first was the role distance plays in business. I’m sure that I have considered that at some point in my business degree pursuit. But this is such a foreign concept in financial or IT software sales and service because there is often no product to ship. Ones and Zeros fly as little datagrams across the internet, now.

The other was this concept of how there is different priority on different components of a Global Business Strategy depending on where your expansion is taking place. There is a fingerprint for each motion. What is good for one expansion may not be optimal for another. I hadn’t thought about something so obvious.