I had lived in three countries on three continents by the age of 12: Hungary (Europe), Algeria (Africa), and Canada (North America).
I had also traveled to several others at an early age and started noticing the differences in people, languages, and cultures in different parts of the world. I thought to myself, “how cool.”
Looking back, the differences stimulated my curiosity and gave me an appreciation for our differences, and eventually made it easy for me to make new friends anywhere (I was very shy and awkward growing up and decided to change that, but that’s a story for another time).
The Startup Years
After University, I met this guy who wanted to build a “startup.” He was very charismatic and exuded such confidence. I decided to join him. We thought that we’ll make tons of money in 9 months with his idea and that I would travel around the world once we had success.
That didn’t quite work out.
With hindsight, those expectations were not entirely realistic.
What we did manage to do, 14 years and three failed startups later (or learning experiences as I like to call them), is to build a fourth company that turned into a multi-million dollar startup. I also moved to Silicon Valley.
Around the same time, I had come across the Twitter profile of a Spanish woman who I had met a few years earlier in a Café in Palo Alto, California. She had joined a startup that was later acquired by Disney, and now she had her own company that was doing very well. In her Twitter profile, she said that she was living the dream.
That got me thinking.
She was no doubt more successful than me, but we were in similar situations none-the-less: we were both living in Silicon Valley, leading profitable companies we founded, making a good amount of money.
But for me, it did not feel like a dream. I started thinking: there must be something more to it.
And Idea is Born
At the same time, I was experiencing a ‘burn-out’ from long hours at work. I was missing the international travels, and as part of my recovery therapy, I decided that if I could not go to the international, I’ll bring it to me.
I decided to start a Meetup so that I could meet interesting people from around the world.
This made me realize how much pleasure it gave me when I meet new people, made a genuine connection with them, and when I helped others make new friends. Either through my meetup group or when I traveled.
I also noticed that traveling my way, which involved meeting local friends and really experiencing the local culture, seemed to be much more enriching than what others were reporting. They just had nice food and cool pictures.
So I thought, maybe there is a way for me to combine my love for cultures and people with work in a way that I can make a living and truly enjoy what I am doing. I didn’t want to keep delaying travels with the hopes that my startup will someday make a lot of money giving the freedom to travel. At this point, I had not taken a vacation of any sort let alone international in 6 years.
My initial idea was to expand my Meetup into a travel guide, to help others travel the way I traveled. Then I remembered some of the young men who were at my meetup who came from cultures where the genders were segregated in social situations. As a result, they were lacking the social skills to engage with women in the US.
This reminded me of the time when I was young and awkward myself.
I thought this might be a good group of people to serve as I was a recovering awkward person myself. The idea pivoted into helping people at work who have the same intercultural issues.
As I was exploring this topic more deeply, I realized that not only was there a real need for helping people relate and work across cultures, but the challenges came from more than just ethnic differences.
Around this time, I sought out my friend Anubhav for advice about coaching since he had already been an NLP master practitioner coach and himself had immigrated from India to the US. Seeing that we had a lot of synergy in our goals and vision, we decided to partner on this project and Create CQ Savvy.
This is how CQ Savvy was born.
I’m curious, how did you end up doing what you are doing now?
Did you always know what you wanted to do or was it a journey with unexpected twists and turns?
Comment below and let me know.