I had just been bucked off a large, mostly pleasant but sometimes ornery water buffalo in a rice paddy ringed by the lush green jungles of rural Thailand.
This, astonishingly, was part of my job as a spokesperson and frontman for a global advertising campaign for the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
As I climbed back up on top of the buffalo I chuckled to myself because I realized that although I had always visualized what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, it was funny that things never really end up the way you expect.
Entrepreneurship is filled with dichotomies.
On one hand, when we make the decision to become entrepreneurs we become our own bosses; on the other hand, we are often answerable to everyone. On one hand, we can work whichever hours we choose; on the other, we are never really off the job. On one hand, many of us are financially independent; on the other, we sometimes wonder if we will ever really feel like we have true financial security.
As a Canadian-born entrepreneur, I often reflect on where I am today and marvel at the decisions (many good, many bad), the twists of circumstance (sometimes to my delight and sometimes to my regret) and the luck (which seemed like either good or bad luck at the time, but often ended up being the opposite) that have been woven into a tapestry of experience that is both uniquely mine but would also be familiar to anyone who has chosen to blaze an entrepreneurial path.
I believe that the ultimate dichotomy of entrepreneurship is that if you don't live, breathe, visualize and exude passion for what you are trying to achieve, you are not likely to succeed. On the other hand, no matter how long you plan, how clearly you visualize and how passionately you execute your mission, almost nothing will happen as you imagine it will.
I left a good advertising job in Calgary for Thailand in my late 20's with a fire in my heart and a drive to establish my company, Smiling Albino, as SE Asia's premier go-to supplier to the world's most exclusive travel providers.
From the beginning I had a concrete plan of what I wanted to do and I constantly visualized what success would be like for me. I always knew that I wanted to be passionate and engaged enough about travel that my persona would become synonymous with the characteristics that I was trying to impart in my company.
As a small upstart in an industry that I was blissfully unschooled, it was imperative that I built my credibility and demonstrated my expertise even before we had our first customer.
This vision of building my company into a recognized and respected travel industry player directed me and guided my path from young upstart to minor local celebrity, spokesperson for my industry, guide to discerning travelers including billionaires, rock legends, and movie stars, host of my own weekly travel television program and, of course, representative of the Kingdom in the Tourism Authority of Thailand advertising campaign.
So on the one hand, I don't think that anyone (least of all me) would have expected that I would be exactly where I am today; on the other hand, I was always destined to be thrown off that buffalo.
I look forward to sharing the lessons from this amazing journey with you.