I feel I’ve been a bit out of touch with you all at GiveLiveExplore, so I wanted to check in, give ya’ll some proper love, and deliver a brief State of the Union.
First off, I’m in London! Actually, I’ve been here for several weeks.
Touching Down in Londontown
Earlier this month, I jumped across the pond and touched down in London. The purpose was more work related than anything. Things on the publishing front with Tales of Iceland were going well, I’d managed to secure a speaking gig the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show, and a piece of my writing had recently been picked up by Huffington Post. All great things — but I needed to get more creative about making a decent living for myself. [See: cashflow was low.]
Almost two years ago, when I first set the wheels in motion to exchange my corporate consulting lifestyle for a more unconventional and adventurous (and uncertain) one, I came across an organization out of London called Escape the City. You may have found me through Escape the City, or perhaps you’ve heard me talk about it.
Escape the City is a global community of working professionals who are looking to ‘Do Something Different’ in their life and career. Some people like me a couple years ago, dream of a more adventurous life. Others wanted to work for a start-up, or a non-profit, or just something that feels more fulfilling. Most aren’t really sure what they want — but they know it’s something different than what they’re currently doing.
Escape was started by two ex-management consultants and one investment banker, Rob, Dom, and Mikey, who “wanted to move on from our jobs but were struck by how hard it was to make the leap.” They realized they weren’t alone. “Most of our friends and colleagues were struggling with the same challenge: ‘If not this, then what?'”
135,000+ global members later, Escape the City has developed into THE place to find “the best opportunities on earth.” Yet back in 2012, I was just the hoping, wishing quintessential member: dreaming of a Great Escape one day, some day, in the unforeseen future.
Eventually, when I decided to try out this lifestyle of long-term travel and I booked my oneway ticket to Iceland, something pretty incredible happened. I gained a certain swagger in my step, and it felt like I had somehow snuck into Oz — the world became more colorful and vibrant than it had been for years. I felt good. I began to experience firsthand what could happen when someone advances confidently in the direction of their dreams. Good people and organizations started to enter my life, seemingly from no where. The good people behind Escape the City were some of those people.
My Great Escape
Adele first emailed me in April 2012, two months before leaving for Iceland. Months earlier I had filled out a questionnaire for Escape to offer some thoughts as they grew the business, and as Escape’s new Community Manager, Adele was paging through the responses. Something about my answers prompted her send me an email for follow-up and further discussion. I was ecstatic that some startup out of London was interested in my thoughts, so since there was little structure and virtually no plan to my seven month European wandering, I made it a point to stop in London to meet Adele and the guys behind Escape. Here’s how I concluded one of my email exchanges with Adele:
"...inspired by Escape the City, some of those books I mentioned, and many other factors, I am taking a 'career break' starting in June. I'm going to take 6 months and travel/live around Europe, exploring some of my passions, trying out some pet projects, and introducing myself to new experiences."
Eventually, I did come through London and had lunch with the team. That meeting turned into a friendship. And as I kept in touch with Adele and the team, that friendship developed into a partnership. I wrote a couple blog posts for Escape’s blog. I even had the honor of speaking at an Escape event last July.
Many things have developed between then and now. Last month, Adele and I decided to partner together to build and grow The Escape School, Escape the City’s education arm. While the main team at Escape the City is focused on building their product and connecting talented professionals with more exciting opportunities, we’re on a mission to become a catalyst to those aspiring escapees; we want to help more people start moving toward building a new life and transition into a more fulfilling career. We also want to foster and connect the existing community of 135K+. We plan to do that through a combination of online and offline courses, guides, events and inspiring essays.
We also have a Escape School newsletter that delivers a dose of all of these things in a digestible and useful weekly email. I wrote our latest essay, entitled “Will Quitting My Job Be a Massive Mistake?“ It’s a long one, but it felt good to write. And hopefully helpful to those considering a big escape from the steady and into the unknown.
[If you’re interested in staying in touch with all things Escape School related, please subscribe here.]
In fact, on Monday, Feb 10 I’m speaking at one of those events. I plan to step through the process of my “Escape”, which led me from IBM business consultant to traveler, writer, publisher, entrepreneur, and Director at The Escape School. I’ll share the framework I used to escape, including how I negotiated a temporary 7-month sabbatical from my job, allowing me to keep my job while exploring my passion for travel.
[I gave my email subscribers a 50%-off discount ticket price. If you’re interested in future promotions, subscribe to the GiveLiveExplore list.]
I share all of this because I hope it gives you encouragement as you embark (or consider embarking) on your own Great Escape. Escapes contain uncertainty, and frankly, can be scary as hell. You can never predict how things will end up.
It’s crazy to think less than two years ago Escape the City was one the main inspiring catalysts in my Great Escape. And now I’m working with them. The f’in universe. What a crazy, unruly, and beautiful place.
I guess if there’s a lesson buried in this story, it’s this: Throw things out into the world. Your story, your dreams, your ambitions, your thoughtful suggestions, and your gratitude. Do it for the love of the journey, and do it for nothing in return. You never know where those things will lead you.
Coming Up on GiveLiveExplore:
I’ve crafted my 2014 Goals, which I’m excited (and scared) to share with you all. I expect that to be my next post. You can find my 2013 year in review here.
Future Travel Plans:
Sadly, I’m leaving London on Tuesday. But I’m returning to one of my favorite places in Eastern Europe: Belgrade, Serbia. Which may or may not have something to do with this story from my travels there 2012.
Do you live in Belgrade? Please email me if so. It’d be great to meet up and share a coffee, beer, or shot of delicious rakija.