Looking Back

After what feels like an eternity of being away, I am finally back on the ground in the States, getting ready to head back to school. Reflecting back, this trip offered a wide variety of experiences, from long nights spent talking to amazing people to long nights spent sitting in airports stressing over issues with my itinerary. It was full of lessons, affirmations, realizations, and ideas. Over the next few weeks, I hope to share many of those with you. At first, be expecting posted journal entries from various points throughout my trip, followed by expanded posts on my notes from lectures at camp. Finally, be on the lookout for some special subscriber-only content to come out end of September (if you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s the time!).

But to come back to the topic at hand, my time in Vilnius, Lithuania began with a visit to a local museum with a group of students who had arrived early. Lithuania is a country only newly out of the grasp of foreign domination. Under Soviet control for half a century, the Lithuanian people are a somber people who have built their identity around basketball and vodka. Discontent with their current political situation, they cling tightly to their cultural heritage, seeking to preserve a small piece of an identity ravaged by Russian occupation.

After heading out to Trakai (resort town outside Vilnius), we broke up into “house-groups” to claim our cabins. The first thing one would’ve noticed about the group of students gathered literally from all over the world was that, despite vast cultural differences, everyone intermingled well. By the end of the first day, relationships that would grow exponentially had already been firmly grounded.

That night at dinner everyone introduced themselves, than we received our first assignment: to submit some of our best business ideas. Of these, several would be chosen as the baseline for our projects. These projects essentially consisted of breaking up into teams around these core business ideas, in order to develop a business plan to present to the camp leaders on Sunday. While I had done similar exercises before, this affirmed for me my experience and education in this area, and served as the basis for some new business ideas.

Other than the projects, a main part of the camp was the lecturing. This consisted of about three hours a day of instruction, and one hour of Q and A. While the information wasn’t particularly new to me, it served the same purpose as the project: it confirmed the direction I was heading and further motivated me to build on some under-developed business ideas.

By far the most important thing that came out of this camp is the relationships I had the opportunity to build. Literally every moment outside of sleeping (which was not a common feature of the camp!) and working was spent talking with others, from business ideas to just getting to know one another. Despite our differences, many of us built friendships that won’t easily fade with time. Once again, from day one through my last night laying on airport seats waiting for a morning flight, I was reminded of the vitality of investing in those relationships and of the value they provide. Without relationships, not only is our ability to succeed in business greatly hampered, but our ability to be fulfilled in everyday life is almost nil.

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