We’re Going On An Adventure!
I’m not one to advertise a vacation. In fact, most times I don’t talk about it online until I’ve returned for a number of reasons. This summer, however, my family and I have decided to take an extended road trip, and it got me thinking about all of the amazing opportunities I’ve had to see this grand, vast world of ours.
In my 38 years on this planet, I’ve visited dozens of countries, but only two continents: North America and Europe. I need to start striving for the other five. Yes, that even means Antarctica.
As for the United States, I’ve visited (and let’s be very clear about this one, I’ve been on foot or in a car) 48 of our fifty states. My two remaining challenges are Alaska and Hawaii, and I’m certain I’ll knock those off my bucket list.
This is probably as far as you’ve ever gone with these kinds of lists. Countries and states. But what about counties? How many COUNTIES in the United States have you visited? A better question might even be, “How many counties are in your state?” or “How many counties are in the United States?”
My answers? Ohio has 88, and the United States has 3,143. I’ve visited a bunch of counties, but I’m not yet up-to-date on my count. As of right now, I’ve recorded 393 counties visited, but there’s a big trip I took during college that I haven’t entered yet. It will easily add another 100+ counties to my list. My biggest challenge is that many of my trips involve an airplane, so I only get credit for places I visit or connect through.
“But Jeff, where do you record something like this?”
There’s a website designed specifically for this purpose, actually. (Contributing to my theory that everything is already on the internet.) Check out http://mob-rule.com. My travels are NOTHING compared to a few friends of mine, however. (These are the guys that I set a world record with a few summers ago.)
Dan Miller has visited 1,465 counties.
Jim Tocco has visited 1,672 counties.
Kevin Roll has visited 869 counties.
Jay Bohland has visited 831 counties.
They have also set a record for visiting all 88 counties in Ohio in under 24 hours, along with a few others.
So this summer, why not pick up a few extra counties on your way to your destination. At least mark your entire home state in blue, right?
Having a job is a gift. Making an income to support your family and your lifestyle is even better. But so many people do something every day that they hate. Why? Why not change it up, and find something you’re excited to do every day? I have a theory on this one that has nothing to do with money:
We’re afraid to be a beginner again.
Think back on the times you’ve been the most passionate about your work. Passionate about your career. Was it yesterday? Probably not. In my history, the times I’ve been the most excited to work was when it was new. When I was learning. But it seems like our professional culture rewards those who continue to build on their siloed set of experience instead of broadening their knowledge horizontally. Why not reward the curious problem solver? Having ZERO perspective on an industry can actually be liberating when you try to address the big issues.
As an example, I’ve worked for ad agencies, clothing retailers, and consulting companies, but all of them were as a software developer. When Microsoft hired me as an Technical Evangelist 8 years ago, I was thrown into a different world. Now I was doing a ton of public speaking, training, and research. I didn’t have delivery deadlines and a feature list to complete, I had events to plan, technology to understand, and relationships to build. I loved it. But after a few years of that, I’d mastered it. And it became tedious. So I left, for the safe thing. Now I’m working on software development projects again, but they’re HUGE projects run by billion dollar companies.
What I yearn for, however, is to be a beginner again. To be put in unfamiliar territory, to have thousands of questions for hundreds of problems. I want to solve problems from a unique angle that those entrenched haven’t been able to see. That’s when I’m most successful. That’s what I want to be when I grow up. A beginner.
(I’ll be presenting an entire talk on this at the Kalamazoo X Conference on March 14. It is hands-down one of my favorites conferences anywhere. You should come!)
Welcome To The Future
Every couple of years or so, Microsoft releases a “Future Vision” video that is meant to illustrate how they see life, work, and play with technology that isn’t currently available. Maybe the technology isn’t even possible. But it makes you wonder what you could do when you see their vision. It’s 6 minutes long, and you could definitely watch it without the audio if you’re at work. Definitely worth checking out.
This letter is also available at TinyLetter, where you can receive these directly in your inbox.