Wednesday, November 5, 2008

RICK VON FELDT: Travel, Work and Politics

1. Can you describe a favorite travel memory? It doesn’t have to be extraordinary - simple is good, too – but what is a memory of some travel experience that you treasure?

I consider myself a world traveler. When someone hears that I love to travel, that is always a question (along with “Where is the best place you have lived?”) that I am asked. I usually respond with a deep and heavy sigh. There are so many. I generally divide “great places that I have been” into two categories: 1. BREATHTAKING and 2. MOVE ME TO EMOTIOIN. This is similar to how I judge a good movie. Probably my most “breathtaking” place has been the Maldives. I have never seen a place that more represents heaven – with the most crystal clear water and beaches. And I have seen many. Of course, it helped when the experience was completely paid for by the company that I was working for. In the category of “move me to emotion” – it probably involves food in some way. It probably involves doing something native. For me, that is Japan. The culture – the food – the people take me away from what I know and provide me with a sensory overload of sight – sound – taste and culture. Even today, after having been there over a dozen times – I am still soulfully intoxicated when I go there. And because of those sensory items, I can remember so many details of every trip. My first trip to India, Bangkok, and Vietnam would come right in after that. I guess I still love – and miss Asia.

2. What is something you’ve learned from traveling - a lesson that you’ve tried to carry with you in the rest of your life?

Love the question. A couple of principles that work for me: 1). Focus on knowing the culture – not the language. It is the observation of a people that does more for you than mimicking the sound of a people. 2). We are all human – and generally want the same thing. Start with human motivation, and the rest is just a repeated habit. 3). Seek to understand rather than to be understood. 4). Taste everything. A food is human to all. And it is indicative to a person’s culture. 5). Try most things once – and get beyond judging things because of your own culture. 6). You will get robbed if you travel long enough. If not – you are not a real road warrior. 7). Every culture has it’s own version of a taco 8). Recognize that police in every country have different missions around the world – either to protect, enforce or to guide. Know the role in every country you visit for your own sake. 8). Write what you are experiencing, or you will forget and you will loose that moment when you get older 9). Everyone does not know why they are doing what they do. But discussing it creates a marvelous conversation. 10). Always be sure that you have something as interesting to come home to as you are experiencing out on the road. Otherwise, it causes great conflict. And lastly, 11). My favorite mantra: “Anticipation is fifty percent of the experience – so plan and do it carefully.

3. I’ve been doing a bit of reading about work and careers lately, and came across this quote: “Jump, and a net will appear.” What does that say to you, if anything, and does it apply in any way to your own life?

Well – I can relate to that one. It is similar to my “you have to jump off the lily pad in the river and float downstream” analogy. I can honestly say that I have lived this all my life. And it creates an amazing pattern if you trust and follow it. If you stay on the banks of the river – you will never really know what wonderful adventures are downstream. But you have to jump in the water – and let it carry you.

I am not sure if there is a “net” per se – however – I think there are always better things down the river. You just have to jump. Sure – you get wet. You swallow a little water sometimes and choke. But there is always something more amazing down the river. But the key it so know when to jump (my believe is that if you are thinking about jumping – then it is time. But if you have not “learned 90% of what you came to learn” – then stay for a bit.

I jumped in the water six months ago – for my 12th time. I love it. The water is meandering right now – but soon – I know I will hit rapids. I love it.

4. Here is another quote about work and life choices that I recently discovered: “I must simplify my life, and whittle down what I do to the things that I am absolutely the most passionate about, or else I risk being stuck in mediocrity.” Similarly, what does that say to you, if anything, and does it apply to your own life?

Simplify? Perhaps. For me – that is more about lessoning distractions so that I can focus on the most important things. But don’t take away all of my electronic “distractions.” I love them. Distraction for me is the larger risk these days than mediocrity.

However, this unknown man who is now known and will be our next president has caused me to think again. Here is a man who definitely has put it all out there – refusing to be mediocre. He is focused. And wow – look at what he has done. He is an example of human potential.

My largest fear for myself – and for everyone else in life is not understanding or going for their full potential. When I die – this is the only regret that would matter to me. So – I keep fighting for change and new things.

5. The U.S presidential election is on Tuesday. By the time you have to answer this question, we’ll know the outcome of the vote. How do you think the result of this election affects how the world views the U.S.? (Or, if you prefer, how you personally view the U.S., or how the U.S. might view itself?)

It was just hours ago that I watched Obama named our new president. I cried with excitement. Not since Ronald Regan have I felt hope and potential. If McCain has been elected, I think it would have been ok. But I think we would have had just an “ok” next four years – similar to life for the last eight years. But this is something new. I am so proud to show to our international colleagues around the world true demonstrations of Democracy – and of this amazing belief we have in America that anything can happen. I love showing them the resilience of America – and the idea of “not betting against America.” Obama will be views equally well if not better than Clinton as a global, tolerant person. He looks, talks and acts the part. There is so much to say about this election. While watching the television tonight – I wrote pages and pages of thoughts.

TOP FIVE THOUGHTS from my journal tonight:

1. This was not a campaign. It was a moment.
2. There is a new role model for the 40% minority of America. This election will be viewed in history as one of the most memorable change we could ever imagine.
3. This is a passing from the old generation to the new generation. It is time to pass the batan. Our new generation does not see people as devise groups of color and gender –but as people who have potential. We will be INCLUSIVE versus EXCLUSIVE.
4. We chose hope over fear.
5. This changes everything. In so many ways. In so many ways!

And lastly – my favorite comment came when they interviewed black author Maya Angelo tonight. She said, “We have finally decided not to live with our ignorance.”


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