We have one shot at leaving a legacy in this world and I believe that entrepreneurship gives us the best way to do it. Entrepreneurship is defined as the process of creating, delivering, and capturing value from new ideas, but I believe it is so much more than that. Entrepreneurship is a mindset, a perspective, and a tool to change the world.
Entrepreneurship is a journey.
A real journey is the process of creating an open space, diving into the places around you and diving into the places inside of you. But it’s not the experience that shapes our lives, it’s what we do with it that makes a difference.
Startup Island is a journey.
I ventured into the Costa Rican jungle. An adventure of highlight reels and bloopers. A rollercoaster of twists and turns, high’s and low’s, fast and slows. An adventure just waiting to be told.
Startup Island is a part of my adventure, a part of my story.
I went back.
I went back to Costa Rica, I went back to Leaves and Lizards, and I went back to Startup Island.
A journey that allowed me to dive into the places around me and dive into the places inside me.
In this Costa Rican jungle with Startup Island, I didn’t know what to expect. But I wasn’t worried, no man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
I started each day to the song of the jungle, as the sun rose, insects buzzed, monkey’s howled, and birds sang. A time to be present, set intentions, and ground myself. As I hiked the trails and let my toes sink into that Costa Rican soil, I learned that every step we take feels different. I learned that we can either walk on the path or we can step off the path, and in order to see the life around you, sometimes you need to step off the path.
My introspective morning walks flowed right into the yoga and meditation sessions. A time for the group to come together, a total mind and body workout that focuses on developing greater self-awareness and better stress & energy management techniques. We focused on our breath through our movements, then we took a step back and remembered to breathe as we sat in guided meditation. We allowed for our thoughts to flow freely, we would sit back and “watch” our thoughts go before us, not judging them but just recognizing them as information. There was no way we could mess this up, this was our time, to just be.
Once our intentions for the day were set, we regrouped at breakfast. Where we marveled at the view of Arenal (a massive volcano) just overlooking the infinity pool, while delighting in Costa Rica’s absolutely amazing food. The Leaves and Lizards staff did an excellent job making sure that no matter the meal, the food was so incredibly fresh, delicious, and healthy. It was amazing to try authentic food, everything from the freshly squeezed juice to the rice and beans, grown right on the surrounding property. This fresh diet energized the group and allowed a unique space for deep and meaningful conversations throughout the week.
Workshops and Activities:
A Startup Island original and our first workshop, “The Business of Being Happy and Healthy” set the mood for the week. We realized that in order to understand where we’re going, we must first understand where we’ve been. We dove into experiences, defining moments, people, places, and anything else that has shaped who we are. We dug into “What makes me, ME”. Exploring ourselves together united our group, we realized that these people “get it”.
Each workshop provided me with an opportunity to take a step back, and learn something new about what makes me, ME. The Power of the Herd, was an incredibly impactful workshop that challenged the way I look at myself. While working with Leila and Titan (my horse), she challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and build upon my previous understanding of the herd leadership roles. Leila did a fantastic job facilitating the physical, mental, and spiritual connection that occurred during my time with Titan. Through a series of events, she helped me to analyze the process from beginning to end, as I grew in a better understanding of my personal fears and aspirations. But it didn’t stop there, she helped me to breakdown the information and how I can apply what I learned to bettering my life. I learned that I value autonomy over my work but still value a sense of direction and occasional supervision, with that a firm kick in the butt when needed.
In 2018, for the cultural exchange day we teamed up with the local Peace Corps and Boys & Girls Club to create a safe space for the local kids, their playgrounds were prone to illegal activities so we helped design a library. We worked with the locals to paint this space, with the hopes of leaving a lasting impact. This time we went into the local school and participated in their English class. The Americans practiced presenting and speaking in Spanish while the Costa Ricans practiced presenting and speaking in English. This transformed into a form of charades that allowed for a better understanding of Spanish and English vocabulary.
In 2019, we went back to that same library. It was now finished. It was full of books, desks, and the walls were covered in beautiful paintings. In this powerful space, I was privileged enough to lead a workshop based around “Awakening your Creativity.” I facilitated an interactive discussion that allowed our travelers to reflect on their childlike tendencies to improve their creative confidence. As kids, many of us think we were more creative and over time our school systems and social standards have crushed that creative identity we once had. But through a series of activities like looking at the clouds and telling stories, not only did they hear the information but they felt it and discovered what creativity means to them.
Declan McCarthy, founder of Starboard, led a “Passion Driven Ideation and Improve Pitch Competition.” Through a series of creative activities, we were guided through prompts and put under intense time pressure to come up with some form of a cultural exchange process in the United States. It was a fun spirited activity that led to a deeper understanding of how to present an idea, and think on your feet. I learned that it is essential to put all your ideas out there first, then go back through and build upon the ones of value.
Sam Stokes, founder of the Prosperous Pursuit, led a workshop on “Transcending Fear To Lead With Purpose.” She explained how fear is often times an individual’s number one driver when making decisions. Sam took us through a series of questions and discussions that allowed for the each person to discover our deeper fears, then what it means to live our lives guided by our purpose rather than our fears. For me, I realized that if I decide to pursue the entrepreneurial lifestyle in a nonprofit or social impact venture, I fear not being able to provide for my potential family and people in need. Sam explained how oftentimes we are uncomfortable talking about our fears, but that a person’s success is based on the number of uncomfortable conversations they are willing to have.
Sarah Gaines, founder of Fit University, led a workshop on “Building the Life you Crave.” She challenged us to define and imagine what your ideal life would look like and what’s holding you back from living that life. But it didn’t stop there, we then lit those restrictions on fire and identified tangible steps that allow us to overcome those roadblocks and truly customize your life. I learned that success looks differently for everyone, but for me, I need to make an impact through a purpose driven lifestyle.
On my journey, in this Costa Rican jungle with Startup Island, I was challenged and I was affirmed.
Throughout the personal coaching hours with co-founder Josh Gershon, I was able to reflect on the past year and tangibly see my growth from one year to the next. It was encouraging to see how over the past year I have become a stronger leader and change maker. I was able to uncover some of the things that are holding me back. We discussed how growth comes from action and engagement, not just our thoughts and dreams. I was able to implement practices to take action and overcome some of those challenges.
I also realized that I am already living my life. I am already taking action on the things I feel most importantly about, and I am already creating the change I want to see. I am the CEO of my own life and through creating my personal business plan I was able to gain a better understanding of the man I already am and the man I want to be. I was able to identify what sets me apart and what I need to do to grow through that.
I now understand what it means to not worry when your next vacation will come, but to live a life you don’t have to escape from. I feel the balance. I now understand how to pursue a purpose-driven lifestyle through your professional career. I know what it means to go on a journey, to find yourself, and to find your direction. I choose to go.
This family of like minded individuals will rock your world and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel with Startup Island again.
Startup Island is a part of my adventure, a part of my story.