Bags packed. One-way ticket in hand. In one day I will board an airplane for Rio de Janeiro. There awaits the tech startup that I have been putting together over the last 6 months. While I have been on a number of trips in my life, this one is different. This is my maiden voyage. Dating back to old seafaring days, a vessel deemed fit for sea would set sail on its very first expedition. The vessel would have been handcrafted, engineered, rigorously tested, manned by the ship’s crew and put under the command of the Captain.
The metaphor relates to my mind as the Captain, my body as the vessel and the waters and far away land as that of my new life and the journey ahead. My ruminations on globalization, international markets, human nature, tech ventures and passion for change are materializing in a way that fills me with unbounded excitement and optimism for the future.
Getting Comfortable with the Unknown
I would be amiss if I did not hold a healthy amount of fear in the steps that I am taking. There are many routes to failure, and but a few to success. I go forward knowing that I am not alone. For starters, there are swaths of people that have uprooted their lives and gone to foreign countries to start new lives.
This is the age old story of immigration. While we hear the tales of those leaving their home countries for greater opportunities, but we seldom hear of a second generation US citizen, born into the middle class, moving to a developing nation semi-permanently or permanently for that matter. From a sampling of my US friends and family, and their friends and family, my suspicions have been confirmed.
Reconciling with the Important Things in Life
Relationships, comfort, and familiarity are things many of us value in our maturing lives. It is tough to say goodbye to friends and family. It is tough to give up many of your possessions, and it is tough to leave home. We can always stay in touch with our loved ones, but sadly nothing can replace in-person experiences. We can always buy more or we can simply just live with less. And regarding home, well a change of location is just part of life.
Looking back on the sacrifices that explorers and risk takers have made, we as mankind have sent ships to the North Pole, invented flight, brought a man to the moon, and, on more than one occasion, encouraged others to follow their life passions. Surely, moving abroad and starting a business falls somewhere in that spectrum. It is through these amazing feats that we’ve seen incredible amounts of success and the furthering of human condition. We must celebrate the someone and groups of someones took the risk to make them possible!
I have been cautioned that this step is not for the faint of heart and in a few cases vehemently advised to abandon my plans altogether. These words do not fall on deaf ears, but I strongly believe that life is about risk, and for those that are willing to put in a little extra time, calculated risk. Regardless, you have to come to accept the possibility of failure.
Thoughts on Failure and Building the Path to Success
Admittedly, I don’t much care for failure. My father taught me at a young age that the word “can’t” does not exist in the Arroyo family vocabulary, and that I should pursue my goals and ambitions regardless of the obstacles in our way. This is not an easy lesson for a child to learn, especially when it involves personal stresses that no one but you can work through. Engaging in this practice over and over again has served me well and has built confidence within me.
I am not naïve enough to think that I am impervious. Knowing that failure is out there, I want to learn from my mistakes. I want to fail fast. More importantly, I want to make one small win after another and keep this ship on its course. I fully expect that this will be my circuitous path to the next step…the next step, and after that…the next step.
This acceptance further resonated in me when I watched a recent interview with Elon Musk. He was asked how he is able to go forward with his seemingly crazy ventures and how he does so in an unusually fearless manner. Elon replied, “I feel fear quite strongly. There are just times when something is important enough, you believe it enough, that you do it in spite of the fear. It’s normal to feel fear. If not, there would be something terribly wrong. Something that can be helpful is fatalism to some degree. If you just accept the probabilities, that can diminish fear.” There is something logically comforting in those words, and I gravitate towards them.
I have an uphill battle ahead. There will be substantial cultural differences, a stark language barrier, bureaucratic processes, as well as political, social, and economic uncertainty and volatility. In lieu of these challenges, the fundamentals of starting a tech company and going to market do not change, these challenges merely serve as additional barriers to entry. I have to do my best to prevent any one of them from being a “show-stopper.” And no matter how many good intentions and hard work you put in, reality will do what reality does. Success is out there. You just have to build your path to it.
When Being Close and Personal Matters
Overcoming these challenges has great merit. I will get intimately close with another culture as well as immerse myself in a new language. Portuguese reigns king in the land, and while English is spoken by the younger generations, trust is built in the native tongue. The bureaucracy that I am due to endure is intimidating. Long waiting periods, unknown statuses on approvals, and general confusion over what the next step in a process is are all in the queue of what will soon be experienced. Furthermore, the ability to endure the rumblings of Brazil’s broad uncertainties is all part of the game. This venture is very much a contact sport. It can’t be done from thousands of miles away in the comfort of your own home, and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
In short, there is no substitute for “just doing it.” With that in mind, I am going after this with everything I have in me. It is an exciting time, and I couldn’t ask for a better ship for which to put to sea. Wish me luck as my sails are let down!