Exploring the World: Inspiring Travel Stories from Business Leaders

By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 24, 2023

To provide a unique perspective on how travel experiences can shape one’s approach to business, we asked thirteen professionals, including a Travel Blogger and a VP of Growth, to share their stories. From learning pottery in a Japanese village to understanding authenticity in business from Venetian artisans, these experiences offer invaluable insights into the intersection of travel and professional growth.

Want a taste of what’s to come? Here is what you will be hearing about in these inspiring travel stories from business leaders:

  • Pottery Lessons from a Japanese Village
  • Adapting to China’s Business Rhythm
  • Cultural Sensitivity from Backpacking Southeast Asia
  • Inspiration from Caribbean Scuba Diving
  • Resilience Lessons from a Nepal Trek
  • Cambodian Artisans’ Community Spirit
  • San Francisco’s Startup Mentality
  • Sierra Leone’s Lesson to Slow Down
  • Swiss Craftsmen’s Blend of Tradition and Tech
  • Finding Adaptive Innovation in Eilat
  • Thailand’s Lesson on Community Cooperation
  • Mindfulness Amid Chaos in India
  • Venetian Artisans’ Authenticity in Business

Pottery Lessons from a Japanese Village

I once found myself in a small village in Japan, nestled amidst sprawling rice fields and cloaked by the tranquility only nature can provide. It was a stark contrast to my bustling city life, and I was there on a solo trip to disconnect and recharge. 

One day, I met an elderly potter, Hiroshi, who had been crafting pottery for over 50 years in his tiny workshop, hidden away in the heart of the village. Hiroshi didn’t speak English, and my Japanese was basic at best, but he invited me with a warm smile into his world of clay and fire. 

Over the next few days, he showed me the art of pottery. Each piece required patience, precision, and a gentle touch. There were no shortcuts, only dedication to the craft. The beauty of the final product, he explained, was not just in its aesthetic appeal, but also in the journey it took to create it. 

This experience profoundly impacted my professional life. Hiroshi’s approach reminded me that true mastery and beauty lie in the process, not just the outcome.

Jo Larsen, Travel Blogger, Best Family Beach Vacations

Adapting to China’s Business Rhythm

Living in China for three years reshaped my approach to business. The speed of everything forced me to be flexible, extremely flexible! Deals would change, people wouldn’t show up, meetings would be at 4 a.m., and I got fired and rehired two weeks later by the same company. Many people would not be up for this kind of roller coaster.

But I didn’t pull back. I dug deeper, learning and adjusting to their unique business rhythm. This wasn’t the Western world; there was no playbook to follow. So, I molded myself to fit their mold. My adaptability, sometimes stretched to its limits, became my greatest asset. 

It wasn’t long before this flexibility started paying off, leading me to avenues and new collaborations. My ability to pivot, to embrace the unexpected, not only ensured my survival but also laid the foundation for many unexpected successes.

These experiences definitely broadened my perspective and influenced my professional journey.

Chris Oberman, Blogger, Moving Jack

Cultural Sensitivity from Backpacking Southeast Asia

A memorable travel experience that significantly impacted my perspective and professional journey was my solo backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. The diversity of cultures, languages, and landscapes I encountered left a lasting impression.

This journey opened my eyes to the importance of cultural sensitivity and adaptability in business. Witnessing how businesses in different countries catered to local preferences and needs showed me the value of tailoring strategies to specific markets. It taught me that success requires embracing differences rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Additionally, interacting with people from various backgrounds enhanced my communication skills and empathy, which are super crucial assets. Overall, this travel experience reinforced the idea that a global perspective and understanding are vital for building successful ventures in our broad and interconnected world.

Justin Albertynas, CEO, Ratepunk

Inspiration from Caribbean Scuba Diving

During a three-month volunteer trip, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the stunning underwater world of the Caribbean. The vibrant coral reefs, colorful marine life, and the sheer tranquility of the ocean left an indelible mark on my soul. The scuba diving sessions in Tulum were not just recreational; they were moments of profound connection with the natural world.

The memories of my scuba diving adventures in Tulum became the driving force behind crafting honeymoon experiences that highlight the pristine beaches, clear waters, and awe-inspiring marine life of the Caribbean. Couples now have the opportunity to share the same enchanting experiences I had, fostering deeper connections with each other and nature.

This travel experience also taught me a valuable lesson in how personal passions and transformative encounters can be channeled into business success. It illuminated the fact that authentic enthusiasm can resonate with customers and create a genuine connection.

Jim Campbell, Owner, Honeymoons

Resilience Lessons from a Nepal Trek

Embarking on a solitary Nepal trek, I uncovered the remarkable resilience of mountain communities. Pema, a local entrepreneur, epitomized success by merging business acumen with community welfare, indelibly reshaping my perspective. This transformative encounter catalyzed a professional shift, propelling me towards purpose-driven pursuits. 

Today, my business endeavors intertwine with community connections, echoing Pema’s empathy-infused model. This Nepalese odyssey unveiled that genuine accomplishment transcends monetary gains, underlining the potency of positive impacts on societies and redefining my business approach holistically.

Adeel Khan, Product Manager and Travel Advisor, BusinessClass.com

Cambodian Artisans’ Community Spirit

One of the most memorable travel experiences that significantly influenced both my perspective and professional journey was a trip to rural Cambodia a few years ago. This journey not only exposed me to a completely different culture and way of life, but also imparted valuable insights that have greatly shaped my approach to business.

During my time in Cambodia, I had the opportunity to interact with local communities, visit small-scale enterprises, and witness firsthand the challenges and opportunities they faced. One particular encounter with a group of artisans producing intricate handicrafts left a lasting impression on me. Despite limited resources and infrastructure, their dedication, resourcefulness, and strong sense of community were remarkable. It made me realize that success doesn’t always hinge on material wealth; rather, it’s about harnessing your strengths and collaborating effectively with others.

Edmund Jenkins, Travel Expert, Time To Backpack

San Francisco’s Startup Mentality

My journey to San Francisco in 1999 was nothing short of transformative. What struck me most about this vibrant city was its pervasive startup mentality. Every café conversation, every billboard, every local news story revolved around technology and the dawn of the digital age. This atmosphere of relentless innovation and fearless ambition was infectious and deeply inspiring.

Experiencing this environment reshaped my business outlook. I worked in traditional marketing then, but the San Francisco scene ignited a desire to become part of this digital revolution. Consequently, I pivoted my career towards the digital space, ultimately leading to the founding of my digital agency. 

The lessons I learned from that trip—embracing change, taking calculated risks, and continuously innovating – have remained at the core of my business approach ever since.

Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media

Sierra Leone’s Lesson to Slow Down

Slow down. Take your time.

Several years ago, I traveled to Sierra Leone with a friend. We stayed just outside Freetown and decided to take a walk in the surrounding countryside.

This turned into a power walk, and as we were striding along, my friend tripped down a small slope and fell over. A man walking on the other side of the road saw us and laughed. Once he saw we were OK, he came over and said, “Slow down. Take your time. This is Africa.”

He then walked on, still laughing a little at our clumsiness.

Over the years, that meeting that lasted less than thirty seconds has stayed in my memory, as have the words, “Slow down, take your time.”

Since that trip, I have worked with several start-up companies. Start-ups, by their nature, are fast-paced and scrappy environments. When I’m tempted to rush a decision or piece of work, I remember to slow down and think.

I will still fall over occasionally, but I never regret taking my time.

Rebecca Webber, Head of Content, World Meters

Swiss Craftsmen’s Blend of Tradition and Tech

During a trip to Switzerland, I visited both busy cities and quiet villages. In one small village, I saw something special. Local craftsmen were using their old weaving skills, but in a new way. They were selling their crafts online to people all over the world.

This taught me something important. We can use what we know from the past and mix it with new tools like technology. For me, this changed how I thought about business. It’s not just about making money. It’s about keeping our traditions alive and using new ways to share them with more people. This experience reminded me that we can learn and grow from all places and people.

Rafael Sarim Özdemir, Founder and CEO, Zendog Labs

Finding Adaptive Innovation in Eilat

Traveling has always inspired me, but my trip to Eilat stands out as a turning point in my professional journey. The unique blend of natural beauty, with its stunning coral reefs and deserts, juxtaposed against innovative architecture and bustling markets, made me realize the balance between sustainability and progress.

During a casual conversation with a local entrepreneur at a beachside cafe, I was introduced to “adaptive innovation.” Despite being in a desert region, Eilat’s businesses thrived by continuously adapting to the environment, harnessing its challenges as strengths. This principle resonated deeply with me.

Upon returning, I integrated adaptive innovation into my business strategy. Instead of viewing challenges as setbacks, I began to see them as opportunities to adapt, innovate, and grow. Eilat taught me that with the right perspective, any environment, no matter how harsh, can become a ground for thriving businesses.

Jacob Maslow, Owner, Rest Equation

Thailand’s Lesson on Community Cooperation

A memorable travel experience that had a significant impact on my professional journey was a trip to the rural parts of Thailand during my trip around Asia. I spent some time in the small village of Ban Mae Jok, which was far removed from the bustling city life to which I was accustomed. Although I grew up in a European city, my roots are still in rural Vietnam. The Thai villagers’ day-to-day life deeply relied on collective effort, with everyone contributing to the welfare of the community.

From this experience, I learned the value of community and cooperation, two aspects that I now prioritize in my professional approach. I strive to foster a collaborative environment in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of every team member’s contribution to our collective success. This experience in Thailand broadened my perspective on the significant impact that teamwork and shared responsibility can have on productivity and success.

Klaudia Pham, Content Marketing Specialist, Natu.Care

Mindfulness Amid Chaos in India

During my year in India, I learned that mindfulness isn’t solely for serene settings. India’s constant unpredictability became my real-life mindfulness training ground. This experience inspired a profound shift in my approach to life coaching at Life Architekture.

I started focusing not just on peace and tranquility, but on resilience amid chaos. It led me to a deeper understanding of how to stay centered and observant, a lesson I now share with my clients, helping them apply mindfulness in their journeys, turning uncertainty into a tool for personal growth.

Bayu Prihandito, Psychology Expert, Life Coach, Founder, Life Architekture

Venetian Artisans’ Authenticity in Business

During a summer in Venice, I found myself lost amidst its winding alleys and endless canals. Instead of frustration, I found local artisans passionate about their crafts, from glass-blowers to mask-makers, preserving centuries-old traditions. 

Their dedication to authenticity, despite tourism pressures, was a revelation. Venice taught me that in the face of changing landscapes and fleeting trends, remaining authentic and staying true to one’s roots is invaluable. Translating this to my business, I’ve prioritized authenticity and heritage over quick wins, building a brand that resonates deeply with its audience.

Ranee Zhang, VP of Growth, Airgram


Few things open up your worldview and perspective as much as traveling, whether it is within unseen corners of your own city or across the sea. Just make sure when you go to find your own experiences, which are hopefully as fantastic as those shared by the business leaders here, you have the right gear. For instance, the durable and lightweight Rollinx suitcase can carry everything you need and collapse to stow away, no matter where your journey takes you. So grab your gear and head out on your own travels and adventures!

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By Greg Grzesiak Greg Grzesiak has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Greg Grzesiak is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Columnist at Grit Daily. As CEO of Grzesiak Growth LLC, Greg dedicates his time to helping CEOs influencers and entrepreneurs make the appearances that will grow their following in their reach globally. Over the years he has built strong partnerships with high profile educators and influencers in Youtube and traditional finance space. Greg is a University of Florida graduate with years of experience in marketing and journalism.

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