• 02:21:59 am on September 9, 2008 | 6
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    Starting out in Rome …

    Rome was not built in one day. We are not making millionaires in one day but we all want to get rich quicker. With the right tools, technology, advice and, support, I think we can arrive sooner. These are few of the many great things I expect being part of this grand experiment. I wonder given today’s technology, could the Colosseum be built quicker? I’m extremely excited to be part of this project and I was actually in Rome when I found out about the lucky 7!

    Being part of this project, I’ve already gain some insights on myself. There are some elements of self awareness, especially when we went through the exercises within the post What is important to you?. I found out that I’m more aware of business ideas, and maybe evaluating some opportunities now. I think Adrian’s response to Shannan’s question about getting out there, Shannan asks …, explains how we will get drawn to things that are aligned with our vision.

    Even though I’m on vacation in Italy, I did manage to have some light business discussions with the hostel owners in Florence and Rome. I chose to stay in hostels due to the falling greenback but it was a great experience. It is interesting to learn how they differentiate themselves form the others and how they resolve certain problems. For example, one hostel provide dinners to guests and it did not only save fellow backpackers some dollars but also bring everyone together. They also showed us around and brought us to places offering great deals. One of the guest actually moved from another hostel to this one because the staff at the other place was ‘cold’. This does show that customer relationship is really important. To provide better mattresses, they actually left the plastic cover on. Interesting way of solving that particular problem.

    I later found out that there are 2 owners for the hostel I stayed in Florence, one from Switzerland and the other from Iran.  They owned 5 hostels in total. You don’t have to be a native of the land to be successful. I think I’m the only foreign born of the 7 but I still feel that the United States is an ideal place for entrepreneurs. There is a lot less corruption, good infrastructure, and support. You have no idea how much corruption there is in developing countries and some developed countries. Entrepreneurs still get by through unconventional and sometimes unethical means.

    I hope to use this new found self awareness and external awareness to help me and hopefully a few more to inch closer to our Life’s Purpose.

     

Comments

  • Lee 9:33 am on September 9, 2008 | #

    Mark Talk about corruption, about six years ago I took a trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The big thing over there was “Pick Pockets” There were huge signs every where in several different languages telling people to beware of them. The police told me to stay safe in Amdterdam these are the rules (1) never look anyone in the eye because that means you want to buy drugs, (2) If someone picks your pocket do not yell at them, it will insite a riot, (3) Do not take pictures of the prostitutes and (4) never urinate in the street.
    Obviously I got along just fine.
    Every place we go has the potential of presenting us with different attitudes and values from ours. I look forward to our Grand Experiment and especially interacting with people from different parts of the world where I’m sure we’ll all learn new and different things.
    In all your travels stay safe.

  • AJC 9:44 am on September 9, 2008 | #

    @ Mark – Thanks for that photo of the Trevi Fountain: who’s that handsome Dude standing in front of it … looks like a touch of ‘green screen’ to me … I think you were still in your loungeroom at home 😛

    Seriously, we LOVE Italy and spent two glorious weeks last summer in a rented Villa in the hills near Sienna (Chianti district) … you KNOW you’re paying too much, when you find out that members of the Wrigley Family had stayed in the same villa the summer before 🙂

    BTW: The big round building needs some work … got a hammer and chisel?

  • PS 6:14 pm on September 9, 2008 | #

    Mark,
    Where next after Rome ? Reading your post, I recalled our short but fun trip to Barcelona.

  • Mark 8:02 pm on September 10, 2008 | #

    @ Lee – Pickpockets are just small problems. Actually a buddy of mine who I traveled with to Italy lost his wallet to pickpockets in Rome. The corruption I’m talking about are more severe. Imagine having to bribe 3-4 parties just to start a small business. The district clerk to get the application going, the fire department for fire code inspection, the police for permits, and so forth.

    @ AJC – You don’t trust pictures? I do have another good Trevi fountain picture where I was attempting the coin throwing tradition. Will send it to you.

    @PS – Yes it was fun. I’m thinking about going back to Europe through Contiki next year. Looks like the coin throwing myth might come true.

  • AJC 11:28 pm on September 10, 2008 | #

    @ Mark – what you may not know is there is (was?) some guy who used just jump into the fountain every night and clean all the coins out … nobody in the ‘official world’ seemed to care or give him much notice UNTIL they found out that he was clearing (literally!) USD$300k per year!

  • Di Eats the Elephant 11:44 am on September 11, 2008 | #

    🙂 Good story, Adrian, about the fountain cleaner!

    Mark, Lee, et al, another way to think of bribery is like “tips” (where it means “To Ensure Prompt Service” and I think the way we tip Maitre D’s at Vegas shows to get a better table is a good analogy to what I mean. Oftentimes, when you are bribing someone in another country, you are giving additional money to a govt worker who makes few dollars and depends on those extra dollars to make his/her job more bearable. The little bit of power these people hold is used to increase their personal wealth. We pay them to get quicker service than someone else, so it effectively rewards the richer who can afford to pay better, similar to paying at Six Flags to move to the front of the line (I think Disneyworld has this pass for about an additional $50 per person, too). For most countries, this is not a corruption, but how things evolved. Things evolved differently in the US, and when we call this bribery and corruption, we are slandering a common practice, one which tends to trap US businessmen trying to do business abroad (which has obviously increased tremendously in the past decade). A rose by any other name…

    To wit, it depends on one’s perceptions. If I am able to pay these tips and appreciate that I am not paying more than I am able to, then I would probably not object as much as someone who cannot afford to pay. Is it fair? Most certainly not. Is life fair? Most certainly not. Do we want to play fair? I think the 8 of us here do, but I can really only speak for myself.

    How about bartering? Do you enjoy bartering? I find it much more fun to do so in countries other than the US. In the US, they pretend that you cannot do it, so it makes it much harder to find someone who will barter with you and who is willing to deal. Again, tho, the pricing system becomes one where (s)he who can barter better will end up with a better price, and if one doesn’t care to barter because they can easily afford the prices being asked, then perhaps they pay more too. So, there is not one standard price for all. In the US, this is very prevalent in auto sales, and that is why Saturn went to fixed prices. Who normally is better at negotiating?

    Just some thoughts…

    Mark, thanks for referring us back to Shannon’s post. I went back and reviewed that and Adrian’s answers.


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