From the monthly archives:

January 2011

Being a goal-oriented, type-A professional, I always look to define clear Goals and Objectives for any significant undertaking.  I am fine with leaving the tactical elements or “details” to chance and because of that was fine with not having every aspect of our trip planned ahead of time.  In fact, one of the things I miss most about our trip is that at home we are so scheduled.  I know that this Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 pm I will be dialing in for a “Beyond Ecolabels: Green Marketing – Communicating Sustainability Initiatives” conference call, whereas most days while traveling I did not know what I was going to do that very afternoon.

While I enjoyed the freedom of a not having a detailed schedule, I could not spend a year without a clear set of Goals and Objectives to help guide our decisions while traveling.  So before we packed our backpacks, or even thought about destinations, I set out to draft a clear set of Goals and Objectives for this great investment Amy and I were about to make.  Now the time has come to see how we did.  And while we were not courageous enough to share these publically at the beginning of the trip, except for some health goals below,

I feel the need to air our successes and shortcomings now that we are back.   After reviewing below, let us know how you think we did.  The goals are italicized with the results following.

Overall Objective: Take an unforgettable RTW trip that will be a catalyst into lives and careers aligned with our passions for a more sustainable future: Result: An unequivocal success for Keith; still TBD for Amy.

Professional Goals

  • Utilize this free time to explore and clearly articulate our ideal career path and goals when we return. Keith: Result: Complete, as I articulated the “Was Our Trip Career Suicide?” post I was able to come home with a clear vision of what I wanted to do next professionally.
  • Gain fluency and demonstrated skill in utilizing social media as a way to connect with advocates creating a “tribe” of followers. Result: We were able to successfully create a presence on social media gaining a tribe of followers and friends.
  • Create a website that is credible in the travel and green space:
    • 1000 average monthly visitorsResult: 1,047 rolling 3 month average.
    • 300 Facebook fansResult: 170, but you can still help us by becoming a fan here.
    • 200 email/RSS subscribersResult: 154, most of which came after we were listed on almostfearless’s best of 2010 post – never underestimate the power of a fellow blogger to help drive traffic!
    • Google Page Rank of 3: Result: Exceeded, current page rank is 4.
  • Establish professional connections with key sustainability Opinion Leaders in our relevant industriesResult: Achieved, we have been able to make connections at: Masdar City, E+Co, SME-RE, KEA and other relevant companies in the business of sustainability.
  • Secure placement of our story with two credible outside publications: Result: Achieved with placement of our story for GreenBiz.com and multiple articles on other blogs including Briefcase to BackpackAlmost Fearless and eLifeMentor.

Personal Goals

  • Create a shared positive experience that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Result: Absolutely achieved

  • To ensure we are living our lives with no regrets by “seizing the day” and the tremendous opportunity that lays in front of us. Result: By undertaking this trip, something many people talk about but never do, we have proven our ability to seize the day and pursue our dreams with meticulous planning.
  • Connect with family and friends through visits and sharing this experience through our website. Result: We were able to spend significant time with our families both before we left and when we returned.
  • Challenge ourselves mentally:
    • Read an average of 1 book per week each: Result: Total books read Keith = 48,  Amy = 68
    • Become better creative and persuasive writers. Result: The challenge of regularly writing blog posts increased our writing skills.
    • Improve ability to use technology; iMovie, iPhoto, WordPress, Still and Video cameras. Result: The challenges of developing and maintaining an interactive and visually interesting blog has increased our ability to use these software tools as well as lots of practice with the camera.
    • Learn and use key phrases in local languages. Result: We were able to learn key phases in most countries we visited including: hello, delicious, thank you and importantly for Keith cilantro.
  • Challenge ourselves physically:
    • Travel in challenging conditions with patience, humor and a positive attitude. Result: For those that have heard the story the best example of meeting this goal is traveling on in hard sleeper class on  14hr train ride from Shanghai to Xi’an where Keith had a pretty nasty stomach bug and Amy couldn’t sleep.  More info here.
    • Keith to learn to scuba dive, completing 25 dives:  Result: 27 dives completed across Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia.
    • Snowboard in New Zealand. Result: Did not complete in New Zealand, but did snowboard in Dubai.
    • Try surfing, hang gliding and bungee jumping: Result: We both surfed at Bryon Bay in Australia, but did not hang glide or bungee jump.
  • Improve physical health. Result: Keith BMI (Body Mass Index) <26 and cholesterol <200: Achieved half: BMI 25.5 cholesterol 240. Amy improved strength and flexibility:  Completed couch to 5k running course.
  • Gain a global perspective by connecting with fellow travelers and locals. Result: Connecting with Gillian and Jason from One-Giant-Step and Akila and Patrick from The RoadForks were a couple of the highlights from our trip.
  • Volunteer in 2 locations as a way to further give back and fully experience the people and culture around the world. Result: We did not complete this goal.

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Traveling the World Can Help Your Career

by Keith on January 17, 2011 · 4 comments

Despite all my concern and worry that our trip was career suicide, it turns out traveling the world and gaining a global perspective on the business of sustainability has truly benefitted my career.  I am excited to announce that today I started the next step in my professional career as Sr. Product Director – Global Sustainability Marketing at Johnson & Johnson.

In this role I will have the responsibility of assisting the 250+ Operating Companies at J&J with Green marketing by translating the value of the company’s extensive product stewardship and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) successes to consumers and trade customers.  Johnson & Johnson is a true leader in sustainability, with outside recognition including a #4 ranking in 2010 by Newsweek among the top 500 Green companies in the U.S.  This position will allow me to combine my eight years of marketing and brand management skills along with my passion for Green marketing.  I will also have global responsibilities providing me the opportunity to work extensively in Asia and Europe, a great extension of my experience from GreenAroundTheGlobe.

I had hoped that by taking this risk and following my passions it would be the catalyst that would help me to move my career in a direction more directly linked to using sustainability as a business driver.  Having that goal from the beginning allowed me to keep a sense of purpose and motivation while we were traveling and to have a compelling story for employers when we returned.

We will delve in to a more thorough look at all of our professional and personal goals from the trip in an upcoming post, but I now consider one of the main ones, “Utilize this time to explore and clearly articulate my ideal career path and goals when I return,” successfully completed.

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Organic Beauty

by Amy on January 9, 2011 · 1 comment

A half-priced blindfolded organic manicure, complete with accompanying mojito, is an offer that’s just too intriguing to pass up.  So when a good friend of mine called and asked if I wanted in on a deal being offered to Daily Candy subscribers, I jumped at the chance.  A few weeks later we found ourselves at Tierra Mia, the self-proclaimed first organic nail spa in the country.  Tierra Mia exclusively uses organic, water-based nail polishes, and the spa space is constructed from VOC-free recycled and sustainable materials.  Why does any of this matter?  Although many nail lacquers no longer contain formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalates (known as the “toxic trio”), there is evidence that the chemicals that remain in traditional nail polish pose health risks to both salon employees and customers.

With excellent reviews on Yelp, I was looking forward to what promised to be a unique manicure experience.

The Experience
Boy, was I disappointed.  I don’t know if the salon was overwhelmed with the Daily Candy response, or just poorly managed, but our appointment was double booked and we were asked to wait 45 minutes. Strike one.

When our manicurists were ready, we sat at lovely tables, offered mojitos, and had black cushy blindfolds placed over our eyes.  The sensory deprivation at first felt strange, but we quickly relaxed and settled into the experience.  Without my vision, my nose began to notice the lack of the chemical smell typical of nail salons.  Every so often our drinks were placed in our hands for sips between filing and soakings.  We were then asked for guidelines on the color we wanted.  That was part of the deal – not only do you give up your sight for the treatment, you give up exact color selection.  My guidelines seemed fairly straightforward to me: I have a law firm job interview in 2 days, so I need something very conservative and serious. Nothing fun.  In fact, the opposite of fun. When my blindfold was removed, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Then I saw my nails. Pink. Barbie pink.  And sparkling. I’m not entirely sure how pink and glitter qualify as conservative and serious, but beware that in the world of Tierra Mia, it does. Strike two.

The woman who did my nails offered to do a re-polish, but unfortunately due to the wait before our treatment, I didn’t have time to take her up on the offer.  My friend’s polish color worked out better for her, a beautiful dark navy color that was not dissimilar from the color she typically wears.

After our manicures, we were told to avoid any warm water on our hands until the next morning since although the water-based polish was dry, it wasn’t yet set.  I would have appreciated a heads-up on this one, since the restriction prevents showering, doing dishes or washing your hands for the rest of your day.  Luckily showering wasn’t an issue, and Keith handled any dishwashing that needed to be done.

Wear and Tear
Despite the poor color choice, I decided to keep the polish on (and hope no one noticed at the interview) and test drive the wear and tear.  Within two days I had chipping at the tips of my nails and flakes falling off at the sides.  By day three I gave up, bought non-acetone nail polish remover (required to get the stuff off) and began the process of soaking my nails and scraping them down with an orange stick provided complimentary by Tierra Mia.  It took about twenty minutes to get all of the polish off, and the whole process left my nails weak, peeling and cracking.  It’s been two weeks and my scratched up nails are still looking pretty ragged.  Strike three.

Conclusion
I am all for finding green alternatives to products that may be harmful.  And I am typically pretty laid back and able to overlook things like less than stellar service or poor color selection.  But with the list of mishaps piling up, and the poor quality of the manicure, I have to conclude that for me going organic isn’t worth the price, inconvenience or the resulting damage to my nails.  To avoid the chemicals found in traditional nail lacquer, I think I’d rather skip it altogether and opt for a good filing and buffing instead. Green is great, but if the product doesn’t perform, it’s just not something I’m willing to use.

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