Look Me in the Eyes

I read an article today about Dame Anna Wintour (editor in chief of American Vogue) and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who sat next to each other at a fashion show during this year’s London Fashion Week.

In the article, there were several photos of the two ladies sitting comfortably side by side, the Queen looking quite thrilled and happy and Anna Wintour…wearing her big, black sunglasses.

Oh, the horror…one might think.

Oh, and so what…someone else might think.

It was (of course) pointed out that Wintour broke all kinds of royal protocol and showed very poor manners by not removing her sunglasses in the presence of the Queen, a person who naturally outranks even the mighty and powerful Anna Wintour.

Wintour not only kept her sunglasses on the whole time…she never even removed them as she initially stood up to greet the Queen and shake her hand.

Royalty or not, I think that you should always (!) take off your sunglasses when you meet and greet someone for the first time so you can respectfully look them in the eye (I.e. make eye contact) as you greet them and shake their hand.

In my opinion, it has nothing to do with rank…it has everything to do with showing respect for another person. Especially when you meet them for “the first time”.

If you’re outside and the sun is really bright when you take off your sunglasses, you can always put them back on after you’ve already greeted the other person(s) and if necessary excuse yourself by saying something in the lines of “I’m sorry, but I need to put on my sunglasses because the sun is really bright…”. If the others also took off their sunglasses to greet you, they might even be relieved and put theirs back on. And that’s fine because by then you’ve already made good, initial eye contact and greeted each other in the proper and respectful way.

I may not always remember to practice “what I preach”, so if you’ve met me and I didn’t take off my sunglasses and look you in the eye…I apologize and hope I’ll remember the next time.


The Missing 2%

If you’re going to take on a job or a task, make sure you do the job 100%. Make sure you finish – really finish.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of cases lately where I feel as if the job doesn’t get done all the way. I’s almost like when you’re online and you’re downloading something or trying to load a page and your connection is bad. The process goes to 98% and then just dies so you have to either refresh or give up.

The missing 2% are crucial to this whole process and experience. Without the missing 2%, all of the other things might just not matter as much as if the entire job had been done 100% – as it should.

Think about it. If someone begins a task, reach 98% and then promise to come back and do the missing 2% tomorrow or in a few days but they never show up, or they forget so you have to remind them and ask them when they’re coming back to finish A, B or C., then it creates a lot of overall frustrations. Because they’re the ones doing the particular job so they should also be the ones to follow up and make sure the job gets done – especially when it’s obviously not complete. It’s not the “client’s” responsibility to remind whoever is doing the job that they need to come back (as promised) and finish it.

But, in many cases, it does become “the client’s” responsibility to make sure the missing 2% gets added to the 98%, so that we can all get on with our lives.

My point is this: Whatever you do in life, whether professional or personal, make sure you do it 100%. Don’t do it 98% and then come up with some excuse as to why you didn’t finish. If the job is truly impossible to finish, then that’s another story. If not, then you owe it to yourself and to others to get that missing 2% done.

Cultural Dimensions

Many, many years ago when I lived in Denmark and studied International Business Communication at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), I learned about Geert Hofstede and his theory on cultural dimensions. Even though I was living in a multi-cultural environment back then (a.k.a. a dorm!) with students from lots of different countries, I never really realized how important culture really is.

Culture is everything.

And as the world keeps getting smaller and smaller, the more we use and embrace technology in our everyday lives, culture becomes even more important. Back then, cultural dimensions were something I read about in books like Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes by Marieke de Mooij. It wasn’t something that I ever thought I’d have to understand in order to navigate life in any kind of practical sense. And even though I’ve been trying to do this for the past 13-14 years now, I think I’m just now starting to GET IT.

Culture is everything.

Imagine this particular workplace consisting of employers and employees from:

  1. Denmark
  2. Spain
  3. Italy
  4. France
  5. Romania
  6. USA
  7. Columbia
  8. Dominican Republic

If this isn’t a possible foundation for a cultural minefield, I don’t know what is.

According to Hofstede’s theory, this is how e.g. Denmark compares to the other countries in the 6 areas of:

  1. Power Distancethe extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
  2. Individualismthe degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members.
  3. MasculinityThe fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (Masculine) or liking what you do (Feminine).
  4. Uncertainty AvoidanceThe extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these.
  5. Long Term Orientationhow every society has to maintain some links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future.
  6. Indulgencethe extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses.

Cultural Dimensions - To Live and Travel BlogScreen Shot 2018-02-08 at 5.48.29 PMCultural Dimensions - To Live and Travel Blog

In many ways (perhaps in most ways), we’re different and far apart from each other. Yet, we have to figure out how to exist and work together coherently as one unit…which is safe to say – not always easy.

Of course, I understand that there are many exceptions to the rules and that theories aren’t always 100% accurate. Even reading more about each country, it’s obvious that this is not an absolute truth. However, I do believe that there are several aspects of this theory which can be said to be generally true of the people from any particular country. Reading about Denmark and its cultural dimensions, I recognize myself in a lot of the “facts” and then there are others, which I don’t think are completely accurate.

I just thought of this theory recently (and it pops up in my mind ever so often) as I was thinking about why certain people behave the way they do – in their way of doing things, thinking, speaking and making sense of things.

It’s really fascinating, but at the same time also quite complicated …and often times even frustrating when the “world” (and everyone in it) doesn’t fit your version of reality, the truth or how you think things should be.

Read more about cultural dimensions on www.hofstede-insights.com

When In Doubt

Sure, I doubt myself all the time. Well, maybe not all the time…but definitely sometimes. Like the other day, when I suddenly started to question whether the things I do really matter.

It wasn’t so much one thing in particular, but more just …everything. A lot of the times, I don’t get any direct feedback on the things that I do, so it’s tough to tell if my work makes a difference. Take for example social media and websites, which is a big part of my work. I update our websites frequently. I post on social media frequently. I send out newsletters frequently.

Of course, I can measure success in the number of likes, followers, shares, website traffic, etc. that I can see e.g. on Facebook or Instagram. But it’s tough to be completely satisfied when the number of followers doesn’t grow much because you constantly win some and you lose some. It’s tough to be super happy when Facebook tells you that your post only reached 100 people out of the 4500 followers you have! Or when you only get a handful of likes and no comments (or only bot-like comments) on Instagram.

When things like that happen…well, then sometimes I doubt whether it all really matters. It’s the proverbial tree in the forest! If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it or sees it, did it really happen? Most importantly, does it really matter?

Yes, it matters. Maybe not right here, right now or in the “micro”-sense. But in the greater scheme of things, it matters. It matters what we do every day, what we put “out there”, whether on social media or on another stage and regardless of how big or small that thing is.

Speaking of social media, though, a part of me thinks (and knows) that the social media “game” is flawed. It’s rigged. You can’t really trust the numbers because anyone can buy followers, likes, comments or shares. The social media which was “supposed to be” free is not. It’s BIG business and the people who’ve invested in the platforms make a lot of money. So do the companies that are invested in providing “bot” services.

There’s a really great article in the New York Times, which touches upon this exact topic called The Follower Factory, which I’m reading at the moment.

You have to remember this. I have to remember this…that social media isn’t always honest, trustworthy or reliable. That the numbers often lie. You can’t have a million followers on Instagram and only get a few hundred likes and a handful of comments. When you see that, then you know the numbers are lying to you.

So, when in doubt, I have to try to remember this. I have to try to remember that what I do matters – to someone, somewhere. Likes and shares may be real nice to get, but if I can just touch one person out there and help them and provide some sort of value to them – that’s all that matters.

My Favorite Social Media Platform(s)

I think social media is extremely important to use, especially if you have a business of any kind. Then it’s a must. As an individual, private person…I think social media is nice to have as a way to keep in touch with friends & family (especially when you live far away from each other), but it’s not necessarily something you have to have. At least not all of it.

We use social media for our business and various have profiles on various platforms. My top 3 are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We’re also on Pinterest but, honestly, we’re not really doing much on that platform even though we probably should.

My favorite social media platform definitely used to be Facebook. It’s my favorite platform to use personally but from a business standpoint, I think it’s so limited compared to Instagram and Twitter. Or maybe I just haven’t figured out how to really use it.

I’m really getting into Twitter lately… What I like about it (and also about Instagram) is that you’re able to search hashtags and from there you can follow interesting people and/or companies and interact directly with them. You actually don’t even have to follow them to send them a message. So, I can search #puntacana and see who’s posting about it and then jump into that conversation.

Instagram is the same.

I don’t think that Facebook allows you to do that. We have a Facebook page with 4000+ followers, but you can’t interact with them the same way you can with followers in Twitter and Instagram.

My two favorite social media platforms are definitely Instagram & Twitter. Both in terms of layout and also because of your ability to search, actively build followers and communicate directly with them.

But there’s a balance game to be played as well. You don’t want to do too much and end up just spamming random people. I’m still struggling with finding that balance and I guess it’s just a matter to trial & error and then learning as you go along.

I think it’s so easy, though, to get caught up in caring too much about “likes and followers”, which is the part that I like the least about social media. There’s a quote out there which goes:

The number of followers you have does not make you better than anyone else. Hitler had millions, Jesus had 12.

Instead of caring whether you have hundreds of followers or thousands of followers and feeling blue about losing 30 followers on Twitter in a day (that just happened to us on Twitter overnight), I like to think that we’re planting seeds.

We’re using social media to plant seeds that may one day grow into a reservation, a booking, a paid invoice and a happy customer. We’re planting seeds that’ll basically grow so that we can make money and our employees can make money.

We’re planting seeds so that people will know that our business exists and so that one day, whenever someone thinks of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic …they’ll think of our company, Group Palmera. And so that when they hear of someone who is traveling to Punta Cana, they’ll say “hey, you should contact Group Palmera because…they’re the best.”

And I think that social media is definitely an important piece of putting together that particular puzzle.

We Don’t All Have the Same Opportunities

I posted a photo on Facebook of an avocado tree that I’m trying to grow (and it’s growing). The photo got a few likes and comments, including one from my cousin and my aunt in Denmark.

My cousin commented that it would’ve been nice to have one in his garden, but that maybe he was living in the wrong country. I replied that that was his choice. Then my aunt wrote that yes, it was their own choice, but that not everyone has the same opportunities as I do.

That comment really stuck with me.

We don’t all have the same opportunities.

Sure, we don’t all have the same opportunities because we’re not all born in the same country and we don’t all live in the same place. Some people come from a rich family, others from a poor family. Some are prettier than others. Some people are smarter (more intellectual), others are better at working with their hands. Some are good at sports, music, singing, dancing, etc., etc., others are not.

We’re different so our opportunities should naturally also be different.

Sure, we don’t all have the same opportunities because we’re not all the same. But I think that we all have opportunities. Different opportunities, but opportunities nonetheless. I’m not good at sports so opportunities in that area just won’t come my way (or I won’t be susceptible to them), whereas if an opportunity in the area of writing/blogging came along, I’d jump all over it.

I don’t think that whether we have the same opportunities or not should be the issue or of any concern. I think we should be more focused on keeping our eyes open and taking the opportunities that do come along.

Document Your Life #150 – If We Ignore It, Maybe It Will Go Away

I am baffled. Yes, I think that’s the right word to describe how I feel.

I’m baffled at the level of (sorry to say) stupidity, short-sightedness, unprofessionalism and irresponsibility that some people have.

I’m baffled at the lack of communication there can be between people who are supposed to be totally in-sync.

It’s almost as if (some) people think “if we ignore it, maybe it will go away”. Well, guess what? No, it won’t.

The problem won’t go away by simply ignoring it. In fact, you’ll end up making it worse because now you don’t just have the problem to deal with. Now you also have the fact that you didn’t speak up about it, that you tried to silence it to death or even cover it up by not saying anything. And when there’s a problem, I often find that the lack of honest communication can sometimes be worse than the problem itself. Or it can also help make the problem worse.

If you make a mistake or break something or whatever you do that’s not right, I think that the absolute best thing you can do it just be honest and upfront about it. Admit your fault, apologize, fix the problem…and move on.

Document Your Life #148 – About the Importance of Saying No

I understand that people want to work and make money, but if you can’t do the work – say NO.

If you don’t know how to do the work – say NO.

Don’t tell me that you can do it when you can’t. Don’t tell me that you’re a professional in this field when you obviously aren’t.

If someone asks you if you can do A, B or C and you can’t (and you know if you can or can’t), then you need to understand the importance of saying “no”.

Just say no and let someone else handle it.

Document Your Life #137 – A Spam a Day…

A Spam a Day - To Live and Travel Blog

I am amazed at the amount of spam emails I get in a day – every day! It seems almost pointless to unsubscribe because the very next day, I get the very same email again. Only the next time, it’s sent from a different email address…and I have to unsubscribe yet again.

And again.

At one point, I got so frustrated that I started replying to the spam emails with the word UNSUBSCRIBE written (I don’t know) maybe 25-50 times in the email. I thought that if they were going to spam me, then I was going to spam them right back.

I don’t know if it had any effect other than to make me feel some sort of temporary release.

The kind of spam that I get on any random day includes emails like these:

From: 2018_Michael_Kors <admin@wa57.UGG-2BOOT.SHOP>
Subject: 3 gift ideas for Best Friend you haven��t yet thought of.

From: Exotic Bride <ExoticBride@tryprocerinf.stream>
Subject: Beautiful Women, Discrete Service Just For You

From: Match.com <Match.com@ftratrtr.date>
Subject: Want To Meet Singles? See Who’s On Match.com For F.r.e.e!

From: AIG Direct <AIGDirect@aigftrvbn.date>
Subject: Apply For Long-Term Life Insurance Coverage

From: wsdgfj34weyrgs@ger.com
Subject: 代开–发票

From: Vonage Business Partner <VonageBusinessPartner@vonaflgdf.review>
Subject: 3,000 Companies A Month Are Switching Their Phone Services

From: Seniorpeoplemeet <Seniorpeoplemeet@victvssabhi.review>
Subject: Place To Meet Older Singles

From: Jodi <ofs@shee-my.date>
Subject: Creamy conitioner regrows hair 8758109

Where do these spammers get my email address from? Am I on some kind of list that is being sold to anyone willing to pay? Did I get hacked (I doubt it)?

For sure, I have absolutely no interest in purchasing Michael Kors products (probably fake too!). I don’t want any exotic bride or Russian bride or any other bride, and I don’t want to meet singles or even older singles. Please. I also don’t want the change my phone company to one that doesn’t even cover the place I live (unless I want to pay roaming prices for local calls. Eh, no.) I don’t want to apply for long-term life insurance (already have that part covered, thank you very much) and I don’t have any particular need to re-grow my hair, which is still long, thick and healthy as need be. Finally, I don’t read Chinese (?), so…

A Spam a day…

Please STOP. Just stop.

Document Your Life #136 – Social Proof…of Life

Are you open for business?

If you own a business, you HAVE to be on social media. You HAVE to. Period. Think about it: Before the internet, companies used the phone book and the yellow pages as a way for customers to find them. This was how they let everyone know they existed. Today, social media does that. When you put your business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., you let the world know that you exist and that you’re open for business.

This is your social proof…of life.

So, of course you need to be there. But you don’t just need to have a social media account (and a website, obviously!), you need to be ACTIVE and show your customers + potential customers that you DO exist, that you ARE alive, that you are REAL. There’s nothing worse than looking up a company, finding their Facebook page and seeing that it was last updated in 2015 (I am unfortunately guilty of this and will make a note to correct this ASAP!). Or finding their website, clicking on their blog and seeing that it was last updated in 2013. To me, that just says that this company either doesn’t exist anymore or it’s not a serious company… and I’ll likely find someone else to do business with.

I used to have a very ambivalent relationship with social media. One moment I was loving it, the next moment I wanted to shut all my profiles d-o-w-n and just forget the whole thing ever existed.

Social media has undoubtedly changed lives. Social media has changed the world. To say anything different is simply not possible.

The reason why I’ve hated social media was because I felt like I was wasting too much time on it…constantly checking Facebook for updates, comments and LIKES. Constantly. I felt like it was robbing me of not just time but of focus. I’d be working on one thing and in a split second…I’d find myself logging onto Facebook just to have a quick look.

I even tried to quit Facebook! I tried to go on a “detox” and avoid social media for days…but in the end, it didn’t work. So here I am…still “addicted” to social media but not really feeling so terrible about it.

You know the saying “if you can’t beat them, join them”? Well, this is how I feel. Social media isn’t likely to just disappear (just like the internet isn’t likely going anywhere either), so why not embrace it and get the most out of it? After all, the world has changed thanks to social media (and the internet), which offers SO many opportunities that just didn’t exist before.

Gary Vee is right. We live in an AMAZING time with the internet and all the possibilities and opportunities that it gives us. Sure, there are a lot (!) of bad things “out there” because of the internet and social media…but I guess you can never have anything good without the bad.

Yin & Yang.

Black & White…

But let’s focus on the good.

The internet gives you the opportunity to do anything you want, to become anyone you want, to live your dreams, to learn, to create, to communicate – across borders and time zones, without ever getting off your couch.

Social media is not just for “fun & games”. It’s how you prove that you exist, whether you’re a person, a brand, a business…

So, I’m going to embrace it. Use it. And have fun with it.

Document Your Life #135 – A Day in My Life

I like having routines in my life. So whenever I’m home, my days look a lot alike. I’m definitely a morning person and prefer to get up early when everything’s quiet and peaceful and “everyone else” is still sleeping. For me, the early morning hours are almost magical…

I try to get up at 6 am every morning but sometimes (a lot of times, lately) I fail, hit the snooze button on my phone and sleep in. Like this morning when I didn’t get up until 7:17 am – feeling slightly rushed. I was thinking to myself that snoozing really is a bad idea because the sleep that you get after waking up isn’t quality sleep anyways. So it’s really just wasting time…

This is a day in my life…just a random and ordinary day:

7:17 am – wake up & get up!

30-min workout in the other bedroom. I just found this amazing YouTube channel called POPSUGAR Fitness that has tons (!) of great workouts.

Shower and getting dressed while listening to an episode of DAILYVEE by Gary Vee (he is awesome).

Have breakfast, coffee and make lunch. I got a NutriBullet for Christmas and I’m loving it. I had a smoothie and a few slices of toasted whole grain baguette with peanut/coconut butter for breakfast. For lunch, I just collected a few random leftovers to heat up in the microwave at the office.

I left the house around 9:40 am (a little later than I’d normally like) and got to the office just before 10:00 am.

At the office, I did a number of “regular” work which included:

  • Answering a bunch of emails. I always do this first thing and strive towards the elusive “zero inbox”, which I have yet to reach.
  • Sending an offer for a vacation package to clients from France that wanted to travel in March.
  • Re-sending travel vouchers to clients from the Czech Republic coming later this month.
  • Updating an invoice to a travel agent in France.
  • Sending rates for hotel, golf & airport transfers to a travel agent in Switzerland.
  • Sending information & prices for diving excursions to clients from Denmark.
  • Following up with a hotel regarding a request to prepare a welcome gift w/ a bottle of champagne for a client’s arrival later this month.
  • Cleaning up and deleting old (!) files on my Dropbox and computer (there were A LOT, so this took quite some time).
  • Updating our website www.palmeravilla.com and adding a new villa to the list + posting it to Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.
  • Updating the Whale Watching excursion on our website www.danskpuntacanaguide.com.
  • Considering how to get into making regular “to do” lists again…This will be on my mind for a few days until I get into the habit again.

I went home around 5 pm, started cooking dinner (stir-fry noodles, vegetables and bacon…yes, bacon). Had dinner with Anders and watched 2 episodes of Quantico (oh, it’s so good) until about 8:30 pm.

I told Anders that I only wanted to watch 2 episodes, because I want to have time to do other things, i.e. write on this blog, have a cup of tea and READ a few pages in a book before winding down for bed. Ideally, I should be in bed and be going to sleep no later than 11:00 pm – if I want to get 7 hours of sleep, wake up AND get up at 6:00 am tomorrow.

Document Your Life #134 – Back to Work

I went back to the office today and it was so (!) nice to be back after almost a month.

Even though I can do my work from anywhere (as long as I have my computer and an Internet connection), it is nice to have a base, e.g. an office. I feel comfortable working there and having my own desk and all of my office stuff – right there.

For me personally, it’s important to work at the office when I’m home, just because I’m away (I.e. out of the country) a lot. So whenever I’m here, I like to make a 9-5 appearance at the office (even though my work isn’t necessarily 9-5) and make myself super available to my team.

I’m always trying to figure out a way to become more organized and to manage my time more efficiently, so I can get everything done in a day. I have yet to figure this out, so I think I need to figure out a different “approach”.

Having a daily to-do list is definitely something that I need to get into again and also using my calendar…I’m going to take this week to really get back into a system that I can hopefully stick to whenever I’m traveling. Something iron clad, basically.

I have a lot to do and to figure out…

The photo doesn’t really have anything to do with this post. It was just a pretty view of a bird and the balloon that I saw when I came home from the office around 5:30 pm.

Document Your Life #105 – One Life

I was taking my time reading the book called (in Danish) What do you really want? written by Sofia Manning & Mie Kaas, 2 Danish lifestyle coaches.

There is a lot of excellent advice in the book (which I’m almost done reading) that you can use if you feel “stuck” or that you need to make a change.

I’m not reading this book for any of those reasons. I simply bought it because the title made me feel curious…and because I think it’s healthy to do a “checkup” every now and then just to make sure you’re doing all right. You know, like getting an annual physical at the doctor’s or going to the dentist.

This book is about how simple yet strange life in reality is and how important it is to figure out that you want because…

You only have one life. So why shouldn’t you live a life that you really want? We don’t even know how many people we’ve met, especially through our work, that are not doing what they want to be doing. They’re flat, disillusioned, overwhelmed and stressed not just in our eyes, but in their own words. People who don’t enjoy their work life or their life in general and have forgotten what they’re good at and what they think is fun or exciting.

If you don’t know what you want in life you may feel like you’re lost. It’s sad to feel like this but it’s the reality for many. But why? (Page 52)

I guess, I’m pretty lucky to live a life that I really like. But I also know what it’s like to live a life that I really don’t like, to feel “lost” and to not know what you want.

In my early 20s, I had a brief period where I’d just started university, thinking that I was on the right path and that I knew exactly what I wanted for my future. Turned out, I was wrong and that everything that I’d thought I wanted for the past 3-4 years…well, it wasn’t exactly right for me after all.

At that time I wanted to be a journalist. It was my biggest dream. Just before I turned 18, I went to take the admissions test at the only school of journalism in Denmark (at the time). When I didn’t get in, I decided to go to university instead. So, I began studying Social Sciences at Roskilde University Center (RUC) and more or less had a complete meltdown before the 1st semester was done, because it became very clear to me that it was not at all where I wanted to be or the direction I wanted to go in.

So, I hit a bottom of sorts. It felt like my entire foundation had been ripped away from beneath me and all that I was left with what the thought of what now?

It took some time, but I eventually figured out what I wanted to study by focusing on what my favorite subjects had been until that point (English and literature) and what I felt I was good at (writing). I narrowed my focus to be very short-term and as soon as I started doing what I loved and following that path, everything else fell into place as time went by and with each piece of the puzzle, I was able to gain more clarity.

My puzzle is not yet done. I’m still learning, but I have a focus that feels right for me.

Some things to consider in order to figure out what you really want could be:

  • What makes you happy? Write down e.g. 10-20 things that bring you joy.
  • What are your dreams? Your big, bold and beautiful dreams? What would it take to make them come true?
  • What would you do if you knew you only had 5 years left to live? Write down 3 things. What’s stopping you from doing them right now?
  • What do want to make of your life? What should they write in your obituary or on your tombstone?
  • How do you want to make a difference in this world and/or in the lives of others?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What do you want to experience?
  • Who do want to be?
  • Can you change your habits to become the person you want to be or to make your dreams come true?
  • What or who is stopping you from living the life of your dreams?
  • What or who could help you to live the life of your dreams?

There are probably a bunch of other question you could ask yourself and they may not be easy to answer. It depends on you.

What do YOU want to do with this one life you’ve got?

Document Your Life #104 – What Year Is It?

Did you ever just not show up and also not tell anyone that you weren’t going to show up for work, practice, a meeting or an appointment?

I haven’t (I think)…

And you shouldn’t.

At least not without informing someone that you’re not going to show up (or that you’ll be late), i.e. the person who is waiting for you on the other end and counting on you to hold up your end of the agreement.

If you do…

It’s not fair.

It’s not right.

It’s completely disrespectful.

It’s unprofessional…to say the least.

That kind of irresponsible behavior may be excused (once) if you’re a child or a teenager because “you may not know any better” – but not if you’re an adult.

As an adult, you’re supposed to know better.

We all are.

Living in the year 2017 with all the bells, whistles and tools of communication that we have readily available, there simply is no excuse for not letting someone know that you’re not coming – to work, to practice, to a meeting, to an appointment, etc. and waste the other person’s time and energy in the process.

So when you don’t show up at a time and place you’re supposed to be, and the only explanation you have is that you were sick and your phone wasn’t working…well, that is simply not good enough.

Just think about it. What year is it? It’s practically impossible not to be able to communicate in today’s world, no matter where you live.

In today’s world, communication is easy and instant.

In today’s world (in the year 2017) there is simply no excuse for not sending a message to let someone know…whatever they need to know.

There just isn’t.

Document Your Life #101 – Happy 1st of December

I can’t believe it’s December already. I can’t believe the year is almost gone…seems like it went by so fast. Again.

I hope we’ll have a really great month of work, travel and celebrating Christmas. Today, we started decorating the house and putting up all the Christmas things…as we usually do.

We brought out a few decorations in the office as well, but just keeping it simple. My #1 priority this month (this next week, actually) will be to finish working on our new website which will be ready (soon, I hope) at http://www.grouppalmera.com. I’m almost there. So close, I can taste it. Yet, it feels like I still have a ton of work to do.

Just keep going…

Merry Christmas!

Document Your Life #90 – Back in the Office

It’s Monday, I’m back to work at the office and my inbox is practically exploding with emails.

There only one thing to do in this case: Dive in, claw my way through every single one and hope I make it out alive. I was so good at keeping my emails organized and replying while I was traveling, but something must have happened these last 2 days…

I get distracted easily. I get overwhelmed easily and find myself constantly battling between wanting to procrastinate and feeling guilty because of it.

Step by step, I will get through this and come out stronger in the other side.

I’m also back to eating a meatless meal a day (for lunch). I feel like I’ve eaten so much food the past 2 weeks, so it’s really nice to get back to eating normally and most of all to eating less. A lot less.

Document Your Life #78 – What Do You Really Want?

What do you really want | To live and travel blog
Do you want to move to the Caribbean and have this view from your “office”?

I’m reading this book in Danish called “What do you really want?” (Hvad vil du virkelig?) It’s a self help book written by Sofia Manning & Mie Kaas (two Danish life coaches) on how to make your life’s dream a reality and get the life you really want. It’s quite interesting, really. I’m not reading it because I’m trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life…I think, I already know and am already doing it. I’m just reading it because…well, because sometimes it’s good to read stuff just for the sake of inspiration.

In the book (as far as I’ve read, at least), the authors talk about the importance of going after what you really want – chasing your dream and making it come true. A lot of people live unhappy and unfulfilled lives, because they’re stuck in a 9-5 job that they don’t really want to do. The dream is always there (in their hearts), but they’re afraid to go for it or they just don’t know how. Their job, family, friends, kids, bills, responsibilities, etc., prevent them from packing up their bags, taking the leap of faith and doing what they really want to do.

Like the young woman that I met yesterday who apparently had a good job, but really wanted to open a dive shop in Bonaire.

I get it. Chasing your dream is hard …it’s hard work. And sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. Dreams are great. Dreams are important, but in my opinion you also have to be super realistic. You can’t keep chasing your dream, if it never gives you anything in return and if it practically kills you along the way.

I believe that life is a marathon (not a sprint) and that you need to be in it for the long run. But how long should you chase your dream before realizing that it’s just not going to happen?

I don’t know. You should keep chasing your dream for as long as it takes or for as long as you can, I guess. You’ll know in your heart when it’s time to give up, change the dream or go after a new one.

But you have to WORK for it and realize that your dream will never come true if you don’t work for it. Dreams don’t just magically come true. So, if you’re a few years down the road already and nothing has happened yet, because you didn’t do the work…then don’t be upset. Or, rather, DO be upset…but only with yourself.

There’s a quote that says:

Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get

with the work you didn’t do.

Chasing your dream is one thing, and it’s all super fine. But you need to throw in a bit of economic realism into the equation too. You can’t spend your time, hoping and dreaming without making a living. So, unless you come from a wealthy family who supports you or you’re married to a rich man/woman, you need to get a job. You need to get a job that you’ll probably loathe so that you can pay your rent, buy food, etc., WHILE you work like a maniac on the side to make your dream(s) come true. Will it be tough? Yes. Will you be tired? Yes. Will it suck? Probably.

Realizing, though, that if you live and grew up in the western/developed world, you’re so much better off than most. You have so many more opportunities because of the level of education you’re able to get, because of where you are, because of the internet, etc., so you owe it to yourself and the world to make the most of it.

But, hopefully, it’ll all be worth it in the end. Hopefully, you’ll be able to look back on this time with a sense of pride because you worked your ass off to get to where you are. You’ll be proud because everything that you do and have is because of YOU, what you did and sacrificed to get there.

And that will make the dream taste so much sweeter when it does come true. Eventually.

Document Your Life #66 – So You Made a Mistake

Luckily, the mistake wasn’t mine (this time) but it still made me think about the subject of “making mistakes”.

Haven’t you ever made a mistake before? Sure. Of course. Absolutely.

We are, after all, only humans. We’re flawed and most certainly capable of making the inevitable mistake. Big or small. It doesn’t really matter. What matters more is perhaps what you do after the fact to correct it, to make up for it and to own it.

In my opinion, the worst thing is to shy away from it and not take responsibility for your mistake. The worst thing is when someone makes a mistake and they try to blame someone else for it.

Maybe it’s just a natural instinct as part of our human self-defense mechanism? Maybe it’s just our way of doing the best we can to save ourselves in an uncomfortable situation. Because, let’s face it, making a mistake and realizing it is so uncomfortable. There’s the rush of heat through your body, the slight acceleration of your heart beat followed by the “oh-my-God” thought racing through your brain or out of your mouth.

The mistake.

It’s real and it’s uncomfortable. Especially if it involves other people like, say, if you sent a quote to a client and didn’t inform them that the price was subject to change at any moment and without notice. And especially if that then happened and you got caught in the middle of it, because your clients accepted your quote but your supplier came back with a higher price after the fact.

So, what are you supposed to do? How do you handle it?

First, you fight like hell to get your supplier to honor the original price that you based your quote on. When that doesn’t happen, you get upset and maybe freak out a little as you try to figure out when to do to a) not look stupid and unprofessional in front of your client and b) not look stupid and unprofessional in front of your boss …and c) not to lose money and the client.

If none of that can be salvaged, then what? Then I think you need to inhale a BIG breath and just admit everything. Lay it all on the table. Admit your mistake, apologize, own it and apologize…again.

Yes, that’s also going to be uncomfortable because we never ever want to embarrass ourselves in front of others. We want others to think that we’re perfect. Which is, of course, rarely the case.

So, unless someone is actually and literally going to die from your mistake, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I would (try my best to) own it and note everything down so as to never make the same mistake again and just live with the fact that I learned a valuable (maybe expensive) lesson.

Document Your Life #64 – Know What You Want

Know What You Want - To Live and Travel Blog

I understand that self-awareness is hard. To know what you want is sometimes hard to figure out. Sure, you may know exactly what we want to order when you go to a restaurant or what kind of movie you want to see when you go to the cinema.

But do you know what you want in the the broader, more general sense? Do you know what you want in life here and now and with your life in the future?

It’s probably one of the hardest things to figure out and to pin down. I remember some years ago, someone asked me what my 5-year plan was.


I sometimes still don’t, but I do know that it’s important to have some kind of general clue and to realize that this may change. What I wanted last year for my future is not necessarily what I want today. And what I want today may change again next year. That’s not the point, really. The point is to be constantly and continuously self-aware. Knowing what you want and that what you want may change at any moment is also a form of self-awareness. Really.

Life is really “just” a series of options and choices. But you need to make those choices if you want to move forward. Those choices can be small, big or huge. But they’re always there and you always have to choose. You can’t just say whatever – at least not always.

If you haven’t figured out what you want, don’t despair. Just figure it out eventually (the sooner, the better!), but make a decision to figure it out. Otherwise, I think you’ll get stuck in a life that you really don’t want, doing things that don’t matter or make sense to you.

Take, for example, someone who’s looking for a job. You have to know what kind of job you want (or at least an idea) to look for a job – the right job. I’ve received so many resumes from people where I live that were looking for a job…people who just sent me their resume, saying I’m looking for a job. So? What kind of job are you looking for?

Even just earlier this month, someone wrote to me that they were moving back to town later this year and would be looking for a job…so, if I heard about anything or knew of something, I should let this person know. I would love to help, but (honestly) be a little more specific and give me something to work with. Give me a clue.

In my opinion…if you want something, you have to ask for it. But before you ask, you have to know what you want.

It’s that “simple”.

Photo: A statue at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. I visited there in April, 2017.

Document Your Life #62 – Follow Up

Follow up on your promise and your word | To Live and Travel Blog

The thing I hate about most people and/or businesses where I live is that no one (or only very few) actually follows up on their promise and on their word.

Whenever people say We’ll get back to you, I expect that they will get back to me within the specified time frame to follow up. I don’t expect that I have to get back to them to follow up. But that’s how it is – most of the time.

Like, for example, with my car. 2 weeks ago, I took it to the official (only) Hyundai service center in town, because the engine cover (that piece of plastic underneath the bumper) had broken off on one side and I needed a replacement. They didn’t have a the spare part and couldn’t really say when they’d get it. But the guys took down all of the information on my car (wrote it on the back of a receipt!) and promised they’d call me. They said that they’d most likely get a spare part the same week, coming on a truck from the capitol.

So, I waited.

I got so caught up with work that I didn’t even notice that the week had gone by…plus another.

So, Monday morning (2 weeks later) I went by again. The same guy, who took my info before, came to greet me, but he didn’t remember me and seemed clueless. Go talk to the people in the office, he told me.

After a while, it was apparent that my information hadn’t been passed on. But it was really pointless, because they still didn’t have the spare part and they really couldn’t say when they’d get it.

My only option is to wait…and hope that someone follows up and calls me eventually whenever the spare part arrives. I doubt they will.

The whole incident makes me think that if you (me, you…we) can somehow reverse this mentality (not in them, but in ourselves) and do the opposite…oh, my God. You will set yourself apart in so many ways and practically become a ninja in life and in business. If you follow up on your word and your promise, you’ll end up winning so much because so few people actually do that (especially here).

The only reason why I’m not taking my car to get it fixed in another place, is because there isn’t one. I could take it to the capitol (3 hours away), but I’m not going to because it’s too far away and they may just give me the same runaround and waste my time and test my patience.

Promise me one thing: Regardless of who you are, where you live and what you do…be or become the kind of person who follows up your promise and on your word. Be the kind of person who follows through – even if it’s just to say hey, I don’t have an answer for you yet…that’s still an answer. It’s still better than nothing.