I'm Moving Across the Ocean + Do You Spend Enough Time With Your Key Friends?

​Originally published for my exclusive Monthly Email List.

Hello,

While the past few months have been a bit quiet, this time I’ve some more news and writing to share. This email is bittersweet though – part good news, part sad as well.

I’m Moving Across the Ocean

 

Let’s start with the good news – I’m moving to Panama! Well, actually, by the time you read this I’ll already be well settled, only few kilometers away from the famous canal.

My company is “bleeding money” in the Latin America, so here I am to the rescue – I’ll be in Panama for three months (until August) working on procurement projects worth well over 200 million USD. I trust it’s going to be fun 🙂

Opportunity to Get Out of Comfort Zone

I’m especially looking forward to the time in Panama. Besides Copenhagen, after moving to Europe in 2010 I’ve only lived in Boston so, – sans my high travel milage – I’ve been quite sedentary for today’s globalized standard. It’s good to move on, especially as it’s only for a few months.

Thing is, Copenhagen – and everyone who lives or has lived here can attest – is very comfortable. Weather aside, it’s a very, very comfortable place to work and live.

It’s so comfortable that I credit Denmark’s unique work culture for me not being an entrepreneur – the great offices, massive holiday packages, high salaries, flexible hours and “flat” organizations make you think twice before quitting or going somewhere else.

Thing is, I’ve been worried for some time that, as I grow older, I’ll be less and less able to “tolerate” working/living in a place that’s not as comfortable. I don’t want to be “fixed” or settled for good somewhere anytime soon, so the experience abroad will be a good shot of energy.

Needless to say, a new city, new people, new work, etc., is always a good opportunity to “reset” and push your boundaries a little more as well. That’s going to be cool too.

Most Importantly, Being “Fun” Again

While I love Denmark, I also think living in North Europe makes you “boring”. It’s an unpopular opinion – sorry Danes reading this, I love you all – but if you come from a “warm” country, you will understand what I mean.

In Argentina people shout (or at least speak loudly), touch, take long lunches/dinners, are open in every sense of the word and, most importantly, are spontaneous. In the North, people schedule a birthday party (!) four months in advance and almost every social activity revolves around alcohol.

“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with”, so, even if you don’t want to, if you live in Denmark – or Sweden, or Germany, etc. – you’ll slowly become more like the locals. It doesn’t happen from one day to the other, but after a few years it’s pretty obvious you’ve changed.

I fear I’ve become that type of “boring” myself – so I’ve high hopes that a three-months injection of warmth and Latin America will help me get back to the “normal Mario”.

On that note, I think that the “best Mario” personality-wise and across the board is when I’m a good mix between the Nordic and the Latin – like, when I’m direct, well structured and effective, but also loud, touchy and spontaneous. The trick is to be in balance.

Some More Notes on the Move

  • 100 Things Experiment Success. I wrote about the “100 Things Experiment” back in January, and, thought I didn’t report about it since, I can tell now it was a success. Though I’m not living with “100 Things” right now anymore, I’m definitely more decluttered than I was last year. The whole exercise made my packing for three months very simple and straightforward.

  • “Stay Vigilant, You Might Be Outsourced Next”. A big chunk of my Copenhagen Sourcing team has been “outsourced” to India – I’m safe (for now), but it should no doubt raise worries in everyone in the West that now even creative, highly-educated and highly interpersonal jobs are also being sent to India in increasing numbers. If you think that your job is safe, it might do you good to pop out of the bubble – things are moving very quickly.

  • Travel or Social? What Should I Prioritize? Panama will be #107, and it would be a perfect base to visit Costa Rica, Colombia, etc. I can easily tackle up to ten new countries which I wanted to see for some time. But… for every weekend I’m roaming the Caribbean, the less time I will have to meet and spend time with the people in Panama and build a strong network. When I was in Boston, I went for the travel – I met a bunch of great people in Boston, but I sadly didn’t spend too much time with them as I took the train across the country, went to conferences, took cruises, went to Canada, etc. I’m leaning towards a more balanced approach this time. Do you’ve any thoughts on this one? I would love to hear your input.

  • Belarus Postponed. I had flights to check out Belarus in early June, but alas that short trip will be postponed. I look forward to check the place out in autumn instead.

Passing of a Good Friend

It’s good times, but then not so – on May 1st I got the shocking news that Damian, one of my very best friends from Argentina passed away in a car crash. I was (and still am) dumbfounded. I had literally talked with him a few hours before, planning a trips/activities to do together in Spain the days before my wedding.

While a cliché, I can now testify that those extreme scenarios make you think about the big picture and the important things in life. In my case, it came to two questions:

1- How Many “Unconditional” Friends Do I Have? I mean – which are the people I can really, really trust that will be there for me when I really need them?

Don’t fool yourself on this one – for any given person there are VERY FEW people fitting this box. For me, Damian was one of them. When I was having a hard time out of school and looking for my first job in Argentina, he was the only friend that put skin in the game to concretely help me out.

You need to know which are your “unconditional” friends and work hard to build friendships up to that level.

2- Do I Spend Enough Time With My Key Friends? 

This one is especially tricky for me. I spend a ton of time (and money) traveling, but being off to places all the time means that I don’t spend as much time as I should with friends (and family, too).

Take 2014, 2015 or 2016, for example – the past three years, strong-willed in my quest to see 100 countries, I spent 90+ days per year outside of my base in Copenhagen. That’s a ton of birthday parties, barbecues, weekends in the park, etc. I missed out.

I’m still lucky to have a few good groups of friends, but it’s no doubt that I don’t dedicate them all the time they deserve, and when I do, I’m either too serious (see “boring” above) or with half of my brain thinking about how cool it would be to see Lake Tana or Isfahan.

Panama, in this context, comes a bit of a bummer as well. I’ve missed/will miss two weddings from good friends as I’ll be in Panama and not in Europe and just can’t go back, and the Belarus trip I mentioned above was supposed to be together with two friends. Oops.

Concluding… 

I’m blessed for being able to travel so much and I appreciate it every day, but I need to definitely refocus my priorities. Moving on, I want to spend more of my time and money with friends, especially with my “unconditionals” as per above.

Despite he was one of my very best friends, I had less than five days of actual face-time with Damian in the last three years. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it feels.

If you and your friends – and family – are healthy and in a good shape, it’s easy to take them for granted. I definitely did, but will not do so anymore.

(In line with the last point, Wait But Why has a very, very good post on this (see link), it’s very much worth reading).

Business And Writings

I’m hoping that while in Panama I can finalize one of my few pending projects – book two, sitting half done, a very niche (and to be expensive) video course, or – even at the distance – some key investments in real estate.

Not sure about it though. It appears I’ll be very busy with work in Panama, so we’ll have to see about that. But it’s been some time, and for all my talk about assets/rents last month, I have not built something now for over a year. Let’s see.

***

That’s all! I hope that you find my writing/rumblings useful, interesting or even inspiring – if you do, the way you can support is by forwarding this email to friends, or, of course, buying my humble book.

If you’re in or around Panama, also feel free to drop a line!

Hugs,

Mario

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