The Challenge of Our Time

17 Jan 2024

The Value of Shared Experiences

“The challenge of our time is find a journey worthy of your heart and soul” Seth Godin

And it seems, as I have believed for many years, a good place to find that may be on a bike seat in Thailand.

Returning on the weekend from what I believe to be my 36th ride in Thailand since 2009, it is hard to think of a better experience than the one I just shared with a remarkable group of people. We left Nong Khai in the north of Thailand and over eight days would ride our way to Baan Home Hug in Yasothon. It was a route that I have ridden many times before, sure there were changes, the bikes were new and we had a different crew leading us but it wasn’t THAT different to previous, so what made it SO different as an experience?

The overwhelming feeling from the return riders, one of whom was clocking up 10,000kms on the road for Hands, was the sense of calmness within the team leading the ride which flowed through to the riders. I described the experience a bit like a kitchen in a restaurant. If you have the head chef yelling and screaming, then that stress is felt by the sou chef, the kitchen hands, the wait staff and inevitably the customers. The culture, the tone and the experience is set by the leadership team. If they are confident and professional, if there is trust within the team, then that is reflected in the end product.

As I sat and forensically pulled apart the ride, to find the magic and the defining piece, I realised there wasn’t one thing. We have e-bikes now as part of our offering which increases the experience and widens the appeal of the ride. The e-bikes don’t just improve the experience for those riding them, it improves the experience for the entire group. The flow of each day was impeccable. We were arriving at lunch, sometimes way too early, we were arriving at the hotel with plenty of time to spare, and we took our time along the way to smell the roses, or in a literal sense take in the beauty of the Mekong. We were blessed with ideal weather and tailwinds just at the right time.

The mix of riders, again not all that different from the past, with a few in the 70’s, a couple of first time riders and plenty of old hands were a perfect mix of like minded individuals. The riders were there to do something for someone else and at the same time enjoy the rewards it delivered. The presence of Mae Thiew on the ride, the director of our home in Yasothon, again not unique, but something inspiring and a blessing to all added to the experience.

I reflect on the privilege of spending time and riding with so many beautiful souls and feel gratitude for the experience. As the riders arrive home over the coming days, they too will attempt to share the depth of the experience with friends and family, but I suggest they will struggle to find the one thing, or articulate with clarity how the ride can be and so often is a life changing experience.

I look to the next ride in April with our great fiends at Business Blueprint who will once again head to Thailand for their own experience. That ride has been sold out for months. In July we have the Doing Good Rewards & Red 23 ride returning to the north with 50 riders, that too is sold out. In January next year we will lead the 20th anniversary ride to Baan Tharn Namchai and that too is sold out with 50 riders. In February 2025 we have the Digital Live ride returning and yes, that too is sold out.

On the basis of our sold out rides it seems as though I am not alone in believing that finding the journey worthy of your heart and soul can be found on the back of a bike seat in Thailand.

I share what I believe are the key ingredients to creating memorable shared experiences in Leadership Matters.