#BPTravel 2013: Thoughts On Travel Writing And The Journey Of Life

Two weeks ago, one of the most intense and invigorating periods of my year occurred: the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. For four days, some 90 students and 25 faculty members met in an intimate bookstore in Northern California for workshops, panels, and evening events that celebrated travel writing, travel photography, and much more.

Over the four days of the conference, as every year, unanticipated insights took seed and risks took flight, and some profoundly important lessons and dreams were conceived. Usually I write a piece summarizing the conference for Gadling, but this year an excellent summary has already been posted. And somehow, what I want to say about the conference, or about the thoughts that emerged from the conference, all seemed to come together in my concluding speech.

In those final remarks I said some things I’d planned to say and some things I absolutely hadn’t planned to say, things that just spontaneously erupted in me as I talked. That eruption, I think, is part of the magic of an event like this, where unexpected connections and mysterious interweavings occur, where you learn things you didn’t even know you were learning and grow in ways you didn’t even know you’d grown.

Here are some excerpts from my remarks. I hope they touch you with something of the spirit those four days cultivated in me, and I hope they enrich your journey, in the outer world and the inner world, too.


One of the things I like to preach when I’m in my preacher mode is that whatever you put out into the world comes back to you a hundredfold, and I feel like this conference embodies that. The generosity that the faculty put out comes back to them. The risk-taking that you put out comes back to you in the best possible way. So much of it is about you going out into the world with the right spirit. The world rewards you when you do that, and I hope that’s one of the takeaways you’ll bring back into the larger world from this conference: What you put out into the world comes back to you….

For me this year is especially important. A month ago, a great party was held in this very room. The occasion was the fact that I had one of those unfortunate birthdays where you age by 10 years overnight. I went to bed in one decade of my life and woke up in another. That birthday was my 60th birthday. For about two years prior to this, 60 was the Voldemort of birthdays for me. I could not pronounce its name out loud. I was so absorbed in the idea that turning 60 meant that I was really, really, really old. And I didn’t want to deal with that. I just wanted to ignore it, or deny it.

And then I had an epiphany, that this is what happens in life: You have a fear and the more you deny it, the more you empower that fear. And then the more you decide to embrace that fear, you immediately empower yourself. I realize that turning 60, or saying that I’m turning 60, is not a death-defying act. But for me it was a very big leap of something. I decided to just say, “OK, world, I’m turning 60.” And it felt great.

What this taught me about fear was that we have the ability to either create a fear and let it grow and prosper, or deflate a fear and take it away. And on the road, as in life right here at home – I believe that we’re always on the road, wherever we are – the way you get rid of a fear is you embrace it. So I embraced that. And I hope that’s a takeaway for you from this conference: that whatever your fear is, embrace it. Embrace it.

It’s about risk-taking. It’s about journeying into your discomfort zone and how that can magically open things up for you. I think that’s an important lesson….

What it comes down to for me is that while I believe that our souls go through various mutations and continue when our physical bodies don’t, I also believe that our souls inhabit our physical bodies one at a time, and we’re here right now, each of us in our physical presence and with our souls, and for all practical purposes, this is it: This is our one chance to live life as fully and gracefully and graciously and lovingly as possible. This is it.

Every single moment, this is it. This is your moment. This is your moment. This is your moment.

The more you infuse those moments with integrity and honesty and passion and attentiveness and the desire for quality and the desire for connection – and to me, the word that really summarizes all of these is love – the more that you infuse every single moment of your path, of your journey, of your life, with love, the bigger and better and richer you become. And everybody around you becomes bigger and better and richer by that too.

And that’s travel, that’s travel writing, that’s travel photography, that’s dish-washing, that’s laundry – it’s really everything, it’s a part of every single thing that you do.

What I hope you’ll take away from this on your journey is that it’s your responsibility to be a steward of the planet, to be a steward of your own stories, to give them the care and the nurturing that they need and to let them out into the world when they’re ready to be let out into the world, and to be a steward of your relationships and connections with other people.

I hope that you will spread the love that you felt here. If you take the seeds of love away with you and scatter them around the planet, we’ll all be so much the richer for that, and this world will be such a better place for that. That’s your sacred responsibility now, your sacred trust.

Book Passage 2012: How I Lost My Voice And Found My Vision

It’s 4 p.m. on a Sunday in mid-August. I’m standing in a Northern California bookstore surrounded by about 100 people ranging in age from 20 to 70, drinking champagne, downing brownies, and hugging and crying and laughing all at the same time. It’s the fourth and final day of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, and while the conference has officially ended, no one wants to leave. The room crackles with emotional electricity, expands with newfound dreams.

As the chairman and co-founder of this conference-cum-summer camp, I look on this scene with a mixture of wonder, exhilaration, exhaustion and gratitude. Somehow, four days at a benevolent bookstore in a San Francisco suburb have infused me, have infused us, with the belief that everything we do, as travelers and travel creators, matters, that we go into the world with a joyful duty to live as fully and deeply as we can and the accompanying joyful potential to truly transform the planet.

Here’s how I lost my voice and found my vision at Book Passage this year.

It all began for me on Wednesday, Aug. 14, when I gathered at the Marin County bookstore with 11 intrepid adventurers for an all-day pre-conference workshop: a day in the life of a travel writer exploring San Francisco‘s North Beach neighborhood. We took the ferry from Larkspur to the Ferry Building – a glorious way to begin any day – and then wandered through San Francisco’s old Italian neighborhood, now Italy-meets-China-meets-Vietnam, past cathedrals and cafes, parks and pastry shops.

As we walked, I talked about what a travel story tries to do and how as a travel writer I try to get a place, paying attention to defining details – see that shop sign written in Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese; inhale the Old World essence of Molinari’s deli – and asking myself what are the glimpses, sensual details and encounters that matter the most to me, that begin to compose my portrait of North Beach. Then we separated so that everyone could try to find their own scenes, the first pieces in their portraits.By this time, having talked over the engines of the ferry and the noise of the streets for an hour and a half, I had already begun to lose my voice – but it didn’t matter. A special magic was seeding; tendril connections were intertwining.

We reconvened for lunch and talked about the challenges and triumphs of trying to apprehend a place this way, then after lunch everyone went their own ways again to write a short description of their chosen scene, while I sipped a latte at a sidewalk table and savored the theater of the street.

We met again, walked to the ferry, and then back at the bookstore each participant read what he/she had written. By this time my voice had turned into a sandpapery whisper, husky, dusky, but I’d gained something even more precious: the power of a collective passion. Each of us had seen, experienced, a different North Beach, but all with a common enthusiasm. And hearing that enthusiasm infuse and impel their writings, whatever direction and focus each took, was profoundly inspiring. My fellow travelers’ raw passion for the world and for the challenge of conveying that passion in words was an enormous gift. I came away viewing North Beach – and travel writing – with a renewed appreciation.

The conference kicked off officially the following day with an introduction of the faculty, twenty-some travel writers, editors, photographers and agents sitting in a semi-circle in front of about 85 students. As these self-introductions were concluding, for a moment I was simply smacked with astonishment realizing the extraordinary talent that was assembled in that room. Even more astonishing, and humbling, was the realization that they were there because they really wanted to be there, because they care so deeply about what they do and because they knew what was coming – three intensely compressed days of questioning and striving and sharing.

Over these days I was inspired time and again seeing, and hearing, how unassumedly, generously and open-heartedly these masters of their craft were sharing their expertise and wisdom, the secrets of their successes and their failures, challenges and triumphs – and equally, how the students, who spanned the spectrum from absolute beginner to well-published pro, were opening their hearts, minds and souls so wholly and hungrily, sharing their own stories and yearnings, tips and dreams. And I watched in awe as the amazing staff at Book Passage coddled this impromptu community with respect, grace and good humor. The feeling flowed through me and through the conference that this is the way to be in the world, open, vulnerable, trusting and sharing, exultant. It reaffirmed a deeply held belief of mine, that I had expressed in my opening remarks when I was advising participants how to get the most out of the conference: “The more you put into the conference, the more you get out of it – it’s a lot like travel, and life.”

* * * * *

This year multi-talented writer-actor-director Andrew McCarthy insisted on turning the tables and interviewing me Friday night. He was a great and gracious interviewer, and I found myself telling tales I hadn’t mentioned in 20 previous years at the conference.

The story of my own life is a “ridiculous” (to use Andrew’s word) succession of serendipities that led from Princeton to a summer job in Paris, to teaching on a fellowship in Athens, to graduate school in creative writing at Hollins College in Virginia, to teaching and talk show hosting in Tokyo, and then to working as a travel writer at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, my first real job and the (official) beginning of my career as a travel writer/editor. I’d never connected the dots of that implausible career path in public and doing so revealed some important truths for me: I had always followed my heart, but I had also always involved my head, continually scouting for possibilities, keeping alive to the potentials life presents us, and then when the right potential appeared, taking an unreasonable leap because I felt in my core that it was the right thing to do, that it could lead where I wanted to go.

So one message I took away from my own tale was that you have to be alive to serendipity and willing to take risks, that Serendipity + Risk = Reward. We are always encountering doors in life and we always have the choice to open them or walk by. I’ve often chosen to open them, and I’ve usually been blessed that opening the door has led to something good. But partly this is because I carry a sense of my passion with me and I’m not afraid to pursue it, to focus on what I really want to do and be. The downside of this, of course, is that you open yourself up to the possibility of failure. But isn’t a life lived without taking any risks – without saying “Yes!” to a passion – a kind of failure too? The concomitant challenge is that once the door has opened and you suddenly have the opportunity you sought, you have to put 120% of yourself into it and do it better than you ever imagined you could.

* * * * *

One of the many highlights of the conference for me was Saturday night, when I was privileged to interview the great Susan Orlean. I was already grateful to Susan because despite having had extensive and painful spine surgery six weeks earlier, she had steadfastly kept her commitment to come to Book Passage. I was 100 times more grateful as she brilliantly talked about the winding path of her own career, some of the most challenging subjects she’d covered, and how she attempts to get the essence of a place, in life and on the page. For my last question, I asked her essentially what life is all about, and she graciously and eloquently responded that for her, the ultimate quest of her work and of the lives she encounters is to answer two questions: “What is the meaning of being alive and how do we make sense of it?”

That perfectly summed up the quest of my work and life too, a fact that a succession of unexpected convergences at the conference had been making me re-realize. I was remembering, re-living – discovering still very much alive inside me – the teenager who scribbled late into the night in his journals, always asking, “Where does it come together? What does it mean?” Enrapt in the wonder of this re-connection, I realized that over the years it had woven into one threading goal for me: travel stories that not only convey a place and an experience in that place, but that also put the experience in some larger context, tie the particular to the greater whole, illuminating something profound and abiding about life. Where does it come together? What does it mean? That, for me, is the essence of truly great travel writing.

But while I was re-understanding this core quest, the conference was also illuminating so many other things: the richness of soul-friends, some known for 30 years and others met three days before; the astonishing exhilaration of exchanging shared passions with another person; the life-changing confluences, convergences, synchronicities and serendipities with which the universe graces us, when we’re ready; the sheer wonder that surrounds us, every day; and the midnight magic of five ukuleles rendering “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as sweetly and naturally as a frangipani-scented breeze.

I met people at the conference for the first time whom I absolutely knew I had somehow known before – people who seemed to understand me so deeply, and to share so many fundamental philosophies, goals and values, that it was almost as if we were halves of the same soul.

Over five days I found a tribe of such travelers, who share my passion and wonder for the image and the encounter, the word and the world, and who made me realize that our tribe bears a precious duty: to honor our craft and the planet that is the subject of that craft, to fully explore the journey outside and within, to walk the everyday pilgrim’s path with open mind and heart, and to celebrate it all.

On the last day, when I was addressing the conference one final time, I lost my voice again, but this time it was because I was too choked up to speak. What I wanted to say was that through the passionately open-hearted, open-minded, inspired people in that room – their eyes shining, their bodies electric with the wonder of the past days – I had re-discovered a fundamental lesson that had gotten buried in the layers of my life: All you need is love. The love you pour into the world – as a teacher and a student, as a traveler and a writer and a photographer, as an interviewer and an interviewee – transforms you and the world at the same time. It deepens you, enriches you, and it deepens and enriches the people and places you meet. It’s a sacred, unending, synergy of connection and transformation. By doing what we love, with love, we make ourselves and the world better.

On that final day, our tears flowed into the stream of the Book Passage epiphany. And that stream is flowing still, wherever we may be.

[photos via Candace Rose Rardon]

Previewing The 2012 Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference

Every year peoples’ lives are changed utterly by the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference. I know because they tell me. Every year I get a dozen emails from people who say their careers have taken off, or they’ve been inspired to travel around the world, or they’ve gotten a photo or a story published, or they’ve landed a magazine assignment or a book contract because of something they learned, someone they met, some connection they made, at Book Passage.

As co-founder and chairman of the conference, I leap – well, my heart leaps – when I get these emails. Because that’s why Book Passage owner Elaine Petrocelli and I founded this conference 21 summers ago: to share our passion for great travel writing and photography, to inspire people by presenting the very best practitioners of these crafts, and to change peoples’ lives.

It’s astonishing to me that the conference is once again right around the corner: This year the dates are Aug. 9-12. The location is the same as always, Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, CA, about 15 minutes north of San Francisco. And there are still spaces open for participants.

Who will be there this year? I’m tremendously excited that the great Susan Orlean will be gracing the conference, along with award-winning actor-turned-travel-writer Andrew McCarthy, bestselling Wall Street Journal veteran Julia Flynn Siler, and travel icon Pauline Frommer. Among the stellar faculty will be photographers Robert Holmes and Andrea Johnson, writers David Farley, Pam Mandel and Chris Gray Faust, and editors Julia Cosgrove of Afar, Loren Mooney of Sunset, Jim Benning of WorldHum, Spud Hilton of the San Francisco Chronicle, David Lytle of Frommers.com, Robert Reid of Lonely Planet, and Larry Habegger of Travelers Tales – and rumor has it that Gadling editor in chief Grant Martin is flying in for a special appearance as well. You can find a full list of the faculty here.

What’s the conference like? It’s a four-day fest of morning workshops, afternoon panels, and evening readings and on-stage conversations, of passion and expertise leavened with a big helping of laidback camaraderie (and spiced with a dash of karaoke), where just about everyone mingles easily and learning happens in myriad planned and unplanned ways. For me, it’s like summer camp for travel writers and photographers. But to give you a better idea, I’ll just direct you to Lavinia Spalding’s wonderful write-up after last year’s conference. To my mind, she captures the spirit of this singular, soaring celebration that has truly become one of the highlights of my year.

If you have any questions about the conference, I’d be very happy to answer them. And if you love travel writing and photography, I hope to see you there!

To get more information and to register for the conference, click here.

[Flickr image via Stephanie O]

Andrew McCarthy discusses his new role: travel writer

For many people, the name Andrew McCarthy probably conjures images of iconic movies from the 1980s and 1990s, films such as St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, Weekend at Bernie’s, and The Joy Luck Club. But these days the actor is playing a new role: travel writer. Since he first wrote a piece on Ireland for National Geographic Traveler in 2006, McCarthy has published some two dozen travel stories in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Afar, and Islands. He is now a Contributing Editor for National Geographic Traveler, and last year in the Society of American Travel Writers’ annual Lowell Thomas awards competition, he was named Travel Journalist of the Year. McCarthy will be guest of honor at the Book Passage Travel & Food Writers & Photographers Conference next month and has just signed a contract to write his first travel memoir.

I had the pleasure of interviewing McCarthy onstage at the National Geographic Auditorium in May. The evening was full of great anecdotes and insights; here are some that especially struck me.

Travel literature and the importance of scenes:

I asked McCarthy how he made the transition from actor to travel writer, and he said he began reading Paul Theroux and that Theroux’s travel books changed his life. (Reading Paul Theroux is, I think, excellent advice for any would-be travel writer.) Theroux and others taught him that in regard to travel literature, “when people do it well, they can really capture the essence of a moment in time, in a place — in themselves and in the place.”So,” McCarthy continued, “I just started buying tickets to places, a ticket into Capetown and out of Dar es Salaam 2 months later, and the rest I’d just fill in. Every year I’d take a couple of months and do that. I started writing scenes of encounters I had with people – just for myself — because that’s what I knew how to do, be in scenes. So I’d write the scene between me and the kid who picked me up on the moped in Hanoi and took me around for the day. I did nothing with them, I put them in a drawer.”

I love how McCarthy’s perspective as an actor illuminates the importance of scenes in travel writing. Deconstruct most great narrative travel articles, and you’ll discover a series of scenes – like a movie script, but supplemented and strung together with facts. One of the great arts of travel writing, of course, is choosing which scenes to put into your story to convey your point – the experience and the experiential lesson/s that you want to convey. In most stories, probably 90-95 percent of the available material, the totality of scenes from the trip, end up on the editing room floor. But the final story proceeds as a succession of carefully chosen and crafted scenes. In this sense, creating scenes is the essence of great storytelling, and McCarthy’s words made me appreciate that grounding truth all over again.

Scaffolding and chance in storytelling:
When I asked McCarthy how he goes about shaping a story on the ground, he quoted what John Gielgud said about acting: “Build a strong scaffolding and leave the big moments to chance.”

“That’s a bit what I do with travel stories,” McCarthy said. “Initially I’m very much in service of what I think I’m going to write about – and that always alters….”

There are two great points here, I think. You can’t support a story without the scaffolding, so your fundamental job as a travel writer in a place is to find the scaffolding for your piece. “I make sure I nail down a few lampposts when I get there,” McCarthy said, “hooks that I know I can swing from one [scene] to the other – I’ve got to get from here to here and suddenly I meet the guy selling ice cream who grew up wherever and that will swing me to where I can lynchpin to the next one….”

But equally important is Gielgud’s point about leaving the big moments to chance. That chance is the serendipitous spark and stuff of the story: the moment that you didn’t expect to happen – on the ground, in the writing – and that happened only because the scaffolding was sure and strong enough. These “big moments” are the unexpected gifts of traveling and writing – the epiphanies that suddenly give everything a clarity and meaning you hadn’t realized before. Surprising those big moments on the ground and then re-capturing them in the telling is the great quest and joy of travel/writing for me.

Fear, vulnerability and transformation:
I believe that every travel writer has a trip that changed his/her life. I asked McCarthy if he had a trip that changed his life and he immediately answered, “Yeah. Around 18 years ago I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and that changed my life. “

He elaborated, “I walked across Spain for a month and it was just a transformative experience for me. I found it terrifying, and I was lonely and miserable for most of it, and then something happened and I had one of those experiences that you have – I went there to see if I could take care of myself and I discovered that I was taken care of. It wasn’t a religious experience but it was some kind of experience where I felt unafraid in the world on a deep level for the first time. I carried so much fear with me in the world that I didn’t even know I carried it until it was suddenly absent for a short time — and that changed my life and started me traveling.”

A bit later, I asked McCarthy what travel does for him now, and he said, “When you go out in the world, you realize that you have to lay yourself vulnerable to the world and ask for help and you become much less fearful in the world…. I’m a great believer in the transformation that happens when you travel – I’m a better version of myself when I travel, I’m happier, I come home a better person.”

I was very moved by the conjunction of these experiences and truths – the way walking the Camino de Santiago had helped him confront the fears he’d been living with all his life, and the recognition of the vulnerability that is at the heart of the traveler’s situation in the world.

This has been one of travel’s great truths for me as well: that we are fundamentally vulnerable, reliant on others, when we move out into the world, and that cultivating the art of vulnerability is one of the traveler’s greatest challenges and rewards. Every time I travel I re-learn this lesson: the more I open myself to the world, the more the world opens itself to me; the deeper my trust, the deeper my reward.

I agree completely with McCarthy that in this way, travel makes us better, bigger, people, more attuned to the nuances of life, more embracing of its diversity, and ultimately, more embracing of ourselves.

Near the end of our talk, McCarthy articulated the passion that propels his travels: “I love going anywhere,” he said. “When I’m out the door, and I’m on my way — yeah, I miss everybody, but who knows what’s going to happen in the next x amount of days? I love that feeling….”

And I knew that though we’d walked different paths to find it, wanderlust had touched – and transformed — both our lives.


You can view my conversation with Andrew McCarthy here.

McCarthy and I will converse again at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, on Aug. 13.

Top tips for TBEX and other writers’ conferences: What I’ve learned from 20 years of success stories at Book Passage

When Elaine Petrocelli conceived the idea for the first Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference 20 years ago, she didn’t know what she was getting into. “All I really knew was that I loved great travel writing and photography, and I thought it would be fascinating to bring the best writers and photographers together for a few days to talk with aspiring writers and photographers about what they do and how they do it,” says the co-owner of Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, California, where the conference is held for four days each August. To help realize her dream, Petrocelli contacted the then travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle – who, as luck would have it, was me — and I contacted legendary travel writer Jan Morris, who agreed to be the first guest of honor, and the Book Passage conference was born.

That was 20 summers ago. We certainly didn’t imagine then that two decades later conference alumni would have published hundreds of articles and photographs in national magazines and newspapers, and dozens of books that directly resulted from contacts made and lessons learned at the conference. We didn’t think that some alumni would be so successful that they would return in future years as members of the conference faculty. And we didn’t dream that we would be celebrating in 2011 with the most ambitious Book Passage Travel, Food and Photography Conference yet.

We’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years and the conference has evolved to embrace those lessons. We’ve added food writing and photography to the menu and focused more and more on writing for the web, blogging and self-publishing. We’ve included in-the-field workshops and one-on-one evaluations, expanded the faculty and fine-tuned the panels and events. And we’ve added karaoke!

Most importantly of all, we’ve learned from the successes of our participants what it takes to get the most out of attending a conference — whether it’s Book Passage or other creative conferences around the country. Thinking ahead to TBEX in June and to the many other summer gatherings now offered, I thought it would be helpful to share the top tips I’ve learned from successful students.

Fittingly enough, as I’ve put these together, I’ve realized that these tips can equally be applied to getting the most out of any journey:1) Know before you go
Do your research before your journey starts. Know everything you can about the territory: the conference schedule (when do activities start and end, when are the break times, when do you eat, when can you rest), the venue (how far is it from your hotel to the event, where is food, caffeine and cabernet available), and the faculty (what are their blogs and their books and their areas of expertise – if at all possible, read their work before you go).

2) Plan your itinerary
Know who you definitely want to meet (authors, photographers, editors, publishers, producers, participants), and what subjects you want to learn about (at TBEX, for example, this could be making money from blogging, working with pr people, maximizing technology, and/or refining your non-fiction narrative style). If you want to be sure to meet author X and learn about subject Y, mark that author X is reading on Friday at 7 pm and subject Y is being discussed at a panel on Saturday at 10 am, and map your schedule accordingly (this is especially handy when someone spontaneously asks if you want to go to dinner on Friday).

3) Be a sponge
When I’m on the road on assignment, I try to absorb everything; I pick up brochures, postcards, menus, facts. I know I’ll end up discarding 90 percent of them, but since I’m not sure at the time which 10 percent I’ll want to use, I vacuum up everything I can. Past participants say the same applies to conferences. You won’t be able to attend that reading, workshop or panel after it’s over, so do everything you can while you can (and yes, this includes karaoke).

4) Embrace serendipity
Once you’ve crafted your carefully planned itinerary, don’t be afraid to detour from it. My best travel stories always come from serendipitous connections – the artist I meet through a chance encounter, the festival I hear about along the way. I love the story of the Book Passage student who by chance sat at a table with an editor from a publishing company, started talking about his travels in Europe and ended lunch with a contract for a book. If you meet someone fascinating or stumble upon a subject you know nothing about that instantly intrigues you, go with the flow. Dozens of students’ stories affirm that the life-turning, career-changing encounters were unplanned and unforeseen. When the universe opens a door, walk through it.

5) Practice the art of vulnerability
It’s a lesson I keep re-learning in my travels: The more open you are to the world, the more the world rewards you. Open yourself to the people and lessons around you. Embrace the risk; trust in the kindness of strangers. As countless students at Book Passage have found, if you really want to talk to Tim Cahill, pluck up your courage and approach him. (You’ll find he’s remarkably friendly.) And at TBEX, Book Passage and other conferences, you take out only as much as you put in. The more you leave there, the more you’ll bring home.

6) Keep the journey alive
The road doesn’t end when the conference ends. That’s just the beginning. Follow up with the contacts you’ve made. Incorporate the lessons you’ve learned. There’s no such thing as overnight success: All success is the result of hard work and respectful persistence. Pursue your passion; follow your dream. There’s no guarantee where your journey will take you, but as I learned long ago on the Karakoram Highway, there’s only one way to get there: step by step.