Blog (10/12 – in Berlin): “What it’s like to sit next to Mr. “October GQ” on a plane out of Switzerland”
So I had a great time in Genève, Switzerland and Lyon France these past few days. I've never been to both countries so this was a great experience for me. Geneva is an awfully expensive place to live (my colleague who was born and raised in Geneva noted that one regular McDonald's meal in the US was roughly $7 while nearly the same meal in Geneva is around $30 USD (~3x more). Aside from the cost of living, designer brands, and hand-made expensive watches - it has a beautiful landscape. I love to fish and anywhere where there is water, I gravitate towards it. Immediately I notice how crystal clear the water was in daylight. Where we live in Washington State, you would think with all the rain we get that our rivers and lakes would be clear but it’s not! Lake Geneva is amazingly clear. Aside from the water, the Swiss Alps are just as pretty as our Cascades ;-) – I love living in Washington!
Lyon, France was amazing! I also fell in love with it. The charm of any old building, in any city across the world are the mysteries and stories that it holds, but when you hear it in a girl's French accent - Wow! That's a different league of charm. The city had many beautiful Cathedrals, price was very reasonable, French people were nice (not snooty as others have noted)), food was great - just a wonderful all-around city. I really enjoyed all the places I visited. The highlight in Geneva for me was accidentally visiting CERN.
CERN is the largest particle physics lab in the world (stuff like trying to solve what happened at the beginning of time... also CERN is the birthplace of the Web - thank them for allowing you to go on Facebook today!). Let’s just say they have the smartest people from around the world working there! Solving important things in this Universe. Even then so, what is even more difficult is trying to understand ourselves (I’ll blog on this later as well…).
In Lyon, my favorite place was the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (bloody gladiator fights and poetry reading arena, roughly built a few years before Christ was born). I'm a guy... I was imagining all the crazy gladiator fights. We think football, MMA, or rugby is brutal, it’s a cake walk compared to these guys who had to kill someone within an arm’s reach (sword fighting). It’s painful enough to see your own blood through a minor cut, imagine seeing the eyes of your opponent pass away in front of you. I could go on for many days on why this spot resonated with me. What was life like 2000 years ago? I would love to have a conversation like that with someone 2000 years ago.
By now you are wondering who this guy is next to me??? (I wanted to drop a little history and science on you before meeting this guy)
I had to take a "hopper" from Geneva to Zurich, and then from Zurich to Berlin, I sit next to this "GQ". On first impression, he was very well dressed and this selfie doesn’t do him justice - he is a good looking guy indeed! I see he was reading some financial articles on his iPad and noticed other details that made it obvious that somehow he works with money - large money and asset. Here we go...
"Hi! So are you going to Berlin for work or fun?" I asked. He said in a very friendly tone, "Business." From here onwards I find that his name is Urs and he works as a corporate trainer for new grads and employees in this large financial firm. He noted his biggest responsibility was to motivate and train these new grads to do their best and to bring the best out of them. He loves his job and career and has been at this company for nearly 10 years now. He is lucky! He knew his calling early on in his life - working in finance/banking and working with people (his dad was an engineer and encouraged him to follow his dream). He's not "chasing the money", his passion is how to strategically maximize it for his wealthy corporate/client customers. So good in fact, he is asked to train other employees. You can train the technical stuff, but how do you train or teach "passion"? I have an opinion on this that I'll blog later. Urs was fortunate to have found his passion/purpose early on; I just found my second calling just 2 months ago (hey… better late than never right?)
Out of nowhere and I'm not sure why, I asked Urs how far back he can trace his family blood-line? I figured maybe 200-300 years (at most), he does look like he comes from a well to do family with education, culture and class. Whether you like it or not, I do judge people on appearance. But it doesn’t mean I will not try to reach out to you and say hi! (I have an opinion on this too I’ll blog later!)). Urs says "1400 years!" Wow! I couldn't believe it! That is “capturing your history” indeed! If I have any Vietnamese brothers/sisters that can trace (documented) your family back more than 200 years, please share!
As you can tell by now, even with all that upper-crust pedigree, Urs was simply a down to earth kind of guy (enjoys friends, travels, likes good food!..) He had no air of conceitedness or self-importance about him. His confidence was strong, yet he was humble in every way and always willing to learn. I had this same feeling when I worked with Rory and met her brother Max Kennedy at Sundance. To me individuals with strong insides (head and heart), never have to prove anything outside! In any event, Urs is now my Facebook friend. I was getting worried that I didn't get a chance to learn from anyone in Switzerland, but I close it out by meeting Urs today on the plane by just saying "Hi."
Miki is a renowned motivational speaker and author. He appeared in the 2015 Oscar nominated film "The Last Days in Vietnam" directed and produced by Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. He often speaks to others on the ways in which they can better their lives. His history is well documented in the documentary that shares the amazing story of his father Ba Van Nguyen and his bravery during the last few days in the Fall of Saigon. His message is one of enlightenment and courage. Miki has overcome many obstacles as he and his family worked hard to create a life in the United States while their homeland was being torn apart. Through his father’s example of courage and commitment to a better life for his family Miki is inspired to be the best he can be and be of service to others by sharing his and his family’s experiences in an effort to give hope to all refugees who take the enormous risks of leaving everything behind in hopes of a better life.
Miki is available for speaking engagements on a number of topics and also has a new book to be published soon that will offer instruction and inspiration through the recanting of his life and his experiences in this extraordinary world we all call home. For more information visit http://www.mikinguyen.com