Want to ignite your entrepreneurship and become your own boss? Research indicates you should TRAVEL! People who have been exposed to multiple cultures are more likely to start their own companies and are more creative. In a study of 2226 professional visa holders from 96 countries they found those who formed and maintained very close ties to their newly adopted country were far more likely to found their own company.
This is part of the “Edge Effect” which is named for the finding that where prairie and forest meet, the diversity of the species found skyrockets – the edge effect. It turns out that its not just animals that benefit from the edge effect but humans as well. If you want to become creative, put yourself into the edge effect!
I have always mentioned my 2 years in Germany in being pivotal in my life … and now I understand why. Before going to German, my view was that America was the best at everything and that we had nothing to learn from the world – that hurts to say out loud. I saw my career as being loyal to my employer (Siemens) and working for them for the rest of my life. Being immersed totally in another culture was a real eye opener about work/life balance. Being immersed in German culture also helped me see that there are a lot of different ways to do things, some better and some worse. Within 8 years of returning to the USA I built two houses, started two separate companies, and retired from my job. This probably was the most productive and creative decade of my life and I now realize is that its the Edge Effect from my experience in Germany that is responsible. Had I never gone to Germany, there probably never would have been a Scooby1961 or a scoobysworkshop website and I would probably still be unhappily working as an lead engineer with daily 2am teleconferences with my development team in India.
How to benefit from the edge effect
What the research showed was the that type of interaction with the other culture played a key role. The only ones who experienced the creativity spike were those who were totally immersed in the new culture, either thru an intimate relationship or by living abroad and integrating into the new society. Having a bestie from another culture was not enough. Going abroad but staying in the “tourist bubble” was not enough. Here are some concrete ways you can kindle the edge effect and increase your chances of thinking up the next “google”:
- Travel! Travel to a country where English is not spoken and get out of the tourist bubble so you can interact with the locals. Bike touring, hiking, or language schools (more on that later) are the best ways to do this!
- If you are a parent of a student in grades 7-12, look into foreign exchange programs sponsored by your local school district and choose a country where English is not the primary language.
- If you are in college, enroll in a study abroad program. Realize though that this alone is not enough. If all your friends are Americans, you are not going to learn anything. Before you go, decide you will have an iron will and insist that you will not speak English when in this foreign country. Decide that you will only befriend people who will speak the foreign language to you. You MUST escape the tourist bubble.
- If you are an adult and want a deeper experience than bike touring or hiking can offer then an immersion language school in the country is what you need. You can do this for two weeks, a month, or longer. This is not nearly as expensive as you might think. In Central and South America, you can do this very inexpensively. Even in Europe which is very expensive, you can do a two week german course, including all instruction, tours, and a private apartment for just $77/day -(974 Euros for 14 days). I personally have done these German classes three times since 1988. If you think that $77/day is “too expensive”, remember that the average person spends $201/day at Disneyworld and tens of millions of Americans do this yearly.
You can go to Europe for 1/3 the cost of a trip to DisneyWorld!
Travel abroad to get rich!
What made me think of this? Glad you asked! It was a dozen people who replied in the YouTube comments to this video:
In this video I bemoaned the fact that the leg extension machine had been broken for FIVE years. Management maintained that “the replacement part is no longer made” and I said I knew I could fix it in under 20 minutes with my lathe and welder with 50 cents worth of supplies. What I suggested in the video was that someone should buy an econoline van and turn it into a portable machine shop with a lathe, welder, and mill then go around to various gyms offering repair services for $200/hr. This is a $1000 piece of equipment which can be easily fixed in 30 minutes for 50 cents, a great business model! All theYouTube commenters lamented that skilled welders and machinists cant even make minimum wage these days. People, please! Put on your creativity hats! Yes, there is global competition. I have seen welders in Vietnam working at who have helped lower welding to a $10/hr career. These guys have no workbenches. They sit ON the asphalt along side the road at 1am holding the metal between their feet while they weld piecework items for American import. Don’t bother trying to compete with them to see who can earn the lowest wage! Travel to unlock your creativity and come up with “gym equipment repair business” ideas in your own area of interest be it music, cars, or whatever.