What we’ve really been up to


The views were impressive looking out of the mansion, across the expansive lawns and down to Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean spanning the western horizon.

I don’t think I ever knew how many rooms were in the place. More rooms than Steph has shoes, of that I’d wager confidently. But, of all of those sitting rooms, drawing rooms, ballrooms, etc., we’d gathered around the kitchen table, which was somehow fitting.

Clusters of kids flitted in and out of the kitchen, snatching handfuls of nourishment and then disappearing into the various wings, swallowed by the long hallways and flights of stairs. Some of the children were blood related to our hosts, Neil and Susie. Others were familiar neighborhood kids, part of the ambiance of the home. Others were less known, and were very possibly living surreptitiously in forgotten rooms or levels, but were, as all, clutched into the warm bosom of hearth, health and home that so defines Neil and Susie.

Soon after the opening pleasantries of our visit and in between sweeps of locust-like teenage consumption, Neil turned to me, pinned me down with his piercing gaze and demanded, “So, what are you two really up to?”

At the time, we were on our way to the docks, in the last stage prior to shipping our overland expedition vehicle to South America, the start of a planned two- to four-year, multi-continent extension of our world explorations. We’d just spent nine months building the vehicle and a few additional months testing it across the western U.S. It had been more than four years since I’d shared a keynote podium with Neil, a friend from my years in business intelligence, and walked away from that career.

Neil’s certainty that, no matter what else we did, there was something that we were really doing, was and remains a common belief among our friends and family. Some younger members of the family (and, truth be told, some older members too) are convinced we are secret agents. Some friends and former colleagues harbor a conviction we’ve been stealthily incubating a business startup for the past seven years that will burst forth and sweep all before it. Many, if not most, have never been able to quite figure out what it is we did or are doing, no matter how many books and essays I write, articles magazines publish or blog posts we share.

Last Spring Steph and I both decided that since we a) were going to be back in the U.S. for a while, b) don’t play golf and c) don’t watch television, we needed to get something going or both our heads were going to explode. Subsequently, the speculation has only grown even more intense. The more we poked around, attended conferences and explored business models, the more fevered the theories amongst our friends and family has become. Just about everyone is now, more than ever, convinced that there is something that we’re really doing.

A few years ago, sitting at Neil and Susie’s kitchen table, I hesitated to answer his, “So, what are you two really up to?” question. It wasn’t as if we were really hiding anything. After all, we were just doing what we were doing. Finally, I blurted out, “Nothing, nothing, we’re not really doing anything. We’re just heading overseas.” Neil and Susie’s doubtful looks were identical as the room resonated with uncertainty, if not outright suspicion. They didn’t buy it.

So, after all these years, to finally answer Neil’s question and to end, once and for all, all the speculation as to what we’ve really been up to, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0aAX2biCio

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