In March of 2013 I was selling my journals in Chicago on the corner of Damen and Milwaukee in Wicker Park. Slowly, I became a fixture there, and part of the fabric of the street. I would dress up, and head to town with intention. I knew that in order to make this dream real, I would have to put myself out there, literally. So I did.
I would meditate on the train on my way there, and create the mindset of just going out into the world to have an experience, create an adventure, and live the next chapter in my novel.
Street selling was always an act of courage. For each time I would go out to sell I would have to summon the courage to do so. As a result I would meet people, create customers, and receive more pieces to the puzzle. Building WalknTalk then and always has been a process of dream-weaving.
It was on this day that I met the author and speaker, Daren Martin from Success Studios and DarenMartin.com. Daren and his son, walked up like all strangers at first, and quickly became fond acquaintances. He gave me his card, and said to reach out if I ever needed anything. I had always envisioned being a writer, and giving inspirational talks to people of all ages about traveling with intention, and creating yourself with a journey. The seed was planted, and the next two years continued to present me with the path into writing and speaking.
I was in Prague in the Fall of 2014 for my best friend's wedding when i met a stranger in a pub called Pink Floyd Cafe. My friend was a bartender there, and she introduced me to a man staring down his empty glass in the back of the empty bar. It was a quiet night; just the three of us inside chatting. John happened to be an expat from Canada, and life long international school teacher. I told him about this burning desire to write a book, and talk with kids about getting lost to find yourself. One week later I gave an 8 AM presentation to forty-five kids at the international school of Prague, Czech Republic.
In the winter of 2015 I took what I call an inspiration vacation. I wanted to finally create the life I have been envisioning; one that could seamlessly be lived between Europe and the United States. I went with the intention of documenting the process of Getting Lost to Find Yourself.
After routing through Istanbul, Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Skopje Macedonia, Ohrid Macedonia, Sofia Bulgaria, Berlin, and then Portugal. I finally landed in a spot I could only dream of, a small town in the North of Portugal. I walked into a store where I met a man selling wooden bicycles, and other very unique items. He saw my journals and noticed a striking contrast between some other leather products he was already selling in the shop. He said he had to introduce me to the man who made the wooden bikes, because he was also a leatherworker. We met and made an instant connection. One week later we met again and the man and his son made me an offer to become their brand representative and distributor in the North America. We began working together right away. The following week we shot this video, and began envisioning our brands working together as WalknTalk MudCycles.
I returned to the states and began working on importing the bikes right away. I went to an RNBA networking event in downtown Chicago, and knew it would be fun to become involved in the downtown business community. I began talking with strangers and instantly felt a deeper connection with the mission of the businesses involved; grow their business and have fun. I joined as a platinum member on the spot, and became active on the membership committee. I ran an add in the annual Octoberfeast Publication, and attended the event.
The bike unexpectedly arrived the day of the Octoberfeast. I couldn't believe it. The timing was perfect. The only challenge was finding a way to assemble the bike, pick up the bike flyers, find someone to ride bike around the event, and somehow get to there all in under three hours. The UBER pulled up and said, "hey you're the WalknTalk guy. We met a year and a half ago." It was seamless. Just as that happened my friend called and said he could steward the bike at the event. I arrived to the OctoberFeast with just enough time. Everyone came pouring out the doors, and a stranger walked up to my friend manning the bike and said, "I want that bike." He was serious, he owns several bike stores in Chicago.
The bike was a hit... and became an instant success.
One morning three weeks later I was tired after a 7AM meeting downtown. I was riding the MudWood around the River North area when I happened on the Gold Coast Bentley store. It occurred to me that I was riding the Bentley of bikes. I walked inside, waited over an hour and a half to speak with the owner, and by a stroke of fate they said they would sell it.
Two weeks later we sealed the deal.
A week later I call Daren Martin the professional speaker and writer that I met in Wicker Park. I asked him if he would be up for taking me on as his pupil for the week. He said sure. A month later I landed in Dallas, and said, wow I can't believe we are doing this, "what," he said. "Following the Spirit," I replied.
That night Daren hosted a party gathering with friends at his home to share travel stories. We engaged on intimate levels, and a lovely friendship began to flourish.
In every stranger there is a friend. Sometimes it's just about being yourself, and saying yes to what life is offering.
P.S. Daren just published another book, and it's on the way to becoming a huge hit, buy a copy!