Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Review: Looptail

I always believed our company culture could change the world. That freedom and happiness would transcend what we do and create a company capable of extraordinary things. 
-- Bruce Poon-Tip

The first time I saw this book, I saw (what seemed like) an employee of G-Adventures reading it during his morning commute into (as Bruce refers to it) Base Camp in Toronto. Although he seemed thoroughly engrossed in his read, my first thought was "oh great... another fat-cat who thinks that he did the world a favour by telling us his story". Naturally, I didn't bother to look it up. But, I've travelled through G-Adventures before... They took +ADW and I to visit (for the complete series of posts) Peru to experience Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, the Amazon and the Nazca Lines. As much as I enjoy nature and outdoor activities... I have absolutely no interest in camping; it is so low on my list of happy activities that I swore it off permanently. But, climbing the Inca Trail required me to adjust for 4 days, to sleeping on the ground and using nature's outhouse. It was possibly the most inspiring 4 days of my life and I would climb into the Andes again, in a heartbeat.

As I said, I didn't have interest to pick up the book but I love what G-Adventures stands for. I've always identified with what they do as an organization through their core principles as their guiding light to whatever they do. It's revolutionary, to say the least. However, I received the book as part of a talk Bruce did in Toronto last year on the Future of Tourism. I missed his 2012 talk because I had a night class but I was determined not to miss the 2013 one. In short, at the end of the touching and inspiring lecture, he gifted everyone in the audience a copy of the book and I went home with it and put it on my shelf with the determination that I'd read it... eventually.

I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up for 2014 because his concepts and ideas wholly resonate with me. I have the highest levels of admiration for what he does, as an entrepreneur; he didn't just come up with an idea and then worked for a decade or so... he created something, built it from the ground up, dove fully into his concept, made enemies (and won them over or totally blew them away with his innovation) and even recreated himself and the company several times! Through his journey, he rarely took the "easy" route out and continued to forge ahead with his directive to make the world a better place, through travel and tourism. Overall, I found the read incredibly spiritual and inspiring. I'm not a religious person by nature but I do have a good deal of what some consider "spirituality" and reading about his journey and thoughts really spoke to me as a person/at my core; my biggest inspirations from his book is to "pay it forward" and "Do the right thing". It's hard to express my personal feelings and experiences from reading Looptail but I am energized and inspired to do better than I've been doing so far.

Moving away from how the book made me feel, I would discuss opinions about the actual execution of his writing and the book content. The first thing is that I felt the first chapter or so was forced and didn't flow like the rest of the book. I wonder if I had to adjust to his style because he writes the way he speaks. When you read Looptail, it's like you're in a hall listening to Bruce speak about his beliefs and experiences. He doesn't use particularly eloquent prose--he writes succinctly and simply and, as if he's speaking to you directly; it's a very personal approach. He went a step further and built a web page that compliments the book by adding an audio-visual aspect that is otherwise missing from a book. When he talks about a project that Planeterra launched or the lip-dubs that his company makes, globally, he makes reference to a link on that web page. It's definitely a great way to enhance the written word and provide ever changing content to readers turned fans/believers.

I love even more, that through all his actions, experiences and thoughts, you see the quintessential struggles of an immigrant growing up in Canada and then succeeding and excelling through entrepreneurship, by not only harnessing the wanderlust of Canadians, but all the global citizens through a common purpose of learning about other cultures while having an adventure in the most sustainable and responsible way possible. As Bruce mentions, travelling, learning and experiencing other cultures helps us develop as compassionate and learned individuals who will be able to see the world for its diversity and similarity simultaneously. Further, it helps us become better individuals in whatever it is we do on a daily basis because we experience outside of our little bubble. We become driven to do better for not just what we see, but everyone (and everything) around us; it's what he calls the 'Looptail'.

As I've said, it's tough to put into words, one's spiritual experiences and I think there are moments where if you're a non-believer, this book can be a hard sell. To fully embrace the Looptail is not something everyone will take away from this book... but it certainly is a good start for anyone who just wants to expose themselves to something unconventional that is wildly successful... or just for someone who needs a fresh perspective on the world as it is today.

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