There and back again 13 years apart


Salzburg is a special place for me because it is the symbol of the most serendipitous thing that ever happened to me: winning a paper airplane competition in Argentina and qualifying for the world cup organized in Red Bull’s hangar at Salzburg’s airport. More than 10 years later I am back in the city, only that this time I came representing my own company at a conference.

There are moments in our lives, like that paper airplane contest, that serve as anchor points for who we were and what plans we had, but often we don’t give ourselves the time to reflect on those moments.

I remember the subjects I was taking at university the day I participated in the contest. I remember lengthy chats about building physics educational tools to replace the antiquated ones we were using. Some of the people with whom I was discussing 13 years ago are still my best friends, more than 10.000km away from where we started.

I remember the feeling of wanting to connect with people, understand our differences. I remember an overarching thought that today I would frame as creating something impactful.

I haven’t reflected about those ideas in many years. Time just flows and I seldom take the time to properly look back. When I entered the terminal at the airport in Austria, images started coming back: sleeping at the airport floor not to pay a taxi early in the morning, watching The Sound of Music with my Couch Surfing host’s boyfriend, a random art installation in a park that would make a vortex of water. 

Having those anchor moments are an invaluable tool. They allow us to remember what we were doing, and how were feeling. Probably we can even remember were we wanted to go. If we get the chance to remember, we can see whether we are closer to where we wanted to be, and whether we are becoming the person we wanted to become.

These reflections are crucial for entrepreneurs, since they don’t have a predefined path to follow. It is up to each one of us to choose where we want to go and how to get there.

Not having a predefined path means it’s very easy to get lost. Small, incremental decisions pile up and can push us very far from where we wanted, or they can propel us faster than we ever thought possible.

For me, the most important thing to remember is that even when it feels the forces acting on us are immense, there is always a way to get closer to where we wanted to be. We just need to learn how to shape those forces in our favor.

A city visit was a trigger for me, but it has nothing to do with it. It was mostly about allowing me the space to reach back into old memories, ideas and ideals, and do a sanity check.

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