Karel Vermeulen, serial entrepreneur and founder of Lubrimaxxx (one of the world’s best personal lubricants), debriefs u|Chief on his recent trip to the USA.
Tell us about your recent travels?
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the USA for the first time. I have had to transit through USA airports in the past on most of my travels, but had never set foot on USA soil before.
Where did you go and what was memorable from the trip?
I flew with Emirates from Cape Town to Dubai. En route to Washington I missed my connecting flight to Atlanta and took a three-hour Uber drive to my final destination – the beautiful town of Hiawassee on the Hiwassee River. I was as excited as a child in a candy store! The reason I missed my connecting flight to Atlanta is a good lesson for other travellers. As I had a three-hour layover in Washington airport, I decided to do the touristy thing and walked around, visiting the little shops. Then I decided to have my first real American hamburger.
Wow, it was so good – a fatty burger patty with oily chips and all! Then I picked up a baseball magazine. I felt like “oh yes, this is the American way”. Then I realized: “Oh shucks! I still had a South African connection plug for my laptop,” so I went in search of an adapter.”
When I eventually found one, the guy at the electronic booth spoke a bit of Afrikaans, so we just kept on talking.
Eventually I had to cut him short as I realised I was running late. I dashed to my departing gate, only to discover I had missed my connecting flight by five minutes! I was furious with myself. The ladies at the flight desk were very understanding and friendly and they booked me on the next flight out – free of charge. That flight was two hours later but, having learnt my lesson, I made sure that I sat waiting at that gate and did not move.
I took this trip after attending a five-day intense workshop that offered training on Mega Sales at Damien Elston’s lake house. He is the CEO of the JT Foxx Foundation. JT Foxx is the world’s #1 wealth coach and platform speaker. There were 10 students in attendance and, wow, what a life-changing experience it was!
I was the only South African and I met such wonderful people from different countries and nationalities. We all bonded in a really meaningful way.
The Emirates cabin crew on the flight from Cape Town to Dubai were excellent. They were in good spirits, full of energy and made sure we were always comfortable and had enough to eat and drink. They took great care of us, but I can’t say the same about the flight from Dubai to Washington.
Our Uber driver picked us up in a huge, red Dodge truck. He was extremely friendly and we had a great time driving with him as he told us a lot about America. We were very lucky to get him, as Uber drivers don’t normally travel so far out, but he had just returned from holiday and needed the money.
There are no Uber drivers in the county of Hiawassee, so luckily for us most of the other team members rented cars and we got a lift back to the airport with them.
What did you achieve on this trip?
At the five-day event I managed to build strong networking connections. I teamed up with two financial literacy teachers and authors – Michael and Robby Mathews. They wrote a chapter for me in my up-coming first book, Yes You Can! It Is Never Too Late To Achieve Your First Million Rand. I am very grateful and blessed. I also teamed up with some of the other members, and we are going to do some future events together. We are all still in contact with each other.
I was grouped with Dan Woodruff from London. We shared accommodation, which proved to be a great saving, as accommodation is very expensive in the USA. We bonded very well and we keep on motivating and coaching each other in business.
What future opportunities did you identify during the trip?
I teamed up with other highly successful entrepreneurs who are contributing to my upcoming book, which is scheduled for release in October 2017. I also shared a lot of my Lubrimaxxx personal lubricant samples with my group members. We are now strategising how to get Lubrimaxxx into the USA and Norway markets.
What surprised you about the country?
It was quite an experience going through security. No laptops were allowed flying in from Dubai and they even unpacked all our hand luggage in front of everyone, and just about strip-searched everybody. This was very time-consuming but, on the plus side, the security staff were all very friendly, as were most of the locals when they hear you are from another country.
It also took some time to get used to having bagels, pancakes and doughnuts for breakfast. Where is the healthy stuff? What surprised me about the county of Hiawassee is that it is so green – there are no fences and the yards are all huge. I loved driving on the roads because they are so much wider than our roads. The traffic lights are suspended from an aerial cable. That was something to get used to.
How did you grow personally from this travel experience?
I feel so honoured and blessed that I could visit the USA and meet all these wonderful people. They have a friendly culture and display great open-heartedness. I will go back soon! I feel richer as a person, bolder and with new-found courage to speak to strangers and just to be myself.
Any fun memories?
Lots of fun memories. My hamburger experience and missing my connecting flight. Searching for my friend at Atlanta airport: I was at Domestic while he was at International arrivals. I eventually take a shuttle to get to him after walking for almost an hour in this huge and busy airport searching for him. Then there were the boat rides, jet skis and other fun activities at the lake house – after a full day of intensive training we were free to just breakout and enjoy these watersports. Oh, did I mention the food? Top-quality and very tasty!
What is your next business trip?
We are going to Los Angeles in November to attend the Mega Success event, where I will be interviewing the actor Al Pacino. I am beyond excited. We will then rent a campervan to travel up North for about three weeks. This is going to be for business and pleasure.
What did you learn about Americans?
They teach us in business that you should know your audience when you do a talk. Know the culture and people of the country you are going to visit. I bought a little travel book on the USA to educate myself about the culture and the do’s and don’ts. Always have your passport or identification with you when you go to a restaurant and want to order a drink: it doesn’t matter your age, they will always ask you for identification.
Any words of motivation to share?
| Whatever you think is true to you, it is!
| My thoughts, my words and my actions are powerful forces of attraction.
| Practice daily gratitude.
| Practice mindfulness every day.
| Stop all negative self-talk. Stop saying “I Can’t”.
| Turn your impossible into “I’m Possible”.
| Surround yourself with people that believe in you.
| Your network = your net worth.
| I am worthy to have all my dreams come true.
| Believe in yourself and love yourself.
- Karel Vermeulen is a serial entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, business transformation coach, author and the founder of Lubrimaxxx personal lubricants. www.lubrimaxxx.com