Iceland Adventure…Maverick Style
Just got back from Iceland for our Ultimate Maverick Viking Experience – it was quite an adventure! The first funny recollection is thinking about how our group was bombing around in a fleet of shiny, brand new black Lincoln Navigators – I think we had like 6 of them in our “motorcade”.
Our drivers were weaving in and out of traffic and basically completely disregarding the speed limits. People watching must have thought there was some dignitary or actual VIPs in there. Nope – just us.
Okay where do I start? So many interesting ‘Maverick Moments’, from the moment we got up on day one to the final good byes – it was pretty non-stop…especially when you mix in a good helping of Reykjavik’s wild night life (which doesn’t even get going til 1 AM!)
Let me try and hit a few highlights –
The first day after our Icebreaker session and lunch we headed out to do some ATVing over incredible lava fields and through swift water.
I tried to get one of our guides to screw with member Chris Zavadowski and tell him that he owed several hundred dollars for damages incurred for bumping me and passing me – but Chris didn’t bite. Damn!
From there we headed to the one of the most famous spots in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is this huge geothermal spa with supposed healing properties in the mud. At least a few our members, who will remain nameless, fell for this propaganda and this is how they ended up:
And making a big splash was our new VP of Operations, Andrew Way in his water wings in the lagoon.
Side note: I guess this would be a good time to introduce Andrew. As you see he jumped right into the culture of Maverick Business Adventures. Andrew is actually leading operations and managing all our different businesses so please welcome him (and give him a hard time) when you meet him at an event or Maverick trip. Those of you in the online world might know him since he came from Eben Pagan’s company. I’m finally moving from a one-man band to developing a team. I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts around this evolution soon.
The next day was the big tectonic plate SCUBA and Snorkel adventure at the Silfra Ravine. Located in the Thingvellir national park, this crack in the earth filled with crystal clear water is the dividing line between America and Europe. It’s a pretty extreme dive with strong currents and 3 degree water temperature – plus add to the fact there are around 300 small earthquakes in the national park.
For me this was like learning to swim by being tossed into the deep end because I’d just got certified a week before this trip (nothing like a deadline, huh?) like a few of the other guys too. Here’s our Maverick SEAL team of members Juan Luis Hernandez, Mike Cline and Mike Geary, ready to deploy into freezing waters:
And then you’ve got the B-team of snorkelers trying to look tough: (From left to right: Tim Schmidt, Andrew Way, Chris Zavadowski, Barry Dunlop, Ash Kumar and Kenneth Castiel)
I give the snorkelers a hard time because I barely passed my SCUBA open water cert without drowning myself or having a panic attack under the water – and these guys waltz in and enjoy the 300 feet of visibility – which made it almost as good as SCUBA in this instance. There’s a really funny skit if you can catch that Jerry Seinfeld does about SCUBA. Essentially he is swimming around saying, “Look there’s a fish, a rock…who cares…don’t die…don’t die…don’t die.”
Missy was laughing because I went through all this prep to get my certification and there wasn’t even a fish to look at – the water is too cold for aquatic life. But it was pretty damn cool to get in between the tectonic plates. There are some cool videos on YouTube if you type in ‘Silfra Ravine’. Here’s me (with my new Icelandic furry cap) rubbing Chris Zavadowski’s tummy for good luck before the dive:
After the dive we did a little caving inside caves formed by lava flow. Here’s founding member, Aymen Boughanmi, enjoying the fact he’s pretty skinny for some of the tight spots in the cave.
On the way home we stopped at two incredible Icelandic icons – the Gulfoss Waterfall and Geyser. This is the actual “geyser” that gave its name to all other erupting hot springs in the world. At the site there is one extremely active geyser, Strokkur, which sprouts up to 90 feet into the air every 90 seconds. At one point I found myself the unknowing recipient of the explosion. Check out this video that Mastermind and Maverick member John Carter captured of me on the phone with Missy while getting ‘geysered’: http://tweetreel.com/?4st47
The next day we were up and out again with an expedition to Solheimajokull Glacier Tongue for walking and climbing on the glacier. The Glacier Tongue extends down from one of Iceland’s largest glaciers, Myrdalsjokull. We had to stick crampons on our boots and learn a little bit of handling the ice ax. This activity was a little bit of a disappointment since I thought we’d actually get to do some double ax-climbing but I guess we’ll save that for the encore trip to Iceland in 2011. Here are the Maverick members at the (sorta) summit:
And here’s a shot showing a little more of the glacier texture. All the black stuff is volcanic ash from past eruptions in the area. As the ice melts, it creates deep cracks and ravines in the ice surface – trust me, you don’t want to step into one of those babies.
From there we headed to another glacier for a totally wide-open snow mobile experience on an ice-covered volcano. Our guide volunteered info that the volcano we were riding over is actually 20 years past-due for blowing…yikes!
Behind our lunch spot was a nice hill that seemed to make a perfect spot for sledding and I wasn’t the only one that thought so. New member, Drew Regitz, decided the same thing and took matters into his own hands…er ass…and slid all the way down. I grabbed some trash bags and a few members for us to enjoy some old-school, seriously low-budget sledding.
After snowmobiling only a few people were on the inside of a pretty hilarious anecdote with our VP, Tim Warren. Tim decided to try and hijack the Russian missile carrier launcher we came in on. (Yes, we arrived via an authentic piece of Soviet military gear).
To his credit he got it started but then couldn’t figure out how to turn it off before the real driver got back. When the driver arrived nobody said anything and I’m sure he knew he didn’t leave the missile carrier running while we were snowmobiling.
Now perhaps the icing on the cake (okay, a really nasty tasting cake) was the traditional Icelandic dish of “Harkarl” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakarl. Which believe it or not is putrefied, rotting shark. Yup!I saw this on a TV show and knew I had to get it for our fellow Mavericks. You can read up on it at Wikipedia but essentially it’s shark that’s been left to rot in the ground for 9 months and then hung to dry another 9 months or so. It’s quite nasty – but the smell is much worse than the taste. I had 3 pieces because I wanted Kim, our Operations Mgr, and our one host, Emma to have some. So they made me take pieces with each of them. I was hoping somebody would puke but we weren’t so lucky.
Maybe if we served it first-thing in the morning while some of the members were recovering from the Reykjavik nightlife I would have had a better shot at that. Speaking of the night life – the town definitely knows how to party. It’s funny, during the week the bars close at 1 AM and not many people are out. Come the weekend you’ve got some wild, craziness that goes on til 6, 7 even 8 AM. What I found really wild was people love smashing glass bottles on the street and the next morning a street cleaner comes by and cleans it all up. Amazing!
Here are members Juan Luis Hernandez and Dave Lally doing their best Viking impersonations at night:
Our special business icon guest was Morten Lund, the wild VC investor most famous for investing in 85 high profile tech start-ups including VOIP star Skype (sold to eBay for $4.3 billion). Morten told a fascinating story of his ups and downs and a true no-holds barred business session. He was very candid about his financial windfalls and failures. Many of the members said this was the best business conversation or talk they’ve ever heard because there was no sugarcoating anything..
The final day was capped off by our Young Entrepreneur session held at the University of Reykjavik. Our vice president of Maverick, Tim Warren, put together a fabulous session with about 90 students.
We started with our regular round table discussion about entrepreneurship and then quickly moved into groups giving each group a Maverick member. This was something totally new because we decided to spend a lot of extra time on this day because of the Icelandic economic situation. Here’s member Tim Schmidt whipping his group into shape:
I had my own group and it was pretty cool watching how we brainstormed an entire business idea and really added some outrageous additions to the idea. The idea was something like “7-minute Green Chef” and maybe you’ll hear more about it. But some of the ‘hook’s and unique aspects of it were killer. Our chef would use only fresh ingredients and whip a healthy meal for her family in 7 minutes or less. She would do it live via webcam with a countdown timer going. That way we’re instantly creating content for something she does every night anyway. We’ll let people get an email with the next day’s ingredients so they can follow along live. All of this was about leverage and we brainstormed how to take it from just an info product to a certification program and beyond. Very exciting stuff – but I’m biased since that was my group.
Each group got to get up and ‘pitch’ our members and the audience with their business idea. We had some cool ones like an “Adventure Party Bus” that goes around Iceland to all the cool adventure locations.
Then our Maverick members took some of the ideas and made them better by brainstorming and ‘plus-ing’ them even more.
For each of the winners (via audience applause) we gave away $500 in seed capital for infrastructure stuff (i.e. web hosting, autoresponder, etc) and then they also got some ongoing support from members and myself. (That’s worth significantly more than the $500.)
All-in-all a pretty rewarding and exciting day. At the end of the session, I asked the audience how many were going to go out and start their business ideas and about ¼ the group raised their hands. Pretty awesome! All of this one step closer to our 2020 ultimate goal of empowering and supporting 1,000,000 young entrepreneurs to start their own ventures.
Phew – what an adventure! If you missed it – there are still 2 big Maverick experiences for the tail end of ’09 (if you qualify). The next Maverick experience is the ‘Totally Rad 80’s Maverick Road Rally’ – October 1 – 4, 2009 from Los Angeles, CA to Napa Valley, CA.
Grab your gnarly car, your neon shades, feather back your hair or coif your mullet because we’re headed “Back to the Future” for 80′s-themed Maverick Road Rally experience!
Of course as a Maverick event this isn’t JUST astraight trip up the coast. Each day there will be a new adventure starting with your first clue in the morning leading you to your classified route and “80’s missions” to record. Each mission has a point value assigned to it and like a ‘video scavenger’ hunt you’ll have to decide which item you want to capture on film to win the rally. But the only points you are credited for is if you film you mission on tape. The competition-o-rama is going to be fierce for each 2-person car competing for cheesy (yet wonderful) 80’s prizes.
Starting in a mystery location around Los Angeles, CA we’ll motor up the coast to Big Sur, San Francisco and then finally arriving in Napa Valley, CA. Along the way there are lots of surprises from special guests to special exclusive activities like riding a 246-foot long Zeppelin (one of only 3 operating in the world!) and a private ‘cult’ wine tasting dinner at a top Napa winery.
Plus, we’ve just confirmed our special business icon guest, John Paul DeJoria.
Ranked #261 on Forbes list of World’s Richest with an estimated $2.5B net worth. J.P. will be joining us on this first leg of the rally from Los Angeles and sharing his incredible rags-to-riches story. How he went from homeless to billionaire by co-founding John Paul Mitchell Hair Care Systems and Patron Spirits Company.
And then the final 2009 experience is November 6-8th Vegas Air Combat experience…
Imagine being a fighter pilot for a day. You’ll suit up and climb aboard an aerobatic, Italian-built fighter aircraft ready for an authentic dogfight in the sky. You are at the controls and you are actually flying except for take-off and landing (pilot’s license not required). This is the REAL deal, it’s not a videogame or simulator.
Vegas is known for extremes and following Air Combat you’re in for a truly unique dining experience, Forbes magazine named it “one of the 10 most unusual restaurants”, Dinner in the Sky! You’ll be suspended 180 feet in the air overlooking the famous Vegas Strip enjoying a 5-star gourmet meal. Seriously! A crane hoists an entire dining table with everyone securely strapped to the table for a dining experience you won’t soon forget.
But this wouldn’t be a Maverick event if it didn’t keep getting better and better…
Special Bonus Business Icon: Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com will be joining us during the ‘Sky’s the Limit’ Maverick experience. Tony has built up Zappos.com from nearly zero in sales in 1999 to over $1B (Yes, Billion with a ‘B’) in 2008. You’ll get a special behind-the-scenes “field trip” to Zappos.com headquarters where you’ll get to see for yourself how Tony’s built an incredible Zappos.com culture founded on customer service to get where he is. He’ll also provide a candid and uncensored presentation on his business philosophy to specific nuts and bolts of heading up a $1B ecommerce giant while still maintaining a small company excitement. (Side not: Tony was also a featured keynote speaker at Underground 5 – the DVDs of that event will be available soon.)