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5 Lessons From 1 Month Working In The World’s Most Dangerous City
Fortunately, my parents do not frequent travel blogs…
…Or upon hearing of my Venezuelan travel plans they may have stumbled upon this brutal post.
In fact, their research only delved as far as the UK Government’s official travel advice:
“If you’re the victim of a crime, don’t resist. Resistance has resulted in victims being shot dead.”
Fortunately (?), I had already booked my flights.
Though it seems like the friend we attempted to recruit has more advanced Googling skills:
I guess the question that you are asking is why?
Why go to live in Caracas?
Well, earlier this year I completed to a Tony Robbins training course and he told me to make some goals for different areas of my life, so I did:
Thus, when my good friend expressed his interest in living in said city (for reasons unknown), I immediately thought of my “End Of 2015” goal and how I could tick off “See some poverty”.
(What sort of a goal is that anyway? And for those of you who are wondering, this is the “Water guy”)
On a serious note, I have been studying psychology…
Human nature has a bias towards negativity and we have a tendency to focus on the big thing right in front of us at the expense of the bigger picture even when this may not be truly representative of reality (the evolutionary psychology behind this can be left to another blog post.), this is one of the reasons why I tend to avoid mainstream news and thus gives hope that maybe these places that are so “dangerous”, may not actually be…
So, where better to test this theory than Caracas?
Fast forward 1 month and we have learnt:
1. That The “Insecurity” Does Exist
Have you seen The Truman Show?
You know, the guy lives in an artificial world created for the enjoyment of the viewers of a television show?
After two weeks, numerous mentions of the “Insecurity” and NO sign of crime, we started to become suspect…
Could it be possible that we are being filmed for a reality television show following two white boiz around “The Most Dangerous City In The World”?
I was leaning towards this eventuality before my date for the evening didn’t turn up at 6:30pm and did not reply to ANY of my messages…
I later found out that during the 10 minute walk from her office to our co-working space she was impolitely asked to hand over her phone and wallet to two men on a motorbike…
(At least this was her excuse.)
Giving her the benefit of the doubt I guess crime does happen in places like Caracas, but like almost everything in this world, it is a matter of probability.
The aim of the game is to adapt your behaviour to reduce this possibility to a likelihood of crime comparable to a city that you are prepared to live in.
2. To Make An Effort With Language
Don’t be a d*ck.
Just because English is the international language of business it doesn’t mean that it should be used blindly without second thought for the receiving party.
In fact, there is another way…
A method that take little effort and gives MASSIVE reward.
LEARN THE BASICS
I was too cool for GCSE French (I got a C, for all your foreigners out there, a pass) and have zero experience with Español.
Yet, after just a couple of days around Venezuelan people I had the basics nailed.
Jumping into a taxi or ordering your coffee and starting with an enthusiastic:
“Ola! Buenos dias, como estas?”
Will have a drastic impact on your ability to communicate.
3. To Use A Co-working Space
Look at our posture in that picture? Immaculate right? It was only our fifth attempt.
When working remotely, co-working spaces are a must in my opinion.
But what about your budget?
Yes, they may be slightly more expensive than your 1 latte per day in the local coffee shop…
But you are guaranteed security (maybe not a major factor in normal countries), free coffee and most importantly CONNECTION.
It’s hard to place financial value on friendships, and we made many in our first month.
Shout out to Impact Hub Caracas.
4. To Understand Risk
I was thinking about this in a wild taxi goose chase some suspect parts of the city today:
Your decision to do or not do something will (often subconsciously) depend on your estimation of the risk that bad things might happen against potential reward.
We can then break risk down into the product of likelihood and impact.
E.g. I would happily walk around a worse area of the city (likelihood) when carrying just a small amount of Venezuelan Bolivars (impact), but maybe would not when carrying my laptop, camera, phone etc.
So, when making decisions pertaining to your personal safety, learn to accurately estimate likelihood and minimise impact.
5. And To Just Take The Plunge
If I was sat in my bedroom in Chippenham now, I would be gloriously naive about what life is like on the other side of the world, I would be eating my mother’s delicious food, maybe reading a book and then heading to bed around now.
Instead, I am sitting overlooking this:
Listening to the sound of crime happening all around me.
Only joking, all I can hear is this type of music they call Reggaeton.
And I wouldn’t have gone through the heart stopping moment when a motorbike man pulls up to you on a deserted street at 11pm whilst waiting with the “ladies” on a Monday night, felt the comforting hand of a security guard as 7,500 Bolivars (the average monthly salary of a Venezuelan cleaner) slips from your pocket and proliferates into the wind or been graciously yet urgently warned against sitting on a curb by a main road at 7pm for fear of kidnapping by a helpful bystander.
But this is all part of life right?
Tom is the Founder of Virtual Valley, a platform that connects Entrepreneurs and Rockstar Virtual Assistants with the mission of giving Entrepreneurs back 10 million hours of their time by 2020. Tom writes about how you can grow your remote business on the Virtual Valley Blog, you can follow him on Instagram here: @tomhuntio and his handsome friend Dan here: @shakeybakes.