Monday, February 8, 2010

Vision Quest - Jumping off corporate - a friend's story

This is a great story of a childhood friend who jumped off the corporate bridge 10 years ago and hasn't looked back...What are you doing to follow your dreams?

Ten years ago, as a footloose bachelor of 35, David Simchock clocked out of the corporate world and set out on a journey that would turn his life upside down. With a nest egg of savings, he left his suit-and-tie job as a manager for a large power company in England, where he’d resided for five years, and set out to scratch a long-festering itch to travel. He had no itinerary but had a mission to create a meaningful experience. So off he went, to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Chile, Thailand, Laos, Nepal. After a year of traveling, he says, “I wanted to keep going.” And go he did — across about 25 countries on five continents over the course of three years. He would learn to speak Spanish in Ecuador. He would journey up the Amazon for eight days aboard a stranger’s aluminum boat. He would serve as a toastmaster at a New Zealand wedding. And he would spend a month motorcycling from France to Italy, with a detour along the way to attend the San Fermín festival and watch participants run with the bulls in Pamplona. “You can live on $10 a day in some of these countries,” he says. “If you drink beer, it gets a little more expensive.”

When it was over, when at last he returned to his native New Jersey, Simchock would take the lessons he’d learned from three years on the road and parlay them into a successful new career — one he could do in his own back yard.

Simchock, now 45, stands in the finished basement of his studio in Pennington that serves as the headquarters for his photography business, Vagabond Vistas ( The venture is a direct result of his wanderlust. When he started traveling, he carried a Nikon F80 (later upgraded to a Nikon D700 digital SLR) to capture thousands of images: unsmiling elderly men in Peru, laughing children in Vietnam, street scenes in Krakow and Kathmandu. Everywhere he went he would show his work, and the response was always the same: “These are really good. You should do something with this.” Do something with this. He agreed, but do what?

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