Tamara Jacobi lives in a jungle. It’s hard to find your Tarzan in a jungle wilderness, particularly if you are obsessed with your career, in her case operating the Tailwind Jungle Lodge in Mexico.
She grew up in Quebec on Lake Memphremagog, part of a border-hopping community that, for her, meant birth in a Vermont hospital, school in Quebec, shopping in Vermont, and university at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she devised the plan for her business. She calls herself a wildpreneur, the prefix meant not just for her jungle abode, but for all alternative entrepreneurs who shun briefcases and suits, trying unusual ventures. And in her recent book Wildpreneurs, as well as advice on issues such as finances and creativity, she also addresses how to find your Tarzan, perhaps because she made many mistakes before she met hers, Walter Wright.
She was sure he was her right man when they kayaked together since as a guide for many kayaking couples, she found it a revealing test of romantic relationships. “It’s unfair to say if you don’t paddle well your relationship is doomed, but it gives insight on the relationship and what you need to work on,” she says in a telephone interview. The person in front navigates and the person in the back steers … or, at least, that’s how it is supposed to be. She was used to steering, but her Tarzan had even more experience on water, and was living on his sailboat, studying at the Duke University Marine Lab, when they met, so she learned to adjust, sit in the front, and take on a new role.
Adjustment is key for relationships, particularly for wildpreneurs, who lead hectic, erratic and, well, wild lives. You have to prize your relationship as much as your business and career. That means not just preserving time for the relationship but scheduling time to talk about it, understand the other person better and make necessary adjustments. You don’t want to do that in a boardroom with a whiteboard and a PowerPoint deck. This Tarzan and Jane find it’s best when there’s a mix of romance, fun and work on the relationship. They like to get on their motorcycles, stop near a stream, have a picnic lunch and then have an earnest chat about themselves. One time road biking in Vermont he said “for the next 10 miles, let’s talk about ourselves.”
She found dating in a vacation paradise difficult to manage. She had to step back and become more grounded. “I was looking for my Prince Charming, the romantic fantasy. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s important to realize that you need to balance Prince Charming with reality,” she says.
Wildpreneurs lead exciting lives, meeting many fascinating people. They can try too hard to find romance, she feels. The time has to be right. You have to find yourself before you can find somebody else to share your life with.
That involves balancing career and relationship sensibly. “It’s like self-care. You really must take time for a lot of self-care and for love. Work and distractions – technological devices – can intrude,” she says. Even in a jungle.
She has been asked for three bits of advice from the many in her book and suggests her “Tarzan” might want to offer the third. He has been caring for their three-month-old son – Forrest (named after a relative, not the jungle) – during the interview and settles for communication. “Listen. Even if you don’t agree, listen. Then you can speak later. Disagreement doesn’t mean it won’t work out.”
Who best to advise wildpreneurs on relationships than Tarzan and Jane?
- Mentor and mentee are actually the same thing – two people devoted to mutual growth. “Who’s on first?” is irrelevant, business guru Tom Peters says in his newsletter.
- Sending a thank-you note after a job interview is more than politeness. Recruiter Gerald Walsh says it gives you the opportunity to point out things you may have forgotten to say in the interview and also helps the employer – who may have interviewed many people that day – remember you when you mention something discussed.
- Think in stop signs. Jennifer Gerves-Keen, in her book Show up like a Coach, says to stop using the words “but” and “however” you should keep your sentences short: “Stop trying to connect multiple sentences. Visualize a stop sign at the end of each thought. Pause. Give ‘gravitas’ or ‘weight’ to your words.”
- Experiments at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business suggest, contrary to prevailing mythology, you may learn less from failure than from success. Self-esteem could be the reason: It doesn’t feel good to fail, so people tune out.
- More on failure: Researchers at Kellogg School of Management compared scientists awarded grants early in their career to those who narrowly missed out on securing a grant, finding the two groups published at similar rates over the next 10 years – unexpectedly, given the narrow winners got an early leg up from that National Institutes of Health funding – and in a bigger surprise the losers were actually more likely to have “hit” papers in the five years after the rebuke.
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