How travel + startups define my ‘why’

Ali El-Shayeb
3 min readJul 3, 2018


If you know me, I rarely talk outside of two things: travelling and startups. I follow quite a few travel blogs and Anthony Bourdain was one of them. His lessons remind me how small I am in a big world and how much further I have to go. Just thought I’d share 4 quotes from Bourdain that help define my ‘why’. A little late to this post, but here it goes…

Emphasize the moment

“Your body is not a temple: It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

Live in the present as much as you plan for the future. Always seek out experiences that define who you are. At the end of it all, what’s stopping us from expressing our lives as a polynomial equations. As nerdy as it sounds, it’s a million times better than living in robot mode.

Be curious

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

My curiosity drives me to challenge myself physically and mentally. I’ve learned too soon the price of not taking advantage of opportunity. I remember a night I camped at the bottom of the Colca Canyon in a small village only to learn that in the midst of all the noise, there’s happiness to be found in a simple life that is worth living.

‘New’ should be the norm

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

In 2017, I spent 4 months on exchange living in France and travelling around Europe. After visiting close to 24 cities, every one of them had something valuable to teach me. There’s a whole world out there filled with people who think similarly and differently than all of us. To travel and meet them is so worth it.

Stay uncomfortable

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

What motivates me about building companies is the ability to add value from day 0. When you’re starting a new venture you’re always putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. I always tell myself to take the smallest things in life, and break habits, try it, you might discover a nugget or two.

Follow my travel journey on Instagram and my startup journey on Linkedin.