But it’s my favorite for a reason, and at this point in my life, I was determined to keep crawling. With the support of my ever-patient parents and an encounter with Maxwell Maltz’ seminal self-help book, Psycho-Cybernetics, I was able to get back on my feet for attempt number two. I enrolled in Krakow’s AGH University’s Chemical Technology program, determined to finish this time around – fortunately, I didn’t. It was during this time that I met the love of my life – and now wife – Karolina, and if I’m honest, she describes what happened next more eloquently than I could in our blog.
I’ll give you the basics. This time, I made it to the finals of my last semester. As a little pre-exam treat, Karolina and I decided to book a weekend away at the Warsaw Marriott, where we promptly fell in love with the opulence of it all. It made me ask myself whether it was possible to live like that forever. I asked Karolina if she felt the same, although, in hindsight, I think she saw it as more of a hypothetical. A few days later and I found myself sitting in my university’s exam hall, unable to shake the thought from my head. Five minutes went by before I picked up my pencil, and another five passed before I could bring myself to open the first page of my answer booklet. I looked around. Heads down. Noses to paper. Furious scribbling. And I stood up, blank paper in hand, and walked out the door, turning in the empty pages on my way. As I walked out of that building, I felt like a king. Then, the adrenaline wore off. I had as long as it took me to walk home to figure out how to break the news to Karolina. And my parents? Jesus.
Unsurprisingly, my parents put an end to their financial support, but I knew I could count on Karolina to help me make this work. Together, we came up with a plan to use my knowledge of the mobile phone market to begin dropshipping. I know, I know – every man and his dog has dabbled with dropshipping by now, but back then, in Poland, it was the height of innovation. And, what’s more, I was successful. I honed my marketing skills and threw myself into every aspect of my business, ultimately outselling every retailer in the country. After two years, we finally had the stability to live out our dream of working from paradise and booked two one-way tickets to Thailand. And then I found myself $100,000 in the red.
The quality of the products I was importing from China took a nosedive, and I found myself handing out more money in refunds than I was making from sales. My lack of accounting expertise had meant I’d grossly overestimated our profits too. Flying to walking to crawling. We moved out of our apartment and back into Karolina’s childhood bedroom at her parents’ place, but we still had our tickets to paradise. We could crawl forward. Luckily, Karolina had the idea of starting a travel blog – again, a relatively novel concept at the time – which would mean we didn’t have to starve on the streets of Bangkok.