5 Lessons I Learned from my Trip to Dallas, Texas
Do you know what is the best way to expand your horizons both in business and life?
Last week I was happy to spend a few days in one of the largest US cities: Dallas, Texas.
The reason of this trip was mainly pleasure for me. I was there to support my good friend Robert Zanon who went to meet one of our favorite entrepreneurs, Patrick Bed-David, for a mentoring session.
It’s not very often that I get to travel to the states, so I was excited to join him (even though I did not get to meet Patrick myself).
We were also joined by Nasos from Dutrition and we all had an awesome time there, with lots of fun and mini productivity sessions.
On our second day we were also glad to meet Russ from Ambitious Types and roam around the city visiting various sites and talking about business (OK, just a little).
Even though I live in Athens, Greece, very far from the United States, I believe I am quite delved into the American culture and way of life. Actually visiting America though, is a whole different story and I learned (and confirmed first hand) a lot of different things.
Let’s discuss about some useful insights that I had during my trip!
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1) Capital always flies where it is best treated
What I mean by this is that capital will always be attracted to the places (or cities or countries), where it enjoys the best “treatment”.
Think about this way: wouldn’t you want to allocate your money to the venture that would yield the best ROI for you? Of course you would. And that is what is happening all over the world, both in micro and macro level.
Specifically Texas has been in growth mode the past few years and the local economy is booming! This comes in stark contrast to the economy of my home country, which has been shrinking and struggling during that same time.
Now, is it an accident that Texas is growing rapidly?
Of course it is not. One of the reasons is that the area is rich in natural resources (see oil) and that always bodes well with the economy.
But this has always been the case. So what has changed lately?
The main reason is that Texas is a state that treats capital very well. First of all, it is one of the few states that do not tax individual wage income.
At the same time, Texas has been ranking as one of the best states for business for several years now.
So it is perfectly natural that businesses and capital are attracted to Texas, being the main driver of the economic boom of the area.
Now, this does not only apply to financial capital. It also applies to other forms of capital, like human capital.
This is reflected by the fact that the state’s population has been increasing as people from other states have been flocking to it.
In fact, five of the nation’s eleven fastest-growing cities are in Texas!
This should be a good lesson for all of us and mainly the governments of Western countries which have been raising taxes and suffocating businesses for years now.
2) Technology is disrupting everything
As I have mentioned many times, technology disruption is going to be one of the most impactful mega-trends that will unfold during our lifetime.
For every market inefficiency, there is going to be an entrepreneur who will bring a totally new and radical solution to the table, and will forcefully change the status quo.
This is happening in several industries right now, even those that might be considered old and boring.
I will give some examples from our trip which are characteristic of this.
First of all, let’s discuss our accommodation. While planning our stay at Dallas, we did not even consider staying at a hotel. Our initial thought was to use an online marketplace which brings together people that want to rent out their properties and people like us who want to spend a few days in a specific location.
In that way, we managed to book a nice, modern loft, at the exact area of the city that we wanted to. Also, note that this was essentially a whole apartment, something that added to the fun since we were hanging all together, co-working or just chilling.
During our downtime in the apartment, we occasionally watched a few series and documentaries (check out Africa from BBC Earth, amazing production).
Now, we did not have to go out and rent any of these, or wait for them to download. We were using an online streaming service that delivered the content to us on-demand. Cool stuff!
Finally, let’s see how we handled our transportation, another “boring” industry that affects our lives. As you might have already guessed, we were using an app where you submit your destination and you request for a driver that will get you there.
The experience we had with this was awesome. The app worked smoothly, the people operating the “taxis” were in their majority very friendly and helpful, and we even got a ride in a luxurious car without having to use the premium version of the app. What is not to like?
So there you have it, three simple examples of how technology actually reshapes our lives. And that is only the beginning.
3) You have to build systems in your business
The whole trip to Dallas lasted about 1 week. During that time, the impact of my relocation on my businesses was exactly zero.
There was no difference in the operations of my businesses whether I was in Athens or in another continent. As you might imagine, there was no fluctuation in my income either.
During my time away, everything worked as normal. Content was published, campaigns were executed, products were promoted and revenue was generated.
Again, this was no accident.
The way my ventures have been designed is to function independently of where I might be. This has been achieved by building systems which are self-sustainable in the highest degree possible and need only minimum input from me.
Another major part of this is is the fact that all my businesses are internet based. As such, in order to have an overview of them, what I need is only my laptop and internet access.
Contrast this with the case of an employee or even of a small business owner who runs a brick and mortar store which has not been systematized.
Having built the proper systems all these years, allowed me to step away from the businesses without them crumbling.
We still had a few productivity sessions while in Dallas, but that was because I wanted to stay ahead of the game and because it is much more fun when you are working side by side with other fellow entrepreneurs.
4) American people are unhealthy
Now, this sounds like a vast generalization, but please stay with me.
As I said, I am quite familiar with the American culture and way of life, since the majority of the content that I consume online comes from there, and all my businesses are related in one way or another with the United States.
So I had a vague idea about the health issues that the average American faces, but I had to see it with my eyes in order to fully understand the magnitude of the problem.
In short, the American people are (in average) very unhealthy. And unfortunately, this makes sense (I will explain what I mean).
This unhealthiness fact appears in many ways.
The most obvious is the obesity of the people around you. In Greece, there are also a lot of fat and obese people, especially younger children (which is extremely sad). But people in America are on a whole new level on this.
Another not so evident way is the skin condition of the people there. The complexion of many of them was in a terrible state. Pimples, irritations and all kinds of nasty stuff. This is of course a sign of bad nutrition, perhaps combined with stress.
Now, why do I mention that this unhealthy state makes total sense?
Well because the whole American lifestyle pushes the average person towards it.
Let’s see how this manifests.
First of all, the nutritional input is atrocious. This happens for a lot of reasons, but mainly because prices on every type of processed food is quite low. Additionally, there are hundreds and hundreds of “food” items that vie for your attention at the aisles of the supermarkets and grocery stores.
At the same time, the prices on vegetables and fruits are out of whack! I have never seen something like that before.
Consider this. A single apple might cost you $1 (which looked like it had come out of a factory by the way). At the same time, a burger in your local fast food might cost around $2. That’s insane!
In a “calories to dollar” way of comparing things, processed food packs more energy so it is totally reasonable for people, especially of lower means, to prefer it.
People are also used to consume sodas (liquid calories) like crazy. With one order you could get unlimited refills, so all these empty calories quickly add up.
Couple all of the above with the fact that people rarely walk around (they use their huge automobiles to move around the city), and you have a perfect combination for a totally unhealthy lifestyle.
I believe Texas is a more representative state of what America really is than New York or Los Angeles. And on the health front, it represents a total failure.
5) America is the Mother of Capitalism (and Consumerism)
Not much of a news, I know. But America is on a whole different level in this area.
America is the land of opportunity, plain and simple.
Pretty much every aspect of life there is centered around profit, which might sound and feel a bit transactional, but at the end of the day, it is all about value exchange.
Advertising is everywhere, and it’s usual clever too. Brands are innovating and offering new products and services. People are hustling and making good money for it.
All in all, it is an entrepreneur’s joy!
We met people that worked two jobs, not because they had to (some of them did), but because they wanted to capitalize on the economic growth of the area. We also met people that had day jobs that would allow them to raise capital to launch their own businesses (smart move).
Additionally, something that really struck me was the vastness of the market. The US market is insanely huge, and even though I experienced just a fraction of its size, it was enough to make me realize how enormous the potential there is.
It is pretty clear to me that if you want to scale your business to new levels, the US is your number one country to target.
On the topic of consumerism, there is not much to say either. The money velocity (the frequency at which currency changes hands) is unbelievable. People are spending money, and even products that seemed useless or valueless had their place in the market.
In short, if you want to get rich, America is one of the best places to be (if not the best). If it is not possible to be located there, the second best option is to have revenue that originates from it (like me).
My trip to Dallas, Texas was a great experience. Me and the gang had a lot of fun, and at the same time I was exposed to new things and learned lots of lessons.
The United States of America is a unique country on its own way and I was glad I visited it again after a lot of time (I had been in New York almost a decade ago).
It seems that globalization is bringing countries “closer” and makes their cultures more uniform, a trend that will continue for the years to come.
At the same time, technology is disrupting the way we have been living and reshapes our daily lives.
Lots of interesting things are going to unfold in the following years. It’s an amazing time to be alive!
Great article Ilias, and thanks for sharing your insights!