Finding Purpose Pedaling Across the World with Jamie Bianchini – Episode 24
By Donna LoughlinIn 2002, Jamie Bianchini was a struggling entrepreneur with a mountain of debt, a string of failed ventures and no idea where he was going next.
So he decided to go everywhere.
In what amounted to a Hail Mary attempt to change his life, he and a partner embarked on an eight-year, 80-country bicycle journey across the globe. But along the way, he realized there was more to his journey than changing his own life. Instead, he learned he could achieve something even greater by changing the lives of others.
It was a grand undertaking for someone who, at that point in his life, had been obsessed with achieving and striving but with little to show for it.
“My hypothesis was, ‘What if I put the same level of passion towards giving as I do to achieving,’” he told me. “And what if I just push them at the same time in the same envelope and kind of tried to keep them a little bit more balanced? What would life look like?’ So the whole trip became about ‘how can I help?’”
At first the idea was simply that Jamie, along with friend and partner Garryck Hampton, would travel the world on their bikes, hitting some of the most challenging trails on the planet. But they agreed that there had to be more than just riding for riding’s sake. They wanted their journey to have a bigger impact than just simply satisfying their own need for adventure. Something that had been gnawing at Jamie for most of his adult life was how much Americans tended to fear the unknown—especially when it came to other cultures.
“A lot of people just have fears of different languages, and cultures, and food, and illnesses, and all these fears that keep them from going out and connecting with other humans outside of their little bubble that they live in,” he said. “And it's a shame because there are some really amazing, authentic human experiences I don't think people should miss in this journey we have of life. So the idea became we’d each have a tandem bicycle with an empty seat on the back of it and we’d invite total strangers to come on and ride with us,” he said. “It was a gesture of friendship and connection. It brought me back to that pure childhood nature of curiosity that kind of gets lost as we get older.”
Jamie and Garryk decided to call their rolling venture “Peace Pedalers.” They documented their journey on their website — which would eventually be the basis for Jamie’s book, A Bicycle Built for 2 Billion: One Man’s Adventure Around the World in Search of Love, Compassion and Connection.
By the time the expedition ended in 2010, he’d managed to help build a school for AIDS orphans in Uganda, bring clean water to small villages in Bolivia, and launch more than a dozen other grassroots charities and other projects all over the globe.
When he finally decided to get off the road and get back to his own career, he was a changed person. He’s since launched several successful businesses and continues to speak about his experiences abroad. His latest venture, Profit & Purpose is an organization he built to help purpose-driven organizations by managing their infrastructure to allow them to focus their energy on the causes and communities they serve.
“Companies that are already purpose-driven, they already have giving as part of their ecosystem,” he said. “All their employees already are excited about what the company is doing above and beyond making money and serving their customers. So what I’m trying to do is make it easier for them to give and have a real impact.”
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