The genius in the jungle

April 7, 2010
Darien, Panama

My Panamanian boat captain looked at me like I was crazy.

“Amigo, you shouldn’t jump in over here… the waves are very dangerous.” I agreed. But we had been trolling for sailfish for a couple of hours with absolutely no success, and I really felt like livening up my day a bit.

At the time, our fishing boat was passing an area where particularly violent waves were pulverizing a rocky patch of coastline, and I thought it would be fun to challenge nature… so I dove in.

The waves immediately took me over, hurtling me around in the same way that a dog wrestles for his chew toy. After a few minutes of fighting the waves, I decided that I’d had enough danger, and I swam back to the boat to join my companions.

And that, my friend, is about the only sporting highlight of my fishing trip; to put it more plainly, I spent 5 days at the most famous luxury fishing resort in the world… and I came away empty handed.

Fortunately, though, the other benefits of the trip were far more exciting.

This past Saturday morning, a group of 30 members of the Atlas 400 club took a charter plane into Panama’s Darien jungle. Darien is just north of the Colombian border in the middle of nowhere, and the resort is literally carved out of the jungle on the Pacific Ocean.

(As an aside, I should tell you that there’s still gold nuggets in Darien’s hill; the native Indians pan for gold and walk down to the resort to trade for other goods. Even in this harsh, remote environment, they still know the right price of gold within $1 or $2 of spot!)

The concept of our fishing trip was to pull members away from the normal distractions of their daily lives to build lasting relationships through unique and memorable experiences. Deep-sea fishing in the remote Pacific jungles of Panama definitely qualified.

The cast of characters who attended this trip was incredibly unique– there was my good friend the salsa-dancing ninja master, a best-selling fiction author, an oil tycoon, the world’s foremost collectables expert, and several successful entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals.

Again, while the goal of the trip was mostly social, some interesting things happen when you put this many successful people together on a remote resort for 5-days…

As for me, aside from establishing and growing some really rewarding relationships, I was presented with a few actionable investment opportunities, as well as some fantastic business advice from one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

In fact, I expect to make an extra $1.2 million over the next 18-months because of the ideas that he gave me.

The reason I’m telling you this is to stress one important point– great ideas are really the most valuable commodities in business, and they are few and far between.

Most ideas out there are generic and mediocre– businesses generally tend to copycat each other, blindly following an established formula for success without working to improve or innovate.

In the long run, this is a death sentence.

On the other hand, a creative new idea is a spark that can ignite the fuel of properly-resourced execution. This is what creates long-term successful businesses, and it all starts with a great idea.

Successful entrepreneurs understand and harness this powerful concept.

To give you an example, my friend Porter Stansberry, who is a fantastic entrepreneur, holds an invitation-only conference each spring that usually takes place in a very luxurious setting.

He invites smart and successful people that he knows, puts them up in a luxury resort, and asks them to discuss their best ideas; the point is to get everyone away from their daily distractions and put smart people in a room together to brainstorm and collaborate.

Each time they’ve done this, Porter’s team comes away with some really brilliant ideas that, when executed, generate a lot of money for his company. Hosting the conference is expensive… but the ideas that come out of it are worth 10 times as much.

Frankly, anybody can do the same thing… you don’t have to go to the middle of the jungle or to an expensive resort to get great ideas; you just need to surround yourself with the right people in the right setting.

The best way to do this is to get away from the daily grind: home, office, traffic, email, etc. are all creative impediments. Put some space between you and your to-do list, and invite some smart people along whose opinions you respect.

Ideally, they should not be part of your normal routine… and this is critical.

Put all the issues on the table in total candor– what problems are you experiencing, and how can you solve them? Where do you want to take your business or career? What do you really want to be doing with your life, and how can you accomplish your goals?

I would really encourage you to consider this approach if you’re looking to jumpstart your business or personal life… a single great idea can be a game changer, potentially setting your life or business on a completely different, more rewarding path.