SpokenHere CEO, Bobby Lahiere, shares some thoughts on his latest adventure to Medellin, Colombia
We all know what it’s like to have a job. But how many of us can say we truly love what we do? And how often are we truly working on relationship building?
It’s probably a safe bet to say that a lot of people don’t find deep fulfillment in whatever they do to support themselves and their families. Jim Collins once wrote about the “Hedgehog Concept,” the idea that if you can somehow work in the glorious intersection between what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at, and what you can make money at, you’ll never really “work” a day in your life. For those of us who find ourselves working in that intersection, our labors can be lucrative and rewarding. I am one of those lucky people.
Not only have I been able to work in a field that I love (foreign languages), I have also been able to make a decent living out of it. I’ll leave it to others to assess whether I am good or not.
One of the best parts of my career in language services is that I get to meet people from all over the world. In the 30 years I have been in this industry, I have met some amazing people from disparate backgrounds and cultures. I can count friends now in probably 50 or 60 countries. That’s the power of working with languages — it provides an opportunity to build relationships with a variety of people.
One such friend lives in Colombia. In April 2022, I had the opportunity to travel to Medellín on a retreat with my entrepreneur forum. The former home base of the biggest and most dangerous drug cartel in the world is now a city brimming with life and energy. Nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” because of its consistently fair weather year round, Medellín is the very essence of South America.
Standing in the heart of the city, it was hard to imagine that just a few decades ago, it was not a very safe place to be. In fact, the highlight of our trip was taking a guided tour through Comuna 13, a hillside community that had been labeled the most dangerous neighborhood in the world in the 1980s and 1990s. Now it boasts a vibrant community of people playing music, cooking delicious Colombian foods, and selling souvenirs to the hordes of tourists that venture into it.
As luck would have it, one of my company’s best and longest serving translators, an incredibly sweet man by the name of Juan Carlos, happens to live in Medellín. My trip presented a wonderful opportunity to connect with Juan Carlos.
During some of my free time, I met him at his apartment, where we shared a few beers and one of the favorite snacks for Colombians — passion fruit. If you’ve ever had a passion fruit, you know they look kind of slimy and unappetizing on the inside, but they are incredibly delicious.
As I scooped out my first spoonful of this exotic fruit and popped it in my mouth, I began to chew the gelatinous glob, seeds and all. Juan Carlos, and my Medellín driver and guide, Carlos André, both quickly exclaimed that you aren’t supposed to chew the seeds, just swallow the mass whole. We all had a huge laugh, and it, like so many other encounters I’ve had with international friends I’ve met in this business, has added another meaningful, authentic, and funny experience to my life stories.
A Mission to Build Relationships with True Connection
If you’re familiar with the ethos that SpokenHere was founded on, the intersection of connection and relationship building has always been at our core. That’s why it was so restorative for me to spend time with the people that have helped to shape SpokenHere, and to be reminded once again why cultivating meaningful relationships is the most fulfilling work a company can do!
I’m grateful for this life path; for the ways this journey has allowed me to immerse in amazing cultures, spend time with great people, and to find the seamless intersection of work and my biggest passions.