Full Transcript - Dal LaMagna - Wild Business Growth Podcast #292

Full Transcript – Thor Pedersen – Wild Business Growth Podcast #256

This is the full transcript for Episode #256 of the Wild Business Growth Podcast featuring Thor Pedersen – Every Country Without Flying, Once Upon a Saga. You can listen to the interview and learn more here. Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Thor Pedersen 0:00
3 of the ships that I have traveled on board are confirmed to be at the bottom of the sea today.

Max Branstetter 0:20
Hello, hi. Hey, hey hello. Welcome back to the Wild Business Growth Podcast. This is your place to hear from a new entrepreneur every single Wednesday morning who’s turning Wild ideas into Wild growth. I’m your host, Max Branstetter, Founder and Podcast Producer at MaxPodcasting, and you can email me at to save time with your high-quality podcast. This is episode 256 and today’s guest is Thor Pedersen. Thor has made history by becoming the first person ever to visit every single country in the world without going on a single flight. That’s 203 countries. He did it in just under 10 years, and he has the stories and memories to last a lifetime. And that’s what he’s here to share with us today. In this episode, we talk all aspects of his journey including preparation, what made him decide to do it in the first place, the most memorable moments from his incredible journey, how it changed him what he thinks of the world. And some crazy crazy, good good good questions submitted by you, Wild Listeners. It is Thor. Enjoyyyyyy the showwwwwww!

Aaaaalrightyyyyy we are here with Thor Pedersen who I’m pronouncing in the more Americanized English version because I’m not even going to I’m not even going to try with the Danish/even Finnish pronunciation. But Thor set a world record for traveling to every country in the world. Without hopping on a single flight. I have a million questions. And we have further millions of questions from wild listeners that we’ll get to later in the show because they always come up with better questions than me. But so we’re really excited to speak with you and shocked that you’re not you know, on a boat or a ship right now. Hi. Thanks for coming. How you doing today?

Thor Pedersen 2:30
I’m really good. Thanks for having me on your podcast. I’m excited about this.

Max Branstetter 2:35
Of course, of course. And I think you before even saying a word have one of the most interesting backstories in life journeys of of anybody I’ve ever spoken to. It was the biggest question I’m wondering about first is how exhausted Are you from all your travels?

Thor Pedersen 2:56
very exhausted. I mean it it’s mentally exhausting, as well as physically exhausting. And I am in this transition of being back home. I’ve been home for about 70 days now, which isn’t a lot in the big picture. I think we are we’re all familiar with military personnel that they do their service time overseas. And the there’s an adjustment period for anyone who comes back after something stressful and under special circumstances. And some of those people, they never really make it back home mentally. And the question is, will I?

Max Branstetter 3:40
Well, you seem you seem at peace, at least at the current moment when you’re traveling for a decade. And boy, have you traveled is there any sort of like extended long term jetlag that after having so many trips back to back that you feel,

Thor Pedersen 3:55
not jet lag in the sense that you’re unfamiliar with which time zone you’re in, nor that your body is unfamiliar with it? It’s slow travel. So in that sense, your your body copes with the temperature changes, the time change less as the time changes, you’re going from one time zone to the next. But ya know, there’s there’s a fatigue that sets in, over the course of time go in. I’ve met people who have traveled for a few months or three months or even six months. And there’s a fatigue that sets in where people are getting ready to go home. I’ve met a few people who travel for a year, very few people who’ve traveled for two years and not many people have traveled beyond that. And I made it to almost 10 So this is definitely a fatigue within

Max Branstetter 4:49
it. Do you have any tips for getting over that fatigue and keeping that wanderlust, no matter how long your travels are?

Thor Pedersen 4:58
I mean, I’m still very curious. is about the world and there are so many places I haven’t gone to and so many places I haven’t seen. And there are even more places I guess that I would like to return to I know people all around the world and I want to go back and rejoice and rekindle with with many of those souls, there’s there’s still a lot of good travel to be had out there.

Max Branstetter 5:21
Without further ado, let’s get to once upon a saga. And so this is kind of the the name for your your journey of going to so many countries, and I think it was very ambitious for anybody to try to check off on their bucket list every country in the world. But you also made it a bit harder by saying I’m not going to take any flights.

Thor Pedersen 5:47
Yeah, unnecessarily unnecessary.

Max Branstetter 5:51
What made you one decide to go on this crazy curious journey and to decide to add in the no flight factor?

Thor Pedersen 6:01
The answer to both questions would be the same. But overall, I’m fond of traveling. And I’m fond of exploring, but I didn’t have any plans of visiting every country in the world. None until I back in 2013. Discovered that no one had done it before completely without flying. So back in 2013, I think there were about 200 people who have managed to reach every country in the world. So I mean, it’s long gone becoming the first someone that that back in the 80s. But 200, that’s not a lot. And especially not if you put it in perspective, more than 550 people have been to space, more than 6000 people have been on top of Everest. So 200 people is really not a lot. No one had, however, managed to accomplish it completely without flying. And I thought that was significant. And I eventually took the task upon myself to do so. And I thought I would be able to do it in three and a half, maybe four years. There were a few curveballs thrown my way along along the years. What was

Max Branstetter 7:13
the moment that made the difference from this just being a fun thought to know, I’m actually going to start planning and start getting serious about this journey?

Thor Pedersen 7:23
Yeah, that’s a really good question. Sort of like a fuzzy kind of timeline there. In the beginning, I took great interest in it. And I did research and I learned more and more about that world of elite travelers, and extreme travelers. What was the real transition? I guess? I was toying with the idea. I wasn’t planning it as something I was going to do. I was just pondering like, Okay, what would a budget be? What kind of budget would cover every country in the world? And what would you pack? And what was the routing be? I mean, if you’re not flying, then you better have the logistics worked out pretty solid. And with that comes some bureaucracy as well. There are certain countries, if you go to them, then you’re not welcome in other countries. So you need to get the order, right. But then again, you’re not flying. So that complicates things greatly. And then somewhere along the line, I just realized that I had a half baked project and that I was really into it, I was I was very keen on the overall idea of going out and having an amazing adventure, and doing something that no one had ever done before, and claiming that. So let’s say four or five months in overall, I would say it’s probably a 10 month planning period. But the first three, four, maybe five months, were just there was just me toying with the idea.

Max Branstetter 8:56
And you’ve stumbled on to some areas there that are of extreme curiosity to me, one of them is on the packing side. I mean, you must be the best Packer in history besides the Green Bay Packers, but what’s your best tip for packing efficiently?

Thor Pedersen 9:16
I mean, you want to make sure that you can cram as much into your bag as possible. And for that, I recommend rolling your clothes. So I roll all my clothes. And that way, I also know what’s clean and what’s not clean. Because if it’s not rolled, then I probably wore it already. And it’s waiting for we’re going into laundry. Trying to work out what can be used in more than one way is also really handy. So you’re not bringing two or three items. If you can find one item that sort of covers all the bases. That’s another pretty good tip. And then I mean for for long distance travel. Look at what the climate is if you’re primarily going to be in warm countries. Then maybe you don’t need a jacket. And when you eventually do need a jacket, maybe you can just buy a cheap one locally, then you’re not carrying that.

Max Branstetter 10:08
Appreciate that. And I’m a huge fan of rolling. I’ve done it ever since college, I think my college roommate, one of my good buddies, Alex found or heard online somewhere that it’s more efficient if you really are close when packing. And I do it every time now. And it is I mean, it’s a great use of space. What kind of suitcase slash suitcases if you’ve ventured into multiple Did you most often take on your journey?

Thor Pedersen 10:33
Well, I pretty much left home with what I what I came back home with. So I left home with a duffel bag. Which for people who don’t know what a duffel bag is, it’s basically a roundish bag with one big room and you can have everything within that. And then I had a small day back just a backpack that I could bring with me. So the duffel bag would go under the bus or on top of the bus and the train and that kind of stuff. And then the day bag would have my essentials, anything that I really just couldn’t lose or didn’t want to lose or something that I would need on a everyday basis. And I could have that between my legs while sitting in buses and trains and onboard ships.

Max Branstetter 11:18
I was going to be shocked if you said like, oh, we have, we took seven large rolly bags that we take everywhere. Now I definitely definitely got to keep it. Keep it tight there. And then you mentioned budget as well. I think anybody who hears your story, that’s probably one of the most the biggest things you’re wondering about is how in the world you’re able to fund this slash raise money for it and like not go completely bankrupt somewhere in this past decade. How did you pull that up?

Thor Pedersen 11:49
With great difficulty. I spent some time going through blogs and talking to people and finding out what people who’d gone for many months and sometimes years of traveling, what kind of budgets they’ve set themselves. And I worked out that 20 US dollars per day as an average budget that would should cover my bases. So that would cover transportation, accommodation meals and visa those four elements within $20 a day. But then some days I wouldn’t spend any money whatsoever, or some days I just spent eight or $12 or $10. Who knows. Other days, I would have to buy a visa and it would run me 150 US dollars. So bit of up and down. So where was that money going to come from? Well, I didn’t want to pay for this project. I was pretty set on that someone would have to be interested enough to fund the budget. I didn’t want to come home after several years and be in debt. Especially not at my age I was 34 years old, when I set out so I’m thinking it would take four years I’d come

Max Branstetter 13:00
down here 7476.

Thor Pedersen 13:02
So so I thought I’d be back when I was 38. And I thought that was not a good age to come back home and be in debt. So really, I figured something that size and something that is interesting, that should be able to draw in sponsors, or partners. And very quickly, I found Ross engineering and Ross engineering is a Danish company with a focus on geothermal energy. So sustainable energy. And they thought it was a crazy idea. And it was so crazy, they had to be a part of it. So I left home and had them backing me. But then unfortunately, a couple of years in they, they couldn’t back me financially anymore. They had to hold on to their finances. So it was difficult times the oil prices were real low. And that was sort of changing the market for them. So I had to work something out. And I started spending my own money and I spend all of it and I did a crowdfunding campaign and people they started donating. And I did a little bit of work along the way. And then eventually Ross engineering came back on again. So it’s really been a mix of corporate sponsorship, and self funding and donations. So you’ve

Max Branstetter 14:23
learned a ton now it’s like you could have a whole separate career in fundraising or maybe just entrepreneurship in general because you know, how to how to survive and how to raise money in that in that world. Yeah, I’m curious but I’m endlessly curious as you are but really curious about your planning phase for this. So like, you know, you need to get to every country in the world. I don’t know if there’s like a best route to do that. Like how did you decide like what countries slash continents you would hit first and, and go from there?

Thor Pedersen 14:57
Yeah, that’s a good question as well. I I was looking at the map and trying to work out what makes sense. And I knew that I wanted to leave the Pacific Ocean towards the end, because it consists of a lot of small island nations and vast distance in between, there would be no ferry connection. So there would be no easy access by buying a ticket and reaching those destinations. So my theory was that towards the end of the project, we’d have the largest amount of attention both through media and social media, but also that it would provide incentive, that if you go to someone and say, I really need to get on a ship to go to Island x, then they’d say, Okay, how far down the line, are you this? I’ve been to eight countries already. They’ve got like, Oh, get out of here. But if you say I have eight countries left up into 100, and something countries, then I think there’s a higher likelihood that people they would step in and say, Okay, let’s get you to the last few countries, I can help out, I know somebody. So the Pacific towards the end. I’m from Denmark, that’s in the north of Europe, open borders, and small countries and really good logistics. So I decided, well, I was going to do that the bigger part of Europe to begin with. And then I was going to go north, west, across the Atlantic Ocean and get to North America, which I figure is pretty much similar in many ways in terms of culture, and I know the language, so that’s helpful. And then I’ve been to Central America before, so I figured, okay, well, then Central America will lead me into South America. I’ve never been to South America before. And then once I’m done with South America, then the Caribbean, and then the Caribbean would be a precursor for the Pacific, it would give me some idea about trying to find vessels and, and do the island hopping thing. And, yeah, that wasn’t easy at all. But it was a lot easier than the Pacific that’s for sure. And rituals done with the Western Hemisphere, you know, so then come east, again, over the Atlantic and get into Africa. And then Africa holds more than 25% of the world’s countries, Africa’s 54 countries. So starting in northwest Africa, then doing West Africa, and that connects down to Central Africa and South Africa and East Africa. And then there are some island nations in the Indian Ocean and come back into East Africa and head up to North Africa, finish the African continent, then back in Europe finish off the eastern part of Europe, which brings me into the Middle East. And then clock the countries within the Middle East and Middle East as a part of ACS. So just continue through Central Asia and Central Asia ties it over to East Asia, and then into Southeast Asia and Southeast Asia eventually spat me out into the South Pacific, and then South Pacific, North Pacific. And then my plan was to finish off with New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and Maldives. But then, of course, we had a global pandemic, and it changed the order of the remaining island nations.

Max Branstetter 18:23
It because of COVID and Laughlin and everything you were stuck in, was it was it pretty much the entirety, the entirety of of it was Hong Kong.

Thor Pedersen 18:33
Yeah, I mean, I was in Hong Kong for two years. That pandemic lasted a lot longer for me than it did for most other people. Because I arrived in Hong Kong before it was announced as a global pandemic. At that time, it was a virus outbreak in Wuhan in China. And because of that, a lot of countries, they shut their borders towards greater China. So I was in Hong Kong, and that counts as Greater China along with Macau, which seems really unfair, because there were no cases or there was nothing to be worried about when anyone coming in and out of Hong Kong. But that was just the way it was. So that’s really where it started for me. And then a few months later was worldwide and it was announced a global pandemic. And then after two years in Hong Kong to continue, but the global pandemic was still not called off by the WHO. And most of my remaining countries still had their border borders sealed with COVID restrictions and our code restrictions for the container ships which was my main form of transportation to get to these island nations. So I had an additional year of hardship, dealing with the conditions under a global pandemic. While most of the world has moved on in one way or the other. It just goes to

Max Branstetter 19:59
show So that that famous line of anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And for you, if you’re planning this out, you’re planning to go to every country in the world probably nowhere in your mind, did you think there was going to be something that took over the world? And she would literally shut down borders? Like it’s just unbelievable.

Thor Pedersen 20:19
You miss on that list? Or you go world war three, alien invasion global pandemic? Nah, none of that’s gonna happen. Like, why would it? But yes, price,

Max Branstetter 20:31
big, big surprise. How about transportation? So how many forms of transportation did you take throughout this journey?

Thor Pedersen 20:38
A lot. How many most most of them I suspect, the overall idea was that was going to conduct the project with public transportation wherever possible. And that meant that the bulk of my transportation lies within buses and trains and ships, I should say, but But overall, the idea was buses, trains and ferries. However, that’s just not going to be good enough for going everywhere. So yeah, lots of taxis, many, many shared taxis. You would be surprised how many people you can get into a Toyota Corolla in some parts of the world. I mean, I’ve been with a tugboat. I’ve been with a high performance yard. I’ve been with fishing boats and trolls. I’ve been with so many different types of vessels that it’s ridiculous. But and that’s so many different types of buses, small buses, big buses, double deckers. Both by people, no buses, people, no trains. And that’s basically what connects most of the world.

Max Branstetter 21:49
So after this crazy experience, what would you say your favorite form of transportation is,

Thor Pedersen 21:56
I would have to say container ships. I really enjoy being on the container ships. And they give me a cabin, everyone has their own cabin. And sometimes they get a big cabin, sometimes they get a decent size, there’s no small cabin, you can close the door, you have some quiet time for it to yourself, you have a porthole and you can look out and look at the ocean or look at the port or whatever. I’m thinking glass, you have a toilet and shower, you have a bed, you have a closet, you have a desk, you have a couch. It’s really comfortable there. Most of the containerships have a gym on board and you can go and work out. There’s a room for entertainment where there will be some maybe a PlayStation or there will be a television set and a DVD player or, or something in watch movies and play games. You can go up on the bridge and talk to the officers and look across the ocean mean you get to stretch your legs. Usually these ships are so big that they don’t move too much about in the ocean and the current and the waves. So yeah, I prefer that. But that’s not a conventional form of transportation for most people. So if I would have to go with something more conventional, I’d say a train. I like the idea that you can move around that you’re not locked into one seat.

Max Branstetter 23:20
All right, well, I was gonna ask if you’re somebody who gets seasick, but you kind of alluded to the fact that I guess the ships are so big that it doesn’t move too much on it.

Thor Pedersen 23:30
You can get seasick on a container ship for sure. You could get seasick on anything. It does. It turns out, I sound like me. I generally do not get seasick. But I’ve been seasick plenty over the course of almost a decade and as many vessels that I’ve been on board. I found that I generally get seasick quickly. If I’m dehydrated, if I’m exhausted. If I haven’t had enough sleep I think it is as well. So dehydrated, exhausted and not enough sleep, then it doesn’t take a lot to get me seasick.

Max Branstetter 24:12
If you’re seasick of boring newsletters that don’t have any podcasting tips, don’t have any entrepreneurship tips, don’t have any terrible puns, you are actually in the right place! You can sign up for the Podcasting to the Max newsletter. That is at MaxPodcasting.com/Newsletter guarantee you will enjoy much more than your average email and actually you won’t get seasick reading it unless you’re on a giant container ship traveling across the world possibly you never know everyone’s different. You can sign up at MaxPodcasting.com/Newsletter You get a helpful podcast editing freebie for doing that as well. Now let’s get to some more amazing facts about how in the world literally in the world Thor pulled this off as well as groovy questions submitted by Wild Listeners. There’s another element of all this, which I think might be the most difficult or difficult to believe is that you’re married and you long distance with your wife, how did that work?

Thor Pedersen 25:18
I’d worked really well. I mean, I’m unsure if I could have done this, if I didn’t have her in my life. She’s my anchor, and she ties me to the ground and to Denmark. And she’s been a tremendous support. I mean, it’s been really lonely. And I’ve been misunderstood a lot as I went from one country to the next. I think the overall concept of what I did is just so hard for most people to grasp, it takes a lot of time for most people to sort of understand the accomplishment. So I’ve had her and I’ve had her support, and I’ve had her love. And that’s been really, really important to me. Obviously, long distance relationships. I don’t know how obvious that is. But I think people who’ve been in long distance relationships, they know, it’s not always easy, it’s a lot easier when you can be in the same room. And you can, you can read each other and read the room, as the expression goes, I mean, when you’re on a screen or, or just audio, things become a little a little tougher, and the distance, not being able to give each other a hug or hold hands and that kind of stuff. Can can make it really, really rough, especially as time goes on. But I think we’re good at it. And we weren’t good at it. And now we’re back together. And we somehow find that in spite of the distance we grew closer together.

Max Branstetter 26:47
Yeah, that’s, that’s really nice. And you hear, I mean, especially here, and in the States, you hear about long distance relationships, where if you know, a couple lives a couple hours away from each other, like, that becomes really tough on that day to day and, and your case, you might be all the way around the world, you know, for for months, years at a time. So it’s it’s a really tough thing. But it’s also really uplifting to hear that, you know, like you, it’s because of her that you’re able to keep pushing on and that you guys, you know, worked out great and powered through that. If you were to look back, and start all over again, which I mean, I’m exhausted just thinking of that. I can’t even imagine how exhausted you are to be like, Yeah, to start over from scratch. But what would you do differently if you were embarking on this? From day one?

Thor Pedersen 27:39
I wouldn’t do it. Do it. I turn around and go, nope. Go home and unpack my bags. But I mean, that’s what the knowledge that I have today that it would take me almost a decade, that my life would be at risk several times, that it wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it might seem, the preface of it all, and that there would be a tremendous amount of work. I mean, normal working week for a lot of people is somewhere around 40 hours, this project was probably never really less than 60 hours that we can sometimes way above 100 hours. And then people might scratch their head and go like work like what kind of work well, you’re you have to do research everywhere you go, you have no idea. When you come to a new country, with if you can get on a bus or a train or where you get your ticket or how you get a SIM card in a new country and how you install it, where you’re going to sleep where you’re going to eat, especially when you’re in a budget, you can’t just eat or sleep anywhere. And I met with the Red Cross in every country around the world. So get in touch with them and find my way to their address, sit down and have a meeting and observe and learn something and write up a story. Run social media. So I’ve been most people alive today you have some sort of social media, but they have social media for pleasure. So they bake a cake and then they’ll upload that or they go traveling and they’ll upload that. It is different. When you have 10s of 1000s of followers, then social media eventually becomes a job. You are feeding content. You’re trying to keep this audience happy and interested in what you’re doing. But it’s also a platform to promote project partners and there’s some expectations for that. I mean, getting all the pieces, securing everything you need to do throughout that downsell a lot. A lot, a lot of work. I didn’t know that. I suspect a lot of people listening in to our conversation now. Wouldn’t be aware of that. It was essentially leaving home saying that it was 99% adventure and 1% work. But then many of the Things that seem to be adventure in the beginning turned into work over time. So after a couple of years, it was 99% work and 1% adventure. And then it continued for almost another eight years. Yeah, though, I definitely wouldn’t do it. But there’s there say, a paradox within it. Because I do not want to be without the knowledge that I have today, because of what I spent the last decade doing. And I also don’t want to be without the accomplishment. I’m very happy with who I am today. What I’ve learned and how I’ve developed as a human being, so you don’t get that without doing what I just did. Or I wouldn’t get that without doing what I just did. So that’s the paradox. I don’t want to do it. But I’m happy with the results that I got out of it. But I do understand your question. So to go back to your question, like what? Exactly Okay, so knowing what I know now, and if I had to do it again, what will make it easier, I think getting SIM cards for every country would make it so much easier. The first couple of years, I was trying to find Wi-Fi, and tried to save the cost of a SIM card. And reality is that you can get SIM cards, especially today, you can get them so cheap, you easily get like five gigabytes and a SIM card for just a few dollars in many countries. So just do that. And that would make everything so much easier, then I would have left home with a laptop. And that one an iPad, back in 2013, the iPad was sort of a new thing. And it just seemed like a really, really good idea. It was small and lightweight. And you could do a lot of things on on an iPad or on a tablet. But the reality with the workload was just that I needed a laptop, it was so much easier in terms of getting so many things done. So I would have brought a laptop from the beginning, knowing what I know now. And then in terms of the partnerships that I had throughout the project, a lot of that was based on handshakes and gentleman agreements. And that’s all good and fine for a lot of things. But as the project went on, over the course of many, many years, there were some disputes over time. And I think it would have been easier to settle them. If we sat down before I left home and found out what kind of expectations we had, like what what the partners expected from me and what I expected from the partners and just write that down and be really clear about who does what, when and how. So you don’t get those small disputes along the way. Like that’s some of the stuff that I would I would do differently. Obviously, I know today, some of the pieces I struggled greatly in getting today, I know how I could have gotten them. So I just come straight for that, or get them in the countries where I found them to be easier. I mean, some of the islands where I was looking for solutions, how to get there today, I know how I did that. So I wouldn’t spend weeks or months trying to work it out. I just go to where I found the solution.

Max Branstetter 33:19
So this would take you like 3 weeks to just knock out every country at this point. Yeah, all the knowledge.

Thor Pedersen 33:26
There, it’s the fastest to go to every country in the world has done it in about a year. Right? And that’s someone who flew basically everywhere, right? Could you go to every country in the world without flying in a year? Know from probably not. But you might be able to pull it off and say a couple of years, but not on your own. If you have a team that’s organizing, getting the visas and telling you which ship to go to and making all the deals in advance and you’re just running around with a backpack and following orders from someone who’s coordinating everything on your behalf and opening all the doors. Yeah, we might be able to do in a couple of years. It wasn’t unrealistic to do this in four years. I absolutely believe I could have done it in four years. But the project is so much richer, because of the way that I did do it with the speaking engagements and the interviews and the Red Cross visits and having my wife come out and visit several times compared to just racing through countries. So yeah, then it takes a lot more time. What three weeks is maybe a little on the short side.

Max Branstetter 34:36
There should be a spin off of the show The Amazing Race, which is the I don’t know The Amazing Thor or something that like when people have to mimic your journey. I think there’s there’s something to build on there. Yeah. You mentioned that your life was at risk multiple times. Is there one of those times that you can share with us?

Thor Pedersen 34:57
Yeah, I mean, three of the show Should I have travelled on board or confirmed to be at the bottom of the sea today. So there you go, Oh my god, there are ships that are in so poor condition that you’re no longer debating, if they’re going to sink or not. Everybody knows the ship is going to sink. That’s how the ship is going to end its life. It’s when it’s going to sink, and it’s going to take passengers with it to the bottom of the sea. Everybody knows that. That’s how poor condition some of these ships are in. Now, the question is, when is it going to sink? Is it going to sink the next time it heads out? Or is it going to sink after 10 00 10 trips, or maybe next year or who knows? Nobody knows. So it’s sort of like Russian roulette with chips. And you call these soul sellers. So essentially, your soul is for sale, if you go on board, there’s no safety equipment, they’re completely overloaded with cargo and with passengers, there might be a hole in the side of the ship, the service on the engine is probably really poor, I imagine that the staff, the crew, a lot of them don’t really know why they’re there. And as far as suppose really, if you get into an emergency situation, they don’t have any proper training. So so you’re risking your life with that. Overall, looking at the world, the most dangerous part of this planet is by far transportation. There are some countries where traffic is just madness, and public transportation, you get into a bus, maybe you get a good bus driver, maybe it’s a good bus, maybe the brakes are fine, and the air pressure is good. And everything is as it should be. Or maybe you get into a bus and the driver has been in that bus for the past 18 hours and is lacking sleep and he had a fight with his wife the night before. And he’s thinking about that more than traffic, maybe that the brakes do not work. Maybe this maybe that. I mean, traffic is a higher risk. In some parts of the world. The roads and potholes and driving on the sides of mountains where there’s a sheer drop off on one side of the bus or the train with something else. It’s really beautiful. It’s great for photos and videos, but it is risky business at some parts of the world. I’ve been at gunpoint several times, I’ve been at gunpoint, one time where it was so serious that I thought it was the end of the line. Also, because they told me it was the end of the line. And I really, really thought okay, I’m dying tonight on this dirt road in the middle of nowhere. And I managed to get out of that just staying calm. And being patient, I guess I don’t know. No quick movements and no aggression, on my part, just trying to be as calm and complicit as possible. And after about 45 minutes, they they let me go that was really, really, really long, 45 minutes. But being at gunpoint, several times is has been a risk factor. I had cerebral malaria. That’s the type of malaria that were the parasites, they reach your brain. And you can die within a couple of days of that, if you’re not treated. So fortunately, we caught on to it pretty quickly and got me to a clinic and I was treated and took me a long time to get on top of that. And recover. But yeah, yeah, my life has been at risk a few times. But in the big picture, it’s nothing compared to we’re talking more than 3,500 days of travel time. I’ve been as safe as as a baby in most cases.

Max Branstetter 38:59
So as if you haven’t been through enough. Let’s wrap up. We’ll use remainder this time for some, some Rapid-Fire Q&A. And this is a special edition because we have questions submitted by Wild Listeners. So you’re ready for it. Yeah, for the challenge. Yeah, let’s go. All right, let’s get Wild. And so as I alluded to, so these are submitted by people are fans of the show, as well as connect on social media. And thank you everybody who submitted questions are just blown away by the outpour of questions submitted. And I’m sure you’re still getting questions submitted throughout this interview. So sorry if we didn’t get to everybody, but we’ll run through a bunch of them here. So this first one is from Kristin O’Brien, who asks, Which country had the best food

Thor Pedersen 39:44
for me, I would say Italy, and Italy is a very large Mediterranean Mediterranean country. So it’s not just passed on pizza which can also be good but it’s really good meat and really good fish and great vegetables and fruit as well. I like Italy. Yeah, plenty of good food countries.

Max Branstetter 40:02
So good. Yeah could eat Italian food all the time. It’s Karim Khalil shoutout Yaza Foods says which country would you definitely want to go back to one day?

Thor Pedersen 40:14
Mongolia. The reason why is because it’s a huge country. And it’s culturally diverse and different from where I come from. And I was there in the wintertime. And I was struggling greatly with both logistics and bureaucracy at the same time. So almost my entire visit was consumed with logistics and bureaucracy. And I really didn’t get to explore such an interesting country to the level that I really wanted to.

Max Branstetter 40:42
Just you saying the terms logistics and bureaucracy like makes me want to go take a nap like I’m worn out just all right, Angie Cowger shoutout Custard Stand asks, Were you ever in a country that you were afraid in? Yeah.

Thor Pedersen 41:00
Several countries. I ended up having good experiences and meeting nice people and coming out a much richer person than when I went in. But I’d say I mean, there are several. There was Yemen. Yemen is an extraordinarily beautiful and interesting and rich in history and culture. But it’s also a very complex country these days. So I Yemen. And South Sudan, especially at the time when I went into South Sudan was really hairy. I met some wonderful people. And I had a good time when I saw some beauty, but I was scared when I was there. Venezuela. Venezuela is one of my that’s on the list of one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to and interesting and people are friendly. And I ended up having a brilliant time. But I was warned about going to Venezuela. And for good reason. I just didn’t experience anything bad while I was there.

Max Branstetter 42:01
And then Brooke Qilafi and Rob Mattson both. So pretty similar question. So I’ll group them together. But what’s the number one commonality or similarity that you see across all people and cultures

Thor Pedersen 42:17
were driven towards the same things. People, they react to music, people love music, people, they love good food, and they spend a lot of time with family and sports. These are the things that most people they spend on games, games, sports, music, family, school, education work. And you know, that’s who we are all around the world, in different forms. Yes, but overall, it’s the same.

Max Branstetter 42:50
And then Cesar Romero, he labeled this as an impossible question. So good luck, but which country is your favorite?

Thor Pedersen 42:59
Whichever country you’re from, and I am capable of explaining why. Because I went to every country in the world trying to promote every country in the world as if it was the best country in the world. And that forced me to look for what was good. And what was interesting. And what was unique about each individual. So I get in trouble if I’m sitting together with someone from Finland and someone from China and someone from Canada, and someone says, What’s your favorite country? But But overall, whichever country you’re from, that’s my favorite country. Congratulations.

Max Branstetter 43:37
Thank you, I happen to agree. I think he made the impossible question possible. So that’s a good one. And then we have a couple more that these are from my family, actually, some cousins. So Mel Taylor asks, What foreign language was the most helpful in your travels? Or do you wish that you knew because it would have been very valuable?

Thor Pedersen 43:57
It would have been good to know Russian. I speak English fairly well. And

Max Branstetter 44:05
I would say I would say very well. Yeah.

Thor Pedersen 44:08
Thank you. That’s truly an international language. And you will find people in every country, every country in the world who speaks English, sometimes it’s a lot of people sometimes it’s not a lot of people but there’s always someone who speaks English. And I speak German. I have good and bad days. For German, sometimes I feel like I’m really good at German. Sometimes I feel like I but but I can get by speaking German. And it’s been helpful around the world, not as helpful as English at all. I speak a bit of French and a bit of Spanish. And I would love to know those languages to the full extent because my conversations would have been so much richer than just asking for where’s the bus terminal and I need a place to sleep. But what Russian when, especially in Central Africa, so the main thing about languages is that a lot of countries have their own language. Like in Denmark, we speak Danish. And in Germany, they speak German. But in Denmark, we have our international language, which is English, and then we can they teach us in school and we can travel around the world and speak to people in English. And the Germans would do the same. So a lot of time would be easier for Danes and Germans to speak English together. Right now, the go to international language for most countries around the world is English. But when you go to Central Europe, the they have their local language. So I’m in Kazakhstan, they speak Kazakh. And then their international language might be Russian. And then they have a couple of 100 million people they can speak with because they speak Russian as their secondary language. But I don’t speak Kazakh. I don’t speak Russian. Stuffed one or the other are really good at English, in Kazakhstan as well. But then you have Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And then they speak their own languages, and they speak Russian. And I was kind of stumped with some of the most simple questions like, Where is this? And how do I that is just don’t have any words to get anywhere.

Max Branstetter 46:19
It’s clear from your travels that you know how to correctly pronounce every country’s name to which I think vast majority of people would not be able to do

Thor Pedersen 46:29
Samoa is a good one, by the way. So some more you read it, you say some more, but it’s more so more. Kiribati it’s pronounced Kiribass, there are several countries like that. Oh, my God,

Max Branstetter 46:47
that’s a you could teach a whole college course on just pronouncing country names and almost like college names. And then, last one, Amber Goddard asks, What’s your best memory from this?

Thor Pedersen 47:03
I think it’s from sitting on top of a truck for two days in Congo, together with 50 or 60 other people and that was a really miserable experience. So it was pretty much two days of misery and dust and heat and sweat and just being uncomfortable. But there was a 15 minute window when the sun was setting and everyone’s began to sing. And it was such a beautiful song in local language, a beautiful melody. And it was really truly beautiful with the sun setting in this dusty dusty atmosphere that we were in. So it’s just 15 minutes of magic. I think that’s my favorite memory.

Max Branstetter 47:44
That’s, that’s really nice. That’s really sweet. And I think sometimes, like it applies to so many parts of life is like if it’s a challenging time you’re going through or like, just like a real struggle a slog through something like there often are like, moments of beauty in that. And they also stand out are you learn from it? On that note, what is the biggest way that your journey with once upon a saga has changed you?

Thor Pedersen 48:10
Well, I’m 10 years older.

Max Branstetter 48:15
That would have happened anyway,

Thor Pedersen 48:16
that would happen anyway. But that is a big change. I think I’m much more at peace with who I am. And I think I’m more tolerant. As a person, I’m tolerant towards other people, I have much better understanding about why people are upset, or just a range of emotions that people go through in everyday life, that understanding that it might not relate to me, it might not be my fault, if they’re upset, or if they’re annoyed, it could be something else. Having that understanding about people. And then I see the world as a whole. I think we’re heading towards trouble because we seem incapable of collaborating and working together across the planet. But we are, we are just people. All around the world. People are just people and there is a lot of kindness and generosity. There’s a lot of love on this planet. Not necessarily always across borders, but certainly, between individuals. And it’s nice to see and know.

Max Branstetter 49:26
Yeah, that’s a really, really great message. Finally, how did you celebrate when you completed and accomplish your journey?

Thor Pedersen 49:35
Yeah, I was fortunate to find a ship all the way back home to Denmark, and that was a 33 day long voyage from Malaysia to

Max Branstetter 49:45
I thought you’re gonna say 33 hours. I’m like, Oh, wow, that’s a long trip. 33 days,

Thor Pedersen 49:50
but it was it was a really nice way to come back. So it’s from Malaysia to the port of office in Denmark. And we were passing so much The country’s and all of that was just packed with memories. So places I’ve been and people I’ve met. So slowly coming back home. And then when we did reach the port, there was international media that was national media that were about 150 people, there was a marching band playing When the Saints Come Marching home. It was a really nice, welcome back home. And then once I given a small speech and done a lot of photos and that kind of stuff, and received a lot of wonderful gifts from so many people. My wife was there, and she had rented a car. And we got into the car, and we drove away from all of that madness. And we drove down to a small Marina nearby, and we found very, a wonderful little restaurant. And we had some traditional Danish food, and we just sat there in each other’s company. And, and then I was back home and then work.

Max Branstetter 51:05
That’s really sweet, a wonderful way to end and celebrate. Thor, thank you so much. This has been an absolute treat. And you mentioned at the start that curiosity was a big driver of this. And I’m endlessly curious and fascinated by everything that you’ve done and learned. And I know so many people are as well. So thank you for, for sharing it all with us. And coming on today. Where is the best place for people to learn more about once upon a saga and to connect with you online, see pictures, all that stuff?

Thor Pedersen 51:35
Well, I have a new web page up, which is really interesting. It’s called Thor Pedersen. So go and look at that. search on the internet search for Thor every country in the world without flying I’m sure something will pop up. There is Facebook, there’s Instagram, there’s Twitter, there’s which is x now there’s X, there is YouTube, there’s tick tock. I mean, I’m not the greatest content creator in the world. But you can find me on all of that. And OnceUponASaga.com exists and you can go and read about my visit to your country.

Max Branstetter 52:14
Perfect. And that’s Thor Pedersen. And again, not gonna mess with Danish pronunciation at all. Anyway, last thing here, final thoughts. The stage is yours. It could just be a quote or kind of a final line word of advice words to live by, send us home here.

Thor Pedersen 52:36
All right, well, since we didn’t get into talking much about the Red Cross. And since I did spend a tremendous amount of time as a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross. Throughout that entire journey, I would say that that is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It’s on this planet to do good and help people all around the world. And I would ask people to get involved with the Red Cross one way or the other, maybe donate blood, donate your time, become a volunteer, find some way to help and support this humanitarian effort across the globe.

Max Branstetter 53:12
Thank you, Thor, for doing so much good and for sharing your once in a lifetime – I’m sure once in a lifetime – journey with us here today. And thank you, Wild Listeners, for 1. submitting so many awesome questions and 2. istening to the Wild Business Growth Podcast. If you want to hear more Wild stories like this one or submit more Wildly good questions, You can follow the Wild Business Growth Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. And make sure to tell a friend about the podcast and do good and do some good exploring with them. You can also find us on Goodpods – the term “good” is very prevalent here – where there are really good podcasts. And for any help with podcast production, you can learn more at good – no, I’m just kidding. You can learn more at MaxPodcasting.com and sign up for the Podcasting to the Max newsletter. That’s at MaxPodcasting.com/Newsletter. Until next time, let your business Run Wild…Bring on the Bongos!!