22 - Simon Yugler (Travel Alchemy & Initiation)

Sun Apr 16 2017 (01:00:39)

This week’s guest is travel guide Simon Yugler – named one of Open World Magazine’s “Top 30 Adventurers Under 30,” Simon facilitates initiatory experiences as the leader of experiential education journeys for young adults.


Here’s Simon talking to UpliftConnect about the difference between “wanting to help” and “wanting to be of service”:



- “What cultural exchange looks like from a place of transformation and healing.”

- Decolonizing Festival Culture.

- Right Relationship & the difference between “Citizen Diplomacy” & “Mission Work.”

- What it means to be a respectful guest.

- The difference between tourists and locals:  tourists look up (novelty and wonder).

- What travel has to teach us about navigating our turbulent and transformational age.

- How rootless modern people (digital nomads, refugees, wandering Jews, and so on) can reconnect with a sense of place and become a “person of place.”

- How to RECEIVE people with respect and be a good host for travelers and displaced peoples.

- Avoiding the dark side of entrepreneurialism, the exploitation and instrumentalist thinking, and turning our hunger into the fuel for something beautiful…


The Five Principles of Right Relationship:

• Give Offerings of Respect

• Shut Up & Listen

• Know Your History (Do Research About Where You’re Going/Are)

• Love of Language

• Sharing From The Heart


“Travel will leave you speechless and then turn you into a storyteller.”

- Ibn Battuta



“I think there’s something almost archetypal and profound about leaving your home, country of origin, about leaving your comfort zone and traveling OUT into the world…let’s just start there.  Initiation 101.”

“Coming to terms with my own liberal conditioning of wanting to save the world…all these things we’re raised to think in America these days, and learning to let that all go.  And realizing that all I can do as an individual is build authentic relationships with people.”

“One thing Right Relationship ISN’T is wanting to come in and FIX.”

“If we don’t have anything to give – which I doubt – we can give the gift of silence.”

“Once you start on the initiatory path it continues for your whole life.  Eventually, part of that is initiating others.”

“We can share stories about how the world is burning down and imploding, or we can share stories about how the world is being created.  We can play a part in that.”

“For me, to put it lightly, travel has been an initiatory path.”

“Everything that could go wrong while traveling in Africa DID go wrong.  I had no money, I had one contact in the town I was showing up in whose phone happened to be out of commission, my phone credit ran out and I didn’t know how to recharge it because I didn’t know how to speak Swahili, and here I am in the middle of the country in this dusty little savannah town with no-one I know in a thousand miles and no money and no language skills and nothing…”

“Knowing that people across the world are good, for the most part, and for the most part want to help you, is one of the most powerful and transformative messages that we can experience and share.  Because if you turn on the news – I don’t know why you’d do that, these days – but if you were to turn on CNN, you would get barraged with information about how dangerous and terrible the world is.  Travel can instill these experiences in your life that prove the complete opposite of that.”


Referenced in this episode:

Michael Mead, writer

Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift

Nelson Mandela, politician

David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous

Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: A Guide to the Uncommon Art of Long-Term World Travel

Ibn Battuta, legendary explorer

Victor Turner, anthropologist

Bruce Chatwin, author of The Songlines

The Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars

David Dang Vu, serial entrepreneur

Paul Levy, writer

Seth Godin, marketing expert

Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek

Chris Guillebeau, author of The 100 Dollar Startup

Duncan Trussell, comedian

Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters Podcast

Drew Dillinger, poet, “The Hieroglyphic Stairway”