FD Buyer: ‘We Only Know Today’
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Dairy Buyer magazine.
Joe Kent took a leave of absence from his job in January 2010 to travel through Central and South America with his wife, Eleanor, and daughters Olivia and Nyla, then 10 and 4. The trip, from February through August of that year, was a life-changer not only for the Kents, but for many of those they happened to meet along the way.
By any measure, it was a daring and unusual move. Joe was 41 at the time, and the sales and marketing director of Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods in Austin, TX. When he announced his plans, some people wondered if he were ill or simply crazy. But the decision came after much thought. Eleanor’s father, who had worked hard all his life, had taken ill and died the previous summer, before he could enjoy retirement. Joe, who is now heading sales with InnovAsian Cuisine, says his father-in-law’s death was the catalyst that moved him and his wife in “search of a challenge, some time together, a ‘nomadic’ education, a view of the world through the eyes of two young girls and the opportunity to share and learn with others along the way.”
That’s actually a quote from a wonderful website that chronicles the family’s trip and what led up to it.
No, the Kents are not independently wealthy or benefactors of a big will. They lived below their means for about 10 years, saving for something just like this. One spark behind the Journey was Soles4Souls’ acceptance of the Kents as distributors, allowing the family to take 450 pairs of shoes to a childrens home in Guatemala. The Kents traveled pretty much randomly throughout eight countries in Central and South America, finding non-luxury hotels along the way. In each country they visited, they made a point to give back in some way and help people who needed it. The girls got to see how lucky they were to be living in the United States, and everyone grew spiritually.
Joe shared in his note, “And now, as we sit on a dock in lovely Guatemala, with the most breathtaking views of a lake, surrounded by three glorious volcanoes, watching our girls dabble in the water digging for clay, in a little Mayan village … it all seems so perfect … so right!”
As Joe related his story, a planned 15-minute interview stretched quickly into an hour and a half. I told him he was outlining what has been a life dream of my own, and he said my reaction is common. (So why don’t we do it?)
“People get in the rat race, and it’s challenging to find the time to do something like this,” Joe told Frozen & Dairy Buyer. “But it was great taking a break. Someday we’ll do it again — it’s not ‘if,’ but ‘when.'”
Discussion Questions: Are radical departures from daily existence such as the one described in the article a valuable tool toward achieving work-life balance or is it generally an over-romanticized ideal? What prevents people from following in the Kent family footsteps? Should companies encourage sabbaticals?