A Peculiar guy named Geremy

CategoryEscapades

A Solo Retreat to the Happiest Place

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I went on a retreat. By myself. To Disney World. Weirdest “retreat” ever? Indeed!

Retreats are amazing…well, at least my definition of a retreat. The Geremy™ definition of a retreat is when someone travels to an unfamiliar place with the purpose of recharging, getting new ideas, and coming up with new strategies for the future. Early May was the perfect time to get away, so I spontaneously booked my trip to the happiest place on earth…Orlando.

Ok, it’s not the happiest place on earth, but it was the perfect place for my retreat for three reasons: 1) Disney, 2) Hotels and 3) SpaceX

Let me explain…

Disney World

Walt Disney fascinates me because he was a guy with a huge vision that he pursued all his life. Each time he created something, he would immediately make his vision larger and work to make the newer, bigger vision a reality. For example, when he opened Disneyland in 1955, he immediately started planning the bigger, more significant Disney World project the same year. This reminds me of when my parents gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in 1983 and immediately after her birth, they started planning a bigger, newer, more improved baby named Geremy who would entered the world in 1985.


When I read about Disney’s vision that started with animation and has now grown into an empire that includes hotels, TV networks, Venture Capital firms, real estate and cruise lines, I knew that I needed to see these things up-close. Like like Disney, I too have a vision of creating a conglomerate that includes a lot of different areas, including transportation, media, and hotels…except mine will be larger. Watch out, Disney Company!

By the way, I rode on Splash Mountain twice. Easily the best ride I’ve ever been on in my life.

Hotels

Speaking of hotels, I have visions of opening an amazing, world-class hotel one day. But before planning my own hotel, I wanted to visit a world-class hotel that I’ve admired for a while— The Alfond Inn. This hotel has won local and national awards for being a top 10 boutique hotel in the United States, so I wanted to include them on my visit to Florida.

Rather than wandering around the hotel like a nomad, I emailed the General Manager and asked to meet for a tour and to ask questions. To my surprise, he responded quickly and was happy to arrange it. So within hours of landing in Florida, I arrived in Winter Park and was able to tour a hotel that was similar to my vision. In addition, I booked a room at a hotel that opened a week before my visit because I wanted to see what the beginning stages of a brand new hotel looked like. These experiences were very eye-opening and I had a long list of “what not to do’s” from the hotel that I stayed at.


For example, someone almost, kinda burned down the hotel where I stayed. It happened at their make-your-own-waffle station in the breakfast area. Apparently someone made their own waffle and never removed it from the waffle maker, so it continued to cook until it burned to a crisp. All of a sudden, smoke started to pour out of the waffle machine and the restaurant smelled like that one time that I microwaved an egg for a minute just to see what would happen. If the maintenance person didn’t come to the rescue, the hotel might’ve been celebrating a “grand closing” a week after their grand opening. Note to self: Eliminate all make-your-own-waffle stations from your hotel!

SpaceX

I’m a huge “SpaceX” nerd. The only pictures that I’ve got on my wall of my home are pictures of rockets, and I’ve watched livestreams of every single SpaceX rocket launch since their Grasshoper rocket. So since Orlando is near the Kennedy Space Center where SpaceX launches their rockets to outer space, I needed to visit. Seeing the SpaceX rocket on the pad was the Geremy equivalent of your great-grandmother seeing Elvis perform live for the first time. I was starstruck…over a rocket…like a nerd. It was amazing and SpaceX was a big source of inspiration during my retreat since their growth in under 10 years was out of this world…pun clearly intended.

My solo retreat was very much a success and I loved it so much that I am making it an annual (or semi-annual) event! It was also helpful to disconnect from the outside world by limiting my use of technology in order to focus as much as I could. Now I’m making sure to make all of my ideas become reality because that retreat wasn’t cheap and I need something to show for it.

Feel free to hold me accountable! Also feel free to go on retreats of your own and share your experiences with me!

And remember to not overcook your waffles!

Lab 2

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You remember my lab, right? No? Well, let me remind you…

Seven years ago, I converted one of the rooms of my investment property into an office that I called a lab. It was called a lab because a laboratory is a controlled environment where research, experiments and development takes place, and the purpose of the space was to research, experiment and develop in order to create the future.

As time passed by, I began working from Starbucks more frequently and I dismantled the lab, but now that I have a renewed passion to change the world, I need a permanent space to work from. In the second episode of Geremy’s Peculiar Week, I had the idea of developing “Lab 2”, but I let the idea sit for while I worked-out the details. Now, I’m officially working out of lab 2 and slowly developing it into a high-functionality, well-equipped workshop until I outgrow it.

The Lab 2 is five times larger than Lab 1 and when it’s complete, the entire space will be 100% functional and beautiful. Lab 2 is a space that is completely dedicated to researching, experimenting, and developing, so everything in it will serve that cause, down to a granular level.

As of right now, the lab is almost completely empty. In it, there’s a table, two Steelcase Leap Desk chairs, an Ikea Poang Armchair with Ottoman, a bookshelf, a Harmon Kardon Onyx speaker, and a Canon MX922 printer. In the future, I plan on adding a video production area, an audio production area (complete with vocal booth), a workbench with power tools, and a photography area.

The goal for Lab 2 is for something great to come out of it every day that I’m there, and thus far I’m very happy with the results. I can’t publicly reveal all of the developments thus far, but one small product that has come out of Lab 2 is the “Peculiar PPL Stick to It” sticker, and there are many, many more developments to come.

Say hi to Lab 2!

Five Years After Buying a Car Online

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In 2012, I made an $80,000 online purchase for a product that didn’t exist yet. That product was a Tesla Model S and the entire experience was pretty nerve-racking from start to end.

First Time Seeing a Tesla

It all started when I was hanging out with my brother on June 9, 2012. We went to the mall and saw a car parked in the middle of a store. I thought, “who is the obnoxious person who parked their car here to show off,” but then I learned that a small American company was trying to promote their creation, a Tesla Model S. The car was one of the coolest cars that I’ve ever seen and I really wanted to own it. When I went to the sales rep and asked the price of the car, he said “$60,000.” I stared at him and waited for him to tell me that he was joking. He didn’t even crack a smile. Apparently he was serious. I made the “you must be kidding me” face and walked out of the store feeling offended—offended that he would quote such a ridiculous price for a car that was sold in a mall. The car didn’t even have an engine and they wanted $60,000?!

Tesla Model S from '13

I left the mall and continued with my life, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the car for weeks. Since it couldn’t leave my mind, I knew that I had to try to make the car mine. I brainstormed and came up with six different ways to make it happen, but none of them would work because one of them involved a rich uncle that I didn’t have and five of them were illegal.

Tesla Reservation Screen from '13

Instead of wasting time trying to figure it out, I took a step of faith and placed a deposit for the car. Tesla said that it wouldn’t be delivered until June, so I knew that I had time to figure out how to find $60,000. To make matters worse, at the time Tesla didn’t offer financing, so the only way to buy the car was to hand over a check for the entire vehicle price. When I checked my bank account, it didn’t have $60,000 in there, so instead of focusing on the facts, I ignored them because my faith was stronger than facts.

But it wasn’t all flowers and rainbows because there were times that I lost hope. I had six months to come up with $60,000 and from time to time I debated canceling the order. But whenever I doubted that I’d own the car, I scheduled a test drive and spent the entire drive picturing myself as its owner. This method motivated me and got rid of the doubt. By the end of 2012, I was excited because it was looking like I could actually make this work!

Tesla Purchase Order from '13

However, In January 2013 everything went wrong. All of a sudden, Tesla was running ahead of schedule and I was invited to configure my car in January instead of May. I chose all of the options that I wanted in the car and the total came up to $80,020. UMM…THAT IS TWENTY THOUSAND AND TWENTY DOLLARS MORE THAN I EXPECTED. Then a week later, I got an email telling me that my car will be built and delivered in a month or two. Then two weeks later they called me and said “great news, your car is on the delivery truck and will be delivered in a week!!” Firstly, that wasn’t great news, and secondly, where can I find $80,020 cash in a week?!?

I hung up the phone with the delivery specialist and called a bank to see if they were interested in financing the car. The first bank I called didn’t know what a Tesla was, so I spent 10 minutes explaining to them that a Tesla is an electric car that didn’t have an engine. They said that they don’t finance golf carts. I said “It’s not a golf cart, it’s a car…” They still didn’t understand, but they agreed to finance the entire cost of the car at a 1.49% interest rate. Two days later, they mailed the check to me and I handed it to Tesla when I picked up my car on February 19, 2013. I couldn’t believe that everything actually worked!!

This week is exactly five years after taking delivery of the Model S and it has been a phenomenal experience since day one. I’ve never struggled to make a payment at all and to this day, it is still the best purchase that I’ve ever made. It started as a dream car and I am happy that I was brave enough to take that initial step of faith.

Now it’s time to do it again…

An Unlikely “Shot” with Mercedes

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When I was in 5th grade, I asked the most popular girl in the grade to go with me. If you’re not familiar with 90’s sayings, “would you go with me” is another way of saying, “would you give me the esteemed honor of being your boyfriend?” I anxiously awaited my fate as her potential boo when she gave her response on a paper to her friend to deliver to me. I unfolded the paper to reveal her answer: Nah. I sighed and thought, “oh well” and continued-on with my life.

I was completely unfazed by the rejection because I never expected her to say yes in the first place. The ten-year-old me wasn’t confident and had a speaking voice that sounded like a screaming rubber chicken, so it wasn’t as if I was a contender for “most desirable” in the yearbook. But the one thing that I had was hope, so I would always convince myself to attempt things that would make me overjoyed if they happened, but were highly unlikely. It’s like being on the basketball team and shooting mostly full-court shots because if you score it’s way more exciting than a boring layup. In my mind, the 2% possibility of success is better than a 100% guarantee of failure by never making an attempt to see if the shot would have been successful.

This method of “taking unlikely shots” has led to countless rejections since fifth grade, but I respond by taking more shots than ever before. Because, why not? I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Recently, I took an unlikely shot with one of the world’s best automakers when my brother and I were preparing for our trip to Germany this summer. It happened when I sent this email to my assistant:

While this appears to be a simple task, it was actually quite difficult since the Mercedes AMG factory only provides tours to owners of their $100,000+ cars. At first, I thought about purchasing a Mercedes G65 AMG so I could get the free tour, but then I realized 1) I didn’t have a spare $222,700 in the bank, and 2) Do I really need a second reason?! It’s $222,700!! Let’s not be silly here…

After communicating with my assistant to iron-out details, I received this email:

Most people would be excited that the seemingly impossible just became possible, but I thought, “yeah right…I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Two weeks later, we arrived at Mercedes AMG in Affalterbach, and saw no one there. The place was dead silent and not a single person was around. I figured that the jig was up and this was an elaborate prank, but then the concierge told us to go into the Mercedes Lounge where a server will prepare a drink for us as we wait for the tour guide to arrive.

Mercedes E63 S AMG

Twenty minutes later, a Mercedes AMG training specialist introduced himself to my brother and me and took us to the visitors’ center to start the tour. He immediately spoke about the Mercedes E63s car and its inner workings. He had us sit in the car as he explained how the twin-turbo engine was meticulously tuned to output the maximum amount of power. Then after a few minutes, he paused and asked, “any questions?” I said, “yes…when are the other people getting here?” He said “which other people?” I responded, “the other people on the tour!” He said “there are no other people. This is a private tour for the both of you.”

WHAT?!

Mercedes AMG HQ

Then he walked us to the front of the building where he showed us the US flag that they mounted because they knew that we were visiting from America. WHAT?! Then we went to the AMG Engine shop where we saw every Mercedes AMG engine being built by hand and were able to see the people building the engine. IS THIS FOR REAL?!

By the end of the tour, we got an amazing behind-the-scenes tour of Mercedes AMG factory with a personal guide who was eager to answer the most challenging questions. As car enthusiasts, our minds were blown, and as a risk-taker I was amazed that the simple email that started with “I would love to take a Mercedes AMG factory tour” resulted in one of the best auto experiences that I’ve had in my life.

Mercedes AMG HQ

Now, it’s time to shoot more impossible shots. Brb, I’ve got to write an email to Elon Musk to ask him for a free Falcon 9 rocket to keep in my backyard.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

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I’m going to skip directly to the exciting news: I’m giving a TEDx talk next week!!

I’ll get back to that.

First let me introduce you to 15 year old Geremy who was a big dreamer. Somehow, he believed that although he was a highly-reserved introvert who feared public speaking, he could someday garner the courage to be a keynote speaker in an academic setting. Since 2001, he held on to that dream of making a difference in people’s lives by sharing what he has learned on his journey.

I publicly declared my desire for public speaking on my blog in 2008, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities to actually speak.

Two weeks ago, I went to Trinidad and had two opportunities to speak in a public setting. One of those opportunities was a fancy business networking dinner where a friend recommended me to be the keynote speaker to a group of business people (thanks friend). Not only was there a good turnout, but people paid actual money to attend! My favorite part was when I spent 2 minutes talking about my lawnmower incident. They actually let me talk about severed toes on stage, and no one grabbed the microphone from me!

After my talk, I spent over an hour having individual conversations with people of various ages who approached me. If you were one of those people–hi…you’re cool!

Now on Tuesday, I’ve got an amazing opportunity to speak at a TEDx conference in Switzerland. The conference will be held in the world’s best hospitality school and my talk will focus on using the unique things about yourself to make an impact on the world. If this topic sounds familiar, it’s because it follows the vision of my brand, Peculiar PPL, to positively affect the world through Peculiar people. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

It is wonderful to look back on large crazy dreams of the past and see them actually come true. If you’re someone with big dreams, keep pursuing them because if someone who had a goat as a best friend can be invited to Switzerland to speak in front of a worldwide audience, nothing is impossible for you!

I feel like I’m forgetting something…

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In preparation for my drive to Boston for my friend’s wedding, I organized everything for a flawless 6am departure.

Camera bag with lenses – check!
Fruit to eat in the car – check!
Laptop and other assorted electronics – check!
All set! Now it’s time to hit the road!

I drove to Boston, stopping at Tesla’s Superchargers along the way to recharge my battery powered car. At each supercharger, I had a haunting feeling that I was forgetting something important, but I quickly dismissed the paranoia.

Since I had the esteemed role of escorting the grandmother of the bride down the aisle, I was required to attend the wedding rehearsal. While practicing walking, I continued to feel like I forgot something, but I assumed it was relatively minor, like forgetting to pass my belt through the belt loop in the back of my pants.

Between the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner, I went to the Sheraton to check into my room. The lady at the front desk asked, “would you like us to bring your luggage to the room?” I replied, “sure!!” She followed-up with, “okay, where is it?” Hmmm… that’s a good question, where is my luggage?!

Suddenly, everything became blurry, the world spun in slow motion, and everything smelled like ketchup as the reality of the situation quickly became clear. MY SUITCASE IS SITTING IN MY LIVING ROOM IN NEW JERSEY!

I turned to the lady and said “OH NO! THIS IS A DISASTER” before sprinting out of the hotel to my car. It later occurred to me that since I didn’t give much of an explanation, she might have thought that I meant that the check-in process was a disaster.

I hopped in my car and sped away, determined to drive five hours back to New Jersey to get my luggage. When I called my mom to tell her about my brilliant accomplishment of forgetting everything, she spoke some sense into me. She wisely suggested that I buy everything I’d need for the wedding and save myself the agony of traveling to Massachusetts twice in one day. That lady is so wise…if only I had some of that wisdom at 6am when I left my suitcase behind.

Very Ill-Fitting Shirt

I rerouted myself to Macy’s and proceeded to buy everything I’d need for the next 24 hours. These items included a suit, tie, pocket square, shirt, undershirt, dress shoes, socks, underwear, razor, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Then I went back to the hotel and tried everything on, only to realize that the shirt was too big, the shoes were too shiny, and the tie was too ugly.

The Suit and Tag

After returning these items to the store, I made better decisions the second time around and walked out with an outfit that worked. To add some extra uniqueness to the ensemble, I considered leaving the tag on my jacket, but that might have been seen as tacky in a wedding…maybe.

Second Most Important Lady

The next day, the wedding happened without any additional mishaps on my part. This allowed me to give my full attention to witnessing my two friends share one of the happiest moments of their lives.

After the ceremony, I began mentally preparing my wedding reception speech. Fortunately for the bride and groom, there wasn’t an “open mic/open speech” portion of the reception. That’s too bad because I was looking forward to starting my speech by proclaiming, “I BOUGHT NEW UNDERWEAR JUST FOR THIS WEDDING!”

Coming Full Circle in Charlottesville

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Every year in August, I would experience a living nightmare of catastrophic proportions when I flew to Charlottesville for work. For some reason, everything that could go wrong would go wrong, like the time in ’09 when they cancelled the flight while I was sitting on the plane on the runway. Or the time in ’10 when I had a layover in North Carolina but the airline decided that flying home was overrated, so they cancelled my flight for no justifiable reason. Or in ’12 when my return flight was cancelled so I had to rent a car and drive seven hours home, in terrible weather conditions.

Eventually, I concluded that Charlottesville loves me so much that it tries to keep me every time I visit. Hey Charlottesville, you’re cool and all, but I am in a committed relationship with New Jersey!

US Airways at Charlottesville Airport

These terrible journeys meant that I spent a lot of time in airports, thinking. One thought that came to me in 2010 was “I need my own plane so I wouldn’t have to frequently go through this,” and I relentlessly pursued that vision since ever since. During my final trip back to Charlottesville in 2014, I stared at the United Airways Express plane on the runway and said to myself, “my next flight to Charlottesville will be in a private jet.”

I planned on avoiding Charlottesville until I could accomplish this goal, but three weeks ago I was smitten with excitement when I realized that it could happen sooner than I initially thought. Not only was I able to fly back to the same airport that was a constant source of my frustration, but I was able to fly there in the exact jet that I plan to own.

The Citation X Interior

My brother and I flew to Virginia, rented a car, went on a Segway tour, had lunch, ate a weird chemical ice cream concoction, and then he drove the entire way home since he can legally do that now!

As I relaxed in the passenger seat, I realized two things:
1) Charlottesville Airport is quite nice when you’re not stranded there against your will
2) Setting audacious goals is a great thing, because sometimes life will surprise you.

The same place where I set a seemingly impossible goal out of frustration was the same place that I walked through as I took steps toward to accomplishing that goal.

Thanks Charlottesville!

A Peculiar guy named Geremy