Book Review: Safari by Geoffrey Kent

“Many entrepreneurs agree that it’s our worst vulnerabilities that inspire us to find our greater purpose.”

I read this book with my friends Ramit Sethi, Wayne Mulligan, and Derek Halpern.

I recommend the book. It was the perfect first book for our business book club that Wayne started. It is less of a “nitty gritty” business book and more of a candy-cane memoir.

Four very attractive, diverse, handsome men with varying levels of hair

Ramit, me, Wayne, Derek at the first meeting of our book club and discussion group.

The book is available in many formats. I read it on my Kindle.

Cover of the book Safari by Geoffrey Kent

Book cover, which we realized is maybe a sunset? And this is his “Going away” story?

Discussion Notes

  • Ramit noted how “Travel makes us a part of something much bigger than ourselves.”
  • We talked a lot about the luxury travel side of his business, including the concierge elements.
  • I loved the author’s origin story of finding the Texans who were willing to pay a premium price, in American dollars. And he “bet the farm” on the first safari.
  • Kent successfully capitalized on “the brand of going on safari.” He successfully productized and marketed it to a targeted demographic. This made me think about how Museum Hack is doing something similar with VIP museum experiences.
  • Note the foreword by Jeffrey Katzenberg. First, what a notable icon to write the foreword. Second, the sample agenda that Katzenberg talks about which Kent planned could ONLY be accomplished with a very long-range private jet. It “included snorkeling in the Galápagos, boating down the Amazon, crossing Indiana Jones–like suspension bridges in the rainforest, exploring the heights of Machu Picchu, and hiking past the peaks of Patagonia.” I loved the idea of getting a behind-the-scenes look at travel like this which we aspire to do one day.

There was so much more that we talked about, but I neglected to take more notes!

I will take better notes next time in preparation for a post like this.

Cards and books on a table with large marker handwriting

Index cards, printed notes, and the paperback copy of Safari during our business book club

Some of My Favorite Highlights From The Book

  • They say only time heals a broken heart, but any man with a purpose knows that the far faster cure is adventure…
  • After more than fifty years in this industry, I read clients’ faces easily on a morning like this.
  • One day on safari is the great adventure that will change the rest of an individual’s life.
  • Travel teaches us as much about ourselves as it does about the world. It shifts our focus away from the meager challenges of every day and recalibrates our life’s vision to something broader and much more significant.
  • Many entrepreneurs agree that it’s our worst vulnerabilities that inspire us to find our greater purpose.
  • Having found that there was no window glass available at any of the glaziers’ shops in Nairobi, my parents designed the house’s windows with small panels to fit the glass from picture frames.

Specific Story Anecdotes

  • In 1981 while I’m playing polo in Florida, I hear on television the news that Egypt’s President, Anwar Sadat, has been assassinated. Knowing that an eruption of geopolitical tension scares foreigners away and motivates a nation’s government to bring in tourism, I rush to Miami and board the Concorde, which stops in New York and then flies supersonic to London. Within a couple of days, I’m inside the office of the Egyptian Minister of Tourism. “Listen,” I tell him, “your President’s been shot, the whole world is canceling tours in Egypt. I want a license. You need foreign travel companies now.”
  • The lavatory facilities are simply open pit latrines, dreadful-smelling things. I borrow a stick of Tiger Balm and Jorie’s Chanel No. 5 to alleviate the experience.
  • “These are not your gorillas, Dian,” I tell her. “Tourism has the potential to save those gorillas and provide jobs.” “Geoff—” “Their habitat will be destroyed unless they can prove themselves financially worthwhile to the community. Jacques Cousteau said it, Dian: ‘People protect what they love.’ The locals will protect the gorillas from poachers if they can earn a living from the people who want to watch the gorillas.” She disagrees vehemently, stands up, and storms out of the hotel.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Trip to China

  • Bill Gates, passionate about traveling and learning about different cultures, contacts us to organize an itinerary for him to visit China. He and Warren Buffett are planning a trip together. They will be bringing along a group of their friends and revered business acquaintances.
  • All goes wonderfully, Gerald reports, except in Guilin, where the Cherry Coke is not delivered to the Gateses’ private boat for their highly anticipated cruise on the Li River. Gerald sends the group off down the river on their boat. Then he returns to the pier and awaits the grand delivery, which arrives within a couple of hours. After some cajoling and negotiations, he finds a small motorboat that will carry him fast to track down the Gateses’ boat. He races past almost three dozen boats down the Li River, calling out and signaling to the Gateses’ craft when he spots it. Finally, when Gerald transfers the Cherry Coke on board, there is great clapping and cheering from Warren Buffett and the entire group.

Conclusion

Good, easy book. Some aspects of history likely whitewashed. Would have LOVED the author to go more in-depth as a business book. But it works for all audiences this way. Recommended. Especially if you’re interested in travel, entrepreneurship, or hospitality.

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2018-08-22T14:38:06+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Books, General|