Friday, October 11, 2013
Day 116 - Do you know the way to Santa Fe
At 10am, we met Anne and Diane at the main building. We squeezed in to the back of their SUV, with our backpacks and poles, ready to start our urban adventure in NM. The plan is to get to Santa Fe today, and then Albuquerque tomorrow. My giddiness at having reached NM has not worn off yet. And as a dichotomous backcountry / city girl, I'm really excited to see Santa Fe, a city I've only visited in Dionne Warwick songs.
But, let me get to the most interesting part. Though both Gangles and I already have MBAs, we got our second MBAs riding and lunching with Diane and Anne. They are old friends, both serial craft supply entrepreneurs. I can't even begin to capture everything we learned in this entry, but here's the thumbnail: they've bought and sold companies, filed bankruptcies, made and lost fortunes. Plus multiple divorces and a near death experience bobbing in the Alaskan seas for ten hours after a storm capsized their deep sea fishing boat. That story is a standalone novel.
But anyway, these two amazing women gave us a world-class lecture on entrepreneurship. They told us their respective stories, about their past and current businesses (including hand-painted clocks, beads, jewelry kits). And some of their own maxims for success: take on no debt, bootstrap everything; you can start with $300, I did; you will fail, I was bankrupt at 50, but made my fortune by 60, so don't worry about failing; it's easy to start businesses, but hard to scale to demand; everyone makes biscotti, but no one makes cholesterol-free breakfast cookies. That's just a tasty slice of what they told us. I could really write a book. Or rather, they could write a book. And really should.
And you know what, it was fun. It was fun to talk business again, customers, operating margins, industry trends. Really an incredible education. I loved the conversation so much, I wanted to keep them talking as long as they were willing, so coaxed them into a terrific lunch at Cafe Pasqual's in Santa Fe.
After lunch, Anne kept the education going, negotiating a great rate at the fancy Bishop's Lodge for the night. The rain we had escaped in Ghost Ranch finally caught us in Santa Fe. We sadly said goodbye to Anne and Diane, who dropped us off in the midst of the thunderstorm at the lodge. Patrick T at the front desk was incredibly kind, and even upgraded our room to a suite with a fireplace.
I can't express how novel it is to make a fire *indoors*, *for fun*, instead of for fear of hypothermia. I'm going to sit by it all night, and poke at the logs while we wait for the rain to pass.
p.s., During a break in the rain, we went to see the Loretto chapel and its miraculous staircase. Story is that the sisters at the chapel needed stairs from the ground floor to the loft for the choir. Local carpenters said a staircase was impossible; the space was only fit for a ladder. The sisters prayed, and a several days later, a strange carpenter appeared at the chapel. He promised to build the stairs, but needed absolute privacy for 3 months. Using a square, a saw and some warm water, this carpenter fashioned a nail-less, helical staircase. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and modern carpenters consider it miraculous that something so complex and elegant could be built with the tools of the time. The strange carpenter disappeared after the staircase was constructed, without pay or thanks.