Updated: Jun 12, 2019
My name is Teresa Spangler. I'm what you would call a ‘challenge junkie’. Others have challenged me all my life. "Ain’t no woman made it yet in this business and you won't either!” they said to me. I took that challenge and beat out 240 men to become the number one saleswoman in that company. In the early '90s, Venture Capitalists simply did not fund women in technology. I accepted that challenge and went on to get funding. In another move, I joined a startup that grew from $23 million in revenue to $400 million in less than five years. I am currently a member of the Forbes Technology Council.
Before the #Metoo movement began, I was overcoming groping company founders and went on to co-developed, one of the first Linux Software driven web serving appliances. Since then, I've held executive positions at Red Hat Software and was responsible for leading revenue growth pre and post IPO. In addition, I have founded and led a number of entrepreneurial organizations through growth milestones including venture capital funding, IPOs, innovation creation and development of strategies leveraging technology.
I grew from rags to riches, making millions and then watching it all disappear. When I turned 50 years old, I realized that my life seemed like a failure because I had not dared to dream big enough. What few dreams I had left, had been little more than scrawled down wishes with no real detail or plan on how to accomplish it. Then, I re-invented myself and made my lifelong dream happen in creating a business and non-profit organization that created showcase opportunities for more than 200+ original artists and musicians over 7 years that captured the attention of New York dance communities and globally known musicians.
I have pulled from my successes and failures to provide powerful strategies and exercises that may guide you through your personal journey on the road to achieving big dreams, whether that be in love, life, in the business world, creating wealth, or merely gaining that inner peace we are all searching for.
Hike Till Your Mind Goes Empty
Quiet engulfs me, roosters’ clock in on time, the breezy overcast climate calls for my Patagonia (warm pullover), the weight on my back heavier than I ever anticipated, and everything is starting on an uphill climb. Is this a metaphor for life? Am I nuts? I have no emotions, no anxiety, no worries, no thoughts of forced mindfulness. This is just the beginning of a long journey hiking from little town to little town. Our final destination is Santiago De Compostela, Spain. My means of transportation is my two feet trekking more than 18 to 20 miles a day. Starting my journey, I feel strangely at peace. I don’t even know why. After all I’ve been through in my life, the journey by foot up mountains and down mountains somehow feel oddly like life’s journey itself. I expected my monkey mind would take over while walking from small Spanish town to small Spanish town. But there’s not a thought bubble popping. Pilgrims, we are all pilgrims, on the search for a sense of inner peace.
I was hiking with my husband of 32 years, (but this book is All That I Am, Now That I Know, lessons I’ve learned and will share with you) over 16 to 20 miles daily. We hiked some of the most beautiful peaks and valleys I’ve ever seen through the rural parts of northern Spain. From the very start, I am in awe of the landscape, the serenity, the mooing cows, whinnying horses, barking dogs, goats “baahing”—a quiet peaceful silence with the exception of nature’s orchestra. Narrow path with markers of blue tiles painted with the emblem of a seashell points the way for pilgrims on 780 km (nearly 500 miles) on the Camino De Santiago. There are six paths of varying distances to the cherished end, Santiago De Compostela. We chose one that allowed us to hike the time we had off yet still earn our Certificate of completion reaching the cathedral of St James, where the Apostle, James to Jesus is said to be buried.
The long original journey of the Camino de Santiago path dates back to early 9th century (year 814). This is when the tomb of James, an evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula, was discovered. The early discovery of Santiago de Compostela, which in the current day can take up to 45 days to hike, is the journey point not just for the entire European continent but now for more than 300,000 pilgrims (hikers) yearly over 280,000 yearly receiving Compostela certificates of completion. To receive a certificate, a hiker must hike a minimum of 100kms or cycle the last 200kms.
On the Camino journey, we rarely saw any cars and often saw many cows pass at any given time. Stone walls protect the modest ancient stone homes lined with the colors of summer; hydrangeas, and roses of every color, fuchsia, bright yellow, blue and pink varietal flowers. The colorful plant and animal life represent a rich history of pilgrims who have walked these trails for generations. I feel these colors represent the richness in life. Floral covered walls encircle communities keeping the cows, goats, and chickens on their own turfs welcoming strangers as we walk the historical trail running through the backyards of rural farmers of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
Hiking feels wonderfully lazy though interestingly strenuous. Each day seems to go faster than imagined. Sun-filled evenings have a Spanish-linger to them, leisurely slow. Shoes are the first thing to come off! After shoes, I peel off the salt-crusted dry-fit hiking clothes from my sweaty back. Then immediately wash them and then me. After dressing in my second of the only two pair of pants in my backpack I enjoy an excellent glass of table Rioja (costing less than $2.00/glass or $10.00 per bottle), rub my feet slowly and then hang the wash to dry on a 1950’s clothesline.
A part of me would love to just keep hiking until the second glass of Spanish Rioja overtook my body rendering me useless. Others joined at our table for some cherished storytelling; Pilgrims from all over the world doing the same route. Slowly my thoughts and my emotions settle into the feeling of great gratitude. Every step is a step forward. Every step forward is one step closer to the goal of reaching Santiago.
It’s all metaphorical for life as every step is a step on our journey of life. My toenails eventually turn black and blue, my feet ache in pain the more miles I walk. My mind gets lost on what day it is… when I am reaching for big dreams on an entrepreneurial pilgrimage of sorts, my journey feels similar. Without maps, the right shoes, great planning, gathering the most important resources one needs all along the path coupled with a real passion for the long trek ahead, you (I) may never reach the ultimate destination or realize our personal or entrepreneur’s quest. At least in this case, the destination was clear. The path was already laid out for me. That is certainly not the case with most entrepreneurs. My journey has certainly taken a number of unexpected turns.
In the chapters ahead I will share stories of my own experiences. Many of these stories I revisited in my journal during my pilgrimage realizing my experiences, mistakes, successes, and failures may help others. Each chapter will have some tips and strategies I hope will help you on your own personal journey; your pilgrimage through life and on your personal path to achieving big dreams.
Planning a journey is critical to making the experience the best it can be.