I learned my most important business lesson when I got lost deep in the Nepal Himalayas. I was nineteen years old, and I didn’t have the patience to wait in line for the third day in a row to get a trekking permit. So, I abandoned a year of planning and hopped on a bus for the Everest region. I went as far as I could go legally. 

I booked a room in a very remote mountain lodge for about a nickel, and was ecstatic to discover that they sold apple cider. After one too many, I went to bed. I was abruptly awoken in the middle of the night by the kind of sound straight out of a horror movie. I jumped up in the dark to see what was happening, and hit my head hard on the 4-foot ceiling. In pain, I crawled to the window. Under the single street lamp, two men were skinning sheep and goat alive.

This gut-churning live exposé was more than enough to wake me up. Seeing a bus parked below, I quickly gathered my things, and made my way to the bus. After carefully scanning the entire village, I managed to sneak onto the top of a bus without getting caught. I hid amongst the luggage for a few hours before the bus started negotiating some of the world’s scariest roads. I made it through six checkpoints, and as far as one could go by bus. There were a lot of surprised villagers when they saw me climb down the ladder. Afraid of getting caught, I took off running with a backpack.

I was there for high-altitude training, thanks to an article I read in a Runner’s World magazine. In response to this article, my young mind said, “Why train in the Colorado Rockies when you can train in the Himalayas?” I had been traveling throughout Asia for almost five years up until this point, so it made sense to me. I was convinced this was my ticket to the Olympics. That’s another story.

The thrill of training in the Himalayas quickly turned into my worst nightmare. I was lost within a couple of days. By the second week, I suffered from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and was genuinely scared for my life. By the third week, I was convinced that my life was over.  

I’ll never forget the day I met a Nepalese man who was dressed like a cowboy. He lived in a hut perched on a cliff with the world’s best view of the Himalayas. Mount Everest was just to the left of us in all of her glory. He had a second hut that was used exclusively for cooking. 

Yak grazed on the plateau to the right of us. He used the yak for milk and meat. The only thing that would grow at that altitude was potatoes. He used the potatoes to make fries. I was shocked when he displayed a bottle of Heinz 57 ketchup. He hired a porter to deliver ketchup to his hut every six months. After what I had just been through, fries never tasted so good. 

We swapped stories for some five hours. Gratefully, he spoke English. At the end of our time together, he drew me a map that saved my life. In parting he shared one final story with me. When he finished, he looked at me and said, “Until you want wisdom as much as you want air, you’ll never have it.” 

That day, deep in the Everest region, my life was forever changed. I wanted to be, do, have, and give more. Exponentially more. Interestingly, more than 26 years later, I find that I am a wee bit addicted to fries and ketchup. 

Surviving getting lost for three weeks in the Everest region of the Himalayas forever altered my belief in what’s possible.
— Rick Justus

I want to believe that this is why my life was spared. I exist to be exponential and to equip leaders to be exponential. Why? Global abundance. 

One day a lady called me and pleaded with me in tears, “Rick, will you define it? Will you unpack it? Will you show us how?” As you’re beginning to see, the frequency of “destiny moments” (“God winks”) in my life is insane. Monique and I have one purpose: to save leaders 20 years at a time (time travel). This is how we define exponential. Circularity™ unpacks this. We continue to engineer and design the Abundance Continuum™ to show leaders how. You guessed it. We aim to “democratize abundance.”