Recently I was asked in an interview what my favorite trip was as a kid. I was going into 5th or 6th grade and my parents took me on an awesome road trip from our home in Michigan to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, as well as Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and a few other really nice places out east.

This trip was the first time (after living in the suburbs my entire life) that I was a “big city person.”

My whole heart opened and I couldn’t get enough of New York City and Boston.

Obviously being a HUGE sports fan helped with that, as there were Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Giants, Jets, Rangers Islanders, Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox gear everywhere.

I saw my favorite team, the Detroit Tigers, play two away games on that trip, one at Fenway Park, and another at the original Yankee Stadium. So freaking cool.

It was all happening in the city, baby.

Later in life, as many of you know, my love for sports and the city correlated directly with my love for business and commerce, as I began my career at age 19 with the Detroit Pistons, in their media relations department.

For the next seven years I had opportunities to travel to big cities around the United States for NBA and WNBA events and games. Seattle, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Charlotte, Cleveland, Hartford, New York (several times), New Orleans and even Mexico City were destinations for me. And I loved every second of it. GET ME IN THE CITY, I thought.

My love for cities became so well known among family and colleagues that the running joke is that I “hate nature.” I’ve even said that, jokingly, on occasion over the last few years.

To be clear, even when I moved to Nashville 13 years ago, I moved to the country, not the city. I spent MOST of my time in the city doing business and attending dinners and events with my family, even though we lived in Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station (much further south in country/suburbia).

Now, for the first time in my life, I’m moving to a big city, in a different country – Valencia, Spain. I couldn’t be more excited.

More on that in the coming year, I can assure you, as I’ll be working remote and running the business from abroad (with the help of my amazing teammates back in the States).

But now there’s some irony coming.

Through my recent travels and readings, I’ve started to actually appreciate, enjoy and even love nature.

Not in the same way that hikers, campers, backpackers, rock-climbers and bird watchers LOVE nature.

But in a way that helps calm me, allows me to focus, and thanks to the help of one of the greatest businessmen our world has known.

For a workaholic like me to start to love nature, you knew there had to be an outside influence from another workaholic, right?

The smartest investor of our time, a man named Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, wrote a book lately called “Principles.”

I highly recommend it to anyone open-minded enough to want to develop a higher sense of self-awareness required to succeed in life and business.

Right after his short auto-biography that begins the book, Dalio surprisingly goes into detail about his love for nature.

He writes about how he follows the natural path of nature, and accepts it as a guide for how to live his life; mainly it gives him the ability to establish perspective and higher order / higher level thinking, which he obviously uses to evolve and improve himself, which helps him in life and business.

So I’m not sure right now where my new found, let’s not call it “love” just yet, but rather “appreciation” for nature will go ultimately, what I do know is that I now see how appreciating it rather than denying it’s existence can help me become a better person (and businessman) in the long term.

And in the short term, have a ton of fun with my family. 🙂

Hit me up with any questions anytime at

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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