Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

15 Mar 2021, 11:21 a.m.

Rick Steves, Underappreciated

Jacob Kaplan-Moss suggested I write this up so here you go!

This weekend I listened to the "How I Built This" interview with entrepreneur Rick Steves.

You may have heard of Rick Steves and thought he was just another travel guidebook writer. He's not! He's a marijuana legalization advocate and serves on the board of director of NORML. He loves helping Americans travel outside our own country because he thinks US folks need to travel internationally more and widen our perspectives and reduce our American exceptionalism. His Lutheranism leads him to emphasize the equal importance of every single person on Earth; if you find 1999 and 2000 editions of his guidebooks you'll find an appendix about the need for a Jubilee Year to forgive the debts of developing countries. He "devised a scheme where I could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments to house struggling neighbors" and encouraged fellow rich people to do the same.

He's an inspiration to me as an entrepreneur and as a teacher. He started off teaching a class on cheap European travel -- because no one else was doing it! -- and turned that lecture into his first book. Hearing that story reminded me that the book I'm writing will be a lot better if I test it out as a curriculum as I write it. So now I'm thinking about how to do that with real learners.

And I want to be an entrepreneur who, like Fred Rogers, like Anant Pai, like David Neeleman, like Rick Steves, found a need and filled it, while making money, employing people, and making a little slice of the world easier.