There’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs are so single-minded that they don’t have any time for hobbies. That they have to be so focused on their business that they can’t shift their attention to something that is simply interesting to them.
The truth, though, is that the most successful entrepreneurs often have other passions that actually enhance their lives, inspire their creativity and are as emotionally rewarding as their core business is financially.
For those leaders, every once in a while, work and play come together in an unexpected, magical moment. And that’s why Viking Founder/Chairman, Torstein Hagen, recently found himself in a post office in Ushuaia, Argentina – the world’s southernmost city, nicknamed the “End of the World” – fulfilling a childhood wish from 65 years ago.
“I grew up in a little place outside Oslo called Nittedal and I collected stamps as many children do,” said Hagen. “I still have first day numbers from places around the world. They’re not so valuable but they are meaningful to me.”
Some of Hagen’s favorites include a 1956 stamp from Monte Carlo when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier (“I sent a letter congratulating them and got back a mass invitation to attend the wedding,” he laughed) and a collection from 1960 when virtually every European country issued a Europe stamp. “I had them framed in a collage in my office,” he said. “I was a huge fan of Europe and had written a thesis in high school about whether Britain would join the EU. That was the big topic then.”
One of the Hagen’s most treasured stamps, though – the one that brought him to Ushuaia – was issued on August 3, 1957, when he was 14. It was a new stamp honoring Norway’s King Haakon VII and Hagen was determined to get a first day cover. He decided to mail an envelope that would get delivered back to him so he could add it to his collection.
“I wanted to send it as far away as I could conceivably think of and what could be further away than the end of the world?” Hagen explained. “I sent it to my sister by registered mail so it would be returned to sender. You can still see the “Return to Sender” on the envelope.”
Hagen always dreamed of visiting the city his letter had reached and he finally got to check off that bucket list item 65 years later.
“I’m good at long range planning,” he joked. “I knew I would get there eventually.”
That opportunity came about when he agreed to take a rare holiday to celebrate his 80th birthday on Viking Polaris with his lifelong best friends and neighbors. The cruise to Antarctica began and ended in Ushuaia and he brought the envelope with him so he could have it stamped again.
Hagen arranged to meet Carlos Gomez, Cartero, Correo Argentino, to show him the original letter and present the post office with a plaque commemorating Viking’s presence in Ushuaia. In return, Gomez restamped Hagen’s envelope with a dated “End of the World” stamp and presented him with a Correo Argentino scarf.
As he left the post office and walked down the street back to the port, Hagen stopped to look at the envelope he had sent off 65 years ago, then glanced up at the two ships he had just added to his Viking fleet to explore The Last Continent.
“What a life,” he marveled. “What a life.”