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Explosive Start. On March 11th we planned to start at 8:00 a.m. However, due to more security concerns, the start was postponed. We didn’t launch until a couple minutes after nine. As usual, I began with an introductory session so the management attendees could develop a sense of me and me of them. We weren’t far into it when there was an enormous blast that rattled windows and shook the entire hotel. It was so intense that paper, books, maps, pictures and posters were launched into the air and scattered around the room.

I’m not embarrassed to admit, I was shocked. I wasn’t the only one. All the participants were badly shaken. Being from California my first thought was earthquake. But quakes act differently than explosions. Looking out the window on the third floor I could see a massive cloud of black dust close by. This wasn’t an earthquake. Someone had set off powerful explosives. Everything stopped until they could find out what happened and if it might be dangerous to continue. We were told to just sit still until security could determine the nature of the attack.

After nearly an hour of disturbing loud noises and nervous waiting we were assured there was no damage to the hotel structure and premises and no evidence of terrorists in the area. The blast was at a nearby government building. A mass of high explosives completely demolished what had been the six story building. It was rubble. This was similar to the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing in April 1985. This even happened at almost the same minute, 9:02 a.m. In Oklahoma 186 people were killed. Here, 28 people died immediately, 350 more were injured or died later.

The question now is, what to do? Can and should we continue? Even if we restarted the program would anyone be able to concentrate? Shaikh Azhar and Tahir conferred with the hotel management and local security forces. They returned to the room and we discussed the situation, giving the class all the information available at the moment. We took a break for tea and to let our blood pressures settle. Eventually, it was determined that the blast was most likely from a noted terrorist group. It was believed they hit and ran. The danger was past, they hoped, and we could continue. Now I knew what was meant by “the show must go on.”

That night I called Laura who told me she had seen the event on the television news. The blast and its aftermath were telecast around the world. She demanded I leave immediately. I understood her fears, so we talked about it for some time. Finally, she said I could stay if I promised not to leave the hotel.

The next three days we worked out the scheme that the Shaikh, Tahir and I had developed. Everything went smoothly which was a tribute to the people at Descon. They were eager to turn in this new direction that promised to be data driven, work through a more centralized strategic vision, and promote better communication across the company’s widely disbursed operations. The managers were especially looking forward to a more consistent, valid way to measure and evaluate their performance. On the last night I left the hotel and had dinner with some of the top team members. In the morning I flew home. Tahir told me he was relieved that I gotten away safely.

Recap. Later, I received the following from him:

The training session was extremely beneficial for the participants and based on the feedback Azhar was able to restructure the company. Learning from the past, future was suggested and predicted. Working of all business areas and business support departments was looked into. The stage was to be set for another major restructuring under the leadership of Azhar and ownership of Razak Dawood, who was part of this session and was very closely listening to the discussion and suggestions being put forward.