This post is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, "150 Times Around the World," by Dr Jac Fitzenz. Its a culmination of his life's travels around the world and a compelling window into his vast journeys. Take a seat and come along for the experience of a lifetime as you join Dr Jac on his travels. Click here if you'd like to be notified when "150 Times Around the World" is available for purchase.

Beautiful Camels. The next morning, Khaled collected me at the hotel and said we were going out into the desert to see the “beautiful camels.” This was the third unique experience. Along the way we talked about his experiences going to college in America. Although it was a bit of a shock for him at first, and a totally different way of looking at the world, he said he thoroughly enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed him also and have always been grateful for his guidance and support in a country new to me.

About an hour out of Riyadh in the open desert, we pulled off the road into what looked somewhat like a sandy barnyard. It was just two buildings and several camels scattered around the edges. No tourist buses, just apparently a working camel ranch. Among the several camels were animals of various sizes, ages and colors.

The main event was a monstrous black fellow who was tied to a stake in the ground and had hobbles on his legs. Apparently, he was ill-tempered, and I was told to keep back. No problem. He was truly frightening. The top of his hump was close to ten feet above the ground, and the head nearly fifteen when he reared back and lifted it letting out a piercing squeal. I’d seen camels in Kuwait and Dubai, but this was something entirely different.

Later, they took me around the other side of the yard to a mother camel with a very young animal, apparently her daughter. Her hump was just about at my eye level. I was able to pet her and rub her long neck. It was very bony, not much meat on it. She and the mother were docile. In a way I could see why they talked about beautiful camels. This finished my tour of Arabian sites. All in all, it was very enjoyable and enlightening.

Training Center Project. With the seminar over I thought we were finished with our business, but I was wrong. The Sheikh was impressed with what I had presented. Khaled told me he wanted to talk about the possibility of a joint venture to establish a management training center. This sounded very promising. Imagine designing a training curriculum for a center in Arabia.

Khaled said we were going to meet in Bahrain, a tiny island country just off the northeast coast of Saudi Arabia. It is only a few miles long and maybe a mile wide—very flat with a few oil wells on the south end. The only significant city is the capital Manama. I don’t know why we had to go there. I just accepted it. It was a four hour drive from Riyadh across the very flat drifting desert sands.

Khaled and I went ahead. He said the Sheikh and his advisor would join us in the morning. At the sheikh’s request, I had prepared an outline of the scope and content of the concept. Khaled booked a meeting room in the hotel. The next afternoon, the Sheikh and his man arrived from Riyadh. The advisor was a large man, easily six feet and well over 300 pounds, a round face supporting rimless glasses and a short grey beard. He did not speak English either, so Khaled continued as translator. After we settled in I proceeded to lay out my proposal including staffing, an operating budget and projected revenue for the first three years. The tentative name would be Gulf Management House. We had agreed that the site would be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is too difficult to travel in and out of Saudi, whereas Dubai is much more liberal with foreigner movement.

After much discussion, translated by Khaled, the advisor asked what this new entity was worth; its present value. I told him that today it was worth nothing because it existed only on paper. Still, he persisted with the question. To make a long story short, no matter how I tried to explain the project and its projected growth curve he could not understand we were talking about future value—potential, not present cash value. We discussed intellectual capital and cash investments, projected revenue, and profits over the initial five years. That brought up the question again, so what is the company worth? We just couldn’t connect on the value question. This proved to be an impasse and end of the discussion.

I still don’t know what he was trying to learn. Khaled did his best to help the man understand where we were and what had to be accomplished before we could put a value on this enterprise. Unfortunately, the man just didn’t get it. This was a hard lesson: Ignorance can be a powerful foe. I was very disappointed because I would have enjoyed building a business with Ahmed. He is a fine man and we had become close friends in a very short time.

Despite my disappointment sometime later I received the following unsolicited comment from Khaled:

“Dr. Jac’s work was fully supported by knowledge and experience, drawn from flying the skies of cultures globally. We are bearing the fruits of his life-long educational journey. This very stunning and conspicuous work has emerged from such a unique and visionary scholar.”
Khaled Alfulih, CEO, Alsrooh Althaliah Education and Training Group, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

We drove back to Riyadh, and the next day I prepared to leave. The hotel provided a valet to help me pack. I told the young man to show me how he would pack a bag for a long trip. He turned my suit coat inside out, smoothed the sleeves and folded it into the bag. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve used it ever since and it does keep creases out of the coat.

Another Chance. About a year after that trip I received another invitation to speak at a conference in Riyadh. The theme was Workforce Planning. The request was from a gentleman who owned a consulting firm. His long Arabian name we’ll shorten to Abdul. He was short, about five feet six, portly and sported a thin salt and pepper beard that framed his face. He wore glasses and smiled almost continuously. This was initially a much simpler assignment in the beginning. As it turned out, it was to be as complicated as Sheikh Ahmed’s concept.

The crux of the tale is that I went to Riyadh and spoke at the conference. Immediately thereafter, Abdul approached me with a loosely constructed idea for another management institute. When we reached a point of agreement on what could be built, I returned home. Over the next few months, I talked to companies in the States that might be interested in representation in the Middle East.

In the spring, Abdul came to the States and we met. After a long discussion of what would be required, he returned to Riyadh. A series of back and forth messages flowed over several months. In the end, it became obvious he did not have the resources to make it happen.

This is a fairly common occurrence in the consulting business. Many people get excited by a presentation. They come up with ideas, realistic and otherwise. Bottom line is you can spend a lot of time and effort on something that never makes it.