My Kobayashi Maru?

Have I gotten dumber six months on after returning from Norway to live in the States? Why do I suddenly feel rudder-less? Is this my Kobayashi Maru? Have I created a no-win scenario? Let’s dive deep and find out why this self-doubt has increased lately.*

*Editors’ Note: I often try to write about things on the journey that my readers will find interesting but this might not be that kind of post. This is more of a post for myself and to restore balance in the universe. I hope you don’t mind too much. Thanks!

First mistake… a bit too naive?

First off I need to admit that I was a bit naive to think that I could make the leap from 15 years of Corporate and International business straight into farming and running my own business. First off, my experienced expat friends said it would take time to get re-acclimated to living in the US having lived in Norway for the past 4 years. They were spot on! Talk about culture shock in your home state. It is taking more time than I thought.

I did get a job to make new connections and continue to sock away more land fund savings – but this did not prove to be a winning move. Please allow me to elaborate.

My second mistake… getting a job

Working for money: good. Working where you cannot be creative: not so good. In fact, for me it’s demoralizing. At my stage in the game, money is ok but something to put my passions into is even more motivating. It’s not my employer’s fault. This just did not work out. Plus I won’t go into the details on how working in Norway has practically ruined my chances of being a good American worker going forward. Once you’ve had such decent benefits, it’s hard to take less and look yourself in the mirror. But as the evidence mounts on why I need to run my own business, I’ll be sure to give myself as many benefits (Scandinavian-style) as I can muster in the near future.

Third mistake… leaving good friends to pursue a dream?

I have the most amazing group of friends in Stavanger, Norway who were very supportive of me following this dream. It was very hard to leave them and start this journey. Sometimes I wonder if that was the right thing to do. Making new friends and connections here has been hard so far. I often feel that with my varied experiences I have nothing to offer in this beautiful, albeit sparsely populated quiet mountain town. It is sort of like the South Park song except there isn’t a Kyle to my Stan?

Lessons learned

I am not admitting defeat by any means and of course I will soldier on. But what have I learned thus far?

  • I will not be in such a “desperate haste to succeed.” I cannot rush success.
  • My stated goal is to farm and I will only supplement this goal with work that enhances my passions and creativity.
  • I can honour my good friends from afar best by finishing what I set out to accomplish.

A series of leaps and bounds

During the journey, any thing worthwhile is going to take a series of leaps and bounds before it gets into full swing. I should not be so hard on myself as these are just learning experiences I can grow from. I will be resigning from the job I’m at now in the middle of August. Around this time I’ll be travelling to Kentucky to do some more artisan bread training and hone my skills. Plus we’ll take some time to travel around that part of the country and head back through the Upper Peninsula in Michigan into Canada on our way back to base.

Who knows? Eventually I could even be leaping my butt right out of the Adirondacks. I’ve come to the realization that I need to be more flexible as to where I can viably put down roots and start this venture. I have the business plan and the marketing and the ideas – but I’m missing the product and the “factory” that is needed in order to produce the product. Plus I need the right demographics and access to markets, etc… It’s not all fun & games in the journey, but I’m still here and Jah will provide.

By the way, this bitch session is over and I promise to have some good food, ales, bread or farming stuff next week as I return to my regularly scheduled programming next Wednesday. Hope that works for you. Thanks again!

5 thoughts on “My Kobayashi Maru?

  1. Cathrine Stene says:

    Hi Dan:) I like your blog and I love that you are honest:) We miss you and Kim and I hope you will succeed in following your dreams. My advice: Start with small things and when you succeed, make it bigger. Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

  2. Michael Sautter says:


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts – both the “ups” and the “downs”. I concour with Cathrine and both appreciate and respect your honesty (you know, of course, how serious we take the notion of honesty over here 🙂 ).

    It must be strange to find yourself to be a bit of a stranger returning home after 4 years in Norway. I am sure culture is different. And I know worklife is very different. I would very much like that you consider writing that post you said you wouldn’t write. The one about “how working in Norway has practically ruined my chances of being a good American worker going forward”. That could be a nice cultural lecture for your friends on both sides of the pond. Having a German father I know the thing he reacted most strongly to when moving to Norway was what he calls “work ethics” – or lacks thereof. I do not necessarily subscribe to his point of view. In most OECD’s measurements Norway is among the top countries in productivity. II guess part of the difference is that there is a strong sense that personal life is more important than corporate life. That time off is more of a benefit than increase salary?

    Anyway, we feel your frustration over here, but I hope you can feel the support flowing the other way. We admire your guts and willingness to pursue your dreams. That is perhaps, when I come to think about it, one of the biggest cultural differences between Norway and parts of the US: Over here we dream our dreams. You are an example of someone who actually move ahead and tries to REALIZE your dreams. That commands respect. You have ours!

    Take care, Dan!



    • Daniel Rivera says:

      Thank you so much Michael. I do feel the support and your kind words are so encouraging.

      In a sense, what I’m doing is not very special. There are people following their passions and starting new businesses all the time. What makes this special for me though is that my friends (you) and the Norwegian experience has given me the courage to make this leap in the first place. Norwegian culture lefts it mark on me in ways that I am still discovering. The independent spirit, the work/life balance, the Norwegian way of life has forever changed me. I guess the goal is to somehow bring these values into my farming microcosm – we’ll see. But I will continue to draw motivation and inspiration from this.

      • Michael Sautter says:

        I guess the flipside of “independent spirit” is “lack of discipline” and being a bit “anarchistic” 🙂 I know that for some German healthworkers coming to work at Norwegian hospitals they sometimes get a cultural shock as the hieararchy is not that well defined in our structures.

        Anyway, keep at it! I am sure you will achieve things that by your own measures count as successes, and that is really the only thing that counts 🙂 Others’ opinions may be valuable but should not be allowed to dictate the way you live your life.



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