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Camino de Startup

December 15, 2022

Below I explore the loyalty and energy created by human connections on life’s Caminos and question if either can be achieved in the Virtual Office.

Carrión de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza is a seventeen kilometre, three and a half hour walk of the Camino de Santiago with a never-ending straight line, flat prairie landscape and no rest stops in between. This stretch combines physical and mental challenges, when you realize your only option is to persevere, you grind it out. On this particular 17 km walk, the lack of visual stimulation, the sun’s heat, the consistent pace and sound of footfall creates a rhythm that sets me and other pilgrims on autopilot looking forward to its end. With hundreds of pilgrims ahead of me and hundreds in queue behind me an aerial shot could surely pass as a movie scene. Occasionally a faster paced pilgrim may pass, or join you for a chat as you walk in tandem on a dirt path on route to Santiago 380 km and16 more days due west. The physical presence of my fellow pilgrims ahead and behind me was reassuring.

There are wonderful physical and spiritual memories of my Camino. Racing fellow pilgrim Patrick from Seattle up the steep 250m climb of Alto de Mostelares, my exhaustion at the top was rewarded with the iconic view of the Meseta plateau. At Monasterio de Santa Clara, a convent in Carrion de los Condes, the memory of Mother Superior visiting 18 exhausted pilgrims all in a single large room tucked into our single beds where Mother shared a blessing and prayer and visited each of us taking a moment to wish us a goodnight. The gratification of taking care of people by participating and preparing dinners for groups of hungry pilgrims where the pasta with chorizo sauce was a big hit. Experiences only available when we are physically and emotionally present.

On the Camino, the social barriers we’re used to at home quickly disappear and for the most part pilgrims let strangers into their lives with meaningful and personal conversations fostering human connections. It works because we’re physically present with a common cause and purpose. Allowing your body to get exhausted every day after a 25–40 km walk, we arrive broken in a strange place with communal accommodations. This daily routine is a gift. In 2015 as a novice, the responsibility I felt to care for my daughter, our bodies needing to recover and a strange bed in a strange place raised my anxiety and feelings of vulnerability. I need help taking care of myself and Julia (meal, bed, showers, laundry facilities, foot ailments, +). Will the hostel staff be helpful? Is it safe? Will my fellow pilgrims help me when needed? It does not take long to realize the community of hospitaleros (hostel volunteers) and our fellow pilgrims are a special breed. They go out of their way to take care of people who have stepped off their “routine” path to experience this special spiritual journey.

The Camino offers ample time spent with friends, family and the extended family of pilgrims collected along the way. People sharing their life stories, diverse backgrounds, challenges, and their personal reason for walking the path. These physical and spiritual interactions are fuel for our souls creating lifelong friendships and connections. A feeling that we belong, that we are part of a shared challenge. Fulfilled when we are present, when we trust and are vulnerable.

My journey as CEO and co-founder of Clarity Systems ended in 2010. That fifteen-year camino provided me with many friendships and personal growth that went beyond the business problems we were solving. Sharing our hopes and vulnerabilities and asking for help demonstrates mutual respect, trust and loyalty to each other and our cause. Was it perfect, of course not. But I was committed to a culture that says let me know what you need or where you want to go and I will do my part to help get you there. Our collective physical presence played a part in Clarity’s success.

Today, I worry StartUps underestimate the value of a team’s physical presence. Do hybrid and virtual office models offer human connections? Do physical interactions at your StartUp occur daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually? Are you nurturing a connected loyal team? How much physical team presence is enough in an early stage StartUp?

In my opinion, early stage StartUp teams living physical, emotional and business challenges together foster loyalty and trust. For me it creates an energy that is fulfilling. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

About Sherpa Venture Studio

I am passionate about building successful StartUps in the enterprise software and managed services space. I am committed to helping people with valuable consulting experiences that solve existing complex business problems. People that want to become Founders. As a partner at Sherpa Venture Studio we formulate new software and managed services StartUps servicing North American mid-market companies. We are Founders partnering with Founders. I look forward to hearing about your journey and chatting about your business idea.

You can learn more about Sherpa Venture Studio here: or follow me on LinkedIn here:

About the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago dates back over a thousand years when pilgrims from all over Europe paid homage to St James at his entombment in Santiago de Compostela Spain. The revival of the Camino over the last 30 years draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world through Spain and neighbouring countries. There are many paths that lead to Santiago. One popular path is the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France across central Spain to Santiago de Compostela with the first leg crossing the same path used by Napoleon’s army in 1813 over the Pyrenees mountains during the Peninsular War. You can learn more about the Camino here —

¡Buen Camino!


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