The Indiana Jones of world happiness

Adam Pervez went from working in the highly competitive petroleum industry to travelling around the world with light pockets and earning a doctorate degree in “Happiness”.

This profound change can be traced to his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio. “I think that boy was very concerned about fitting in and being normal,” says today’s Adam. His yen for travel came after taking a brief university course in Egypt. When he returned, an oil company was hiring. He signed up and they sent him to the Middle East.

And that’s when he began to travel: Europe, Africa, Asia… But the work didn’t satisfy him, and in his search for something better he pursued the International MBA at IE. From there he moved into the field of renewable energy in Denmark, where he had a good job and an enviable lifestyle.

But Adam was still missing something. “I began to ask myself what is happiness and what could make me happy.” By thinking about what he liked, he discovered his six passions: travel, writing, learning something new every day, teaching, telling stories, and helping other people. “I began to build my life around those six passions.”

And that’s when his true transformation began. He quit his job and began to travel –first to Latin America, then to Southeast Asia, Southern Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. More than 40 countries. He called it the ‘Happy Nomad Tour’. In two-and-a-half years he spent less than 20,000 dollars, mixing with the locals. “I didn’t want to be a tourist, but a traveler. I wanted to try and understand how people live and what happiness means around the world.”

In his journey across the planet Adam stayed with some IE alumni. “I stayed with an IE classmate in Venezuela. It was someone I had never spoken to during the MBA. But when he saw I was in Central America, he invited me to spend Christmas with his family. “It’s wonderful, in almost every part of the world you go to you can find IE folks.”

adam_pervez_2His trips completely changed his way of looking at things. “But when you see poverty, you realize it’s the most frightful thing in the world. You see people who lose their baby because they can’t afford an antibiotic that maybe costs a dollar.”

What he did see is that people who live a simple life don’t want so many possessions. He thinks that in the Western world “we’re always trying to earn more money or get more ‘likes’ on Facebook.” We always want more. Whereas those people who have a lot less only want a good education for their children and that they marry someone who loves them.

At present Adam is studying for a doctorate in Organizational Behavior

with the aim of applying his knowledge about happiness to the work context. “If people could be happier at work, this would benefit them in their daily lives,” he observes.

His idea is to be a university professor. He’d like to travel so as to go on learning, “to be something like the Indiana Jones of happiness in the world, researching happiness in the business world.” At age 33, Adam is also considering settling down, getting married and having children. But he’s clear about one thing: “Instead of being passive and waiting for happiness to find you, it’s necessary to be active. Go out there and grab it.”

Interview by Pablo G. Bejerano