Interview 004: Laura Lehmann, Media & Tech Entrepreneur.

Laura's Travel Shelf. Illustration by Bryn Beary.

[Note on Interview 004: Laura is my bff from college. We pulled all-nighters at the SciLi, cramming for, and subsequently acing, Art History Exams (read Professor Sheila Bonde’s course on Islamic Art and Architecture).  And, a decade and a half later, we still remember everything about Jahangir's jade cup. Some of our adventures together have included traveling to Patagonia to ring in New Years; sleeping under bear skins in igloos in Finland; meeting up in London for a perfect Fall walk in the Heath; and returning many times to the Van Wickle Gates.  While only one of us may have taken Modern Dance in Ashamu (which also *may* have included jumping shoeless from the first floor windows, to primal scream on Lincoln Field), we both left Brown with a deep curiosity about our world and dedication to writing our own paths.  We also share the lucky number 22.]

Currently: Laura is a Media & Tech Entrepreneur.  She invests in media & tech companies (see Shopthat) and is developing an image discovery platform.

Where you'll find Laura these days: Between 40.7134° N, 74.0055° W & 34.0522° N, 118.2437° W

The Interview.

Illustration by Bryn Beary.

1) What is the most remote place you've ever traveled to?  How did you get there? Describe your journey from departure point to arrival.

Cape Horn (with Pineapple Suitcase Founder Vanessa Beary). We flew from New York to Santiago de Compostel and then took another plane to Ushuaia. From there we took a 4 day cruise to Cape Horn.  Patagonia and Cape Horn look prehistoric and are completely deserted, especially on a cruise when you go to archipelago.  It reconnects you to the essence of being human and of exploration.

2) What are some of your favorite memories from the city/cities in which you currently live?  

My favorite memory from LA is reading the Sunday Times outside a friend’s house in Malibu and looking out to the ocean and seeing whales. It’s like seeing whales in your backyard, it’s so unexpected and magical.  

3) What place/s do you get nostalgic for?

I get nostalgic for the old town where I grew up in Geneva, Switzerland.  It has beautiful old European glistening pavement. I often think of how horse carriages were first used on these streets and how these streets have lived through so much of our industrial evolution.  I was at a dinner not too long ago in Playa Vista in LA and sat across a professor of pediatrics at UCLA.  It turns out he had lived three doors down from me in Geneva when he had worked for the World Health Organization.  It was a really a full circle moment.

4) When you travel, what are your favorite travel essentials?  Do you have any favorite/trusted brands/items that you make sure you always have with you?

My favorite travel kit is from SW Basics . I also highly recommend these sleeping supplement power on and off  for jet lag.  I was once very jet-lagged coming back from Hong Kong to NYC and was quickly fading.  My friend called in this at home IV drip company that gave me a Meyers cocktail. I walked out of there feeling renewed and never felt jet lagged from that trip again.

5) How much stuff do you usually travel with?  I.e. Do you always travel with a carry on suitcase?  And how do you pack your suitcase/bag?

I like traveling with a suitcase, I always have anxiety that I’m forgetting something if I only take a carry on.  At some point my suitcase gets very messy, but if I’m organized early on, I tend to roll every piece of clothing. I try to keep my shoes to a minimum because that’s what is usually heavy.

6) Do you have any specific apps (translation apps, hiking apps, travel guide apps, etc.), or a specific phone service (like Google's Project Fi) that you rely on when you travel?

Have you ever tried to stargazing app Skyview? Thats a great one for outdoor adventures and quite romantic!  I’m planning on using Circle next time I travel internationally.  

7) Do you bring books with you when you travel?  If so, paper or electronic? How many?  How much thought do you put into your selection of books (and/or other reading material) that you travel with?

I bring some electronic books (I just ordered  "Principle" by Ray Dalio) but I like to download podcasts before I travel.  I find them relaxing. Currently I'm subscribed to 10 podcasts, my top ones being the Tim Ferriss Show and How I Built This.

8) How do you research/prepare for a new trip you are talking?  What are your go-to resources for planning a trip? Do you type up/print out/handwrite any travel notes prior to taking a trip?

Right now I have been researching a trip to Big Sur.  I’m more organized than usual because I’m going with my parents. I booked a reservation at Manresa in Los Gatos.  I remembered watching the Chef David Kinch on The Mind of a Chef on PBS and told myself that someday I would visit his restaurant. It’s not the most traditional research method, but clearly the show made an impression on me. I don’t take any notes, I’m more of a picture/screenshot taker.

9) What is your approach to travel?  That is, do you plan out most of your activities/time ahead of time, leave everything to chance, or do some combination of both?  

Combination of of both. For my Big Sur trip, I know I want to go whale watching in Monterey but haven’t booked out and mapped out all the hiking trails because I assume the guides will do a better job than I ever would.

10) Do you have a place (a particular cafe, hotel, library, museum, etc.) from your past that you have purposefully returned to, and/or continue to return to, over and over again?  If so, what is it?

Yes I’m a creature of habits.

-Erewhon & Shuhari Matcha Cafe in Venice, CA

-Scarlett Begonia in Santa Barbara

-SF Moma for food and Art.

-Neue Gallery in New York

Also I love the herbal ice tea on the Hornberg mountain in Gstaad, Switzerland. The restaurant only makes the ice tea in the summer when you go hiking and it’s made out of all the local plants.

11) What is your first memory of place?

St Tropez in the summer.  I got stung by a bee and my mother took me out to get raspberry ice-cream.  I think I was three.

12) Tell me about a trip you took recently that you enjoyed.

I just came back from Santa Barbara for a Kreemart performance and the Santa Barbara Museum. Santa Barbara has mountains and the ocean. For me thats the holy grail and its combine two trips into one.

13) What are a few secret/hidden/favorite places in the city in which you live right now?

In LA: Corral Canyon hike; Huntington gardens; the Observatory. In Venice, Nowita Place;  it’s a small street where no car are allowed. It’s rather magical….

14) What is a travel memory that you recall often?  Describe.

Going up Torres del Paine in Patagonia on horseback. I wonder how no horse stumbled off the tiny mountain trail we rode on and how I’m still alive. All joking aside the ride down was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.

15) How does your background affect the way you approach travel/explore our world?

I grew up in Switzerland where I hiked and skied in the Alps most weekends. Today I love exploring nature whenever I can, learning about plants and their natural habitat. I would never plan a vacation that is set in an urban environment.  

16) Are there things you collect when you travel to new places? (i.e. globes, atlases, maps, copies of a particular book printed in the language of the country you are traveling to, old encyclopedias, etc.)

I have too much junk. I mainly collect photos and memories and already my iPhone is full!

17) What are a few things you never travel without?

Workout clothes, sneakers, sunglasses, earphones, iPhone.

18) What is one place (this can be anything from a cafe, to a city, to a country) you haven't been to, but would like to travel to one day?  Why?

I have a long bucket list but the running thread are springs and avoid people!

-Iceland: volcanoes, springs and the color palette of blues;

-New Zealand: hiking, nature and tech companies;

-Antartica for the seals and the thrill of braving the elements;

-Pantelleria in Italy: volcanoes, mud, and untouched beaches;

-Colorado: Dunton Hot Springs near Telluride;

-Oregon: The Lewis and Clark Trail.

19) What is the last trip you did research for?

Big Sur ...  I’m very US centric these days even though I travelled a lot in Europe in my childhood.

20) What is a favorite book(s) (and/or writer) on travel/voyages/exploration/experiencing new things?

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List

21) Have you purposefully and/or serendipitously returned to a place from your childhood?  I.e. the home you grew up in, the school you attended, and/or other childhood memory.  If so, describe.  What was it like to re-experience the reference point for a memory?

Every time I go back to Switzerland, Geneva or Gstaad, it brings back childhood memories. It’s very comforting to look at the same mountains, the same restaurants; it makes me feel like I belong somewhere.

22) Have you ever found out (after a trip) about a place/experience in a city/region you’ve visited that you wish you had known about prior to said trip?  If so, describe.

I tried not to go down the paths of what ifs.

23) Do you send postcards when you travel?  If so, who do you send them to?

No I have terrible handwriting

24) How do you stay connected when you travel?

I try to disconnect. I usually throw my cell phone in the Grand Canale in Venice…just kidding that’s Vanessa Founder of Pineapple Suitcase.

25) Why do you travel?

To feel free and to reconnect to being a hunter gatherer. I like to walk barefoot if and when possible; we are not meant to wear socks or shoes. Just saying

Filed under Interviews

a curious person still searching for the poem that Nezami Ganjavi wrote about the prince who toured his kingdom only to find crumbling structures, causing him to reflect on the transience of life.

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