The most exciting aspect of my job as a reporter is finding ways to tell a story. I love travelling to different countries. The opportunity to explore places and to interview people gives me experiences that I appreciate and treasure.
For my work, I need a spirit of adventure. It's what every entrepreneur needs too. Reporters and entrepreneurs both build stories. Both need a vision, a structure and an aptitude for calculated risk.
The structure for my reporting trips always consists of a commissioned piece of work. It might be a radio report, written piece or a combination of both.
As part of my work I enjoy being in the remote Himalayas, but my latest adventure was my toughest yet. I had decided to construct an expedition up into the north east corner of India, deep into the Himalayas on the Indo-Chinese border.
Like any entrepreneur, I had a mission. It was specific; to retrace the steps the Dalai Lama took across the region when he decided to settle in India nearly 60 years ago, in 1959. This year, 2017, the Dalai Lama was revisiting the places he went to when he left his native Tibet in China. These spots are in a state that is now called Arunachal Pradesh.
The Indo-Chinese border is a restricted zone and foreign journalists need all sorts of permissions and permits to travel there. I had never been to Arunachal Pradesh before and knew no-one.
To succeed, I needed to give form and structure to my mission, just as those who are building a business do. I wanted to meet and interview the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas at the exact location where he stayed nearly 60 years ago.
How was I going to get to him? And would I be able to speak to him?
Entrepreneurs need to figure out how they are going to achieve their goals. And I needed to find out how I could manage each stage of my adventure. I drew out a few mind maps charting what I needed to do. It is always easier to progress if you are part of a community rather than trying to go it alone. Reporters and entrepreneurs need networks they can leverage.
My first hurdle on my adventure was arranging a visa and my permits. I called on a former official I knew to advocate and provide a reference for me so that I could apply for my permits. He did so and permission to enter the area was granted.
Through my contact's network, my accommodation was organised too. Then I organised my travel. Where I was going, 10,000 feet up; was fairly basic, with unreliable electricity and an even less reliable phone signal. The accommodation was not going to be luxurious. I needed several layers of clothes to wear even at night as it was going to be very cold!
There is only one road around the Himalayas in this part of India, and it is frequently blocked because of landslides or snowfall. All movement here is dependent on the weather.
I didn't realise that even my helicopter ride up to the town of Tawang at 10,000 feet would only happen if the temperature was right and if there was no wind. Fortunately, the clouds stayed away the day I flew and within a couple of hours I was soaring over snowy peaks into what is known as the land of the dawn-lit mountains.
The sometimes forbidding landscape of the legendary Himalayas stretched for miles, from India into China. I would have to keep a clear head to negotiate a path to victory up here. I was far away from any city and far away from my comfort zone. Eventually I landed at the Tawang helipad.
I was met by an indigenous Monpa tribesman. I had never met a Monpa before. They are simple, honest, hard working and stoic. That night, alone in my room though, I suddenly started to feel dizzy. My head throbbed and my neck and shoulders ached. Adjusting to this height had given me altitude sickness. I tried to call for help but was too weak to leave my room and find the caretaker who lived a few buildings away. I tried to call my colleagues and family, but the phone signal was almost non- existent. The forest ranger told me if I wanted medical help I would need to go to a health clinic. But I had no transport.
I was stuck.
It was cold. A single bar heater only gave out warmth if you kept your nose a couple of inches away from it. I felt hopeless, lost and alone. It was one of the biggest tests of my life. After hours of discomfort, I checked myself, started to arrange my papers and listened to uplifting, familiar music. I got through that sleepless night and began to recover in the morning.
There were many more hurdles to jump over. Through my network and by not taking no for an answer, I was able to talk to the Dalai Lama over the three days that he was in Tawang. He was natural and easy with me, even tweaking my nose at one point.
This challenging adventure taught me a lot about the importance of preparedness and keeping your head in trying circumstances.
These are also essential qualities in a successful entrepreneur.