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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Gary Travnicek

It was a Tampa, Florida type of a day. Hot and humid! I could also say bright and shiny but the thick air that hit you when you stepped out of your cool room didn’t leave space for any other reaction. Hot and humid, it was.

Gary came to pick me up from the Holiday Inn in his son’s Mazda Miata. We had met two years ago when it was still fashionable to email people you had never met asking them to give you a job. As two actuaries, thirteen thousand miles apart, we had gotten along very well. I had asked him to give me a job and to his credit he had given me one.

24 months later I had come down to Florida to meet Gary to test an idea I was working on and pay a debt I had owed for some time. Gary, as fate would now have it, was trying to convince me to look at his practice as a full time employee. I had finished school at Columbia in May, was done with my actuarial exams and in August 2000 was trying to add revenues, life and magic, not necessarily in that order, to my business plan.

Since that Tampa, Florida type of a day, Gary and I have both moved on. The two dreams that we were working on gave us their best and are no more. I headed back home to Karachi; Gary traded Tampa’s muggy mornings for low 70’s (21 degree Celsius) in North Carolina. But I still remember Gary’s dream and the company he had built around it.

We had tuna on rye for lunch at the deli downstairs as I tried to digest everything Gary and his team had done. They had picked a niche and built a 17 million dollar company around it with a team of ten long timers who had all booked a decade of service at Gary’s shop. More importantly they had done it while having fun, playing chess and chasing their own dreams on the side. Case in point; Gary’s technology God was a dreamer my age, from the mid west, who had moved to Hawaii to be near warm water and then to Florida and Gary to be near warm water and actuarial jobs.

Past dinner that evening when Gary finally dropped me at the Holiday Inn by the beach, he asked again about my plans. And for a minute I had to think; Gary’s dream or mine?

The stars in my eyes said no.

But I thought to myself, that one day, destiny permitting, I will build something inspired by Gary Travnicek.


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