Stanislav Gálik is a visionary, an entrepreneur and an authentic backpacker who visited forty rich people across the world on his so-called richhike. We discussed the psychology of the rich, philanthropy, the Nobel Peace Prize, and modesty.
Standa, do you sometimes get bored?
Would you like to?
Well, yeah. I can hardly remember how it felt to have nothing to do. I haven’t had this feeling for the past fifteen years.
Do innovative ideas come at times when you are busy?
That’s a good question… Sometimes they do but once you reach a certain level of stress there isn’t much space for creativity left. I try to avoid that.
As an entrepreneur, you have had plenty of creative ideas. You seem to be a visionary.
You are un umpteenth person to say that. The E15 launched a campaign with my face on billboards across Prague. Beneath my face, they wrote “an entrepreneur and a visionary”. And I was like: “A visionary?” I haven’t been that yet. I mean I used to be a writer, a professor, a psychologist but it was the first time someone called me a visionary.
How would you define yourself then?
A soul which never ceases to explore the world.
Who do you admire?
You know, when I don’t know what to do, I always ask myself: “What would Dalai Lama do?”
You don’t like the word success. If you don’t want to be successful, what do you want to be?
I want to be satisfied, happy and chilled out. That’s enough for me.
And are you?
I am. I don’t need to be called successful because for me success is something else than for most people. In general, success means attaining a goal, so it has a different meaning for everyone.
Was it always this way?
Well, there used to be a time when I thought that success means a big house, cars, things, magazines, headlines but then I realized that it isn’t about that. You really don’t need to envy anyone. Someone wants to have five kids? Good for him. Let him have five kids. Someone wants to be a billionaire? Well, then let him be a billionaire.
You write about modesty, gratitude, and humbleness. How do you live these values?
I try to live them; however, I am not their best representative. But I realize that everything I have is a marvelous gift which I am grateful for. I am seeking for humbleness. Whenever I realize that I am not humble I raise a warning finger and ask myself: “Standa, what would Dalai Lama do?” In my view, humbleness means that you are not more or less than someone else. This is hard to achieve these days. As for modesty… who knows me might giggle… but I really think I am modest because I don’t need much. On the other hand, when the universe is generous, I am grateful for that.
That’s a diplomatic answer.
I really mean it. Who wants to live an ascetic life, let him live an ascetic life. As I see it humbleness does not equal asceticism, it means that you don’t need much to live with. I don’t really need much. But if I can choose between an ascetic or hedonistic life, I will go for the hedonistic one with short periods of asceticism.
How does it work in your life?
I do what I want. I eat what I want. I drive a car I want. I have everything I want. But if I don’t have something, my world doesn’t fall apart.
Do you have any dream that you have been longing for and which has not been fulfilled yet?
I have always wanted the Nobel Prize (laughing).
What should you get it for?
I always thought that world peace would be a good reason.
Wait, but how are you going to achieve world peace?
You know a few years ago I asked myself: “Standa, what is your goal?” … “The Nobel Peace Prize.” … “Wonderful, so what do you need to do for that?” … “This, this and that.” Now I have a different approach and I ask myself: “Standa, would you like to get the Nobel Peace Prize?” “Yup.” “Alright, what do you need to do for that?” “No idea.” “Okay, so do what you are good at and it will come along the way.”
But do you think that the people who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize strived for it?
No, and that’s exactly why I stopped striving for it. It might come one day and then I will be looking surprised and giving interviews saying: “I did not expect it at all that I would get it but I have been dreaming about it ever since I was a small kid.” (laughing)
You might get it for philanthropy. I read that you are engaged in it.
Well, you are right that already back at the university I was trying to figure out how to get the world rid of homelessness but later on I realized that some people want to be homeless. I try to help people who ask for it. I am currently an ambassador of two NGO’s.
There is big money in philanthropy. You are studying a relationship between money and happiness in your Ph.D. thesis and in your second book. Do you have any conclusions?
Well, poor people are indeed less happy than people who have good living conditions. But these conditions are equivalent to an average income. Once you earn more than that it does not increase your happiness. A ride on a toboggan in the Bahamas is great but it doesn’t really lead to a fulfilling life.
At which stage of career do people come to the “Wolf of Wall Street” phase when they only start caring about money?
It isn’t one critical point. It happens gradually. Some people go into business to make big money while other people do it because they are simply ambitious, and they don’t care about money as much.
Which one was your case?
I used to have this period when I was gathering stuff but then I lost money and got divorced and told myself: “Maybe you should start enjoying your life a bit more, Standa.” But I am glad that I learned that at 28 and not at 80 so I am enjoying my life now and I have nothing to complain about.
How do you feel about that period of your life?
It helped me become who I am now, so I am not crying about it.
Thanks a lot for the interview. Good luck with writing your book. I am already looking forward to the interview we will do once you get the Nobel Peace Prize.
Copyright: photos from Stanislav Gálik’s archive