Special Edition: Get to Know the SDR Team
Q&A with Ben Dennis
We recently sat down with SDR Analyst Ben Dennis to find out about his world travels, interests and more.
When were you in the Seychelles islands?
I was there in 2014 from May through August. For those who don’t know about the Seychelles (I didn’t either until a year ago), it is an island country made up of more than 100 islands that span hundreds of miles across the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Why did you go?
My brother and I were offered summer management positions/internships at a boutique resort on Praslin, which is the second largest island in the country. We helped with day to day operations and began initial planning of expansions to other locations across the country.
What’s the most interesting thing you did there?
I did a lot of “interesting things,” but by far the most bizarre was octopus hunting. Prior to the trip, I had never contemplated how restaurants acquire the octopus meat that they serve clients. In the Seychelles, the primary method involves a snorkel and a long, thin stick that the octopus grabs ahold of so you can pull it out of the water and basically “battle it out” from there. It seems a little barbaric, but I would rather fight an octopus than an angry client who spent a lot of money in travel to the islands and isn’t given the opportunity to eat fresh octopus.
Did you meet anyone you still keep in touch with?
I regularly Skype with the family that owns the resort; they are great people and acted as my family while I was there.
Were there any pre-conceived notions you had that weren’t actually true?
Prior to my visit, I figured that living in the Seychelles would be a breeze. It was an amazing experience, but there were notable challenges. Hospitality management is a difficult industry to master (especially going full throttle into a high end hotel in the Seychelles), and living on an island has a surprisingly limited offering of activities outside of tourism and watersports.
What did you learn about yourself while you were there?
I learned that I love the ocean. Growing up in Iowa, and receiving limited exposure to the sea during family vacations, I never truly found my appreciation and love for the ocean. Having three months to explore crystal clear waters, get my scuba certification and go deep sea fishing opened my eyes to how vast and beautiful the ocean truly is.
Do you have any plans to go back?
Absolutely. My brother recently accepted a two-year contract as the General Manager at the resort where we worked. I will probably visit him at least a couple of times before he comes back to the U.S. (The things we have to do for our siblings…)
What’s your favorite thing about traveling?
I love the people that you meet and the odd circumstances that you often find yourself in. There is always something new to experience and something to gain from those experiences. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing the world from another point of view. Many people complain about how tired they are after travelling, how much they hate airports and airplanes or how bad it is to constantly live out of a suitcase. I thoroughly enjoy EVERY aspect of the travelling experience. It makes me feel alive knowing that the overall experience of any trip is completely dictated by a person’s attitude and how he or she overcomes obstacles that may be encountered during the trip. Travelling helps me realize how important your attitude is more than any other activity. It is also pretty cool to see the world!
Where do you want to visit next?
I have a very long list of places I would like to visit. It really depends on how much time is afforded me for the visit. If I have two weeks, I would probably choose a short trip to Australia or South America. If I have a month, I would love to do a backpacking trip through Europe. If I have 3-4 months (unlikely due to the time commitment associated with full-time employment) I would really like to perform a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. There are also some days where I want to revisit the State of Uttarakhand in India, where I previously did a three month mountaineering expedition. The world’s my oyster.
Ok, now let’s learn a bit more about your everyday life. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
I really like to play Ultimate Frisbee. Sadly I haven’t made it a priority recently, but I am looking into competitive leagues for the fall.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
Typically I am a morning person, but at age 24, I’m fairly versatile.
If you could only listen to one song the rest of your life, what would it be?
This answer changes periodically, and is highly influenced on my mood. After being a music major, I have found myself listening to a wide variety of genres ranging from classical chamber music to EDM. I think at where I am in life right now, I can say without shame or question that I would choose Beyoncé’s “Countdown.”
What was your favorite TV show to watch when you were a kid?
I was a big Boy Meets World fan, but I regularly dabbled with Rocket Power and Doug.
What book are you reading right now?
Atlas Shrugged. I might have to add it to my list of favorite books. All political views aside, Ayn Rand does a phenomenal job of conveying character development and interpersonal relationships that was well ahead of her time.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can wiggle my ears and juggle.
In 25 years, where do you plan to be, and what will you be doing?
I don’t really have a plan on where I want to be, and to be honest, it won’t matter as long as I have surrounded myself with really funny/fun people.