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The Winners And Losers Of The Belt And Road Speaking Event At The University Of Michigan

Talking about the New Silk Road in Ann Arbor.

Wade Shepard public speaking at University of Michigan
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ASTORIA, New York- “I’m proud of you,” my wife said after I returned to NYC after a speaking event at the University of Michigan. “I’m not as proud of you for giving the talk as I am about the fact that you made a commitment a long time ago and actually kept it.”

This statement highlights the underlying reason why I came to New York City: so I could have a steady base of operations that would allow me to plan — to make commitments way in advance and keep them when the time comes. This is paramount to being able to do speaking engagements, big projects with myriad moving parts, and, seriously, be able to get the most out of my work.

It blew my mind when I first discovered that many speaking events are planned six months to a year in advance. How could anyone know what they are doing a year from now? It seemed ludicrous. I would often commit myself to showing up at these events and then 50 percent of the time find myself in some unexpected locale working on some unforeseen project and have to cancel. But I eventually realized that the world was normal and that I was the one that was messed up … and I would need to change my strategy if I wanted to engage the world to the fullest.

It seems almost paradoxical. NYC wasn’t a homecoming of any sort but a way to create a better framework for future travels. Since coming here at the end of last summer I’ve made trips to Europe, Asia, Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Michigan, and multiple runs up to Orchard Park for my beloved Buffalo Bills.


Wade Shepard public speaking at University of MichiganThe talk went well. Every chair was full and there were people who had to stand in the back. 150 people showed up — the most that this event series had pulled in yet, I’m told. I had fun. I talked about China and the disasters that are being perpetuated along the Belt and Road — part of the New Silk Road between Asia and Europe that I spent three and a half years traveling. My talk was titled, “The Winners and Losers of the Belt and Road,” but by the end of it I realized that I hadn’t talked about any winners …

I like public speaking. It’s really something special for a room of people to take time out of their days to come and hear what you have to say. It’s something not to fear but to appreciate.

Wade Shepard public speaking at University of Michigan


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Filed under: Michigan, New Silk Road, Speaking Events

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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