Ben Keene on dreaming, starting a tribe & living on an island with three kids

After attending a few corporate recruiting sessions, he didn’t take for granted that his path was to enter the corporate world. Twenty years later, he is still carving his own path and has recently returned from Koh Lanta, where he lived with his three children in Thailand for the last six months.

In the early 2000’s inspired by social networks like Myspace and the potential to bring people together online, he started Tribe Wanted, which was a “tourism experiment” to bring people together somewhere in the world. He and his business partner found an island for sale in Fiji and signed a three year lease. This experience taught him a lot about living in new ways, running a business and bringing people together. He described it as “doing a ten year MBA in six months.”

Ben has continued to bring people together throughout his career, combining eco-travel, community, career transition and learning. He has worked at the Escape school in London, which helps people “escape” the corporate world and shift to new careers. He has also started the Rebel Book Club which is a virtual and in-person book club group in England.

Last year, Ben and his wife decided to go on an adventure with their children and landed on Koh Lanta after some serendipitous discoveries of a co-working space and small school for international families on google maps. Here is what Ben wrote about the experience and whether he would do it again:

Despite the hard bits, the answer is definitely a ‘hell yeah’. It was a remarkable experience to have with our children when they were so young, and one we feel has made us closer as a family. Like all good travel journeys, doing something a little different helps your perspective. You get out of your bubble, you see how the world works somewhere else, you learn. As for Brexit, it seemed less important whilst we were away compared to more global social and environmental challenges. The evident impacts of mass tourism (plastic pollution), climate change (bleached reefs) and smartphone consumerism (every Thai child seems glued to their phone), has galvanised us to try and live and work with more awareness of the world than before.

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