We are sitting around a table on four tiny chairs drinking strong Espressos a September morning in the medieval city Bergamo, Italy.
It was a successful meeting with a partner last night. This goes clearly noted and I think Martin is ordering in his 10th or 11th glass of water. Imagine a glass in the size of an espresso cup, held by a waitress whose mood is slowly turning frozen fish sticks, due to Martins appetite for water.
“Ragazzi, do you have any questions before I hang up?”
“Ask if the grass around the house is cut recently, it looks really nice on the pictures!”
We are in the process of finding a suitable house for our company kickoff. Two weeks in the Italian Alps to get going with our newly formed company HAAM. A name which became a product of the kick-off, among other things.
The question about the grass is asked by me, to our Italian partner who is on the phone with a man called ‘Dante’.
He looks at me with eyes saying that you must have been dropped as a baby, several times.
“The house is yours, you can go there by 2 pm.”
HAAM travels north
An hour later we are on the way in our majestic wagon; a real icon within the local culture; a Fiat 500. This car usually fits a teenager, a handbag and a chihuahua. But in this case, the Fiat fits a whole affiliate company; Fredrik is driving and Martin is the co-pilot keeping track of the road with Google Maps. I am making sure everyone is hydrated and in a good mood.
We are on the way, the sun is shining and is time for HAAM’s first kickoff. The Fiat is doing steady 110km/h north towards the majestic mountains when Martin starts to count down: In 300 meters, turn right.
“Once you are on the new road you will continue for two hours and we will be there.”
“Okay turn HERE!”
Instead of travelling on the highway towards the mountains, the mountains now travel away from us. That’s weird, why are we going away from the mountains?
When we three do things together we often get carried away on what we are doing. Like in this case, Fredrik had heard a podcast about chest pressing and a special program which was something like ‘’Increase Your Pecs in 6 weeks & Get More Chicks!!’’
Debating whether the gym program was realistic or not 45 minutes passed and the mountains were completely gone.
“Martin, what the fuck, where are the mountains?”
“Uhm… No, wait… we should NOT have made that right turn before…”
We didn’t reach the house that day. Instead, we decided to spend the night in the nearby ski resort Bormio and trying out the local nightlife in the middle of September. It was truly… local…
The house ‘Holiday Creek’ is located at 1800 meters height on a natural terrace in ‘Passo del Moltirolo’. It’s only reachable with a car between April to November until the road closed due to the winter. While open it has been a part of the Giro d’Italia race many times and is supposed to be the hardest climb Lance Armstrong had ever ridden.
Holiday Creek is owned by Dante and his family. The house is an Italian masterpiece built in stone and wood standing on land the family has owned for over 300 years. The view is beyond spectacular and it has two wood-fired bathtubs.
My question about the grass was not stupid or irrelevant. In fact, the whole garden was cut like a golf track, something my eagle eye had sighted on the pictures. After I stepped out of the car I didn’t wear shoes for two weeks, which you eventually will see later in this post…
Our new home was a gift from above, it was like a true Amarone and would be our office for the coming two weeks.
High Altitude office setup
Working with new places reveals a lot about your personality. Me for example, I have to have a chair with armrests. Martin must have a calm environment and Fredrik must have his feet on the table, a wall, or somewhere else inappropriate.
We were going to eat, work and sleep in 50 sqm for the coming two weeks. So it was important to make the atmosphere ergonomic and enjoyable. Fredrik made his space into a big wooden couch where he easily could put his feet wherever he wanted. Martin occupied the soft couch and I converted a sunchair into the most chill’d out office chair you can ever imagine.
Positioned as kings in our box-like environment and enriched by mountain air we took on our mission: creating the best affiliate websites in the business.
Work hard, play hard
The house was located on the northern side of the mountain which meant the mornings was without sunshine. It was unbelievably windy, cold and humid – there was nothing else to do than to work until the sun had passed midday and started warming up the southern side. Once the temperature reached 15 degrees outside it accelerated quickly to 23c and the cold morning had turned to a fantastic sunny day. We realized quickly that our supply of sun lotion would quickly run dry in the strong sun at mountain Moltirolo.
On the way up, before Martins Google Maps incident, we had stopped by a sports outlet to buy some gym supplies. A skipping rope, a rubber band and a yoga mat would function as a mountain gym for us. On top of this, there was a steep hill to run intervals up & down. Intervals at high altitude are something I only recommend if you want to blow your heart out of your chest. High altitude training is the heaviest thing I have done in life, trust me.
The sun was on our side for all 14 days of the stay and we spent the afternoons enjoying running around barefoot, lifting rocks and hanging in rubber bands. It must have looked odd from a distance watching us.
Closing the day & finding a name for the company
Each day we shared times firing up the bath-tub. It took 6 hours to make it hot if you added logs every 30-45 minutes to the fire. A schedule we seldom managed to keep.
One afternoon while the sun was going down we were playing a game of counting aeroplanes. At this high altitude, the view is unobstructed and it’s fascinating to see how many planes actually circulate over us. At most, we counted to 11.
And that was when it struck Fredrik:
“Listen listen. We are affiliates. we are on a high altitude. So, what is it that we are actually doing? We are doing affiliation marketing on high altitude, we are High Altitude Affiliate Marketing!”
The road to this moment had been encountered by miss turns, twitchy roads and steep hills.
But we were there.
We had found the identity of our company. Thank you, Holiday Creek, Passo di Moltirolo and my dear friends at HAAM!