The Coo-coo Experience

Many years ago, when I was traveling the country lecturing on power and leadership, Lenette took a job as a travel agent. This was so she could arrange my complicated flights and travel requirements.

Also, another reason for her taking the job was our desire to explore the world. Being in the travel industry made it possible and less expensive to go anywhere we wished, and we did!

We found we could go on a bike ‘n barge trip in France for pennies compared to the high price retail clients were charged. We jumped at the opportunity, and soon we had a cabin on the barge, an open bar, wonderful meals, a guide and lecturer, and brand-new road bikes. We were in heaven with eight other travelers from Texas, who all knew each other. 

The journey was for eight days along an old canal from Leone through magnificent countryside: castles, vineyards, farms, and thick wild forests. Each morning, we were given maps and the freedom to explore on our own or go with a guide to visit the castles and museums. After many such tours, Lenette and I wanted to explore the countryside ourselves.

Nature and wilderness have always been our preference, so we headed off while the others accompanied the guide. The map showed where the barge would be at the end of the day, so getting lost was impossible. We were totally on our own.

We arrived back at the barge for the cocktail hour and delicious food. That was the time to get to know our fellow bikers and guide. The guide went around the group, asking each of us about our day, what we learned, and things we wanted to share. What I shared was exploring the small villages and the wonderful experience we had in a thick forest. 

When we stopped biking for a water break, the stillness of the forest was suddenly broken by a 
coo-coo sound across the small valley. We had never heard a bird call like this, and it was definitely coo-coo, loud and clear. 

Suddenly, there was a response behind us, another coo-coo. We turned and saw a beautiful bird calling back to the other bird across the small valley. These two birds conversed back and forth for about 15 minutes, and we stood transfixed the whole time.

After sharing that experience, the guide looked at us strangely and said that our experience with the birds was rare. Few people ever hear the birds call to each other. Most only know the sound through recordings, and nearly no one actually sees them! What a rare and precious moment.

What followed made the bike ‘n barge a whole different trip for the rest of the journey. For the rest of the trip, the group of eight friends and working companions from Texas went with us as we explored the countryside, villages, and forests. Every evening on our return, we enjoyed huge banquets with local foods from the small towns. We and the Texans lived it up. 


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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