It started off one day when I was randomly messaged by an executive at Google, one of the former CFO’s, to join a conference called TED. I knew what TED was at the time but I thought it was pretty strange that I would get a random message from someone I didn’t know who, though it seemed we had a fair amount of mutual friends; as this occurred on Facebook. I was extremely excited about the opportunity, and then I found out later that it was TEDxSV. This was 2009, and Silicon Valley, so it was closer to the real thing than it is now in 2012. When I later asked him why he invited me and what prompted him to do so, he simply replied to me that we had some mutual friends and he saw a comment I wrote, so he decided to ask me. It sounded strange, but honestly I didn’t question it. Peter Thiel, Jeff Rothschild and Reid Hoffman were all going to be there, and I had an office in downtown Palo Alto which another speaker worked directly across from (who I later became friends with), so the crowd was solid.
On the morning of the conference it was quite rainy. I woke up hastily and rushed to the event, and made it right on time for the breakfast networking session. After watching the two sessions with venture capitalist David Blumberg, of Blumberg Capital, there was a break for a very fancy lunch, which of course was where everyone was heading.
As we got to the entrance of the dinning hall, I threw off my coat, and sat down at the first available table. David sat to the right of me as we were going to continue the discussion of the company I was in the middle of starting, and he seemed quite interested in investing in it (which it turns out later when we had meetings at his office he actually was). My co-founders and I had been working on the company for about a year and a half. It had been my absolute entire life and we had built very disruptive technology, which ended up getting a $110 million acquisition offer in 2011. It was my entire life, every ounce of it, and it encompassed unimaginable passion and heart in it, with my whole life and everything I ever worked for going into it…. until what happened next.
After grabbing some food and sitting down, I continued my conversation with David. He was very interested and we kept at the deep conversation; though what happened next completely changed my life forever, in a way nothing else ever had, or probably, ever will.
I looked straight across the table and saw a girl, who was staring at me, and I instantly thought to myself, “I just met my wife, woah.”. I was shocked and sort of scared and perplexed at the same time. We looked at each other we had a surprised look on our face. We clicked in a very surreal way. I can’t really explain it. We just stared at each other for a while, kind of like one of those shocking moments. It was like tension cutting the room. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.
As the lunch went on, we looked at each other over and over again, and I couldn’t really hold a straight conversation with David. I think David was intuitive enough to pick up on this, as he’s a pretty smart guy, so he asked everyone at the table to share their business cards, and of course, the girl had some.
As they passed them around, I got hers, it said “Yvonne Eshuis”, with no business and only an email address; I knew that was it. I looked at her almost confirming that I got the card, and then David said to her, “You’re Yvonne?”; I knew precisely what he was trying to do here. I noted her name and I kept on with the conversation with David. We kept looking at each other the entire lunch, and I was listening to what she was saying, a bit closely. I heard her say something like it was her last days in the USA, and she was going somewhere with her boyfriend. At this point I really didn’t care because I was going to do anything to be with her. And as you’ll soon find out, the word anything will be taken quite literally.
As everyone got up to leave the table, we stayed behind a bit. Obviously, she came up to me and said, “So.. who are you?”. I told her my name, and we talked, going towards the next speaking session. I asked what her name was, and what she was doing, she said studying law at the University of Amsterdam, as well as creating a clothing and fashion line, and that she was leaving for a trip to Argentina. When I asked her who she was going with, she replied, “Oh, just a friend.”. I replied, “Not your boyfriend?” she said confused, “No why?”, double-checking what I thought I heard, I replied, “oh, nothing.”. We went right into the speaking hall continuing to talk and sat down next to each other. Throughout the talks, I was holding her arm a bit, and we were talking and just laughing throughout every session; it was just perfect. I kept thinking what I was going to do after this event and how this was going to continue this. I too already had a plane ticket to New York and that was leaving in just three days.
After about 2 hours, the session ended and everyone walked outside; I asked for her number. She said there wasn’t really any point because she was leaving so soon and then going back to the Netherlands though we should keep in touch by email. She ended up giving me her number after I asked again and we said we would try to figure out a time to meet before she left.
There was a small after party downstairs, which everyone was going to, and it was implicit that we were going. She said that she had a dinner with her friends and that they were going to leave; I was very surprised, given the fact that it was the most social part of the event, and the fact we loved hanging out together; but hey, it happens.
As I went downstairs I met a great group of people, which surprisingly many are very good friends of mine today. About 5 minutes later Yvonne showed up. I was surprised. She said “I decided to make it.”. I said “Oh no kidding!”, we were both drinking a bit of wine and talking. She was with her friend Kristel, and we all were hanging out. When I mentioned to her how and when we would hang out she said, “Well, there’s a problem.” and I said, “Oh? Do tell..”, she replied, “I have a boyfriend.”; I immediately replied, “Well, now you have 2.”. She looked pretty shocked, and laughed a bit. That was really all. We talked a bit more and I kissed her on the cheek and she left.
I went up to a group of guys talking and we ended up talking about startups and all sorts of amazing topics. Little did I know almost all of them had built $100+ million dollar companies and all of this, but I did find out afterwards as they explained who they were. It was pretty amazing. We started talking about girls, and all sorts of pickup techniques, business, and the event; I remember it clearly, it was a hilarious and exciting conversation.
In the following days we texted each other a bit, talked about when to meet; as she had exams and then was leaving. I instantly cancelled my flight back to New York and didn’t reschedule it until I knew what was about to happen next. We decided to meet the day before she was leaving in a café on 2nd and Folsom, I remember it perfectly. Before we met I kept thinking to myself, “I wonder if this is going to be the same, maybe I was just out of it the other day.” I really didn’t know. What happened to me was quite surreal.
As soon as she arrived we clicked even more than before. It was pretty incredible. As we sent down and had tea, we just talked about random things. We actually couldn’t really talk too much because the connection was too strong; we just ended up mostly laughing. I told her “So, I’m never going to see you again? That’s it? You’re leaving?” her response was, “What? No. It’s not like I’m leaving the planet.” I was dumbfounded. I decided to read a poem I wrote for her, and it was just magical. We just looked at each other and she said “Wow…I just, can’t believe it. That was amazing. Can I keep it?” I gave it to her and, it truly was. I knew like my entire life was about to change; and that it would….
We both left the café in awe and blown away by each other. We didn’t know each other too much, but it was not that much of a concern to me or her as I could tell. We stood outside, and it was raining a bit. She went to kiss me on the cheek but when I ducked a bit we ended up kissing anyways. It was extraordinary. We just starred at each other for a while. In almost an instant she said laughing “I have to go, really…” and shortly we went our separate ways.
I did not know what the hell to think at this point, all I knew was that I wanted to be with her and I was going to do anything, literally anything (as you will soon read). About 15 minutes later I got a text message saying, “That was very special, thank you.” All I can remember thinking is what the hell I was going to do next.
The next day I woke up and I thought to myself, “Okay, she’s getting on this plane to Argentina, how the fuck can I stop this thing?” I’ve seen them do it in movies, and I was just trying to figure out what the hell I could do. I had no clue what her flight was, I didn’t know if there were connections. It was nearly impossible. I called her once but there was no response. I called many airlines companies and started researching like crazy; no luck. I was now trapped. I had almost no clue where she was, and I had no clue what the hell to do next. I was in love with this girl and she’s gone. This is the worst-case scenario that could happen.
I go to my office and I think what to do next. I call a few friends and explain to them the story; I don’t know what to do. I thought I was crazy or that maybe I just happen to meet her at a time in my life when things weren’t going optimal and she triggered something in me, I was hyper-rationalizing the situation to think of how I could explain to myself of why I felt like this.
I write her a very, very, very explicit email to her telling her that I love her and I want to be with her. I won’t share it here, but trust me, it was extremely direct; as I’m sure you could imagine. I knew she had to feel the same; it was simply my intuition telling me this, extremely strongly. It’s never lead me wrong, and as you’ll soon find out it was right.
That night I went over to one of my friends’ houses that I met at the conference. He was a really seasoned, entrepreneur, and already had a family and was a bit older. I thought, this guy must know what he’s talking about. I knew he has a perceptive and clear outlook on things; and this guy thought the world of his wife. Though the damn strangest thing happened when his wife came into the room just as I began to talk to him. Keep in mind I had never met her, and I had not really told him about the story; she interrupted me… “ohhh ha! Actually just go on, but I already know it.”. I said, “What? What do you already know?” she said, “That you’re in love.” I said, “Wait, how? That’s impossible, I didn’t even tell this story yet. She replied, “Well yea, but I just know it, I can see it, it’s extremely clear.”
I asked them both for advice on what to do, and they both gave me the same response. “Well, how badly do you want her? What would you do for her?” I replied, “absolutely anything.” They said, “Well then the choice is pretty clear: do absolutely anything. You know she’s there right? Would you literally do anything for her?” There was a long pause and we all just looked at each other. I then said, “Well, that’s it. I’m going to Argentina.”
The next day I bought tickets to Argentina and flew there, without even telling her I was going. Now, keep in mind, I have absolutely no idea where she is staying, and this is completely random. She told me somewhere in a region called Palamero so I figured my best bet was to just go right there. We had been sending each other a few emails back and fourth on books and the like, though her response was a bit light, and she was with her boyfriend on vacation; this is about, every odd possible against me. I didn’t want to tell her because I knew if I told her I was going, she would have just said, “Well, don’t my boyfriend is here, etc etc.” So I just went.
When I got there I sent her an email, and said something along the lines of, “I’m in Argentina, let’s meet.”
We already kissed, she knows I love her, and she knows damn well why I’m there. It was the moment of truth. It was either she was going to be super excited to see me and could not believe I came, or she was going to call me completely crazy and to get out.
To my shock, when I got this email, she replied “Oh, wow, of course we can meet. Where? When?” It absolutely confirmed everything I knew my gut was telling me the entire time. This was all very real.
We scheduled a day and time to meet, and so it was set.
I’ll leave a lot of details out of the next parts simply because there’s too much, though I’ll explain it all in a rather brief manner.
We met at a bookstore and as she approached me as I stood outside. I remember her coming up to me and I took her hand and she just said to me “Hi.” I replied “Hi.”. There was by chance another Dutch girl who was approached me as I was waiting outside and so I finished up my conversation with her and we went inside.
We sat down and ordered some tea. We talked just about everything, what our parents did, what we liked; all of this. I kept thinking how I should get a ring in Argentina throughout the entire conversation. She asked me what she should do, with her situation with her boyfriend, and that she had not been in a situation like this before. Without her knowledge (and anyone reading this) I told her I broke it off with my girlfriend of 4 years, as I knew that it was just completely not this. I didn’t even know this stuff existed, so it was just a wake up call for me. We talked about logistics, and everything, it was wild, I didn’t really have many solid answers. We were in Argentina, she lived in the Netherlands, I lived in California… there’s a lot of questions here. It was of course the most complicated person to be with possible. She said to me, “Taso, I need to know, are you sure about this?”, I didn’t really respond and just kind of looked at myself sitting in the chair gesturing; as in, I flew to Argentina… yea I’m, damn sure.
She told me she would email me her number and all that information, and that we should meet in the next coming days and figure out what to do. The next day I got the email and we schedule a time and place to meet.
We ended up meeting again, two days later. About two minutes after we met she said to me “I don’t know if this is the right choice, but I think we shouldn’t see each other again.”. She told me her boyfriend and her got in a fight about seeing another friend (me) while she was there and this is absolutely impossible while she was there. I don’t think that was the real reason, as I think it was more she talked to someone else about this or something and they convinced her to somehow disregard her heart and go with the logical situation. Anyhow, as harmful as I knew it might be to her down the line, I completely understood and I didn’t want to force her into anything. She had a boyfriend, and didn’t want to make the leap. After all, she was in Argentina, and for a month. I told her it was her choice, and that I think she knows very well what we have, and most people don’t get that in life. She said to me again, “I don’t know if this is the right choice, what do you think?”, in an extremely unsure tone. In short, we agreed to keep in touch by writing. I didn’t want to push her into anything, and being I also didn’t want to push her into anything; this was going to be completely mutual. She already knew everything I felt and thought for her and I knew what she felt for me.
She said we should go our separate ways. We did.
..That’s not really the end of the story though. It actually is about to get a little crazy. So.. I told her that I absolutely wanted to meet again, and we just had to. She agreed, but only for a small amount of time.
About an hour later, we met. I was waiting in this library, where we met, and she came in. She just started laughing a bit like she does whenever she would see me. I just got up, took her hands and we just stared into each other’s eyes. She said, “What?” and I said to her while holding her hand, “Yvonne.”, with a very long pause, “I love you.”. Immediately she took my hands and forced them down pressing them very hard and just stayed there in shock. I was thinking to myself, oh my god, what did I just do….She just said my name under her breath and shook her head… she then jumped on me and started grabbing me and actually grabbed me so hard she ripped my shirt. It was all in about 10 seconds. I then asked her if she loved me, she said she didn’t know, and she was confused. She said we could write each other but that was it, and she left very quickly.
I never saw her again.
I tried to meet with her again, and she denied that anything ever happened between us. We wrote each other emails, maybe for about 6 months, I did/said some really stupid things in a few emails which I believe prompted her to stop communicating with me completely. I had a pretty crazy situation in my life where my father was dying, and I couldn’t really imagine him not meeting this person I had just met. It was just something really close to me, and so I did some crazy stuff to try to get her attention to hurry up. Unfortunately he past away a year ago; but that’s life.
We wrote each other emails and I thought about going to Amsterdam to meet her, we kept in touch on various notes, but that’s it.
I went on a mission, and completely abandoned my startup, my passion, everything I had worked on my entire life, and what I had been working on for more than a year and a half, to pursue her, something which I knew intuitively was right, and then pursue what it all meant. I talked to so many people it was incredible, I mean, almost 100 people, about this experience. The interesting part is, most people never had such an experience, and very few (only two or three I talked to in about 100) had something special like this and they stay together and had it stay special throughout their life. I kept wondering if it was going to be like that for the rest of our lives, if I stayed with her and what it would have been like. You know, I understand chemistry, a lot of people have it; but this was quite different. This fundamentally changed me, and we only met less than ten times. I’ve met billionaires, top musicians, Presidents; I’ve even worked with them, very closely. Nothing has come close to affecting me like this experience has, nothing remotely close. All those other people flounder.
When I talked to everyone about what this means, they just said it sounded like it was something very special, and that it is true that sometimes it lasts forever, and it sounds like a case where that may be true; who knows.
I read a couple of very interesting books after the fact on the statistics and characteristics of amazing relationships which last 40+ years and sustain their emotional state throughout time. One of them being “ Click: The Magic of Instant Connections” ( there’s actually a good Stanford talk on it here ). There was a lot to learn in diving into that stuff, and a lot to understand on what most people miss out on in life. A lot of people focus on the wrong things, business, money, career. It’s great to have focus, but a lot of people just focus on the wrong things, and their emotional states screws them up. Actually, generally they loose their emotional state all together, and if emotions are the life of us, then, essentially you’ve lost the most important thing in your life. Most people just don’t ever focus on honing and looking for the perfect relationship. You find that many people have ultimate focus in business and their careers, hence you find entrepreneurs are so focused when building great companies. The same applies in life, and it’s even much more important.
I travel a lot now, and I started a new company that’s already doing about a million dollars in revenue, and worth a lot, with great investors and a team. That’s cool and it sounds like I’m livin the dream, but it’s more livin than a dream. When you know you lost something so great and special, it’s more livin. Maybe you can be dreamin, but, when stuff like this impacts you, you’re more livin. I’m not sure anyone can recover from it 100%; it was even worse than the death of a loved one; that’s pretty much what it is. Perhaps luck will determine this one.
That’s life though. I don’t think I’ll have an experience happen again; statistically the odds are against me; but well, most people don’t have this experience ever, and it’s all purely based off luck. I guess some people, and very few, are lucky. And as Reid Hoffman says, “I would rather have luck, over anything.” Yea, me too.
In the end, would I have been glad to take a full-time job and not pursue my vision over meeting the love of my life? Yeap, definitely. It was the greatest thing I’ve yet to experience. You have to be much luckier to earn this than an IPO.
Had I probably waited and flew to the Netherlands things might had worked out better. In reality how can one really tell or know, though looking back I do realize it was rather impossible to make a decision while she was in Argentina. That’s life though.