A former technical writer who discovered journalism in his mid-20s, Paul von Zielbauer knew he’d have to take unconventional steps to get himself hired at The New York Times. His career route included a grueling cycling trip from Hanoi to Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City) in 1993, giving him the reporting experience crucial to arriving at his ultimate goal. When he got to The Times in 1999, he felt he’d reached “the promised land.” He learned at great deal about journalism and the world at the paper, appreciated the experiences it offered him, and continues to value the friendships he formed there. But his ten-year career at the Gray Lady also was filled with frustrations with a culture he found editor-driven and often inflexible. He left The Times and journalism in 2009 to pursue another unconventional goal, starting a travel-adventure-philanthropy company, Roadmonkey.