Tuesday, July 01, 2014

7 things I learnt at the Global Village for Future Leaders of Business and Industry

Approximately one year ago, I had the rare opportunity of joining a 1600-strong global network of professionals, leaders and business people together with 106 other interns from over 50 different countries in the 2013 edition of the Global Village for FutureLeaders of Business and Industry (GV) at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA). Though I learnt tonnes of stuff throughout the six weeks of the program, these are the most memorable lessons I came out with.

1. Nothing is impossible
I was fortunate to have a scholarship from the Education Without Borders Conference of the Higher Colleges of Technology and that enabled me meet the $6,995 price tag of the training. However, my scholarship didn't include my flights to Bethlehem nor my other living costs like food and toiletries. At the least, all this would have cost me not less than $3,500. I had to look for this money even though I had a short time and was busy doing my final undergrad exams as well as trying to complete my final year research project. Though I felt like giving up at times, I was strengthened when people from as far as India who I had never even met (I’ll not forget you Javed!) contributed to my cause. I could have said that this is the power of crowd funding but no. This is the power of family. I was much showered with love from so many people who gave and I had more than enough for my entire stay at Lehigh. Indeed, if we do not give up, nothing is impossible.

2. Age is really just a number!
While I met many old successful entrepreneurs at GV, the most inspiring stories I heard were from my fellow interns. I realized that one doesn’t need to have reached a certain age before they can do something great. Many of my colleagues at GV were younger than me but were already doing great projects and some were already running successful businesses. In fact, this was a big challenge to me. Brandon Ritchey has a long history as a student entrepreneur and he has won a number of awards in his field, Ximena from Columbia was raising a million dollars for a hospital project, Tanja is running one of the most successful shipping companies in Croatia, to mention but a few. Now I don’t have any excuse for not doing awesome stuff with my life and besides, I am living the best years of my life now so why start later? Here is a link to a story I recently wrote about STARTing NOW!

3. Network, network, network!
I mentioned earlier that the Global Village Network now has over 1600 people from over 100 countries around the world. All members are family and strive to extend a helping hand to one another whether in business or even just tours/visits. Several members have had business and work opportunities materialize out of this network. Many people may not have the opportunity to be in the GVN but they have their own networks at the community level, schools, church, social clubs and professional associations. Make the most of these! Keep on trying to meet new people and keep on putting yourself out there! You will not regret it because your net worth is equal to the strength of your network!

4. I don't know what I wanna be when I grow up. In fact, I don't wanna grow up!
We had the opportunity to interact with several executives, some still active and some retired but not tired. One thing most testified to is that they never really knew where the world would throw them on their career journey but they gave it all their best. Career paths change and in this world of technology, you really can't bet on anything except that things will surely change. You can’t know where you will be tomorrow and don’t waste time trying to. Just live and enjoy the moment and live by your values and principles. In the end, the dots will connect when you look back with the benefit of hindsight. Instead of being frantic about where you need to go/be tomorrow, make the most of today.

5. Communicating well is key 
It is important to communicate well if you will be a great leader. Your communication isn't just about your speech but everything; from your dressing to your walking style and the attitude you portray in all scenarios. You must exude confidence and that will indeed give people the confidence to follow you. Think of any great leader in the world (good or bad) who couldn't communicate well? That's right. There is NONE! And of course, communicating well includes learning at least one other international language. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself lost yet among friends, like I was with the Spanish speakers!

6. People matter most!
Though this was a top-notch program and it had so many exciting programs to meet wonderful executives and go to nice places, all the interns kept testifying to the fact that what had impacted them most was the people. Don't look at a product or service or program and get so absorbed into marveling at its goodness that you forget the person behind it. The most awesome thing about GV is the family setting everything occurs in; living together, working together, cooking together, doing life together and helping one another, appreciating one another's backgrounds and personalities and the uniqueness each person brings to the whole mold together! If you focus on the people, you get everything else. Forget the people and lose it all. In fact, many of the speakers kept repeating that their business success resulted from having great staff and motivating them well. That's the power of people!

7. Life is so short yet so sweet. Have fun!
While at GV, I had the opportunity to sleep in Bethlehem (not Israel by the way), go fishing in New Jersey, tour Wall Street, have dinner in Little Italy and spend nights in DC! In short, I had fun. And I won’t mention the rollercoaster rides at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom where I defied death several times over!
Yes, there is so much to do but you can't finish it all in one lifetime even if you worked 24/7. So get a break go out, appreciate nature, appreciate people and have a good time. Mix work adequately with pleasure or you will miss out completely on the flavours of life!


  1. Nice article Brother! I learn many things of you and the Pearl of Africa!

  2. Great article!! You have a nice descrive of what GV means... a big hug from Chile!