As I have thought about the enriching experiences I’ve had as a WISE Within mentor, I realized that while I’ve had the great fortune to have many positive and powerful influencers in my career, I never had a true mentor.
That prompted me to ask myself: What guidance would I give myself if I could rewind my career?
Here’s my short list:
1. Work abroad full-time.
My role with a global company and for global clients has afforded me numerous opportunities for short stints (2–8 weeks), all over the world ... but what if I had taken a permanent position overseas? My career path would have been a bit more robust AND my personal and professional experience would have been even more exciting than it was.
Tip: Go global if you can!
2. Learn a language
Multi-language capability will only grow in value as a powerful career accelerator. Sure, I can order a croissant in Paris and order sushi in Japanese ... but what if I had obtained fluency in a language? My new business success may have exceeded anyone’s expectations!
Tip: Become fluent in a language; learn while commuting!
3. Keep a journal
Even if you never plan to write your memoirs (more good advice in its own right), keeping a diary across the arc of your career will help you learn from your achievements, your failures and, more importantly, remember the fun! Despite an effort to save mementos and credentials from the events I managed ... what if I had documented my experiences? My lost luggage episode in Hong Kong with my meeting only an hour away ... the meals I ate ... and the bout of food poisoning I received in return ... I actually could write a book!
Tip: On the plane home, open up your laptop and write a few paragraphs about your experience.
4. Take up golf at an early age
It may sound like a cliché, but golf is a great platform for business networking. I often think ... what if I had really learned how to play? Would I have met more interesting people? Could I have obtained more new business, or built better relationships with colleagues or managers?
Tip: Learn the game of golf — it’s a powerful career-building asset.
5. Enjoy the sights along the way
I have encircled the world numerous times and visited most of the world’s capitals. But, in the press of business, I did not take enough personal time to enjoy my travels. It doesn’t have to be days but ... what if I had taken the time to visit the Great Wall and a few Great Shops?
Tip: Do a bit of research before you go and pick one or two “tourist attractions” to get a better sense of the culture.
By no means read this as a list of regrets. Actually, I still can apply all of this advice to improve and enrich the balance of my career and add chapters to my future book, although a reality check tells me that I’ll never be a threat on the links!