This week, we visited many companies, listened, and exchanged ideas with outstanding professionals representing each firm. Whether senior professionals working for General Atlantic or Ernst and Young, or the founder of an independent management consulting firm — they all had unique insight in their fields and their industry’s future direction.
However for me, the most amazing discussion we had was at Zephyr Management, located in the heart of Manhattan, on Park Avenue. Tom, the president and chief executive officer of the firm, and Steve, who is the managing director were both born before WWII. They had amazing career paths and were ready to openly share their insights with the class.
I have found their modest and unpretentious brightness unique, and their messages compelling. The following thoughts struck me the most:
- Always think about your relative value, not your absolute. In different parts of the world, or in different sectors the value that you can add also differs. Look for the place where you can add the most, where you are worth the most, where you can make the biggest impact.
- ‘The rising tide takes all boat.’ – Be aware and accept the natural economic cycles of the World. Make predictions and bet on them. Find the field of the future.
- Go where no one else is going, do what no one else is doing!
- Most of the time what is happening in reality is not equal to the perception of people on the given issue. Do your own research, do not accept anything right ahead, but make your own discoveries! Do not subscribe to the logic of others!
- Many times prices are highly influenced by risk factors. The World’s perception on the risk sets the price. Be aware: yours might differ from the average.
- Always assume others are smarter than you. Never get biased by hubris and do not confuse being lucky or being a genius.
- Spend more time outside of your comfort zone. Gain exposure for many things and challenge yourself!
- Get things done and gain experiences in operation.
- Follow your heart, follow your calling!
In addition to the previous points, the most important statement of our discussion for me came from Tom. Since one thing I am sure about is that I would love to make a positive impact on my environment, I was curious what he thinks about social impact. His definition includes job creation, skills development and local growth creation.
Tom’s statement opened my eyes to the fact, that I should broaden my perception on doing good. This is a great revelation, helping me to become more open-minded when it comes to choosing my next workplace.
I am really grateful for this extremely useful week, which I consider one of the highlights of my 11-month MBA program.