When I chose to go back to Grad School at the UW in 2004, I made a conscious decision that after I graduated, I would say “Yes” to every opportunity to learn more that would ever be thrown at me.
In the first few years, saying “Yes” meant speaking at the Undergraduate Marketing Club or Young Entrepreneurs Club, or meeting with VCIC students. That evolved into judging the UW Business Plan Competition, taking on interns for projects and guest lecturing from time to time. Before I knew it, I was teaching real classes, trying to implement the parts of business school I benefited from the most as a student, while shedding the parts that I saw no value in.
And so here we are today. I just finished up the first part of the two days I have the privilege to spend working with MBA students visiting the UW from Lucerne University in Switzerland. I wish someone would have asked 4 years ago if I ever thought I’d be teaching students who live 8,000 miles away. I wonder what m response would have been.
My discussions with them today reminded me about something I think proud Seattleites often forget. Namely, there are way more people in the world that don’t share the every aspect of the Northwest’s rain driven, liberal thinking, social media embracing, technology-centric, environmentally-maniacal, privacy shunning state of mind.
For example, other countries haven’t necessarily adopted the idea that every ham sandwich we eat should get its own Instagram photo, or why we would want our boss to know what articles we are reading. The idea of building personal blogs to gratify our egos and promote our social importance isn’t necessarily a worldwide phenomenon yet.
But what is important is that globally, smart people want to learn more. Whether we are American, Swiss, German, Japanese, Korean, etc… there are people who want to understand how others think. They may not understand why, and they may not want to emulate it, but they want to understand the “how.” And the more people we have around the world who want to learn about how other cultures act, work, play and live, the better chance we have at finding a common ground.
Moral of the story: Always say yes to anything you can learn from. You’ll never regret it.