10 Aug Inspiration From Successful People
Our very first speaker from Absolute Internship was also the best one of the lot. Her name was Jackie. Together with her Danish partner John, she created the Wagas empire, a chain of high-quality foods with dozens of stores in China.
I was expecting a simple slide show, a speaker-assisted overview of what we would read on the company website. ‘Charts, Profit Margins, Our Seven Principles, What We Do, Who We Serve. You can apply at this link if you would like to join our team.’
Jackie however took a different approach. She told us her own story. A young girl who was more concerned with sports than school and barely graduated with sufficient scores. She partied and stayed with her parents’ home instead of attending college. Then came a point when her father finally gave her choice: get a job or live like this on your own.
She found a part-time job at a swimming center’s cafe. She loved her job there so much she bought the café, which she later on sold. After Jackie had moved to Shanghai she met a local restaurant owner, John, who offered her a manager position and she decided to become a business partner instead. Over the next several years, Jackie and John learned-on-the-go through many failures and losses as they developed that restaurant into the national chain it is today.
Her advice was frank and personal. When she talked about the food Wagas offers, she went over the choices as if she had handpicked and tried the options herself many times. The methods she used to market Wagas were both simple and creative. She admitted to her company’s failures as rash thinking, getting greedy, or indecision on her part and John’s.
As she finished speaking I was awed. Her story was an engaging and worth listening.
From the roster of speakers so far only Jackie has stood out. The rest were not as interesting. Either I had no interest in the company, which didn’t change from the presentations or the speakers only recited from their PowerPoint slides.
One morning we did visit a bank operating in China. I don’t remember the name. The presentation took place in the office presentation room. Snacks, coffee, and water were laid out on the center of the table. The presenters were three European guys from the office. They all wore suits, held a coffee in their right hand as they gestured toward the screen with their left arm, and joked at each other to keep the mood light.
They were very honest. We learned about why they were really working with the bank and how they felt about it.
I almost feel like these company visits or speaker events have given me a better idea of the professional environment I would prefer. Those that stood out came from people telling their stories, being relatable and honest about what they do, and offering perspective to their positions.