There is something magical about taking journeys; whether it is taking on a new challenge, meeting new people or traveling to an exotic destination.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012
A Week in San Francisco: Intimidating, Inspiring, Exhilarating!
I am back from one of the most memorable trips in my life. I say life because I genuinely feel that the lessons I learned from this trip are life lessons and I find it impossible to place them into a “work bin” just because my company paid for it and I was supposedly on a business trip.
It all started when I received an email from New York, informing me that I had been nominated to attend the LexisNexis Global Leadership Summit in San Francisco in March 2012. It is an event typically attended by LexisNexis business leaders across the globe, so attendees would consist of CEOs and MDs who report into our Global CEO, Mike Walsh who would host the meeting. It is an annual gathering of the greatest minds in the organization – the big leagues.
How then, did I fit in? This year, they decided to include employees they called “high performers”. The aim was to reward people like me and also provide us with an opportunity to meet with the leaders in the organization, teach us a thing or two and motivate us to do better.
One month before the summit, I received an email, asking me to moderate a 90-minute customer panel session on Day 3. I panicked (I kid you not!) and then tried to calm down, and panicked again! I was going to do this for an audience of 138 big big bosses across LexisNexis worldwide. I shot an email (still in a state of panic) to my boss, MD of Asia, Shawn Clark asking, “whaaat? why?” and he calmly and confidently assured me that I was the best person for the job. If you ever wonder what kind of boss you want, here’s my enlightened answer: Look for a boss who knows you better than you do, sees you for the potential you have and pushes you to achieve your fullest potential, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Shawn gave me a pep talk via email, then asked me to snap out of my panicked state and gave me sound advice. ”Just prepare“, he said. So I did.
The summit was an eye-opener for me. It was run like clockwork, timed perfectly and designed to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity, make us think and plan really hard, help us meet new colleagues and really get to know them. We were encouraged to bring our smart phones and tablets as there was a specially designed app which we accessed throughout the summit. It contained personalized agendas for each of us, a welcome video by our CEO, a Who’s Who list of attendees, a blog page on which we could post comments and updates, daily photo montages and more!
We were taken on site visits to the various companies within the Silicon Valley. It blew me away and gave me an immense amount of inspiration. Our businesses shared success stories on various aspects of the business, encouraging us to share and learn from each other and showcased our latest technology and innovation. I learned about LexisNexis – the company, our goals and our vision. I learned that we had relatively young leaders within the organization – most of them are in their 40s. I discovered that a huge portion of them are women (woohoo!) and that our leaders are brilliant, down-to-earth individuals who are also passionate about their work and the company and determined to succeed. I was intimidated and inspired.
Day 3 arrived very quickly. It was time for my panel session. We had the top people in the largest law firms in Asia, US and Australia and a highly respected General Counsel on the panel. I opened by explaining that we hoped to learn from our customers, then innovate to create new products and solutions for them and proceeded to introduce the first panel member. The 90 minutes whizzed past and then it was over. The audience applauded, my fellow presenters on stage reached out to shake my hand and others started joining us on stage to have deeper conversations with the four panel members. It was over. Shawn was the first one to come over to me, whispering “Good job” and I thought “phew!”.
Throughout the rest of that day, people kept congratulating me on a job well done, telling me how it impacted them and made them think. I was flustered. I thought the session went well. I did not realize it went that well. It was one of the scariest things I had ever attempted. I am so glad I was pushed to do it. I learned a bit about myself, gained an immense amount of confidence and earned the respect of my colleagues and bosses! It was overwhelming. That night, I received an award for “Excellence in Creating Customer Value”. The summit officially closed. It was such an awesome day.
Receiving the award from my boss, Shawn Clark, MD of Asia
I spent the next few days on holiday with my friends. I attended a kids’ softball practice, went to the Golden Gate Bridge, tasted sourdough bagels and Ghirardelli chocolates, enjoyed fresh Dungeness crab, went shopping, made new friends and reflected on my week. I am an extremely fortunate individual – I work hard, feel passion for a job I love and I am recognized for my contributions. As a result of this, I want to do better, want to make my leaders proud and so I continue to grow and learn and hopefully do better.
I can’t wait for my next intimidating, inspiring and exhilarating adventure.