What Keeps You Going? Insights from Darden’s Global Conference

by   |  February 5, 2015

What Keeps You Going?  Darden's International Conference

Experts at Darden’s Global Conference shared inspiring insights on what helped them push through while doing business in tough environments.


At Darden’s Global Conference, business experts from diverse corporations shared insights they gleaned from doing business in tough environments.   When asked what kept them going through hard times, here is what they keynote speakers and panelists had to say:


Revel in the “Strength Training”

Chika Umeadi, Co-founder of Tiphub in Nigeria, has developed a mindset for enjoying pushing through hard times.   Competitive runners who train at high altitudes find it much easier to perform when they come back down to sea level.   This often makes them the fiercest competitors on the track.   In the same way, Chika asserts that at certain phases in his life it’s highly beneficial for business leaders to learn how to thrive in tough environments.


Develop the Skill to Adapt

The one skill emphasized repeatedly throughout the conference was the ability to adapt.   This involves gaining awareness of your environment, understanding how it works, knowing what people will help you achieve your objective and working flexibly with them toward the goal.


Seize the Intellectual Challenge

Andre Llaloni, Managing Director of Barclays Capital in Brazil, approaches each new challenge as a puzzle to be solved.   Approaching challenges with this mindset helps quell the sense of overwhelm and negative emotion, allowing for one to engage intellectually with the problem.   This mindset helps you exercise and therefore strengthen your agility as you tackle difficult problems.


Keep in Close Contact with Your Key Stakeholders

“Something about having children and a mortgage motivates one to keep going.”   Jill Simaldl Douthit, CFO of Tanlin Inc., chuckled as she brought up this valid point.   Having a vested interest in others outside of yourself is the best motivation to push through hard times.   If you don’t have children, keeping in close contact with your consumers or those you are trying to serve can have an equally potent effect on keeping you motivated.


Celebrate Past Victories

Acknowledge your own resilience.   Look back on your life and remember how many hard experiences you have already gone through.   What helped you keep trucking?   What did you learn?   What new skills did you come away with?   Write about these experiences.   If you already have journal entries from days gone by, revisit those stories to gain inspiration.


Share Victories with Your Support Network

Your friends, business contacts and loved ones can bolster your fortitude as you nurture those relationships.   Douthit keeps in contact with other Darden students, business contacts and friends who share their tough experiences as well.   These stories of perseverance provide a tremendous source of inspiration.


Believe in Your Power to Change the Status Quo

Alejandro Preusche, Director at Almado and Former Director at McKinsey & Company, has a depth of experience working through not only trying but dangerous circumstances throughout his career.   During these times others told him he was crazy, he would die, or at the very least he needed to carry guns around with him.   To this he replied, “Sometimes just doing the right thing is enough to change the status quo, and this is what you must do.”


These affirmations helped each of the guest speakers continue doing their work with impact investing and doing business in difficult environments.   Their ideas and strategies provided Darden MBA students with powerful examples and inspiration as they envision the kind of impact they hope to have on the international business landscape.

More on: Business, Changing the World, MBA, Optimism, Strategies
About the Author:

Mimi West is a consummate entrepreneur, brand and marketing expert. This retired opera singer and Founder of My Dream Teacher is now pursuing her MBA at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Administration. You can follower her on Twitter: @MimiGuynnWest.
Publshed: February 5, 2015  | 
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