Your Time Matters - Travelling with a Business Mentor
One of the goals we set ourselves at YTM this year was to travel to South America for a holiday. As my husband, Leigh Powell would say ‘if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.’ So I can now proudly say that we achieved this goal and not only enjoyed a break from routine, but we also had our eyes, ears and hearts opened as we smelled, tasted, heard and experienced a small part of a very vast continent.
I had not realised it was going to be such a thought provoking and informative trip as we were able to personally learn about the history, lifestyle, countryside, politics and even the business practices of the countries we visited. Our awareness grew from brief insights in to a wealth of knowledge about the past and current life in Peru, Brazil and Argentina.
We have been home for just one week and have quickly fallen back into our routine, but today I took some time to reflect on our one month adventure. Whilst we mostly ticked the Customs forms as being on a Leisure Trip, there were definitely professional lessons that we can take from our experience. Here are our top 5 learnings -
Collaboration to Achieve Desired Outcomes
Our trip started in Peru. We travelled to the Amazon and then onto the Sacred Valley and Cusco in order to visit the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu. ( Described on http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe- "Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. Built in the 15th century and later abandoned, it’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views" )
Peru is a country steeped in story. We learnt about clothing that represents a person’s social class and headwear that indicates your marital status and more. Peru was also the home of the Incas.
We were fascinated by the stories of the Inca civilisation and their ability to solve problems. Are you aware of the background and how Machu Picchu was built? It is such a famous site and whilst we had to deal with some altitude sickness it was well worth the discomfort. Throughout our travels in Peru our guides shared many examples of incredible construction for which the Incas were responsible. Basically their vision was responsible for the survival of their communities. Massive engineering feats, movement of water and construction, which protected and supported their people. They knew no one achieved anything alone.
The ruling Incas and wise men, actioned plans to achieve their desired goals and outcomes. The Inca’s skill to work together is described as "Inei". Nowadays we would explain it as reciprocity. The concept is, "you help us achieve this...and we will help you..." It allowed them, for example and as story has it, to move massive rocks across the country and construct communities on the sides of mountains. They were able to cultivate crops and manage storage in all weathers and create protection from invaders by planning accordingly. Can you even imagine how they moved one rock that we visited and was described as being the weight of three jumbo jets? The story had it that it would have taken 4000 people to move it. Those involved, possibly traded their strength and manpower for knowledge on how to grow better crops, or when to expect the weather to change.
It was timely for us to hear these stories, as our recent YTM event looked at collaboration, and Inei, seemed to me to be collaboration on steroids!
Business Mentoring is a Universal Need
During our short stay in Rio de Janerio, we enjoyed a walking tour through the OLD city of Rio De Janerio. Investing in guides throughout out trip provided so much value as we gained insight on so many levels. Like business, spending time with those that have experience and understandings opens your eyes to seeing things from a new perspective.
We learnt that in 2017, the unemployment in Rio was 12.7%, the highest rate for over five years and appears to be still rising. Our guide told us that when unemployment is high, people take to the streets and set up stalls to sell whatever they can. When unemployment is not as high, there are no stalls.
Walking down a crowded main street, surrounded by people speaking Portuguese and selling anything from packets of tissues, to suitcases, to food stuff and sunglasses, we came across a large marquee, where people were being invited in to book a conversation with a mentor. Financial management is an issue and this was a government initiative to help and improve the understanding of financial management, both personally and for business. It confirmed how important it is to understand financial management and forecasting and we could relate to this need,as it is often a key part in the mentoring conversations Leigh has with his clients.
We stood and watched the reactions of the crowd to this exhibit for some time. We found it really interesting, as here in Victoria, Leigh has been a volunteer for SBMS (Small Business Mentor Service) and now uses his skills within our business. We have seen their community buses, exhibits at the Small Business Festival but never have we seen them enticing people into the mentoring service through an entertaining floor show! It was certainly worth a giggle!
Conversations Always Matter
Over the four week trip, our conversations with tour guides, fellow travellers and even over dinner with one of our LinkedIn connections, a business owner in Buenos Aires provided us with a "in real time" opportunity to discuss and share knowledge and compare experiences, both personally and professionally. The conversations were an opportunity for us all to learn and share and no doubt were a catalyst for broadening our thinking and horizons.
As Australians we learnt of the corruption experienced by more than one country and where lack of spending on education, health and infrastructure reduce quality of life. We heard of past political unrest and a system that at one stage saw five Presidents in office in the space of five days. Argentina has current interest rates of 40% and inflation of 25% and the impact of these will be significant on both business and society!
We passed a co working space in Buenos Aires, and it confirmed the appeal and how important it is to provide an opportunity for people to connect and come together, benefiting from shared space, skill development and shared facilities.
Throughout the trip we were reminded that the way things appear is not always true or a reflection of the facts and how we can be quick to judge and make assumptions.
Particularly in Peru we experienced damaged roads due to the fact that the government and police are not bothering to enforce taxes and therefore are also unable to offer better education or services.
We also saw many unfinished houses and buildings and soon learned that this is a deliberate strategy by the people to best manage house taxes, which are payable only when dwellings are completed.
Managing to Your Strengths
Tourism plays such a significant economic role and in all countries we experienced a respectful service industry knowing not to kill the golden goose by overdoing prices or underdoing the experiences.
We had no complaints about the customer service we experienced in all of the cities and areas we visited and found that the only issue was actually based around communication and language barriers. It highlighted to me how difficult it must be for people in Melbourne and even Australia who do not have English as a first language and consider whether we adequately cater for the diverse groups Australia is home to.
Unique Selling Proposition
One of the first questions people ask when you return from a trip like ours is “What was the highlight?” It is actually a really hard question to answer as we gained so much from the entire trip.
In a business sense, you can apply this to which country has the best USP- Unique Selling Proposition. Whilst I am sure there was so much more to each of the countries we spent time in you need to consider what it is that suits your needs and attracts you most. So in general terms, based on our experience -
Peru: the Amazon, history, culture and artifacts
Brazil: huge country to explore …….and we only touched on a minute part of it, including Rio de Janerio, Paraty and one side of the Igauzu Falls.
Argentina: Igauzu Falls and the beautiful Buenos Aires
So thank you for reading this. I hope it was of interest and that next time you travel, you too use the opportunity to think about your business and personal goals and remember your time matters.
I recommend you move out of your comfort zone, explore every opportunity and continually Learn Grow and Achieve by setting yourself some goals, pushing you out of your comfort zone.
I look forward to sharing travel stories with you when we next meet and hearing your learnings .