By Ernst Gemassmer, Chairman, Startup Professionals
I am a retired executive with ample time to reflect on my personal and business life. My career, in several companies, included management consulting, different positions in many functional areas, heading up international operations and eventually leading to several positions as interim CEO. I have worked in the US, Germany and Holland in addition to travelling the world extensively either developing, managing or turning around different businesses.
As I reflect on my life and career, I would like to elaborate on several aspects, to provide insight and possible guidance to rising young managers and entrepreneurs. Hopefully the reader will benefit from my experiences and avoid hidden pitfalls.
During my entire career I was laser-focused on climbing up the executive ladder, resolving complex issues and meeting ever increasing personal and business targets.
- Don’t forget your wife and kids. We all work in order to establish and support a family. It is not beneficial to bring your work home with you, since your spouse and partner may not understand or follow the complexities of your work. Above all, remember and celebrate special occasions.
- Don’t forget your school colleagues. Having attended a number of different high schools and colleges I had the opportunity to meet, get to know and develop friendships with many different and unique individuals. This was a very enriching experience.
For a number of years I kept in touch with old colleagues and visited them whenever I had a chance. However, my increasingly busy professional life left little or no time to continue these relationships.
I should have made the time to cultivate these relationships, it would have further enlightened me and broadened my horizons.
- Don’t forget your friends. Living in different cities, continents and countries, I met numerous neighbors and developed friendships with them. It requires real work and dedication to stay in touch. They (or you) may need your (their) understanding, support and guidance.
I should have done a better job in staying in touch. Dedicate at least a portion of your time to your old friends. Your company may fail, but your friendships can and should continue.
- Don’t forget your colleagues. In my various roles I met and worked with many different people. Changing from one industry to another caused me to lose touch with many of these colleagues
It is well worth the effort to stay in touch and thereby keep up friendships, professional relationship. This will enable you to know what is going on in different companies, technologies and countries.
- Don’t forget your mentors. During my career I had the pleasure of working with several mentors. They provided unbiased guidance and critique where I needed it most. Over time, changing industries and locations I lost touch with most of my mentors.
Take the time to keep in touch with those who helped you navigating your career. They deserve it and will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself and have fun. Global travels, challenging work and family are real challenges to getting enough exercise and eating sensibly.
Make time for workouts and closely monitor your eating and drinking habits. Use your limited free time to do what you enjoy and are passionate about. Your body and your mind will reward these efforts.
- Keep on learning and follow changes in technology, industry and society. I have seen fundamental and revolutionary changes in technology, our industrial structures and society. There are numerous examples of companies which have disappeared, managers and entrepreneurs who have failed and traditional practices which have fundamentally altered.
Therefore, even if it seems challenging, keep on learning and stretch your limits from time to time.
Overall I have had a successful life as well as a varied and rewarding career. I have no regrets, but could have paid more attention to the critical elements mentioned above. Hopefully my comments will cause you to reflect on and guide your personal and business career. Good luck and good health.