Reflecting on Points in Your Life/Career – 1

Here’s a picture from my first week at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. In 2012, I started as an intern. When I left, I ran a sizable piece of the US business driving the most complex markets. I earned a reputation for working in challenging environments turning “deserts into gardens”; and being a gregarious nerd, who always had deep questions.

#FirstWeekOnTheJob

Here is an entry from that first week at LVMH in 2012:

“I started the week with tutorials in business intelligence. I definitely think I will get the hang of this after a few tries generating my own reports. On my first day, I came to work at around 730am or so, but there was no one to let me in the office. I did some walking and then came back at around 8am. I love NY so much. I feel so comfortable that it’s weird. A guy from Facilities let me in the building when he came in. I was sitting outside the main entrance reading one of the NY metro. People here seem very hospitable.”

It’s been a little over five months since I quit working for LVMH. I learned so many valuable lessons there and generated a lot of value. However, I can’t overstate how great life became once I had the courage (and financial cushion) to quit. Realizing when it’s time to move on is a hard thing for a lot of professionals – especially when financial security, lifestyle and status are considered. Luckily for me, lifestyle and status have never been internal drivers for me.

For years, I focused on developing financial security and looking around corners for situations that would let me continue carving my own path. The catalyst for my decision to quit arrived when I prioritized self actualization over pursuing power and influence. There is an immense freedom (and hefty responsibility) in being able to choose where you work, who you work with/for, and what you do.

Curious in 2011 >> Passionate 2012 to 2016 >> Reflective 2019

What was even harder for me, was finding the space to be vulnerable enough to review what had happened over the past seven years; accept my mistakes; and be thankful for the people and circumstances that led me to quit a job I loved. The best advice I can give is keep a diary. It comes in handy when you need the introspection and safe space to #RedesignYourLife. It helps you understand your strengths and challenges -especially when working in startups.

What will I be doing in 2019?

As us usual, I’m always influenced by the current zeitgeist. Today’s inspiration comes from a Vox video attempting to answer the question: Does expensive wine taste better?

I’ve always told my clients that wine is a sensory experience that requires the use of all senses, but I’ve learned that what makes me more successful than my competitors are the stories I tell; and how I empower my clients with enough knowledge to “try something new” the next time they go to the store. That’s an investment that yields infinite returns no matter what products you represent. #AlwaysAddValue

Yes, it is true that awesomely well-trained, data savvy, wine professionals like myself can manipulate clients to buy whatever we want to sell (see the research), but my satisfaction has always come from surprising clients with profound and pleasurable discoveries.

That’s why I love treating curious customers to some of my rarest or more expensive wines in the first meeting. Sometimes, they can’t even afford the wines I present – so why do I take this counterintuitive approach? Well, aside from the fact that it fosters desire, it’s also because what my clients value most – above ownership and consumption – is a journey. So, setting them up with a view of what they “could be” drinking is more important than someone telling them what they “should be” drinking. My clients don’t just want me to help them make memories – they want me to inspire dreams. Doing this the right way always requires more work that most professionals are willing to put in, but it is the most sustainable strategy to truly winning hearts and minds. 

Customers and friends still contact me every time they find something new. The most gratifying aspect of this is that they want me to share their new discoveries with them. I go from being a consultant to a partner. #SoThankful #KnowYourCustomer #KnowYourCompetition.

Here is my recipe for the work I’ll be undertaking in 2019:

  • Take my unique CX approach to #MakingMemories #InspiringDreams; and
  • Marry that with my purpose to “give clients access to the best that life has to offer”; and
  • Add my love of #Datasets and #GeospatialModelling; then
  • Throw in a sprinkle of data science with a dash of #SeeingAroundCorners; and
  • Add a continuous stream of confidence and perseverance.

2018 has already come to an end in some parts of the world and is only a couple hours away from my comfortable perch. I sincerely want to thank every person who has been part of my #Superstory thus far. I am especially thankful for the obstacles I overcame and all the experiences that have led up to this exact moment. Most of all, I am thankful for my wife and family. I couldn’t have made it this far without their support.

In 2019 and beyond, I believe there will be a lot more stories wanting to be told, and more memories to facilitate. I’ll be focused on the consumer frontline – bringing the fringes to the front by empowering makers (a word borrowed from a company I admire) and consumers with the tools to unlock hidden value.

#TurningDesertsIntoGardens

#HappyNewYear

#NextBigThing

#StartedFromTheBottom

Advice: Don’t Take Things Personal

One Thing#Newsflash: You can’t make all your stakeholders, friends, colleagues (all the people you know or don’t know) happy all the time.

As professionals, we talk a lot about listening and looking at issues from multiple angles. Those are really important lessons that keep coming up in my career, but lately, there’s a bigger lesson I have learned:

Try not to take all that happens to you as a personal indication of your value or potential. 

If you dig deep enough you will be able to connect the dots in your past and realize that everything that happens to you is for your own good. You are exactly where you need to be right now. All the things that have happened to you HAVE HAPPENED. You can’t change the past and you do not know the future – but you have NOW.

What is the next thing you can do to move your goals forward? Have a big dream, but just focus on doing one little thing that gets you closer. Do that one little thing – that if left undone, you would regret not trying at all. Do one little thing for yourself.

#ChooseYourself #WhosLookingOutForYou #IfNotNowWhen

One Thing Well

Study, Reflect, Copy, Express….

It may he hard for anyone to reconcile the context and content of this post with the name of my blog, but sometimes you just have to go with the things that move you.

I’ve written before about my admiration for speeches and writings of certain figures in history. I may never know everything about the people I so admire, but the some of the things they say have had a profound effect on making me a better version of myself.

This speech by Oprah at the 2018 Golden Globes is no exception. It speaks to much of what’s happening in the current zeitgeist, but also addresses many issues we deal with on a personal level. It speaks volumes to me about leadership and speaking truth to power.

I hope it inspires you to be more.

Thanks go to NBC for posting this video to Youtube.

Failure is A Milestone on The Road to Success

I read something from Theodore Roosevelt today that profoundly inspires me. I know it will do the same for any professional in luxury, or any industry at all. I’m going to keep this one close to the chest.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

– Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
Delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

Back to Blogging… with A Different Focus

First off, here’s wishing you a Happy 2013 ahead.

If you are reading this post, then I must either welcome you anew; or thank you for checking in on the blog.

When I created Lessons in Luxury, I had a goal of starting my post-MBA career in the luxury goods and services sector. Today, I have achieved that goal and have set even loftier ones for my career.

However, this blog has such a cool name that it must continue, even if it means that it will have a new focus. Rather than focusing on luxury from an academic perspective, I’ll discuss luxury as a career.

Look out for the first entry in 2013.

#HBSRLGC – Day 2: Emerging Markets Panel

4/15/12 – After the keynote address from Max Azria, I went on to some of the panel sessions. The panel sessions are a little more intimate than the keynotes because you get to hear different perspectives on the same issues that concern retailers today. You’ll see competitors, collaborators, and disruptors in the same room. This year there were four panels and I attended two:

Emerging Markets – The panelists were:

  • Anya Ayoung Chee – Designer, Project Runway Winner
  • Kai Schoppen – CEO, Brandsclub Group
  • Malte Horeyseck – Co-Founder and Managing Director, Dafiti
  • Tikka Karpurthala – Chief Representative in Asia for Moet-Hennessy/Group Advisor Louis Vuitton, India

New Business Directions – The panelists were:

  • Anthony W. Campbell – EVP of Administration, Vice Chairman’s Office, Perry Ellis International
  • Julie Bull – Director of Investor Relations, Dillards
  • Mark Bonchek – SVP Communities and Networks, Sears Holdings
Here are the tweets to catch you up on what went on in the Emerging Markets panel.

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