Working in Africa + What to Expect in the Coming Months

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I never wanted to own a business. Growing up, every entrepreneur I knew was owned by their company rather than the other way around. They tended to be bitter and cynical and walked around with a lifeless look in their eyes. Their marriages and other relationships seemed lifeless as well. No, thank you. Owning a business was not for me.

In May 2002, I saw a 60 Minutes piece on a plastic surgeon who spent part of the year doing elective surgeries in his private practice in the US and then the other part of the year as a volunteer in Sierra Leone doing restorative surgeries on child soldiers who had been mutilated. I worked in the NGO world at the time and, tired of the red tape, decided this model was the only reason I would ever open up shop for myself.

Since the beginning, I have specifically designed companies that would allow me to pursue my passions beyond the industry. Everything I've done in terms of structure, partnering, marketing, revenue targets, etc has been with this overarching goal in mind. It is also part of the reason I sold one of The Splendid Collective brands, Form + Function, in September 2013.

Today I'm happy to share that I'll be volunteering with a children's home in Africa during February and March. It's been said that discipline is remembering what you want most, and these past several years have proven that adage true.

Over the course of my time in the industry, I've had the opportunity to travel to dozens of cities in multiple countries and meet literally thousands of wedding and event professionals, business experts and entrepreneurs. I've had the pleasure of hearing the stories of people at every level -- from mom and pop boutiques to venture capitalists to C-Suite executives of Fortune 500 companies -- the people who make this industry and the business world move forward.

For the rest of January, I'll be posting here. For the months of February and March, I'll be opening up the Think Splendid platform to some of the people I've gotten to know over the years. You'll get to hear from seasoned industry professionals like Debbie Geller and Steve Paster as well as from friends and colleagues in the broader business world, such as Whitney Johnson, the co-founder of Clayton Christiansen's investment firm, Rose Park Advisors.

It's been fun hearing their stories and I hope you enjoy the hard-earned wisdom and perspectives of the people who have generously agreed to participate.

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