I’ve always believed that traveling teaches you lessons you can’t learn from books. And that traveling to remarkable places with bright and creative people is the best education money can buy.
That conviction was reinforced last month. Traveling to Hong Kong to meet with our Worldcom Public Relations Group partners – and then continuing on with a smaller group of colleagues to mainland China – was several days of nonstop information absorption. The formal meetings allowed those of us in attendance to hear from subject matter experts, share best practices, discuss research findings and explore new approaches to professional challenges. The informal program enabled us to speak with people whose perspectives on – and perceptions of – the world vary greatly from our own.
While both were extremely informative, it’s difficult to say which was more valuable.
For someone who makes his living in the field of communications, it’s essential to understand the latest technologies, platforms and trends that impact the sharing of information. It is equally important, however, to remember to take into account the mindset of your audience before you ever say, write or post a word.
Traveling is the ultimate reminder that you can’t afford to make assumptions about those with whom you wish to connect. While everyone takes things for granted, what those things are depends on variables you can’t always predict. Nor, frankly, should you try.
In that respect, the time I spent speaking with everyday folks in Beijing taught (or reminded) me as much about my business as listening to the innovative communications approaches used by conglomerates doing business in the world’s most disparate economic markets.