Traveling in uncharted waters can be treacherous and frightening. In Homer’s classic tale, The Odyssey, Odysseus undertakes a long and fearful journey. His realization of his new circumstance makes “[his] knees quake and the heart inside him <sinks>; he <speaks> to his fighting spirit, desperate…’I see no way!’” As he reaches land and safety, Odysseus flings himself on solid ground and kisses “the good green earth.” These same feelings of fear and adulation while attempting to land safely on solid financial ground are often felt by business executives as they maneuver through situations no one has navigated before.
To use a modern example, the mission of the starship Enterprise is to boldly explore places where no one has traveled before. If you have ever watched a Star Trek episode, you know how dangerous that directive can be for the captain and the crew. Yet, many business leaders today are taking up the same mission of exploring new markets or ideas where no business has ventured before, hoping for a happy landing.
The current business landscape is in a constant state of change. Many leaders are steering their businesses into unknown territory, hoping to avoid pitfalls, hidden dangers, and economic disasters while looking for big rewards. Zenger and Folkman describe this turbulent business environment as a test for business leaders: “[E]xcellent leadership can turn a significant change into a pleasant journey, whereas poor leadership might be better described as a ‘trip to hell.’” This issue of Marriott Student Review focuses on the uncharted waters of today’s businesses and how to traverse them without crashing.
An Uncharted Future
The international nature of business often motivates us to explore new jobs and internships in other countries. Tanner Wegrowski points out the need for fostering cultural intelligence individually and as organizations to improve and enrich personal communication and business acumen in a global economy.
Sometimes, old, established businesses need to change course in order to survive today’s swirling business atmosphere. Ballet companies are going out of business around the country because there are fewer and fewer people who attend. Hannah Bender examines how, with precautionary measures, ballet does not need to disappear. Improving ticket sales, working with donors, and establishing a strong mission statement that motivates the organization may be the facelift a ballet company needs to succeed financially.
New technologies also need to keep up with competitors. Braden Terry discusses the recent decline in Apple smartphone sales and gives some advice for future growth. Foldable screens and 5G capability will convince consumers that they need to upgrade. By recreating Steve Jobs’ formula of implementing cutting edge technology, Apple will survive during the next generation of smartphones.
Discovering what career one should pursue brings anxiety into every person’s life. Hunter Muse discusses the common advice, “Follow your passion.” He examines whether this is the best course to find future success. Instead, asking different questions may help you define a more profitable path. Whitney Johnson, our Executive Spotlight, is a perfect example of someone who has successfully navigated uncertainty in her career.
Sandberg and Grant’s book, Option B, leaves us with words of wisdom about our uncharted journey: “Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.” Finding joy in the journey rather than focusing on a final, predetermined destination might give us a more resilient way of looking at the difficulties ahead of us.
Hopefully, a solid financial future awaits all of us. Please share your thoughts with us about the articles by commenting on them on our Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. For more information on finding success, listen to the MSR podcast, Measuring Success Right.
Homer, The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles (1996), New York: Penguin Classics, p. 166.
Homer, The Odyssey, p. 167.
John H. Zenger and Joseph R. Folkman, The Extraordinary Leaders: Turning Good managers into Great Leaders, 2009, New York: McGraw Hill, p. 72.
 Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, 2017: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 13.