Exploring Beyond the Planned Path

I was recently invited to be a guest on the All Things Risk podcast with Ben Cattaneo where he made an analogy that I quite liked and could identify with given my mountaineering background.  When discussing the unknowns of life and our careers, he likened our experiences to exploring a cavern with several nooks, crannies, twists and turns along the way that can sometimes cause us to seemingly get redirected.

When I think back to the trajectory of my career and look at the paths of those that I have worked with, taught, and coached, many of us aren’t where we may have initially planned.  Our careers – like life – are a series of opportunities, challenges, conflict, and triumph; packed with factors we can’t predict.

Years ago, when I began my journey on Wall Street, through happenstance I was introduced to a small company I had never heard of before that serviced Wall Street. It was a company next door to a department store called, Bloomingdale’s. The company?  Bloomberg. At the time when I asked a couple of friends if they’d ever heard of Bloomberg, they hadn’t – in fact, they assumed Bloomingdales and Bloomberg were the same.

It’s that little nudge to reach out to a company called Bloomberg that resulted in a career I could never have imagined for myself.  When I joined this firm that no one had heard of, I was the 190th employee in the company and revenues were approximately around 70 million dollars.  Fourteen years later, I left when there were approximately 8,000 employees and revenues of around 3.5 billion dollars.  Today, Bloomberg is made up of 17,000 employees and approximately 10 billion dollars in revenue.

There was no way to have known what that initial phone call into an unknown company would result in, but thank goodness I made that call.

So many of our opportunities come in the package of seemingly small, insignificant changes, suggestions or decisions. Those are often the turns in the cavern that can open up to something incredible.  As a mountaineer, you can’t always predict what the path will be that you end up taking.  Sure, you need to be prepared and have a plan in place, but along the way, there will be unexpected conditions that cause you to adjust just a bit or a significant amount.  Either way, as you follow those twists and turns, you’ll find yourself coming across amazing vistas and terrain that you hadn’t planned on or weren’t even aware of.

Keep climbing and traversing your mountain.  Be open to slight variations to your planned course – you never know where it may take you!  Listen to the rest of my podcast on All Things Risk here.