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New York, New York: It’s a helluva contrast

It’s also a helluva town as the musical “On the Town” says. However from one of the poorest areas in Zambia to one of the richest in North America sure gave us a shock.

The pace, the angst, seeing and hearing English speaking white people for the first time in months, the food, the enthusiasm and wow, the city. Now I understand why people would wear an I ❤️ NYC t-shirt.

Being back in a westernised city environment certainly allowed a time for reflection.

The pace of life in Zambia moves slowly, even walking is slow and it’s remarkable how quickly you adapt to and enjoy it. I lost count of the number of times I was nearly run off a pavement by eager joggers or business people in New York though. It did make me think though, where is everyone going?

Life in a city can be relentless but does it have to be. When starting a new role and even beforehand the culture of the business is crucial to your success as well as the businesses.

Maybe you want to work 16 hours a day and set the world on fire, if that’s the case make sure everyone around you is on the same page. You’ll only get frustrated if you’re working as hard and the company talks about that being how they want to work but if the overall work culture doesn’t reflect this you’ll quickly lose your patience.

Now, just to be clear I’m not advocating companies forcing long hours but your career maybe immersing yourself that full-on into work is what you want at times.

Equally, if what you’re looking for is the complete opposite then establish this during the interview process. If you fail to do this you will only be left feeling under pressure and again frustrated.

For me, I enjoy a balance of both. I want to work hard when I’m at work and when I’m not at work I don’t want to think about work but I will always want to get the job done. Equally, I love New York but I need the time out somewhere like Zambia on a regular basis to not lose perspective and slow down.

From spending time and learning about two very different cultures, this helps you work out what you prefer. You need to ask questions at interview and as discussed on my podcast recently with James Teodorini, be curious.

Once you’ve got a clear idea in mind of the work culture at the company you’re interviewing with, think about what you want to achieve and how you want to go about doing it. Then align yourself to the company whose working traits align with it.

You won’t regret taking the time to establish these parameters sooner rather than later. You might regret not asking the questions though.


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