Traveling with colleagues (the DL)

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Source: Tshegofatso Makoe

One of the really cool perks about my job is that I get to travel pretty often. Not many people can say that they’re guaranteed to experience 4 new African countries each year and get paid to do so. I have seen the good and the bad and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

Recently, my job took me to Cote d’Ivoire– a place where every second sentence was “bonjour madam” and a very poorly attempted and broken “Je ne parle pas Francais” I’m probably still fudging it up now… I also visited (for the second time) beautiful Kenya and had two new East African experiences with Uganda and Tanzania which I fell in love with.

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Source: Tshegofatso Makoe

You’re probably wondering who I travelled to these countries with and what the purpose of my visits was, I can only answer one of these questions today and it brings me to the purpose of my post today. Traveling with colleagues.

Over the past year I have had the privilege of traveling to the biggest countries (by GDP) in the Western and Eastern parts of Africa with my millennial, and not so millennial colleagues, and I think it would be interesting to share my top 6 realisations on these experiences.

  1. Keep the focus: traveling with millennials is fun but more is expected
    • This one is quite obvious. traveling with millennial colleagues, especially like- minded ones is quite fun however the pressure to produce solid outputs and provide a greater ROI than other non- millennial trips is expected.
  2. Curiosity reigns: you can do more with research and really push the envelope
    • Because everyone is young and curious- the research team picks up more information (especially the left- field data points) and also fewer assumptions are made.
  3. “Alone time” is golden
    • Something we were more deliberate about this time around was scheduling down- time. The result of everyone being in close proximity for 80% of the day means that you all really get to know each other REALLY well. You can gauge when someone is “people-d out” or when a group break is needed. everyone is aligned in thinking and that really strengthens the team bond. When you make time for those random breaks (some late starts and early endings to a day) it really makes all the difference and keeps the burnout at bay. When the team regroups, everyone is well- rested and new perspectives and energy is bountiful.
  4. Give and take
    • Following on from point 3, traveling for long periods as a unit really teaches you a lot about compromising and sacrificing. you begin to see your colleagues as living and breathing humans that you care for to some degree, beyond the commonalities of a shared employer
  5. Connectivity
    • Despite us usually being chaperoned by locals in- country, this didn’t save us in Cote d’Ivoire where we could barely communicate in the local language. The research piece in a foreign country where English is not the primary language is almost futile and here we learned the importance of being connected to a network provider via a local sim. Once we were connected, a local sim provided access to translator apps as well as people in the office who were bilingual, to translate our “on- the ground needs” to drivers and chaperones.
  6. A lil party never killed nobody
    • Emphasis on “a lil” cause a lot will make you lose the plot but “a lil” builds the perfect amount of camaraderie that produces superior results time and time again.

Also, if you’ve read this far, you know it means I’m back on the blogging scene!

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Source: Tshegofatso Makoe

Musings on my travels in Ethiopia 🇪🇹

The second last stop on our Africa tour has brought us to beautiful Ethiopia!

The most hyped up country of all 4 (Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya), and with a forecasted GDP growth spurt of 8.2% (Taken from the WorldBank.org website) in 2018 I must say that my expectations were high. I was expecting to step onto a buzzing metropolis in the making…. but, not quite.

Now I’m not saying that Ethiopia is not growing, from the areas I have visited in Addis Ababa, I can certainly say that of the 4 countries, Addis had the most developments. You cannot drive longer than 1km without seeing a new development and this is a great sign for things to come from an economic growth, opportunity and expansion perspective. However, right now and into the next 3 years, I don’t believe there would have been enough time for a shift. Maybe in the next 5 to 10 years.

Because Ethiopia is still highly regulated by the law of the ruling government, foreign investment is highly regulated, barriers to entry for outsiders are high and major industries such as Banking and Telecommunications are monopolized. Historically, there has been limited to no support from the local government in order to support entrepreneurs, drive competition, increase the literacy rate as well as employment but the sudden increase in foreign interest should change this and hopefully make the Government realize the importance of working with investors and using the opportunity for the advantage of its people.

From a general, tourist perspective I could say that Addis has a quasi Mediterranean quasi Middle Eastern feel to it. Extremely dry air and dusty roads will make you feel like you’re walking/driving through the streets of Athens, Greece and the local culture, language and aesthetic of the natives has an Arabic sand dunes feel to it.

I was grateful to also have some time to try out the local cuisine which I though was simply divine and completely exceeded my expectations.

And of course…. COFFEE!

All in all, being in Ethiopia was an incredibly insightful experience and I cannot wait to see the country grow and establish itself as a powerhouse in Africa. It is certainly open for business and one to look out for in the near future.

Guest Post: My travel, my truth (tips for traveling with and without friends)

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Photo by STIL on Unsplash

I have been privileged enough to travel overseas twice on someone else’s budget. My first overseas trip was to the USA in 2014 and my second trip took me all the way to Portugal in Europe.

On my first trip, I had 9 other companions and we were all friends so there was no doubt that it was going to be fun. All of us were heavily involved and committed to making the process perfect. Upon arrival, we were mandated to be in Boston for 4 days for a Young Leader’s Summit, but hey! We were finally in ‘Merica and we absolutely could not let this opportunity pass us by without some kind of exploration.

We had a grand ol’ time in Boston but as fate and “the spirit of YOLO” would have it, we made a pit stop in NEW YORK, (yes NEW YORK CITY the big apple) and boy was it magical!

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Trip to ‘Merica with my friends

TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS

There is something special in travelling with friends. A dynamic you can’t really attain when you travel with family or work acquaintances. Here are some of the elements I found most enjoyable when travelling with people who are your friends:

  • Flexible itinerary– having the freedom to change the itinerary depending on how everyone feels that day with no hard feelings.
  • Prior planning– we knew how much it would cost if we were to go to every tourist attraction in NY and Boston.
  • Work hard play harder– we made time for work and time for fun. We also made time for people to rest when they needed to.
  • Friends bring familiarity and some sort of security– traveling to a different country can be overwhelming but having people you can call “friends” brings a sense of calmness and adventure.
  • Shared interests– Prior conversations around the trip ensured that expectations were laid out. We all knew what each of us wanted out of the experience and it was so comforting when the boys made time for the girls to do some shopping ☺
  • Picture perfect– We all wanted to share every moment so we became each other’s professional photographers.

I do not believe that these benefits would have been as prominent had I travelled with individuals with whom I did not share a common interest. So this trip really set the bar high in terms of how I would like to experience traveling in the future.

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Musings in Portugal

My second travelling experience was pretty interesting… I had an opportunity to travel again, but this time it was to Europe for a work conference.  I was tasked with hosting 4 delegates who would also be attending the same conference I was going to and had little to no time to plan my itinerary. So here I was with 4 complete strangers and a colleague in Portugal. FUN. To make matters worse, unlike with the USA trip, I didn’t know much about Portugal except that Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous football star was born there. Despite all of this the extrovert in me remained optimistic and hoped for the experience to turn into another perfect opportunity to make lifelong friends (Boy could I have been more wrong…. haha).

TRAVELLING WITH ACQUAINTANCES

The city was beautiful and there was so much to do and explore but because the sense of “shared interest” and of familiarity which I spoke about earlier was kinda missing, the trip was a complete dud. Looking back on my experience I would say there are definitely some key learnings and take outs. It is possible to have fun travelling with acquaintances and here is what you can look out for in order to ensure the greatest time:

  • Preparation is KING– but also leave some room for spontaneity. Have a plan in place but also allow yourself to be moved by adventure. The last thing you want to experience when traveling is the monster called frustration.
  • Understand the most optimal means of transportation in your destination AND ENSURE YOU ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT THE DECISION- you know why? So you avoid that thing again, frustration :).
  • Have a budget and communicate this with others around you so you all can participate in things that will leave you breathless ☺.
  • Pre travel drinks– If you will be traveling with people who are not your friends, make some time for a quick hangout over drinks so you get familiar and understand expectations.
  • Have fun– try to make the most out of any situation; after all you’re stuck together in that country, truly be open-minded.

Traveling is priceless it enables you to take a pause from your normal life and experience how other people live. The benefit truly outweighs the cost. After all, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” So it’s okay to go beyond how you regulate your life on a daily basis but travel with people who will make the experience unforgettable.

Girl traveling

                                                                                           Guest Post Author: Faith Tembe

Faith Tembe is a vibrant young professional with a passion for purpose driven work.

She holds an honours degree in Industrial Psychology and currently doing a Masters of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation.

She draws her experience from the corporate environment with specific focus on Innovation and Transformation management.