Unassuming and fresh-faced entrepreneur Connor Blakley sits at the helm of Bru Beer, an influencer-backed beer brand launching in September of 2021. Where does this Generation Z’er get the insight to lead the already successful venture?
Blakley attributes a lot of his entrepreneurial success to his world travels, having already visited 35 countries. Through his travels, the young CEO has been able to gain a broad strategic perspective that’s highly valued in today’s marketplace.
From connecting with young business leaders in Dubai to navigating the chaotic streets of Amsterdam, Blakley’s travels around the world have given him insights that have translated into keys to success in the business world.
Whether it’s a quick business trip, or a summer spent working remotely overseas, Blakley takes every chance he can get to experience life away from the comforts of his home city. Here are his main takeaways:
1. Travel turns you into an effective communicator
We all dread language barriers and miscommunication when traveling abroad, but even these scenarios teach us to be patient and crafty. “I get a lot of satisfaction from navigating interactions that most would find difficult. We don’t all speak the same language, and I’m perfectly fine with that. There’s always a solution,” says Blakley.
The same goes for how Connor communicates with his vendors and colleagues. When a supplier or team member is being difficult or is not receptive to his ideas, Connor stays calm, and instead reaches out to look for a middle ground.
2. Exploration builds open-mindedness
The world is culturally and linguistically diverse, and each trip is an opportunity to explore new traditions, languages, and cuisines. Some things may shock you at first, but will eventually open your mind to your own benefit.
When Blakley was in China, he was originally unwilling to the local markets fish, a local delicacy. After some strong convincing from his client’s local representative, Blakley decided to keep an open mind and try the dish. It’s now one of his favorites!
This and countless other experiences that were at first “weird” have taught Connor to keep an open mind at all times, including at work. Connor recognizes the importance of carefully listening to all feedback from all points of view. After all, what seems odd at first glance may actually be the way forward.
3. Travel facilitates leadership in a globalized world
Traveling has allowed Connor to think beyond his immediate surroundings. Thanks to travel, he now has a deep appreciation for the issues that come with international trade.
It has also provided him with an ability to work with people from all different cultural backgrounds. At Bru Beer, Connor proudly manages team members coming from countries like Belarus, El Salvador, India, and Vietnam.
As the business world transitions into a more globalized system, Blakley finds that learning to transition with it is essential to business success.
4. Being abroad develops your awareness of work-life balance
Blakley never realized how demanding the United States’ business culture is until he went abroad. Relaxation, family time, and quality meals are all appreciated across the world but arguably undervalued by Americans. Through his interactions with other cultures, Blakely has learned the art of balancing his professional demands with his personal life.
A blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Connor spends ten hours a week honing his skills on the mats. Setting aside time for this martial art is non-negotiable, and he seeks out team members who are equally dedicated to their passions.
Be it playing musical instruments or practicing yoga, Connor encourages his team members to pursue activities outside of the office, so that when they come in, they’re fully recharged.
5. Traveling inspires creative thinking
With increasing responsibilities both at work and at home, we tend to lose a lot of the creative drive we had in our adolescence. With his busy schedule, even young Blakley barely finds time to exercise his creative thinking. Blakley sees travel as the antidote that has inspired him to think outside-the-box.
From watching leatherback sea turtles nest in Costa Rica to navigating the colonial streets of Lisbon, Blakley draws inspiration from his surroundings whenever he’s overseas.
The young entrepreneur takes that inspiration and applies it directly to his work, creating more innovative campaigns and offers for an increasingly more demanding and diverse audience.