This past Tuesday my company, Highroad Global Services, turned 15 years old. I am a nostalgic sort, and I couldn’t help looking back to May 28, 2004 and remembering what it was like to commit to something I believed in wholeheartedly (and still do).
My last day at my corporate job was very exciting. My amazing team members threw me a going away party, although I wondered if they believed I was actually leaving.
You see, I had “left” several times before. In fact, that is how Highroad got started. When I started working at Immucor in 1995, I had just moved from Los Angeles. I enjoyed my job at the company, but before long I felt restless. As a recent college grad, I wanted to see more of the world. So I asked for a leave of absence to go to Thailand.
“We don’t really do that,” said my boss. So I gave my notice. All of my coworkers thought I was crazy, but Asia was calling me. I had to answer.
I went to Thailand alone for two months. I had the time of my life, wandering from one end of the country to the other. I attended a ten day meditation retreat and hired a guide to show me Thai society. I never wanted to come home.
But money was running low, so I returned to the U.S. Fortunately, my former company was growing and they rehired me. But after a year or so I got restless again. I asked for another leave. They said no. So I quit. Again. This time I went to Asia for a year. I spent three months in Thailand volunteering in a hospital and working with a Marketing department in Bangkok. I then fulfilled my dream of traveling to India. I spent four months there crossing the whole of the North, volunteering along the way in clinics, libraries, and anywhere that would teach me about the culture. My final destination was Nepal, where I spent six months teaching school and writing.
When I returned home, my company rehired me, and into an even better position! I was able to use my training and speaking skills extensively, and my love of technology brought me to a software implementation project there.
This pattern of working, then quitting, then traveling, then getting rehired went on for nine years. I had several incredible opportunities at the company, including software work in Germany and working with executives on several multicultural teams.
But the turning point came one night in Nepal on my second trip there. The rain was coming down in sheets and I sat in my room writing. I had a blank page in front of me and I wrote “What if I could have a job teaching people about how to work across cultures?”
That was the seed of Highroad.
Fast forward once again to 2004. I am standing with my team and my wonderful boss looking at all the great food they had assembled for my going away party. They read speeches they had written wishing me well, and I was so grateful for everything I had learned there.
At about 2pm the festivities wound down, and I went to my desk to gather my things. I said an emotional goodbye to my team and to many others in the company whom I had known for my entire career.
Then I took my box of mementos and stepped out into the sunlight. Life immediately felt different. I was on the Highroad.
It has been an incredible journey, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it. I offer profound thanks to all of my clients and colleagues who have walked this road with me. I believe that now more than ever my work has great meaning. I am building bigger bridges because we need them. We need more empathy and we need global solutions to global problems.
But for now I will dream a little dream of that day fifteen years ago, and remember how I answered the call of my soul.
We’d love to hear your memories or comments about Highroad Global Services!