Expat marks the spot?

Sheikh-Mohammed-3-FingersThree years ago today — September 8, 2014 — I first set foot in Dubai and took the first of many steps that have led me to my new life as an expat. Although emotionally anchored to my two amazing sons in Los Angeles, Jacob and Max, Dubai has revealed to me new friendships and opportunities I could have never realized in the United States.

Included among these opportunities is the very real possibility that I can finally earn a PhD, thanks to the American University in the Emirates (AUE). On a more personal level, my time in Dubai has opened my heart to new love, which has in turn filled me with hope and faith, two things with which I have long struggled.

I am thankful for Jumeira University, which first opened the door to this incredible experience, AUE for providing me with the next step, and for everyone who played a part in my process of self discovery and development. I am also filled with pride for my sons’ accomplishments and appreciation their increasing ability to understand why it was necessary for me to go overseas; despite being far from them physically, they are always close to my heart.

Most notably I am grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of Dubai, for making Dubai a place where even the wildest dreams can come true.

Guest speakers offer a wonderful way to bring textbooks to life and show your students how they can connect theory with reality. I’ve had many exceptional individuals share their insights and experiences with my students.

MGT 100, Guest Speaker, Tony Quartararo, 2015114, Photo 4So I was thrilled when, on Saturday, November 14, 2015, Anthony Quartararo stopped by my MGT 100, Principles of Management class at American University in the Emirates (AUE).

Mr. Quartararo is the President and CEO of St. Petersburg, Florida based Spatial Networks, Inc. Spatial Networks is the developer behind Fulcrum, a mobile data collection platform that you can use to build, deploy, and collect data with customized iOS and Android apps.

He founded Spatial Networks in 2000 and has been involved in business activities in Central and South Asia, North Africa, Near East, Latin America and East Asia. In total, he has more than 20 years of experience in the geospatial industry. He holds a BA in Geography/GIS from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and spent 3 years working towards an MA in Geography/GIS from Portland State University.

His professional tenure includes positions managing multi-year international map production projects, analyzing business and competitive intelligence, managing human capital, collecting field data, procuring data, and both acquiring and visualizing human geography data.

During the 90 minutes he spent with my class Mr. Quartararo spoke about five main topics: 1.) Management Style and Issues, 2.) Integrity, 3.) Technology, 4.) Mediocrity, 5.) Human Resources/Career Paths. He also answered several questions from students.

Video clips of each segment follow; or you can watch a playlist of all five videos:

Empowerment and Failure

Integrity and Cultural Context

Technology

Mediocrity

HR and Career Paths

For more information about Anthony, Spatial Networks, and Fulcrum please visit the links below:

• Anthony Quartararo LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonyquartararo
• Anthony Quartararo Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyquartararo
• Fulcrum Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fulcrumapp
• Fulcrum Twitter: https://twitter.com/fulcrumapp
• Fulcrum Website: http://www.fulcrumapp.com
• Fulcrum YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp9XRb4VJpWTtFhPsyN5rWg
• Spatial Networks Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spatialnetworks
• Spatial Networks Twitter: https://twitter.com/spatialnetworks
• Spatial Networks Website: http://spatialnetworks.com/

“I have to work on my birthday?”

For most people, the idea of working on their birthday is anathema. For me, it was an advantage. More specifically, the “presence” of my students during part of my recent birthday was a priceless “present.” Teaching is my passion, but I would not be a teacher without students. I am therefore thankful for my students, my priceless “birthday gifts” with whom I am privileged to learn.

Case in point: I celebrated my birthday yesterday, February 22, and was fortunate to end the day teaching a “Marketing Research and Strategic Applications” class for UCSB Extension (where I have taught marketing classes since January 2008).

February 22, 2012: Celebrating My Birthday at UC Santa BarbaraTo my surprise, and sincere gratitude, my students — many of whom I  taught previously in a “Buying Behavior” and/or “Principles of Marketing” class — had baked and brought a cake, brownies and other treats.

They also sang “Happy Birthday” which I recorded and threatened to upload to YouTube, but out of gratitude for their kindness, I spared them!

It has been a long time since I experienced such kindness from people I primarily know professionally. I was never this thrilled to have “worked” on my birthday (although I enjoy teaching so much, I hesitate to call it “work”).

I spent the earlier part of the day (and President’s Day two days earlier) with my family and volunteered with my younger son’s class the day after my birthday, and planned to do the same the day after that with my older son. Definitely an exceptional birthday week!

Nevertheless, birthdays offer me a moment of self assessment: a time when I look at where I’ve been and where I see myself going. I am hopeful for the future, despite some recent challenges. I am also thankful to feel fortunate about my career.

Unfortunately, as Henry David Thoreau once mused, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I interpret this to mean that most people live without ever realizing their dreams or getting a chance to “follow their bliss” (as Joseph Campbell would say).

For many years I was in that predicament. Pressured to support someone else’s dreams while my own were relegated to irrelevance, I knew my situation needed to change. Fortunately, I persevered and, when opportunities arose, I took control of my destiny and finally found my bliss.

This inspires me to surround my sons with unconditional love, impenetrable support, and rational guidance. I will do what it takes, regardless of the sacrifice, to help them achieve their dreams. I will help them see challenges as opportunities and problems as purpose.

Similarly, I discovered a September 19, 2011 convocation speech by John S.W. Park — Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies and affiliated Sociology faculty member at UCSB.

In his speech, Park encourages students “instead of just picking a major, pick a problem;” with the goal of solving that problem during their time at UCSB. Quite an inspirational approach to figuring out your life’s purpose!

Looking back to my years of “quiet desperation” I am grateful for the opportunities I had to pursue my professional dreams while growing personally.

So, will you celebrate having to work on your next birthday?