Every time I visit a college campus or speak with young professionals one-on-one I am inevitably asked, “What single attribute do you think is most accountable for your success in business?” I tell them, without hesitation, that I “never dine alone.”
Every moment of every day is an opportunity to start or strengthen a relationship, and those relationships, if cultivated, can lead to incredible opportunities for everyone involved.
For me, relationships are the single-most important elements I bring to my role as Chairman and CEO of The
And the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years regarding relationships is that they only work when you’re there for people during the good and bad times. Similar to marriage vows – those ancient words are etched in wisdom.
Let me give you a real case in point. In 1989, at the age of 36, I was charged with leading
There was no
At one point during this time, I was in Albania, which was then one of the most politically and economically isolated nations in the world. Its economy was in shambles and its people were in great need. We saw potential there though and we were determined to open a bottling facility. We needed to find the right people to help us. Someone pointed me to a dentist, saying “you should meet this man.”
I found the dentist in his office. His practice had no heating and he used wood fruit boxes for his patients to sit on. I quickly developed a relationship with him and would send him copies of Western newspapers and periodicals, which were pretty much nonexistent in his country at the time.
One year later, during the first free elections, this dentist – Salih Berisha – became the first elected president of Albania.
It also was during this time that an old college professor, who I stayed in touch with, became the deputy prime minister of Poland.
He called me one day out of the blue, right before the Berlin Wall fell and said, “Muhtar, you and Coke better get ready because things are going to be moving fast in Poland.”
He was right and his wise counsel was largely responsible for
Simply put, relationships matter and in a world that is growing more digital and social by the day, never have we had such power to reach out and keep them flourishing.
Muhtar Kent is chairman and CEO of The
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