Before I start, I'd like to mention that it's taken some time for me to come to terms with the wonderful aspects of such heavy, serious conditions and experiences that came with working with one of the world's leading peace-keeping organizations. This is a brief glimpse into my life as an Associate Expert in the Advocacy and Visual Media realm of the United Nations' Human Rights and Justice Department. While I do mention specifics of working within the aforementioned department across Asia, it is important to note that the experiences detailed are my own and are discussed solely for the purpose of educating rather than disseminating confidential information about agencies mentioned.
Discipline is a word that gets thrown around quite often these days. Students are encouraged to have it, professionals must practice it, and relationships more than often lack it (at least the ones I've encountered, but that's a different story). My years of working with the United Nations taught me that discipline isn't just the 672nd word in the Webster dictionary (I dare you to count the words leading up to it in the 2014 edition) but it's also a way of life: the only way of life if you plan on surviving a peace-keeping mission in a rural developing country or a corporate meeting.
I spent my early twenties learning two Asian languages, polishing my skills in French and Spanish, and using English as a means of communication between the U.N., U.N.E.S.C.O., and U.N.I.C.E.F. reps across the board. Specifically working in the realms of human rights, there are certain values that make a man a better agent of change for such large agencies. The following traits, which have been both useful for survival in Southeast Asian territory and in business, are proudly my own and have been shaped by my global experiences.
1) Have plenty of discipline, shit head. In order to survive in a remote village in Southeast Asia, you need to learn how to start a fire if you plan on staying warm, speak the local language (even if it's just to ask for the restroom), and make friends with the people who are trying to annihilate the people you were sent to protect. U.N. work may seem glamorous what with all the travel to exotic locations and what not, but the reality is that it's tons of work and very little sleep. Also, if you're working in human rights, you must learn how to not let emotions conflict with policy work. Discipline keeps you grounded, smart, and able to function, unlike the shit heads who came out to the region only to make fools of themselves and their nation(s).
2) Be a charismatic a-hole. Boom, #justlikethat. People have to like you if they are going to trust you eventually. In other words, if you are going to be an agent of change you can't come in acting like a complete dimwit foreigner and expect things to fall on your lap (unless you're at a bar in Bangkok, but that's a different story...). You have to be witty, friendly, and willing to be flexible with regards to how long something takes or even tolerating flirtation from your superiors (yes, the world outside of the United States has little to no boundaries). Be a man, suck it up, and chug that bottle of Thai whiskey and move on to something fun and exciting. The Thais believe in a concept called "sanook dee" which roughly translates as "to have fun and good (with everything)". Whether you're rescuing a young woman from a human trafficking ring or teaching an entrepreneur in Laos basic English, you have to like what you're doing, even if it's some hard-hitting shit. Life happens, so be happy that you come from a place that allows you to be on the saving end of the spectrum.
3) Professionalism, what's that? I learned that while there is a certain protocol to acting like an adult, working in the "real world", and having a standard job, this really doesn't apply to any industry working outside of 'Merica. The U.N. truly allowed me to see that while the agency perpetuates an utmost respect for the charter of human rights, the actions are not always on par with what was preached. Sometimes, one has to bend the rules in order to allow your mission to work. No, I'm not saying slay a goat for fun (unless it's a local custom, in which case you must do it before someone finds out you're a narc) but definitely consider thinking outside the box when it comes to the greater good.
4) Baby, just fucking own it. #OwnIt. Own that pair of skinny jeans, bro. Own that bottle of cheap Korean rum you stole from the brothel. Own the fact that your skills are sub-par but you still got a bad ass job because of your last name. In other words, just fucking own yourself and who you are. There were plenty of people while I was in Southeast Asia that told me I was too young to give a damn about the rest of the world. Many folks, both my compatriots and assorted other nationalities, regularly commented that my attitude didn't match a peace-keeping mission, particularly because of my drive to work hard and get hard results. To those who tried to throw their 2 cents where it wasn't needed, I thank you. Thank you for helping me get to where I am today. Anything worth doing is not easy, and the hazing ritual is always a part of the experience. Not to say that I support hazing, but I believe that in getting picked on here and there you learn about community, team-building, and how to be a bad-ass. Without it, we're all "winners" in life and, let's be real, not everyone is a winner. #SorryNotSorry
Now, these are just the basics. As an entrepreneur, we all learn to make mistakes and go with what works. However, to become a successful entrepreneur you have to be smart, confident, aggressive, and own every bit of who you are and know that you will be just fine.
Jorge is a Chicago-based public relations and brand management guru with 5 years of experience in the realms of branding, public relations, cross-cultural communication and advertising, and media relations.
A lover of food, business, and travel, this young entrepreneur has lived in over 19 countries and visited more than 47 for both work and pleasure. Jorge spent a significant amount of time living and working in Southeast Asia where he helped victims of human trafficking establish 1 and 5 year plans to empower themselves and their communities.
In addition to his work in human rights and business development, this young man has also established a fair-trade program in both Thailand and Mexico, working directly with women entrepreneurs to sell their crafts to a global audience and provide for a fair, living wage. His motto, "think locally, act globally" is how he lives.
Connect with him on Instagram and Twitter.