I got head-hunted by The World Bank. Would not have applied, but they really wanted me and hand-selected me over 86 previous candidates. The love story did not end well.
I would leave the World Bank five years later a divorced man and mentally drained out. I needed three years to recover. The World Bank did hire me back as a consultant and I started localization operations in Cameroon, Mozambique, Egypt, Russia, Argentina, and Jamaica.
The entire World Bank experience was horrible. Hated every aspect of this institution.
I would only later learn that it was not the World Bank’s fault. Nor mine. Instead, I should have never joined them, and they should have never hired me.
The World Bank is ruled by process and protocol. As an analytical institution, many staff members feel that they never have enough information in order to make them feel good about a decision. Hence, they are risk-averse and do not tend want be held accountable for results.
Does not fit well with my Kolbe Index of 6-3-7-6, which means that I am an innovator who will find short-cuts to get things done and will go right to the bottom line. My early career choices should have already told me that.
I left mentally broken and physically weak. My marriage in shatters and little opportunity to help my mother win her battle with cancer (she eventually lost, and I was not there to say good-bye).
This when I decided that no one that I touch should go through such experience as I did. I devoted my life to what I had always done best: Inspire people to work hard, be nice, have a purpose in life, and live with passion.
One of the great outcomes of my time with the World Bank was that I met Brooke Skretny, my very first personal assistant. We have remained best friends ever since.
Another World Bank experience that changed my outlook on forever was my work in Cameroon.
After a long flight (first class) via Paris, Air France lost my luggage. At the time there were only three flights a week into Yaounde, so I would not have fresh clothes for a few days.
The hotel right opposite to the Presidency was a 2-star hotel at best. Air conditioning was not working properly and only French programming on TV.
I arrived on a Sunday. All shops were closed in the hotel and I was not allowed to leave the building without Security (which was not available on that day).
So, I ended up washing my clothes with hand soap, and as I went onto the balcony to dry my shirt and underwear, I saw an entire family living under a tree with all their belongings in plastic bags or buckets.
At that very moment, I realized how ungrateful my thoughts and sentiments had been and how good my life really was. I would never complain about anything and practice gratefulness ever since.
Gratitude exercises are at the core of all of my programs today. They are powerful. They program a person’s brain for success.
In Cameroon, I have also become close friends with Nicolas Nianduillet, now head of the French translation team at the World Bank. One of the finest gentlemen you will ever meet.