As part of an ongoing Q&A series with business leaders around the world, we ask about the top three lessons they would share with other chief executives. Here are responses from five Young Presidents’ Organization members in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Thailand and Africa.


Fueled by his ambition and desire to take risks, Adarsh Radia left his job as a fund manager to be an entrepreneur. Today, he is founder of Telenomics, which helps companies find the right technology to grow business. He joined the YPO London Chapter in November 2012 at age 34.

  1. How much time do we each spend on our own individual purpose and strategy? In business, we spend countless hours focusing on strategy, defining purpose etc. I’ve found huge benefit in taking a step back and thinking about what my own purpose is. This has given me so much more fulfillment in my daily life and has empowered me to make better decisions.
  2. Giving is just as rewarding a receiving. Sharing experiences, learnings and time are keys to building strong relationships – and what people might not realize is that they influence that happiness coefficient that we all have. I spend time mentoring – there is immediate fulfillment for me but I’ve had some great learnings achieved through this process about myself.
  3. Learning should be constant – in our lives but also in business. The minute we stop learning, we become obsolete – this explains the complacency that leads to business failure in my view.

At 22, Christine Sfeir opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Lebanon, which has grown to more than 30 locations. She is CEO of Meeting Point (Dunkin’ Donuts) and Treats Holding (Semsom, Green Falafel). She joined the YPO Lebanon Chapter in August 2011 and was recently named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader for 2014.

  1. Surround yourself with people smarter than you! Once I started hiring high-level executives, my professional life changed.
  2. Go global! No more boundaries, nothing is too big. Now that we are across the Middle East and soon in the U.S., I am already working on the next step. The advantage of a CEO’s job is that we can always dream bigger and move things further.
  3. Enjoy life! I am trying to split my time between work, family, fun and giving back. Not always easy. My assistant sends me the percentage of time spent on every one weekly. Work never ends, but life does!

Michael Sanderson is CEO of Sanderson Stewart, named 2014’s Small Business of the Year by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Sanderson joined the YPO Big Sky Chapter in Montana in 2007.

  1. It’s OK to be an introvert. Being an introvert doesn’t mean being shy, it speaks to how you think and process information, preferring to process things internally first before speaking up. While extroverted leaders are often held up as examples, I think the traits of the introvert provide for a more thoughtful and evenhanded type of leader. I’m an introvert, needless to say.
  2. Sometimes you just have to fire the unhappy people. Some people will just never be happy and will always find the negative side of things no matter how fortunate their circumstances. They are like a noxious weed. Get them out of your organization as soon as you can.
  3. Play with your kids. It’s good for them, and it’s even better for you.

“Be courageous, stay hungry and make wise decisions,” says Fred Mouawad, who joined the YPO Thailand Chapter in 2010. He co-guardian of the 125-year-old Mouawad family jewelry and watch business and chief executive officer of seven companies. With his younger brothers Pascal, a YPO member since 2014, and Alain, they are leading the Mouawad world-renown brand, introducing innovation and edgy marketing campaigns.

  1. Be courageous: Without courage not much can be accomplished in life, no risks are taken, and therefore one cannot lead effectively.
  2. Stay hungry: Without hunger, complacency creeps in. Complacency gets people in their comfort zone, and as a result one is not likely to innovate and deploy the required effort to improve the world around them.
  3. Make wise decisions: Wise decisions all along one’s life is what eventually leads to value creation and personal happiness.

Follow your passion, trust your gut and make plans to achieve your goals. That’s what Catherine Hodgson says can help make your work not feel like just a job. She is joint-CEO of The Hodgson Group and has been a member of the YPO Cape Town Chapter in the Africa Region since 2009.

  1. In order to succeed and for your work not to feel like a job here is what I believe in: Follow your passion (ask yourself what are you good at and what do you love to do – does it feel natural to me?), trust your gut (in my case my instinct is usually the one to follow – don’t over-analyze everything) and plan to reach your dream (you always should have a dream/goal), otherwise it only remains a wish.
  2. Continue to learn. We stay young as long as we keep learning.
  3. Take time out for yourself every day. I have learnt the importance of meditation and it has helped to get me through some difficult times at work as well as personally. Somehow you feel more centred, more calm and able to see things more clearly. I also go for walks on the mountain with my dogs – being in nature helps me to see the bigger picture and how insignificant some of those problems actually are.

This article first published on Ignite, the official blog of Young Presidents’ Organization.