Opening my eyes to the business world
When I was 16, I was given the opportunity to accompany my Dad on a business trip to China. At the time he wrote software for air-conditioning units, so it was an international air-conditioning exhibition. Exciting, right? 😂
Anyways, all expenses were paid for by my Dad’s boss. I was delighted for the opportunity. All I had to do was help at the company stand in case it ever got busy. So, I guess this technically counts as my first job!
We were based in an exhibition centre which was absolutely massive. My three full days there were not enough time to explore all the stands, I’m not even joking. The sheer amount of people in the centre made it feel like Times Square on steroids. There were even models in bikinis who walked around advertising the bigger companies!
My dream job shifted from doctor to businessman. I loved the thought of dressing up in a suit every day, going on business trips around the world, getting things done, and the overall fast pace.
However, what truly transformed me on that trip was yet to come.
My Dad’s college friend, Joe, soon found out that he was in town and organised a reunion specially for him. I kid you not, he sent a chauffeur to pick us up from our hotel and organised a night in a hotel for us.
Following our delightfully comfortable journey, we arrived at the lakeside hotel. We were treated like kings by the hotel staff and quickly found the others in the hotel lobby.
I was dressed in my suit, so my Dad’s friends thought I was his assistant and completely ignored me. Then as soon as they found out I was his son, they introduced themselves and the entire mood changed. I was among some important people.
This was the first time I had ever personally experienced the social stratification. It shocked and motivated me. I promised myself that that would never happen again.
Joe had prepared a room for everyone attending the reunion. The hotel staff brought our stuff to our rooms and Joe started giving us a tour of the hotel and its surroundings. This was no ordinary hotel. It was where visiting presidents stayed, and the best hotel in China. It’s not even open to the public.
Right next to the hotel was a conference centre. It happened to not be in use that day, so we got to enter and look around. The conference room was magnificent. The ground was covered by the largest single piece of embroidered carpet in China. There was a huge round wooden table in the centre of the room, elaborately decorated gold and mahogany chairs, and a stunning chandelier the size of a small car. It’s difficult to describe the grandeur of the room but it’s the room where important international decisions are made so it can often be seen in the press.
This was the most impressive thing I had ever seen!
Following the tour, we were chauffeured to the best nearby restaurant. We got our own private room, servers, the tastiest food, and crates of the best rice wine in China. I ate to my heart’s content and left my Dad to enjoy his reunion.
I returned to the hotel and saw our room for the first time. Turns out it wasn’t just a room; it was a suite bigger than our house in Ireland. I literally stood at the door staring for a good minute before stepping in. It was the pinnacle of luxury. We even had a freestanding bathtub with stunning views of the lake. I took a long bath, dressed into the comfy bath robes and sunk into my massive bed.
It was all incredibly surreal.
The following day it all came to an end, we were chauffeured to the airport and on our way back to Ireland. That was when it all sunk in.
I had just experienced true luxury and I wanted more.
I asked my Dad how much everything cost. He didn’t know, Joe had paid for everything. I was amazed that one man could afford to treat so many people.
I knew I wanted to be Joe.
So, I asked my Dad more questions about Joe. Turns out he was kicked out of college for his poor grades but graduated due to a clerical error. He then combined his engineering degree with his love of calligraphy and became one of the top architects in China. His firm built and developed the hotel we stayed in and countless others. Now he’s a billionaire.
I was amazed I had been in the presence of a billionaire. Honestly, there were no telling signs. He was just the same as everyone else at the reunion.
Ever since that trip I’ve become driven to become just like Joe; not another worker but the man at the top.