Dear All,

When I joined consulting in January 2016, I was told to ‘make My own McKinsey.’ Which not only meant that the next months and years to come could be anything I wanted, but also that it was ultimately me, who was responsible for making this ‘anything’ happen. It was up to me to create the experience I wanted and to enjoy it.

It is with this mindset that I joined INSEAD in January 2018. ‘Make My own INSEAD’ – I saw it as my personal responsibility to create the opportunities I needed to grow professionally and personally. I am grateful to have kept the promise to myself. I created my very ‘own, personal INSEAD.’ If I had to summarize this last year – ‘Beyond INSEAD’ is spot-on.

For instance, I

  • took advantage of the exchange opportunity with Kellogg to truly ‘live’ in the USA for the first time and fell in love with the beauty and heartfulness of the cold war enemy of the Soviet Union
  • gave up my desire to have a ‘home’ and got lost in the many flats and hotels I lived in during these months, just to find ‘home’ inside myself wherever I go
  • nourished my introvert side by traveling most of the time alone, something I missed deeply during the last years
  • evolved my extrovert side outside the INSEAD bubble; for example, at my non-INSEAD gyms, during my travel trips alone and on catch-ups with friends, colleagues and, most importantly, my Singapore-based sister and her husband
  • followed my passion for working out by immersing myself in Muay Thai, learning kite surfing and getting certified as Les Mills BodyPump instructor and yoga teacher

At times, it can be tempting to just go with the flow and let yourself be carried away. Do what everyone else does and finds the ‘right thing’ to do. Sometimes, that’s the easier way.

To prevent this from happening, I take conscious pauses and ask myself – do I really want this? Quite often the answer is ‘no.’ Saying ‘no’ to one thing, is saying ‘yes’ to something else.

I am saying ‘yes’ to my own choices, my own decisions. It’s not just ‘make My own INSEAD’ or ‘make My own McKinsey.’ More than anything else, it is ‘make My own Life.’

This year, my New Year’s resolution is precisely this, and only this: ‘make My own Life.’

I wish you all the best in ‘making Your own Life.’ You owe it to yourself.

Take care,
Ekaterina

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