My pic of the world’s tallest statue of Muragan, a Hindu deity. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 Ways Travel Enhances Your Personal Brand and Informs Your Worldview

Travel is insightful and extraordinary. It is hard for me to fully explain the feeling of seeing a spectacular sunrise over the Swiss Alps, the stunning rain-forests of Malaysia, the amazing coastline that snakes around the Black Sea, or the jagged, majestic terrain of Greenland’s southern region. Travel transforms you, and like a painter, you have this empty canvas on which to create your eternal masterpiece. Here are 4 ways it enhances your personal brand and informs your worldview:

Embracing the Power of Storytelling — In every corner of every single country — from the residential areas to the business districts to the hot-spots and landmarks — you will hear great stories. When I visited Dubai, I struck up a conversation with so many people. The diversity is so dynamic. I know that I heard 16 languages being spoken while waiting on a crowded subway train platform. I got to know the personal stories of Dubai residents from Eastern Africa to the lower Pacific Rim. Being a good listener made it possible.

Taking the Road Less Traveled — Whenever I go on a trip, I always look forward to a great experience. I typically find good stuff when I go off the beaten path. Walking around side streets in Belgrade, Serbia took me into a number of eateries and upfront with beautiful street art. In India, after visiting the Taj Mahal, I got a chance to go off the main roads in Agra to see shops that created stunning art with centuries old methods. Sometimes great things await us on paths unplanned.

Buddha’s words come to mind here: “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” No matter where you are, make it an adventure because there is so much to see and absorb.

My picture from the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

My picture of Saint Basil’s Cathedral (in Red Square) in Moscow, Russia

My picture of the Batu Cave, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Learning Something New — My laptop stopped working when I visited Hamburg, Germany. So when the hotel I was staying at let me use their desktop, I ended up typing my reports on a German keyboard. Awesome! The “@” and “#’” were not where they are on an American keyboard, so it was both funny and cool to reveal that to my social media audience, especially Twitter. The owner of the hotel also informed me that the “@”, commonly referred to as the at-sign, has many names in cultures around world. The Norwegian call it kroellalfa, meaning curled a, and in Brazil it is called arroba, which is also a measure of weight. Fascinating topic.

Seeing History in Another Country — When I saw the historic Wembley Stadium from the plane on a trip to London, all I could think about was the epic, 16 hour Live Aid concert there in 1985 — an event which raised $125 million for African famine relief. A billion people (including myself) in over 100 countries saw it via satellite and witnessed a great marriage of philanthropy and technology. That event helped shape my approach to giving. Viewing Wembley from above brought it all back. History!

My travels have taken me all around the world, and allowed me to keynote tech and business conferences in 10 countries on three continents. I love connecting and networking, and doing that on an international stage is quite exhilarating. In the end, the very travels that expand our thinking can also greatly impact our personal brand.

If education is the passport to our future, then travel will always figure prominently in everything I do. Country after country will give you a fantastic lesson. So be ready!

My picture of the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue in Erdene, Mongolia

My picture of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine

My photo of Shenzhen, China from the 99th level of the St. Regis Hotel

My photo from the upper level of Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, Turkey

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Sean Gardner is a board member and V.P. of Social Media with the World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is also a global keynote speaker, business creative and digital producer who lives in the Seattle area. He currently conducts workshops and social media training for small business, nonprofits, celebrities and multinational corporations. You can Link, Instagram, Tweet, Friend, Pin and circle him on Google Plus.

Also…you can purchase Sean’s international best-seller, The Road to Social Media Success, which the Huffington Post praised and recommended to marketers in 2015. It has some of his interviews with longtime industry experts, and has some of his own observations on a range of topics.

Inspire, inform and elevate social media. Always!