The Power of Intentionality

Intentionality. I’m not even sure if that word exists, but I like it. And I live by it. So let me tell you what it means (i.e. what *I* mean).

I’m now 5 weeks into my business school experience, and so much it’s been as much fun as it has been stressful. However, I’m not here to discuss the stressful part. I’m here to tell you about the fun part.

One of the best things so far have been the crazy, omg-I-am-starstruck speakers we have had: Jack Ma (founder and CEO of AliBaba), Magic Johnson (former NBA star and now business), Baseem Youssef (known the “Jon Stewart of the Middle East”), Stewart Butterfield (founder and CEO of Slack), Alan Mulally (former CEO of Ford Motors and one of the world’s must successful CEOs) … the list goes on and on.

So every time we had one of these talks, I made the biggest effort possible to go and attend. And in each session, I would sit in there with my notebook and task myself with one challenge: “what are the top 5 things I am learning in this talk from this speaker that I can actually apply to my life going forward?”

It’s not the first time that I’m in an environment where there is “easy access” to amazing speakers like that. In fact, Google had many well-known authors, politicians or personalities come and give talks. But far too often I would go there, sit in the audience, work on my emails on the side or be distracted by my phone. It was always about “having been there,” never about “what am I actually learning”? Admittedly, an issue that I also saw happening in countless work meetings during my time at Google.

Not this time though. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m paying so much money for this business school experience, or maybe I’ve just become a bit more serious about life and the things I’m learning along my journey, but the big difference now is that I’m very intentional.

I go there — without my laptop — sit down, turn on airplane mode, take out my notebook, write down the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and then listen to the talk and try to summarize the things I think can help me in life going forward.

It’s the same intentionality that I’m applying to my lectures. I put all technology aside and focus on being fully present. And then, in addition to my presence, I try to be intentional — something that I achieve by asking myself a purposeful question.

Give it a try. Makes life much better.

Originally published at on October 16, 2015.