…Calmly evaluate the difficult situation for the best and worst outcomes. Then define and evaluate options to recover. Put into place the best option as you see it. This is using processes to succeed.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Edwards.
William (Bill) Edwards, CEO of Edwards Global Services (EGS) and global advisor to multiple highly respected and prominent CEOs, has nearly five decades of experience in accelerating the international growth of more than 40 companies. He is a seasoned expert when it comes to choosing the right global markets for specific brands, country market research, strategic planning, partner due diligence, new country start-ups, global trend analysis, growing existing country operations, supply chain management and cultural adaptation. He has lived in China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey and has worked on projects in over 50 countries.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I have nearly five decades of international business experience and have lived in China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey. My career has been focused largely on global business development, which provided me the opportunity to direct projects in over 50 countries. I’ve worked with Fortune 100 and Inc. 5000 brands and small businesses alike, helping them to enter new global markets by offering analysis, foresight and strategy to help maximize their overall success. I have both executive and project management experience across the oil and gas, technology, education, franchise, project design/management and market research sectors. I truly enjoy and respect other cultures and their business customs and love helping entities realize their full potential on the global stage. I started my company, Edwards Global Services (EGS) in 2001 and have had the pleasure of helping more than 40 companies take their brands global in the auto service, education, fitness, retail, restaurant, senior care and services sectors. My company has even received the U.S. Presidential Award for Export Excellence twice.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
After an assignment in China, I was given the opportunity to startup a subsidiary of a major U.S. company in Turkey. I landed in Ankara with no office or phone — just a hotel room. Two years later we had a team of over 200 staff, a multistory office building, a major logistics center in Eastern Turkey and were drilling wells. My main takeaway from that experience was that nothing is impossible if you work hard enough and have a team of dedicated and hardworking individuals in your corner.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In the 20 years since I started EGS, we have assembled a powerhouse team stationed across many countries who all fully understand what it takes to do business successfully in their territories and are incredibly savvy when it comes to local culture. At EGS, we place immense value on all cultures and keep them top of mind when helping companies expand on a global scale.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
During an assignment in Anchorage, Alaska while I was in the oil and gas industry, my regional vice president thanked me and my team for a major success that brought the company many millions in net income. I thanked him and said part of the outcome was due to luck. He then told me that luck only comes to those who put themselves in the path of luck and that piece of wisdom has truly been a guiding light for me throughout my career.
Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
To me resilience is defined as “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” Resilient people define the problem and solutions and then proceed to recover and thrive.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage is having the strength to move forward in the face of difficulties. I feel it takes courage to be resilient and keep going when the going gets tough.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Steve Jobs. He was a true visionary and pivotal in creating the tech industry as we know it today. Despite many bumps in his road to success, including even losing his company at one point, Jobs stayed resilient and made Apple — a company that began out of a garage — one of the highest valued brands in the world.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I made a bold decision to leave the oil and gas industry after 20 years and go back to countries where I had lived throughout my career to bring high-quality U.S. brands to emerging markets. In 1990 I acquired the rights to a U.S. digital quick print franchise and took it into China. Everyone said it could not be done. But we did it anyway and it worked!
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Seven years ago, my wife and global travel partner of almost 50 years, passed away after a long illness. I felt the most important part of me as a person had gone. My daughters and friends showed me there was still a reason to live and they were right.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Being the nerd in high school with the pocket protector, large glasses and no athletic ability, I had to find a way to not only be accepted but get noticed. Science fair projects and the debate society resulted in recognition and a college scholarship. That said, I am not sure I knew I was being resilient at the time!
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Calmly evaluate the difficult situation for the best and worst outcomes. Then define and evaluate options to recover. Put into place the best option as you see it. This is using processes to succeed.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
The movement I’d envision would be about creating good paying, trained jobs in emerging markets and helping to raise families up to middle class around the world, giving parents and their children a better quality of life. I’m humbled and proud to say that this is what my company has been doing for 20 years now. We help major U.S. brands expand into a new country, and they open international locations that need trained staff. It’s been a very rewarding career.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Condoleezza Rice. Her story, her knowledge and intellect are a guide for all Americans no matter what their political preference may be.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow my LinkedIn pages:
Sign up for our EGS global business e-newsletter here: https://lnkd.in/d_XkTGN
Download my quarterly GlobalVue™ country ranking chart here: https://bit.ly/GV0721
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!