Meet our August Alum of the Month, Marco Clemente. Marco Clemente, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Strategy and CSR, and an Executive & Life Coach. A former TEDx speaker and author of a book, he was recently listed in the 2020 “Best 40 under 40 MBA Professors” by Poets & Quants. LSE was a pivotal experience in his life, enabling him to land what was his dream job at the time, however, his career took a different and surprising path afterward.
Tell us about your career journey since graduating from LSE.
I had many pivotal moments in my life, but studying at LSE was one of those that most affected who I am today.
Looking back, I would say that there are four main assets of LSE that helped me create the life I wanted. First, the LSE campus experience, which exposed me to stimulating discussions among students, inspiring Professors, and world-renowned visiting speakers (from Prime Ministers to Nobel Prize winners). This planted the seed of my desire to become a Ph.D. later in my life. Second, the quality of teaching, which allowed me to develop the skills required to land my dream job at P&G. Third, the LSE reputation, which many companies are aware of. Finally, the LSE community, which allowed me to remain in contact with many students who are now skilled professionals and with whom we have been supporting each other throughout our careers. Also, I have been connected with local Alumni associations around the world, which helped me to settle faster when moving to a new city.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your career?
For sure, it was the “quarter-life crisis” I experienced while working at P&G. Until that time, I had been among the top students in my academic curriculum and top performer in my first years at P&G. At a certain point, though, something changed. I started to be less motivated at work and very stressed. I entered a vicious cycle where I was working long hours, slept and ate badly, cut my social life and sports; this, in turn, decreased my productivity and pushed me to work even longer hours. I was at a hedge of burnout, and I reached a point where I was crying before going to work!
I was confused, I had the job of my dreams and was earning good money, but I was unhappy. Nowadays, the concept of quarter-life crisis is more common, and universities are providing more courses on personal development. This was not the case back for me.
Then an accident forced me in bed for two weeks, and that is when I first started reading about personal development and becoming passionate about it. At that time I created my first simple rule: “Leave my job at 7pm whatever happens”. In the beginning, I thought it would be impossible. “I have too much work!” I kept thinking. Then, I realized that I could use that time to relax with my friends, do sports and read more about personal development. My productivity started to improve again, as well as my performance.
Since my quarter-life crisis, I have been increasingly interested in personal development. I published a book called “Simple Rule of the Day – The Daily Art of Becoming a Better You”, gave a TEDx talk on how to overcome personal crises, created a MBA course called “Strategize Your Life with Simple Rules” and became an Executive & Life Coach.
Last year you gave a TEDx Talk on the topic "Crises are inevitable, but we can use them to transform our lives”. What inspires you to share this message?
I was strongly inspired by David Deida’s book “The way of the superior man”, a useful tool for people who want to improve their relationships and reconnect with their inner purpose. Speaking about “life purpose” the author asks the following questions: “What makes your life unique? Then, transform your uniqueness in a gift to give to the world.” After long considerations, I finally realized that what made my life unique was the ability to overcome “personal and emotional crises”, which I encountered multiple times in my life.
This is why I wanted I wanted to share the message that we can “use” our crises to improve ourselves if we use the right tools. First, crises can unveil important aspects of our lives we were not aware of, and second, crises usually come with a lot of destructive and negative energy which can be transformed into positive and constructive energy. In my TEDx, I talk about two main techniques I used successfully. First, ask yourself: “What is the real problem?” Second, create your life vision board and looking at it multiple times a day.
Every time I experience a crisis, I now ask myself: “What can I achieve thanks to this crisis?”
View Marco’s TEDx Talk.
You’ve lived in 8 different countries over twelve years and worked in many places. What is your advice for coping with change?
I believe in the power of self-experimenting different simple rules and finding those that work for your life. These are some simple rules that I used when I moved to a different country that can apply also for different types of changes:
1. Embrace change as a normal condition. This makes you feel less anxious; less stressed, and pushes you to find the positive elements in a new scenario.
2. Follow your gut, but rationalize it. For me, the key to not having regrets in life is to make decisions that you feel right but you can also justify with facts. For example, when I decided to leave P&G and start a Ph.D. I asked myself: “What is the worst that can happen? Well, if I do not like it, after one year, I can either come back to P&G or to a similar company.” Not such a tragic scenario!
3. Bring your hobbies with you. I have a few hobbies that I like and as soon as I move to a new place, I become a member of related groups on Facebook, Instagram, and Meetup. This helps me significantly to settle down in a new place.
4. Bring your friends with you. Your “social support group” is one of the main drivers for your mental and emotional happiness. When I move to a new place, I still set-up regular calls with my close friends in different locations.
5. Try what is unique in that country. Instead of thinking about what I miss from my previous location, or from my own country, I focus on what it is unique in the new one. In some cities, you can enjoy more the glamorous social scene, in others the unique outdoor activities. Ask locals: “What is unique in this city? What is this city known for?”
6. Read a book about the new culture. One of the causes of stress when moving is adapting to a new culture that has an unknown set of social norms.
7. Continuously invest in yourself. One of the best careers advice I have gotten is to keep investing in yourself and not only in the organization or context-specific activities. This would help you to have more possibilities to grow in the future.
What advice would you give to current students who also want to turn their passions into their career?
I currently believe that a fulfilling career stands on three pillars: purpose, lifestyle, and financial freedom. First, you have to spend most of the time doing activities that are in line with your purpose in life. A question that may help you to find your purpose is “What job would you pay to do?”
Second, the lifestyle of a Professor, an investment banker, a consultant, or an artist is intuitively not the same. You have to pick the one that is more in line with your needs. Third, your current job should help you onto a path of financial freedom, i.e., you need to be able to create consistently passive income until you are able to live out of it.
Purpose, lifestyle needs, and financial freedom target may vary over the years and it is difficult to find a job at the beginning that satisfies all the three. However, people should think about their career path as moving towards a job that stands on all these three pillars.
Share a sentence on your Covid-19 experience. Has it made you rethink your career goals or what is important to you?
I am now in a stage of my life where I enjoy the path I am in. The COVID-19 experience did not impact my career goals. However, it was a revealing experience in other parts of my life. I believe that any crisis can be used to gain more knowledge about yourself and change your life for the better.
Among my friends, I am known for being very extrovert and for constantly trying new activities and social gatherings. Thus, everybody was very surprised to hear that I did not have problems going through a lockdown alone for almost two months. Indeed, I enjoyed spending time with myself, reading, thinking, and slowing down my life. I also realized that many of the activities I was involved in before the lockdown were not helping me reach my goals. I decided to use the spare time that was suddenly available to me to work on my own projects on which I was able to make great progress. Now that life is slowly coming back to normal, I have become more selective in the activities I invest in, in order to save my “introvert” time!