Oh, the Places I’ll Go

Oh, the Places I’ll Go

By Richelle Feigin

In his book Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss, beloved children’s author, says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

That has become my mantra as I prepare for the onboarding meeting in South Africa for my longstanding Merck client. It’s a new adventure for me as well as nearly 30 Merck employees who I’ll help onboard for their three-month assignments working with nonprofit partners around the world as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health. With less than seven days to go, I’ll take off for Johannesburg where I’ll engage with the project team and spend a week sharing tools, resources, and information. Our end goal: Turn these employees into ambassadors who will use their professional skills and expertise while embedded within eight different nonprofit organizations to create sustainable improvements in global health.

This is the seventh cohort of Fellows we’ve deployed, but it’s the first time that the onboarding will be held in South Africa (and my first time to visit the continent). Like the Fellows, I’m extremely excited, but also a bit nervous to go to a new country with so many unknowns.

As part of my preparation for the trip, I’ve developed five tips to ensure that it’ll be a success. In fact, these tips can help you stay on track any time you’re headed into a situation where you’re not sure what to expect:

  1. Be prepared: Double check that you have all your deliverables. Make checklists and schedules. Practice your part and have confidence in the material you’re presenting.
  2. Be flexible: There are bound to be issues that pop up. The unexpected will happen. Be ready to bend and not break, to go with the flow and not be rigid.
  3. Stay optimistic: Maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity. Look at issues that arise as opportunities to show initiative and demonstrate your leadership skills.
  4. Consult others: While an unexpected event can give you the opportunity to prove your resourcefulness, it doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. Seek help when it makes sense and ask for a second opinion if you’re unsure.
  5. Keep the end in mind: No matter what happens, keep the end goal in sight. By being prepared, flexible, optimistic and inclusive, wonderful things can happen regardless of the situation at hand. And, people will remember that it was an overall success.


As I get ready to depart, I’ll keep Dr. Seuss’ words in my ear: “Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed).”

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my experience so check back in! In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you plan for the unexpected.


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