Having the tremendous opportunity to live and work overseas in my career has exposed me to more wonderful cultural and global perspectives than I ever dreamed. It has helped me grow professionally as well as personally, which is why I always recommend that young entrepreneurs take every opportunity available to get outside their comfort zones and travel internationally. Doing so will absolutely make you a better leader.

One particular part of international culture I have appreciated is International Women's Day, March 8. Living in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia for many years, where Women's Day includes lavish celebrations and events, really helped me understand how important this holiday is to much of the world.

The occasion has taken on new meaning these days, with movements like #MeToo and #NoMore giving life to the need for understanding the imbalance of power throughout the world, not just between men and women but among cultures, nationalities and races. And with the reach of the internet and social media, we have been able to unite global contradictions that persist in all cultures.

As we celebrate International Women's Day today, I am traveling and working in Spain, leading a group of student consultants as part of a community and business engagement program I manage. Today, throughout Spain, labor -- and particular women -- are leading day long demonstrations and strikes at major metro and railways. In Barcelona, throngs of people are marching downtown.

While this may seem like just another protest to most Americans, the cause of the movement here in Spain is incredibly meaningful to many. As a close Spanish friend confided in me recently, Spain -- like many regions of Europe -- is still struggling with racism, discrimination and inequality, to degrees that makes the US look like the Eden of Equality.

The point is that we may never eliminate the plight that many people face. It seems to me that things are getting better, but in reality, I am a white, middle-class male living in a predominately white, male world. I do not see -- nor do I dare to pretend to see -- the challenges and obstacles that many women or minorities face.

What I can do is appreciate and advocate for movements and events such as International Women's Day, which help us all to appreciate and understand where we are today and where we all want to be in the future. We cannot get to equilibrium without facing our demons, admitting our faults and embracing change.

So, for now, happy International Women's Day to all.

Published on: Mar 8, 2018
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