If I was 22 Years Old What Advice would I give myself?

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Raymond L. Bianchi
Senior Director-Expositions and Events  at American Farm Bureau Federation-IDEAg Group llc

This is a provocative and challenging question.

When I was 22 years old (in 1989) I had just graduated from the University of Iowa and was trying to find my way in the world. I spent the next few years trying out different things I investigated religious life, Law School, and finally decided on going to Bolivia as Lay volunteer.While at the time I felt like a typical GEN X slacker I think that the two years I spent trying to figure things out was the best thing I could have done.

When I left for Cochabamba I was sure that I wanted to do something different and i did. The rest of my life is colored by that experience. The fact that I have worked in another country, learned a new language and worked in a prison as a volunteer puts much in my current life in perspective. And the following is what I would say to my 22 year old self….

There is nothing more exciting than being young and taking a risk. i took a risk and everything good in my life came from doing that.

In my 20’s i worked in a men’s prison in Bolivia which were some of the happiest years in my life. I then worked for a major importer in Brazil and then I got into the Trade Show business. Along the way I learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese, got married and gained a confidence in myself that could not have been gained if I had stayed in Chicago. Its all about risk and challenging yourself. You will never be this free again. Go out into the world and live .

At 47 years old I am a successful executive. I love my job, my family and my life but without the risk and the experiences in my 20’s I would not be who I am now. I wish for you what I had on my 24th birthday, May 14, 1994 , A day’s work in a prison in a city in the Andes, the challenge of learning a new language and a new culture and the strength and confidence that comes from knowing you can do anything

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