The Lessons of International Travel Can Help with Career Success

Cross posted at


By James Lint
Faculty Member, American Public University

One of the advantages of international travel is that we get a chance to see and explore new areas.  In the military we must travel; in corporate business, we must travel when told.  The positive side of this is that you get to see new or different ways to do something.

This learning is good because your experiences build you into a more successful employee. Your employer will be surprised at the ideas you come up with that are unique in the part of the world he lives in, but normal in another part of the world. This is the value of foreign travel.

The problem is that we often do not assess the new ideas until we have free time. With family, jobs, and school pursuits, we often do not look around and realize what we have experiences that we can learn from.  An excellent case in point is a trip I took to Korea after I retired. I was not working and it was a relaxing trip. Afterwards, I had time to reflect on what I experienced and I realized I had learned many valuable things during the trip. Reflection often creates learning.

An example of learning with the potential to reuse the idea in another part of the world would be a unique technique the Korean Airlines uses for customer service on long flights or when customers may be sleeping during the time of the delivery of services or food. How does the steward staff know to wake a person or let him or her sleep?

Korean Airlines has a simple and cost effective answer.  They have a paper about five inches by seven inches that has three colored stickers that have a picture on the top that is simple to understand without translation. Then they have in bold the information in the international language of English. Next, in smaller type, is Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.

The stickers say, “Please do not disturb; please wake me for duty free (with gift box picture); and please wake me for meal service.” In all four languages is a note at the bottom that says “Please place the sign on to your headrest for your convenience.”  Most people put them on the seat in front of their seat, just above the fold down table.

It was a great idea, although I can see better English instructions as a potential improvement. Keeping customers fed, buying duty free goods, or sleeping is an example of enhancing customer service. Not waking up and making an upset customer who would not desire to do duty free shopping is effective customer service.  On the other hand, if the correct customers are alerted for the duty free shopping, they will add to Korean Airline’s bottom line.

Success in business means bringing new ideas to the table. Military experience and foreign travel teach us more ways to accomplish the mission.

College teaches us ways to learn, analyze, and reflect to create unique learning points based on our experience and training. These are the tools that educated employees can bring to the employer to enhance their success.

About the Author: James Lint recently retired as the civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. Additionally, he started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded the 36th scholarship for national security students and professionals. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence within the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, contractor, and civil service. He was elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has served in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and at the Department of Energy S&S Security Office. He started his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany, and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. He has authored a book published in 2013, Leadership and Management Lessons Learned. A new book about Korea Travel will be published in 2016.