How to Fast Track Your Career: The Art of Disciplined Opportunism | Summary and Q&A

May 17, 2021
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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How to Fast Track Your Career: The Art of Disciplined Opportunism


Learn how to leverage discipline and seize opportunities in your career while exploring the evolving landscape of the post-COVID travel industry.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ˜€ Disciplined opportunism involves purpose clarity, efficient preparation, active pursuit, strategic partnerships, and adaptability in the face of setbacks.
  • πŸ—ΊοΈ The future of the travel industry will be shaped by changing travel purposes, sustainability initiatives, reduced business travel, and the emergence of startups.
  • πŸ’ͺ Successful career navigation requires building strong relationships, pursuing partnerships, and being proactive in seeking new opportunities.


[Applause] today i'm going to introduce you to the art of discipline opportunism so sit back relax and enjoy as we take off on a flight of self-discovery i'm honored to be the protagonist of a stanford mba case study entitled sadiq gilani's airline career takes off this is part of jeffrey feffer's path to power class in discussions with the class p... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How can I apply discipline opportunism in my career?

The key is to be clear on your purpose, prepare yourself through efficient time management and continuous learning, actively pursue opportunities aligned with your purpose, build strong partnerships and alliances, and be adaptable and willing to pivot when setbacks occur.

Q: What are some challenges and opportunities in the post-COVID travel industry?

Challenges include the need for PCR testing, higher ticket prices, reduced business travel, and a focus on sustainability. Opportunities lie in the rise of leisure travel, the emergence of startups, partnerships, and the pivot towards new travel experiences and services.

Q: How can I build partnerships in my industry?

Identify common interests and build bridges with colleagues, share articles and updates, seek help from mentors and advisors, amplify others' contributions, and summarize action items to show engagement. Developing a personal advisory board and maintaining regular contact with them is crucial.

Q: How can I prepare myself for changes in the travel industry?

Stay informed about industry trends, invest in continuous learning, develop a diverse skill set, and consider expanding your network through partnerships and collaborations. Embrace adaptability and be willing to acquire new knowledge and skills as needed.


This is a transcript of a video in which the speaker discusses the concept of discipline opportunism and how it can be applied to one's career and the travel industry. The speaker shares personal experiences and provides practical advice on finding opportunities, building relationships, and navigating setbacks. They also discuss the future of the travel and airline industry post-COVID.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is discipline opportunism?

Discipline opportunism is a concept that involves spotting and pursuing exciting opportunities in a focused and deliberate manner. It requires being clear on one's purpose, preparing oneself for success, pursuing opportunities proactively, building partnerships, and being willing to pivot when faced with setbacks or challenges.

Q: How did the speaker apply discipline opportunism to their own career?

The speaker shared their personal journey, which involved taking advantage of opportunities in the consulting, aviation, and travel industries. They pursued relevant education, sought out global experiences, built relationships with industry leaders, and leveraged their expertise to create new opportunities. They also proactively pivoted when necessary to continue growing their career.

Q: How did the speaker identify their purpose?

The speaker identified their purpose by reflecting on their passion for travel and their desire to transform the airline industry. They articulated a personal mission statement and developed their personal brand as an airline industry expert. They also focused on being a role model to other minority groups and inspiring them through speaking engagements and sharing their story.

Q: How did the speaker prepare themselves for pursuing opportunities?

The speaker emphasized the importance of creating space in one's life to pursue opportunities. They practiced ruthless efficiency and time management, focusing on the most important tasks with the greatest impact. They also prioritized work-life balance to maintain mental and physical well-being. The speaker continuously learned and shared knowledge with their teams, empowering them to take on tasks and responsibilities.

Q: How did the speaker pursue opportunities in their career?

The speaker pursued opportunities by going global and being willing to move countries or travel long distances. They were purposeful in their career choices, selecting roles and companies that aligned with their passion for the airline industry. They also created opportunities by reaching out directly to CEOs and leveraging their network to connect with relevant professionals. Additionally, they utilized their involvement with organizations and institutions such as the World Economic Forum, Stanford, and boards of subsidiaries to expand their network and exposure.

Q: How did the speaker build partnerships and relationships in their career?

The speaker emphasized the importance of having a personal advisory board and mentors who can provide guidance and support. They sought out mentors and advisors in their field and maintained regular contact with them. The speaker also focused on building strong relationships with colleagues and superiors within their companies, identifying common interests and aligning their goals. They emphasized the power of effective communication, empathy, and amplifying others' ideas.

Q: What advice did the speaker give for dealing with setbacks?

The speaker suggested embracing setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. They emphasized the importance of resilience, adaptability, and reinvention. The speaker shared personal experiences of setbacks in their career, such as changes in leadership, and how they navigated those challenges by staying focused, leveraging their network, and demonstrating their value. They also mentioned the importance of having a support system and being patient during difficult times.

Q: How does the speaker apply the concept of discipline opportunism to the travel and airline industry?

The speaker discussed the future of the travel and airline industry post-COVID and how discipline opportunism can be applied to this industry. They mentioned that travel purposes are changing, with individuals seeking meaningful and purposeful experiences. They highlighted the importance of sustainability and the need for the industry to adapt to new travel norms, such as PCR testing and mask-wearing. The speaker also discussed the impact of the pandemic on the industry, including the reduction in business travel and the rise of startups and disruptors. They emphasized the need for partnerships and system collaboration within the industry.

Q: How is the travel industry preparing for the future?

The travel industry is preparing for the future by permanently retiring older aircraft, adapting products to post-COVID norms, and focusing on sustainability. Airlines are also dealing with a significant debt burden and working to ramp up operations. The industry is seeing the emergence of new startups and the need for partnerships and collaborations. There is a shift in travel purposes, with leisure and visiting friends and relatives becoming primary types of travel. There is also a reduction in business travel and a focus on sustainability and alternative accommodations.

Q: How can individuals pursue opportunities in the travel industry?

Individuals can pursue opportunities in the travel industry by being proactive and staying informed. They can seek out startups or existing companies that align with their skills and interests. They can also focus on building relationships with industry leaders and expanding their network. Additionally, being adaptable and open to new ideas and possibilities is essential in pursuing opportunities in a changing industry.

Q: What is the speaker's advice for navigating setbacks in the travel industry?

The speaker advises individuals in the travel industry to be prepared for setbacks and challenges. They emphasize the importance of resilience, patience, and adaptability. It is essential to stay informed about industry trends and be willing to pivot when necessary. Building strong relationships and partnerships within the industry can also provide support during challenging times. It is crucial to focus on one's purpose and remain optimistic and proactive in pursuing opportunities.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker shares his personal journey, from being born in inner-city London to becoming a Chief Strategy Officer at Lufthansa and Emirates, visiting 124 countries along the way.

  • He explains the concept of disciplined opportunism and provides a framework consisting of purpose, preparation, pursuit, partnership, and pivoting.

  • The speaker then dives into the future of the travel industry, discussing travel purposes post-COVID, preparing for changes in the industry, pursuing new opportunities, and the importance of partnerships in the evolving landscape.

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