Reflections on a Challenging Year

Reflections on a Challenging Year

Dear Odessa,

I will forever cherish our trip to Washington this past January.  I hope you understand that I took you, not as a protest, but to let you see that so many people believe in you and your potential.  To feel the strength and love of women and men standing up to fight for their values and for the brightest possible future for your generation.  I loved hearing about your hopes and fears and having the opportunity to have others share theirs.

As I reflect on our conversations, I want to share a few simple words of advice as you embark on your journey towards adulthood.

Be curious.  Be open to new ideas and experiences, wander down paths to find out where they lead.  Some will be nothing but dead ends or loop back to where you came from, but others will lead to surprises that change your life.

Be open.  Listen to ideas, even when you don’t agree with them and try to understand the other person’s perspective.  Engage in debate, but also be willing to take in information without judgement.

Be passionate.  Find what you love and care about and give it your everything, even when it’s uncomfortable.  Take your ideas and pursue them pushing beyond what you imagine to be possible.

Stand up for what you believe in.  Hold true to the values that make you who you are.  Don’t let others try to define you or tell you what you can or can’t do.  Hold strong and be confident.

Be kind and generous.  Take care of others who need your help.  Open doors for those who many not be able to open them for themselves.

And most importantly, listen to the advice you once gave me which was the best advice of all: don’t plan too much and drink lots of water.


I can’t wait to see who you become.

I love you so much,



Sarah Van Dyck, based in San Francisco, is a leader in Egon Zehnder’s Consumer and Technology Practice Groups.