Michael Landers is an author, speaker, and leadership development executive coach. He is the founder of Culture Crossing, LLC, a global consulting organization dedicated to finding innovative solutions for groups and individuals working in challenging global conditions. Michael is also the author of the best-selling book, Culture Crossing, the essential primer to working, living, and thriving in today’s increasingly multicultural marketplace and communities.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

My childhood was filled with love, family and friends, and lots of change. I grew up in Boston, Bogota, Rio de Janeiro and Santo Domingo. I went to 3 high schools in 4 years in 3 different countries. The experience of being a minority coupled with the exposure to a myriad of cultures and diverse experiences became the catalyst to work I do as an adult.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Also, most everything could be considered small stuff.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

In my experience, recommendations tend to fit into what has worked or not worked from an individual perspective, so what makes a good or bad one depends on the result we each get. For me, one recommendation that may be seen as bad for some ended up working well for me. It was, Be open to many opportunities but stay true to what your core expertise is.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

Moving from country to country during my formative years allowed for a diverse array of experiences. Inherent in all of this was a change that often included loss. Loss of friends made, relationships formed, comfort established. It proved difficult and painful. What it built was strength in being adaptable and the recognition of the impermanence of things. This forged an appreciation of where I am, who I am with, and what I have.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Saying yes to requests to connect with new people.

What is your morning routine?

My morning routine is a bit different as it changes frequently. Sometimes I wake up at 5:30 am other times it may be 9:30 am. Whatever the time, I then tend to shower and get dressed, drink a bunch of water, make a cup of espresso, say hello to my wife and daughter if they are around, give some lovies to my dog, take some time to breathe, and get centered and then head to my office to start the workday.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I thrive on diverse experiences so knowing this I have become more and more mindful of when things in my work may be getting stagnant and am sure to change things up before I get to point of having to do something I don’t want to be doing.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

For years I fit into the classic definition of a procrastinator when I had things that needed my attention to getting completed. A proposal, a slide deck, a speech, a book chapter, etc. I may have a week or more before things are due but I would “wait” until the day before or sometimes the day of. I always delivered at a high level and what I have learned over the years is that the “waiting” is a necessity for me. Even when I try, I can’t force something to get finished/done if I am not ready to do it. What I do instead is set time aside to think about what I will eventually produce. It may be at my desk or on a walk or sitting in the sun. After I have given my attention to what needs to be done, when I sit down to do the work, things just flow.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Two come to mind. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. They both showed me how to access the beauty of self-awareness during the perceived challenges we face in our lives.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

One from Wu Wei’s I Ching Wisdom books, “We create the world by our expectations.”