Christos Anninos is a devoted student and nonprofit professional with a captivating life narrative that has led him to pursue a career where business meets social impact.
In the June issue of En Root, Christos shared with us the three mindset shifts that can change how we approach our own career development. We just knew we had to interview him to learn more about how his experiences shaped his professional pathway. As we find our own way, it's important that we cultivate experiences and develop skills that align with our personal and professional goals. A big piece of this is exposure to new stories, cultures and exploratory activities. Another major component is reflection. How will you ensure that you are growing into your best self, leading your most fulfilling life? Happy reading.
Tell us about the most significant moment or turning point in your career or professional journey.
I was training to become an Army Officer for the better part of four years. Two months before I was about to commission, I was sadly found unfit for service. My entire world had been turned on its head and I had no clue as to what I was going to do with my life.
How did this experience prepare you for the professional road ahead?
In the military, many things are laid out before you, and this includes what you wear, what your duties are, and how to carry them out. Without this support structure, I immediately realized I was unprepared for the "real world." But oftentimes in our deepest loss, we can find the most significant gains. My inner drive and need to recover from this experience allowed me to access a deeper level of motivation, that is, one of redemption. I became obsessed with continually bettering myself whether it was through education, my connection with others, physical activity, and giving back to the community.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?
I was so torn by the situation that I shut myself out from the world for about two years. I wasn't connecting with anyone. I would avoid interactions with others at work, and would mute phone calls from friends and family. Naturally, they shut me out as well. But through these dark days I was granted the opportunity to really discover myself. I started keeping a journal every day and exploring every painful memory of my past. I am not ashamed to admit there were many times I thought it would never improve. My writings were very critical and riddled with hatred. But after several months, I started seeing slight changes. Then, after a year and endless pages, I was finally able to resolve a single memory. I soon realized if I can do it with one, I can do it with all. What started out as a form of therapy turned into a fixation on reconciliation. The experience was not life changing, rather, life defining. To this day, I am utterly grateful for the time I had to truly explore myself and reach a new level of self-awareness.
What would you say are the top three most important career competencies for budding professionals today?
1. A healthy curiosity 2. Authenticity 3. Individuality
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don't be what they made you to be. Find yourself.
What are some words of wisdom that you would offer students exploring the possibility of an immersive professional experience?
Have you ever wondered why you continue to watch endless TED Talks or motivational podcasts? It's because while they do provide clarity in the moment, they only provide temporary change in your behavior. You need to immerse yourself in the world and experience it for yourself, not through the eyes of another.
What is your favorite quote?
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore." - Herman Melville, Moby Dick
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2019?
In 2019, I have made it my goal to improve the lives of others around me. Whether it is through a simple conversation or an immersive experience with a group. After my short 27 years, I have realized that the only thing that truly matters in this world is your connection with others.
Christos Anninos is a 27-year-old professional working full-time as a consultant for a Non-Profit while also pursing his MBA at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to his current role, Christos worked as a procurement consultant and received his B.A in Psychology from La Salle University. Originally from a military family, he has had the opportunity to live in a variety of places across the globe and enjoys writing philosophy in his free time.