He was voted one of the top five leadership speakers in the world by speaking.com. His fans include Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Tutu and heads of state from around the planet. His company is a global leadership consultancy with clients that include Microsoft, Nike, IBM and Coca-Cola. He used to be a successful lawyer, but quit when he realized he was unfulfilled. He wrote about his journey of transformation in his first book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, now an international bestseller. In 1997, Sharma self-published the book in a Kinko’s copy shop, his mom edited the manuscript and he stored copies in the kitchen until he serendipitously met Ed Carson, former president of HarperCollins Canada, in a bookstore. He has since authored 11 international bestsellers that have sold more than six million copies worldwide. His newest book, The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, was released in October 2011.
How many days do you spend on the road?
Every three months, I might go for a two-week tour in five countries; that’s a blitz.
When travelling on business, what do you look for in a hotel?
Small touches like fresh flowers, impeccable cleanliness, world-class service, awesome food and a 24-hour gym.
What is your favourite restaurant for a business meeting?
Jean-Georges in Shanghai.
What is your favourite travel destination?
Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Any packing tips?
Even on a four-week trip, I take [only] a briefcase and a carry-on bag.
Inflight, book or iPad?
I write in my journal, do a lot of planning and thinking, and read a few newspapers and magazines.
Favourite travel gadget?
My Flip camera. I’ve recorded a lot of interesting videos on it like the Taj Mahal, walking through Jerusalem and the spice bazaar in Istanbul.
The Park Hyatt Hotels. I used to love the hip boutique hotels for about 10 years; they were fascinating and interesting, but sometimes they don’t have the same amenities as the five-stars. The chain is very modern, with superb service. I can get five-star amenities, a great gym and 24-hour dry-cleaning.
How do you stay productive during a business trip?
You can get so much done when you’re travelling. If you’re tired, you rest; if you’re hungry, you call room service; if you don’t want to be disturbed, you put a DND [do not disturb] instruction on your phone.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
Take care of the relationship and the money will take care of itself. Ask yourself this question every day: “How may I best serve the most people?” Money is a function of value creation. The more value you create for other people, the higher the sales of your organization.
Best business advice you’ve ever given?
You can lead without a title.