Feel Your Fear and Start your Business anyway

Fear is the biggest showstopper in your life and mine. A colleague asked me last week how I managed to quit my (well-paid) full-time job to start my own business.
“Are you courageous or were you afraid too?”
I told her that I was really scared. I had almost pulled out of my decision to leave my former employer when my manager gave me a book called “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
I had a few tough moments over the last four years, the lowest point was probably last year when I supported a group and had to clean the bathrooms and bins and accidentally threw away my friend’s house-keys in a effort to clean up. She rummaged through the garbage and needless to say was not happy with me.

But in all those years whenever I confronted my fear and worked through my insecurities (usually with the support of my mentor or my coach) my business made a leap. You don’t have to be as crazy as me and jump ship. Leaving a job and all security behind especially when you depend on your income to support you is kind of insane. For me it was the right decision at the time and the way to go. Today, I take a more relaxed approach to my business as I have a part-time role and I grow my business on the side. It is a matter of choice in this country.

Having a choice is having power. Having a choice means that you are in the driver seat. Having a choice means that you may not be in the mental prison you feel stuck in. If you wish to understand more about fear you might want to read my older posts on this matter: Conquer your fears little Jedi and your wishes will be granted.

Kind regards
Angie

PS: If you are looking for a shortcut you can set up a meeting with me. Watch out for #Decemberdeal on Social Media. Like, RT and Share our hashtag #Decemberdeal and get a discount on our packages for 2017.

Why you might feel the fear of an international assignment and should do it anyway

by @angieweinberger

In Germany there is rumor and evidence that Generation Y is not willing to work abroad. Now obviously, it is not the most important topic on German news considering we have a humanitarian crisis in Europe and refugee camps being attacked. BUT if you are a Global Mobility Professional or a global line manager who needs internationally-minded and experienced team members you might start to worry about this Gen Y. 

The underlying tenor of the SPIEGEL article is that work-life balance seem to be more . Raising a family is a value again and men and women want to share the load of educating children and careers alike. Good news for women’s careers, bad news for Global Mobility.

Is this really a global phenomenon though?

If you check out the study “Talent Mobility 2020” by @pwc you will read (and maybe tweet)

“The millennial generation will view overseas assignments as a rite of passage, an outlook that will change the way workers and organisations approach overseas opportunities in the future.”

An experience

I don’t think that Gen Y is not willing to move abroad. For me Gen Y might be over-saturated. Gen Y professionals grew up with the option of studying and working abroad before they entered the workforce. In my days having studied and worked in another country was an achievement. Now it seems very normal.

I still believe though that the experience of a long-term assignment (minimum two years) is not replaceable with working in your home region only. It’s also a different experience moving abroad for studying or an internship when you are 25 and single compared to when you are 35, married and with two children.  Believe me: You still need the experience in today’s globalized world. Also, the world has more countries than Germany. A lot of Indians, Chinese and Brazilians will love to go on an international assignment if you ask them.

 

If you want to be an effective global professional you have to have had exposure to people from other cultures and you have to have FELT the difference between working for example for a manager with a hierarchical approach who might be French versus the participatory approach of a Swedish manager. It is not enough to read about this difference. You have to experience it.  When you feel the difference you can also pick the style that suits you best once you are leader.

When you never lived in a country where people have a different skin colour than you, you might have never been exposed to cultural dominance or the opposite. You might have never understood cultural bias or you cannot even differentiate faces of people with a different racial background…let alone pronounce their names correctly.

It’s all good and well to prioritize family over work but who says you cannot have family while you are on an international assignment. Who says you cannot bring your husband to Bangladesh if you are a successful career woman? I know a gay couple who moved to India and a father of four who worked in Thailand and I’ve spoken to Western career women who worked successfully in Abu Dhabi. It’s all possible with the right attitude, global competency and the right package. It also works when you have an international assignment business case with a repatriation plan.

This is where we might find the real issue. A lot of companies have decided that Gen Y “needs talent development”. So they have sent the young talents abroad without a real business case. Obviously then your experience might be flawed. When I was sent to India almost ten years ago it was an eye-opener for me and I worked really hard. We had a staff shortage and we needed to pull ourselves together in order to build a BPO from scratch. I learnt a ton about Indian culture and even more about myself in stressful projects. Maybe it is worthwhile checking what your assignment business case really is.

While we currently have a tendency of cultural regionalism we should not forget that the market growth is not happening in Switzerland and Germany but for example in Turkey, Malaysia, China and India or in the countries that had wars for the last decades such as Iraq. If you want to be successful you might not even have a choice other than moving around for your career.

Please share your view on moving to other countries on international assignments (no matter which generation you belong to).

 

2014-05-08 16.50.16

 

Seven Shades of Fear and Techniques to tackle them

Have you ever been in a situation where your initial reaction was fear showing by you getting worried that you’ll be losing everything, been found an imposture or knowing that you’ll be criticized for something you knew was a bit risk

 

With a bit of distance you probably noticed that all of these situations were harmless and that you made them a lot bigger with your fear.

I have probably told you already that even after having graduated more than 15 years ago I still have a recurring dream that I failed at Math (which funnily enough was one of my best subjects ever).

Seven Shades of Fear

I thought that if I am ridden by fear, it might be that you face fears as well. Have you recently had any of those?

 

  • Fear of not being genuinely likeable and just being liked because you have money, work for a brand, you have influential friends etc. (1)
  • Fear of not being good enough and being found out (2)
  • Fear of not taking enough charge and being considered slack (3)
  • Fear of losing everything and ending up under a bridge (4)
  • Fear of spiders, cats, airplanes (5)
  • Fear of your imminent death (6)
  • Fear of getting too close to someone and possibly getting hurt (7)

 

As we become older (not wiser) we see more risks and it is legitimate to decide that certain risks are too high for us to take in this situation of our lives. However, fear should not stop us from doing anything that is important to us.

Just do it and work with your fear

That allowed me to attend a wedding in Pakistan (probably the safest trip I have been on in the last few years), start my own business by leaving a well-paid job and going on a two-day alpine hike with sneakers (sliding down a snow field on my butt).

 

Fear is a compass but when fear turns into anxiety it blocks your ability to live the life you want. As a coach I advise you apply these seven techniques:

 

1)   If you are afraid of a project: Break it down in very small items and tasks. Manage one task every day.

2)   If you are afraid of not being likeable work for charity. Do something for others without expecting any reward.

3)   If you see yourself procrastinating write of your fear to friends. Commit to a first action step.

4)   If you are afraid of losing everything start to budget your spending, learn about finances and start saving money.

5)   If you have an anxiety disorder such as fear of animals seek therapy. There are ways to heal these anxieties.

6)   If you are afraid of dying work on your physical health and get advice how you can improve your health. Start small walks.

7)   If you are afraid of loving someone who might break your heart love someone who loves you first and shows you love through action. (Or get a dog.)

 

Task: Which fear would you like to tackle first?

More reading

Do you wish fear didn’t hold you back? ​

7 steps to overcome the fear of pursuing your passion or basically anything

Feel the fear and do it anyway – Amazon

Grundformen der Angst

 

Fear of something can be a sign of a “shadow” according to C.G. Jung

http://www.schattenarbeit.de/wasist.html

 

Is it the Collective Unconscious or Google Spying on you? – On C.G. Jung and Synchronicity

When you suddenly see kingfishers everywhere and you assign meaning. Then C.G. Jung calls this synchronicity or is it just well-done Marketing brought to you by Google? An unknown word appeared in my life and it was the project name from Action from Switzerland called “Halcyon Days”. I had to spell this word several times as I mentioned it on several occasions. And I always got it wrong.

So on a Monday night when I was watching a documentary on C.G. Jung and synchronicity, I noted down the correct spelling. I hoped that I would now spell it correctly. That evening I learned that there are a few “coincidences” between C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien. That was quite a fascinating discovery as I feel these two come from two completely separate fields of my life. However, the connections are intriguing. 

Kingfishers everywhere

Then, I heard from a friend about an old seventies TV-series that I binged on. It was one of those cold Saturdays and Sundays where going out of the house was just not an option. Guess what? One of the main families in the series had the last name “Halcyon”. I then learned how to pronounce it and found out that it is actually a special kind of tree kingfisher (bird). I finally checked Wikipedia: “Halcyon Days is an oblique reference to the Greek mythological figure Alcyone”.

“Ovid and Hyginus both also make the metamorphosis the origin of the etymology for “halcyon days“, the seven days in winter when storms never occur. They state that these were originally the 14 days each year (seven days on either side of the shortest day of the year[5]) during which Alcyone (as a kingfisher) laid her eggs and made her nest on the beach and during which her father Aeolus, god of the winds, restrained the winds and calmed the waves so she could do so in safety. The phrase has since come to refer to any peaceful time. Its proper meaning, however, is that of a lucky break, or a bright interval set in the midst of adversity; just as the days of calm and mild weather are set in the height of winter for the sake of the kingfishers’ egglaying.

Now you all know that Wikipedia is not scientific but it is often a good first reference for discovery, especially if you are looking for connections. Today, I read an article in which Ellie Golding was mentioned. And she has an album called “Halcyon Days” . Yes, it’s a coincidence, maybe…maybe not. Maybe Gaby Tan, the founder of AFS is a fan of that seventies series or Ellie Golding or really good at Greek mythology or maybe she just likes the bird.

Synchronicity

What C.G. Jung would say though is that I assigned a deeper meaning to this and that is why it is synchronicity. I was ruminating about the question if I should continue to edit my Bollywood-meets-Bond-style novel “Double Happiness”. Maybe you don’t know that I ventured into creative writing a few years ago. I never fully finished “Double Happiness”. Fear took hold of me. I did not see immediate success and decided to quit. Part 1 was published, Parts 2 to 4 are draft manuscripts lying around on my computer. I did not even know if I still had them.

And then out of the universe I get a sign that reminds me of India. The kingfishers are everywhere and my favorite Indian beer brand is “Kingfisher”. I cannot remember a time in my life that was so mellow and calm. So, if I wanted to lay my artistic eggs this fasting period up to Easter 2018 would be the best time to do it.

The Lens of the Writer and the Paintbrush of the Artist

We look at life through a different angle. As writers we have a lens. We make the normal day-to-day visible with words just like a painter who brushes a situation in a shopping center into a piece of art or a photographer who captures a war story in one image. What we do with our writing is to paint a world inside your head and sometimes we touch your soul. And when we touch your soul we feel connected through the words. There is beauty in that.

What I did not really know about C.G. Jung until the recent explorations was that he painted and that he was so interested in mythical topics. When I picked up the archetypes for the second time, his words about cultural separation seemed so up to date it was almost scary.

“Unser Intellekt hat Ungeheures geleistet, derweilen unser geistliches Haus zerfallen ist….Schliesslich graben wir die Weisheit aller Zeiten und Völker aus und finden, dass alles Teuerste und Kostbarste schon längst in schönster Sprache gesagt ist.” (Carl Gustav Jung, Archetypen, originally 1934, 2010 ed., p. 19)

Can you grasp the idea that there is a collective unconscious in this world and that we can tab into it like into a radar? There is a painting in Jung’s red book that symbolizes the channel to the collective soul. For a while, when the Internet was fairly new in the 90-ies and only geeks knew about it many of them thought of the Internet as our collective consciousness. I felt it was Twitter for a long time.

What has our Collective Unconscious Become?

Is the Internet now the collective, global expression of our fears, prejudice and biases? And are we just stuck in a loop where what we set out there echos back to us? Did I find Halcyon’s everywhere because I was looking for them? Is it all just selective perception or is it Google spying on me? 

This needs further exploration. Rest assured though that the answers will rock your grounds, shake your inner most beliefs of what is true and what is not. Are you with me on this journey?

Tell me about your synchronicity experiences please.

Simplify Your Digital Life – On Reducing Complexity

 

Our lives have become too complex. We can hardly survive a day without our smartphones anymore and when we are offline or have low batteries it creates feelings of anxiety and fear of missing out (FOMO).

I have conducted an experiment over the last three months. I would like to summarize the learning for you and you might want to follow me in this experiment.

I intended to find ways to simplify my life. I hoped I would find topics that seem to be more complex in our shared, multifaceted lives today and that I could deconstruct them and make them simple again.

To write this blog post I started a tool list (communication tools, apps, email accounts, sharing platforms and overviews) I am regularly working with. The tool list became very long. I am not even sure I finished it yet. It’s more a toolbox now than a list.

I immediately felt stressed when I looked at my tools. Even though I had already deleted a few apps from my iPhone, I did not feel calm and relaxed. I missed my connection to the world.

To give you an example I use nine different communication tools. One of them is email. I manage about five email accounts. In addition to Facebook and Messenger, I manage four Facebook pages. Most of it is automated but I need to respond to incoming queries.

If I compare my current situation to your situation I imagine that you receive a lot more relevant and actionable emails, messages and information than I do. One of the goodies of having your own business is that no one puts pressure on you, so I only read client emails and blogs I want to read.

I notice though that it is not always easy to focus when I sit on my computer. I have to close a lot of pages and put my iPhone on silent if I want to get work done.

One of the disadvantages of having your own business, especially in certain low times is that you also cannot delegate any work to others. Maybe you will find it amusing that for me booking a ticket from Dijon to Frankfurt is worth writing a blog post about. Issues like this one can become time-consuming.

 

This is why I also wanted to write an accomplishment list of ten tasks that I did not enjoy a lot. I had to get them done in the last few weeks and I noted how much time they took, where I found support and what I learned.

In the last steps, I jotted down my simplification principles. At the end of the post, I share further observations.

Accomplishment List

So after being completely overwhelmed with my tools, I wrote the Accomplishment List of the last three months

  1. Booking a ticket on train from Zurich to Dijon to Frankfurt to Zurich. – This took forever as I worked with three different websites, made a mistake and finally sorted it out on the counter at the Dijon train station (with my rusty French skills). Cost CHF 8.60
  2. Organizing my references and homework for the Global Mobility Master class. – I went through the homework via one platform and another website, printed handbooks because I could not read them well online and downloaded Zotero to organize my bibliography and references. It seems great. I also managed to get access to the ETH Library.
  3. Finding a way to cash a 100 USD cheque from Amazon. – Not possible in Switzerland. Will have to go to Germany to do this. Task is pending.
  4. Deleting a bank account in Germany, that I didn’t even know I still had. – Ongoing since October I think. I also try to explain to them, that I have been a tax resident in Switzerland since 2009 (and that I am not trying to evade German taxes but that this is actually legal.) Very nice person on the phone, helped me a lot. She also told me not to care. Then her colleague called to say that they needed the forms anyway. Email is not possible. I had to send a letter. Received one back because I used the tax file number instead of my AHV-number. Had to send another letter.
  5. Canceling a direct debit authorization for an insurance I pay into in Germany. – Cost CHF 7.50 because the second time I did not rely on email but sent registered mail with a snarky feedback written in handwriting on their letter.
  6. Getting an important corporate contract signed via Docusign. – A few issues in the process. Luckily, I checked with my contact and found out that she never received the final signed version.
  7. Writing and editing a new workbook of about 30’000 words – Fairly straightforward so far as I have decided to let go of perfectionism and pilot the content with a few readers via Mailchimp. I also notice that once I sit down I can draft a whole chapter in one or two hours. One issue I found is that Grammarly does not work with Google Docs. So I can draft in G-Docs but have to edit in Mailchimp.
  8. Moving two Swisscom connections to the new “Glasfasernetz”. – Too long to explain, approximately 10 phone calls, one personal visit and three months to solve. Seems to save me a few bucks. Not sure if my connection is better than before. I experienced more connectivity issues in January and February than over the last nine years. I used to have electronic billing, now I get paper invoices again. Back to the Future with Swisscom.
  9. Cleaning my windows. – I procrastinated on this task because frankly I hate cleaning windows. My approach was to get it done 80% – 90%. The windows don’t look perfect but a lot better than before. Took me about an hour. I can still improve the cleaning when it is warmer outside and when I am going to enjoy the sunshine on my windows. I think, I might owe my cold to this task. I’ve had it for two weeks. In hindsight, very painful and annoying.
  10. Developing a new kind of interactive workshop for the Global Mobility Master class, holding it and following up with the participants. – The preparation took forever. I could have probably used less material but felt it was a great learning and research experience for the students and myself. The technology we used is borderline illegal but there seems to be a new book scanner which is amazing. I also cut open a textbook in the process. All for science and the team.

 

Simplification Principles

Based on my learning I have drafted these simplification principles. It might help you to use them or create your own.

  1. People over Robots!
  2. Move from DIGITAL to ANALOGUE on purpose. My pink notebook is always with me. I use it to write my Morning Pages, Have-Done-Lists and anything else that comes to mind during the day.
  3. Reduce everything and delete unused apps from i-phone. Limit apps to two pages.
  4. My phone is off from 9 PM to 6 AM. It’s not allowed in the bedroom.
  5. Use Post-it for visualization of important stuff. The idea is: One thought, one post-it.
  6. Say “No, thank you…” or “yes, if…” to any proposal for meetings, work and tasks right away. Commit fast and decline fast.
  7. When asked for meetings give two options only.
  8. Always set a deadline by when another person should come back to you.
  9. Try to connect on three or four channels with existing clients, especially if they have booked a paid appointment with you. If they still don’t respond, assume that they have died and let them rest in peace. (#sarcasm).
  10. Reconsider the word “urgent” to mean “please respond within seven days”. (Really, I don’t understand why everyone thinks that a personalized email shall be ignored for at least 48 hours.)
  11. A message on Whatsapp does not require “dear first name” as a greeting and “kind regards angie weinberger” as an ending. Use Whatsapp on desktop only. Saves time for typing.
  12. Wear black most of the time. On Wednesdays add a color.
  13. If you don’t know what to wear because you don’t know if the occasion is formal or not, wear a black suit and say that you are a consultant by wardrobe.
  14. ALWAYS travel the day before an event and leave the day after. Plan enough time to travel but also to prepare and wind down after an event. (Note to self: Don’t think you are 29 and hang out with your fellow students until the bar closes.)
  15. I don’t have to be on Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram just because everybody else is. Facebook is shortly to be blacklisted too.

 

I will share further observation in another post.

PS: If you consider volunteering please read Nadia’s post on LinkedIn on why she volunteers for Capacity Zurich.