Category Archives: Global Mobility

Last week I told you the story of my car sale and how it challenged one of my principles of intercultural effectiveness. This was a story with a happy ending and thanks for your reactions and Sam-stories.

I have two more stories on digital client experiences. The hotel in Rotterdam is not a story like the last one. This is a story of my inner secretary’s failure. Some of you met my inner secretary already. She is not a perfectionist unfortunately and when I ask her to work for me (instead of a real assistant) she usually messes up something.

I had been to the Brainpark Hotel in Rotterdam several times already because it is convenient when I hold lectures at the Erasmus University. I was very happy the first and the second time. Service is good and food as well.

The third time was last March and there I wanted to cancel the room for one night and it required the intervention of a Dutch colleague cancel the booking without extra charge. I am not sure why I don’t seem to have authority in the Dutch context but maybe it is because I don’t function in that culture yet or maybe the clerks working at the reception are quite inexperienced. So let’s say there was a pre-history already and I had been a little put off by the March experience.

In November, when I booked a room through their website again, my inner secretary was happy that it all worked fine until I contacted the Expatise Academy again to discuss a few more small topics. I found out that we are actually in Amsterdam for this particular event. (“Never assume anything!” is a new principle of intercultural effectiveness),

The event was happening in Amsterdam, not Rotterdam and I had taken a late flight already. There was no point in going to Rotterdam first.

Normally, this should not be a big deal. Most hotels have a normal cancellation period of one or two days before the actual reservation. It was 10 days before the actual event.

I was not concerned at all until I contacted the hotel to cancel the room. They told me that they still needed to fully charge the room to my credit card as this was in their terms and conditions and I had agreed to them. If you are like me you probably don’t read terms and conditions for these kind of transactions either.

It took me now at least a minute to even find the T&C.

They look a lot worse than an expat tax policy or expat contract.

While I find this a strange business practice here is what the T&C say about cancellations:

“3. Reservations with prepayment cannot be changed and/or canceled in any way, and sums paid in advance as a deposit cannot be refunded. This is indicated in the conditions of sale for the rate.”

I asked them again, explaining the circumstances. I also asked if the manager could call me to discuss. Same response, no calls from anyone. I tried not to get angry. Remember, I am self-employed and for me 130 EUR is a lot of money.

Then, I also received about five automated notifications talking to me about my upcoming trip to Rotterdam. Responding to them did not work because they were sent from noreply email ID’s. Tripadvisor asked me for a review of the hotel I had just “spent a night in” and for the first time ever I gave a 1-star review called “No one cares.”

Now, I still don’t get my money back because it also seems that they do not care about their reviews but now my credibility on Tripadvisor has risen. Seems when you write good reviews you look like you are paid to that. When you write bad reviews you become an authority in the hotel business. I will continue to write bad reviews going forward and call a spade a spade.

My insurance company does not cover “miscommunication” as a reason to pay back the lost amount and even interventions by Expatise Academy did not make a difference.

Why am I telling you this?

  1. If you are in Rotterdam and you stay at this hotel tell them that they should be more careful about how they treat their returning customers. 
  2. On a more serious note: Our expats and their spouses and children often feel like I felt in this case. They feel like a number, a case and not like a human being that has issues and circumstances.

Please do not assume that expats have read their contracts, the policy and other documentation you have sent to them. Try to put yourself into their shoes. They are your client and they have a lot of other topics to worry about during that time. I would appreciate if we can all add the human touch back into the Global Mobility Agenda 2018.

Bring back the human touch into your Global Mobility population

Put that on your agenda for 2018. Collect ideas with your team about where your processes are disintegrated for the expat and their spouse. Check in with your population and improve your expat experience. You can email them one by one or through a mailing program such as Mailchimp or Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM). In the Global Mobility Workbook I give a lot of advice on how you can check in with your expats and spouses regularly.

Let me know what you decided to do.

Angie Weinberger

PS: Mark your calendar and sign up now for 23 JAN 2018: “Building the Global Mobility Business Case”, a workshop by Expatise Academy in Amsterdam on 23 JAN 2018

I will meet you there and the Expatise Academy is now ordering my hotels :-).


The Triggers

It was a grey October Sunday and I had just returned from a trip to Munich. Driving with the car had been a choice. It was not a good choice. The weekend in Munich had inspired me but driving there and back drained a lot of energy out of me. I realized that having a car made me a victim of possession. If I did not have a car I would force myself to take the train and I would be safer, arrive more relaxed and use my time better.

Yes, I know that we will have self-driving cars one day but by then our roads will be so full that we will stand most of the time anyway. My value as a citizen says that using public transportation, using a train in this case is a better option than driving a car. It is more sustainable and better for the environment. There was another reason though why I wanted to sell my car. I needed money to pay for a course. And this was probably the more urgent trigger. The reason that really made me go online and find a way to sell a used Audi with over 220k kilometers.

I know, don’t ask.

The Sale

Anyway, I found two websites and filled their forms and shortly after received a phone call of a potential buyer. We set up an appointment. The other potential buyer called me as well and I also set up an appointment with him. Both were supposed to look at the car, make an offer and then present me with a nice contract saying they will pay me 5k CHF.

When the first buyer came, I was surprised how fast he looked at the car, how little questions he asked and I was a little suspicious of him because he immediately wanted to pay me money. This seemed strange to me. Clearly, I have no clue about car selling as I should have known that you can sell a car on the spot if you bring enough cash. I did not trust the man’s competence, looks and I did not want his money in cash. He quoted the value at 4’300 CHF.

I told him that I wanted to have the second offer first before I could make a decision. He asked me to let him know as soon as I could and he told me that his uncle would call me. Seems his uncle was better at buying but he made me relax a bit and made me promise that I would call him if I received a higher offer. I said that I would only sell under certain conditions including a contract, advance payment into my company account and that my price was higher. I cancelled the second viewing and thought I could be saving time by just giving the second quote.

The Bargain

A few hours later, I called “the uncle” again and told him that the other buyer would be 5’200 CHF. Then the uncle offered 5’300 CHF and I agreed verbally. All normally business transactions work like this. At least this is how it used to be done pre-Internet. But I had gone online already and read about every scam that you can find in car sales and I was so worried that I could not think straight anymore.

The Sale

I was close to tears when I finally closed the transaction two weeks later. In the meantime I had stalked the buyer on LinkedIn, called a common contact about him, asked him to come to my house again with a copy of his passport, drafted a contract and made him sign it. When I picked up my tires from the garage I was so nervous that one of their staff members had to drive the car out for me. And for weeks after the sale I had been expecting someone telling me that I did something wrong. I was expecting that the money would be pulled back out of my account, the insurance company would call me to tell me that my insurance was abused.

And then?

Nothing happened.

Everything went well.

The Morale

The only one who suffered in this (apart from my man) was me and probably the buyer. Let’s call him Sam. Sam probably did not fully enjoy his client experience with me, because he could feel and I even told him that I did not trust him several times. I could have trusted him though if I had listened to my heart instead of my monkey brain.

We have processes and laws for reasons. We do not live in the Wild West. There are ways to get things done around here in Switzerland. Poor Sam, even had to show me his Swiss pass.

I should not claim that I know everything just because I have access to Twitter. I know quite a lot about contracts and while I was freaking out about a car sale, I negotiated a contract with a client in English, according to international law and without a big fuss for several months because I fully trusted the person behind the deal.

As I am not an expert in cars, I need to trust a car expert’s judgement. I cannot solely rely on hearsay and rumors. Do you notice that nowadays everyone mistrusts their doctor? Are we not taking this all a bit too far?

And just because I have a degree I am not entitled to treat others as if they are stupid just because they do not wear a suit to work. The guy who bought my car has a degree in business, is also a web designer, runs a company that sounds amazing and the only reason why he buys cars for his uncle is probably similar to my reason for selling the car. Sometimes we just need money, or the experience or we need to help our family members out.

I want to be careful not to judge someone based on looks. Our interactions were professional and even kind and because I told him that I was paranoid we built trust over the sale. I really wish Sam would come and see me as a client so I could show him that I have a kind heart. If you read this Sam please come in for a free coffee.


 

Presence means to be in the here and now

These days, many of us do not seem to be present even if we are in the room. You take your phone out as soon as you sit on the train. You skim through your email. Another attachment fail. You forgot to save the legal document before you attached it. Your colleague across the ocean is confused. After three emails you clear the confusion. You apologize. You know you must come across stressed. Even though you know that you have worked at higher stress levels in your life, you know that there is a nagging voice inside you that screams “I need a holiday.” You wonder how this happened as it seems your last holiday was only four weeks back. Could the issue be deeper you ask yourself? Is something wrong with me? Do I need therapy?

Then you become aware of all the bullshit that you need to handle every day in your job. It is not the job itself. You love your work. It is not the team. You have shared your vision, mission, brand, and values with your team. They follow you eagerly because they see a brighter future with you.

Presence, politics, puberty and pain

Your team buys into your cause and wants you to succeed but the politics in the management team have become unbearable. The blame-storm that follows every client issue and the loss of ground with your big clients have made you look bad. You are concerned about losing your job, not performing well and not delivering what you promised to deliver. Your wife looks at you for support with the children. Your daughter has behaved difficult lately. She needs your guidance. You want to support but you feel drained in every corner of your life.

You had started a hobby about a year ago because a friend advised you to do “something for yourself”. In the beginning, you were so thrilled about the new friends you made there but now it just feels like another obligation, another point on your task list of never-ending topics. You snap when friends ask you if you want to go out for a beer and your mother’s voice is in your head. “You said you would come for a visit with the children on Sunday.” And there is this mortgage on the house that needs refinancing.

In short: You feel the weight of responsibility of being the provider. You feel that weight on your shoulders and your back. You identify with it through the pain.

Pain means stress is written all over your body

Many of us have stress written all over their body. Even though you will find a lot of methods of reducing stress when you look online many of us have issues to focus nowadays. There are too many distractions that pull us in different directions every minute. We also have too many “shoulds”. We should go to the gym more often, we should recycle the bottles, we should save money. Our mind spends a lot of time thinking about the “shoulds”.

Gain control again and increase your presence

1) Take one hour out of your busy schedule and consult a therapist

Sometimes we feel like we have tried everything possible to please everyone else but lost ourselves in the process. It helps in such situations to consult a therapist. Sometimes you might not really need therapy but in most cases, you will. I am a fan of prevention and I know that we can improve our physical symptoms if we seek support early enough. Unfortunately, in my experience, many managers look for external support when it is too late as they are stuck in an idea of playing the superhero. Alternatively, they are sent to a business coach. A serious coach should send you to a therapist or doctor as soon as you cannot confirm anymore that you feel psychologically and physically healthy. And some of you might seek a doctor before they seek a therapist because you do not believe that your psyche could play tricks on you. It’s up to you! Do something about it before your family loses you for good.

2) Go for light exercise such as a daily walk outside

If you feel stressed but still in control, it can help to prescribe yourself a daily dose of light exercise such as a 20-minute walk. I have written about getting healthy earlier in this post about my favorite productivity hacks. Be sure that you don’t distract yourself with your phone when you go for a walk. Build the walk into a routine such as your commute to work or your coffee runs in the morning. Getting exposure to real light and fresh air is helpful in most countries. If you do not live in Switzerland, it might need adjustment according to outside weather conditions. For example, if you live in Islamabad, you might need to take your walk early in the morning. In Iceland, during the middle of the day.

3) Clean up your workspace daily and mono-task

It sounds simple but is a commonly known ZEN practice. You can get rid of the constant distractions by developing a regular routine of cleaning up and only working on one topic at the time. Your stream of information needs to be directed to the right channel. One example: If you think “I should file my documents” do it the same day. Spend five minutes every evening before you rush home to clean up your desk. Throw away everything that you don’t need. Before you start your workday write down your top three priorities for the day.

4) Learn to Relax through Active Meditation

For a global leader, one of the hardest things to do is to relax. Often you will need a reason, an instruction or a drug. Or you might need excessive physical activity before you can relax. Even if you relax during a massage, for example, your mind still wanders and you have a lot of ideas or you mentally work on your next task list. Since it is so hard for global leaders to clear their head I advise them to combine relaxation with an activity they truly enjoy. It could be learning to play the piano, building LEGO spaceships, renovating old furniture or fly fishing. You could also find an activity that you enjoy doing with a partner, buddy or good friend. It is important that this activity happens regularly (at least once a week), that you can maintain it while traveling and that you religiously stick to it. We qualify these type of activities under „body learning“ so you can use them in your weekly targets or in your body learning target. If you wish a regular practice of relaxation methods and active meditation please join our Global People Happy Hour every Friday from 6 to 7 PM.

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

Sleep helps!

You should also get enough sleep if you wish to increase your executive presence. Here is a guide on how sleep improves your creativity.

 

 

 

Practice Seven Steps of Presence

You can also practice “Seven Steps of Presence” with our template from the Global Career Workbook. Download it and start this for 10 minutes a day before important meetings.

 

 

 

For me 2017 was full on and a lot happened. We managed to get a lot done and if you followed us on the Global People Club Sandwich you will remember we started the year with Global Competency and Mindfulness. Through the year the theme followed me through the Workshop at the SIETAR Europa conference on “Feedback and it’s Alternatives – An Exploration for Global, Mindful People” with my colleague Adrienne Rubatos. I also had the feeling that it was time to start working more with the Global Competency Model. One of the results is RockMeOnline, an online web app where help monitor your action plan around building Global Competency. Another result is the RockMeRetreat, that I will offer in 2018 for the first time. For me it was a packed year, full of excitement and very fulfilling. I notice though that now it’s time for family and friends and I will be back for you on 3 January 2018.

Until then I wish you happy holidays and a good start in 2018.

Angie Weinberger

PS: Mindfulness will also be practiced in our Global People Club Lounge in 2018 with #GPHAPPYHOUR.

World Peace!
Happy Holidays!

Starting 12 January 2017 on Fridays from 6 pm to 7 pm

at the Global People Club Lounge, Hedwigsteig 6, 8032 Zürich.

We practice together relaxation and mindfulness methods:

progressive muscle relaxation,
autogenic training,
mindfulness,
and active meditation.

The group will be held in German or English depending on the participants. The Friday Happy Hour costs you 200 CHF + VAT for eight sessions. We have four spots available.

Please let me know in case you wish to join by emailing to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

Sessions will be led by Annette Ramme, Angie Weinberger and other colleagues from our network.