Category Archives: Global Careers
November Colors

I am dedicating a weekend to sorting out old stuff, decluttering, and preparing the apartment for cleaning. I would like to do this before I start decorating for the holidays because it is giving us a fresher spirit and as I mentioned most of us get really stressed in the last few weeks before the year-end as we wish to focus more on family and friends during the holidays. 

What I would also like to do is finish open ends and projects and before starting too many new ideas and projects reduce the “Pendenzenliste” (It’s one of my favorite Swiss German words and can be translated into the list of open tasks). Most of my friends and I keep laughing about the tasks that never seem to get off the Pendenzenliste and keep you feeling guilty even if you are highly productive all the time. I shared with you already that I’m a bit more relaxed when it comes to my home so “Cleaning out the drawers” would definitely be on the Pendenzenliste. But before I dive into cleaning the apartment there are issues in the order of my home office that urgently need attention.

1 – Start with the Old Paper Files and Reduce your Pendenzen

Too much paper can weigh you down and hold you back. Getting rid of paper will make you more productive. You might have noticed that when you don’t feel in your comfort zone you need to have something in writing to hold on to. You can reduce complexity by having a plan or calendar of events on the wall. You might reduce your stage fright by writing down and scripting speeches and conference calls.

What it means to let go is that you need to remember more, but also that you focus on what’s really important. In the name of productivity, I am trying to avoid tasks that do not add value to my business or my clients. In the old days, we used to spend hours sorting and deleting emails or filing documents. Being a business owner now I am trying to reduce such work to a bare minimum as I have found out that if I cannot find something it is usually because I am in FRANTIC mode. In RELAXED mode I find all my documents on the laptop by working with the search function or using our elaborate system (It’s just an excel sheet with links to the respective document). 

2 – Simplify and standardize by reducing clutter.

Simplifying can also be done at home. I don’t have an extensive wardrobe. Reading articles on productivity made me standardize my clothes even more so I don’t have to make decisions about what to wear. I also place matching clothes together on the rack. I try to have all clothes “ready to wear” because if I go out in the dark I might not see certain colors or holes or stains. So anything stained, holed, or old has to go into the “Altkleidersack” (old clothes bag). The art is to throw the old clothes into the bin where they belong and will be picked up for charity right after you take them out. Otherwise, clothes and other clutter have a sneaky way to find their way back into your home.

3 – Use color codes, the four-box system, and laminated signs to sort your office.

In our office, I use a very clean and color-coded physical filing system. It helps me find files that I need to see printed. It also helps me to grab the right file when I am on my way to a client. Most of the time I work without paper though. I also structure my wardrobe by color and even try to sort items by color. It gives me a great sense of order and accomplishment.

The four-box system is very simple. You need to have four boxes and give them clear functions: 

Box 1: Bin

Box 2: Recycling

Box 3: Donations

Box 4: Treasures. 

You need to ensure that you go to throw away the bin right away.

You can put all your treasures in a box and put them in your attic and leave them there until your next cleaning exercise.

4 – Take the first step by sorting for half an hour a day.

One important tip when you start to work on this process is to limit it to half an hour a day. Set the clock and reward yourself afterward for example by buying yourself a bunch of flowers. Letting go of clutter means learning to rely more on your brain. Tell us what you do to sort out your clutter and find order in your life!

 

Further Reading and Videos:

There are a lot of great videos on Youtube about decluttering and simplifying. I like this one: 13 Life-Changing Decluttering Hacks to make 2021 Your MOST ORGANIZED YEAR EVER

You can also get inspired by Marie Kondo, the Master of Sorting. https://konmari.com/

https://zenhabits.net/21-easy-hacks-to-simplify-your-life/

A bird

I lay awake on a Saturday night that I had just enjoyed with my partner and our neighbors and even though it was only Saturday I felt a creeping dissatisfaction about all I wanted to achieve the next working week. I am not sure how you feel, but the fact that I attend most meetings online now creates more anxiety when a topic is really important to me. I feel that in a physical meeting I would be able to show my emotions better and I can be very convincing in such situations and achieve what I would like to achieve. Oftentimes, the point of such a meeting is to bring the other person or persons to an action or a decision.

But then, when I started to think about my week I felt there were so many small and urgent tasks to worry about that I would not be able to adequately prepare for those critical meetings where I would want to be fully present and prepared. And in order not to let anxiety dominate my thinking, I did what I usually do in such situations: I fell asleep. I woke up refreshed, made myself a cup of coffee, and started to work. 

Like a machine, I moved from one minor task to the next to set up my mind for success the next week. Then what happened next was that I was able to take my mind off the small tasks before the end of the weekend and I could focus on the “big wins” again.

And yes, it is easy to worry and action helps me the best to get out of the state of worry. What often blocks my flow is not a lack of motivation, it’s rather a feeling of having too much to do and too little time for fun and play. Here, as an entrepreneur, I developed the habit of allowing myself to not be reachable for anybody on certain days and just work in my pajamas if I feel like it. If I work on weekends, I usually schedule time in the morning so I can still go out and spend time with my loved ones in the afternoon. I even leave my phone in its bed for several hours on the weekend to be more present for my partner and friends.

I know what you are thinking now: “But what if a major client is trying to reach you and you are not responding for hours? Or what if there is an emergency? Or what if you wish to google something quickly? Or what if you forget important tasks because you have so much on your plate?”

(And then, when you think of all that, you stop your activity and decide not to follow your idea of starting a business because it suddenly seems “unrealistic” and “building castles in the skies”, and “it won’t be good for my old-age pension if I don’t get a regular salary…”, and “I don’t have enough experience, money, support to start my own business…”)

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a major change was about to happen in your career or life but you were too frightened to even start? You might not call it “FEAR”, you will probably think it is “REASON”, but believe me, my friend, all those stories you are telling yourself why it won’t work are based on fear. This fearful voice was created a long time ago when you were a child and you were probably born into a culture where taking risks was not encouraged, where everyone believed in planning, predicting, and pushing through.

I think we all have experienced this issue before and I would like to call it the “mountain of tasks” that leads to a block in activity. It’s similar to sports. Once you stop doing sports it is really hard to be motivated again.

I believe that there are two ways to deal with the Monday Anxiety I am describing above. One is that you engage in your purpose. You clearly define why this task helps you to fulfill your purpose in life and on earth. 

The other trick is to hack the “mountain of tasks” into smaller bits and pieces, make it doable and start with a small baby step. Therefore, it is important to create a system that helps you keep an overview of your tasks. Most of you probably have developed a system over the years to track tasks and projects.

However, what I am noticing and have talked about in the last two blog posts is that we are starting a lot of work and it remains stuck in Work-in-Progress because of various factors. I would like to encourage you to complete your Work-in-Progress before the year-end and see how that makes you feel.

If you cannot fully complete a project, define a new milestone that you would like to have achieved by the end of the year. List all those milestones on a wall where you can see them, either by using post-it notes or a hand-written task list.

 

 

 

 

Read more:

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/getting-projects-completed/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/the-digital-nomad-part-3/

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/expats-these-days-are-sleep-deprived-heres-how-you-can-break-that-cycle/

 

 

 

 

Globe and Covid19

Starting a business (and keep running it) is hard work. I mean hard! But it is all worth the time, money, and effort invested in the end for those who have a passion, a plan, and a reliable support system. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, though. Between the rewarding highs of seeing the spark of interest in a student’s eyes or the genuinely thankful client, you were able to help. Then, there are the lows of the stress and responsibilities that come with being an entrepreneur, and you might wonder if you did the right thing or if you are going to make it. But the freedom to focus your energy on what you have most at heart allows you to grow, live for your purpose and live from it too!

It requires a lot of discipline, physical and mental fitness, and friends who will not leave you if you have not been in touch for more than a week. You need a life partner and family who is entirely behind your decision, and you need to be prepared to work harder than ever. After almost ten years of building and running an offline and online business with freelancers in different locations and a diverse client base, I consider myself a pro.

A few years back, the business was drained, and the savings were used up. I had invested in two additional courses. 

I was ready to give up and get a full-time job.

I even said “yes” to a full-time job offer. But then “fate” kicked in. In a very relaxed moment during our first RockMeRetreat, I knew the answer was a clear “No.” 

I was not ready to start a full-time job in a leadership role again, where I would spend all my energy on maneuvering politics, playing the game, coaching a team, and sitting at a desk for more than six hours a day.

Yes, I was very disappointed when the company told me that they wanted to hire somebody else. I was down and scared, but at the same time, I was relieved. And I knew this feeling. It was the freedom smell

Deep down inside, I knew that I will always fall back on my feet and have all the skills within me to make a living. I once again felt the fear (and did it anyway). (There’s a book about that).

This post is not a pep talk on how we should leap out of our comfort zone and fight for survival daily because this adrenaline level is not suitable in the long run. We only need this kind of adrenaline in an actual emergency during a tornado or a pandemic, but not every day for years on end. A job is great. A paycheck is wonderful. A sick day is sensational. A sponsored coffee is amazing. A paid holiday is fantastic. Burnout isn’t. 

You probably wonder how you keep the energy drainers out of your work environment, and my advice about this is a simple one: Focus on your well-being first. Focus on that as long as you need, stop eating junk food, walk regularly, stop working after six hours and change your routine to fit your life. Most of the issues we have at work come from our fear of not being enough. We overcompensate. You might think that you need to achieve that next level, subsequent promotion, or next salary band. Then you will have a wonderful life. But let me be honest with you: There is a price you pay for that. And this price might not be what you are looking for right now.

I am in favor of abandoning many of the typical HR systems. Let us give our people the benefit of the doubt again and help them find their intrinsic motivation. We should help them work on projects where they can thrive, help them develop client relationships they will find engaging, and above all, we should change lives. Passion is a better driver than security for entrepreneurs as employees. 

And if you doubt now how you can help your team get to that level, we should have a conversation. I would say first of all: Everybody still has a ton to learn in this world. 

Understanding that we are always learning is the first step toward growth. Many people, especially women, need help to find the confidence to move ahead. In Switzerland, many women grew up in a male-dominated environment where they learned to work more than their peers to be recognized, and when they tried to move up the ladder and had to show their teeth.

Then a manager told them that they were too aggressive and too pushy.

They started to have self-doubts and fell into a complacent state where moving up was no longer an option. I know many excellent women with the busy-bee and Aschenbroedel-syndrome. They run their departments silently in the background, while a  male colleague gets the bonus and the honors. They start initiatives and get criticized. They speak out in meetings and someone else picks up the thread and everyone applauds the other guy.

We can all do our share to help them thrive. Sometimes an encouraging hug or a pep talk during lunch or a job referral might just be what they need. 

My team and I started helping more diverse women. We work with women from developing countries, women with more seniority, and women from minority backgrounds. 

Whatever their backgrounds, women with young children also face obstacles and prejudice in the labor market. Managers often assume they will miss work when their children are sick or that they will leave early. 

I’m ashamed to say that, but we diligently exclude certain people from the workforce here in Switzerland, depriving them of the fundamental right to work. It’s not always intentional, but we cannot always blame unconscious bias for our decisions. Some companies forgo excellent candidates because the humans who make up that company cannot move beyond their prejudice about women (even more so if they come from developing countries, have young children, have gaps in their resume, or are LGBTQ+, or disabled). 

It is frequent for people with a refugee background who cannot produce the required papers and certificates for specific jobs to face many challenges when accessing the job market. People suffering from mental health problems such as depression and talents who might be on the autism spectrum or have schizophrenia face numerous barriers when searching for a job. 

We might not be able to create a significant groundswell today and start a revolution, BUT we can change lives, one person at a time. Join us in our mission. We’re on a mission to bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility.


By Sean Patrick Hopwood

Riddled with quirky traits and poetic descriptions, the German language is a fascinating one. But why is German called “Das Land der Dichter und Denker”? In this article, we take a look at some wonderful and fun facts about one of the world’s most intriguing languages to explore why it’s considered the language of writers and thinkers!

Das Land der Dichter und Denker

The German phrase translates to ‘The Land of Poets and Thinkers,’ and it’s a common nickname for Germany. German culture ran through the veins of many famous minds that influenced the way the rest of the world reads and interacts with each other.

From Goethe and Schiller to Heine, Mozart, Beethoven, Fred, Klimt, and Einstein, German was spoken by many brilliant leaders and continues to stand tall as one of the most important cultural languages in the world. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, for example, the writer of Faust, is considered one of the greatest national treasures of Germany.

Interesting Facts About the German Language

Did you know that German is among the top 15 most widely-spoken languages on earth? It’s estimated that roughly 1.4% of the world’s population are German speakers. Here are some more interesting facts about the German language that prove that it’s the language of writers and thinkers!

German is a Close Relative to the English Language

German is a West Germanic language, just like the English language. This means that the languages share a lot of similarities and are actually closely related. However, there are many words that look and sound the same, but have totally different meanings!

Proverbs in the German Language Can be Bizarre at Times

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei – Everything has an end; only a sausage has two. What it really means, however, is that all good things must come to an end at some point.

Das ist nicht dein Bier! – That’s not your beer. The meaningful translation would be that it is none of your business.

In German, All Nouns are Capitalized

If you’ve ever read a newspaper in a part of the German-speaking world, you’d have noticed how the paragraphs are permeated with extra-long words that are written in capital letters. That is because they write all nouns in capital letters. And it’s also part of the reason why written German is such a captivating language.

German is Full of Unique Words Describing German Philosophy

One notable aspect of the German language is its ability to create new, super-specific words that help to express life much more accurately than the English language could ever dream of. Schadenfreude, for example, literally translates the kind of happiness that is derived from someone else’s misfortune or pain. Then there’s Torschlusspanik, the word used to summarize the fear that creeps in with old age and the realization that one doesn’t have much time left, and this evokes a sense of urgency to do certain things before it’s too late.

Many German Words are Compounded Nouns

Did you know that many of the scarily-long German words can probably be broken down into smaller nouns? The German language is well-known for building new words from existing ones. A good example is Handschuhe. It combines the words Hand and Schue (which means shoes) to form a new word for ‘hand shoes’ and literally translates to ‘gloves’ in the English language.

It’s the European Union’s Most Widely-Spoken Language and the Heart of German Culture

Aside from being the official language of Germany, German is also an official language in Austria and Liechtenstein. It’s also a co-official language of Luxembourg and Switzerland, and thus, it is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the European Union! However, the dialect isn’t the same everywhere across the German-speaking world of the European Union, and depending on where you are in Germany, you’ll encounter various German dialects.

Nouns are Masculine, Feminine, or Gender-Neutral

All German nouns have genders, but the gender doesn’t comply with the gender of the object; it’s purely grammatical. According to Mark Twain, young ladies aren’t classified as a specific sex, but turnips are definitely female.

German was the Proud Owner of the World’s Longest Foreign Language Word

The supercalifragilisticexpialidocious you were thinking about might be the longest word in the English language, but German history used to top that! The 63-letter Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, which means ‘the law concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labeling of beef’ was too much for even the native German speakers. The word was eventually declared obsolete.

Germanic Script only Emerged in the Middle of the 20th Century!

German used to be written with the Fraktur script from the Latin alphabet up until the middle of the twentieth century. Gothic calligraphy was introduced to the language in the 16th century and was in use in German Universities until the end of the Second World War.

Wrapping Up

With all its unique quirks, fascinating words, and captivating phrases, German certainly is a wonderful language that can describe life and all its experiences in a very unique way. It’s no wonder the language is considered the best one that poets and philosophers can use to express their ideas! 

So while a German citizen might call their language the language of poets because that’s what they were taught, there’s a very good reason why the rest of the world also agrees. German is one of the richest languages on earth thanks to its huge variety of words. 

They have words to describe sounds, processes, and even the effects of certain emotional states, and very few other languages can boast of this. And it is in philosophy and poetry where words are armor to keep up the good fight of spreading knowledge!

 Author Bio:

Sean Patrick Hopwood is the President of Day Translations, an academic evaluation services provider. He is also a language polyglot and can speak English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Hebrew, and Portuguese with varying levels of fluency. Soccer is one of his many passions. It allows him to socialize with his friends and brings him in close contact with people from other cultures. He loves to dance and salsa is one of his favorite styles.

aggressionWhen your colleague Paul tells you he has get home at 6 pm to see his children he throws in that your boss asked for a report she needs to have on her desk at 7 AM tomorrow. You cringe and call your partner to tell him you will need another 30 minutes to finalize the report. Your stomach feels hot and red. You are angry. Your colleague manages to get away. Why does he not have a deliverable here? Why is this team effort on your shoulders now? You think you could test if the boss was serious about 7 AM but you know you won’t get away with it.

Another messed up night. Your partner will be angry too now. You strip out of your suit as soon as you get home. On nights like this after leaving the battle ground you just want to have a glass of wine and a bath. Your partner rattles with the car keys. It is his gym night. Dinner needs to be cooked, the kids want a story and your inner household monster tells you to clean up the wardrobe. At 10 pm when your partner gets home you just want to go to bed. You almost had a bottle of wine by now.

The next morning, you protect your feelings through professionalism. You meditate and go for a run to keep up a smile. You wear a mask. You put on your business persona together with your pin-striped business suit and when you ask your boss if the report was ok, she just shrugs

“I had other priorities this morning. Team meeting at 10. Will you book a room for us?”.

“Isn’t that Paul’s task?”

“Yes, but he got caught up at kindergarden and will only get here at 9.45 AM. Be a good colleague and get us some pretzels too.”

You smile your best smile and help out again. While men seem to handle office politics better, I often notice that women prefer to stay out of roles where they have to deal with conflicts all the time. If you are in a leadership role – no matter if you are male or female – you won’t stay out of the firing lines. Doing favors might be easy, but verbal and written attacks will be part of your day.

You might feel you are giving more than you should, you might even feel that some of your colleagues advance faster than you, make more money and aren’t even better at what they do than you are. The good news is: You don’t have to accept aggressive behavior at the workplace.

Five methods to reduce aggressive behavior at the workplace

1) Reduce Your Aggressive Tonality

You could be seen as aggressive by others. If you solve conflicts on your managerial level by escalating issues to the next level, this could be seen as conflict avoiding and aggressive. Maybe your intention is to highlight a flaw in the process or that the team is understaffed. Still, the effect could be different than what you intend.

You might underestimate your native language and cultural assumptions too. If you are for example a native Russian speaker you could come across as unfriendly and aggressive in English without intending it. Or if you are a native French speaker you might come across as long-winded and complicated in English. It is good to ask a native-speaker friend how they see you and what you could improve in your communication style.

2) Stop Giving Unsolicited Feedback

You might also be seen as passive aggressive as you feel the need to correct others and give them unsolicited feedback. I had a colleague who would do that. I know now, that he was just trying to help me to become more assertive but at the time it drove me crazy. The basic rule is that you only give feedback and tips if your colleagues explicitly ask you for it. If you are the boss you probably need to give advice but be sure that you tell your subordinate that. Otherwise they will feel scolded and like back in high school. Since I started a business it happened to me more than once that listeners in an audience wanted to help me “sell” my services better or gave me feedback on word plays they would not understand. I understand the intention but I would have remembered them in a different light if they had just asked me about my intentions before babbling their ideas out.

3) Become a Listener

With the current average attention span of 90 seconds your colleagues will love you if you manage to listen to them for a full length of a three minute story without interrupting. If you practice to be authentic and a compassionate listener you will be seen as a source of inspiration and wisdom. Try to understand where your colleague or manager stands at the moment, which issues they have to solve and maybe also what they are going through in their personal lives.

4) Communicate your Needs

In business conversations it is helpful to speak about your needs and expectations in the I-form. “I need quite space to be able to think…” instead of “Could you shut up please?”. Or “I expect you keep the deadline for your deliverables as you promised to help me on this report.” instead of “Once again, you have not delivered what you said you would in time.”

5) Improve your business relationships

As I mentioned several times in the “Seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness” improving your business relationships   is the key to success in this globalized world. Work on every single relationship that is important to you and become a giver. You will be rewarded with success and long-term friendships across the globe.

Even if we have become used to it in our hierarchical work cultures we can all work towards a more appreciative communication culture. I recommend you learn about Marshall B. Rosenberg’s concept of non-violent communication and read Adam M. Grant’s book “Give and Take” too. Let me know if these five methods worked for you and what you have experienced.