Category Archives: Global Leaders
Ilanz, Graubuenden, Switzerland

Living a Life of Purpose – Four Ideas for Sanity Maintenance

Did you just have another day where you cleaned up your desk, wondered what you had achieved today, and got home to a stack of dishes, a pile of clothes, and a crying son? Did you spend last night driving your daughter to SCUBA class, squeezed in a conference call, and forgot that it was your mother’s birthday? Did you then at 11 PM sit down thinking “Why am I not moving on with my life?”

Often we think we are too busy to do that right thing, the Ph.D. we wanted to start, the Master we wanted to finish, the weight loss program, and healthy nutrition we wanted to implement. We keep ourselves too busy to meet a new partner. We play safe and the older we get the less risk we are willing to take.

Often we spend our time doing the wrong stuff. Sometimes there are good reasons to hang onto a job, a client, or even a marriage. Sometimes hanging in there is part of the deal (“…for better or worse…”) but there is also a fine line between going through rough patches and self-destruction.

In the past, I also got stuck in a story that I have been telling myself for the longest time. I have achieved balance in my life through continuous learning and weekly practices. And to speak like a true ZEN master: It’s the practice, not the achievement that makes it important for me. 

After you have been exposed to this pandemic and the anxiety in the world you probably lie awake at night thinking about the latest argument with your manager, the constant nagging of your spouse about living “here” and your teenager trying to find their identity as an artist.

You sometimes spiral down into the rabbit hole of worry and your inner Gollum starts telling you all the critical feedback you have received EVER as if you are Arya Stark and had to remember every man who was ever bad in the world. If you feel like this (even on the odd occasion) I would like to invite you to the following sanity maintenance practices

1 – Press the Pause Button

You might not know how to do this but I will teach you. For those of you who are following our programs you probably understand that maintaining a weekly practice helps you in the process of being more satisfied with your achievements. 

2 – Plugin Your Purpose Batteries

For some of you, reconnecting with your purpose sounds too difficult to even get started. Maybe you thought you had defined your purpose clearly but now you have doubts. Is that really the reason why you are in the world? Is this the area of work and life where you can influence the world the most for the better or are you just in this for the status, the money, and the company car? Is your reason for this international move the next career step in Caracas or is it the housing allowance and the package your company pulled together?

3 – Divorce Work from Your Self-Worth

When I speak to some of you I understand that work plays a very important role in your life but so does your spouse, your children, parents, siblings, and friends. You are more than a breadwinner and after having been in the corporate world for such a long time and having made it here, don’t you think you deserve to focus more on your important relationships? Don’t you deserve sipping rosé in the Biergarten at Zurichhorn on a Saturday? Open-Air movies with your loved ones on a school night?

4 – Kill Your Inner Corporate Zombie.

You do not have to be a corporate zombie either. The company pays you to deliver 42 hours of work (in Switzerland). All productivity research shows that our productivity declines after six hours of focused work. Potentially, we need to deconstruct the 42-hour workweek as it was designed for industrial workers, not knowledge workers, let alone our new breed of Digital Nomads.

Money has a limited value. When basic needs are met, the rest is a luxury, and no pair of shoes, no holiday, no luxury car will replace your health, your happiness, or time spent with your ailing elders. What is it that you truly need? Have you ever worked out how much money is enough? 

I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post “The Digital Nomad – Part 1” that we’re growing my company organically. I was inspired by creator Paul Jarvis and his book “Company of One”. Paul takes off time during the summer and winter when he thinks he made enough money for the year. How you can learn that will take a bit of reprogramming. I invite you already to join our upcoming free workshop series, where we will tackle:

1) Getting More out of Your Global Mobility Deal -> Packaging Moves

2) Designing Work to Support a Global Lifestyle  -> Persisting Mindsets

3) Becoming the Trusted Partner for Your People -> Presencing Moments.

All workshops will be held online via Zoom on Thursdays at 5 PM starting 9 September 2021. Guest speakers, workbooks, and slides will be given to you later through the participant list.

You are invited and you can just let us know that you want all the invites by replying “Rockstar” to this email.

Kind regards

Angie

P.S. Please note that seats are limited and that we have to have your reservation by 30 September 21. Should we need to cancel the RockMeRetreat because of the Pandemic we will pay your enrollment fee back. If you need us to send a formal proposal to your employer please contact our project manager Anne-Kristelle Carrier.

If you want in on the Rockstar Pipeline > Sign up to the RockMeRetreat list

Expat Spouse

Going on an international assignment is often a relationship challenge. Even if you have already been married for a long time moving abroad can bring out the best and worst in the relationship with your spouse and/or life partner.

Gone are the days of the “expat wife” sitting in the expat country club, playing tennis or painting her fingernails at the pool while an armada of the staff was taking care of the driving, children, household, and cooking. Today, life partners and spouses are of all backgrounds and all colors.

My observation is that more and more male spouses are joining female expats. We also see more same-sex couples going on assignments together. Some couples plan to have a family while on assignment, others have children living in a boarding school in different countries. My advice here is mainly for dual-career couples. If you have children, you might face other challenges but usually, there is more support around finding schooling by companies than helping with spouse adjustment.

Here are five principles you can use to help your spouse adjust to the host country faster.

1) Make sure you understand all legal obligations when applying for a residence and work permit.

Make sure you have understood the legal obligations in case you are not legally married. Is your life partner allowed to reside in the country? How hard or easy is it to receive a work permit? Did you consider adequate health, accident and life insurance coverage? Work permit legislation can be tricky even for married couples. Make sure you understand the implications of your work permit type for your spouse/life partner.

2) Help your spouse with the job search by building your network in the host country fast.

Try to find out how to build up a network in the host location fast. Speak to agencies and headhunters about job opportunities. Understand the role of agencies/headhunters in the process before you contact them. Build on- and offline networks to find a job. Help others too so that you will be considered when it is your spouse’s turn to look for a job.

3) Get intercultural training to understand the cultural differences.

Understand the cultural differences in how to write an application and how a resume typically looks for the host country. What are the usual ways of getting a job? How important are personal introductions? Who should sponsor your spouse? Getting a social life and making friends together will help in the transition into the new culture. Try to make time for events so that your spouse feels that you are on this adventure together.

4) Utilize support offered by your company.

Utilize the resources of the company you work for. Request for help. Some companies offer spouse career coaching or job coaching. f you have a chance get coaching for your spouse. The transition into a new country is stressful. Sitting at home without a real task can trigger depressions or a feeling of loneliness.

5) Discuss a fallback option with your spouse.

In case your spouse cannot find a job in the host location, come up with a fallback option and value work even if it does not generate family income. Examples include volunteer work, social engagement, university degree, freelance work or building up a company. Sometimes I have observed that expatriates are so busy with starting a new job and a new life that they forget to listen and support their partners. This might be more important than anything else. I have seen couples who agree that they take turns in advancing their career. After this assignment your spouse should be able to pick the next role or location first.

I find it critical for a couple to live together (or close to each other) during an international assignment. Commuting creates separation and your life will diverge. Also consider that even though your career step might be important it does not mean your life. So once in a while, you might be better off turning down an international assignment to save the relationship.

If you would like to discuss your or spouse’s situation with me, kindly email angela@globalpeopletransitions.com for an appointment.

It had never occurred to me that a ballpoint pen is actually refillable. I did not even think that it was using ink. To be honest, I was never a big fan of the biro, ball pen, or dot pen. How could you even have so many words to describe the same instrument? In high school, the taste and smell made me nauseous. 

In an attempt to motivate me to “get back to school,” I cleaned up all my desk drawers and found two hand-softening silver ink dispensers rolling over a ball. With these two, my handwriting looks as beautiful as that of Daisy, the kitten. Have you ever seen kittens handwrite? Me neither, but she came to mind, and it’s a beautiful thought. She sports a pink bow tie with white polka dots, greyish fur, and blue eyes like Terence Hill (If you don’t know this actor you are too young for my programs). 

Daisy is going back to school next Monday, and she will be organized and have refilled her pens. Let me tell you how I spent the summer as it might seem to you that I am always on and productive. I really needed a long break this summer, and I wanted to spend time with my family in Germany. At the same time, I had signed up for three courses during the summer. 

Do you know how your mind often just needs new input? This is me after being “productive” for months. I need new input.

That kind of learning only works for me with a structure, so I worked on a particular “summer schedule” for three weeks, where I worked productively for six hours maximum. The rest of the day I enjoyed meals with my mum, went for a walk, sat at lake Constance, licked on dark chocolate, mango, and greek yogurt ice cream (because that’s what you do in Southern Germany), tested the rosé wine selection from the local supermarket and held my grandmother’s hand while she was trying to get back on her feet after an unexpected fall. 

Why am I telling you this?

In “back to school mode,” you might be looking forward to more routine, having the kids out of the house for a few hours and a place to go to that you call “workplace.” I wish I could tell you that you will get back to your routine in no time and that the 761 emails all contain information only but need no action really because honestly, nobody was at work. 

Everyone was sipping rosé in France or eating tomatoes in Mallorca. Because this is what you do when you are a grown-up. You eat tomatoes, dip the mozzarella in olive oil and crema di balsamico, add two leaves of container-grown basil, and for a good time, you eat an extra slide of the garlicky mayonnaise-dripping sauce that you would never touch at home.

This little holiday adventure is over. Stop slacking. It’s back-to-school season. As we don’t know yet how this fall will pan out, I wanted to give you a list of ideas of how you can start your back to school routine:

1 – Hand Write Your Brand

In case you are still looking for a job, and you have missed signing up for our HireMeExpress program, here’s one idea: Why don’t you let me handwrite your biography for you? Most people have a rather generic way of writing about themselves. Most resumes are boring and hard to understand. Let’s work together on developing your personal brand, your purpose, your one-sentence mission statement, and your creative valve.

2 – Design Your Workspace

Put on your favorite playlist and clean your home and your workspace if you work from home. Make your workspace so attractive and full of creative passion that you wish to return to it magically all the time. Clean out your wardrobe and anything that reminds you of “old me.” 

3 – Create Your Magic

If you wish to live a life full of purpose, you want to figure out what matters to you, understand who you need to serve and how to do it, and then create your magic. It’s not that hard once you get started. Follow your intuition despite the fear you might feel. Focus on what matters to you and what is important to get to your goal and acknowledge that you have what it takes within you to be you.

The hard part comes later when you are creating your art, your work, your creative brief, or your ZEN garden in the backyard, and you start doubting yourself… But first, you have to get there! Dear First Name, we can help you find your own path during the RockMeRetreat 2021.  I would personally like to invite you to our RockMeRetreat 2021. The RockMeRetreat is a seven-day leadership retreat held from 18 to 25 November 2021 at Kloster Ilanz, Switzerland. 

Sign up here for our mailing list to show your interest. Tube mail this love letter to anyone in your company or your circle of friends. And if you are not sure if this is for you I’m sure you’ve heard of this modern communication device called a mobile phone. Type +41791922877 or respond to this message to arrange a call with me. We will be happy to take your reservations until 30 September 2021. 

Further Input:

 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/do-you-want-to-live-a-life-full-of-purpose/

 

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/how-to-get-rid-of-clutter-in-five-steps-spring-cleaning-for-more-productivity/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmM0kRf8Dbk

Angie Weinberger

“Just reinvent yourself!” 

This phrase is advice Expat Spouses (partners of expats) often hear when they cannot find a job in Switzerland. You are a typical Gen X professional in New York, London, Frankfurt, or Mumbai. You have a career image stamped on yourself. Telling you to reinvent yourself is like saying “Why don’t you just run a marathon after you just recovered from COVID-19.”

At parties, you say “I’m a Senior Consultant / Director / Lawyer / Doctor / Scientist” and with that, you talk about the pleasure of long-distance travel in times of terrorism or you mention that your partner is away too often and that the kids know the nanny better than their parents, or you explain that you never get to the city because you feel that childcare is too expensive and you rather stay at home than trusting your kids to another person.

Your professional reputation has fueled your ego and you did everything to improve it. You attended courses, webinars, conferences, networking events and you read everything you could about the topic on your commute to work. Not to mention that you had a routine of ensuring that your social media profiles reflected your success only and you ensured your name was published at least once a year.

Then out of the blue (or even because you were following a long-term idea), your spouse gets a job offer in Basel, Switzerland or your job is outsourced to Pune, India. After the initial excitement or shock, you start to consider what a career change means for you right now. You might even consult blogs and books on the matter. From one day to the next, you worry about your branding as a professional. And you might even notice that you don’t really know what you want.

It is not so easy to find out what you want so I recommend you work with a career coach to develop a vision of your next role and probably a long-term career vision too. What I personally found even harder though is to let go of my old career image. I had acquired a status in HR and in my new roles, I felt like a beginner again.

In our cultural context here in Switzerland we say “Schuster bleib bei Deinen Leisten!”. We are discouraged from changing our chosen career path.

Break in Your new Career Image

We know well that a shoe we have worn for a while is comfortable. A new shoe often feels too tight or too big for us to fill. If you imagine now you have to get out of your patent leather shoe and into a hiking boot that is comparable to the change you are going through.

You need to break your career boot in. You might know already consciously that the hiking boot is more practical, fits better to your personality, and has more value on icy mountain grounds but you still feel the burden of a heavier shoe.

Seven Steps to Let Go (of Anything)

You need to throw your old patent leather shoe into the mental “Altkleidercontainer” (the recycling bank for old clothes and shoes). 

  1. Write down all the advantages of the new hiking boot: Think of every aspect of your new career and how it will look and feel. Run a meticulous research. Interview experts and speak to friends who work in this area. Collect as many details as you can and either collate them in a diary or add them to a vision board.
  2. Work in your new career part-time: Work in your hiking boot, at least, one to two days a week by volunteering or finding a cause in this profession worth supporting. Get a consulting project before you commit full-time. Build experience and skill in your new career.
  3. Pretend you are the CEO of your own company: Pretend you are already experienced in walking with the hiking boot, attend seminars and networking events wearing a batch with your new role on it and have business cards printed.
  4. Market yourself with your new personal brand: Update all your biographies, social media profiles, and websites and show that you are wearing the boot already. Mention your new role and functional title. Be the career you want to be.
  5. Support yourself with visuals: Leave post-its in your office, in the bathroom and at home with a visual anchor. For example, if you want to become a scientist working in the pharma industry you could jot down a logo of a company that you find attractive or a picture of you with security glasses.
  6. Create your productive workspace for your new career only: Develop a space that signifies “productive work” in your new career for you. It could be an office or an area on your kitchen table. Make sure that this area is reserved for work in your new career only.
  7. Learn more about your ideal client: Write down the story of your ideal client, someone who will depend on the results or fruits of your new labor. Who is that person, what is important to that person and how does this person live?

These are seven ideas on how can let go of your old career image and start with a new business idea or career.

If you are looking for further insights you can book a consultation with our team or join one of our programs.

 

Family Separation

We talked about how family challenges and marital issues greatly impact the outcome of international assignments. We also saw that a large number of companies list the Expat Spouse’s unhappiness as the primary cause of “Expatriate Failure”, highlighting the importance of the Expat Spouse and Partner career support programs.

This week, we will talk more extensively about the kind of support you can give to Dual-Career Expat Couples and why that matters if you work in HR and Global Mobility.

I have always advocated for Global Mobility Managers to be more proactive about involving Expat Spouses. Sometimes I sound like a broken record though. Anyway, it’s 2021 so I reiterate what I’ve been repeating for years.

We want to be proactive!

The days of the passive “trailing spouse”, when they were marginally involved in any decision of moving abroad, are definitely gone. Today, according to the 2018 Relocating Partner Survey, 97% of mobile employees actively involve their partners in the discussion before accepting an assignment, so why shouldn’t you?

We want to be inclusive!

Employers cite a variety of reasons for supporting Dual-Career Expat Couples via policy and practice. The primary reason is to increase staff mobility. Some employers also do it to reduce the costs of assignment refusal or early return and promote family-friendly policies. Others want to support diversity or gender initiatives.

One figure, in particular, stands out in the latest KPMG report: 39%. This indicates the percentage of surveyed companies pointing out that sexual orientation is the main demographic reason leading an employee to refuse an assignment. But 39% is also the percentage of companies indicating that the employees’ dependents impact their decisions to accept an assignment. Perhaps, in your career as GMM, you too have witnessed these scenarios and you aim now at broadening the pool of talent by making it more diverse and inclusive. 

Here is how you can still help your company achieve its Diversity and Inclusion goals, improving brand, reputation, and global market competitiveness.

  • Review the demographics of your global mobility team based on diversity and change policies accordingly.
  • Diversify international assignment terms. 
  • Adjust policies for selecting candidates.
  • Broaden communication about opportunities.
  • Offer training to reduce unconscious bias.

We want to bring back the Human Touch!

What you can do to help Expats and Expat Spouses is to ease the external stressors to their relationship caused by the international assignment. Most importantly, take the Expat Spouse seriously!

Here are seven provisions you can take up in your guidelines.

1 – Review all your Global Mobility Guidelines

Today’s mobile employees are no longer interested exclusively in the financial aspect of their international assignment package. They are also very concerned about the impact of the move on their spouses’ careers while abroad. This is a consequence of the increased levels of equality within the couple: 77% of Expat Spouses work before the assignment and 82% of them secure a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). In short, the current mobile population won’t accept being treated like their predecessors. 

Even if 62% of employers wish to encourage employee acceptance of an assignment by offering support to Expat Spouses, most employees are still frustrated by what employers are offering today.

An increasing number of Dual-Career Expat Couples depend on the income of their spouses during international transfers. Today, dividing Expat Spouses into the “working” and the “non-working” categories is too simplified. 

Employers should therefore ensure that their partner policies support these choices equally for working and non-working partners to avoid any form of discrimination.

According to a report published by Permits Foundations in 2012, only 33% of the companies surveyed provided career support to Expat Spouses under a formal written policy. Another 11% had informal guidelines, while 27% of them assisted on a case-by-case basis. 29% provided no support at all. 

With an Expat Spouse and Partner Support Guideline in place, you will more easily become a more attractive employer.

2 – Involve the Expat Spouse and Partner in the Pre-Assignment Phase

During this phase, there are probably lots of questions going on in the Expat Spouse’s head, and feelings of euphoria and anxiety often alternate with each other. They might be wondering what impact the move will have on their children and whether they will be able to find employment in the new country. It is part of your role as Global Mobility Manager to offer early career assessment for the Expat Spouse as well as information on international schooling options. Additionally, since Expat Spouses are often in charge of the logistics behind the move, you must be able to connect them with relocation services and immigration providers ahead of the move.

3 – Help with the Work Permit

Nowadays, Expat Spouses are allowed to work on a dependent work permit in the vast majority of the top host locations accounting for 80% of today’s global mobility (2018 Relocating Partner Survey). This huge achievement is the fruit of the Permits Foundation, which fights for the rights of relocating partners to be able to work on their dependent permit. 

However, some countries present exceptions and subtleties linked to marital status. Non-married partners from opposite sexes, as well as same-sex couples, face more challenges accessing work permits. In countries that do not allow Expat Spouses to work, securing a work permit is almost impossible.

It is therefore your duty to help Expat Spouses navigate the world of bureaucracy specific to each assignment. 

4 – Research Work Opportunities for Expat Spouses

Career stagnation is a major stressor to any relationship. Therefore, as one way to avoid putting the success of assignments in jeopardy, your employer could provide work opportunities to the Expat Spouse if they work in a similar field or area. What I’m also doing is to check with other companies if they have availability for the Expat Spouse especially when they work in a related field.

In this initial exploratory phase, it is also important to verify that the Expat Spouse’s degree is in line with what recruiters expect to see in the host country: qualifications obtained in one country are not necessarily recognized in another.

The 2018 Relocating Partner surveys highlight how career and job search support is now offered by 71% of employers, a sharp increase in comparison to previous data.

5 – Provide Transition Coaching For The Expat Couple

Coaching for the Expat Couple is also an option. In my experience, it is also helpful if one person of the couple is going through a coaching program. Your company should take over the cost within the Global Mobility guidelines. Companies offer Expat Spouse Career and Life Support programs to assist Expat Spouses. Most Swiss-based companies provide up to 7’000 CHF in services. This is a lot of money!

Transition coaching for Expats and Expat Spouses is becoming a more and more prominent concept in companies around the world. As a Global Mobility Manager, you already probably know that supporting Expats and Expat Spouses through each different adjustment stage they experience leads to a higher satisfaction rate with the assignment and the service of Global Mobility in general. 

The sad part is that Expat Couples often don’t claim support as they haven’t seen the GM policy and have not been involved in the decision-making process.

6 – Offer Host Language Course

The most common forms of assistance already in place addressing spouse career concerns are language training, provided by almost two-thirds of employers (Permits Foundation, 2012). If there is a business need, companies generally pay for a 60-hour course.

7 – Pay for Support for Children and Teenagers

Not only Expats and Expat Spouses, but their children too, need support during the assignment. After all, children are the most critical asset in the expatriation process. One of the tools you can offer them is intercultural training, especially if the children are in local schools. Giving training to Expat Children has a lot of value, and you will see that once you make the children happy, you will have a higher ROI, higher retention rate, and a better satisfaction rate in your KPIs.

When Family Separation is the Best Option

Sometimes, things just don’t work out and the result of that international assignment is family separation. There are also instances where the Expat Spouse and potential children should stay in the home country. One reason could be schooling, another reason health and safety. Consult with me if you have any questions about how can bring the #HumanTouch back into your Global Mobility Program and Team.

Kind Regards,

Angie.

PS: We open HireMeExpress for Sale

We developed the HireMeExpress program to support more Expat Spouses and Partners to find a job in a new country. All of the twelve modules and more than 36 worksheets can be used for other expat hubs from Berlin to Bombay. However, our best network is in Zurich, Zug, and Basel, Switzerland. Hence, we can help best here. If you need help in other locations, contact us anyway, as we have contacts globally.

References:

KPMG. (2018a). „Inclusion and Diversity: How Global Mobility can help move the Needle”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle-FINAL.pdf

KPMG. (2018b). „Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility”, KPMG. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

NetExpat & EY. (2018). Relocating Partner Survey Report. https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report/$File/ey-2018-relocating-partner-survey-final-report.pdf

Permits Foundation. (2012). International Mobility and Dual-Career Survey of International Employers. https://www.permitsfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Permits+Global+Survey+2012nw.pdf