Category Archives: Global Mobility

“Why did I not learn more about Finance?” I repeatedly asked myself since I started my own business and will I ever get my head around the financial side of the business? Will I ever get better at managing cash flow?

It didn’t make sense to me. I was good with computing cost projections and balance sheets for expats. I can explain the difference between purchasing power parity and cost-of-living index. I can tell you how COLA relates to foreign exchange rates. I was excellent in Math as a student. So it’s NOT that I don’t like numbers.

My issue was more that I lacked the practical understanding of a “good housewife”. I didn’t know how much a liter of milk would normally cost in the supermarket. I didn’t know those little secrets of saving money in Switzerland such as the fact that Migros and Denner are essentially under the same corporate umbrella but you can buy twice as much food at Denner.

When I was working as a Global Mobility Leader, I had a good paycheck. In Germany, I would even go grocery shopping in the “bio” shop Alnatura. My mother would say that I might as well go shopping in a pharmacy. For me, this meant “quality of life”. It meant that I would not be stressed at the cashier on Saturday because five other people were in line behind me.

There was another issue why I stopped learning more about finance, investments, saving money when I was employed: I had a bad relationship with money. Money stinks. Money doesn’t make you happy. When you have money, you don’t talk about it. I had all sorts of relationship issues with money.

This article is for you if you started out as a business owner or if you feel that you need to heal your relationship to money. And if you are not a female but you feel you need to get better with money, you may read this article as well. Let’s try to understand a few basics of finance and financial independence.

Maintain one spreadsheet called Cash Flow Plan

If you want to run a sustainable business, work with a cash flow plan. It can be a simple one, but you need to have your finances in order. In the early days of my business, I asked my BFF (who is a Finance guru) to review my business plan. She explained that I would just need to ensure that there is a cash flow in and that it is bigger than the cash flow out. Easier said than done, but I still use that same plan in year nine.

Moving from a monthly fixed income to a fluctuating income

When you are used to a certain lifestyle with a fixed monthly income you rely on that paycheck a lot because you tend to tailor your lifestyle around your consistent monthly income. If you are unemployed or if you start out as a freelancer you have to get used to a fluctuating income. You probably had 100’000 CHF in your bank account as a starting capital and reserve and in my experience, you will need that in Switzerland in your first two years in business (unless your business is a hobby).

Finding finance information that you actually want to read

This is a challenge I have addressed with bankers several times already. Most financial information is written in a way that no one wants to read it. Some of it does not even make a lot of sense. I received a weird letter the other day and sent it back with edits and side comments. The main message was: We could not deduct money from your account but there was a lot of fluff around it. It took me a while to understand why this company wrote to me. I have started to read the Cashguru blog now, so at least I know what is going on at the SMI in Switzerland.

KPI’s for MNC’s might not fit for small businesses

I studied Finance in college, so you would think I get it but most of these models relate to MNCs, not small businesses. This knowledge does not really help in practical matters such as where to buy in bulk or how to maintain a cash reserve. The most important KPI I remember from uni is the relation between borrowed capital and your own capital. Now, if you start out, you might just want to use your own capital. That’s a lot smarter than lending. For the years ahead, you need to find a healthy ratio between investing and earning. That’s all. Don’t forget that in Switzerland if you have a sole proprietorship a lot of your reporting obligations change at the magic 100k CHF turnover mark.

Learn Vocabulary

If you want to appear financially competent when talking to your bank manager, financial advisors, insurance brokers, mortgage providers, or lawyers, you need to know a few basics and speak their language. For example, you need to understand interest and how it works. Also negative interest, debt, and how you get into debt. What is an advantage of a mortgage versus paying rent? How do open and closed investment funds actually work?

I agreed with my bank lady, that we would meet in person once a year to go through the main issues and look at my risk profile and discuss my financial planning for the year. I enjoy that I have a personal contact and someone who helps out in case I need urgent support with online banking.

Learn about budgeting

In the early years and even before I launched GPT, I used to spend more than I earned. I applied “Reaganomics”. What works in politics, does not really work for a small business. At the time, I did not really understand that this investment could hinder my potential for getting out of the red figures in the long term.

I sometimes took bad financial decisions. For example, I started to pay myself a salary too early. I listened to an advisor and should have listened to my gut feeling. Remember that other people’s experiences in the business world could be biased. They have opened their business many years before. Switzerland has also suffered from the global economic crisis.  Often the Swiss have access to networks that foreigners will not really get into. Also, men might have faster results than women because of unconscious biases of their buyers.

Depending on your type of business, you should have a current account, which balances your company and your personal investments and costs. I would advise that you separate your private and company accounts.

Dealing with a cycle of costs

My business is cyclical and once I understood the cost and earning cycle, I could prepare myself better for the downtimes. For example, I have a lot of annual invoices in January but January is often a slow month.
It’s generally better to split invoices into smaller parts. Often, when you ask the insurance provider they are willing to support you on a payment plan. If you want to be ahead of your costs, you should ask for larger invoices and pay them as soon as you possibly can.

Learn to manage cash flow

One cardinal rule I have broken a little bit in 2017 was that I try to pay all my own vendors in advance so that they would always get their money. It means that I have to budget their quarterly invoices too and it happened once or twice that I had to put a service on hold because of lack of funding.

Another principle I have developed is to check my account twice or thrice a week, sometimes even daily. I try to issue an invoice as soon as the service has been delivered or as soon as the booking has been confirmed.

Many large relocation companies and training agencies have very long payment periods. I suffered greatly from these in the early years of my business. I had delivered a service but sometimes was only paid 60 to 90 days later. In some instances, invoices got lost in cost center discussions and bad processes. Once I got paid two years later only. Now, I am more careful about the agreements in the contracts and I try to follow up on outstanding invoices faster. I use a “Small Invoices” to manage my invoicing process.

Read and study

Even though Finance is not my favorite subject, I found out that if I research more about a topic, I can reduce hassle and costs for my business. For example, I clarified how the VAT-system works when working across borders. On invoices I received from service providers outside of Switzerland, I asked them to change their invoices so that my company would show as responsible for VAT. I also found a good rule for issuing invoices for service providers located out of Switzerland. In my first year claiming VAT back on a company car paid my rent and expenses for a month.

Review your Pricing

I review my pricing every year and check if my services are still at the price level where I feel I should get paid. It is not always possible for me to insist on a certain rate or price but I got a lot better asking for it. I see a lot of women who undersell themselves or do not even consider that they could earn more. In my RockMe! program we define a financial goal for every client.

Buy local where you need service

I buy local where I need service. Everything else I try to order online. You might be wondering why I need to have human interaction to buy a mundane product like toner, paper or pens. The reason is that for me these shopping trips are a pleasure. I like to go to the “Papeterie” and browse what they have on offer. It’s not just a transaction.

Invest in yourself the most

Over the years as a company owner and Managing Director of www.globalpeopletransitions.com I allowed most of my investments to be investments in myself. I enjoy having a beautiful working space I can go to and hang out in all day. I love to go to seminars and invest in my skills and knowledge. I know that I have to be better than average in order to stay competitive and that requires that I keep up to date with technology, knowledge in my field and update my skills constantly. Maybe it’s time to go to a Finance course.

Money and Food

I noticed with a friend recently that money and food have a lot in common too. If you tend to overeat you might also have a tendency to overspend. I am currently fasting from certain foods and from money. It means that I try to reduce my spending to the bare essentials. It helps once in a while to have an empty fridge, to buy only what you really need, and drop the coffee at Starbucks or the wines at Bohemia

Angie Weinberger

PS: Are you struggling with how to set your price tag?
Check out these PRICING articles on my blog.

HireMeExpress – From desperate to confident as a Minority Expat Partner. 

HireMeExpress is the online course that will get you from desperate to carving out an income and feeling at home in your new country. Sign up here to find out everything you need to know in order to land a job in Switzerland or another market you are not familiar with. We will send you our 19 Fresh Resume Checkpoints and further material such as videos. In case you have any questions you can email us via angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

International Business Travelers can face many issues. As a Consultant, I would tell you about all the compliance issues and the option of being held in detention if you get caught with the wrong visa or work permit. This is my tale of trying to book a ticket that involved three countries called Switzerland, Germany and France.

Once upon a time in a land far away, locked inside a few mountains, a middle-aged lady, Mrs. W. tried to live in a more environmentally friendly way. So she sent her carriage to Africa. It was the age of mass transportation, the neo-romanticism movement had just begun and a few freaks committed to train travel as a way of life.

Our middle-aged lady, Mrs. W. did consider a horse carriage but the train was the transportation of choice. It promised to offer safety, a view, the potential for a class of wine in the restaurant carriage and most importantly, it was supposedly reliable. Our lady had a commitment in the beautiful city of mustard: Dijon, France.

After two days in this beautiful little town she planned to liaise with her old-time university friend TK and his new, soon-to-be fiancée that she had not met yet. Mrs. W. needed to take a train to Frankfurt in Germany. Then she planned to return home, too late to see off her lover who was going to go on a long adventure in the lands, formerly known as Hindustan.

Mrs. W. tried to book her tickets. Her handmaiden was off on vacation so Mrs. W. so to the task herself. She also could not send her delivery boy, because she had let all the staff go due to urgent renovations happening in her castle (or cottage or mini city apartment).

The first part of the trip, from Zurich to Dijon went fine. The second part seemed more complicated. She first consulted with the train company in Switzerland. It seemed to be difficult for them to issue a ticket where none of the train station was in their territory. Then the train company in Germany told her it would take several days to process a ticket.

She hoped for a faster solution and asked locals in France for help. One of her assigned supporters from the university, gave her the hint to work with the French train company. When she finally managed to obtain a ticket, the confirmation letter told her that the ticket would arrive in four days with the mail. This was the day she would already be gone. Despite the potential of using the telephone, Mrs. W. was not sure if her French was up to the standard for such a complicated conversation.

So Mrs. W tried to contact the French train company again via the common mail exchange.

Support via Facebook Chat

How innovative she thought. She first received an answer from a machine.

Bonjour Angie ! Tu l’as sans doute remarqué, j’ai changé … Désormais, je m’appelle OUIbot pour que la seule réponse à tes envies de voyage soit « OUI » !

T’aider à réserver des voyages en train, c’est ma spécialité ! Mais ce n’est pas la seule corde à mon arc… NOUVEAU Maintenant réserve avec moi des trains TGVmax en ajoutant “en TGVmax” à ta recherche !

Mrs. W responded: I don’t speak French

The Machine said:

Désolé, je ne suis pas encore polyglotte… Mais je travaille dur pour y arriver!

The machine told her that he is not “polyglotte” but was working hard to get there. He tried to be funny. Even used emoticons to express his feelings. Mrs. W. was not amused.

She pressed the button “Talk to a Human”. Then she left the scene for a walk in the cold and icy city. She ended up in a bar where she met a friend and was at ease when she returned home. After dinner, she returned to her desk. A human seemed to take of her matter.

Un conseiller va prendre le relais. Pour qu’il soit le plus efficace possible, peux-tu me préciser ta demande ?

Mrs. W. tried to explain the issue in French and English.

Oui, je voudrais changer le ticket pour un ticket en ligne, pas de papier. (I don’t speak French so well but I need to have an online ticket, not a ticket sent by mail. I did not see that the ticket would be sent by mail. I assumed it was always a pdf or online ticket). Can you help me please?

Several hours passed. Nothing happened.

She got the same response. She would have to get a new ticket on the counter and claim the cost back via registered mail.

Mrs. W. gave in. She went to the counter and explained the issue. The lady at SNCF was efficient and helpful and showed her how to claim the ticket costs back. She typed a letter in French. The registered mail cost her CHF 8.60 and she had to go to the post office in person, because her handmaid and the butler had taken the day off again.

The SNCF tickets came a week after she had ordered them. In good time and they looked perfectly like back in the last century. “Handwritten tickets, that’s what’s missing” she thought to herself. The nostalgia that overcame her when she held the tickets in her hand was priceless. Yes, another adventure in the digital age. So Downton Abbey.

Angie

PS: Here is more on International Business Travelers (IBT) and if you need a more serious discussion about the topic please make an appointment with me.

Here are my tips on security measures for international business travelers and expats.

We are more sensitive to security issues after a terrorist attack. The precautions you can take are limited but will be helpful in an emergency situation be it a health issue, the death of one of your close relatives, a natural disaster or a terror attack.

  • Only travel when it is a necessity. Check if meetings can be held via video conferencing technology instead.
  • Update your personal information on Social Media.
  • Log in and register on the website of the security provider your company works with. If you don’t know the security provider ask your travel manager, HR manager, and Global Mobility Team. If none of them knows, ask Risk Management or Corporate Security. This information should be published on your company intranet site. Many companies work with International SOS ISOS and my experience with their support for expats is excellent.
  • Have a business card size overview of emergency numbers in your wallet AND your phone. Carry this card with you at all times. Have your passport, ID, work, and residence permit on you.
  • Carry a card with your blood type and allergies or other medical conditions in your wallet.
  • Stay connected to your spouse/life partner and agree regular times for calls when you are traveling.
  • Read the emergency travel alerts provided by ISOS and your Embassy.
  • In an emergency stay connected to other families in the host location. Contact International SOS ISOS or your security provider immediately when you feel you need to leave the country for health or safety reasons.
  • Have an emergency medical kit with you when you go on a business trip. Most company doctors provide such a kit when you go there to get necessary vaccinations and travel advice. Watch out for health issues after your journey.
  • If you have been in a traumatic situation seek psychological support for yourself and your family members. Your company will provide a contact.
  • As a single female business traveler prioritize safety and request safety rooms in hotels. Travel with recognized taxis and keep away from bars. In male-dominated cultures hire a driver or ask your host to ensure your personal safety.
  • Learn emergency phone numbers in the host country by heart.
  • If you manage a global team establish a call tree in your team and devise a backup structure for emergencies. Have an emergency data system for a day where you all have to work from home.

We all don’t want to think about emergencies but when we are in such a situation it is important that we can fall back on a program we have learned. It is important that we know already whom to call and where to find the number. If this is helpful for you please share.

Read more:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/question-judgement-personal-reflection-nicolas-stramilos


Global Recruiting is a challenge. Hiring your employees from other countries will give your company the chance to find a motivated and skilled workforce, particularly if your country is suffering from a shortage of skilled labor on a national scale in certain job sectors. But sourcing your workforce from another country is difficult if you have never done it before.

Here are eight tips that you should think about before you consider hiring from abroad:

  1. Traditional and Online Marketing

Every country has its own set of laws that dictate how marketing and advertising are to be conducted. These set of laws are also applicable to online advertising and traditional recruitment marketing so make sure that you as a global employer follow all the laws of the country where you are sourcing and recruiting your workforce from.

Other than abiding by the country’s regulation when recruiting employees, you also need to ensure that your advertising and recruitment campaigns are non-discriminatory and follow the employment-related quota requirements required in multinational markets. Maintain clarity by mentioning the language requirements for the job postings, so nothing is lost in translation.

  1. Job Applications Should Comply with the Local Laws

All written job applications have to abide by the laws of the country where you are recruiting from, which may vary from country to country. This indicates that you should be sensitive to asking certain questions that may be prohibited according to a country’s laws.

Another factor that you as a global employer should bear in mind is whether your job application complies with the law as well as whether you need to draft it in multiple languages before using it in your global recruiting process. You can hire an interpreter to help you with your recruitment process if your recruiting managers are not fluent in the same language as the job applicants.

  1. Study the Compensation Packages

Ensure that the total compensation package that you are offering is enough to challenge the competition in the local market to attract the right candidates.

Make sure that the perks and benefits that your company offers other than the basic salary should also meet or exceed the candidate’s expectations in each country. You can set up a compensation baseline on a global scale.

Consider the following factors when deciding on compensation:

  • The labor market demand
  • Specific range of salary according to post
  • Cost of living
  • Exchange rates of foreign currency
  • Your benefits package should be in the same range as the ones offered by local companies
  1. Conduct Your Research Using Online Recruitment Software

It is important that you understand what overseas job boards can target your potential candidates in the most effective way possible. You can then streamline your recruiting process by implementing an applicant tracking software to advertise job availability to your overseas job applicants.

  1. Structure Your Interview Process

You need to be careful about how you go about structuring your interview processes as it may include adjusting to the different time zones, making travel arrangements for candidates for in-person interviews as well as seeking the help of an interpreter.

You can also make use of technology such as video calling or conferencing if you want to conduct an interview if you and the applicant are not in the same location.

  1. Conduct Pre-Employment Screenings

Recruiting on a global scale requires a vigilant approach to pre-employment screenings with the help of applicant tracking software which can help you navigate through the recruiting process with ease. Before attempting to screen your job applicants, make sure that you check with the local labor laws to know what measures are permitted in that country.

  1. Verify the Work Permit Requirements in Your Labor Market

Make sure that you verify and abide by the work permit requirements of the country where you are recruiting your labor force from as the work permit restrictions tend to vary from country to country. These work permit restrictions can limit your employee’s mobility and as well as further hindering the employment of your employee’s spouses as not all countries issue work permits to the spouses of employees.

  1. Support Global Mobility Policies and Work with Spouses

Try to meet dual-career issues for your candidate’s spouse or partner while hiring your employees in another country. Ensure that your employees are aware of the immigration requirements and global mobility policies that may or may not permit their spouses to follow them.

Ensure that your company’s mobility policies are updated and in tandem with the host country’s mobility policies to provide spouse support services for your employees.

 

Kelly Barcelos

Kelly Barcelos is a progressive digital marketing manager specializing in HR and is responsible for leading Jobsoid’s content and social media team. When Kelly is not building campaigns, she is busy creating content and preparing PR topics. She started with Jobsoid as a social media strategist and eventually took over the entire digital marketing team with her innovative approach and technical expertise.

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note: Check out “Eight Major Barriers to Expat Spouse Employment”.

 

„Mobility is finally making the shift from an international benefit provider to an appreciated strategic partner to the business.“

Chris Debner

 

Like ever so often in Holland events start with a slight delay because of traffic. The Swiss in me rebels but I tell her to enjoy the tropical atmosphere of the Royal Tropical Institute. I check out the remainders of colonialism: masks, spears and painted world maps in white marbled halls. The smell of adventure still hangs in the air. Here we meet the pioneers of Global Mobility, the seafarers, discoverers, and conquerors. At the time with weapons and bribes, now with the promise of prosperity. The UN Global Goals are printed on the beer coasters as if to remind us that we have moved on, that we are now looking for „peace and prosperity for all people.“

Inge Nitsche, CEO of Expatise Academy welcomes the Global Mobility folks to the New Year, launches the brand new Expatise Global Mobility Online Certification Course of the Expatise Academy.

Inge then kicks off the day by setting the scene. Inge poses the question if we are in transformation or being transformed. She asks if we are under siege. Before we get our seat at the table we need to check if we are still on the right track.

Do we still fly up or are we going down or do we have to do a restart in the air to land in a better place?

Key Note

Chris Debner opens the session explaining what a Global Mobility Strategy is made of. The elements of policies, processes and operating model. He shows us the building blocks from business objectives, stakeholder needs, assignment types, talent management & workforce planning, competence and capacity, culture to competitiveness, trends and external influencers.

Chris summarizes the paradigm shift in Global Mobility leading us from a compliance focus to a purpose-driven mobility, improved employee experience and increased outsourcing of transactional tasks and dedicated compliance functions.

Then he continues to explain how the needs of Gen Y (instant gratification, clarity, flexible approaches) will change mobility policies to customized packages for everyone. I also predict that this will happen. What I like about Chris’s presentation is that he is realistic. He knows where GM Teams currently struggle and proposes three key challenges:

  1. Skillset
  2. Time & Resources
  3. Engaging with the business.

As suggestions to work on these challenges Chris sees three points

  1. Invest in your training, education and work with a flexible workforce.
  2. Build the business case for change
  3. Collaborate with other areas outside of HR, invest in change and meet the business line managers to find out how you can provide values.

 

Open Discussion

I get up to facilitate a peer consulting exercise. This exercise helps with listening skills, ideally solves one current issue of a participant and helps participants to build trust amongst each other. Afterwards, we have coffee. I listen in on conversations. I understand that we face similar challenges in Global Mobility here and in Switzerland.

One difference might be the European Union context. It also seems that Brexit is more prevalent in Amsterdam. Companies shift their presence to Amsterdam, rents increase, „knowledge migrants“ flock the city, the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) directive is leading to more migrants and the city seems diverse. What I immediately notice in comparison to events in Switzerland is that I do not feel so old. I am sort of middle-aged here. I see grey, and white hair. I like it.

After the break, we split up into two discussion groups and look at Concerns, Challenges, and Opportunities.

 

Lunch is a standing lunch with sandwiches. What I find interesting is the different types of industries that are present. We see different challenges and different views on GM.

Afternoon Sessions

In the afternoon Bettina Tang presents a tangible step-by-step approach on how GM Leaders can learn to engage with their stakeholders. Bettina brings in the perspective that alignment between legal requirements and managing expectations of the assignee and family.

She also explains that the organizational structure matters. The closer you are to the CEO the better. It important to understand the persons you are dealing with and to know how to build relationships with them. As mentioned she introduced a tangible model, easy to follow.

Bettina also urges us to get the basics right because assignees that are constantly complaining are not helping your credibility. I also took away that if you would like to be invited to the party, you don’t wait for the invite. You find a burning platform, address and solve it and then you claim your seat at the table.

Next on stage is Michael Joyce from AIRINC. He, first of all, apologizes for all the Brits coming to Amsterdam on a weekly basis. Not sure what they are doing but I assume they come to the party. Michael shares data. He claims that the pathway to the seat at the table is hard figures. It seems fine at times of fake news.

He brings examples of clients where either an internal perspective based on data (on housing cost, security, and education)  or an external perspective (a benchmarking that revealed that only 2% of companies in the survey applied negative COLA fully) gave the GM Leader the right to be invited to the table. This means that we all must upgrade our metrics (46% of their clients are doing that just now – you feel the pressure?). He also mentioned that 59% of all companies measure some aspects of assignment success.

A new trend in data is predictive metrics such as the retention rate after assignment, assignee satisfaction after assignment, job promotions and job performance rating after assignment. In an example case, AIRINC was helping the client to show the correlation of these metrics with performance.

And while these correlation factors might not fall within your remit, they are helpful data for management. I would include repatriate retention here.

Finally, Chris Debner concluded with showing that change does not always have to be transformational. There is also incremental change, where you target a specific aspect of your program and optimize that.

The room is full of mobility professionals. When I take my eyes of my notebook, I see eager faces. A few a bit drained of energy but most of us engaged as we want to understand how we can provide value to the business, how we can help the business with its transformation programs and where to start. A few suggestions include

  • Cost reduction
  • Easier administration
  • Improved employee experience
  • Fewer exceptions and conflicts
  • Lower risk exposure and
  • Reaching organizational objectives.

It’s almost 4 pm and I have not connected to WiFi yet. The temptation was there but I am trying to keep fully present. The next group exercise is a marketplace where the workshop on International Business Traveler compliance joins us. I speak to Maarten from PwC about the tax news and he tells me about a risk framework he is taking to customers. I ask him if he is willing to share it.

I smile as I am reminded of the early days in a role I took on in 2007 when I had to develop such a risk framework myself because I did not know where to find it online. Maybe it also did not exist then. Now, it’s just a matter of a short conversation.

The voices in the room with now around 50 professionals do not want to die down. We chat, we like this. Inge Nitsche decides to clink her water bottle and the birthday boy Ernst Steltenpoehl commands our attention. She closes the event on a positive note and invites us to drinks in the restaurant of the Royal Tropical Institute.

And while I order a glass of wine I look at the people of different cultural backgrounds in the room from India, South America, Europe and the Middle East and I’m hopeful that we Global Mobility folks may set an example and that we can help our businesses succeed in any country in the world.

If you are interested in having a conversation about the topic mentioned please let me know.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS: If you are looking to move into a new role this year, I would like to invite you to an exploratory session of HireMe!


I have a funny habit. I prefer to write these posts on my red sofa at home on my laptop. It does not make a lot of sense because I have the beautiful Global People Club Lounge at Hedwigsteig. There I have a bigger screen and a printer. I like to do the editing, designing and fine tuning at the desk. This part feels more like I am paid to do it. Writing itself to me is so relaxing that I do it where I watch movies and where I chill. I’m not sure if you know this but as a child I wanted to be either a writer, a journalist or an actress. I was never meant to end up in a bank or professional services firm. My parents were hippies. So, it might not surprise you that I have a very relaxed attitude to consumption and money. If I did not have to pay invoices and rent, I would spend my time volunteering on Chios. (I will tell you more about that soon.)

 

It could happen that you don’t always want to read my posts and that you feel that they could be punchier or more business-like. And if you feel like that and want to unsubscribe that’s fine for me. I am using storytelling as method but you might prefer boring business reports.

 

So here’s my story on the jacket order.

The Situation

In November my partner showed me his branded dream jacket online. I was in the Christmas giving mood and thought that this would be the perfect gift for his birthday (which is shortly after Christmas). We used to buy his present together in the last few years and it was always a little weird, because most of the time I then ended up giving him the present a lot earlier. Then on the birthday I would not have a present anymore. This is so against the German in me, who believes it’s bad luck to celebrate a birthday a few days before the actual date. My Kashmiri partner could not care less. For him, it’s the value of the present that defines the relationship, not when it is given.

 

I ordered online without paying much attention to what I was doing. It was late at night. We received a confirmation and I was happy. I was a little concerned when after 10 days and a short email reminder I did not get a response. However, with my previous bad customer experience I gave them benefit of the doubt.

The Event

Three weeks later the jacket hadn’t arrived yet so I started to get worried. A parcel from China was in transit and then the birthday came and again I had no present. Early in the New Year, I checked for a scam alert and yes, it was a highly risky site. I had almost lost hope when the Swisspost tracker said that the parcel had  arrived at customs. Then it was on its way to us confirmed. For a day I was hoping for another Sam story. Maybe the website was new, maybe the owners had just been inexperienced and yes, my hopes were high.

My partner was waiting for his branded jacket.

I had pulled up the forms from the credit card company to stop the payment but I did not touch them. Then, we received a parcel from China with fake Rayban sunglasses. Disappointment all around.

The Superhero Moment

When I held the fake sunglasses in my hands and saw the sad look in my partner’s eyes, I became so angry. I informed the credit card company and printed every proof I had that we had been dealing with a scam.

The price I paid

I am not yet sure if I will receive my money back. I had been stressed and angry too.

Not only have I lost a few hours of my life, I also lost faith in Online business transactions and digitization after the Rotterdam Hotel issue and this one. I feel abused and am concerned that someone might have my personal data.

The Price I have won

Normally here I would talk about the price I have won but I cannot see that yet. The story does not have a happy end. What could be a learning for the future is to take more time, check sites before buying and only to buy from trusted sites.

 

Why is storytelling important for you?

On a more important note, I just showed you an example of how to tell a story. I did not invent “storytelling” for the HireMe! program. I took the advice from my writer friend Libby and teach storytelling in the context of preparing expats and their spouses for interviews. As we are normally trained to write short, concise and academic with as little words as possible, we often speak like we are on Twitter.

“Did you also apply COLA and then when you calculated the C2C what happened?”

Or

“I would like to compare the L2L total comp to the SD net and I came across a huge NDI.”

Are you sometimes wondering why your expats do not “get you”. If you are speaking to them like a robot with technical terms they have no chance. Many of us spend hours writing emails to explain why COLA is now lower than the previous year instead of calling the assignee to explain it in layman terms.

We are so afraid of conflict and of explaining the rationale behind the home-based packages that we hide behind a screen and our jargon. I understand why “storytelling” is deemed a quality of GM Managers, not only in interviews. Mercer says so, so it must be true.

I talked to you about my latest shopping failure to explain you the structure of storytelling and to let you know to not order anything from a silly website that promised ridiculously low prices for overpriced branded jackets.

You can pull the template from here.

Have an exciting week ahead.

 

Angie Weinberger

PS: If you need help with storytelling come in for an exploratory session of HireMe!

PPS: Seems I am getting my money back. At least something.