Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I telling you this?

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

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

Bring back the human touch into your Global Mobility population

Put that on your agenda! Collect ideas with your team about where your processes are disintegrated for the expat and their spouse. Check in with your population and improve your expat experience. You can email them one by one or through a mailing program such as Mailchimp or Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM).

————

The Global Mobility Workbook (2019)  gives a lot of advice on how you can check in with your expats and spouses regularly.

 


The Triggers

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

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

I know, don’t ask.

The Sale

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

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

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

The Bargain

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

The Sale

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

And then?

Nothing happened.

Everything went well.

The Morale

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you still struggle to get up in the morning at your regular hour and have you noticed more kilos on your scale or are you already back in full swing? It’s another year and as usual, we are full of energy and hope. We think that this is our year of transformation, our year of success, our year when we finally meet Mr. Right. Correct?

New Year Resolutions do not equal Success

“Success” is different for everybody. How you define your success depends on what you struggle with the most. Success might not be to have an academic degree or an MBA. It might be to have a permanent relationship, where you are able to live a person for more than two years. Or maybe it is not wealth but an income which allows you to travel for four weeks a year. Maybe you define success as being able to maintain your family life to a high standard while having a career. Or maybe you define success as managing fifty employees. Maybe you think that if you manage all the projects that are on your plate you are successful.

Whatever success is for you in 2018: Write it down! Or paint it! Or take a photograph of it.

Break “success” down into three goals for next year

Stop being vague about what you would like to have in your life.

This is my wish for you for 2018. That you learn to write down, paint or visualize what “success” is for you.

For your professional life, it will be helpful if you write down your goals in a way that keeps you accountable. You could also check in with yourself on a weekly basis to see if you are still on track.

Stick to three goals and follow through with them before you set yourself new goals. You might need to learn stuff along the way. That’s why I also recommend you set yourself learning targets according to our global competency model.

Do you want to create habits through daily routines? Break down your goals into small junks you can do every day such as reading for 25 minutes or walking 5’000 steps?

If you want to create a successful life in business you need discipline and perseverance. In my experience, this only comes with routine. Talent is important but having routines and creating habits is key when you want to create sustainable success. Once a habit is formed it will cost you less energy to do it. You know this from sports. The inner couch potato is very strong. Once you have interrupted your gym or your running routine it is very hard to motivate yourself again to get up at 6 AM to run at 0 degrees Celcius.

It’s the same with active meditation, regular relaxation practices or even daily writing. If you follow a strict routine you will stick with those habits longer. You could now read numerous books on these topics and overwhelm yourself with resolutions and then feel frustrated and depressed in a few weeks when you did not achieve everything you wanted to achieve.

Based on my long experience working with clients, I would like to suggest that you get started with small steps of action. For example, if you would like to build a professional network start with meeting one person for lunch a week. Once this is easy for you, you can increase your target to one lunch and one coffee meeting. Or you can really challenge yourself and say you have to meet a stranger for lunch once a week.

Please do me a favor and don’t overwhelm yourself with New Year’s resolutions. Start with creating one habit and move on from there.

Baby steps, honey…baby steps”

If you are already on RockMe!, you have the option to track your success every week and tick off your weekly tasks.

If you would like to join RockMe! now please reply to this email so we can set your three main career goals for 2018 together. It will require you to pay for one regular coaching session at CHF 350 + VAT. 

If you are not a client yet, you will need to pay a fee of CHF 390 + VAT for the initial coaching session with me.  Included in this fee are also regular reviews and follow-ups online. You can purchase the full RockMe! program at CHF 2600 + VAT. Included in this price are 10 hours of 1:1 coaching with me exclusively and monthly RockMe! Inspirations. If you pay the initial fee first and then decide to buy the full program we will credit you with the amount paid already.

Please fill out the form here to become one of my private clients. Nothing goes without effort these days and you simplify my life by giving me your details upfront.

I will give a 20% discount to everyone who books and holds a 1:1 2018 goal setting session before Friday, 12 JANUARY 2018 5 PM. 

By then your New Year’s energy is probably already at 50% and you are ready to celebrate at least this one achievement for the year.

Am I too cynical?

*Cheers*

Angie Weinberger

PS: Speaking of baby steps…are you relocating this January or February?
I know that my brother from another mother will move so I just put this here for him: Baby Steps in Relocation – 7 small tips to keep sane in international relocation.


 

Presence means to be in the here and now

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

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

Presence, politics, puberty and pain

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

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

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

Pain means stress is written all over your body

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

Gain control again and increase your presence

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

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

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

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

3) Clean up your workspace daily and mono-task

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

4) Learn to Relax through Active Meditation

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

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

Sleep helps!

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

 

 

 

Practice Seven Steps of Presence

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