Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

We are more sensitive to security issues after terrorist attacks such as the Paris attacks of 13 NOV 2015 or after a natural disaster. You can take limited precautions as emergencies come without being planned or expected. That’s why they are called emergencies.

You can take certain actions and these 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.

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

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  • Only travel when it is a necessity. Check if meetings can be held via videoconferencing 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 your Embassy.
  • 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 back-up 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 learnt. It is important that we know already who to call and where to find the number. If this is helpful for you please share.

Angie Weinberger

PS: I also recommend you read chapter 11 of “The GM Workbook”. If you email me I will send you the chapter.

FAAby Nabeha Latif

Flavia Augusta de Almeida’s dream for “alegria” started when she moved to Switzerland with her family. She had worked with many companies as an architect around the globe. However, it was next to impossible to find a job in Basel where her husband had been hired for a large pharmaceutical company.

Despite her love for architectural design, she decided to work on her own startup “alegria“.

The word “alegria” means happiness. Her company provides children products like crochet vegetable and fruit toys, which help children learn and discover new things.  This startup was crafted with an idea to support working women in Brazil and to spread happiness and love for children.

I asked Flavia about her future plans for alegria.   Her main goal for first year is the growth and marketing of alegria with the objective to grow alegria from a sole proprietorship into a GmbH. She also aims to introduce the alegria play collection into the British Market via stores which promote designer products. She was persistent to focus on the alegria’s giving back company philosophy, which is a model for a more humane centric economy.unnamed

 

Here’s a summary of my interview with Flavia Augusta de Almeida (FAA).

NL: What led to your career change? 

FAA: “Initially my career development was centered around my professional area. It was only towards the end that I opened up to Angela Weinberger and discussed the dream of alegria, and that I was seriously considering pursuing it. Not only I received more information as to where to start from and the fundamentals of setting up my own business in Switzerland, I was also provided with great incentive and positive reinforcement. We had great brain storming sessions regarding the possibility of the company, products, etc. Her enthusiasm was a great source of inspiration and encouragement for me in the development of my startup company.”

NL: What can a client expect to get from working with a career coach such as Angela Weinberger?

FAA: “Aside from the common misconceptions, job coaching is a holistic experience which involves:

1. Evaluation of career goals and prospects for progression in the current cultural and economic market setting, one finds her/himself in.                         Untitled

2. Learning how to highlight one’s professional strengths and use them to the enhancement of their professional development, with the aim of achieving the desired career goals.

3. Learning how to improve one’s weaknesses or areas which require professional improvement/development. Using these areas of professional development as goals towards effective carrier progression.

4. Learn how to network outside your professional realm.

5. Effective use of social media, such as LinkedIn, towards career development and job search.

6. Cultural awareness and its importance in today’s international job market.

7. Professional branding development and how to present yourself in order to achieve desired career goals.

Above all good career coaching offers encouragement and motivation.”

NL: What are the most common misconceptions about career coaching?

FAA: “A lot of us think that career coaching is limited to only CV review and job interview coaching. There’s so much more to it!”

NL: What are the typical sessions like with Angela Weinberger?

FAA: “I started my career development with Angela half way through my career development program and I saw a significant improvement in the structure of the sessions which were very goal oriented. Area(s) of development were identified and worked through during the session at high level. There was a lot of brain storming involved. I then had around two weeks to work on the area(s) to be developed. In this two-week period there was always email communication with Angela, where she would constantly send me articles or material relevant to my career development areas. There was constant email communication between the time we did not meet so my career development progress was continuously moving forward.”

NL: Flavia Augusta de Almeida, Congratulations on having your launched your business and thank you for this interview.

 

Nabeha Latif is a Social Media Marketer and works with Global People Transitions GmbH on a freelance basis.

So what if you had a day where you were really feel „weighted“, where the bulk of your existence weighs on you like a building crashing down. A big building.

There’s that letter from the tax office that you have had anxiety attacks about. The close friend who flips between hopeful and cranky and is a borderline alcoholic. The blood pressure that is too high and should have been watched for about a year. The hair that falls out. The economic situation. The refugee crisis. The helplessness and tears when you read about those children dying on the road. All of this. And your period. And rain.

I’m talking to all of you, not only the ladies but imagine a day where all you want to do is stay in bed. And then you read an email saying that your website has been suspended because once again you did not get the notification that the domain needed to be renewed. Once again neither the email on the system nor your credit card are up to date. The nitty-gritty annoying details of being an entrepreneur with too many ideas and projects to worry about such worldly issues as payment dates, speeding limits, period cycles.

These are the days where I really know why I left the corporate world. Because in the corporate world I would have to drag my lazy ass to my desk, sit there feeling uncomfortable through around ten meetings slash conference calls slash video sessions and finally start to actually get something done at around 5.45 pm. But today, in my life as an entrepreneur I can decide to confront only the dachshunds of my friend and the local neighborhood „Regular Café.

And there while I feel a bit uncomfortable and strange first I find an ashtray from the „Zurich Dolder Grand“ and have to laugh. I laugh because I would never enjoy a rainy day in Zurich that much. I would never sit down and actually write. Listening to Jazz music, not using the WiFi and typing away with a smile on my lips I feel a bit like Carry Bradshaw. Ok, a bulky and enlarged version of Carry. You know I’d like to simplify wardrobe and fitness choices…

It dawns on me that we decide about how we feel all the time.

We decide if we let the rain inside our psyche. I said earlier our “mood dictates our business”. When we feel small our business is small too. When we feel great, we get great clients.

This is not a typical “How to…” post because frankly sometimes I just don’t want to tell you what to do or how to feel. I just would encourage you to review your “feelings” because you might overstress them. I can feel very insecure about the most obnoxious issues such as the fact that my hair was a lot thicker 20 years ago or that I do not write grammatically perfect English. I can stress about having a public appearance weeks ahead of the event and most of the time I worry about someone close to me. I worry about them overburdening themselves, having too many responsibilities, boyfriends, children, debts and kilos. I worry about friend’s emotional states, about my clients being depressed and about loved ones dying.

On a day like today in Brooklyn, I feel at peace with myself though. I know that I work hard to make the world a little better. I know that I have found my purpose of being and that I can only continue to do what I do when I allow myself a break from the world’s issues. When I allow myself occasionally to just have fun and to do whatever I feel like in the moment. This is NYC for me. Enjoy.

Thank you to the 11th Zurich Film Festival for broadening my horizon about Iran and the Dublin process for asylum seekers

I love movies. Especially Bollywood movies. I actually count flight times in Bollywood movies = Zurich –> Delhi direct 3 B’wood movies, Zurich – NYC 2 B’wood-movies and a few TV shows).

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Picture credit: http://www.newlyswissed.com/

It all started when I went on a project in Bangalore in 2006 where I immersed in this aspect of the Indian culture. Before Bollywood I loved Almodovar, Cohen-Brothers, Tarantino, Weinstein and a recurring themes like James Bond, Starwars, Lord of the Rings. Let’s say I can spend a whole day in a movie theatre and I love the Zurich Film Festival (#ZFF).

I attend the ZFF every year but sometimes I just manage to see one movie and then I am annoyed with myself because we hardly ever get to see such a diversity of films. Before I started my business I made a wish that one day I will be able to afford the time and money to see 10 movies in the ZFF. This year I almost thought I’d miss the whole festival but due to clever re-prioritization and the right kind of friends I managed to watch five movies in three days.

What struck me as a movie aficionado during #ZFF2015 is how easy it is to teach culture through movies. A friend of mine was wondering why I had not responded to messages and I said that what I did there was actually work. Let’s say I did research my way. I am entrepreneur. I can do this.

When did I first notice that movies teach intercultural competence?

Even if Bollywood-movies are full of clichés and a lot of Indians despise them they teach us (Germans for example) a lot about the general mindset. Not only that: Watching Bollywood movies for almost 10 years now has taught me a basic understanding of Hindi and Urdu terms. I only realized when I went to Pakistan last year that I understood some of the conversations in my host family (the Urdu versions).

Movies have influenced our cultural upbringing and globalized our mindsets. In Germany in my generation (Gen X) we were influenced by Hollywood. When I first went to New York City in 1996 it felt rather familiar.

The first show I was allowed to watch after bedtime was “Dallas”. Later I preferred „Beverly Hills 90210“ over „Die Lindenstrasse“. We all watched French, Spanish and Italian movies in our youth. Some of us like Danish cinema. So yes, cultural learning through movies is not a new concept to me. I would love to offer a movie-based intercultural seminar. It’s another wish in my wish book.

What did these five movies teach me?

Let me summarize for you why I thought these movies were improving my intercultural competence.

Jag är Dublin” (I am Dublin)

The first one was a Swedish documentary called “I am Dublin”. I am Dublin is the story of Ahmed, a Somali stuck in the asylum process. He is real and my heart immediately feels motherly instincts. This “boy” has suffered, is traumatized but in a way also tough. He agrees to be filmed and he knows that the camera will save his ass. He gets deported and I am angry. The end of the movie (spoiler alert) is a relief but you and I know that now the real work starts. I know it from close friends. Once they are allowed to stay in Europe the real integration work starts. Improving language skills, finding a job and having a “normal” life. Being a refugee, asylum seeker and temporarily approved resident (ein “Geduldeter”) is a tough lot even in wealthy Europe. So definitely recommended. I was actually ignorant until a few weeks ago. (See other stories on #refugees)

“Un amour de jeunesse”

The second movie was French. Not everyone’s taste but I enjoyed to be able to hear the language, read English translation at the same time as it is again a good chance to practice. The content of the movie was more psychologically valid for me. The culture mix was interesting as the protagonist falls in love with a Norwegian. (I swear he spoke German with no accent). There is also an interesting scene covering Bauhaus, an important part of German architectural culture which unfortunately was overturned by the Nazi-style. (Can you speak of “style” in connection with Nazis?).

“The Risk of Acid Rain”

Then the third film and my main reason to attend the festival was “The Risk of Acid Rain”. This movie was touching and it taught me about Iran. I also noticed that Farsi is completely different from Arabic. I had expected that there would be more similarities but apart from “Salam” I did not recognize anything.

What I thought was interesting was how the main characters in the movie deal with the Sharia police. In our minds here we also probably did not expect that homosexuality would be touched as a topic. It was alluded to twice in the movie. What really was very funny was how the relationship between the three main characters evolved and dissolved again. My Bollywood driven mind wanted to see a “happy family reunion” at the end but the end (again spoiler alert) is more realistic. The movie was banned in Iran because of the homosexuality. You need to look for it and be warned as a “Westerner” to actually recognize it.

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Picture credits: https://zff.com/

“Atomic Heart”

With a break of 24 hours I continued with the Iranian theme. “Atomic Heart” starts out as the Iranian version of a road movie with two young women on a night out and their little adventures. The movie later falls into a surreal narrative where Saddam Hussein and another crazy character dominate the plot. The movie is funny and artistic. It helps in switching perspectives. What I realized there is how limited my knowledge of Teheran really is and again the images in the movie do not match my expectations. Teheran comes across a lot more modern, almost hip.

“Bright Day”

Another break of 24 hours later and now with a certain expectation I saw “Bright Day”, the movie I really wanted to see. I have to say that the movie was shown very late and I was already a bit tired. It touched me emotionally but some of the dialogues were lost on me. This movie was probably the most “realistic” story. In my view it showed a typical issue in a country, where power is abused by those who own money over the poorer employed staff, where those who depend have to obey and are threatened when they want to adhere to their values.

The fight of “good” versus “evil” is exemplified in the person of a taxi driver. The theme is similar to an Indian movie (“Jolly LLP”) and is ultimately about standing up for your values. Interestingly enough looking at this movie I found again, that we Christians have more in common with Muslims than what is often suggested.

I was happy to see that in all three Iranian movies the movie theatres were rather full and the audience was very interested in how life in Iran really is. I am hoping that through entertainment and art we will find more access to each other. At least, movies offer good dinner conversation and having another narrative than the typical individualistic Western-style is worth watching out for.

So how could you set up an intercultural seminar based on movies? Which bias would you need to avoid?


Writing for starters
Picture Credit: Pascal Willen

Sitting in front of a white paper to write a blog post can be a daunting experience. It happened to me several times this year. I wanted to write but did not have a topic or did not find my way in. Blogging used to be diary style so there were no rules initially. With the digitalization of our lives, the style of blogging changed. Today whatever you want to say you need to say it in a tweet or a video.

I wanted to be a writer as a child

Some members of my family laughed about this. My German teacher R. M., the best teacher in our school also encouraged my creative process. My dad supported and encouraged me to continue to write poetry and short stories. Two of my short stories were published in children’s compilations. I never won a price but hey, my name was out there in print. Dad and I went on a holiday to Italy and both sat on the beach writing or reading for a week. It was heaven.

The same year my father and sister died in a car accident. With them, I buried most of my hopes at becoming a writer. For a long time after this traumatic experience, I was in “survival mode”. I never thought I would write again. At the time, I only read how hard it was to become a journalist or start a career that involved writing.

Like many people with many talents, I studied International Business Studies at the University of Paderborn (Germany). In 1992 this was innovative. The course contained a major in English and French (or Spanish) language and cultural studies. We were only the elitist second year (with around 70 students) and you needed to have a high GPA to get in. While I had no clue where exactly Paderborn was when I enrolled, I learned that I was lucky that I studied at a university with a well-known IT research department and a well-known professor in international human resources. (Sometimes dots do connect Mr. Jobs).

Call it fate, but at the age of 23, I was the guinea pig and went to study with an inspirational professor at the University of Tasmania (Australia). Thank you to Dr. Peter Dowling and Dr. Sarah Knowles. Through Peter, I was able to write a thesis which inspired the idea to build my company Global People Transitions GmbH. I drove back from Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) in a blue 1972 VW-Beetle after having conducted interviews with civil engineers. These civil engineers had been sent abroad without proper training and without the right framework (financial, social security, tax, immigration…there were all sorts of issues). I did not feel ready to start out on my own, so I went into the corporate HR world.

When you are a writer you need to face a white piece of paper every day.
When you are a writer you need to face a white piece of paper every day.

Within my career in corporate HR, I started to write again. First, it was a training manual one of my colleagues introduced me too. I wrote blog posts. I wrote down stories of international assignees and their intercultural experiences. I wrote for HR magazines for free. One New Year’s day I explored and developed a mini-poetry blog on Blogger. Then I practiced writing by writing a short story. Through a friend I met at The Powerhouse Zurich I was introduced to a whole new world, started to join writer’s workshop Zurich and did an online course with Ash Ambirge on copywriting.

Still I was not able to say “I am a writer…” without blushing or without playing it down.

After reading a book by Jeff Goins called “You are a writer: So start acting like one” I learned that I need to actually write every day. I wish I would. At least, I managed to self-publish two books already. These days I am working on “The Global Career Workbook”. I love the work again. I want to improve and feel ready to take in more.

I have a tendency to overwhelm myself with trying to achieve too many projects at once. So in the middle of working on my newest book I ran out of money last year. I had to ask providers to stop working for me until I had more funds…and then I shelved (or “drawered”) the draft. My editor moved into another role and I did not feel the pressure to finish. I got a rather negative feedback, wrote a post about it and got busy with other work. Between January and July 2015 I hardly wrote. I procrastinated, found excuses, got afraid and I guess that is when I started to glare at white paper. I often closed my typewriter. (I don’t work with a typewriter, but I call my MacBook air “Schreibmaschine”).

As a writer, you can easily get distracted and I knew that I made a mistake when my coach Dr. Eva Kinast called me out on it. She said, “I think the writer in you is neglected.” I knew she was right because in my vision of what I wanted to do at 65 it was a writer. I want to write and publish novels, I want to read books like the maniac reader I was as a child. I want to critique books and write for magazines. I would love to write screenplays and I want to use my creative brain in the best manner possible.

But often we do not do what we want…but everything else.

When I listen to other writers I understand that I am not that crazy. That they also have self-doubt, writer’s anxieties and block. I feel encouraged when I hear how long it took them to succeed. And all the time I tell myself: “But you are not an English native speaker. You will never be as good as they are.” (It’s true.)

When I wrote this I realized that I had English as a major in university. Even though I am not a native speaker I write at a fairly high level. There are editors out there who can correct errors. The world is full of collaborators. Why am I still staring at a blank page?

It’s the worry monster again. The fear of failure. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of being called out.

And while I am typing this I know that I have never been as ready as today to tell you.

I am a writer!

There is a fantastic personality test on this blog. Find out if you are meant to be a writer too and if yes, let me know if you need any resources.