Author Archives: Nabeha

The last week has been one of the most challenging weeks of my life.

The bad news first: I have not been tested for CORONA-Virus, because my symptoms seem to be too mild. My dizziness, weakness, cough might just be a sign of an anxiety attack, mountain disease or a weird cold. For me, it would have been better to know if I’m positive or not. Not knowing if I’m potentially a transmitter of the disease makes it hard to allow my partner to come back home.. This is week 2 of my quarantine.

For those of you who are still trying to catch up on emails here is what happened and why I’m under quarantine. Read this!

The good news: Last night I could finally sleep for more than a few hours and I have the feeling that I’m on the right track mentally and also that my body is getting better. I promised that I would keep you up-to-date and share a few lessons with you. Maybe you can imagine that I have become an information junkie. So I’m trying to do this:

  1. I summarize 20 quick recommendations in a list style. Most of my recommendations are geared towards expats and international people living in Switzerland. Most of the advice will be working in any other country too though.
  2. I’m offering deeper conversations for those of you who face similar problems and I will be available via the RockMeApp over the next few days. I’m also giving every client free access to the online version of the RockMe! program. It might help you to work on a career-related topic during this crisis.
  3. I’m looking for an idea on how to distribute more information to clients and other people. At the moment I’m using Twitter (@angieweinberger) and LinkedIn.

I hope this is helpful and let’s stay connected through these times. Check below my 20 recommendations for Quarantine.

Angie’s 20 Quarantine Recommendations

  1. First Things First: Fix your” oxygen mask”, open windows regularly and try to take in sunshine. Look into ways to improve your immune system naturally. Eat Vitamin-C and Vitamin-D. Prepare your meals with grace and dedication. Add ginger to anything. Drink more water and herbal tea than usual. I start my day with adding all the water to the table so I know how much I have to drink.
  2. Help Migrants and Refugees: Share the multilingual updates from your country health authority. If you have capacity and want to do something useful, help the ministry of health by sharing the information in different languages. It seems the migrant population was not addressed in previous campaigns and many migrants do not fully understand what is going on. Help migrants in your neighbourhood if you can. This page has information in many languages.
  3. Buy Local: Ensure that you know where you can support local businesses by ordering food and home delivery. Newinzurich has great information for day-to-day topics such as food delivery, restricted areas, and online entertainment.
  4. Help the Neighbors: If you feel you can support others, get to know the neighbors through this site and offer your help.
  5. Be Reachable and Savable: Have phone and emergency numbers next to your bed. I left my apartment door unlocked when I felt dizzy. I will soon feel strong enough to lock it again.
  6. Define your Essentials: Stock up on essentials without hoarding, maintain a basic list of food and household items that you always want to keep in the house. I’m not good at this at all since I’m a convenience shopper but at least now I have enough pasta to survive a week or two without support.
  7. Consider Small Projects: If you are fit and free of symptoms, start spring cleaning at home
  8. Reduce Your Online Time: We are using the Internet too much now. We should learn to entertain ourselves offline too. Listen to old-fashioned radio, watch DVD’s or learn games with dice or chess. Read a paper-book. Challenge the kids for a round of “Kniffel”.
  9. Learn Basic Relaxation Methods:
  10. Enjoy the Fact That you are Still Alive: Sing and dance, play an instrument. Invite your friends to a virtual coffee chat and set up dinner dates.
  11. Reduce Your Work Time: Set a work schedule for max 6 hours a day if you are well enough. I’ve decided that I will work every day but only as long as I’m feeling okay. I have a hard time sitting in an office chair for more than two hours. I’m working mainly from my red sofa. It feels more like fun this way.
  12. Check Your Health Insurance: If you live in Switzerland you probably have basic coverage and additional hospital coverage. If you are not sure what is covered exactly and if your family members are covered for the same treatment it’s a good time to check that.
  13. International and Local Pension Plans: Verify and update the beneficiaries on your pension plan, check if your pension plan is sufficient for now or if you need to set money aside for your old-age pension. Usually, we procrastinate on these topics but in a situation like this we want to be sure our family is not suffering any unnecessary stress.
  14. Have Cash at Home: I keep more cash than usual. Even though it is generally recommended to pay with cards and other cashless payments for dealing with grocery shopping and pharmacies, you might need more cash than usual. Sometimes you just want to give a person a tip or you need to pay cash at the door. I know that I’m inviting burglars to my house writing this but I will cough at everyone who dares to enter. Karma baby.
  15. Improve your Cash Flow: If you are experiencing cash flow issues as a small company owner or freelancer please check if you are entitled to support through social security. For Switzerland, there is a temporary support package (see email below from Markus Hohl) and the really great news is that invoices from social security can be paid later without interest. I’m very happy with the government’s fast action following this petition.
  16. Ensure Business Continuity: I noticed that I’m the only person who can access the company bank account. So I’ve organized power of attorney for two close friends. The bank was very supportive and delivered forms in no time. I hope we can get everything set up digitally.
  17. Do Admin Stuff: You have to a lot of admin work anyway such as your tax declaration. If you are bored you can work on your tax declaration for 2019. The deadline has been extended to 31 May 2020 in Zurich for everyone. If you are done with your taxes think about all the money you can claim back now. Also, if you have a general train ticket you can freeze it online for 30 days. Small peas but they also contribute.
  18. Seek Professional Help: My colleague Axel Kellerbauer offers free German and English-speaking crisis support calls.
  19. Send an Orchid: Orchids are long-lasting and show perseverance. They are a perfect symbol for our condition. If you know a person who’s unwell send orchids. Help Hans-Peter Mayer so the orchids and shop can survive by ordering orchids for your team and others.
  20. Support this Petition: Switzerland should get more people tested against Corona-Virus in order to make more informed statements. Being in limbo myself, I know that not knowing doesn’t really help. The petition was started about a week ago and by now 2000 people have signed. The organizers will need at least 10’000 signatures before the government will take this serious enough.

Free Support & Access to RockMe! Program

Sign up to our RockMeApp

We will only charge fees for usual Executive Coaching sessions. Access to the RockMeApp, online support and program are free of charge until 30 April 2020. The access to the RockMeApp will remain free for 2020.

Special Offers for Our Readers (mention GPT, Angie Weinberger)

Temporary Living for Self-Isolation:

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Free 45 min crisis conversations with experienced colleague Axel Kellerbauer

Food Delivery in Zurich:

Food delivery with no food waste: FairCustomer.Ch

Online Shopping in Zurich: Zurich Liefert 


Resources

HR Professionals:

Coronavirus HR Comms & Resources Guide

Global Mobility Professionals:

Expatise Academy 

Global Leaders and Expats:

Global People Transitions

Medical Researchers

Sentinel Initiative 

WHO Immunization

WHO Emergencies

EDCE Europa Surveillance & Disease Data

Enthrat Covid 19 Task Force

Whatsapp Q&A by WHO

WHO Health Alert Brings Covid 19 Facts To Billion Via Whatsapp

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Over the last two decades in Human Resources, I have noticed that a lot of international talents were left frustrated by the process of moving to another country for work. I observed that the issues weren’t just financial, but pertained a lot to both the individuals and the company underestimating the challenges involved in moving to a new country.

Therefore, today I would like to draw on my experience and discuss some important practices for that critical period, the first 90-odd days, of an expat landing in a new country and beginning their onboarding process in the host company.

Be Thoroughly Prepared Before You Land

Increasingly, in this age of protectionism, many countries now require you, the expat, and your accompanying family to have active medical insurance before you arrive in the country. This is different from the travel insurance you may have used for vacations and needs to be negotiated with a local provider in the host country. Whether your company is processing this for you, or you are required to do so on your own, you also need to make sure you are aware of what is covered – are your children covered? What about planned or unplanned pregnancies?

On that subject matter, there is now a lot more paperwork and prerequisites required before visas and associated work permits are given out, with increasingly thorough information required. If your company is handling this for you, make sure you are kept in the loop so you avoid unnecessary delays. However, if you are required to manage the applications on your own, ensure you are aware of the full process. You may need the help of a specialized lawyer in this scenario, don’t hesitate to contact them.

You may also have to plan your own relocation, a shortcoming of lifestyle expatriation that many organisations have still not overcome. An issue many people have with selecting medium-to-long term accommodation is that they do not want to make such decisions based on photos alone. To get around it, a recent trend involves making short-term living arrangements via Airbnb or similar service, and then inspecting more appropriate housing in person. It makes a certain amount of sense, but you want to keep an eye on your budget, as good rentals may not come cheap.

Finally, make sure you have wrapped up all pending tasks and necessary paperwork before signing off!

The Move

It may seem just like an airplane journey but make no mistake, the move is frequently considered the most stressful time. That’s because of all the farewells and goodbyes, packing up and shipping of belongings. And don’t forget that while you are also spending time at the office on last-minute tasks, your spouse is at home managing the children and the packing. Generally, this means that by the time your plan lifts off, everyone is pretty exhausted and you may end up questioning your decision, worry about the unknown challenges ahead and fear for the future of your family.

In this situation, make sure you open up to your case handler from the Global Mobility team when they reach out to you. Talking about what you are feeling and experiencing with them will help them both meet your unique needs, and to guide you on the best way to manage stress. Often they will arrange an arrival service for you and give you a day or two off before you have to join the new workplace. Use this time to spend time with your family and help each other settle in properly.

Manage Expectations

You’ve landed, navigated immigration, moved into temporary living and started settling in. Now, it’s time to join work! You may find yourself settling in very quickly because the workplace and culture at the office give you a feeling of “being at home” fast.

That may not always be the case, however. There are a wide range of issues that can crop up, so your excitement needs to be tempered with a can-do attitude to learn new things. It really depends on the country you are in and how well you are prepared for the different cultures.

For instance, arriving in Switzerland is considered tougher because of the challenges associated with assimilating into Swiss culture later on. A move to Brazil would, for example, necessitate greater research into personal security. China has a culture revolving around work and you may find yourself working longer and engaging with colleagues far more than you bargained for. And did you forget that the host country’s native language is not English?

This not only means that you need to learn more about the host culture, but that your company needs to shoulder some responsibility for preparing you for such challenges – you may find that your company may sign you up later on for intercultural awareness training, spouse career coaching and host language training, all providing essential support not just for you but your spouse as well.

Don’t Neglect Your Family

It is natural to get swept away in the hubbub of new activities as you settle into a new work life, adjust to a new office culture and make new acquaintances. An unfortunate side effect of that is that you may forget that your spouse will be having an entirely different experience to yours. Their adjustment is tougher than yours and they can often find themselves feeling alone and left behind. Remember, while you are working they are the ones who will be ensuring your children’s schooling commences at earliest!

Providing emotional support to your spouse is critical in helping them adjust, especially if they are not always guaranteed work rights by the host country and have to put their own careers on pause. Language and cultural barriers can make it harder for them to do basic tasks (like choosing schools, setting up gym or sports club memberships) and builds up stress. Time zone differences can make it harder to contact friends and family back home and you both may feel the additional worry of not being in frequent correspondence with your own parents or close relatives and friends.

During this period of 90 days, you may be in frequent contact with the Global Mobility professional assigned to your case by the company. Their job is not just to get you up to productivity quickly, but to ensure a smooth transition for you and your spouse. They will be your guide and support during the entire assignment, not just the first 90 days so it is beneficial to form a good working relationship with them.

The initial period after your move will not follow a fixed path, some expat families face greater challenges than others, due to a variety of reasons. Whichever path your onboarding follows, remember to be in regular and detailed contact with your Global Mobility Manager, because as with most things in life, communication is key to success here.

Kind Regards,
Angie.

P.S. If you are looking for a more in-depth look at the expatriation cycle (from the pre assignment period to the first 90 days and beyond), The Global Mobility Workbook discusses it in much greater detail in the Expat Experience.

 

I’m sure everyone has noticed the arrival of fall by now – the avalanche of brilliant red-golden leaves falling off trees, the shortening of precious daylight hours and the sudden briskness in the breeze.

While the beauty of a European fall is unparalleled, for some people the shorter days and cold weather heralds a period of demotivation. For me it is the “Zurich fog” and November that gets to me. So I have thought about ways to make November bearable.

Dealing with feelings of loneliness is doubly tough when you are an expat who just arrived here. However, even international people who have lived here for years sometimes miss good friends in this city.

Feeling lonely can affect not just your work performance, but your everyday life too. So today, I’d like to talk about ways in which we can keep ourselves inspired and motivated through November and the impending winter months, especially if we don’t have a family here.

Forestalling November Blues

 

Plan and stick to an exercise routine

Another critical component of improving your health is to fix and improve your sleep regimen. In today’s always-on era, we are all guilty, to a certain extent, or taking actions that poorly affect the quality of our sleep. So here is a short primer on how to get better, more refreshing sleep daily:

Take your mobile devices to bed. Give them a place in your home outside of your bedroom where you place them by 9 pm. After you’ve put your phone to bed, don’t touch it anymore. Use the “sleep” mode to block incoming messages. Turn off the buzzers.

Stop using all electronic devices two hours before you want to sleep. Studies show that the light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythms. Instead, consider going to bed with a novel or other light reading (again, not on devices).

Practice relaxation techniques such as PMR. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is especially beneficial for reducing muscle tension caused by psychological stress and has a proven rejuvenating effect if practiced regularly.

Get up at the same time every morning. This loops back to the discussion on how routine-building is beneficial to physical and mental health.

Learn a creative skill

An unforeseen consequence of expatriation is just how much every aspect of it takes over your life – from the learning curve of the new job to the subtle details of integrating into a new culture and country.
By the end of the day you may find yourself with no time left for your own growth.

In the scenario described above, it can be tough to carve out regular time for developing creative skills that interest you, especially if you don’t have an accountability buddy or coach to keep you motivated.

How does one find inspiration? I find that duplicating, or being a part of what the creative community does every fall is an excellent way to both build new relationships and spend time on yourself. In particular, I am referring to trends such as Inktober (in October) and National Novel Writing Month (in November) where large swathes of communities online and offline get together to create and explore their artistic sides daily for the duration of that month. We have our very own Zurich writer’s community supporting you with the Woolf.

If such creative endeavours appeal to you, definitely pursue them! Otherwise, you can utilise the same template for whatever skill you are looking to develop. Devote a fixed amount of time daily where, distraction free, you engage in a certain skill-building activity. As with the previous suggestion on exercise, routine and regularity is key! This is the reason why I encourage you to write those 25 minutes practices into your RockMeApp and tick them off at the end of the week. A good practice would be: “On 5 days out of 7, I’m writing my long-hand diary 25 minutes a day to develop a writing routine”.

Understand and explore your host culture through the German language

Though any time of the year is a good time to increase your understanding of the host country’s culture, fall is especially important. The weather is kinder towards cultural events like music festivals, theater and cinema, the perfect opportunity for you to interact with like-minded people at social events and integrate into society!

In fact, while we’re on the subject of exploring culture and language, I’d like to bring your attention towards a play being performed at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, Faust I.

Not only is Goethe’s Faust I considered the pinnacle of German literature, but its theater adaptation is also the most popular German-language play. I highly recommend that you take some time out to attend this play, its impact is felt not just in German culture but in cultures across the world. You can also read up some backstory to the epic tragedy of Faust before attending the performance.

SPOTLIGHT: Goethe’s Faust I at the Schauspielhaus

I would like to highlight just what makes this performance of Faust I so special. The Schauspielhaus Zurich is one of the most prominent theaters in the German-speaking world, with an auspicious history dating back all the way to 1892, when it served as a stage for vaudeville performances and live music. Hosting a play as illustrious as Faust at a location that is essentially hallowed grounds for German arts and heritage essentially makes it the cultural event of the year! To celebrate with the international community in Zürich, the Schauspielhaus invites us to a special event.

All performances at the Schauspielhaus feature English surtitles now.

There will be an English-speaking introduction with welcome drinks starting at 6.15 pm. This is not only a great chance to learn more about the German culture. It’s also a cozy way to meet like-minded professionals. We invite the Global People Club for:

Saturday, 9  November 2019 at 6:15 pm

“Goethe, the Schauspielhaus Zurich and what it means for your integration”
– An English-speaking introduction to the house by one of the Schauspielhaus directors combined with welcome drinks.
7:00 pm – 10:20 pm
Play: Faust I by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Staging: Nicolas Stemann.

As a reader you can get two tickets for the price of one in any category for this special event on Saturday, 9 November 2019. To book your tickets, please email or call the box office by Monday, 4 November 19 with the code “Meet Schauspielhaus” and mention “GlobalPeopleTransitions”. 

Tel: +41 44 258 77 77
E-Mail: theaterkasse@schauspielhaus.ch

If you have any questions about the event you can also contact me. I will be there as well. If you have never read Faust I before I’d advise that you read it before the play. In my opinion this play is the key to understanding the “German soul”. You can see more details about the play on the Schauspielhaus website.

A guest post by Nabeha Latif – Social Media Guru at SparkZing


This week I’ll be talking about one of the most important tools in a professional’s repertoire: the LinkedIn profile. With over 500 million users, a LinkedIn profile isn’t just an afterthought, it is a mainstay of modern recruitment. Something that essential needs to be mastered fully, so let’s get to it. Presenting:

Top 10 Tips for a Killer LinkedIn Profile

1 – Get a personalised URL

In my experience, far too many professionals forget to do this, often because they simply forgot about it. LinkedIn provides you the ability to discard the standard URL (which is a jumble of letters and numbers) and have a vanity URL instead. This personalised URL can be used to promote your profile in email signatures, on business cards, portfolios and resumes. It also gives you the ability to target better organic SEO by putting in your job title or industry. Having your profile appear as a top Google search result against a job title keyword is a pretty useful trick! Check out LinkedIn’s own guide on setting up a personal URL for your profile here.

2 – Nail that headline!

You’ve got only six seconds to catch the attention of a recruiter on LinkedIn, which makes your headline absolutely do-or-die. Do make sure your headline contains the necessary keywords that are SEO friendly (that is, they contain certain words that people generally use when searching for the relevant job title or industry) and allow people to identify your industry with ease. Do make the most of the allotted 120 characters, don’t just write your job description. Try being playful (if appropriate) with word choices – sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity. Of course, don’t forget your real purpose: catching a recruiter’s attention. If your profile views drop, a reason could be that your headline needs to be re-worked.

3 – Populate your experience

Just like some people sometimes forget to update our CVs, LinkedIn profiles too can become stagnant. That’s why, every so often, you should sit down and make sure that everything from your summary, work history, projects, trainings and education is up-to-date. It helps to employ the same sort of creativity you used to create your perfect headline to show how you excelled during a particular role. Make sure that you review and plug in any gaps that may have been left in the first time round. The more a hiring manager sees of you, the easier it makes for them to decide if you meet their requirements.

If you have privacy concerns, you can choose not to share details about your career or self that you consider sensitive, as a LinkedIn profile is public and trawled by internet search engines. Concerns about private data stored by LinkedIn can be addressed by going through their GDPR-compliant privacy policy.

4 – Get creative!

This is the third time I am mentioning creativity – that is how important it is. In a sea of automation (LinkedIn now has a feature that autofills your summary), it is very easy to drown in the overwhelming number of similar looking profiles. Learning to showcase your skills and experience in a smart, catchy manner greatly increases your chances of getting noticed by the right people. Put in media from YouTube, your favourite design wireframes or any public mentions or accolades you may have accumulated! You can do that by going to Add Profile Section > Accomplishments and choosing the appropriate section.

5 – Engage, engage, engage

LinkedIn is a social network after all and engagement is key to building a healthy profile. Engaging with peers through endorsements is a positive methodology, not only will you establish a good rapport with your network but will receive endorsements in return. That rapport can help you reach out for recommendations, an important aspect of building your brand and establishing yourself as a significant presence in your industry.
It is also imperative that you join the conversation. On groups, with key influencers, with colleagues and peers. Profiles that engage actively on groups are 5 times more likely to be viewed!

6 – Master the algorithm

A killer LinkedIn profile is one that hits the top of the search results every time someone searches for a certain kind of professional. Want your profile to be the one the LinkedIn search algorithm chooses? Here’s how: Complete your profile, 100%.

LinkedIn’s algorithm is designed to give top priority to profiles which are complete (they are referred to as “All Star Profiles” and only 51% of users have those). This means that if you missed out on any aspect of your profile, you will essentially be invisible in the search results. No one wants that.

On the subject of LinkedIn Premium: spending money on a premium account will not affect your profile in any way, there are no new features there. Those accounts are targeted more towards recruiters and job seekers looking to directly connect with people not on their network. That is why purchasing a premium account will not be helpful in improving the quality of your LinkedIn profile

7 – SEO is king

Some digital specialists posit that the modern Internet is driven solely on SEO. That may be debatable but in the case of LinkedIn, that is very much true! Make sure that your profile is the one found by external search engines: optimize job titles, descriptions and as previously mentioned, in the vanity URL. All these fields are text only and thus will be parsed by search engines, you want to maximise your chances of being the top of those result lists. “Digital Guru” may sound like a catchy job title but people searching for “digital marketer” or “digital marketing specialist” will never know of you! The key is to keep it simplistic so that you can be easily found.

8 – Be pixel perfect!

Having a professional profile picture on LinkedIn is critical – first impressions matter! Questions to ask yourself when selecting a profile picture: Does it have a neutral background? Are you appropriately dressed? Did a professional photographer take the picture or is it just a selfie?

I’m also going to direct you towards how you can elevate your profile by making sure you optimize the technical aspects of the images you use. Hootsuite covers it in great detail if you’re interested, but to summarize: Make sure your images are the right aspect ratio, meet the minimum pixel count and are the correct file types. You don’t want your images to be blurry or misshapen due to incorrect dimensions!

9 – It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon

You burn through an entire weekend getting your profile into tip-top shape. Great, you now have a killer LinkedIn profile! However, what happens after a week? A month? Six months? Remember this statistic: 40% of LinkedIn’s active user-base logs in daily to the platform. These are the people who take time out every day to post, interact, tweak and improve their profiles, connections and more. Emulate them, make LinkedIn a part of your routine, it will maintain your profile as one of the best and help maximise your chances of catching the eye of recruiters, should you be looking for a new job.

10 – Run a company? Treat the page as you would your profile

If you run your own business and have it listed on your LinkedIn profile, you should make sure that the company page receives the same care and attention as your profile. After all, both must reflect the same values. Rigorously fill in and verify the information pertaining to your company, set up a consistent posting schedule and boost posts from your own employees – all add up to creating an interactive and healthy social space around your company.

***
A reminder: I will be offering this year’s RockMeRetreat from 21 November to 28 November. The RockMeRetreat is a seven-day leadership retreat in Southern Germany, where you will get to network with other Expat Leaders and Professionals and develop your global leader competency.

The RockMeRetreat is designed to amplify your success on your chosen career path and help you move towards the breakthrough you need to become a Rockstar in your chosen field!

Sign up here for entering the conversation with me. If you wish to speak to me directly, please book an appointment by replying to this email.

Kind regards,
Angie.

PS: Meet me to discuss your participation in the RockMeRetreat November 2019 by booking your special Rockstar Session with me now.