Five Friday Highlights: Hubris, Humility, and Stress

Work Stress

As I have traveled to Germany recently, conducted workshops for LinkedIn, and continued developing my exclusive coaching program for female executives, I have been thinking about gender diversity, work stress, living conditions, and the difference between success and failure. These five posts each touch on those topics from various angles.

Why VC’s Aren’t Funding Women-Led Startups from Knowledge@Wharton raises realistic and honest questions about how women can have a more equitable share of VC funding. It’s sad to note that in 2016 I can attest to the fact that the male hubris/female humility effect is still asserting itself throughout the tech world. A quote from Ethan Mollick: “If entrepreneurship is based in part on hubris, [the] male hubris, female humility effect tells us something about why women are less likely to do start-ups.”

Topics like “humility” and “confidence” lead me to ponder what talent acquisition specialists really focus on when looking for a perfect fit for their organization. 7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is One Of The Fastest-Growing Job Skills from Fast Company contends that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ! The article outlines seven reasons emotional intelligence is considered so valuable. One of my favorites is the fact that emotionally intelligent people are more open to feedback.

14 Inspiring Habits of Successful Digital Entrepreneurs from Cox Business’s Blue was quite the thorough inventory of what it takes to be a successful digital entrepreneur. These “inspiring habits” apply to success outside the digital realm as well. My favorite (of course) is think globalDigital entrepreneurs have a mindset that isn’t restricted by geopolitical borders. They understand that the noise is greater but the niches are larger. Because they are global.

I also try to keep my finger on the pulse of what workers of all generations are doing to survive. Where are they living? How are they spending their disposable income? How do they integrate work and life? This one reflects a trend that speaks both to values and the current economy: For First Time in Modern Era, Living With Parents Edges Out Other Living Arrangements for 18- to 34-Year-Olds from the The Pew Research Center. The category “share living with spouse or partner” continues to fall, according to the study, which states, “This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35.”

Finally, no matter what generational demographic you fall into, stress at work has to happen to you at least occasionally! There was a great suggestion and a fresh angle in Want to Decrease Your Stress at Work? Encourage Your Coworkers from Forbes. Citing research that demonstrates how encouraging coworkers can reduce stress, the article continues, “In addition to the brain benefits and reduced stress that result from supporting your colleagues, doing so will help create a culture where your coworkers can lean on one another and encourage each other in stressful tasks.”

And who doesn’t want less stress and more encouragement? I encourage you to let me know what reading has made a difference for you recently. Email me with your recommendations!

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5 Things You Need to Know Before Doing Business in Europe (As Featured in Inc.)

European BusinessThere are 5 principles executives need to understand before doing business in Europe.

For example, one of my recommendations is it’s what you know, not who you know:

A European will measure your worth by how much you know about current events, the world, and historical happenings. A good businessperson is well educated, intellectual and able to discuss topics of the day.

Inform yourself before you go abroad so you can speak to the context you’re in. More importantly, bring something new to the table–don’t just repeat the latest headlines. Europeans value knowledge, and you’ll impress them greatly if they walk away feeling they learned something, even if it has nothing to do with the business at hand.

To learn about the other four principles, please click here to read the entire article!

 

European Business

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Five Friday Highlights: Hours, Wages, and Interculturalism

Global Working Conditions

When choosing this week’s highlights, I was reminded of the wide gulf in global working conditions. Some workers in Sweden are getting an opportunity to work 6-hour days with no cut in pay, while exhausted workers in China sleep at their desks (with permission) and others in Russia have not been paid in months. The last two articles are broader: a primer on how to disagree in other cultures and thoughts about the impact of female leaders on emerging markets. I hope these selections give you deeper insight into the world around us.

By traveling throughout so many countries, I am fortunate to have a front seat to many workplace experiments, such as manipulating the number of hours per week employees are required to work. In The Six-hour Workday Works in Sweden. But What About in Workaholic North America? from the Financial Post, I was most intrigued not by the specifics of the way the government-funded experiment to shorten workdays would increase productivity, but by the rigorous data collection and investigative integrity. Without outcome data, no decisions will be made that benefit the Swedish workforce as a whole (or workforces in other countries).

It no longer surprises me to see images of workers asleep at desks or in designated rest areas as described in China Tech Workers Asleep on the Job – With the Boss’s Blessing from Reuters. I was intrigued not just by the accommodations made for issues related to work conditions (employees who sleep at the office to avoid hours-long commutes two ways each day), but by the potential productivity benefits (“For technology, it’s more of a brain activity. Workers need time to find inspiration”) and the pitfalls (“My kid misses me, I get home and he lunges at me like a small wolf,” Liu said, speaking about his three-year-old son who he only sees on weekends. “That makes me feel a bit guilty.”).

Work hours and rest accommodations are one labor condition related issue but an utter failure to be compensated is a different and more harmful problem. In Russia’s Car Workers Who Struggle On No Pay from the BBC, the author profiles employees whose salaries are being withheld by hundreds of small and large companies. “The explanations may differ: mismanagement, bad economy or plain criminality,” explains the article, “but for workers the end result is the same.”

Taking a higher level view of working globally, I found The Secret to Disagreeing With People in 20 Countries from the Washington Post both accurate and thorough. The featured chart “combines two different scales. The first scale looks at how emotionally expressive people in that culture tend to be.” The second scale “measures how confrontational people in a culture tend to be.”

Finally, as an interculturalist who also specializes in gender work, Women in Leadership Dominate Emerging Markets … And It Pays Off from Forbes was a perfect dovetailing of my two interests! The author shares, “In my global search for quality investments, I stumbled on a trend that should be good for everybody….as competent women take more leadership roles, it should raise the bar for everybody, and provide a fresh – and profitable – prospective.”

Have you read something this week that gave you deeper insight into another culture or way of doing business? Email me to let me know!

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5 Things Successful Global Executives Do Every Day

image-of-global-executives-drinking-tea

My friend’s Berlin office struck me as odd when I walked into it for the first time. The top consultant for foreign investment in the Middle East didn’t have the usual round conference table. Instead, he had two long sofas facing each other.

At first, it seemed awkward. I wondered where my friend and his prospective customers made deals? Did he have another room somewhere that I couldn’t see?

Then I realized this setup was one of his secrets to success.

Negotiations with those in the Middle East don’t happen around conference tables or on the links. They happen sitting directly across from one another, drinking tea, and talking business. My friend had arranged his office to accommodate the culture of those with whom he was making deals.

Simple practices like this can be the dividing line between success and failure when you are conducting business abroad. Successful global business executives know to do their homework before entering into negotiations.

Here are five actions you can take right now to help with your global business ventures:

1. Adapt your cultural practices
Like my friend in Berlin, adapt your business practices to fit those from different backgrounds or cultures. Whether it be making decisions over late night drinks or during afternoon tea, adapting to cultural norms is critical for ensuring deals are made.

Along with this, it’s essential to approach negotiations with an open mind. Respect and be empathetic to those from different backgrounds than yours.

2. Make friends abroad
Develop relationships with those who live in countries in which you want to do business. Take trips and meet with government officials and community members.

When visiting, behave like an anthropologist. Be curious and ask questions. Acting like an anthropologist will help you establish credibility.

For example, if you’re doing business in Central Europe, you need to come to the table having done your homework whereas, in Israel, the details are expected to shake out after you and your potential business partners have initially discussed the idea.

3. Leverage relationships at home
There’s a good chance that people in your own network have done business in countries or cultures you want to target. Seek these people out and use them as cultural ambassadors to be successful in that global environment.

Invite them to impart their wisdom and contacts. Don’t be afraid to “ask dumb questions.” Learn from their mistakes and experience.

4. Keep up with the times
Successful global executives are avid consumers of global news. They pay attention to things such as conflicts, elections, and natural disasters.

This habit can help make sure you don’t try to schedule a meeting during a critical holiday or run into travel restrictions due to political unrest.

5. Know how money talks
We all know the phrase “money talks” but, it can speak in different languages. To be successful globally, you need to understand how money is handled, transacted, and the expectation for how it will be used to secure a negotiation.

What do the people with whom you are doing business consider a bribe? What does their culture and society view as an appropriate gift? Is money wired? What’s the state of the currency? You should be able to answer all these questions before trying to make a deal in another country.

Successful global executives learn everything they can about the country in which they want to do business. Knowing whether to kiss, shake hands, bow or offer tea, coffee, or scotch can go a long way in making successful and profitable global business deals.

Do you have questions about expanding your operations internationally? Join my online global leadership community today and receive my practical guide to global expansion in 2018. This white paper addresses vital issues including what you need to consider, questions executives ask, a readiness assessment and a list of the hot markets for 2018.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: hiva sharifi on Unsplash

 

Five Friday Highlights: The Power of Shared Experiences

Gender Equity

There’s something really powerful about … shared experiences. People might be skeptical about their ability to change if they’re by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief.- Charles Duhigg

Today’s highlight selections all tie back, in one way or another to shared experiences. From Sheryl Sandberg’s revelations after becoming a part of the single parent community, to women who still are subject to unwanted touching at their employers, it is shared experiences which catalyze action. It is my hope these actions create a richer, more equitable world for everyone.

Acting on shared experiences can result in a richer, more equitable world for everyone! {TWEET THIS}

Sheryl Sandberg released a Mother’s Day message on Facebook about how her interpretation of “Leaning In” has changed over the past year, after her husband passed away and she became a single mother. In addition to sharing the evolution of her personal viewpoint, she says, “We need to rethink our public and corporate workforce policies and broaden our understanding of what a family is and looks like.” I agree!

Sheryl Sandberg’s change of viewpoint was brought about by a change in her life circumstances. After her spouse’s death, her pool of “shared experience” had broadened. Shared experience, writes Georgene Huang, founder of Fairygodboss in Forbes, matters. Read more in Your Gender Matters at Work and That’s a Good Thing.

Some industries move more quickly toward gender parity than others, and Sydney Ember shares in The New York Times how advertising is not blazing a trail. In For Women in Advertising, It’s Still a “Mad Men” World, Ember writes “…in interviews with more than a dozen women, mostly executives, who work in advertising, many said they found it hard to believe how much their particular business still remained a white man’s world.”

Who is going to make a measured, mature contribution to the hard work of rethinking public and corporate workforce policies referred to by Sheryl Sandberg? I have to think the people willing and capable of doing that will exhibit the characteristics discussed in 7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is One of the Fastest-Growing Job Skills from Fast Company. Like the article states regarding the emotionally intelligent, “…with the rates of change and pressures in the workplace rising, they’ll become even more sought after than ever.”

I believe those emotionally intelligent people can make a difference in the changes that will help bring about more fairness and, in all honesty, more profits! In Why Inclusive Hiring Practices Help Bottom-Line Earnings for Savvy Companies from Sharp Heels, guest contributor Heather Ready provided examples such as, “…investments in companies with at least one female founder performed 63% better than … investments in all-male teams, according to a report released last year.”

Success in business is not, of course, all about monetary profit However, I don’t see why we can’t do both: be richly diverse and rich in the conventional sense. Who wants to help me try? Email me here with your ideas!

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5 Ways to Beat Perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism

A refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

That’s how the dictionary defines perfectionism. At first blush, this description can look like an attribute. Perfectionists do great work. People can count on them and are generally happy with what they accomplish. Having things perfect can bring a great sense of calm.

But there’s a dark side to perfectionism. Perfectionists beat themselves up all the time. They may avoid new experiences and projects for fear of failure. They take on everything in order to make sure its done right, thus leaving no time for themselves, partners, family or friends.

Perfectionists want to have full control over their environments. But, because we are interdependent on other people and the environment, we can’t ever have full control over our situations and careers. We can’t control other people’s reactions, for example, so it’s important to try to let go and do the best that we can. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for failure—a perfectionists’ worst fear.

So how can a perfectionist stop being so perfect? Here are 5 ways:

Practice Pareto’s Principle. That’s the 80/20 rule. Men are especially good at this, many women, on the other hand, think that 100 percent isn’t good enough. Women are often perceived by men as having their head down, striving really hard for perfection. Men interpret that behavior having a lack of attention to building relationships and maintaining visibility that is really important within an organization. For men, they think if they focus 80 percent on the tasks, that leaves 20 percent that they can focus on networking and building relationships which are key to getting promoted and moving ahead. To overcome perfectionism, it’s important to try to embrace the 80/20 rule. Realize that you don’t have to have your inbox cleaned out every day or every to-do completed before you go to bed.

Try something new. Perfectionists want to make sure everything they do is flawless. They think it’s safer to not do something than to try and fail. To overcome this urge, they can set goals for themselves to try something new (small or big) this week, this month, or this year to help move forward. Perfectionists tend to like structure, so this tactic is easy for them to work with.

Act now. Perfectionists can be procrastinators. The fear of doing something wrong causes them to freeze up and do nothing at all. If this happens to you, ask yourself what is making you delay your goals and then develop an action plan to tackle them right away.

Trust your gut. Ever heard of the term “analysis paralysis.” Perfectionists want to have all the information before moving forward. But instead, trust they should trust themselves and their intuition. If you are a perfectionist, have confidence in your decisions and know that if something doesn’t go as planned—you can always adjust.

Write your worries away. Perfectionists worry. And there are few things less productive than worrying. So, worrywarts, write down your worries, and then look at that list a month later. Chances are you’ll be surprised by how many of those worries were never realized. Then, have a laugh.

Perfectionists will do what they can to avoid mistakes and accidents—but without these we wouldn’t have certain innovations, like the microwave. It’s good to want to do your best, but it’s better to take chances and move forward. {TWEET THIS}

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Five Friday Highlights: Joy, Fear, and New Cultures

Learning New Cultures

When you decide to visit a new country, is your initial sentiment joy or fear? Maybe a combination of both? For some people, of course, it’s not really their decision. As organizations become more global, work-related international moves are becoming more common. For person doing the moving, though, “common” may not be the first word that comes to mind! Today, five selections about people’s experiences with other cultures, some short-term and others more permanent.

As organizations become more global, international moves are more common. But for the person moving, “common” isn’t how it feels! {TWEET THIS}

Let’s start with one individual’s experience and expand into larger groups of people. In Introverts, Arriving Early, and my German Adventure, author Jennifer Kahnweiler shares her takeaways from her recent business trip to Germany. She was impressed by the vigorous attention given to debating all sides of issues (and how disagreement was not to be taken personally).

Every international trip I embark on transforms me and this one was no exception. – Jennifer Kahnweiler

Speaking of transformation, when workers move to a new country and must assimilate into a new culture, transformative interactions are sure to take place! In 5 Ways to Acclimate Multinational Employees from Talent Management, activities to enhance workers’ abilities of “self advocacy, ownership, speaking up, facilitating meetings and knowing what topics are safe for their work environments” are presented.

Trading Persian Tea for Seattle Coffee from The Atlantic is a detailed look at how the Iranian community in Seattle established their lives (and livelihoods) while also staying true to their heritage.

A tree cannot stand without the roots…and I cannot be excited as a proud American if I’m not proud of where I came from. – Ali Ghambari

The 70 executives consulted for Leading Across Cultures: The Five Secrets of the World’s Top CEOs from The Guardian have undoubtedly encountered their fair share of intercultural issues in the workplace! One of the five secrets is fearlessness, with the author asking “Are you comfortable being uncomfortable? Do you like situations where there’s no road map or compass?” My travels have confirmed that — embracing the risk of inserting yourself into a new situation is often difficult but almost always worth the risk!

Sometimes, it is possible to cross cultural lines without actually going anywhere, and to do it in a way that divides instead of uniting. A Point of View: When Does Borrowing From Other Cultures Become ‘Appropriation’? from BBC News, is an opinion piece on the evolution of political correctness. Citing incidents such as a 2015 “Kimono Wednesday” issue at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when an activity designed to engage people led to protests over perceived cultural insensitivity, the author concludes “appropriation is far more often empowering than oppressing.” What do you think? Email me here to let me know!

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5 Ways Companies Can Best Celebrate Mothers

Celebrate Mothers

May 8 marks Mother’s Day in the U.S. On Sunday sons, daughters, and husbands will be preparing breakfast in bed, a floral bouquet, or taking part in a family brunch as a way to show mom they appreciate all she does.

But what happens globally on Mother’s Day?

During the 20th century, Mother’s Day in Japan fell on the birthday of Empress Kojun. Usually, Japanese men gift their mothers with red roses and carnations. Like the United States, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year.

Since 1922, Germany has observed Mother’s Day. It is usually held on the second Sunday of May, unless it falls on Pentecost. The maternal holiday was first introduced in Western Europe by the Swiss, who dedicated a day to moms in 1917. Germans will show their affection for mom with cards and flowers.

For some countries, Mother’s Day has religious roots. Argentina once celebrated women in conjunction with the liturgical date for the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Oct. 11. It has since been moved to the third Sunday in October, still taking place during Argentina’s spectacular Spring.

What I find even more interesting is how companies worldwide recognize mothers, and not just for Mothers Day. Here are five things companies do to support mothers (and parents):

New moms can take pre- and post-birth paid leave. Companies, such as Amazon and General Electric, extend that policy to new parents (adoptive or biological) and dads. Many countries, including Europe, have adopted legislation that guarantee those incentives for all employees. Some paid leave can be up to a year and the employee’s job is still waiting for them when they return to work.

Offering flexible working time allows parents to schedule doctors appointments for children, and to accommodate their children’s school or sports calendars.

Corporate offices have dedicated pumping rooms for the breast-feeding mom.

Daycare is an increasing cost for parents. Companies are responding by providing onsite child care or benefits to help with the cost of child care.

Management — men and women — are becoming role-models, speaking out about their family and children obligations to normalize the discussion in the workplace.

Offering those types of benefits to employees not only provides relief to the family, it also works as an incentive for companies to attract and keep top talent.

How are you or your company considering celebrating mothers and parents this month?

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