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!

Image credit: 123rf/scanrail

6 Secrets to Overcoming Jet-Lag

I travel a lot for business. And its not only the shorter jaunts from Phoenix to San Francisco or Chicago to Boston. I travel from North to South America and Europe to Asia. Sometimes I’m on planes for 15-20 hours. For years now, I’ve suffered from jet-lag. It can be brutal, lasting a week, sometimes with flu symptoms, but I’ve sucked it up and dealt with it because I love my work, enjoy being in different countries, and learning about new cultures.

Last year, after several back-to-back trips to far-away places, I made a deal with myself I would employ some new jet-lag fighting tactics and see if I could find a better way to cope. I asked those executive friends of mine (who travel more than I do), did some internet research, and simply tested out a few strategies. Finally, after almost 25 years of business and personal travel, I think I’ve finally got this jet-lag thing beat.

Here are my six secrets to overcoming jet-lag:

1) Prepare a sleep-kit: Sleeping on planes is difficult enough, make it as comfortable as you can. First, get something to block out the noise; earplugs, headphones, or an extra pillow. Second, make sure you’re warm enough. A lightweight down jacket can bunch up into a headrest, add extra padding to your seat, or simply keep you nice and warm on an over-air conditioned plane. A fleece blanket or poncho and a hat or hood is helpful, too. And don’t forget your eye mask to block out light. If you’re lucky enough to travel business or first class, you’ll get most of these accessories with your seat.

2) Skip the wine: This is a tough one because they serve some nice wines on the European airlines. Singapore Airlines will even make you exotic fruit juice cocktails, like – surprise – the Singapore Sling. Alcohol may put you to sleep quickly but chances are you’ll be up again in an hour or two, wide awake from the sugar content in alcohol. It can also make recovering from jet-lag once you get to where you’re going tougher. It dehydrates you and you can feel even more tired.

3) Medicate if you dare: If you have trouble sleeping on planes it might be well worth taking some medication. Some folks prefer Melatonin or a homeopathic sleep aid, others use Tylenol or Advil PM. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a sleeping pill for international flights. There’s nothing like being well-rested when you get to your final destination. Experiment with some options and find what’s best for you, but do try to sleep at least half of any trip over eight hours. Especially if its an overnight flight.

4) Eat VERY lightly: Again, this can be difficult. Meals help with the boredom on longer flights and the international airlines can serve up some mean grub. I recently had filet, asparagus grits and mixed sauteed vegetables. It was surprisingly delicious. I paid for it though, couldn’t sleep a wink. Luckily it was a day flight so I took the calculated risk. However, when I eat a salad with lots of raw veggies, no meat or carbs, board my flight, eat very little (if at all) on the plane, I tend to sleep well and feel better when I land.

5) Get some fresh air: I feel like my mother. When I was a kid, she always said, “Let’s get some fresh air, shall we?” What I think she really meant was, “You’re driving me nuts inside bouncing off the walls.” Anyway, I can’t emphasize enough how much of a difference it makes recovering from jet-lag. Rain or shine, when I get to where I’m going, I go out for a stroll. (Assuming its a stroll-able location.) A brisk walk, especially if the air is cool, takes away that slight headache, refreshes you, and it’ll help you sleep better that first night.

6) Exercise, exercise, exercise: Critical to overcoming jet-lag (and to your overall well-being) is getting some exercise everyday – before, during and after your trip. Even a thirty minute workout can do wonders. It gets the blood flowing, your brain working, it builds your immune system to fight colds and viruses, and makes you feel dang good. If you’re staying at a hotel without a good gym facility, ask about a neighborhood gym nearby. Go for a run or join some people playing a sport outdoors. I’ve even downloaded a couple of workout apps and in a pinch, do those in my hotel room.

Of course you have to find what works best for you. I can’t promise you’ll conquer jet-lag entirely but I can promise the above tips will help a lot and you’ll feel more prepared for your next trip abroad. Happy travels!

 

 

Women in Leadership, Women in Business: What Glass Ceiling?

Women in Leadership, Women in Business
Interview by Melissa Lamson
Interviewer: Hana Al-Abadi

Q: Why are women in business such a hot topic right now?

A: I think that we have thought – at least in the US and Europe – that we fought the battle for equality in the past but when we looked around a couple of years ago and saw that positions, money, and treatment still wasn’t always equal, the subject came up again. Women finally see ourselves as equal business partners and we want careers equally to men. Because of that there’s a lot of pressure on individuals to find flexible solutions to create that equality in the workplace as well as at home. The topic of women in the workplace is big because of that pressure and that evolution. Women tend to be really spectacular working globally because they are good at developing relationships. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we are going global successfully because we are good at it.

Q: Do you believe women still bump into the glass ceiling?

A: Yes I do. I would say there are two challenges. The first challenge is that women are trained to not focus much on self-promotion because we will be seen as a threat, an opportunist, or simply not a “nice girl”. Different from men who are admired for self-promotion; its expected from men. So we’ll sabotage ourselves and not promote our accomplishments enough to be seen for that promotion or next project. The other challenge is that as women we are very focused on performance, mostly because we are socialized to be perfectionists. So we have a perfectionism issue, we need to be more conscious of not being too much of a perfectionist but to pull ourselves out of the weeds, look up, and develop those key relationships, particularly with men.

Q: What are the top 3 keys to women being successful in the workforce? Anything special they need to consider when working globally?

A: 1. Don’t be a perfectionist. 2. Self Promote. 3. Build targeted relationships. (Don’t just socialize with those people you like.)

Q: As a successful business woman, author, and consultant who travels all over the world, would you say women are more or less successful in business outside of the US/in other countries?

A: I wouldn’t say more or less successful. In the US, women have been at a disadvantage in the last 20 years because many believed the whole issue of equality in business was fixed and no longer an issue. But there is still inequality we need to think about consciously, proactively and collaboratively with men. Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most well-known people who recently came out and said “it’s still not equal and we need to be conscious of this”. She also was the first women to admit publicly that a major success factor in a woman’s career is determined by the support of their partner.

Globally, it’s interesting to see the gender roles in parts of Asia and the Middle-east. They are very distinct between women and men. Men don’t try to do what women do and vice versa. It becomes an advantage because when we see the male and female roles, people just tend to leave each other alone in their roles. It doesn’t get messy because men get a little nervous when you’re in their territory and it’s in their nature to be more competitive. So if you don’t have people stepping on each other’s toes then it’s easier to get things done so I think women have more opportunities in some other countries because of that. Having said that, women all over the world are speaking up, getting an education, and want to use that education to launch their careers. It’s economically driven, in many cases, young couples or families need or want more money and material possessions and a more luxurious lifestyle than their parents had. Its also emotionally-driven, where women want to use their brain, invent, create and shape the world.

Q: What is your advice to women wanting to start their own business?

A: Find  people who have done something similar and who are successful at it and either go meet them, work for them, and/or model yourself after them. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Also, it’s helpful if those role models are women so you know how to overcome specific challenges. Further, I would find men who are successful and ask them to be formal mentors to you because they will always give the male perspective. When you’re interacting with clients who are male, they will be able to help you. Particularly when negotiating money or asking for the sale, men tend to do that differently from women and its good to learn both styles.

For more information about women in business, contact info@lamsonconsulting.com