New Webinar – Hard Sweaty Workouts – A Cultural Metaphor from Malii Brown 3PM, London time, 24th July 2017.

 

About the webinar – Malii has developed an idea that borrows from the sweaty physical space of the gym and applies it to benefit a diverse group of people working together and wishing to raise their level of cultural competence as it shows up in process, inclusion and equity. She is talking to YOU.

In this one-hour interactive event (no yoga mat required), Malii will expand upon her creative ideas and tell us how high-intensity interval training can be learnt, practiced and applied to good effect. So bring a pen, paper and your water bottle and plug in to enjoy this unique intellectual and emotional workout. We look forward to seeing you on 24th July. Click on the link and follow the instructions; https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3439538837417552897

Malii Brown

Speaker and Trainer, Malii Brown

About the Speaker – Malii Brown is a trainer and consultant working globally and stateside to equip people with skills to manage the complexities and opportunities inherent to work and life in culturally diverse environments. She has 12 years training experience including Fortune 500 companies, institutions of higher learning, state government and nonprofits.

Malii offers a unique perspective to cultural work as a Millennial woman of color who has worked and travelled throughout the U.S. and 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. She has varying proficiency in English, Spanish, Japanese and American Sign Language (ASL) and holds a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Management from SIT Graduate Institute (School for International Training) in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College in California. She now lives in Chicago.

See you 3PM, London time, 24th July 2017.

10 Presentation Crimes That Your Audience Will Not Forgive – and What YOU can do to stay F-R-R-E-E-E by Matthew Hill

Be Arresting. Don’t Get Arrested!

Having just sat through 20+ presentations and talked to fellow audience members at a Congress in Dublin the other week, I thought I would turn the sometimes tortuous challenge of staying calm sitting in the audience into a What Not To Do List and provide better ways of catering for your audience’s basic Human Rights.

Presentation Skills Course Matthew Hill

Sorry, Urh, hang on a minute…

BTW – More than 65% of the presenters were good and about 10% were excellent – However (always a warning word) however, some seemed to be living in the ‘90’s before TED and all those great YouTube videos that clearly spell out how to get audience engagement and knowledge transfer RIGHT.

10 Crimes – The Charge Sheet

1, The Presenter Panicked and Ran – Whether thrown off balance by technical issues, a late start of not having rehearsed against the clock, many presenters, including Key Note Speakers managed to get into a sweaty nervous panic during their talks. When you speed up at the end of your slot, your audience know something is amiss. When you admit that time has got away from you and then do not adjust, the audience become anxious on your behalf and when you say, “I will stop now!” 4 times without finishing, the audience will condemn you to presenter hell in your presence. The cost to you of presenter panic is having an audience close their minds with a slamming sound as the barriers drop preventing any transfer value. What a pity. What a waste. What a misspending of all that preparation time.

ANSWER

If you rehearse against the clock you can measure your content against the allocated time and therefore regain control. Additionally you may have a section that you can jettison if you experience a time scare. Not right at the end but 50 or 60% of the way through. Also keep your piece simple enough for the time allocated. A 90 minute monologue simply doesn’t work in 2017 and 20 minutes is not enough time to outline splitting the atom or finding a cure for world hunger.

When you feel scarcity – SLOW DOWN – This will give you time to think, look cool in front of your audience and present the appearance of being in control. We will repeat this later – Your Audience wants you to SUCCEED.

2, Voice Crime. There is nothing worse for the speaker or the audience than someone sat at the back shouting, “We can’t here you”, ”Please speak up” or, “We can’t hear you at the back.” Beside thinking that they should have got here earlier and found a better seat, this will distract you from your delivery, dilute your message and divide the audience into those who join in the bullying and those that start to pity you. Both groups are not doing you any favours. Add to the crime sheet the monotone presenter, the mutterer or the huddled script reader and you have a case ready for prosecution.

ANSWER

Singing lessons – Yes, I am serious. If you wish to project your voice, if you wish to raise your volume, if you wish never to loose your voice again during a presentation, join a choir or take individual singing lessons. It will do wonders for your voice quality, your confidence and your connection with the audience.

3, Technical Failure To Appear – In Dublin we were treated to the latest and the best equipment but – the presenters with older computers did not have an HDMI slot, the corporate trainers had not all worked with touch screens before and the new Prezi users did not all have enough practice with the application (presumably because they had spent all of their allocated tech time figuring out how to MAKE their first Prezi presentation and had not left enough to practice their show in realistic conditions.) The results were PREDICTABLE. Embarrassing faffing, asking the tech crew for help, delaying the start of the show and demonstrating the presenter’s flaws to the audience before they had managed to accumulate enough credit to afford to appear vulnerable.

ANSWER

Keep your technical level of presentation one level below your technical level of competence. Have a Plan B and back up your data. And don’t expect your venue to have usable WiFi, don’t expect to run YouTube clips live – record them and load them as MP4’s. That way they will run on just about anything. It is the most inexperienced presenters that tend to be the most technically ambitious. Those that have given a few webinars know to expect the unexpected and are able to manage the disruption in technical service with a cool head, an even voice and a smooth transition to the next section of the show.

presentation skills coach matthew hill

Too many words… take him away.

  1. Murder by Slides. The Geneva Convention states that PowerPoint slides must not have more than 20 words on them. Despite this, we saw endlessly wordy, small font decks with no visuals, no colour and no useful transfer potential to them. The audience could either ignore the slides or ignore the presenter and start reading the slides for themselves. A lose-lose.

ANSWER

Separate out the desire to present and the need to transfer data and make some tough decisions before you get to the venue – What will you project with your voice and what data will you MAKE AVAILABLE AFTERWARDS in the form of a hand-out / appendix or further reference materials? Understand that slides can be pretty placeholders, a mechanism to reinforce your message with visual people and a good place for graphics, a pie charge or a simple model. However…nobody wants to multi-task during the show so STOP torturing them and plan your information flow more considerately.

 

  1. Methodology Overdose – Closely related to the point above, in a non- academic context there is ZERO need to reveal the statistical significance of your raw research. The audience have one question for you; WIIFT? What is in it for THEM? How can they apply your experience for their benefit? END of.

ANSWER

As above – offer an appendix, a data hand out or a lab session demonstrating your methods, approach, analysis and technical findings. AND – in your short presentation tell them the interesting bits. How it worked, what the conclusions are and how it can be applied for gain.

 

  1. The Presenter Got High – Audience Altitude – Finding their Level. There are two crimes here – going too high or staying too low. Both ways will crash your presentation vehicle. If you pitch it too low for too long you will build up an irritation in your audience that will come out in people leaving your talk with a noisy banging of doors or firing sarcastic questions at you that interrupt you and undermine your credibility.

It you pitch it too high the crowd will turn into a Zombie Apocalypse before your very eyes. Take this as natural feedback telling you that you failed to do your homework, identify your audience segment and that you omitted to refine your message enough to hit the target.

ANSWER

Do your homework, speak to some people, interview the organisers and don’t take general answers for the truth. Your job is to engage, inform and entertain. Your job is to tell a story. Your job is to move people intellectually and emotionally. Your job is to prevent suicidal thoughts rippling through the front row.

 

  1. If It Pleases Your Honour – Time Management – We have dealt with the panic of starting late, not checking the length of your presentation and of lying about when it will end. This aspect is more about the cultural differences in the perception of the flow of time and gaining explicit permission to tell your story. At the beginning of your talk you have 30 seconds to win the hearts and minds of your audience! If you fail, then the rest of your talk can only do damage – to the hopes and dreams of your audience and to your REPUTATION. When you win their support quickly, you will be given 5 minutes grace … to win their enthusiasm for the next 15 minutes! Do you see how it works?

ANSWER

Hit them hard at the beginning – fire a big gun – a moral question, a challenging fact or a brutal prediction – engage your audience and ask, “Do you want to hear more?” They will then award you explicit permission to continue. Really. This psychological contract will become stronger the more they engage with you – the great presenter.

 

  1. Straying From The Straight And Narrow – There are two ways to leave the path here – audience drift and speaker drift. The former consists of being caught out or taking a side bar because of an audience intervention – through being nice and respecting the audience or the influence of a strong personality sat in the second row, you drift off and ANNOY everyone else. Pleasing a strong personality is not a winning strategy for the whole audience. OR you get on to your pet subject, leave your own path and start busking (the phrase for making it up as you go along) much to the irritation of the linear focussed listeners in front of you. When you start entertaining yourself you automatically disrespect the sensibilities of your audience.

ANSWER

Learn to assert yourself and police your audience – Putting a hand up and saying, “Let’s get back on track” is normally enough. If you are likely to wander away from your presentation pathway, build in milestones to remind yourself of the key points that you must make. If you find yourself drifting too wide of those marks, apologise and return to the point.

 

presentation crimes matthew hill

Out of Date Material – Arrest that presenter!

  1. Criminal Exhibit A – Old Material – The older your material, the greater the chance that the audience will have encountered it before or, and worse still, they will have encountered you before, saying the same thing. There is a famous Dutch father of culture who basically has one keynote speech. What ever you engage him to speak about, out he will come with his one keynote speech – And it is difficult to get a refund sometimes.

ANSWER

Read, listen and watch. Be present to developments. Watch out for shifts in the direction of your specialist subject and keep your presentation approach fresh, present and alive. It is not a crime to renew your perspective, challenge YOUR OWN beliefs and treat your audience to something EXCITING and challenging.

 

  1. Old Lag – You Are Not Enjoying It. The voice in your head starts to unsettle you, “Are they really listening to you?”, “ Do they believe a word you are saying?”, “Do they think you look pretty / handsome?” We can develop all sorts of complexes or simply become bored with our own style or topic when we have been presenting too long and need an upgrade – even the best can suffer from imposter syndrome, delusions of paranoia or become completely immune to the charm of their own material and certainly doubt its power to impress.

And. If you are not enjoying the show as a presenter, you can GUARANTEE that the audience are suffering too. Is it time to hand yourself in to the authorities?

ANSWER

At the beginning of any performance it is a safe bet to assume that the audience want you to DO WELL. They are actively looking for signs that you are relaxed, comfortable and up for this. They want to you to win. At the beginning you can assume that most of them LOVE you. All you have to do is not let them down (too badly.)

It is time to work on your material, work out who your ideal and appreciative audience will be and to work on your delivery, presence and voice so that YOU enjoy the show and THEY benefit from listening to you? Is this the time to seek professional help – a presentation advocate to defend your actions and get you off the charge of being a criminal presenter so that you can walk into your next speech a Free Person?

presenting

I sentence you…

The Judge’s Summation

With a little planning, anticipation and rehearsal you can avoid cabbages and rotten eggs flying through the air, the tarnishing of your reputation as a speaker or hearing negative mumblings as you leave the building.

Remember presenting represents the single most powerful opportunity to engage with and impress people that you have never met before. Please respect the audience’s patience, attention span, their need for structure, their appreciation of a good story AND their desire for a confident performance from you – THE SPEAKER (defendant.)

I wish you well with you next presentation…

I sentence you to 10 hours Community Presentation Practice – You are free to go…

 

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a Presentation Skills Coach (amongst other things) He works with ambitious professionals who need to impress and desire to be better. Contact Matthew on; 07540 65 9996.

 

Film of ELC Webinar; Identity – Values – Language – Culture? Methods and Materials for Teaching Intercultural Competence in English

 

ELC Screen Jpeg

To watch the film click here; https://vimeo.com/224431112

Dr. Judith Mader and Dr. Rudi Camerer Broadcast from Frankfurt on the schools of thinking around culture, where the problems lie, effective blending learning methods, the use of critical incidents and case studies and how a combination of “home” work and classroom discussion for individuals or groups can work successfully.

If you enjoy the show and want to experience the ELC ICE course for yourself, feel free to contact Rudi at; R.Camerer@elc-consult.com

Cultural Risk Management Part 2 by Glen Burridge: Deadly Assumptions

Now, I hope I started to frame this last time, but let’s take that first assumption and look at some practical evidence of why it needs dispelling. This won’t be the normal size of my blogs. This is just too important an subject. But stick with me….

Assumption No. 1    “This topic has little or no effect on my world: I have more important things to worry about”

This is so big I’m going to break it down into two parts.

Part I: Every Human Grouping Has a Culture

Let’s start with internal culture, the one that exists in every grouping or organisation of human beings on the planet. This is the aspect most people are familiar with.

In the world of business, the evidence of its importance is legion and its consequences run from operational ineffectiveness through to life and death:

  • In a 2008 survey of more than 1500 industry executives, IBM found that roughly half of all projects fail due to “company culture”

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/pdf/gbe03100-usen-03-making-change-work.pdf

  • Deloitte ‘Core Beliefs & Culture’ survey from 2012 illustrates the power a corporate culture has on how happy and valued employees feel:

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-core-beliefs-and-culture.pdf

Exc orgs 

  • The Final Report on the Investigation of the Macondo Well Blowout by the Deepwater Horizon Study Group (2011), one of the worst industrial accidents in of recent years:

“It is the underlying safety culture, much of it so ingrained as to be unconscious, that governs the actions of an organization and its personnel. [These are] cultural influences that permeate an organization and an industry and manifest in actions that can either promote and nurture a high reliability organization with high reliability systems, or actions reflective of complacency, excessive risk-taking, and a loss of team situational awareness.”

http://ccrm.berkeley.edu/pdfs_papers/bea_pdfs/dhsgfinalreport-march2011-tag.pdf

We also know that increasing the variety of the people who make up an organisation, in terms of the most fundamental traits, has a positive impact:

Diversity

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters

And you don’t have to take my word for it, listen to what these two men have to say about the topic of organisational culture, who know a thing or two about running a business….

“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not be even aware of the extent to which this is happening”

Edgar H. Schein. Renowned American organizational psychologist, Emeritus Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Peter Drucker. 20th Century business management guru and writer

The ends might be different, but the same undoubtedly goes for the public sector and our governments. Any listing of the largest organisations on the planet,

e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_employers

is dominated by state-driven entities. Just contemplate the complexity and cultural diversity – in every sense – of a collection of several million employees represents for a moment. By any standards, these are equivalent to nation states in themselves. Even a several thousand employee organisation will have its own clans, power struggles and centres, outlying regions, dialects and a clear sense of norms and networks of communication and action.

Part II: When Worlds Collide

For an organisation that remotely cares about its interaction with its operating environment, it’s very tempting, especially for a commercial entity, to simply state that what’s important above all is their relationship with their customer(s). This makes complete sense…..on the face of it, but the correlation between corporate health is mixed, as examples:

The truer reality is any organisation, whether public or private sector, sustains its existence with its overall relationship with its operating environment.

Crudely speaking, it is fed by a demand from within that space, whether it be from a market or a power centre. Its survival may assured through various means: extracting profits, exchanging goods, offering expertise, a social contract, acting on behalf of a governing mandate or through distributing services altruistically, among other things.

Whatever your organisation does, it will inevitably be interacting with others, no matter what your or their motives. And each will possess a culture(s) which will never switch off, constantly interplay and collectively shape a new reality.

The trouble is that if you ask a random person on the street what “inter-cultural relations” are, chances if they have the patience, they’ll figure out more or less what it should mean. However, except for those working in certain fields, it’s far less likely to be something they systematically think about much and there is even less chance they claim it as an area of expertise deployed on a frequent basis.

Even those who are consummate interculturalists most likely don’t name it and will often put it down to “good personal qualities” or the like. The idea that groups they belong to are actively engaged in such issues will take some head scratching. Even though the consequences may be very apparent to them, only if pushed, are they likely to bring the C-word into it. And don’t be surprised if – even if you get here – when they refer to culture, they will be exclusively talking about ethnic or national ones (…we’ll get to that, in a bit).

It’s not that Culture isn’t ever-present or of capital importance, it’s that most people are simply not taught to frame relationships in intercultural terms, which is tragic since its master practitioners literally save the world or, at the very least, your world every day. Each diplomat who recognises that the point being made in a treaty negotiation stems from a deep-seated historical perspective born of an ancient sleight, each business person who realises that a sale needs to occur in a certain pattern to gain trust in this market, each presenter who outlines their arguments in a way which reaches out to a colleague from another discipline…..they are all making the world an easier place to live in and moving forward human progress. Belligerent, selfish or malignant actions taken in the world are, by definition, anti-intercultural in that they drive away mutual comprehension and productive co-existence.

Yes, I told you this stuff was important, didn’t I?

Maybe it is my training as a geophysicist, but I like to think of the inter-cultural relationships acting as a wave-field. Like the sun’s energy that bathes us, culture is something we are constantly bathed in. The spectrum frequencies change slightly with every moment, but it is inescapable and complex, but if you make an effort to understand it, it is something you can harness for all sorts of good.

We’ll get back to what goes into that ocean of waves, but for moment I just make one plea – don’t limit your thoughts on this subject to flags, languages or belief systems. There are complete strangers you can meet from the other side of the world who you will have instant an instant cameradery with, based on affinities that go well beyond those factors. Have a think….

Now, if you still don’t think this subject is of capital importance, take a look at this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

Culture plays a significant and inescapable role in pretty much any one of these effects that warp and shape our activities. Go through any of them in your professional life and see if you can think of an event where you saw this effect in play.

And now, count up the cost…..in money, reputation, uncertainty and RISK.

Billions of $’s in accumulated financial losses have resulted from not adequately addressing for this element of risk, hard-earned standing and reputation has been dissipated and yes, many lives lost. And what’s worst is that it, if deployed, it presents one of the greatest opportunities for all-round gain and it is sitting in plain view to any organisation that decides to engage with it.

That’s where this concept of Cultural Risk Management sits, right under each of the human behaviours that influence the full sweep of your organisation’s operations.

Talk to the AuthorGlen Burridge. For a discussion of the topics raised in this article and associated blogs, please feel free to get in touch with Glen at glen@glenburridge.com or via LinkedIn.

Kindness and Laughter – Europe is Bemused, Baffled and Bewildered By the UK’s Zombie Brexit

An Opinion Piece by Matthew Hill

The EU government and press are laughing at the collective miss-step of UK citizens, some of whom believed that the NHS pot would be topped up to the tune of £350 million a week or that UK employment would grow along with the economy after Brexit, or that their farm protest vote against the British Government’s DEFRA ministry was a protest vote against an EU department.

breturn

They are laughing at us

As that laughter calms, European minds are turning to our common issues, mutual interests as well as the need for defence and everybody’s prosperity.

The kindness of strangers

It is at this point we witness the kindness of strangers – Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Shaeuble, New French President, Emmanuel Macron, Former Belgian Prime Minister, outspoken and popular EU Politician, Guy Verhofstadt, and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk – all wish to throw us a lifeline and keep us IN and do what is best for the EU and best for Britain – Breturn.

Shocked girl eavesdropping.

Listening?

If only we would listen

We are currently being held hostage to Hard Brexit by a tiny number of Tory Euro sceptic bullies threatening the ever fragile Theresa May with oblivion if she does not condemn Britain to the roughest of roads.

Imagine Theresa May is the Bank Manager being forced to rob her own bank to save her family who are sitting trembling in their living room facing a masked man with a shotgun. Oh dear.

Strange Patriotism

Patriotic?

Only one person seems weaker and wobblier than PMTM at the moment and that is Andrea Leadsom who attempted to bully and shame the BBC’s Emily Maitlis recently by calling for the British media to be more, “Patriotic.”

How patriotic is it for a Prime Minister to be prepared to say and do anything she needs to just to stay in the job? How patriotic is it to pursue Hard Brexit when she was a Remainer knowing that was the better option. How patriotic is it to bribe the DUP with £1,000,000,000 to keep herself in the job and her minority party in power, or to call an election in order to receive a blank cheque from a divided nation to pursue her version of a bank robbery with Tory Euro-sceptics wearing the masks and holding the weapons? How patriotic is it to chase Brexit when 95% of economists agree it will be bad for the country.

Trade

The EU cares more about Britain than do Tory Euro-sceptics. Europe wishes for us to prosper. And for the right reasons – DD – The Brexit Minister, David Davis points out the EU to UK surplus – They bring £290 billion worth of goods and services here and we send £230 billion there.

With a bit of luck DD will continue to bash into a brick wall against EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier just long enough for the confused British public to finally realise that we have little or no power to get a better deal on Brexit?

And, Brexit is completely reversible. That reversal is an opportunity for us to survive and prosper.

If we are clever now, our European friends may forgive us our moment of madness on 23rd June 2016. The powerful influencers, Shaeuble, Macron, Verhofstadt, and Tusk – are offering us a welcome and dignified return to Europe on decent terms. Remember – Europe represents a QUARTER OF THE WORLD’S ECONOMY.

So, What are our Euro options in reverse order from bad to good?

4, No Deal – We collectively fall off a cliff and beg President Macron to please please be kind to us in Calais as our lorries mount up and every pork pie, bottle or brown sauce and Parker pen is inspected by 3 bored French customs officials.

3, Hard Brexit – Bringing an economic recession, a departure of critical EU labour essential to keep the wheels on the British economic bus and the prospect of relying on the kindness of the rest of the world who, obviously, are already supplied with everything they need by OTHER countries. In a decade or two we could recover, though we will have lost at least 6% of our cumulative growth potential as we scramble to catch up.

2, Soft Brexit – We take the Norway style deal and pay a premium for access to the Single Market and have the freedom to control migration (we already do BTW.) This is marginally worse than option 1. It will not satisfy the racists, the Euro sceptics, or the stressed UK regions (that will still lose their valuable EU regional grants) and will hardly have been worth all the grief, cost and social division. Or, lastly,

  1. Breturn – Business as normal, probably with a few sweeteners and reforms that everyone wants anyway. The naughty British child is allowed to return to the party and we all promise to play nicely again. We do not have to pay the £60,000,000,000 leaving bill (just under a £3,000 per household), we keep the biggest trading block in the world on side and the Stage 3 Cancer that is Hard Brexit is zapped by rays of EU kindness at the last minute in a Brussels Hospital and goes into remission before reaching Stage 4 (There is no Stage 5!)

    Breturn

    Breturn to Health

The Independent newspaper seems to understand Breturn and some significant politicians are now starting to seek cross party engagement to form an effective opposition to PMTM. At the same time the more engaged Brits are warming to the idea of general resistance against the damage of Hard Brexit and its costs to British people.

Maybe we will face a brighter, cancer free, future after all as Brits wake up and face the real prospects of the Zombie Hard Brexit Apocalypse. Watch this space.

 

The Case from BRETURN – We Can Clear Up This Mess And It Won’t Take 2 Years.

Brexit or Breturn?

An Opinion Piece by Interculturalist, Matthew Hill Enough is enough of “Brexit means Brexit” – Red, White or Blue. Stop already. The returning weak and wobbly Conservative and Unionist coalition is in chaos and it is their LOSS of a … Continue reading

SIETAR EUROPA DUBLIN CONGRESS REPORT

What really happened? – An opinion piece by Matthew Hill

As IC trainers, coaches and academics return from the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, we remember some of the highlights?

SIETAR Key Note 400+ People Attended the SIETAR Congress in Dublin, May 2017

With more than 400 attendees it was the biggest event since Granada (when we were joined by the mighty SIETAR USA.) An impressive focus on professionalism and detail delivered a technically advanced event at a top of the range venue – St Pats (Dublin City University) in Ireland has been transformed, enlarged and made relevant, providing an impressive and functional backdrop to the show. With fresh paint, bright colours and a modern social area and the addition of a professional conference organisation crew, this was SIETAR at its slickest, its most efficient and its best.

Special mention must be made of Pari, Barbara and Joe. Their 18 months of hard work, stress, decision-making and perseverance has paid off. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

And the 12 volunteers – A great bunch of dynamic and pro active interculturalists working diligently to produce a memorable audience experience and calm the nerves of the presenters, some of whom had never seen a touchscreen interactive whiteboard before!

Whova logo Keeping us in touch

The Whova app assisted in bringing everybody together, warning us of logistical changes and generally connecting people, before the event, during the busy main days and, now, as we go back to our many countries and various other roles.

Lolo Mayer Lolo Mayer moved us with his story

We were lucky with the weather and there were some extraordinary moments to take away. Those who saw Lolo Mayer when he spoke will never forget the present and direct moment when this articulate 9 year old told us of his journey from South Africa to Germany and the reactions the people around him – “different race – same culture”. His honest narrative moved us to tears. A special experience.

Milton Bennett brought along an expert in Mysticism – A ripple of hesitation flickered through the full room. As the modestly cynical crowd began their hypnotic meditation submerging beach balls under water, a new line was crossed in SIETAR experiential learning and most of us came out of the exercise better and wiser practitioners.

A third highlight was Andra and Abbey in their WorldWork Trust session – The facilitation was excellent and the atmosphere was conducive to movement, exchange and a worthy end result for all.

SIETAR Openning Joe Kearns Opens SIETAR Dublin

I must mention the stars of my own film track – Having coerced two local heroes – Dave Walsh and Joe Kearns into attempting culturally relevant and difficult topics, they both more than rose to the challenge – Dave interpreting the cultural significance of “Father Ted” in the context of real events in the Priesthood in Ireland and Joe, with his deep knowledge of Irish and European Viking history, linking this eloquently to the successes and failures of mergers in business and highlighting the choice between cultural domination and cultural integration.

Seitar Crowd SIETARians Deep in Conversation

And a big thank you to everyone for forming a surprisingly large crowd at my Training films clips session – It was rewarding to see so many people getting fully engaged with the subject and the content.

Shock

It would not be a real congress report without one or two negative points to report on. A moan that was heard frequently around the Congress concerned the quality of some presenters when attempting to get their message across. On occasion we seemed to have regressed to pre-Valencia days. Many witnessed poor wordy PowerPoints, over emphasis on research methods vs practical application and a failure by presenters to project, engage or hold their audience’s attention. There were many many TED style talks that were far far removed from the slick professionalism of the real thing. (I will take up the topic of presentation crimes in a separate post next time.)

MariaJicheva Maria Jicheva

The drama of the Congress ended with a moving tribute to one of the pillars of SIETAR – Maria Jicheva who died two years ago. She had run and expanded SIETAR UK and SIETAR Europa with years of hard hard work and used her subtle style of influence to make it the success that is evident today. We heard stories and experienced strong felt emotion remembering her effect upon those who were fortunate enough to spend time in her presence. Maria – We know you are watching over us – The success of the SIETAR Dublin Congress in 2017 is a tribute to you, your values and the volume of work you put in. Thank you.

Where next?

We will see you all in Vienna (Just a GUESS at the next venue…)

Traditional mountain farm in the Alps

The Making of Donald Trump’s Mind

An Opinion Piece by German / American Interculturalist Patrick Schmidt

Back in the “Golden ’fifties”, the world was in awe of the American Way of Life. Elvis Presley, the Fleetwood Cadillac and “from dishwasher to millionaire” all reflected the culture. Fulfilling desires was a perfect response to life’s challenges and the formula quickly spread around the world.

Business Education Group

But this perception has changed radically since Trump’s election. The U.S. is no more seen as a model for the rest of the world, with Donald Trump’s shallow intellect, public bullying, disdain for facts, and nihilistic decision-making in the service of an us-against-them celebration of “America First”.

“America First” means only a certain America. Ironically, it resembles the media images alluded to above — TV from 50 years ago. Blacks, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, immigrants of any kind are virtually invisible, as are homosexuals and anyone else seen as too different to fit in (hippies, socialists, atheists, the handicapped).

Donald Trump personifies a sizable segment of “Middle America”, people who avoid complicated questions, prefer simple answers and some form of instant gratification. This gradually withers the ability to think beyond an elementary — and subjective —worldview. Hence, the preference to bomb the hell out of anybody who doesn’t agree with us rather than spending time reconciling complex problems.

But what have been the cultural factors that created such a self-absorbed, ignorant wannabe showman and allowed him to get to the number one position in American society?

Donald Trump, like myself, learned early that what made the country unique was that it was the “land of the free”. Citizens were free to be and do what they wanted — it was a nation of unlimited opportunities, a beacon for people all over the world, which rebelled against the traditions of the Old World and greeted new ideas with enthusiasm.

One in particular was Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy that if man decided to believe in the good of others, society would become highly efficient and dynamic because trusting people would eliminate the time-consuming process of doubting and judging. It was exactly what America needed to develop itself; when building a nation, decisions have to be made quickly. “Time is money.”

This simplistic notion of life ignores complexity and nuance and has created the typical American trait of being unsentimental, inherent in a people wishing to break away from the past and march into the unknown. It also paved the way to a certain superficiality in human relations, which magnified itself with increased material prosperity.

Rich natural resources, Yankee ingenuity and shrewdness, few real historical tragedies, and militant individualism, all in the “pursuit of happiness”. It’s no wonder America transformed itself into the most powerful and influential country in the world. The belief that anyone could evolve from “rags to riches” allowed millions of poor immigrants to move up the social ladder. These were the seeds that gave birth to the “happy ending” myth.

This belief, however, sends the childish message that good guys always win and bad guys lose. That’s all fine and dandy for a 10-year-old but when a complicated problem arises, Americans often refuse to see it from every aspect. This is the result of always wanting to believe in the inherent good of everything. When TV was introduced in the 50s, it reinforced this mindset.

By the time Trump hit television in 2004 with his ersatz “reality show”, things were far more cynical. TV had long been used to transform complex issues into superficial images but “The Apprentice” went one step further. It was a Roman circus spectacle for peasants in which a series of victims are humiliated (“You’re fired!”) over the course of a season before one winner is crowned…and given a job. Trump’s audience saw the process like a sports contest, mirroring a simple-minded attitude toward life.

 

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“The Apprentice” provides us a look at Donald Trump’s idea of reality. (Photo Wikipedia)

Now that he’s in the White House, Trump prefers watching cable TV to reading government reports and meeting with advisers. Not only does he not read newspapers, he gets most of his worldview from Fox News reports, which pander to the people who voted for him.

But how has this numbness to real survival issues come about? Excessive material wealth, technology and consumerism may provide a clue.

At the end of WW II, the U.S. found itself in a unique position in the world — unlike Europe and Asia, its massive production facilities were virtually untouched. It converted its manufacturing potential into peace-time goods and catapulted the country into a consumer paradise of unbelievable dimensions.

Add to this the technological revolution, which has profoundly altered our ways of feeling and thinking. Take the pocket calculator, for example. At first glance, it saves an enormous amount of time and frees you from laborious mental calculations. What we forget is that it leads us one step further toward non-involvement.

The long-term consequences of passively consuming technological goodies (from TV to the iPad) have slowly resulted in a couch-potato lifestyle, exemplified by Homer, star of “The Simpsons”.

Worship for both consumerism and technology creates insecurity by sheltering us from real-life experiences. We notice far too late that our thinking and judgment have gradually diminished. This is clearly noticeable when you meet a person who exclaims “wow” as a reflex but can’t explain why. One gets the feeling that this person doesn’t want to pursue the thought any further and is perhaps unable to communicate in any real depth. A high degree of non-involvement often generates a half-developed personality.

Trump’s rallies, both before his election and since, regularly feature primal chanting and barely-disguised racist themes. Trump’s own speech patterns are similar, as well as the lack of detailed thought. As Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

In the early ‘70s, I already sensed the symptoms of a non-involved lifestyle. Growing up in the southern California, I experienced the era of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”, pushed to the extreme. California was engrossed with hedonic “wow” pleasures and far more advanced in material consumerism than the rest of the country.

The Eagles’ song “Hotel California” articulates this perfectly. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I knew a society couldn’t last long if its highest goal was only that of continuous pleasure.

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The Eagles’ worldwide hit describes a consumer society gone amok. (Photo Wikipedia)

Those were the conditions when I left the country at 23 and ended up in Stuttgart by sheer accident. It was such a sharp human contrast — Germans were still recovering from the horrors of WW II and displaying unusually sincere feelings. Human interactions were more real and done with the goal of the betterment of the community. It was like living in the States in the late 1930s as the country was coming out of the Great Depression.

Two generations later, Germany and most other western European countries enjoy a high standard of living but are showing signs of social fatigue, though not to the extent that we see in the U.S.

Each generation of humans has to face circumstances not of its own choosing, where character is measured and spirit is tested. In the last 70 years, the American mindset has embraced an almost magical consumer lifestyle. Many people live a make-believe existence, where real crises can be denied and reality is replaced by a virtual world of memes, tweets, Facebook.

In a fragmented, attention-challenged America, Donald Trump has now become, if not the norm, the President.

Patrick Schmidt Author About the Author – Patrick Schmidt is an intercultural trainer, past President of SIETAR Europa and author of such books as; Understanding American and German Business Cultures (1999) and In Search of Cultural Understanding (2007).

Intercultural Competencies Summer School – Utrecht University, Netherlands with Jackie and Yvonne

21st to 25th August 2017 ( 5 Days) – Share your Dreams

Wharf level night view of Oudegracht canal in the old city centre of Utrecht, Netherlands

Are you interested in working internationally? This course will support you in operating effectively across (international) borders. In the course you will get familiar with theories to understand culture as a concept, cultural differences and you will develop your own intercultural competences. During the course you will reflect on the following four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty by using the Intercultural Readiness Check©. Additionally you will develop skills, bring these into practice and acquire also insight in your personal behaviour. After this course you will be able to operate more effectively in different contexts

As we all know, performing well in one’s own familiar context or culture doesn’t automatically equal studying or working effectively in an international context and/or in a diverse team. Even though we live and work in an increasingly globalized world, in which we seems to look, sound and think more and more alike, we are faced with deep layers of cultural differences. Navigating these differences and being able to cross bridges requires developing these four intercultural competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building commitment and managing uncertainty.

In this theoretical and highly interactive course you learn how to become more effective by building commitment to cross these differences. In the first place it’s about becoming aware of cultural perspectives and differences. In addition, you learn how to position yourselves in these intercultural dynamics. Also we emphasize on the importance of communicating effectively in an international context whereby many different stakeholders are involved. In this course we approach the concept of intercultural communication not only as communication between people with different nationalities, but also as the interaction between people that may differ in many other, sub-cultural ways, e.g. origin, education, gender, age, sexual orientation. Half way during the course you will bring these competences into practise during the fieldwork exercise outside of the Campus.

With – Jackie van der Kroft, Peter-Ben Smit,  Yvonne van der Pol & Nicole Kienhuis

To register click on the link;

https://www.utrechtsummerschool.nl/?code=C47&type=application

12 Training Film Clips – Culture, Leadership and Teams – Resources For Your Classroom

Training Resource Films – Intercultural Exchange, Diversity in Work, Leadership and Coaching, Conflict and Debate & the Power of the Individual in Business.

12 Films to use in your classroom

12 Films to use in your classroom

1, Wild Tales (2014) 6 Tales of Revenge. Directors – Pedro Almadova & Damian Szifran

Training Themes; Revenge, risk taking, morality in business and relationships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNURIZWLm1M&list=PLhbb3wdghNhRk69plSRI2BMy5aXING4G-&index=1

2, The BP Coffee Spill – Humourous Metaphor – UCB Comedy Channel Team

Training Theme – Introducing a difficult topic into the training room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AAa0gd7ClM

3, Morning Glory (2010) – First Meeting Scene – Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton. Directed by Roger Michell

Training Themes; Multi – Focus orientation, assumptions about youth, change, active listening, testing authority & managing in chaos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWrw5ogawS8

4, Recursos Humanos (2013) Rosio Manzano, Xavier Pamies, Director Juan Alvarez Llados

Training Themes, Sexual harassment, trading favours, wielding power and gender assumptions, bias and prejudice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS7PM9AUFjQ

5, Deloitte Diversity & Inclusion in Business (2015) Deloitte University Press

Training Theme – Diversity, inclusion, values in business

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G0OUHnCudw

6, House of Cards (2014) Frank Underwood Ruthlessness Kevin Spacey, Netflix

Training Theme – Power, corruption, manipulation & ethics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5Ha3IWeXOo

7, Suits – A Different Kind of Power – Donna Poulson – Sarah Rafferty, Netflix

Training Theme – Alternative sources of power, female roles – defined, prescribed and actual in business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfX_lXvi008

8, The Intern (2015) – Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway

Training Theme – Age discrimination & diversity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6p2exVZttE

9, Erin Brokovich (2000) – Julia Roberts, Veanne Cox. Directory Steven Soderburgh – “F*cking Ugly Shoes”

Training Theme – Social status, educational prejudice and the consequences of assumptions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZMg4vFcRQs

10, Andrew Stanton (Writer of Toy Story) – The Clues in the Story TED (2014)

McGregor the…

Training Theme – Reputation, story telling & humour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxDwieKpawg

11, Finding Forrester (2000) Murray F. Abrahams, Rob Brown, Sean Connery. Director – Gus Van Sant

Training Themes; Assumptions about scholarship students and social status,

white privilege, institutional compliance, rules, power & race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSnraJOeOyM

12, Any Given Sunday (1999) – Motivation Speech – Al Pacino. Director – Oliver Stone

Training Themes – Responsibility, consequences, reputation, coaching, leadership, accountability, sacrifice, personal choice, motivation, power & salvation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_iKg7nutNY

Please share and let us spread the word.

A Big thanks to all those that contributed to this list and those that took the time to prepare the work for YouTube.