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The Joy of Training
Why do trainers get up at 5AM drive for hours to train 12 executives?
If your vocation is working well for you your answer should flow naturally and with passion from your mouth – you love delegate reactions, the breakthroughs and those Eureka moments. You live to share your core material and do the very best that you can to transfer your wisdom and experience with style and substance, leaving your audience of professionals moved and transformed.
You train because you cannot imagine doing any other job and still being as happy.
On a rainy Friday as you get in your plane, train or automobile knowing you will only get home at 10.30PM you reflect that not all audiences “get you”, not all towns are picture postcard pretty and that cheap training days do not have the same value as premium ones. A rose is just a rose but a training day varies from sublime to the ridiculous.
What do we want? What is our DREAM?
My wish is to find my training PURPOSE and follow a fruitful path transferring the skills and perceptual changes that I passionately believe are the MOST valuable to my audience of clever volunteer, high energy future stars.
When I am doing my best, for the best, I feel at my best and can get the very best from the audience so that we all attain our best outcomes. Simple really.
How can we make our Dreams come true?
I have put together a 13-part BLUE PRINT for independent trainers who wish to do more of what they are passionate about with participants who share that desire. I wish to help independent trainers who aim to work for a premium fee and be fully rewarded whilst living the dream.
The elements are of the BLUE PRINT are…
- Identity – purpose, passion and finding your “thing”
- Brand – reputation, and building your promise, style & delivery
- Ideal Customer – defining the core delegate you should be training
- Marketing and Channels – having people know you, like you and trust you
- Social Media – repurposing your unique content in a sequence that creates a flow of business opportunities coming straight to your inbox and phone
- Database – the many ways to grow your “tribe” of fans
- Networking – conquering your nerves and getting a return from the room
- Product Creation – using today’s technology to turn your message into branded informational products
- Selling – discovering ethical trust based communication that sells in today’s busy corporate world
- Core delivery – upgrading your work to create raving fans and repeat engagement.
- Referrals – asking your “fans” to advocate you and your work to amplify your power and business flow
- Growth – 7 ideas that will accelerate your turnover expansion and take you to a healthy and well deserved level of wealth, freedom and control
- Fully Expressed You – channeling your purpose lead content, excelling at your “right work” and working with people who enable and empower you
For more ideas on how establish and grow your Independent Trainer Business we invite you to join us for the Independent Trainer Consultative Selling Webinar 3 – GOING FOR GROWTH, on 5th October 2016, 6PM London time, 7PM Paris time. Register now at;
Please do keep popping back to read the latest posts that describe the 13-step process. Look out for more of our power webinars that allow you plenty of opportunity for live interactions and Q&A time and join us in Lisbon in November for the ITC Consultative Selling Bootcamp to ensure that you build the 13 steps into your independent training business and allow yourself to achieve your optimum dream training lifestyle.
Lisbon Bootcamp 20th, 21st October 2016 – See top of page for details
“Oui…mais…”, or,”Finding the Perfect Solution”
In the early years of my teaching and training career in France, I was often confronted with comments from such as: “All the French do is talk—but there’s no action” (Anglo-Saxon, North European, Indian, Chinese); “they’ve agreed to something and then change their mind at the last minute” (German managers), “they overcomplicate everything” (British), and more general remarks that “they contradict everything”, “always disagree and complain”, “are disorganized” and “cannot be relied upon”.
Determined to find satisfactory answers, I had to look no further than the French Enlightenment philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650). And was delighted that all the above could, in some way, be linked to his theories, specifically his anti-thèse. Eureka!
Just how does it work? One of René (“I think, therefore I am”) Descartes’ main premise is that thinking should be driven by logic and rationality. His argued that “doubt is the origin of wisdom”, and that, in seeking the Truth, “it is necessary… to doubt, as far as possible, all things”. Moreover, to find this Truth (i.e., the perfect solution), “it is important to have a Method“—known as the thèse – antithèse – synthèse.
Still today, this Cartesian “method” is applied in all situations. The starting point (thèse) is straightforward—it’s the problématique, or proposition, situation, problem, or project to be dealt with. It’s the second stage, the anti-thèse, the process of figuring out the solution, that is tricky and that confounds non-French counterparts. While the British generally come up with an objective, devise a way forward, and change course if necessary, and the Germans develop, and follow, a structured approach, the French do something entirely different.
This is where Descartes’ “doubt”, or “scepticism”, comes in. Since the anti-thèse requires that everything be questioned, the French consider all aspects of an issue by “dividing each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it” (Descartes). It means dissecting, questioning, and possibly rejecting, all angles, knowledge and facts; it is important to decide not necessarily how or whether something will work, but rather why it might not, and if an existing or initial approach is indeed best. It leads to: “Yes, this might work, but…”; “What happens if we do/don’t do it this way?”; “How about this instead of that—or something else entirely?” In working through the anti-thèse, one may retain some initial elements, but discard others, inject new facts, develop new possible approaches, and subsequently review everything (thereby repeating the whole process!) to ultimately agree (often at the last minute) on the solution—the synthèse!
To onlookers, this contradictory back-and-forth thinking process, changing minds and plans, especially at the last minute, the lack of action until a solution is considered finite, the seemingly critical oui…mais, is time-wasting, exhausting and unnecessary intellectual acrobatics. However, to the French, not leaving any stone unturned implies doing a sloppy job. As one Frenchman observed: “We cannot work otherwise, even if, in the end, we go back to our first idea.” Although complex, complicated, contradictory and seemingly disorganised, the “Cartesian Method” can be highly creative and has made France a technologically and scientifically innovative power house: the high-speed TGV train, the Ariane space rocket, Minitel (a Videotex online system that predated the internet by several decades), the Eiffel Tower, the morning-after pill, to name just a few, are all innovations achieved through the Cartesian approach.
How to practically deal with the anti-thèse on a daily basis? Understanding goes a long way: international students and managers say that just knowing that everything will take longer, involve discussion and difference of opinion, makes things less frustrating; a German manager said he now sits back, patiently observing the commotion of the anti-thèse, and reorganising his time accordingly. Non-French university teachers adjust class content to give students more time to discuss their ideas. Others are delighted that their French counterparts’ frequent oui…mais is nothing personal. And yet others see the process as a worthwhile exercise to hone their own observational and thinking skills, and to develop new ways of seeing the same issue.
I’m not saying it’s easy to adapt; just like the process itself, it takes time, patience, and mental agility. Personally, I’ve learned to listen for the oui—without the mais—to know we’re ready to go.
Anke Middelmann was born and raised in Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. She spent most of her working life in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, before moving to France in 2004.
Anke Middelmann – intercultural trainer and coach
She is Lecturer in Multicultural Management at Skema Business School, and Director of two of Skema’s International MSc Programmes.
As an intercultural trainer and coach, she provides training and coaching on a range of multicultural and intercultural issues. She regularly provides training on “Living and Working in France” and the complexities of Franco-German working for Air Liquide, Eurosport, AXA, Valéo, Bayer, Areva, Thales, Adeo Services, Dassault, among others.
The Golden Guilty Gift
Gift-giving is an art in every culture, but when it comes to gift-giving in international business, it turns into fine art. In some cultures, people exchange presents at the start of a business relationship, while in others only to appreciate work done well. Telling gifts from bribes is a faculty all by itself – as some Dutch negotiators learned the hard way.
They arrived in Seoul for negotiations with a Korean supplier. After the proper exchange of cards, the Koreans handed to them a set of silver pens. Perhaps it was jetlag, perhaps a headache, but the Dutch felt uncomfortable and refused, ever so politely. The next day, the Koreans arrived with golden pens.
Clearly, cultural perspectives collided: The Dutch team’s fear of corruption versus the Korean team’s mistaking a polite refusal for a call for better gifts. Ironically, what the Dutch team did know about Korean culture – sensitivity to loss of face – only worsened the misunderstanding as their delicate denial failed to alert the Koreans that gifts were not the start of a beautiful friendship.
Cultural knowledge is important, but once we start interacting, our success depends on many other factors. Culturally sensitive negotiators would have known that pens are neutral in Korea. They would have also brought a gift, carefully chosen to respect status differences and be meaningful to the entire Korean delegation. They would use the exchange of gifts as an opportunity to get to know each other, to express good intentions, and to build a buffer for later, when people need to forgive the inevitable blunders that happen across borders.
The most intelligent gift we ever received was from two Korean HR managers: Two small wooden ducks, male and female. Arranging the figures on our desk, they explained that if all is well between husband and wife, the ducks are turned towards each other near the entrance door; away from each other if all is not well. The ducks only had symbolic value, standing for fertility in Korean culture, which is why they are important gifts in marital ceremonies. Over to us to show how well we knew Korean customs!
What makes us interculturally effective is both what we know about each other, and how we use our knowledge. This integration of knowledge and competences is central to our Intercultural Readiness Approach.
To contact Ursula e mail to; Ursula@ibinet.nl
When I was handed the manuscript for Positively Disappointing, I thought the title was brave. Having personally experienced the negative language and assumed pessimism of Poland’s neighbour, The Czech Republic, some 20 years ago, I was keen to read of Tim’s experience and his analysis of the country’s culture as it exists in modern regional Poland.
This short and pithy book has 9 fictionalised stories that are based on the author’s real life experiences over the last decade.
By not attempting an opus major or tackling the whole of Polish culture, Tim has given us an accessible doorway via a foreigner’s Polish experience. With chapters about the ordering of coffee, being a disappointed vegetarian or, the enthusiastic cyclist, taking his life literally in his hands, Tim filters his perceptions through Hofstede’s dimensions and allows us to draw our own conclusions.
The main thrust of the book is post-Soviet Poland’s EU membership, the outflow of Polish talent and the influx of foreign investment. The author develops an argument for a genuinely changing culture with the challenges this presents for both foreign and Polish managers running businesses and leading people in markedly different ways.
The book works because of Tim’s vulnerable and honest confessions – the mistakes of a naïve outsider, and his even-handed treatment of the stories that are remembered.
The beginning of the book gives lesser-known historical facts – the post-war persecution of a Ukrainian minority and the expulsion of the sizeable German population.
I found the book to be a little light on the specific inheritance of the Soviet years and not to say enough about the catholic contribution to the Polish psyche. Having said this, the tome achieves its objectives and stimulates the mind whilst informing the reader about the local zeitgeist.
Who should read this book?
British and overseas managers who have worked for a couple of months in Poland and overcome their initial trauma will benefit from picking up this book, enjoying the stories and contemplating answers to the questions posed at the end of each chapter.
An English – Polish glossary is a very sensible addition and makes this sometimes esoteric book easily accessible to any Pole that wishes to see the foreigner’s point of view.
In conclusion, the author has done Poland and foreign managers a favour by producing a functional book that combines fact, reflective exercises and stories that can genuinely help build bridges across nations and prevent a few escalating culture and commercial clashes in regional offices around Poland.
The book comes out in February –