Tag Archives: Self-development

Developing Global Executives: Failure Is Not An Option

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How do you define expatriate failure ? What are the main causes ? How do you select your candidates for expatriation ? Do your expatriate  talent going over to the competition? What types of  training and support are the most useful ?


With globalization, companies are required to manage an increasingly diverse workforce with expatriation being just a subset of this challenge. With increasing GDP-figures, a growing number of expatriates are sought to fill managerial positions in developing economies. Within BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), China has become the world’s second biggest economy before Japan with a growth rate of 9.8%.

“There is just not enough talent to go around for the foreseeable future, so emerging markets will take talent from developed economies”said Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC)-Stephenie Overman (SHRM  2010)

Compared to USA and Europe, the BRICs  are recovering much quicker but despite a younger and bigger populations, they face great shortage of talent especially at executive and senior management levels. Despite the increased demand for executive expatiates employment, still many companies do not know how to define and prevent expatriate failure. The direct financial costs of failed expatriates are associated with relocation, compensation, executive search and retraining of the replacement. The indirect costs are the most damaging and include loss of  market share and business opportunities, bad corporate image, high employee turnover and reduced productivity.

What are the major reasons for expatriate failure ?

1- Wrong candidate selection process

2-Poor job satisfaction including relationships with coworkers and disconnection from the company’s head offices.

3- Ethnocentric Global HR  Management: The organization thinks that the way of doing things in the home country is the best way, no matter where business is done.

4-Family issues including health care, children education and work-life balance, failure to recognize specific support to enhance local  job and family satisfaction

5-Spouse isolation,  career loss

Preparing the employees and their families for a foreign assignment is mutually beneficial to the organization and the employee. Many corporations still focus on the technical competencies required in the international assignment and overlook the significance of cross-cultural knowledge and the important function that the expatriate’s family plays.

What are the  top traits shared by  successful expatriates

 1-Happy, supportive  trailing spouse and family

2-Flexibility and adaptability

3-Creativity, open mind and complex problem solving skills

4-Great interpersonal and intercultural communication skills

5-Constantly developing a strong professional and social network with colleagues,  external peers and partners (in person, on the phone, online)

Financial incentives are not considered as a key success factor by most executives but generally “happiness” and a rewarding personal and  fruitful professional experiences with other cultures are intrinsically rewarding.

What types of  training and support are the most useful ?

 1-Cross-Cultural Trainings

Before expatriation, cultural preparation should include an explanation of what  is” culture shock”, learning about the host country’ history, main cultural traits, customs, and etiquette. In many cases learning the local languages help the family both at work and in life. The pre-assignment package should also include job search support for the trailing spouse if this is an issue, including help to get a working visa.  It is important that the executives and their families focus on discovering the positive aspects of their host country and learn to avoid comparing  things that are better in their home country. 

The executive and family need to assimilate  the local culture as much as possible to be happy and successful but the family should also be connected with other expatriates. Expatriate families need to network with other expat communities because in most cases “locals” have great difficulties to understand the challenges faced by international assignees, especially the trailing spouses.

For me becoming pregnant in Japan and giving birth in the USA was the most stressful events  in my expat life together with staying four weeks  in a Japanese hospital for surgery. In both cases I received most support from my French expat  friends.

2-Expatriate Career Management

Most expatriate executives come from the company’s home country. Before accepting a foreign assignment, an executive should ask questions regarding future career plans with the company. Although expatriation can increase the executive value in global organizations, it can also lead to a dead-end career.  Going abroad requires that people strategically manage their career by making sure to be visible from the head office. Assigning a mentor in the head office might be a good idea as well as executive coaching before the repatriation.  Career and personal coaching  can also be offered to the following spouses to support them in the repatriation process that can sometimes be harder than the expatriation phase See previous post : Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle “


 It is critical that there is clear agreement and understanding between the assignee and management as to why the assignee is going, what the definition of a successful assignment is, and how this will be measured,” says Scott Sullivan, senior vice-president at GMAC Global Relocation Services, Inc.

3-Networking skills and social media training

It can be useful to offer trainings on networking skills with cultural sensitivity both off-line and online. The company should have a  social media policy and code of conduct on the internet  for employees and their families worldwide. Imagine the damages that can cause an angry and  frustrated trailing spouses venting on Facebook or Twitter? Trainings on how to use main platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter to increase the chance of meeting in person both  locals and other expatriates  are not expensive and most great advises are available for free on forums or online seminars, what company have to do is hiring a social media coach like George KAO


A happy family  contributes a lot in the success of an expatriation.

Avoid one size fits all training programs

It might be useful to conduct an assessment for selecting an ideal profile for the job abroad and check the candidates natural behavior, strengths and weaknesses to see if there is a match and which skills need to be  developed. Check that the family and the spouse are also aware of the pros and cons of the expatriation. If possible allow the following spouse to make a trip in the host country before the decision is made.

How Mature Consumers Will Change The World

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This article is based on a research conducted by Mc Kinsey on French consumers and published  in  HBR : http://s.hbr.org/c1I7Q0

Mature consumers will impose pressure on consumption growth and dramatically change the consumer landscape.

At 50+ we can now consider that we are starting living our second life. At that age we usually have enough wealth, still healthy, sexy and many “seniors” that age  look for radical changes in their lives when they reach that magic number.

Yet In the corporate world people who reach that age are considered obsolete, non adaptable and waiting for retirement. This is not true anymore and like the Gen Y starting their career now, 50+ are looking for exciting lives, adventures, entrepreneurship, green or humanitarian causes worth to spend their time, energy and money.

Those mature consumers will choose brands they love, they will be more and more sociable and connected by using the internet and other instant communication tools at the speed of global changes in the world village.

Get Your Resume Noticed: “The Power of Less”

Most people today feel overwhelmed and stressed by the constant stream of information and high demands in business or in life, 24/7. Being able to KISS (Kip It Short and Simple)  and limiting yourself to the essential helps you achieve more because by identifying the essential you eliminate the rest as Leo Babauta said in his book “The Power of Lesss”.

I am not going to describe how to make the best resume in the world, there are billions of free information on the web about this topic. I just want to give some tips to help you find the essential items to sell in your resume to get noticed by busy hiring managers.

1-Keep it brief, make it relevant: A recent survey of 2,500 leading companies shows that managers won’t look at resume longer than 2 pages. You don’t have to say it all, a resume is your marketing tool to get an interview.

 2-Make a summary of  recent skills and abilities at the top of the resume to show what you can do for potential employers. Make it in 5-6 sentences or bullet points. Technology and the economic environment change so fast nowadays that you better focus on the last three years of your career. Use key words and powerful action verbs that match the job description you apply for. Save readers’ time by demonstrating you understand the job or the company’s needs

Example: Senior Marketing Executive : Develop and implement creative marketing strategies for supporting  consumer brands and driving sales growth. Online marketing expert, created a strong digital presence on social media through Facebook and Twitter increasing brand ‘s equity

3-Job experience section: track and “sell” your accomplishments. Your future employer wants to know from your experience what you have accomplished that can be used in the new job. Make sure you have references that can be checked to support what you are saying.

For example: Regional Sales Director for Company X: Built  an effective regional sales force by implementing a regional sales training program in 10 countries. Sales increased by +25% and  employees’ turnover decreased by 30% over the last  five years

4-Decide if you make a chronological resume or a functional one: If it is a natural progression in your career then a chronological resume showing significant achievements in your filed of expertise is best. If you apply for a new position or if you have some gaps between jobs, then a functional resume may be better.

5-Education: in general educational information follows the job experience section  If you graduated from a well-known school, place that first, followed by the degree that you attained.

For more about the survey results look at : How to Get Your Resume Read”

‘Do You Self Promote on the Social Media?’

In a very direct and clear way, Joan Curtis , communication coach, said it just right: Don’t spam on social media!

On Linkedin for example people who promote themselves or their services in discussions are not only ignored but they annoy other members looking for genuine,  thought-provoking questions or tips on how to do something.

With social media, you must be very patient, learn and give first without t expecting anything in return. My first attempt on Twitter was a really frustrating experience and after couple of days I just gave up.  Then I received a great advice from another small business owner who recommended to stay a minimum of 10 weeks to really see the benefits. For me it took 25 days searching people by topics, key words then following  experts or simply looking for new ideas by serendipity. That is the secret of Twitter for me: getting tons of great ideas!

Once you understand the basics on how to use the tools then you can start “strategizing” your approach, selecting topics and media based on who you want to speak to and what are their interests .  Then you give back to your network by recommending a blog, an article, a discussion or  retweet( RT).

Social media have not changed the rules of good networking practices, simply nowadays information is accessible potentially from everybody on the planet and travel as fast as the speed of light!

I got my education on twitter from experts in the  Linkedin group “Success Through Networking”, see the all posts:  http://bit.ly/cS44Mc

I highly recommend to search groups by topic of interest and ask your specific questions. Then  just do the  old “trial and errors” learning method.

So you have no excuse to post boring self-promotion posts on social media, do your homework, search hot topics and start asking powerful questions or post tips.

Red more from Joan Curtis  here: ‘Do You Self Promote on the Social Media?’.

How Resilient are You ?

How do you adapt to economic turmoil, crisis, disruptions, changes, transitions and stress ? I think it is a pretty complex topic and what makes you thrive and happy may be stressful for somebody else. However, no matter what the nature of the change, positive or negative, resilience is a skill that can be developed and defined according to The Global Resilience Network as : “the capacity of individuals, organizations and nations to survive and thrive amidst ongoing change, disruption and adversity.”

How do you react to stress and adversity ? The impact of external changes on individuals such as unemployment, switching to a new career, moving to a new country or going through a merger can create stress, fear, anger, depression, feeling like a victim, confusion, decrease in performance, ineffective problem solving or poor decision making. Coping skills are very personal and usually are learned from your past experiences and healthy habits. Resilience is not only overcoming setbacks, it is a mind-set inducing positive attitudes and behaviors to enlarge your vision of your life.

What are the Characteristics of Resilient People?
-Ability to “bounce back” and “recover from almost anything”
-Tendency to see problems as opportunities
-Have deep-rooted faith in a system of meaning
-Have a healthy social support network
-Help their communities
-Are prepared for the worst
-Have a balanced life
-Are confident and develop strengths to take new challenges
-Able to recover from experiences in the panic zone or of a traumatic nature

Developing Your Resilience :

  1. Awareness : Learn what your hot buttons are; Who are toxic people in your life? what stresses you ? under what circumstances,? how do you feel ? what emotions do you have? look for negative self-talk, self-blaming. What coping strategies do you use? What energizes you? what activities are giving meaning to your life ? what do you like to do ? what are the positive emotions when you do something your really love?
  2. Be in Control: When things go out of your control, focus on part of you life you can control like changing your own perception and perspective, developing healthy coping strategies such as exercise, journaling, talking with friends, suppressing negative self-talk. Be confident, take new challenges, stop playing the victim, develop a ‘I can I will” mode
  3. Create a support network: deepen your relationships with people in you network, share a hobby with friends, help other people
Reference: The resilience factor: 7 keys to discovering your inner strength and overcoming life’s hurdles (Karen Reivich & Andrew Shatte, Random House, 2003)



There are various recipies to live the life you love. One of them is visualizing your dreams. On January 1st, 2006, I started writing my dreams on a notebook, one dream on one page without thinking if they were possible or not and no time frame. That year I wrote about 25 dreams, and then I moved with my family from Tokyo to Atlanta and forgot that notebook for 2 years, the time it took me to settle in Atlanta. I found that book recently and realized that I actually achieved to live 10 dreams out of the 25 without reading them again. One explanation is that once I wrote those dreams and forgot about them, they were still alive somewhere in my mind and my heart and therefore I attracted opportunities to make them realities. I will start again writing my dreams on this notebook, maybe up to 120, so I can have enough dreams for the rest of my life.

Getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t is a question of where you focus your attention, what your beliefs are and about keeping, your integrity by living a life centered around your values and dreams.

There are more than 9,000 books on Amazon.com about “Law of attraction” which became a very popular topic with the release of the movie, the secret. This is however a very simple concept that whatever you give your energy and focus to will come back to you. Therefore, if you stay focused on the positive aspects of your life, you will attract more positive things in your life. Like attracts like.

During economic recessions there are two types of people: Those who are watching anxiously the news every day to see companies bankrupting, people loosing their jobs, their houses all around the world… even in China! Those people are more likely to become anxious, fearful, paralyzed and desperate even if their own situation has not changed. Then you have the second category of people who don’t pay that much attention to bad news, stay enthusiast and full of positive energy and who see opportunities to create new things even if they have been laid off.

The Power of Positive Thinking is the result of the Uplifting Power of our thoughts, Optimism and Enthusiasm, combined with the Driving Power of what we do with Determination, Confidence and Courage.

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