Thursday, 6 January 2011


My brain hurts and I’m jet lagged and I’m convinced there’s something seriously wrong with me. You see I’ve had my radio on all night listening to the Test Match in Sydney and before that I watched an episode of House.

The combination of the two is lethal.

I dozed off and dreamt that Gregory House and Thirteen were peering at me on my bed saying:-

“It’s gone from being a nasty attack of Collingwood to Advanced Hussey, although of course that’s treatable, messy but treatable but now I’m afraid we may have complications…”
“Not Swann’s Disease”
“No worse than that. Haddins”
“If it’s Haddins he’s had it.”
“Poor Richard”…..

Poor indeed….and knackered.

A bit like doing a new job which some will be doing in this new year.

If you think that it’s hard doing your job in charge of the UK try controlling a global empire and hear things like this:

“They don’t like it in Seoul but in Rio they can’t get enough, in Kabul it’s been banned and in Calcutta they’ve diluted it with sheep’s milk”…
“What about Helsinki?”
“…delisted and a court case pending.”

The real issue for anyone trying to run a global brand or company is trying to remember everything that’s relevant and putting a hundred cultural quirks, foibles and differences into a usable framework. Try too hard and your brain may shut down with a deep voice inside your skull intoning “you have tried to perform an illegal procedure.”

Some words of advice to anyone newly doing an international job:

1.    Get a good up to date map of the world and learn where everywhere actually is (most of us last did this at school)
2.    Learn the populations per major country – you can stop at Australia - that come in 50th  (the UK is 22nd in the league table and Germany is the first European country at 14th).
3.    Read “The Week” every week which gives you the best idiots guide to what’s happening where in the world.
4.    And the Economist which isn’t for idiots.
5.    Read this overview drawn from a talk at the RSA by Mike Geoghagan Ex CEO of HSBC which helped me.
6.    Get travelling and keeping notes about anything that defines a culture.

It may or may not help to know that a relatively low % of US International Sales Directors are reputed to have passports. It sounds like an urban myth but pass it on anyway.

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