Sunday Column (126)

A Family Man in Digital Marketing – the title of this blog couldn’t have been more reflected this weekend. I finally, after long planning, managed to get a few friends over to my family home: friends from digital marketing.

One ex staff member and his highly successful academic partner, one ex colleague of mine, now coach, with his partner who runs a business in wine (so very interesting), and one close friend who I have not (yet) worked with and his partner who works for the big G. Three friends from different walks of life, all connected through the passion for digital marketing.

You can imagine we talked a lot about work and the industry, but more so about passion, the way the world and life is going, and what comes next. A fantastic day, fantastic people, a really good time. And, they all met with the family: my wife and the two boys. I couldn’t have wished for a happier day. Thanks guys.

The rest of the week, given it was my first week back from my holidays, went “balanced”. What I mean by that is due to Colin having trouble settling at night at the moment, I made a point of coming home early-ish most nights. I still managed to fit in a few meetings with friends, hourly catch ups, and a networking night.

The networking night, and I often don’t think too highly of those forced get togethers, turned out to be really funny, entertaining and great for contacts. I have to say that this was the best networking event I attended in a very long time, if not ever. I met quality people, got some leads but foremost met true entrepreneurs and people with a passion. Fantastic.

However, there was one little cloud in the silver lining this week. And that was communication, or mis-communication. This week made me learn one thing clearly: if you work across languages, which I often enough do, you have to be careful how to phrase things. Some “mini-teasing” phrases in one language can turn out to be quite offensive in another. Not a new learning of course, but astonishing in this case.

Without discussing details here, I want to use this topic to share some thoughts on language. With my wife being British (Scottish), we often enough have mis-understandings. Mainly because I as a husband apply selective hearing 🙂 But often things are clear in my mind, and I just spoke to the boys in German, turn around and don’t know how to phrase simple things. Or I am unsure of certain pronunciations. That is normal.

She also noticed that when I call people for the first time, as I concentrate to say every word as correct as possible, my accent is a lot stronger than when I have a normal conversation. Just this week someone told me “yes, of course you have an accent, but if it wasn’t for your obvious German name, I couldn’t have told you where you were from”. Others of course say exactly the opposite, and my wife often enough doesn’t notice me speaking with an accent.

NLP states very clearly that everyone forms their own map of the world. Some put a high focus on language, some don’t. And, across languages (German-English) or foreigners speaking English together (German/English-Finnish/English-Spanish/English), we have even more problems, as we use a common language that is foreign to all of us.

Hence for important documents, or even for some emails, I get native speakers to review things. I know my weakness and make it a strength by getting help. Something you do with every other task you are unsure of, you get yourself some feedback.

However, the other, probably bigger thing, is that it shows me that I left German and Germany behind. I have left Germany 10 years ago. I have lived in Britain ever since, and English is my main language. And, I wish to believe, in a good enough way to be highly professional with the use of it. Partly, because I ask for feedback and I am willing to learn and listen. And, my map of the world is not as rigid as other people’s thanks to my NLP background and my sensory acuity.

I am ready to conquer the world (instead of taking over the world 😉 ), ready to move up and on. Germany was a big part of my life, and I still teach my boys German. But my life is deeply rooted in the English language now, less often branching out to Germany. Whilst some of my roots might still connect to it, I am happy to let go.

I moved on.

Have a fantastic week, and if you speak to a foreigner this week, ask him what he thinks.
Cheers
Volker