Month: November 2015

I am from Sweden, I live in Singapore, just flew in from Brazil to Portugal where I am going to look up a street address in Zurich on Google map.

When I open they show me a map of the USA…

Here is the funny thing. Google knows all of the facts above.

They know I am from Sweden, they know I live in Singapore, they know I last checked in from Brazil and that I am now checking in from Portugal. Heck, they even know that I am soon flying to Zurich (as their latest feature in Google Calendar is to automatically post flight information in your calendar that they have picked up from Gmail…)

And yet they show me a map of the country where their HQ is located.


When I recently was entering “United Square” in my Uber app the first suggestion the app suggests was “United States”…

United Square is a shopping centre in Singapore, I am based in Singapore and I was doing the search on the Uber app in Singapore. Yet somehow they think I want to take a taxi ride to the country of America?


Back to Google.

So which map SHOULD Google map be showing? (you could argue that they show the USA because they do not know what location I want them to show)

They could show:

– the location I am checking in from (to give me a sense of location)

– Show the location of my home (to give me a sense of roots)

– Show me the last location I looked at (to give me a sense of time)

– Show me the location they think I want to look at (based on previous searches) (to give a sense of foresight)

– Show a random place on earth (to give a sense of humanity)

Any of the above would be better than showing the home country of the HQ of their company (which is all about them – not me – and which is totally, and utterly irrelevant to me.)

Yes, these are small bugs in their systems.

But they show a fundamental flaw in how businesses might have mastered “going global”, but not “thinking global” – or more specifically not “thinking human”.

Business should be built around the user. Not the company.

Solutions should be build for humans – not nationalities.

Our visions should be limitless – not confined by borders.


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(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

For its global conference in Rio de Janeiro Nexia had invited two speakers:

Nelson Cardona, from Colombia.
and me (who flew in from Singapore).

I did a good speech, got great feedback (including a top manager of Nexia who came up and said “This was one of the best speeches I have ever heard, and I have heard a lot.”)

So job well done.

But I did not get a standing ovation.

Nelson Cardona did.

In this post I will analyse why.

1) An awesome story.
Nelson Cardona has had an amazing life. He was literally born during an earthquake. He ran away from home at 12 to discover the world and ended up in the rainforest for 8 years while his family thought he was dead. Then he became a climber. But in an accident he fell 18 meters and almost died and had to amputate his leg.

With just one leg he was able to climb Mt Everest (!) But on the way down he had lost so much weight that his prosthetic leg did not fit anymore and at the same time he got stuck in a storm with no oxygen left. He almost died again. But he somehow survived and now goes around and gives talks about living your passion.

2) A positive message.
His main message was about how he learnt not to complain and he showed a powerful picture of a very young child who had lost his legs but refused to complain and Nelson realised that to be a role model for this (and other) children he had to stop feeling sorry about himself and instead appreciate what he had.

As he said: “Life said to me” If you are going continue to complain I will take an eye out”.

3) Great connection to the client.

Nelson was perhaps the best speaker I have ever seen when it comes to connecting his speech to the client. He had included the clients logo, values, business and credo into his speech in a way that did not feel forced and which made “accounting” feel connected to climbing mt Everest.

4) Passion.
Speakers who tell their own story always run the risk of the audience feeling “why are you speaking so much about yourself?” or “What does this have to do with me?”. But Nelson was able to get the audience to connect to the higher message. You could tell by his speech that he was passionate about his life – but also about his message. (he spoke in Spanish so almost the whole audience had to listen via the translator which made it an even more impressive achievement.)

5) A great ending. (Which is probably the single most important part for who to get a standing ovation if I look at the times that I have gotten it in my career. (I can not go in in detail on how he ended it, but he did a very nice connection between a strategic decision that Nexia has taken for the future and his own story.)

To finish a speech in a good way we should not think about it as a “sprint to the finish line”’
More like how the participants in the TV show “american ninja warrior” stop to focus before they attack the last and most difficult hurdle.

Pause. Collect your thoughts. Focus. Get the audience to understand that you are now going to deliver the closing message – then pour all your energy into ending with a bang.


One of Nelsons message was that we have to “design the emotions”of the people we want to influence.

He used it to explain how he convinced his group that he could climb mt Everest with only one functioning leg. When people said it could not be done he said: “We have to do it to show people in Latin America that we can do great things.” His message became something bigger than just “I can do this” – it became “we have to do this to show everyone else that they can do what ever they can dream about too.”

As speakers that is one of the most important things that we do. We have to aim to “design the emotions” of our audience. And to do that we need to be aware about how to package our message in a way that moves them in a maximum way.

I did not get the standing ovation today.

But I got something better: a lesson in how to become a better speaker.


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This is John.

John has an Italian father and a British mother, he speaks 7 languages fluently and he lives in Brazil since more than 20 years.
His job is to guide foreigners in Rio, but also to go on trips abroad as a guide for Brazilian tourists.

Today he was my guide from the airport to my hotel in Copacabana overlooking the Balneario Beach.

As someone who has travelled a lot, who has met so many foreigners and been living in Rio for so long I asked him:

“What is the biggest misconception that foreign tourists have about Brazil?”

He replied: “When they have been here a few days they tend to say: ‘It’s less dangerous than we thought it would be’.”

John is not saying that there is no violence in Rio. (there is).
What he is saying is that tourists tend to realise that the picture that they had painted in their heads before coming here was unrealistically negative.

I find that so true.

I have been in Sri Lanka during the war, in Pakistan and South Africa and many other places that some people are hesitant to go to.

My reaction is always “What are people so afraid of?”

Again, I am not saying we should not be cautious when we travel, or that we should be naive and think that there is no violence in the world and that some places has more of it than others (I did see a bomb go off in Sri Lanka).

I am saying that it seems that we – as humans – tend to be the most afraid of places we have never been to.
And because of that fear we are reluctant to go there.
and by not going there we can not realise that these places tend to be less dangerous than we thought.

I guess that means that our fear is stopping us from being less afraid.

It always makes me a bit sad when I hear and read about speakers who do not go abroad to give speeches because they are afraid. It is much more common than you would think.

Personally I see the opportunity to speak in some countries as a huge bonus as I might not have decided to go there as a tourist.

The job of being a speaker is arguably one of the best jobs in the world when it comes to how easy it is to do your job in different countries.

Take advantage of that.

A positive side effect is that you become less afraid of the world.

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