April 2007

Being yourself in a multi-cultural environment

The concept of authenticity as a marketing strategy has been around for a while, so it’s not surprising to see that it has now developed into a management style. The new trend in management these days seems to be: Just be yourself!

Nevertheless, there is always a degree of compromise in any working relationship, so one can’t expect a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude to be effective all the time.

After all, how easy would most of us be to work with if we were always ourselves? This is particularly true in a global working environment made up of people from different backgrounds and cultures.

As a Frenchwoman with 8 years experience living and working in New York City, I am accustomed to a fast-paced and energetic way of life. However, after 11 years in the Czech Republic, I have learned that my get-up-and-go approach doesn’t always work with Czechs; my natural, direct style would get more resistance than results.

As a result, I have learned to modify my behavior to my environment and getting the results I want.

While most of us prefer to behave in line with our own beliefs and values, working in a multicultural environment sometimes requires us to leave “ourselves” at the door so as to accommodate the values of those around us. In other words, adjusting your behavior and attitude can sometimes be far more productive than letting your own personality determine your work and that of others.

Toastmasters in Prague

10 Tips for successful public speaking from the Toastmasters International. www.toastmasters.org

Feeling nervous before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. But too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here’s how you can control your nerves and make effective, memorable presentations.

1. Know the room: Be familiar with the place in which you will speak

2. Know the audience: Greet some of the audience as they arrive

3. Know your material: Practice your speech and revise it if necessary

4. Relax: Ease tension by doing exercise

5. Visualize yourself giving your speech: Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured.

6. Realize that people want you to succeed: Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining

7. Don’t apologize: If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audience’s attention to something they hadn’t noticed.

8. Concentrate on the message – not the medium: Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and outwardly toward your message and your audience.

9. Turn nervousness into positive energy: Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.

10. Gain experience: Experience builds the confidence that is the key to effective speaking. Toastmasters can provide the experience you need.

Improve your presentations and speeches! Learn how to be persuasive! Gain confidence in front of a crowd!

Both the Prague Speakers Club and the Bohemian Toastmasters in Prague can help you to improve your public speaking skills and gain confidence in front of an audience. Both clubs host a good mix of Czech and international members and offer anyone the chance to improve their communication, speaking and leadership skills, as well as meet new people.

While all meetings are in English, being a native English speaker is not necessary to join.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this excellent learning and networking opportunity, visit the Toastmasters website at www.bohemiantoastmasters.org.

The IBN – International Business Network

Now launched, Prague’s first international network dedicated to SMEs (small and medium enterprises). The IBN aims to bring together the local Czech and international expatriate business communities and provide practical support to SMEs in the Czech Republic.

The IBN offers SME focused seminars, workshops, networking, help and advice.

An interactive website to present your business, find contacts and recommendations.

Organize your calendar, with weekly published events from organizations all over Prague, including chambers of commerce, IBN organized events, associations, groups and other partners.

Visit www.ibn.cz for more information.

Membership is only 1,500 KC per individual.

More than 110 members since Feb 2007, join us today and share your own experiences.

Contact IBN Director, Martin Howlings on info@ibn.cz or call +420 222 510 133 for more information.


April 2, 16 & 30 Bohemian Toastmasters in Prague (www.bohemiantoastmasters.org)
April 24 Power Lunch: Branding yourself
May 2, 7, 14, 21, 29 Bohemian Toastmasters in Prague (www.bohemiantoastmasters.org)
May 24 Power Lunch: Public Speaking Part I
June 19 Power Lunch: Public Speaking Part II

Manual for Climbing Mountains by Paulo Coelho

Choose the mountain you want to climb: don’t pay attention to what other people say, such as “that one’s more beautiful” or “this one’s easier”. You’ll be spending lots of energy and enthusiasm to reach your objective, so you’re the only one responsible and you should be sure of what you’re doing.

Know how to get close to it: mountains are often seen from far off – beautiful, interesting, full of challenges. But what happens when we try to draw closer? Roads run all around them, flowers grow between you and your objective, what seemed so clear on the map is tough in real life. So try all the paths and all the tracks until eventually one day you’re standing in front of the top that you yearn to reach.

Learn from someone who has already been up there: no matter how unique you feel, there is always someone who has had the same dream before you and ended up leaving marks that can make your journey easier; places to hang the rope, trails, broken branches to make the walking easier. The climb is yours, so is the responsibility, but don’t forget that the experience of others can help a lot.

When seen up close, dangers are controllable: when you begin to climb the mountain of your dreams, pay attention to the surroundings. There are cliffs, of course. There are almost imperceptible cracks in the mountain rock. There are stones so polished by storms that they have become as slippery as ice. But if you know where you are placing each footstep, you will notice the traps and how to get around them.

The landscape changes, so enjoy it: of course, you have to have an objective in mind – to reach the top. But as you are going up, more things can be seen, and it’s no bother to stop now and again and enjoy the panorama around you. At every meter conquered, you can see a little further, so use this to discover things that you still had not noticed.

Respect your body: you can only climb a mountain if you give your body the attention it deserves. You have all the time that life grants you, as long as you walk without demanding what can’t be granted. If you go too fast you will grow tired and give up half way there. If you go too slow, night will fall and you will be lost. Enjoy the scenery, take delight in the cool spring water and the fruit that nature generously offers you, but keep on walking.

Respect your soul: don’t keep repeating “I’m going to make it”. Your soul already knows that, what it needs is to use the long journey to be able to grow, stretch along the horizon, touch the sky. An obsession does not help you at all to reach your objective, and even ends up taking the pleasure out of the climb. But pay attention: also, don’t keep saying “it’s harder than I thought”, because that will make you lose your inner strength.

Be prepared to climb one kilometer more: the way up to the top of the mountain is always longer than you think. Don’t fool yourself, the moment will arrive when what seemed so near is still very far. But since you were prepared to go beyond, this is not really a problem.

Be happy when you reach the top: cry, clap your hands, shout to the four winds that you did it, let the wind – the wind is always blowing up there – purify your mind, refresh your tired and sweaty feet, open your eyes, clean the dust from your heart. It feels so good, what was just a dream before, a distant vision, is now part of your life, you did it!

Make a promise: now that you have discovered a force that you were not even aware of, tell yourself that from now on you will use this force for the rest of your days. Preferably, also promise to discover another mountain, and set off on another adventure.

Tell your story: yes, tell your story! Give your example. Tell everyone that it’s possible, and other people will then have the courage to face their own mountains.

Which mountain are you planning to climb this spring?