Who influences how we live and work, what we think and believe?
I feel certain that Brittany Arthur is a thought-leader in the making. I say 'in the making' because of her tender age but her track record has every indication that she is going to be huge. Still in her twenties she has lived, studied and worked in Australia, Japan and Germany. She's worked for Fortune 100 companies, collaborated with top universities and even done work with the Trade Commission of Australia. In a word: impressive. But what has a decade of exciting jet-setting experiences taught her?
People are people.
Technology has changed the way we work, the tools we use to get things done, our expectations of the future. The thing that remains unchanged is the great human desire to have a meaningful existence. People are people. Brittany has found this to be true in all three of the countries she has lived in.
Every person's definition of a fulfilling life will be different but it's difficult to refute the need to work and earn money in order to live. Both Brittany and I took the road less travelled when we turned to entrepreneurship in order to enjoy that life/work satisfaction. Our work overlaps in many ways but what blows my mind is Brittany's vision for the future and how she will be part of it.
Where my work brings in me in contact with individuals who are feeling a little downtrodden and unappreciated Brittany's work exposes her to forward-thinkers who wish to take matters into their own hands earlier in life. We did laugh about the 'generation gap' between us - I tend to work with older women who have already endured years of the darker side of expat life. Brittany, on the other hand, works with younger people who see the world as their oyster. The world can be our oyster too but us oldies need a bit of mindset shifting to embrace the possibilities. Young ones tend to see less obstacles in their way. That's my observation anyway.
There are still challenges
There are still challenges and life abroad is hard no matter how old you are. Brittany saves a lot of the headaches by offering concrete advice to would-be travellers through her career coaching practice.
She's also an impassioned public speaker holding workshops for businesses who hope to ignite passion in their workforce. Her big belief is that we do our best work when we are fully-engaged. When we are working towards a shared vision and our work is infused with meaning then the results speak for themselves.
The future of global business
Her latest project is a very exciting concept that will affect the way business is done in the future. For many years large multinational corporations have enjoyed the benefits of being able to send their workforce on short-term assignments to their global outposts. Students have done the same, travelling to study abroad through youth-exchange and 'home-stay' arrangements. As a former exchange student myself (to Tahiti to study French) I can attest to the personal growth that occurs when you experience a foreign culture in a deeply immersive way.
Brittany recently launched beliefXchange - a business exchange program for small businesses. beliefXchange connects Australian and German businesses to collaborate on industry-related projects, leading the new wave of global collaboration and innovation.
This is huge! Everyone knows that the life-long career is dying a slow death. Stay too long in a job and your career stagnates. Life is all about experiences, new learning, different approaches to problem-solving. In a nutshell creativity and innovation are the most desired traits. A travel - work abroad program would be a great way to gain these skills and life experience. And you needn't worry about job security on either side.
I don't think there's a better way to expand your own mind than through travel. But as we know, in reality, it's a little bit harder to find work that matches your skills, in a new country. Take my personal case as an example. I graduated with an honours degree in International Business and Marketing. I spent two years working as one of the top service reps in New Zealand's leading telecommunications company. I came to Japan ... and spent the next year teaching English. It was a huge waste of my potential but fortunately for me the company I worked for recognised this and I was promoted to make better use of my skills.
My experience isn't typical. It's not unusual to hear of graphic designers teaching English. Web developers working in coffee shops. What Brittany offers is a way to further your career, while applying current skills, learning new skills and experiencing a new culture and way of living. You, your company and the host-company all benefit in countless ways. If I were twenty years younger I would jump at the chance to take part!
The benefits for companies are massive too. Your business might look a whole lot more attractive if there are work-abroad opportunities for your young new-recruits. And welcoming members to the team from overseas will give new insights, different ways of tackling problems, a peek into new trends.
The business exchange program is win/win for all parties.
So why is Brittany a thought-leader? To be a person who influences how we think and what we believe takes some 'outside the box' thinking. It takes a special kind of person to be living through an experience (in her case living and working abroad) and be able to take the learning and apply it to a larger group / greater good. To be able to articulate a new idea and convince others of its worthiness is also a challenge. Her target audience isn't the up and coming twenty-something with itchy feet. It's the forty or fifty-something manager or CEO who owns the company or runs the HR department who she needs to convince of the benefits of the exchange program. I suspect the wanderlusting employees won't need to be told twice that this is a brilliant opportunity.
How is she doing it?
Website - http://www.brittanyarthur.com/ A sleek and modern layout with a carefully-chosen colour palette to reflect trustworthiness and to command respect. The site is infused subtly with personality, in the form of photos, videos and personal quotes. After all business decisions are still made by real people who wish to know who they are dealing with.
The photo above is especially effective with its background shelves of books, hinting at an academic connection. Also on the homepage you'll see the logos of the various institutions that Brittany has associations with. These add credibility to her business.
Social Media - the links are discreetly listed on the bottom of her pages. This is not simply a design choice. It's important for people to be able to check you out so you want to include them - otherwise they might google you and find pictures of your hen's night! But be aware displaying social media icons too prominently on your site sends people off to get lost in their own social media feed. Arriving on any social media platform you are immediately distracted by your personal notifications. As a rule you want to keep people on your site as long as possible, so put the icons down the bottom and I like the way Brittany's are a light colour, matching her website, discreet but with nothing to hide. Brittany is using Twitter and LinkedIn along with a few others - these two in particular are more likely to connect her with other business users.
Face to Face - a crucial element in the expansion and reach of Brittany's business is in the real connections she makes in the real world. She uses the slogan "connecting the world, one relationship at a time". Getting out to networking events, participating in seminars, conducting her workshops - these activities bring her into contact with potential clients and collaborators everyday. Her golden rule is not to view these meetings as a chance to indoctrinate others into her way of thinking. Instead she approaches every encounter as a chance to help others. Coming from a place of giving serves her well. People remember the kindness, generosity and interest she showed in them. Referrals and opportunities come to her in abundance.
I hope you'll take the time to check Brittany out - she's one to watch in 2015 and beyond. And she is most certainly an Inspiring Expat. Thanks again Brittany!
Read more of the Inspiring Expat Stories.