2019 New Year’s Message from Alphacrane Intercultural Specialists

Five people who inspire me in 2019.

A year ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to surround myself with people who would inspire me.

Without a doubt that wish came true, for which I am most grateful. Now as I look forward to another exciting new year, I draw inspiration from some truly outstanding people who I had the good fortune of spending time with over the past 12 months.

In particular, there are five new acquaintances I met in 2018 who created a lasting impression. When reflecting on why they inspire me, I realise they have five common characteristics:

  1. They are all game changers in their respective fields.
  2. Each of them are completely driven to achieve a personal vision for providing exceptional service to others.
  3. None of them are distracted by their critics.
  4. All of them are explorers – even pioneers – in their respective fields, and are unwilling to settle for mediocrity.
  5. They are all risk-takers, having made personal sacrifices to pursue their vision.

I greatly admire these qualities and seek to emulate them myself in 2019.

So, who are the five people I met last year with these qualities I find so inspiring?

David Elliott, Founder and Executive Chairman of The Australian Age of Dinosaurs

Mayor of Longreach Regional Council, Councillor Ed Warren attending the 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie, China.
How we met.

Through a collaboration with Linda Tillman (Tilma Group) and my long-time colleague Jayne Jennings (JJ Consulting), I was engaged by Longreach and Winton Councils to undertake a tourism strategy for this stunning part of Outback Queensland. My involvement was from an Asia-Ready tourism perspective.

Given the exceptional quality of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs experience and its suitability for Asian markets, setting up a meeting with David Elliott was on the top of my wish-list. So, when David granted us an on-site interview that lasted nearly two hours, I was thrilled beyond belief.

How he inspires me.

David Elliott is a visionary and a genius. Listening to his passionate story of how the Australian Age of Dinosaurs came to fruition, his plans to create one of Australia’s first Dark Sky Sanctuaries, and his dream to further expand the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History was like having a conversation with Walt Disney in his early days of planning a game-changing project that would become Disneyland.

My take-out for 2019.

My entire focus will be on intercultural projects that are game-changers for my client’s industries. If my contribution is likely to only result in marginal improvement, then I will take a cue from David Elliott’s experience and be prepared to say “no” to some opportunities from this point on. In 2019 my aim is to hear every client sharing the sentiment “we can’t believe that was achievable”!

Brett Lakey, Owner and Managing Director of Lady Musgrave Experience

Mayor of Longreach Regional Council, Councillor Ed Warren attending the 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie, China.
How we met.

In 2018 I was engaged by Bundaberg Tourism and Bundaberg Regional Council to lead Project Asia, a one-year program to develop the cultural capabilities of local tourism operators to capitalise on the surge of visitor arrivals from China and other Asian market segments to Queensland. Brett Lakey was one of the key stakeholders for this project.

I had the immense pleasure of being hosted on one of Brett’s Great Barrier Reef tours, and then gleaning his first-hand insights into managing Asian guests during his participation in my Asia-Ready Industry Workshop.

How he inspires me.

After 20 years of operating and setting up successful eco tours and luxury charter vessels around the world, Brett made the ambitious decision to establish the best visitor experience on the Great Barrier Reef. Investing his own money and spending the first year of operations personally skippering the boat and training his crew to provide exceptional customer service, his company has established a reputation that now rivals some of the best tour operators across the globe.

My take-out for 2019.

Brett Lakey’s ambitious vision and commitment to delivering exceptional experiences are qualities I also want to be known for in 2019. I keep Brett’s attributes top-of-mind as we finalise the design of Project Global Citizen, a cultural competence accelerator program for international students that my business partner Astrid Hofmann (CTC Cultural Transition Consulting) and I started two years ago. From the outset, our vision has always been for Project Global Citizen to become the gold standard of intercultural programs in the education sector. And this is the year we will make it happen!

Councillor Ed Warren, Mayor of Longreach Regional Council

Mayor of Longreach Regional Council, Councillor Ed Warren attending the 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie, China.
How we met.

Prior to their first official visit to China, Cr. Ed Warren and Deputy Mayor Cr. Tony Martin (also General Manager of the Qantas Founders’ Museum) scheduled a face-to-face appointment with me to undertake intercultural coaching on Understanding the Asian Business Mindset and China Business Negotiations.

Their delegation to China was so successful that several months later they were invited back to join a Strategic Alliance with the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce in China, enabling Outback Queensland to connect into China’s travel distribution network.

In preparation for Cr. Warren’s second China visit, I was again invited to provide intercultural coaching, this time for both the Mayor and Council’s CEO Ian Bodill.

How he inspires me.

Cr. Warren’s dedication to seeking new economic opportunities for his community led him to explore the possibility of tapping into China’s growing outbound tourism market.

As is often the case when trying something new, his pursuits were met with scepticism from some sectors. However, rather than retreating to maintain the status quo, Cr. Warren sought expert advice from multiple sources to form an educated assessment of where the best opportunities are for his community.

When he convened an industry meeting to which I was invited as part of the Asia-Ready Strategy for Longreach-Winton I was writing at the time, a comment from a local stakeholder arose implying that Asians would never want to come all the way out to Longreach. Cr. Warren confidently responded that “it would be remiss of us not to fully explore these opportunities. We can’t afford to sit on our hands and wait for investment to fall into our lap. We need to be proactive and keep an open mind.”

Cr. Warren’s comment resonates with me in my own intercultural work which often challenges popular opinion around controversial topics of cultural diversity and inclusion.

My take-out for 2019.

Like many business owners, I’m frequently faced with the comment “we’re not looking for that sort of advice right now”. Yet when it comes to topics such as navigating cultural minefields of international trade, managing global teams, and understanding the Asian business mindset, I’ve seen first-hand how so many companies lose business deals, lose talented staff, and lose valuable clients simply because they haven’t sought advice on how to develop their organisational Cultural Intelligence (CQ).

It is understandable that people don’t seek advice for underlying causes they don’t yet realise are at the root of the problem. For this reason, in the past I’ve been reluctant to pursue intercultural consulting opportunities when potential clients don’t recognise the value of cultural intelligence to their business. On reflection, the fault lies with me – how are people expected to recognise what they don’t yet know? So, this year I will take heed of Cr Warren’s advice regarding the need to be proactive and not waiting for opportunities to fall into our lap. I will be more proactive. I am more determined than ever to demonstrate the value of cultural intelligence to potential clients.

Jack Wang, 2018 High School Graduate and Winner of the [Gen]In Entrepreneurship Challenge 2018

Mayor of Longreach Regional Council, Councillor Ed Warren attending the 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie, China.
How we met.

Through the international education connections that my Project Global Citizen Co-Founder Astrid Hofmann and I have made, I was tapped on the shoulder in late 2018 to become a consortium member of [Gen]in, a project co-funded with the support of the Queensland Government managed by the International Education and Training Unit (IETU) within Trade and Investment Queensland. [Gen]in has broadened my awareness of the incredible entrepreneurial talent that exists among our student communities, and during an end-of-year presentation I had the opportunity to meet Jack Wang.

How he inspires me.

As a Year 12 student, Jack Wang managed to not only complete his final year of school but also conceptualised an award-winning idea that resulted in him being one of the 2018 [Gen]In Entrepreneurship Challenge winners. Jack and I both attended the same school (29 years apart!), but the similarity ends there.

Had I been asked in my final school year to participate in an extra-curricular program promising to nurture me through a series of online activities to build my entrepreneurial skills, I’m quite certain I would have declined.

The reason: although it’s a great opportunity, I couldn’t possibly commit the time given the pressures of completing Year 12. Yet this is exactly what Jack Wang achieved – he rose to the challenge, invested in himself by taking on a project he truly believed in, and prioritised his time accordingly.

My take-out for 2019.

I vow to never again use a lack of time as an excuse for not pursuing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Specifically, I’m looking at a daunting pile of hand-written papers sitting neatly beside my desk. These are my working notes I’ve been writing for the past three years but have not yet completed due to my busy schedule. Or to be completely honest, my lack of time management!

Now is the ideal window of opportunity to launch this project. It’s a practical resource to help hoteliers handle and avoid tricky situations with guests from China, and it directly addresses those challenges that hoteliers have been sharing with me over the past few years. And thanks to my chance meeting with Jack Wang, I am inspired to finally complete and launch this project in the coming months. Watch this space!

Damien Venner, Social Entrepreneur

Mayor of Longreach Regional Council, Councillor Ed Warren attending the 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie, China.
How we met.

When I first met Damien Venner, he worked for a not-for-profit organisation delivering a suicide postvention program that supports people and communities impacted by suicide. He was also an enthusiastic and extremely switched-on participant in one of the 2018 series of cultural competency workshops I delivered for community organisations on behalf of the Moreton Bay Regional Council.

How he inspires me.

I love the work that Damien Venner does – supporting people impacted by suicide, mental health and other conditions I admit I don’t fully understand. I truly admire his compassion and professionalism. And he’s a very smart young man. So, when Damien told me he was moving to another city to start his own social enterprise, I wanted to know more.

As it turns out, Damien and his business partner are developing an idea that could revolutionise the human services sector. Revolutionise. That’s what will set his idea apart from other social enterprises. How bold!

My take-out for 2019.

I will be instrumental in revolutionising the way intercultural advice is delivered and valued across a wider range of industries.

Whether through my intercultural business coaching, training, advice or consultancy projects, I will always insist that Cultural Intelligence (CQ) must go deeper than customs and etiquette. I believe that cultural competency skills should never be relegated to categories of political correctness or compliance. I want to inspire others to create a world where cross-cultural relationships result in peace and abundance, not tension and intolerance. Where intercultural understanding is acknowledged not only as a social responsibility, but also as an essential business skill.

My wish for you in 2019.

I’ve shared with you my plans for the new year. Now I’d like to wish you – my clients, colleagues, family and friends – a roaring success in your own personal and professional endeavours for 2019.

If you’re seeking intercultural inspiration, advice, training or coaching this year, please call or email me.

Happy New Year!

Craig Shim
Director and founder, Alphacrane Intercultural Specialists