Be careful with irony across cultures.

Alexander Hold Irony

“Irony is a great tool when doing business across cultures!” Or not. – Example of Irony.

Who would know it was Irony, if I had not said it? Probably not many. In general irony is not working when writing, because a main part of irony lies in the strictly sarcastic tone of voice. To compensate for the disability to set a tone, people try with smileys and other symbols when writing, but in general people are more or less unsuccessful. Therefor try to avoid irony when writing!

Not just is sarcasm evil when writing, it does also have certain limitations when talking. Usually you would use sarcasm among friends and they would have no problem getting the fact that you were being ironic. The problem happens when you bring you sarcastic humor at work and to your first business meeting. Acting as a salesman in a local community, irony will usually not cause you any trouble. But the day you sit in a meeting with an overseas business partner and fire up some ironic joke, you will experience the true evil of irony.

The problem is that irony or sarcasm is often different from culture to culture. It exists in every culture, but the understanding of humor can be very different. Therefore be careful when telling sarcastic jokes! Frequently ironic jokes get misunderstood and in the worth cases it ends up costing the deal. A man that has experienced on his own and has studied the concept of cross cultural business behavior is the Author and businessman Richard Gesteland. From his book “Cross-Cultural Business Behavior” you can read real life examples of clients walking out of a meeting because stupid ironic joke or a basic misunderstanding of the cultural differences.

So if you want to avoid getting in trouble, keep the irony between you and your friends. And go to work as a professional.

Be different and get noticed!

Personal Branding

Definition of Personal Branding: Personal branding is defined as the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.

Personal branding is an interesting subject, and there are several different aspects of the concept. The stated definition is what you find when you perform a Google search on the matter and it very clearly describes the idea of personal branding. However the definition does not explain how to become a personal brand and might have to do with the fact, that there is no single answer to this question.

So, how to become a personal brand?

As said there is no definitive answer, but I would like to give you a personal experience example.

An important aspect of personal branding is to be different and to differentiate, just like when you create innovative businesses that need to find its own spot in the marketplace. By being different you draw attention to yourself and thereby get noticed. Therefore is the ability to be different from the masses a key point of becoming a personal brand.

Last weekend I tested if the concept of being different actually works in reality. I was attending a party with the dress code: “white”. It was expected for all guests to wear white from top to toe, and for once every guest besides myself were wearing white. I choose to show up wearing black from top to toe. Someone might have seen it as a provocative action and it was, but that is the main point of differencing from the masses. People noticed that I were wearing black instead of white, so it must to some extend have worked as expected. “Be different and get noticed”

However, is it always a good thing to be different and thereby get noticed? Here I would like to refer to a previously article: “Don’t underestimate the power of your suit

My little spin at the party was rather harmless and didn’t curse much reaction. However it was noticed that I were wearing black and not white as expected, which makes it fair to conclude that it drew attention to me as a person.

A good way to see who gets attention and who don’t, can be illustrated with this simple model:

Personal Branding Model
Personal Branding Model

In the center we have the “Pleasers” which everybody likes, but in reality no one has an opinion about.

To the left and to the right we have the provocateurs. Being a provocateur you have to take side. Someone is going to love you and follow you, where the other side will hate. Those are the people who get attention. The provocateurs are those who are in the Medias and those who get noticed in the crowd, simply because they differ from the masses.

So get started and find out how you can be different among your particular target group, and become the one that is always asked for an opinion, and is always noticed in the crowd.