Thursday 19 October 2017

Review: The Global You by Susan Bloch and Philip Whiteley

"I couldn't settle in Italy -- it was like living in a foreign country," Welsh footballer Ian Rush once complained.

The Global You is a simple but thought-provoking book by two American academics that aims to prevent that sort of thinking. It will have a lot of resonance for many people in Ireland who are either thinking of moving abroad or want to sell products overseas.

While much of the book is obvious and some of it reads like Tim Ferriss' excellent The 4-Hour Workweek, it is no harm to reiterate that we live in a complex world and both companies and individuals need to break out of their national silo and develop a global state of mind. The book may also shame a few employers into using their foreign employees here in Ireland a little more cleverly.

We have all seen other companies which have foreigners more intelligent than the boss sweeping the floors but is this also happening in your company? Is it time to start using people properly? Large Irish companies have also been slow to capitalise on foreign expertise. Allied Irish Banks didn't have a single Polish board member at a time when it employed more Polish people than Irish.

In retrospect, it is hard not to believe that a little more foreign blood at the top of the bank could have saved it from some of its worst mistakes and saved the exchequer a fortune.

The Global You repeatedly makes the point that thinking globally is a discipline which extends from learning new languages to attending funerals in Soweto or weddings in Bombay.

An interesting section challenges the widespread belief that people hate change, noting that many of us are fascinated by innovation, news and gossip. Not everybody will agree with this observation; some of us like change and some don't but it is an interesting corrective to the general view, common in management and politics that change is impossible.

The Global You is neither well written nor particularly original but despite this, it is somehow worth reading.

We live in one of the most open and export-dependent countries in the world but there is little sign of this in either our commercial life or politics. This book provides a simple blue print for those who would like to train themselves to think beyond our shores.

Thomas Molloy

Irish Independent

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