I grew up in Taiwan, speaking German, English, and Mandarin on a daily basis. My upbringing opened up my mind to different ideas, people, methods very early on. Life is more exciting when you find new ways of looking at the same situation in a thousand ways. I became obsessed with learning new perspectives from my daily interactions in my multicultural school. In doing so, it allows me to read a situation, person, transaction from all angles. This curiosity is a valuable skill that can be nurtured and learned by anybody.
Most people in this world don’t have the fortune that I had, to grow up in an upper middle class family that traveled the world. I am fully aware of how lucky I was to be born into that situation and how much those experiences give me an upper hand in the modern world.
My goal here is to help you kickstart that part of your life.
I hate cliches but here it goes; travel and travel often. When I say travel, I don’t mean going to Cancun or Aruba, as much fun as they be. Go where people like you don’t go. Go to places where not everyone speaks the same language as you. This will force you to communicate with people on the most basic human level. I’m talking hand gestures, smiling, laughing, eye contact. This is an important lesson about humanity – we are all ultimately the same and everyone has something to offer. We all search for connection and thrive on it. It also teaches us about stripping things down to the basics. Especially when you are in a rush to go to the bathroom and can’t speak the local language.
Traveling is also a great reason to learn new languages, even if just a few words. It is amazing how quickly you can connect with someone by showing effort in trying to communicate in their language. You can build a level of trust with someone immediately if you are putting in the effort to communicate in their language.
**A great app to start learning any language is Duolingo https://www.duolingo.com
More importantly, understanding different cultures gives you insight into people’s motivations.
That insight is important because in my opinion, sales is a critical life skill. Whether it is selling yourself to a potential employer, asking for a raise, dating, the list is endless.. And the job of any sales person is to motivate someone to make a buying decision. Once you know what motivates someone, the easier your job is to get them to buy from you. Some of you may be cringing when I mention salesmanship because you think of used car salesmen or telemarketers that read a script and try to sell you debt consolidation.
But here’s the truth, sales is about communicating effectively and building relationships. How will you ever get what you want out of life without these skills? You will never get what you don’t ask for. My dad always used to say “fragen kostet nichts” to me,; which, translated means, “asking a question costs you nothing.” So go practice asking questions. Seriously. Practice.
Try this in situations you are uncomfortable with. Start with something easy like asking for a discount for things you normally wouldn’t or ask your boss for an extra day off.