Swenglish can be really bad to use

June 16, 2010

It takes a very long time to be really fluent in a language if not being a native. You might know most of the vocabulary – but that is not the same as knowing and using the correct expressions.

Today Mr. Carl-Henrik Svanberg, Chairman of BP and a native Swede, gave us a great example of just that with a surprisingly heavy Swedish accent. At his first public press meeting (about time!) after a meeting with President Obama, he birthed an expression that will be remembered for a long time: “BP cares about the small people”. Correct in Swedish but not when translating it word by word into English. He meant of course that BP cares about the ordinary people, but in the way he said it he almost insulted the people in the Gulf. BP later issued a statement from Svanberg, in which the chairman said, “I spoke clumsily this afternoon, and for that, I am very sorry”.

At CNN’s AC360 airing 10pm-12pm every night (now live from Louisiana) they just focused on  Mr. Svanberg’s slip in translation and showed by examples that the people of Louisiana are not small/little people but great people. 

Even CEO’s with great (so far) international reputation can obviously have some problems with  intercultural communication – at the worst possible moments. BP’s message did not get through when they so badly needed it. Lesson? Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal!


What motivates us?

June 3, 2010

When working with communications, sales, leadership (or just being a parent)  it’s important to focus on what motivate your stakeholder, no matter if it’s a client or an employee. Is is a bonus? A challenging task? A meaningful task? I would say a combination, others (Wall Street) maybe would say higher bonuses.

Well, below is a fantastic 10 minute multimedia overview of Dan Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates US (narrated by Dan). The book explains how intrinsic motivation works and how each of us can find the surest path to high performance, creativity, health and well-being. Watch the presentation >>

Dan Pink shows that bonuses are not working as a motivator if the task is just slightly complex. What really triggers people to perform well or outstanding is if they are challenged, can achieve mastery and if they feel they can make a contribution.

Mr. Pink also talks about how important it is having a purpose – other than profit – in order to engage people. This is also what Simon Sinek has written a book about: “Start with why”. I recommend you to take a closer look at his website as well: http://www.startwithwhy.com/