Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm an AIESECer!

All AIESEC countries are running member's recruitment nowadays and most of them are running "I'm an AIESECer!" campaign, when real AIESEC members and alumnus share their personal stories about their experience in AIESEC. I'm really glad that my LC in Almaty is running actively the same promotion and I'm sure it will attract some of the smart, ambitious and proactive people, who will lead the organization in the nearest future, develop themselves and other individuals. Waiting for the outcomes of this campaign...

Here is the web-page with stories (click on the names of people) -

Thanks, my lovely AIESEC Almaty! :)

Talent Magnet

Hi Aigerim,

One of the most difficult transitions in anyone's career is the switch from individual performer to manager or supervisor. Most people struggle with this change until they realize a simple truth; it's not their job to get things done, but to get things done through others. And getting things done through others is a lot easier when you have talent on your team.

Whether you call them A-players, stars or high-potentials, the most talented people in an industry are not just 10% more valuable than their average colleagues they are often two, five or ten times more valuable. Because of this talented people have more choice in who they work with and for. This means that you need a strategy for finding, keeping and liberating talent. Here are some guidelines for creating a talent strategy that gets results for your team and grows leaders for your organization.

Finding Talent

Know What You Want: Not every role on your team requires an A-player. What skills or talents will make the difference for your division? One air transport company realized that they had no problem finding pilots but really needed negotiators to work with airports to get landing rights. Once they found the right negotiators their growth more than doubled. Maybe you need a graphic designer instead of a programmer, a caring customer service rep instead of a sales person or an architect instead of an engineer. And once you find that person don't let their resume or appearance get in the way.

Always be looking: You can't expect an A-player to be available when you have an opening. Keep an eye out for the skills and attitude you need all the time. If necessary, find a role for a talented person that becomes available.

Look Everywhere: Talented people usually aren't looking for work so you may not find them on job boards. Yes, check out resumes, however, look at competitors, suppliers and your network for the people you need. One financial planning company regularly hires teachers to sell their products because of their ability to educate clients. What skills do you need that might be in other industries? When you get beyond the need for specific experience you open up a universe of possibilities.

Keeping Talent

Challenge Them: Beyond a certain point (usually a bit higher than average) pay ceases to motivate people. What really engages talented people is challenging work. Allow them to prove themselves. Give them challenging, important projects that make a difference. You'll be amazed by their performance.

Talent Loves Company: High performers love working with other high performers. Instead of putting your A players on different projects put them all on one important project. They'll thrive on each other's energy and skills.

Get Out of the Way: The more talented people often require less help than most other people. Once you have given them clear goals and honest performance feedback your job is to give them tools and remove barriers. Learn to get comfortable with people who are probably far better than you at what they do.

Liberating Talent

Expose them to Senior Leadership: Don't be afraid to show your people off to your boss and their boss. Talented people thrive on that kind of challenge and it shows the organization that you are a star magnet.

Become the Pipeline: Nothing will make you more valuable to your organization than becoming the go to person for talent. Give your people the opportunity to work elsewhere in the organization. Put them on cross-functional teams, loan them to other managers or even promote them into completely new roles.

Create Alumni: A large consulting company assumes that most of their talented people will leave within 5-7 years of hiring. They support their people as they move on and in so doing create a powerful alumni network that brings in more business and more talent. You won't have A-players forever. Make sure that when they move on they think of you first.

In Leadership,

Robin Sharma

Thursday, September 04, 2008


The International congress in Brazil is finished and since yesterday night I’m already back home to Tallinn, where the weather didn’t change at all since we left – same rainy and cloudy weather. Bit its nice to be back to the permanent place, which I already started to call home :)

Well, the main question you would expect from me to be answered is the very broad one “So, how was it!?” I would say that the feelings after it are kind of mixed and maybe a bit lost. Don’t expect from me to write smth extraordinary, just general thoughts.

From the cultural perspective to visit such a country like Brazil was really exciting and it fulfilled my expectations more than that! I would describe the feeling when I landed to Brazil and my intern, Natalia, picked me up from the airport, I was feeling like a “happy puppy”, who is full of energy to observe everything around, jumping from one place to another and full of excitement in the eyes! The same feeling I had when I had a trip to India… That’s good to be a tourist sometimes :)

From my small observations I would describe Brazil as a country full of surprises and it’s really a place to be! Every moment you are there, you experience some differences which make you smile all the time. Well, if any Brazilian reads this blog post, don’t take these thoughts too much into consideration as I had only couple of weeks in Brazil and have been only in Sao-Paolo and Goias district to observe. Of course, the country is so huge that cultures inside varies greatly by regions. 

Well, the definite thing not only about Brazil, but the whole Latin America countries is that they are always late. For example, our Study tour OC picked us up from the place 1,5 hour later than it should be, or we traveled to Goiania 16 hours instead of 12 and there are some more small examples. One of my AIESEC friends, who is in MC Ecuador told me, that he has already adjusted to that and its ok waiting for a person during 1 hour and he can do smth else during this time. Well, in our culture it’s also ok to be late, but not for that huge time amounts…

As I understood, the food in Brazilian culture matters a lot and people enjoy having it and in the families prefer to have it all together. Brazilians love eating meet and I even tasted blood-meet – woooh!… :) Well, the food is really tasty and I know being in another country for a longer period it matters a lot. Various exotic fruits confuse you sometimes – which way to eat them? Do you know how the palm tree tastes? Have you ever tried ice-cream with the taste of cheese? What’s açaí – the fruit everyone talks about? Do you know that rice and beans are the most common meals in Brazil? Can you cook Pão de Queijo (“cheese bread”) at home? Did you know that Brazilian cheese and milk products are one of the best ones in the world? Caipirinha for lunch and dinner? 
Rice and brown beans
Pão de queijo (“cheese bread”)
Serving of açaí pulp
Caipirinha - National cocktail of Brazil

My main location was São Paulo – the largest city in Brazil, located in the South-East of the country with population over 10 mln people as officially counted, but I’m sure it’s much more. The city itself is really huge and you can’t tell – where is the centre of the city? It might be anywhere! When I have just arrived to the city, I could from the 1st moment breath the “smell” of the city – polluted, huge city full of cars and motorbikes (less than in India but still popular). Almaty has sometimes the same smell, especially in summer time, when there is nothing to breath in a hot weather. The traffic jam can be enormous in São Paulo and you can stay couple of hours sometimes to get from one place to another, that’s why people are sometimes afraid of planning somewhere to go by car as you may be stuck in any time during the day. Better to go by train, metro or observe the nearest neighborhoods. 

Traffic jam in São Paulo

In São Paulo you may find people with different social classes and its ok, if in the city next to some more or less modern building you may meet bunch of houses called slums (трущобы), and you can even imagine how people might live in these conditions – housings built from several different-sized wooden boards covered by the cardboards as an entrance to the “house” or smth else. There are certain parts of the city full of slums and there is always some boss of the slum which is ruled by him. Remember, the Mexican soap opera "Wild Rose" («Дикая Роза»)? So, the same housing concept. Well, it’s still looked “nicer” than the living conditions in India for poor people who belong to untouched cast.

Slums in São Paulo
People are expressive and emotional, with warm attitude and positive even if smth goes wrong and not according to plan – they still keep it simple! People look differently, you can’t certainly say “Hey, that’s definitely Brazilian!” – they might look like dark skin Afro-Brazilian to white skin with blond hears and blue eyes. So depends again where the person comes from – South or North part of the country? Amazons or savannas? 

Quite few people speak English in Brazil. And that makes I guess trainees to be put to the conditions of learning local language. I find it perfect!

There are loads of Japanese people live in São Paulo and they even have their own neighborhood. 
The Japanese-speaking community of São Paulo live mostly in Liberdade Neighbourhood.

To be engaged in criminality among young low class people is quite common and all the time my friends were scared me to be attentive with my bag or any other belongings. I know, that’s should be in any country you travel, but in Brazil this should be your first rule. It’s quite ok, if in the street or even in the metro full of people, one person comes closer to you with gun or knife hidden in the shirt and tells calmly “That’s robbery… Give me your bag and watches”. Or when you sit in the car in front and someone comes to you and tells to get out from the car and then you find it several blocks ahead with no laptop bag at least. These cases are common in big cities like São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, don’t know about the other cities. And you are lucky when police is somewhere around and some cases you might get some stuff back, if you are smart to react immediately. 

Because of those social issues, for young people from poor families it’s quite easy way to start being engaged to criminality and if you don’t pay attention to them in a certain time, the may go down and follow the example I showed above. In Goiania city we have visited one NGO, which is supporting young people from poor families in their -teens to learn and study how to enter the legal job market – so they attend this school and after that may work legally in certain places. I’m sure, that’s one of the small examples how third sector in Brazil helps to prevent social crisis like that. And it was really admiring to see, how people are into that with the whole concept and idea they have. It made me to think about social issues we have in my country, this concept can be relevant anywhere in developing countries.

Well, that’s some general observations I have noticed being in Brazil and I’m really happy that my parents supported me with an opportunity to visit this country. Well, I’m already keen to come there back for internship maybe and doesn’t matter which type of it, at least for two objectives – learn Portuguese and capoeira. 

These are simple reasons which make people travel around the world…
Smog in São Paulo

São Paulo Sé Cathedral
PS. If I manage with my time, I will write back about IC experience, as hectic time is coming in AIESEC… Try to enjoy autumn and don't get freezed! :)