man looking at the horizon

International cooperation: how wide are your horizons?

man looking at the horizon

As I write this I am on a train that began its journey in Prague, in the Czech Republic, and will end at Munich, Germany. Within the first five minutes of boarding I’ve heard conversations in Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. While I frequently travel ‘the last bit’ of this route between home and work, the atmosphere today reminds me of the wonderful opportnity I had for international cooperation as a young adult: to InterRail around Europe, and then expand my horizons and earning potential by working ‘abroad.’ And there was much room for expansion, as I grew up on a small island in Scotland without many advantages other than a decent education.

Taking personal responsibility for the team effort

I could, less poetically, grumble that my train is running half an hour late, it’s pretty old rolling stock, or hundred other imperfections in the overall infrastructure. Nothing is perfect in life, after all, and the more moving parts there are in a system, the harder it can be to coordinate all the inputs, processes and outputs. Perhaps I’m just a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. More likely, it’s that I’m realistic about the personal contribution that we all need to make to a team effort to achieve great things. I don’t expect things to be easy, or to be given preferential treatment.

Don’t mention politics!

That’s probably why – like many – I find the ‘debate’ around the US Presidential candidates and the UK referendum so deeply troubling. We have great opportunities that we need to work together to achieve, not to mention massive challenges to overcome. There are enough crazies shooting up American schools and night clubs, do you really want to put one in the White House?

Brits: what is your evidence that the UK will be politically, economically, culturally or socially stronger outside of a united Europe, rather than making an appropriately strong contribution to a united team effort? That The Sun and Boris Johnson say so! Even when it is in direct contrast to hundreds of world leaders, investing businesses, experts & influencers, and British subjects like me who have taken advantage of the benefits and freedoms that membership that the European Union offers. Even if you opt for narrower horizons – which is your choice – would you deny that option to the coming generations?

I’ve already posted my vote to keep Britain as a strong member of the European Union, and I wholeheartedly encourage all Brits to do the same on the June 23.

Choosing the right direction – its easy to go wrong!

Update: Writing this bit on the way back from an unscheduled 4-hour stopover in Domazlice, just across the Czech border. Turns out I caught the train going the wrong way and didn’t notice due to writing blog posts, etc. Let’s hope that the UK and the US – unlike me – will choose the right direction.


If boring, you suck! A salutory tale of bad proofreading


Were it so simple. Imagine if popping a tab of dextrose could make you a more engaging speaker. Then you wouldn’t risk – with sweaty palms and heart racing like a speeding locomotive – reaching the round, red carpet on the TED stage only to fumble on monotone for the allotted 18 minutes. No, this isn’t a post about presentation skills. Dextro Energy alone is, unfortunately, unlikely to stop any of us being a bore in meetings or networking events, or sucking at public speaking! However, some good proofreading might.

Great idea, poorly executed

When we first relocated to Germany in 1999, I took part in a language training course organized by my husband’s company, a well-known German engineering enterprise. Knowing that the days would be long, and the content uninspiring, the front cover of the training folder helpfully included a pack of Dextro Energy and the instruction: If boring, you suck. The intention: give trainees a sugar rush just when they need it. However, this incident would become my initiation into ‘the Grammar Police.’

What it should have said was: If you get bored, try this!

It’s become my role in life to help businesses to find the most effective words that resonate with their target audiences and differentiate them from their competitors. This is already a highly-specialized task when everyone in the team speaks the same language – both literally and metaphorically! Add into the mix a number of different mother-tongues, cultural backgrounds, skill areas, and increasingly complex topics – such as the impacts of digital transformation and the internet of things (IOT) – and the value of clear thinking, an external perspective, careful editing, and a final native proofreading can’t be overstated.

But where do you find such a service?

My new business, Justa Public Relations, delivers effective international communication and technology PR expertise for the dawn of digital transformation. It takes a PRaaS (public relations-as-a-service) approach, giving businesses of all sizes access to as much or as little expert international communication, marcom or social media support as they need, without having to commit to a retainer or minimum budget.

Just a press release, fine. Just a blog post, no problem. Just a nativeEnglish check of your website, investor pitch or sales proposal, when do you need it by? We’d love to hear what you need today.

Disclaimer: The training book actually said: If boring, suck this! I edited it both for a stronger headline, and to avoid the implied sexual connotations. If you don’t understand why, then I suggest you investigate native-English proofreading support for your most important English texts!