In 999, Leif Erikson, famously known as “Erik the Lucky”, sailed from Iceland to travel to Greenland and accidentally discovered a new land, Canadian shores. Why was he traveling? Certainly not because he wanted to go on a vacation. He was looking for business opportunities. He brought back to Iceland a cargo of grapes and timber. Anyone who has been to Iceland knows that timber has more value than gold because trees are rare.
Throughout history we have heard the many sagas of men and women taking dangerous adventures to explore and travel to new places to seek their riches as entrepreneurs. 500 years after Leif made his discovery, Christopher Columbus set out for his business opportunity, to find spices. Thank goodness today we do not have to brave the cold and unknown do connect with people around the world for business enterprise. Leif would have been shocked to know that a thousand years later a phone and a computer can bridge one country to another in a blink of an eye.
If you have a business that is not dependent on local geography, the opportunity to do business with countries around the world is truly amazing. What really helps in the success of your business is the fact that so many people around the world speak English. Definitely an advantage for us English speaking business owners. I just recently returned from a trip to Iceland. Imagine this little island all the way to the north neatly positioned between Greenland and Norway at 66 degrees Latitude and yet, almost every one of the 350,000 inhabitants speaks fluent English. How could that be? From restaurant people, to maids to the local bus drivers, all spoke English to me. Iceland is just one example. Many people in Europe, China, Russia, South America and definitely India have worked hard to be bilingual. It starts at an early age in school. Why do they do it? So, they can create their own business opportunities with other English-speaking people, whether it is industry or tourism. Just like American business people, these English-speaking individuals all over the world need our coaching, courses, software and more to be able to be successful in their businesses.
There is only one major difference that I have noticed in my travels. You need to keep this in mind. These people do have different cultures. When they translate from their language to ours, it may sound peculiar but its correct for them. You can even see this with people from the UK. Their mannerisms and choice of words are reflected in the conversations which are slightly different from those of us living in the USA or Canada. It is very apparent to me. I was born in England, but yet I am more American in my speech. When visiting my family in the UK, I realize the differences in how they talk to each other versus how we do in the US. Keep that in mind when you are trying to communicate with them. Don’t dominate. Keep it simple. Be careful that you do not say anything that could be considered insulting. Don’t use swear words or a lot of slang. Don’t ramble on. That will help in the understanding.
Iceland has many long-named words. I can’t even pronounce them. Try this. Eyjafjallajokull. That’s a mouth full isn’t it? This is the name of the volcano that erupted in 2010 that caused major air traffic havoc. Or SnæfellsjökullI, the place Walter Mitty went to find the photographer, Sean O’Connell. I asked my guide “why does your language have so many long words? Surely it is difficult to have a conversation with such long words.” She laughed and explained that Eyjafjallajokull is three words. It translates to island-mountain glacier. SnæfellsjökullI means snow-fell glacier. They just take out the spaces. English must be a piece of cake I think for Icelanders. She agreed. So that is a reminder that not all translates exactly as “we” think.
Knowledge is golden and common language is diamonds. Think about how you can market your business across the world. The possibilities are endless. Even if you have a business that is local perhaps there is a new business opportunity for you with books, courses, website design, blogs, podcasts, YouTubes and more. You can take your business knowledge and share with other parts of the world. Currency is not an issue today with Stripe and Paypal.
I had an “ah ha” awesome moment in my visit to Iceland, the ability to stand on the spot where the North American plate and the EurAsian plate meets. Only in Iceland can you do this on land. As I stood on that bridge between the two plates, I realized I can be the bridge between cultures learning and teaching to develop globalization. You too can be Leif the Lucky and forge new business opportunities. But without the rough ride. The world is your oyster. Just add horseradish and ketchup for seasoning.
P.S. If you haven’t seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, here is a short trailer. After you see it you will want to see the movie and go to Iceland.