Being an International
sounds so cool
But feeling like a fish out of water doesn’t feel cool at all
YOU’RE A CITIZEN OF EVERYWHERE AND NOWHERE
I get it, I’ve been there, multiple times. You might even call me a local at Fishoutofwaterville, because I’ve lived there all my life.
Hi, I’m Rhys, and my multicultural life began at birth (43 years ago) — I was born in India, grew up in Queens, New York and my ancestry is from Burma and China. Now I live in Amsterdam and my wife is Polish-French.
You might say multiculturalism is in my DNA.
Now I help International Professionals and Third Culture Individuals to overcome the challenges of making friends and business connections, becoming valued and accepted for what makes you different, navigating cultural differences with more ease (and less stress), while creating a sense of home, wherever you are.
It’s all too common to feel left out at work or in personal life and have a hard time making friends when you’re in a different culture. Communication alone is a huge block in building relationships, but add on cultural differences in expectations and behaviors, and it can be incredibly stressful.
You might find that your confidence has taken a hit. That you’re insecure about your career growth, opportunities, and how you relate to other people. And you’re probably frustrated.
I know I was.
There were times I felt like I didn’t know where I belonged, when I doubted myself, when I started to feel a defensive wall start to build between myself and others. It’s an uncomfortable place to be.
I don’t have to tell you this — you’re in that uncomfortable place right now. And you’ve probably tried a few things to lessen the discomfort.
You may have tried:
To openly talk to an individual with whom you’ve had miscommunications in the past, but it just became worse because the cultural difference still exists (you don’t know why!)
Through my years of living, working, and communicating with different cultures and personalities, I’ve come up with an approach that helped me survive and save my sanity.
Here’s the secret:
This isn’t about you learning how to fit in. That’s part of it. But it’s missing half of the equation. This is also about giving other people the chance to understand and embrace your culture, just as you do with theirs.
This approach not only helps you make friends who accept you for who you are, it also attracts success professionally, because your multicultural, or different-cultural, uniqueness becomes an asset rather than a drawback.
Focus on the REAL issue and don't get lost in the fog.
Most advice for Expats and International Professionals doesn’t consider the cultural challenges we face in our everyday personal and professional lives, and doesn’t take our very real needs for acceptance into account. Existing courses focus on respecting other cultures and accepting other people, which is a good start, but don’t help you genuinely embrace the culture and be embraced in return.
We know we need to be sensitive to the cultural norms of our adopted locations; what we don’t always know is what those norms are, how to find out about them, and what to do when we stumble over them and ‘mess up.’
What you need — what I wish I’d had! — is a guide to help you regain your confidence, make meaningful connections, and find your way from outsider to insider.
I don’t only rely on my own experience for my approach to this work. I've obtained my bachelors' degree from Queens College in New York City. I also have an Executive MBA in leadership and personal development (from the Netherlands), trained in Organizational Coaching in Paris, and am a certified transformational life coach.
If you find yourself in a leadership position that requires you to navigate multiple cultures, all that training means I can help with that too.
Believe me, it takes all of these skills to find your home in an intercultural world!
Check out my accreditation
If you’re still reading and this is you, I want you to know there is a different, quicker way to approach cross-culture. It starts with understanding what works best for you.
Learning to trust
Getting out of isolation
Knowing when to hold back, and how to share
And comparing cultures…
All of this starts with how we understand ourselves. That’s where our work begins.
Fun Facts About Me
I’m a CPA - certified public accountant - which you might think is super boring (not a fun fact at all!), and I would agree.
I like to travel and eat (who doesn’t) - but I choose destinations based on cooking lessons. I’ve learned to make croissants in Paris, but the one thing I can’t master is the French omelet. I’m great until the roll, fold, or flip, and then it’s 15 minutes of making perfect fluffiness wasted when it turns into dog food on the plate.
My wife can speak Chinese and I can’t. She has red hair and is French (so we confuse a helluva lot of people!)
I have a great sense of direction. At the age of 6 in Kolkata (Calcutta), I walked home alone, a 4 mile journey through rickshaws, food carts, motorbikes and pedestrian traffic, when the Indian prime minister was assassinated and the country shut down.
I frequented a local diner in Hawaii so many times during vacation that one patron thought I was a local and had been there as a child (I used some Hawaiian words to order and kept smiling was all I did, I swear!)
My life philosophy is "We should never stop learning." It could be learning a new recipe for a delicious dish, learning about how things work, or even learning something about yourself (what better way to do this than through cross-culture!)