Talking global: climate, English language, opportunity

My January article about bracing for exponential change depressed some readers – but hopefully others saw opportunity and some high, fast moving coattails to surf upon: what the Australians call a honker, or a heavy.  A big one.

Bondi Beach. Dangerous currents.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Australia.  Did you know that Bondi Beach is the home of Speedos?  And Bells Beach is hard by the home bases of Quiksilver and Rip Curl. It’s the purported setting (though they shot in Oregon) for the Keanu vs Swayze showdown in Point Break.  Cue for Point Break surf wisdom: “Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.”

I also visited Hong Kong.  The junks have all gone (bar the one which is used in movies) and landfill is rapidly taking over the harbor. Only recently rocky and scarcely populated, Lantau Island now sprouts concrete jungles only softened by garlands of plastic flowers*.  Professor Paul Valdes, climate change guru at Bristol University’s innovative cross-discipline Cabot Institute, recently told me that of all the climate issues he could be fretting about, China is no longer one. He’s spent much time there and is sure that it’s gotten so bad that the government will inevitably fix it. I hope he is right: that was world class smog* I tasted blowing in to HK from Shenzhen. Compare with the crystal clear air and pristine beaches of our next stop, Tasmania – which however is right beneath the ozone hole.

Whatever the weather, we all need to be thinking global.  I have heard in the last couple of weeks from creative professionals as far apart as Stockholm, London, Miami, Canberra and LA; and last week I worked with students at NYU from Shanghai and Hainan. There is work and opportunity in more places than you have ever thought of. I know you are already keeping up with technology and the reshaping economy – but you should also be exploring the world outside your current geography.

But do not think that because you only speak English that you can’t find work in non-anglophone countries. According to the Economist: “The Académie française may be prickly about the advance of English. But there is no real alternative as a global business language. The most plausible contender, Mandarin Chinese, is one of the world’s most difficult to master, and least computer-friendly. It is not even universal in China: more than 400m people there do not speak it. Corporate English is now invading more difficult territory, such as Japan.”

Read more about the advance of English from The Economist.

The world is your oyster. Pry it open and find your pearl.


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