Being Nice Isn’t Enough


Movements, Myths & Burning Business Issues!

Movements, Myths & Burning Business Issues!

I visited Varanasi a few weeks ago. As promised it proved to be 3.5 days filled with fascinating fables, informative insights, metaphors and myths and what really preoccupied me afterwards was the mindset, or philosophy around dying – before and after death. It was a deeply introspective experience that, even without actually thinking about it, forced me to reflect on my own attitude and beliefs about life, and death. My more pragmatic self did some research and found facts relating to the business of burning bodies. 

Among other things, I read that this custom and practice has almost depleted India’s own forests and they are now importing the wood from neighboring countries like Nepal. Considering the pyres are burning 24/7 and an average of 50 bodies get burnt a day, that is some business! And a huge, weighty demand for wood!

An environmental activist’s nightmare and, quite frankly, a matter of life, over death! Now!

Fast forward a week or two and I am talking to one of my clients in the EU which is expanding their business borders further East mentioning Nepal as one of their new sources of wood. And I think to myself…

I get the “machinery” of business. I get what is needed to make a business run, well-oiled, efficiently and effectively to maximize profits. I personally thrive on other businesses expanding their business borders because it calls for cultural collaboration which can only be achieved through cultural understanding and clarity in communication – my business. I get that everyone wants their share (fair or not) of the economic and consumer pie and when the local market gets too small or the region has run out of resources and stock, then businesses have to move on up and out – otherwise it is death to the business! I get that.

But, how much of all of this is done in the true wisdom and understanding that some ideas, traditions and customs need to be burnt, for the benefit our children’s futures? And their children?

And, just how much of all of this is as “sustainable” as businesses envisage, intend and promise?

Let’s face it. Business is a violent business. Success can be cut throat. Does it have to be this way? Do we even have choices?

Read more


Holy Cow(s)!, trumpery and Holi-days! A msg of Peace.

2016? Holy cow! It’s been a ride of “deestings”, unabashed trumpery, distractions and Being Nice Isn’t Enough!

Remember me telling you at the beginning of this year that sex and taking drugs, eating sleeping and doing good deeds had this “gimme more” effect. That you should get addicted to good deeds and the more you do it the more you want it? Do you remember my 3 to do’s and 5 reminders to help get you what you want? No? Then go here before you go making any new resolutions. Yes? Good. I’ll be adding a few more life hacks to those. Read on.

This 2482 word reflection is a no bullshit message of peace containing

– colorful cows, female distractions and other fun and sexy life lessons

– idiotic idiomatic and old English expressions

– a pre-view of a good book to read

– 4 tips on how to get others to start a sparkly collaboration revolution with you

– a peace mantra

all from an expat-in-India perspective.

You know what it’s like. Come the end of anything you start looking back, taking stock and perhaps, reflecting. Read more


Being Nice Isn’t Enough @ UN Vienna, Austria

A quick update on more of my kick-butt activities – including a keynote – between September and December 2016!

Keynote Being Nice Isn’t Enough!

Sept to Dec 2016 – I arrived in Austria and had one day to get my head out of slow-go-Goa speed and into inspirational kick-butt training mode for a three day seminar with international project managers on communication and leadership of the multinational construction company, STRABAG AG. I love working with and engaging people from such diverse backgrounds. It was a wonderfully successful event with a lot of AHA moments, sharing of personal mishaps and successes and a coming together through the understanding of different values, acceptance of conflicts and developing trust. Then…

Tarra! Tarra! I’m doing some personal trumpeting (no trumpery)! On September 21st, 2016 I was invited to do a keynote speech at the United Nations in Vienna on the topic of my book Being Nice Isn’t Enougha how to cut through the “niceties” and get to real cross-cultural collaboration. Again it resonated so well with the audience and the more they became involved the more excited I became! It was a beautiful and mutual exchange of information. I rocked – but not without a little help from my friends; my Pastor Matthew Laferty (ESUMC) and my husband Bernhard!

I also got to spread the written but not yet published word in seminars, workshops and one on one coaching with banking, legal and other professionals in the EU. A busy 2.5 months in the Autumn of 2016 and a wonderful opportunity to “dress up” again.

I returned to Goa end November to do the final tweaks on my non-fiction book manuscript and book proposal and submitted it mid-December to a publisher in the USA.

Hold thumbs!

My final newsletter of 2016 with insights from India will follow shortly!

Lots of love and remember to kick some sparkly communication around, Hester


C#4 – Cross-cultural consciousness


Exclusion is in-the-box thinking and an unwillingness to get out. Here’s the thing; you (unconsciously) expose and express exclusion of others in words like “we, us, our” and “they, them, those people”.

Have you tuned into yourself lately? Have you heard yourself speak in meetings and between friends? Are you expressing the wish to collaborate and connect or are you expressing exclusion?

Being Nice (certainly) Isn’t Enough is food for thought and speech! An excerpt from my book!


“Being Nice Isn’t Enough!” gets invited to the UNWG


Being Nice Isn’t Enough!

How to cut the niceties and get to real collaboration!

It’s official. It’s been announced!

I have been invited to do a keynote on why “Being Nice Isn’t Enough” (my new in the “sending-to-publishers-phase” book) when wanting to cultivate real cross-cultural competence, conversation and collaboration at…
wait for it…
the United Nations Women’s Group in Vienna, on the 21st of September 2016!

That’s BIG and (even if I say so myself) awesomely EXCITING!

OK, I must also admit that I am having a whole lot of fun today! Fun Friday!

I have been in the process of uncluttering my website and putting in the key message of all messages. The Being Nice Isn’t Enough! book/keynote/seminar/coaching message.
I have also been having fun with rewording my “about” page and found the words “rebel” and “sparkplug” and I want to “SALT” sparkplug everywhere to describe myself and what I do. A sparkly sparkplug!

More about my current work and writing…
“Being Nice Is Not Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” is aimed at the business reader who is working with culturally diverse teams or across borders “Being Nice Is Not Enough!” is going to change the way you communicate and connect with people – simply by mirroring and undoing some of your habits, bias’, patterns and language that no longer serves you! The unconscious internal glitches – that contribute to conflict rather than collaboration – that should get dumped in the ditches. (Thank you to my coach and mentor Kate Emmerson)

“Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration”, an international personal/leadership skills and (non-generic) business communication book is also written for non-academic readers including non-native English speakers involved in international interactions. Without “dumb-ing” it down too much “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration” is written in a narrative and witty tongue-in-cheek style. It is a merging of my real-time “put-my-foot-in-it” trip-ups and intercultural feaux pas’ over the past 25+ years (yes I’m that experienced) of personal and international business experiences with my later studies and research on the fascinating albeit, at times, painfully embarrassing topic. The fact that I (and my son) were born into a post-apartheid culturally and politically changing South Africa also provides me with an experientially packed classroom! A wanderlust and attraction for the unknown fuelled by opportunities to work and live in foreign countries fill the chapters of “Being Nice Isn’t Enough!” This book provides humanly erring insights, reflections and practical answers to some of your cross-cultural questions – by undoing unhelpful habits and replacing them with good old guiding principles. An absolute must read when it hits the shelves!
I host “no-buts-kick-butt” authentically sparkplug keynote talks, seminars, team workshops and personal coaching on “Being Nice Isn’t Enough – How to cut through the niceties and get to real collaboration.” Get me, get us!

SALT logo_n


C#3 – Cross-cultural consciousness


consciousness vs. disregard

Consciousness vs. disregard describes one person who is aware and mindful that others from different backgrounds share the same values and have different ways of doing things, and disregard describes another person who demonstrates disinterest and detachment in their dealings or interactions with others from different countries.

This “disregard” only gives others the perception that you are (maybe) inconsiderate, biased and narrow minded when, in fact, you are not? Or are you? Is that how you want others to “see” you?

Or, do you get others? “Getting” others – is the ability to demonstrate a conscious “listening for” (not to), a consciously empathetic understanding for and good basic knowledge of other cultures. Can you?

Talking at, telling, instructing and using imperatives does not invite anyone into dialogue and shows a disregard for their involvement, worth and values. Are you doing this?

Are you showing consciousness? If yes, fantastic – you are a born cross-cultural collaborator! If not, don’t go into hiding!

Get me to help you become a cross-cultural collaborator with consciousness, courage and curiosity!


C#2 – Cross-cultural courage!


courage vs. arrogance

Are you courageous enough to encourage collaboration? Can some of your actions be percieved as arrogant?

Unconscious “us” vs “them” talk – be it due to fear of not knowing something or embarrassment that goes with (possibly) looking stupid, cultivates a biased arrogance – “my way is the best way” – normally expressed with generalisations – “they’re all the same”. This language certainly doesn’t promote collaboration.

Getting cross-cultural collaboration up and running in a new international team or project not only requires curiosity (C#1), but also a healthy dose of courage (C#2). Knowing what you don’t know, being able to acknowledge imperfections and that that you don’t have all the answers involves personal risk taking. It also makes you more human. Your sincerely curious and courageous approach to establishing collaboration will foster a quick and committed bonding between team members – no matter who, no matter where.

Courage means taking risks. Be courageous. Stay Curious. Create collaboration. Because (sometimes) Being Nice (simply) Isn’t enough! It’s such a valuable ingredient to your cross-cultural success mix.

PS: CQ = Cultural Intelligence


C#1 – Curiosity never killed any cat!


curiosity vs. indifference

Cats whiskers are very sensitive! They are like fine radars – or sensors you have in cars that warn the cat when it’s getting into a tight spot! So forget the old wives tales of cats getting killed because they were curious – that was just an attempt to get you to stop asking questions. What the old wives really should have told you is to develop some cross-cultural curiosity – to be curious, not indifferent.

As children we are protected from all sorts of harm by our well-meaning parents – and in some cases causing more unnecessary harm. Asking too many question got us silenced, we were warned about “talking to strangers”, and overheard our close circles of reference talking (negatively) about others – us (inclusive) vs. them (exclusive). This “killed” our curiosity and limited our cross-cultural and interpersonal potential.


Because it could percieved as indifference. Like you don’t care. A given cold-ness.  Look at all the fear  or scaremongering going on in the world and ask yourself where that comes from?

Be Curious. Be open for new things. Be spontaneous. A good dose of cross-cultural curiosity will certainly add fun and success to your intercultural activities like cross-cultural collaboration, and cross-cultural communication. Different ideas and experiences are the doors to new “worlds” and opportunities which enable you (or your team/organisation) to grow. And remember, “Being Nice (most of the time, simply) Isn’t Enough!”.

Develop that curiosity – it never killed any cat!

There’s more on what you can do to cultivate cross-cultural collaboration through conversation following shortly!

An idea from Hester and her book “Being Nice Isn’t Enough!”


Vienna and Being Nice Isn’t Enough!


Being Nice Isn’t Enough!

I trust you’re enjoying the balmy days of a late European summer, or, the fresh new days of a Spring!

I personally fled the wet and wild Goa-n monsoon in June. It was simply too stormy, turbulent and grey for me. In exchange, I enjoyed the South African bush winter of crisp blue skies warmed by rays of sunshine. I also covered about 5000km’s in road tripping and rhino patrolling. It was a glorious time with family and friends. I had to add a bit of body padding with the help of delicious home-made bakes and cakes!

The last 2 months have also been very exciting in the sense that I have submitted my book proposal to a few publishers in the US and UK. I recieved – albeit very direct – guiding and encouraging feedback! I feel more confident (I have no choice because giving up at this point is certainly not an option) and currently re-working some of the pointers given by the publishers. Here’s a snippet:

Being Nice Isn’t Enough is an “undo” book (with illustrations by Karin Hofmann).

Have you ever left a meeting or negotiation wishing you could undo some of the things you said?
Have you ever walked out of an argument wishing you could undo your last statement? Do you feel perplexed, peeved or plagued by cross-cultural misunderstandings? Are you “rolling your inner eye” at seemingly sloppy operations, and getting vexed by others’ disregard for timelines and bogged down by long decision making processes? If yes it might be (high) time to undo some of your “tried and tested” ways of doing things.

Being Nice Isn’t Enough takes an untypical turn-things-on-their-head approach to why people do what they do in foreign and unfamiliar situations.  It illustrates what can go wrong and why you end up with unintended, undesired outcomes. It achieves this supporting you in undoing unhelpful habits, undoing unsupportive behaviour and un-cluttering communication which, if left unattended, lead to unprofitable cross-cultural business activities.

Being Nice Isn’t Enough, is an international business communication book for readers who work with culturally diverse teams or across borders. It is also written especially for the non-native English reader. Without dumb-ing it down too much Being Nice Isn’t Enough is written in a narrative and witty tongue-in-cheek style merging the author’s real time personal and business experiences with researched theory. It provides insights and answers to many cross-cultural questions.

How? You will be nudged into “undoing”

  • age-old survival strategies you’ve inherited, learned, cultivated which show up as your core values, beliefs and unconscious triggers about your assumed cultural identification
  • how you use your language and ideas on words like manipulate, trust, respect and nice
  • what you think you know about others and what engages and scares you and them.

Being Nice Isn’t Enough is packed with thought provoking “undos”, practical how to tips and tools as well as simple and fun illustrations.

By undoing a lot of what you have been thinking, saying and doing, this book is going to impact what you get as opposed to what you want. It will change the way you do business and how you communicate and connect with others – no matter who and no matter where.

Please hold your thumbs for my Being Nice Isn’t Enough!

I (really) look forward to seeing you between the 12th of September and the 9th of November in Vienna, and remember that my diary is almost full so if you would like me to spend some time with you, contact me now!

Stay safe and remember to keep sparkling!

SALT logo_n

Cross-Cultural Collaboration & Communication

Cross-Cultural Collaboration & Communication

Good manners, sharing a common language and Being Nice (simply) Isn’t Enough to ensure success in your cross-cultural collaboration.

Cross-cultural Collaboration 

  • goes deeper than a “when in Rome do as the Romans do” attitude
  • can only happen through connection and clarity in conversation
  • starts with looking at your own mindset, beliefs, fears and attitude.
  • means having a deeper understanding your own culture and values

This is easier said than done. Many well intended “universal” applications like being nice, treating everyone the same, sharing a common language and expert technical know-how – that worked out well in one setting – turn out badly or fail completely in another.

Expensive business suits, corporate smiles and fancy titles don’t guarantee collaboration. Success in your own domestic market doesn’t guarantee it in another. Breakdowns in communication and collaboration happen and well planned business dealings go wrong. Why?

Get your Intercultural Communication Competence brochure!

Cross-Cultural Savvy means you…

  • have core competencies in profiling people and cultures
  • strive for clarity in your communication
  • can focus on goals but are flexible on approaches
  • are able to balance transparency with harmony
  • are open to learn from others and appreciate diversity
  • inclusive in your dealings – no “us” vs. “them”
  • eager to co-create new ideas and solutions, and
  • can prevent, resolve  and create trust in conflict

What happens?

  • We activate the Connect. Communicate. Co-create. action by delivering content designed with passion!
  • We make your knowledge acquisition experiential and therefore memorable!
  • We create bespoke illustrated company relevant handbooks containing expert solutions for your unique requirements.

Who is this for?

You. Your team or company.Especially if you are an international project manager or business leader in charge of culturally diverse teams.

What you get

If you are interested in getting personal C-CS coaching contact Hester.

If you are interested in getting C-CS for your team or company you will get our:

  • Passion Planning Program. This includes bespoke solutions designed specifically for your company/team such as survey analysis, consultation, seminars/workshops and follow-up coaching sessions.
  • Storytelling – the Training Program which includes

    keynote talks, seminars/workshops boosted with real time graphic recording and visualisation of content if you want.

  • Visual Wording – the Handout Program which is a company relevant handbook containing your very own intercultural encounters, with practical how to’s and explanations, as well as illustrations.