Loneliness – Come book your ticket and travel with me to Mongolia! How can living in lonely open spaces effect your corporate culture?

Loneliness – Come book your ticket and travel with me to Mongolia! How can living in lonely open spaces effect your corporate culture?

Blog – 2  – Loneliness – Come book your ticket and travel with me to Mongolia! How can living in lonely open spaces effect your corporate culture? Mongolia, the country of wide open spaces

Have you ever been to a country where there are amazing open spaces and it takes hours and days to travel to the next city or inhabited place? There are many places like this across the world and I would like to take you on a trip with me and write about an amazing country with wide open spaces, Mongolia. I was fortunate enough to go and do consultancy in Mongolia to help setup a new business sector called Global Custody. I was asked to go to a country that had the status of being an emerging market. A country where there is not suppose to be much modernization and a culture of nomadic people. How did I deal and cope with this cultural difference? I was lucky enough in the late 1980’s to travel to Portugal and play basketball professionally there for 10 months and if you compare the USA to Portugal, it was like going back 30 years in time, and by the way, I loved it!  So I have pictured a country that was 30 years behind everyone. Well, I was wrong! What an amazing place and such progressive people. It was a fantastic experience and I truly believe that the Mongolians have a lot to give with regards to corporate culture and how we can work better together and not be so cut throat and competitive.

Mongolia, the country of Nomads and a life of being secluded. Loneliness can be a way of life so survival and being able to come together quickly and help each other is a key aspect of life. The temperatures are extreme and the country is stark and vast. When I have arrived in Ulaanbaatar, I have flow over empty rolling mountains and prairies. Amazing red, brown and yellow colors in the month of October. I have arrived at a basic airport around 1200 meters above sea level. To compare, half way up the Alps. I was picked up at the airport and knew that I would be driven to my hotel otherwise I had no clue what to expect. I had two drivers and we had fun speaking to each other but not knowing each others language. I always find it an experience when first taking a taxi or being driven to the hotel by local people. You really get a feel for the country. What I have seen is construction everywhere and a new 3 ish, 2 ish lane road connecting the airport to Ulaanbaatar. It is just like every other city and also like the middle of the USA. Ha, Ha!   I have realized, there are no road rules, at crossings there are no lights and if there are lights they are not used……It did remind me of Portugal from the time I have lived there. So my first impression was that there is a infrastructure being built. Plus when looking at the buildings, I could see reminders of the soviet time when Mongolia was a satellite country in the Soviet Union. Many buildings looked like buildings in Belarus and Poland. Sports are important since I have seen an new sport facility but in the streets they need traffic lights, what a mess and the cars are huge like in the USA. Big Mega SUV’s so normally the biggest car wins. I have asked why everyone has such large cars like in America, they have told me that they need the big cars to go into the countryside.

So now I am checked into my hotel and ready to start my adventure! What amazing people I have met! Now lets look at loneliness, Mongolia is a country of nomadic life. The people are connected amazingly to nature. I have done some sample coaching sessions and after getting them to connect to their emotions and feelings, boom, they are able to more forward with their ideas and actions. Its very different from coaching westerners who are quite often stuck in their heads and can not connect to their feelings.

At the end of my 2nd week, I was asked to go with the regulators to meet with the 2 top Mongolian banks to see how they are doing with setting up their business. If you like to prepare for meetings, this is not the place to practice planning. The people in Mongolia are used to calling people together at short notice and go into meetings using their curiosity and intuition. Trust and building relationships is very important to them and to me. So I went into the meetings discussing their objectives on the walk over to the banks and we had great meetings. It was about building relationships and sharing ideas. I have felt that I  have gone into a tribal meeting to see how everyone can be successful in setting up their business models.

Where I was really surprised, is when the top manager of the bank, and this manager is a woman, has asked me a very serious question. “What is your opinion with regards to every bank installing the same custody system? It would create scale-ability, decrease costs and help smaller banks come into the market.”  Ironically, they wanted to help the smaller banks who would normally become their competitor, a threat to their livelihood, have a chance to enter the market! Threat! how can you help your competitor? This is quite often what the western world thinks. I have thought about the question and have replied that what she is suggesting is very progressive and it will help them build the local business structure without relying on foreign companies or banks to enter the market and take over market share. This was an interesting conversation which could only be considered an innovative idea from an intelligent businesswoman. Well I was wrong, we went into another bank where the top business manager was also a woman and she asked me the same question. I was surprised and really became curious. In all of my years working in the banking sector, I not come across this kind of thinking. Of course banks design systems/software and then resell the system/software to other banks at a heavy cost. But it is not the first thought when setting up a business. ie lets pool our money together and help our potential competitors.

I became curious and my thoughts started to go to looking at their culture, environment and mentality have really gone back to this nomadic culture and loneliness. When at first glance, you would think nomadic, tribal people would be very lonely living in the middle of nowhere, but when you really think about it, the nomadic people have their families around them all the times, and they are able to trust and watch out for each other. They are a unit and when coming together with other tribes, the unit becomes bigger.  Plus the environment really promotes  teamwork. When the temperatures are -35 C, you would never leave your friends alone but always be sure that they have gotten home and in their homes safely.

I had an interesting situation, I have left the office and was walking down the street, a man wearing a suit was sleeping on sidewalk. I wanted to help, but I could not communicate with the man so I have looked around and have seen many people around so I was sure another person would walk by and help. I had many fears pop up and I was also afraid to open my heart and my intuition told me to walk on. The next day I have asked my attendees at my training course about the situation and their reply was that he was probably drunk. There are drinking issues in the city but if it was the winter, they would never let a friend pass out due to drinking because they could die due to the extreme cold.  I would say the same thing coming from Minnesota. I would always wait to be sure my friends enter their houses before leaving to be sure they are safe. if they are locked out in -35 C degrees, they would die.

So how can traveling to Mongolia and sharing insights and ideas help your corporate culture and your personal development? Are we in the western world actually creating loneliness and isolating ourselves from the opportunities of learning how to survive in new environments? I believe the corporate culture in Luxembourg has a lot of commonalities to Mongolian corporate culture which is why I was lucky enough to go and share my expertise and in turn have the opportunity to learn about Mongolian Culture.  I want to connect and create a sharing environment, sit around the yurt or campfire and share stories under the stars.  Let’s eliminate loneliness and start to create our nomadic tribe of experiential knowledge sharing Leaders.

Will you book a ticket and help me?




Picture taken by Virginia Anderson in Mongolia







Blog 1 – Loneliness

Loneliness is what stops people from pursuing your passions and dreams. Are you on an edge that has something holding you from taking that step which makes you happy?  Do you have everything but feel empty? I have these feeling quite often and I fulfill my loneliness with a constant search for knowledge and helping others. I love to share my experiences and have not really had a chance to do this publicly so I want to take this chance to write about my experiences, my wow moments, my oh no moments, my what am I doing moments and those moments that fulfill me on my path of life.  These experiences have shown me that everyone across the world loves to laugh and I feel that this sharing fulfills our lives and eliminates our loneliness.

My first story is about my work environments, I enjoy where I have worked over the years and there are lovely people working in all of the places. In my training courses we end up laughing quite often and have a chance to share our thoughts and ideas. It can be a wonderful environment. Plus the company colors are green which give a bright and growing atmosphere of growth.

Now why am I choosing to write about loneliness here in this environment? Well I do feel that the corporate culture across the world is a very lonely place. There are so many stigmas and heavy energy when you walk into these corporate offices. It is actually very difficult to walk into a corporate office and have a good feeling of warmth, trust and acceptance. There are so many places where you have to act a certain way and treat people in a certain way. It can be so aggressive, negative and overwhelming.

Let me give you an example that happened to me. Christmas holidays have just finished, everyone, no matter the religion, was able to have a renewal and come back into the office and if you worked this week between new year, you had the possibility of a quiet work environment. Well, I came into work and I have felt in my office and in other places a very black heavy energy. It is horrible and stressed me. I really did not like it and I could have jumped on the bandwagon and decided to also become negative. I must be honest, it was hard work. I have gotten irritated and frustrated but I was able to work through it and focus a bit on my work.

Plus I have realized my co-worker was stressed due to a key deliverable. It was as if my co-worker transformed into a deer caught in headlights. Eyes have reflected red and the co-worker was frozen and could not move which has shown me a developmental gap where my co-worker was not able to think laterally when they were stressed. This actually started to affect me since we are working on cross projects. I became frustrated and the black energy in the room became thick. Thoughts came up like, what is wrong with you…why have you not told me and why have you not done the work I have needed. Then I have realized, my co-workers gap, they cannot connect lateral dots when they are stressed, which is an opposite way to how I think. We have a miss match but I know I can help the colleague in the future. I come from a different culture and educational background so maybe I can give exposure to my world to help the colleague grow. It was hard to navigate the energy in the room because I could not help the employee at that point. It is difficult to let go and allow the energy to remain. The colleague needed to deliver and could not be distracted. It’s an exercise in letting go of your ego.

So I was lucky that 12:00 pm came around and I went to lunch with a colleague where we went to my favorite restaurant where the service is brilliant and the food is great! Totally different simple environment. This is not a fancy restaurant but a cafe environment. There are workers, suits and others eating there. The waiter is Portuguese and he knows exactly what I like to eat, the cook is French and the other behind the counter waitress is from Bulgaria.  I never feel any stress but an environment of a home cooking environment. It’s as if we are all sitting in a kitchen sharing! So this happened and I had a great lunch with a colleague and we shared our passions. I love experiential training and he loves board games. It’s an amazing match! What a great lunch of sharing and laughing! I realized that I have felt great and totally full since I have again eaten too much.  By the way, the restaurant’s name is Tribu……It was amazing to be able to lock into my feelings and be able to realize that I felt free and happy. It was a great way to re-enter work.

Re-entering work……..the black grey fog……I have had to meet with another colleague to get more information regarding some training needs in one department. Wow, I really feel sorry for this colleague. The colleague is new but absolutely miserable. I am wondering if the colleague is lonely. Before coming into the room, there is this blocking energy, it is cold, hard and uninviting. I don’t even want to stick my toe into the room. It is like testing the water when putting your toe into a glacier fed river. Ice cold!! I stepped over the edge, jumped in, felt my heart close and start to radiate stress pressure. I could not breathe correctly. The colleague, looked up with icicles being sent out with daggers. I became strong with my armor and asked with a smile, ‘can I ask you a question? ‘The ice monster that has risen up shrunk a bit and said ‘yes’.  So I began to explain my question and there was only negative energy coming at me. I did not take the bait and realized the negative energy had nothing to do with me and I closed the door and asked very simply ‘are you ok?’ The conversation transformed and the co-worker has turned back into them-self and their eyes softened. I have started to see the person again and our hearts opened. It was as if a war zone has transformed into a lovely running stream in the mountains. Things became possible even-though we still had to climb to the top.

From this experience, I have really been able to see that corporate culture creates isolationism, fear, frustration and aggression. I have chosen not to be corporate but to show to people that I care. I do not need to act like the negative stressed person and take my stress out on other people (it would be the easy way out and also ironically the acceptable way)  Rude aggression does not show strength but in actuality weakness. I was also a professional basketball player and the phrase trash talking is a way to try to distract a person from performing. It seems to be the way of the corporate world these days. So I want to challenge you to stop trash talking and don’t take the bait when someone trash talks to you. Keep focus and help the other person realize their full potential like what myself and my colleague have done at Lunch. Choose to create your green environment and help me change corporate culture! A positive person will perform much better than a negative person and with positive competition, and not toxic competition we can challenge each other and by thinking laterally, share ideas so we can make changes to our environment and eliminate the loneliness.

Keep an eye out for my next blog…….have you ever been to Mongolia?? This is a corporate culture that the western world can learn from!