Adopting a Global Mindset

I’ve always considered myself to be a very global person. I spent my childhood overseas, I speak three languages and I work at a global communications agency. I’m totally global!

How wrong I am.

After seven years in New York, I moved to Ketchum’s London office. As a member of the research team in New York, I had done my fair share of surveys, measurement and desk research, but these projects almost always focused on brands and consumers in the U.S.

As soon as I arrived in London, I found myself transported into a completely different way of doing things. And even though I always thought I was global, I found I had a lot to learn. I did phone interviews with social entrepreneurs in five different countries across four continents, scoped surveys to be fielded in 17 markets and determined the best way to approach a media analysis that needed to be done in six different languages — none of which I speak. Me? Global? Ha!

So what does it mean to be global when it comes to research and measurement? And how do you adopt a global mindset (click to tweet)?

It goes well beyond working overseas. Experience is key. Living and working in a different country helps, and being exposed to doing things differently makes it easier. By being in a different country, you’re forced to think outside your comfort zone, taking into account different brands, ways of thinking, cultural considerations and more. What’s key is developing an openness to things being different than what you are used to, and to embrace those differences and learn from them. When someone sees something different from what they do at home and says, “That’s weird,” they are not quite getting the idea of a global mindset. If instead they say, “Wow, that sure is interesting,” they are well on their way down the road of global thinking.

Working Across Geographies and Culture:

With experience comes awareness. When I scope projects, cultural differences are critical: Will the consumer have heard of this brand? Will they be familiar with this word — or will they be offended by it? Will this phrasing resonate with them, or does something have to be tweaked? Will online surveys work, or will interviews have to be face-to-face?

And that is exactly why it’s so important to adopt a global mindset: Doing so ensures the best possible results for clients. They want to understand who their target audience is, what they think about their brand and what messages they need to communicate to best affect that audience. You need global tools, knowledge and connections to give them the best possible answers.

One way to think global is to be in the right places that help open your mind; the events that epitomize working across geographies and cultures. A great example is the AMEC International Measurement Summit, which is being held June 15-16 in London this year. Bringing together communications and measurement professionals from all over the globe allows for a free-flowing exchange of ideas and a chance for like-minded people to discuss projects they’ve worked on, successes they’ve had and mistakes they’ve learned from.

A global mindset requires continuous learning and practice. Because our world is always evolving, our mindset and approach to research and measurement must do so as well. Annual conferences like AMEC are the perfect opportunity to come together in one place from across the globe, discuss what’s changed in the past year and anticipate changes to come.

But to truly benefit from a global conference, you have to approach it with an open mindset, and a goal of wanting to come away learning things about the application of our craft in different locations and cultures.

Although we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, we speak the same language when it comes to research and measurement, and share a common goal: always doing our best work. Adopting a global mindset helps us do that.

A version of this article can be found on the PRSA website.