I’ve mentioned culture a couple of times here now, and pretended that I’m an expert on other cultures. I like to think that, at the very least, I’ve got some international experience, one of the things that I don’t think I’ve mentioned here yet is the culture of “Australia”.
First up, let’s make something clear. Australia is a long way from anywhere. If you live in Sydney, you’re at least a 3 hour flight from the nearest country. And that’s New Zealand, which, whilst even more isolated than Aus, shares a lot of the same foibles. If you want to get to a “different” country, strap in for a 5 hour ride to Bali, 7 hours to Singapore, 9 hours to Tokyo, 13 hours to LA or about 26 hours to Europe.
I have once spent more time in transit that I have actually doing work: I had a 2 day meeting in Germany. 72 hours in transit; 60 hours in location.
So, long story short, Australia is a long way away. It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s a long way away.
As a result, Australia has developed a bit of a culture of its own.
Working in a multinational, you get exposed to a lot of different cultures. But it seems that no matter where you go, Australians remain a bit of a strange breed. This originally seemed odd to me. Growing up on the border of Sydney is pretty much all I know, so it never seemed exotic to me. In fact, I have had to create a whole separate Facebook account to quarantine my acquaintances that are avid Trump supporters. That’s right.Trump supporters. In rural Australia. Go figure.
I’m lucky enough to have met Europeans, Englishmen, Americans and pretty much every kind of “Asian” that you can think of. And, whilst my forebears have come up with policies like the “White Australia Policy” (this was actually a thing), and I can claim heritage to the Second Fleet, my personal opinion is that the Australian “culture” is more Asian than it is European. And, to be honest, that even applies to most of the “Australian Racists” that you can meet. If, you know, meeting Australian Racists is your thing.
Anyway, I meet a lot of people that instantly pigeonhole you as English. And, to be honest, I’ve developed a bit of a British accent when speaking so that international people will understand me a little better. But there are some things that the British do that make me go “Huh?”
It’s the same with America. I’m now a business person. I’m doing OK, and I help develop strategy. I’ve invested in start-ups. But I still believe in universal health care. I think that there are some things that we should all pay for via the government. That includes science and education.
And most of the world agrees. Germany had free university. Australia lets you pay off your tuition when you make enough money to do so.
But, I also agree with coming to a win-win situation. This doesn’t mean giving a massive discount, or buying something at a higher price than necessary. There are a lot of sales people around the world that think that “win-win” actually means that they should either get as much money from their clients as possible – or go well above and beyond what they need to do to get a deal.
To be honest, it’s a little indescribable. When I’m pressed for an answer, I really push to say that I’m Australian – but that doesn’t mean that I’m British, American, or Asian. I would say that most of us sit in a bit of a grey zone between the three. There are strengths and weaknesses to that.