9 Key Lessons From 9 Countries in 5 Weeks – Part 2

9 Key Lessons From 9 Countries in 5 Weeks – Part 2

Last month we shared business and sales lessons picked up from our 2023 travels to Italy, Vatican City, France, and the UK. (Click here for that article). Today we’ll share insights gained from travelling to Switzerland, Greece, China, New Zealand and Australia, including how to build a vibrant, profitable business team.

Enjoy the lessons we learned …


  • Visiting close friends and family in Switzerland, where I mostly grew up, was a joy. 
  • I re-learned the ruthless efficiency that Switzerland prides itself on: the transport system (buses, trains, trams, even ferries!) that runs like clockwork, the way each commune (suburb) operates and the country as a whole. It works well, ruthlessly so.
  • Lesson for businesses: Switzerland is so well planned and organised, that it almost runs itself, ask anyone who has lived there. They have systems, laws and processes for everything. The population tends to ‘self adjudicate’ within those tight rules, without questioning them. 
  • In business, an equivalent topic is procedures manuals or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). When written, then shared, then implemented, then reviewed, these can be business-changing. 
  • However, if you have them written but there is no ACCOUNTABILITY for people to follow them, then that’s a big problem. The moment your team doesn’t follow the rules set, there may as well be no rules, I.E. anarchy. Anarchy isn’t good. 
  • So, step one is having every team leader responsible for creating SOPs for their departments. 
  • Step two is ensuring there is a culture of accountability in place to stick to those plans/procedures. (This is a common reason that we’re hired to coach sales teams: they mostly know what to do, even how to do it, but they don’t execute with accountability, causing them to lose thousands). 



  • We spent most of our time on the ancient island of Milos, home to the oldest Christian Catacombs in the world and likely the location of one of the Apostle Paul’s 3 shipwrecks. 
  • Taking the time to watch the Greek people as a whole, reminded me of the need to rest, and to get your work-life balance in order, despite the fact that I was coaching people online on Zoom from 9 pm to 3 am on many nights there!
  • Lesson for businesses: with their passion for life, for family and for extroverted communication, what I respect deeply about the Greek people that we met was their focus on work-life balance. They weren’t a slave to the almighty dollar. They enjoyed their life and their role. They took time with customers and with friends. They prioritised time with family over business. They were happy. 
  • Having completed a bilingual honours degree in International Business, I studied each of the original European Commission member countries. I know that many people suggested at the time that Greece wouldn’t survive EC membership for many reasons, in part due to their social priorities and work ethic when compared to say, the German people. 
  • However, in a post-pandemic world, I’ve seen countless businesses and individuals re-prioritise their lives with more of a focus on “balance” and “joy”. I commend that re-focus. A well-rested and happy person tends to deliver value to a business and its customers for longer. 
  • You see, another global trend post-pandemic has been the lack of passionate, experienced, skilled labour. Every business relies on the quality and skills of its workforce to compete. Over 95% of workers deliver their greatest value in the final year or two of their careers, due to their experience. Hence, if any businesses were to retain quality staff members for just one extra year per person, the economic gain to the business would likely be huge.
  • Hence, I recommend that managers and staff members alike work together to ensure everyone has more “balance’ in their working month, to maximise their happiness, motivation and long-term commitment to the business. Everyone wins from that. 



    • When my wife and business partner of 19 years Jo asked to see the Great Wall of China, I agreed, having seen it myself way back in 1997. We don’t like doing “the normal” in both business and in life so we booked for a 5-hour hike/scramble over some of the steepest and broken-down parts of the wall. A little hair-raising at times, and certainly challenging, it meant the reward (the views) felt greater. 
    • The same goes for business: the harder the fight and the bigger the effort, the greater the feeling of satisfaction after the win is achieved. If things were always easy, EVERYONE would be winning. In fact, on our walk, for the first 3 hours we only passed 2 other families, hence the views were both spectacular and personal. 


  • Lesson for businesses: the Great Wall of China was built to last. It was built for survival. It was built out of past, traditional experiences. 


  • I keep seeing business owners and managers jump to the next “fad” in business, in marketing, and even in sales: overly engineered websites, Six Sigma, TQM, Leen, Kaizen, Bebo, myspace, foursquare, sales process engineering, all spring to mind in an instant. 
  • However, not all receive the full benefits of the new approach, often because they pick an installation partner who has a conflict of interest with the installation: they make more money, the more their client commits to the new way of doing things. 
  • Likewise, many businesses forget to calculate the risk of the change itself: it takes your team’s focus away from the traditional focus on simply serving customers well. 
  • Furthermore, many businesses jump onto the next ‘focus’ long before they’ve reaped the full benefits of the previous initiative they implemented. 
  • We’re all for new technology that works: we’ve used 6 different CRMs and 10 different online learning software over the past 19 years. However, we never forget the traditional goal of our business: we are here to serve our clients, and the more we help them grow, the more we benefit ourselves. We win BECAUSE our clients win, end of story.  
  • It would be good for teams to remember that point before jumping to the next fad. 


New Zealand: 

  • Coming back to our beloved New Zealand was great, despite loving the lessons from life on the road for a month. 
  • The freedoms in life and in business that we enjoy are a privilege. We saw needless amounts of red tape, rules and processes in many of the countries we visited: especially Switzerland, France and China. They seemed to get in the way of people and businesses being able to fully thrive. 
  • Lesson for businesses: get out of the way of your team achieving great things! 
  • If your recruitment process is right and your team is aligned to strong core values that align with the business vision, GET OUT OF THE WAY! Trust your team. Let them make their own decisions. Even if they make mistakes 2% of the time, it’s likely that what they get right 98% of the time will more than makeup for those losses. 
  • I’ve worked with sales teams where we’ve trained and empowered an inside sales team (sometimes called customer service or customer care team) to make sales decisions up to $15,000, from a previous threshold of just $5000. As a result, they are more engaged, empowered and motivated. Likewise, the external (on the road) sales team is less distracted by fewer opportunities, allowing them also to step up and win much bigger, more complex, projects. It’s a win-win. 
  • Recruit right, build values, and trust more… the business and team will thank you. 



  • Heading back ‘over the ditch’ to Australia is always a thrill, especially having lived there for 4 years, and pre-pandemic spending 12 weeks per year there for work. There’s a vibrancy to Australia that is hard to describe: maybe it’s the same economic vibrancy that a growing America enjoyed for a century or more. 
  • I usually try to go for a walk early morning in Australia, especially in its bigger cities. You can literally feel the energy and confidence in future growth. It inspires me. 
  • Lesson for businesses: make sure you have energy and vibrancy in your team. 
  • If we’re working hands-on with a business, we often move from helping with their sales & marketing strategy to helping with their core values. Though most teams have core values, over 90% of those we’ve met over the years don’t fully “live by” those values. The result of this is that long term those values are often redundant. 
  • Another thing we see is that in the early days of a business, the business owners are passionate, driven and engaged with every customer personally. However, as their team grows and as they recruit new staff and managers, that drive and vibrancy can wane. 
  • That’s where values that inspire and excite the team are critical, that’s where the right recruitment is essential. 
  • Equally, if the team stagnates in their mindset and skills, so does the energy about the place. No team that we’ve met around the world wants to keep hearing the same old stories from the business owner! They need fresh ideas, fresh energy, fresh thinking. 
  • You need energy and vibrancy to win long-term. They aren’t fixed things, they need ongoing work and effort to maintain.  


Summary lessons: 


  • In business, an equivalent topic is procedures manuals or SOPs
  • I respect deeply about the Greek people that we met because of their focus on work-life balance
  • It was built out of past, traditional experiences. 


  1. Lesson for businesses: get out of the way of your team achieving great things! 
  2. Lesson for businesses: make sure you have energy and vibrancy in your team. 


If you missed the Part One article, with lessons from Italy, Vatican City, France and the UK, CLICK HERE.

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