What have I done ( and still do) to stand out and live in Denmark

Before I start this new article, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who reached out to me after I shared my last article, and to tell you how humbled I am.

I had no idea that sharing my article would impact so many people. My LinkedIn and WhatsApp inboxes were cluttered with messages from people from all over the world, thanking me for sharing my story.

Thank you!

You can read my article about mental health here and how I found out I was suffering from depression here

But what next?

The reaction I got from my article got me thinking:

when was the last time you procrastinated or avoided making a hard decision?

In my last article, I spoke about discovering I suffered from depression – which is all fine when we are self-aware about a particular issue we undergo (see box for a reminder of what happened to me in 2019) – but what happens next?

Belly up

In Brazilian Portuguese, we have an expression called ‘empurrar com a barriga’, which in literal terms means to push something with your belly.

In simple terms, it means to procrastinate.

You see: becoming aware of a particular challenge that is bugging you is very important, but things won’t change much if you don’t take action.

In fact, nothing will change. Personally I (still) get frustrated when I see some folks expecting others to decide for them.

Nothing comes your way for free.

The beautiful and challenging thing about becoming part of the adult world is: no-one will tell you what to do, and no decisions will be made for you.

Action is everything

You may work consciously or subconsciously to have someone decide your destiny for you, but I don’t think that is sustainable.

There’s no doubt that 2019 has been a transformational and turbulent year for me – let’s face it, I could have spent it beating around the bush.

But that would have made the price of not taking any decision (which is a decision by the way) much higher for me.

For 2020, I hope you too can take the necessary action for whatever you’ve set as a priority in your life.

Hard decisions in 2019:

• Left Denmark and admitted to myself I had a problem I had to look carefully at

• Visited Psychiatrist number 1, but was not too fond of his style

• Visited Psychiatrist number 2, whom I liked

• Got referred to go to a psychologist and began cognitive therapy.

• Returned to Denmark

• Left (2nd) startup I co-created, left partner and finished a contract with 2 major clients

• Agreed with the ex-wife that we should divorce — the hardest and most complex decision of my life to this day

Published By Carlos monteiro

You can find me on Linkedin

This post first appeared on the Copenhagen Post where I have a column called Give Yourself a Chance

Disclaimer:

This text is not meant to make you feel sorry for me. Quite the contrary. I hope you can seek professional help if you find some of the symptoms I’m about to share with you

2019 marks 6 years since I first stepped in Odense as a resident.

Since I got here I never had a job, and it looks crazy when I share that with other people.

I created one for me, instead.

When I look at my professional accomplishments, I can tell you: 

I’m really proud of myself, and yes, I’m freaking good at what I do.

In my six years here I refused to do what most foreigners do:

  • Learn Danish ( at lær Dansk),
  • (perhaps) go to university ( to study all over again….)
  • So only and eventually, find a ( low level) entry job, that could or would grant me ” safety”.

To be clear: If you’ve followed the path I just described, you should know I have an immense amount of respect for you. It simply wasn’t for me.

I could never see myself complying with those unwritten “rules” since I thought I already possessed a very decent degree from an excellent university in Brazil and I did not arrive here green, meaning without any work experience. The fact was that I carried quite a decent work baggage with me.

But there are a few cracks in the picture

So, during these SIX years in Denmark this is what happened ( on the professional side):

  • Received an offer ( 1.5 million USD) from Brazilian multinational to be bought out of the company that I started out of a blog;
  • Received four ( insane) job offers,
  • Built incredible relationships with people I’d never conceived it would be possible.

Without moving here, I can tell you for sure.: None of the above would’ve happened. I will say it again — none of it! Moving here has forced me to get out of my comfort zone.

But it is not all flowers. I always find it a challenge saying no to new projects. I also tend to have several spinning plates with me at all times. Recently I’ve been struggling quite a bit with my feeling and it started to take a toll on my family.

Smartphone Swings

Over the last two years, I’ve noticed a few things:

Firstly, I use my smartphone frequently. It is fair to say I have a smartphone addiction.

On top of it, I began waking up every day at 4 am. At first, I thought it was because I needed to take a leak. Later, I began questioning that hypothesis. I’ve also noticed that whenever I woke up, I’d check my phone, first thing in the morning. A big “no-no”, according to several mental health specialists. 

My mood, due to my lack of sleep, and my anxious behavior started to change. I became short-tempered and prone to sudden outbursts.

The picture, all of sudden, was no longer so pretty.

Cathrine, my wife was (rightfully so) upset with me. The children also felt it. My mind seemed to be tricking me at times at work, and I wasn’t feeling so motivated to work. It’s like my mind and thoughts would get foggy and for some reason, I’d get tired and would feel my eyes getting heavy, drowsy.

Time OUT

So why do I write this post?

Well, I’ve been in Brazil for roughly 45 days. The reason was to seek out for professional help, so I could start a journey to take back my mental health back in order.

  • I’ve been undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy, learned how to practice transcendental meditation, relaxation techniques and visited a psychiatrist. All of that in just 45 days.

All I wanted was to avoid was medication. I promised myself that I would do whatever it took to avoid it.

In the end, my psychiatrist thought it was best not to give any sort of controlled medication, BUT I really need to start following routines we built together

He basically said that my nature is to be a wired person. People like me can have a tendency to suffer from anxiety, which can then lead to depression.

What is really important?

I’m at the beginning of a long journey. I can tell you, however, that I’m already ALOT better from when I left Denmark, more than a month ago.

In case you feel like you haven’t been sleeping much or you have weird/sudden mood swings, or you also feel you have thoughts that are awkward ( feeling sad, tired, demotivated)

Perhaps it is time you sought professional help.

We are living in an age where things seem to go faster than ever. Slowing down and paying attention to your mental health is a powerful exercise.

No work or money substitutes a healthy relationship with the people you love and who are close to your heart.

#mentalhealth #meaning #purpose #lifeReport this

Published by Carlos Monteiro

You can find me on Linkedin In

This story first appeared on The Copenhagen Post where I have a column and write for.

When I started my company Biassa three years ago, like many foreigners who settle in Denmark, I was struggling to find my feet here.

Getting proactive
It all began when I started sharing content from my blog on LinkedIn, and a few companies approached me to ask how much I knew about the Brazilian business environment.

It was then that I realised I could start ‘selling’ my consulting services – a much better option than waiting for the ‘perfect job’ to appear.

The journey hasn’t been easy, but it’s been interesting, as I enjoy talking to all sorts of people from all walks of life. They energise me, give me a different perspective and at times help me with my blind spots.

Getting practical
I get contacted by many foreign students who are either looking for advice or a job. Invariably they’ve just finished their master’s and have spent their time doing a few voluntary jobs and unpaid internships.

I tell them to get practical – to ask themselves: What are you good at? What would you like to accomplish? What is your dream?

And then I ask them whether they have a LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn can be crucial, from sharing short-form posts to articles. Many users, for example, are unaware it has a whole section where you can share slides.

Starting a blog is a good option. That way, when you share content you’ll direct people back there so they can develop a better idea about you.

Getting pragmatic
Maybe I’m being too pragmatic or even conservative, but I’m not sure having a master’s degree means a whole lot nowadays.

We live in a glorious era in which middlemen are vanishing across the globe. For example, have you seen the number of CPG brands that are heading directly to the consumer? Soon we will no longer have a need for headhunters.

This year alone, I’ve received three job offers – in Denmark from Danish companies; no middlemen!

Forget perfect
We live in an age in which we can all be visible. And more importantly, we can be heard.

Remember: the internet is indeed a miracle, but the only way to explore and take advantage of it is by taking action.

So, are you prepared to roll up your sleeves, get practical and start to work, or are you just going to carry on waiting for the ‘perfect job’ to turn up?

Yesterday, 2nd of November of 2018 I was invited to speak for a class of international students in Copenhagen, at the Copenhagen Business College.

These students came from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh

When I asked the teacher/tutor who contacted me for more more information and to brief me a bit about their background, she shared that most of them were enrolled in a programme that serves as a pre-masters degree or as most formally known as Graduate Certificate of International Business.

Speaking to students from such different nationalities and backgrounds was a blessing. These folks are fighters, that decided to come all the way from their countries not only to experience a very different culture as well as to sharpen their skills.

About my speech.

The name of the teacher who found me is Nuria Lopez. She is a very sympathetic woman, formerly from Spain who lived for over 15 years in the U.K with her husband and children, who were born in the U.K. Over the past four years she’d been residing in Denmark.

Nuria found me through an article I wrote for the Copenhagen Post, an English publication mostly directed at foreigners based in Denmark.

In the article I rant about the need for getting practical rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity to start executing something. Anyway, back to my speech yesterday.

The speech was about my journey to Denmark and how Biassa was born, I covered the following points:

  • Marrying A Dane in Brazil
  • What I’ve learned as an Intern at the Danish Consulate and Siemens
  • Why I built Denmark Brazil.com
  • How I landed my first customer because of content ( and Linkedin)
  • Why it is more important to do things rather than wait for the “perfect opportunity.”
  • The importance of generating content in our day and age
  • How being rejected over three hundred times via email as a job seeker fired me up and helped me learn how to use Linkedin more adequately

So after framing my ” big picture”  we started our chat.

I was impressed that they had already read my blog posts and had prepared a list with over 30 questions about entrepreneurship, life in Denmark, work-life balance, dealing with rejection, how to start a business, social media, etc.

I was humbled and genuinely thankful to Nuria to be able to share a bit of my journey with them. Unfortunately, I had not much time after the presentation to sit down with each one of them and learn about their adventures as well.

The respect and curiosity that they have shown towards my history are genuinely humbling.

If I could share one main take away to anyone who’s reading this text I’d say:

Get rid of the negative people in your life. They will take you to some dark places. When living in a foreign country, you will more than ever to be strong and to look for positive vibes. It is quite common to fall on the trap of finding someone from the same country where you come from, then start whining about why you are where you are and how better your country of origin is. Avoid this at any cost. Look for the doers, for the positive ones and for those who are going to lift you up.

You will be doing a huge favor to yourself.

“Time is finite but, unlike money, time is also replenished every second,”

Seth Godin

So as I wish you ‘Happy New Year’, dear readers, here’s hoping you can reach all the goals you’ve set this coming year.

Also I’d like to wish you all a year full of good vibes, positive attitude and, yes, opportunities!

Being an admirer of Godin adds value to my life in a profound manner. I try to keep up to date with his writing, but it’s not always possible.

Too much time

Time wasn’t a problem three and a half years ago when I first arrived in Denmark with my wife Catherine and Ines – at the time our only child.

At that time, we were living at my in-laws and time was passing at a tortoise’s pace – like we like to say in Brazil – and my primary concern was how was I going to find a job.

The only email in my inbox was either some sort of spam or a ‘thank you’ for subscribing to a new cloud-based service from the likes of Google Drive.

Yes, not only did we have plenty of time, but those were desperate times!

 

Too little time

But things started looking up in 2014, firstly due to the arrival of Cecilia, our two-year-old ‘rocket-fire’ daughter.

By then a lot was happening with me professionally. Time by then as a resource had started to become less available.

And now here I am in 2017 looking back at was has probably been one of my busiest years and the best year I’ve ever had professionally.

Making better use of my time has now accordingly become my new year resolution.

So how do you perceive your time today and what are your new year resolutions for 2017?

“Through my network and knowledge I will connect, develop & drive high impact companies to contribute to and enable economic development in Brazil.” 

 

Finding Meaning

Recently, during a dinner with my wife,we were talking about the process of finding our true purpose in our work life.

When talking to people, and digging a little deeper than the usual small talk, I have noticed that many have no idea about their purpose in life.

Clarity

The upside of investing time in finding purpose in your life is having clarity about your goals and values. The actions you take on a daily basis start making a lot more sense.

I believe that people with a strong sense of purpose, will thrive, simply because they have a north that won’t easily change due to external factors, i.e: Contrary opinion of friends, family pressure, etc.

Know yourself

Asking myself (and friends) where they’d notice me making a difference and finding out what my real talents are, have been crucial to define my work and life purpose.

Actions to take you even further

Tony Robbins says that whenever you take an action you create an emotion. In this sense, when you don’t take actions, you will lack progress and lack of progress diminish your emotions and ultimately you will end up having a dull and meaningless life.

Finding answers

Finding your mission, purpose and values isn’t an easy task and nobody, except yourself, can help you in doing so. The best way to get started is by giving yourself a small goal, i.e: asking yourself what are your core values and listing them. That is an action.

So, what kind of action are you taking today, that will enable you to build a better tomorrow for yourself and the society you live in?

I have

just finished watching a documentary about a Danish chef who is acclaimed in the title to be the world’s best.

‘Verdens Bedste Chef’ tells the story of Rasmus Kofoed (and his assistant) aspiring to win the biennial Bocuse d’Or – the culinary equivalent of the Olympics, the world championship in cooking.

From a motivational perspective, watching Kofoed’s bid to eventually triumph in 2011 (after finishing runner-up in 2007) was both absorbing and interesting.
His approach lends itself very well to modern business thinking.

Preparation is key
Rafael Berti (my business partner) and I put a lot of effort, into our business presentations. One of the things we have discovered is that if we don’t surprise our clients or show them more than they are expecting to know, we most likely won’t get the job.

Our competition is fierce, so we literally try to give away as much knowledge as we possibly can because if that potential client likes what /he heard, they will be interested in talking again, and we want to keep that conversation going.

As is focus
Kofoed showed an impressive focus – both when he had to lead his team and when he was just working with his assistant. Rasmus is highly skilled, no doubt about it, but whenever he is cooking one dish, he is completely focused on that dish. Once he finishes that one dish, he then moves on to a new one.

When I started Biassa here in Denmark, I initiated my activities as a freelance business consultant. I had no clue whatsoever which sector or key activities I was going to be focusing on. As the company grew over time, I have been obliged to focus my attention on the key activities I believe I’m really good at.

It will pay off
Invest in preparation. Yes, it is worth your while and Focus on what you are very good at.

 

My name is Carlos Monteiro and I’m the CEO and founder of Biassa.

Biassa connects, develops and help groundbreaking companies to grow and to enable economic development in Brazil

I also write a business column on the Copenhagen Post every 6th week. You can find out more texts like this here ” Give yourself a chance “

Recently, a major Danish media vehicle hired a Syrian refugee as an intern and started a discussion about ‘How to make it in Denmark’. My impression was that the goal of its series of articles was to discuss whether Denmark offers enough opportunities for immigrants and refugees, and in general to bring more nuances to the topic. It certainly needs it.

Hard all over the world
Before moving to Denmark with my wife (who’s Danish), she chose to be in Brazil – to live, study and find work while I was finishing my studies. There, she faced many of the challenges that I have been facing here. Being a foreigner in Brazil was absolutely not easy for her.

So this discussion about Denmark being particularity ‘closed’ compared to other countries is to me extremely shallow, tedious and perhaps to a certain extent not true.

The safe bet
Foreigners in Denmark shouldn’t expect to make it ‘as easily’ as in their home countries for the simple reason that people in this case, the Danes, will more often go for the ‘safe bet’, or at least with what they are familiar with.

Foreigners have to prove themselves more, or they have to stand out. That’s how it is whether you live in Denmark, Brazil or Australia. I don’t believe this is solemnly a Danish standard.

Drop the victim mentality
It’s always very convenient to become a victim when all the odds seem so challenging.

To me integration means moving forward, day-by-day, knowing and reminding yourself of your real purpose, and getting out of your comfort zone. Actively take part in activities, challenge yourself, and be humble enough to ask for help from other people, whether they are Danes or not.

All of the above reflects my personal opinion, but with this said I’m also curious to know: what are you doing to make it in Denmark?

If still you think LinkedIn is a waste of time, your better think again.

Carlos Monteiro,CEO and founder of Biassa.

Social Selling…

Have you ever heard of the term ‘social selling’? According to its practitioners, it’s a new way of selling that doesn’t need you to work ‘in sales’ or to be a sales expert. Your main focus could be human resources or accounting, but you can still socially sell.

Either way, social selling is here to stay and it’s the best and easiest way to position yourself professionally in Denmark (or whatever country you may live in).

Gateway to the person

So, after sending 300+ job applications once I got my visa in Denmark, I finally came to realise that before sending out any applications, I was checking ALL the companies I theoretically wanted to apply for on LinkedIn. So after striking my head against some hard walls, it was time to change my strategy.

First off, to paraphrase an old saying: It’s not enough to be good, it has to look good. So make sure your profile picture on LinkedIn looks good. I’m not saying you have to look like a top model, but looking professional surely makes a difference.

Put your picture on Photofeeler.com where people will vote anonymously about what they think. It enables you to evaluate how competent, likeable or influential other people find you. I tested it, and the difference in results is amazing.

Connect and engage

Whilst building your personal brand, it’s important to contribute. When I moved here, I had no idea where to start. Perhaps you know better.

Choose a sector you like and start connecting with professionals you would like to work with (either as a work peer, or as a service provider), but don’t be salesy. Start participating in the LinkedIn groups where these professionals participate. Share contributions, insights and comments.

Think outside of the box

Don’t do what hundreds of other people like yourself are doing. Everyone will be applying for the same jobs as you, using the same old traditional tactics.

Building your personal brand on LinkedIn might take some time (and it’s a never-ending task), but if you apply some of the tactics I have just shared, you will be able to become a lot more valuable, regardless of your work field.

Hello,

This is the new article I have written for the Copenhagen Post. A Copenhagen-based newspaper, mostly addressed to foreigners living in Denmark.

If you are the type that likes to blame society for your failures, please don’t bother reading it through. If, however, you like to engage in a constructive discussion, I would love to hear your comments, and also suggest you to check and support Foreignerd.

Foreignerd is a independent initiative that seeks to find and tell  inspiring stories from “real” foreigners living in Denmark.

Asger Aamund, your show could be so much better!

Tired old stereotypes!
I write to you as I have followed a DR TV series in which you partake on a journey to understand some of the reasons why Danish integration programs in this country have failed.

You follow a handful of foreigners who are all finding it difficult to get a job in Denmark. I don’t blame them. But it seems that you are following the same old negative story path and a quite stereotypical image of how foreigners are helpless people.

More success stories
I’m wondering what would happen if you and DR dared to show foreigners who are succeeding in this country. Because they do actually exist. And also non-westerners. Couldn’t it be interesting to see what actions, tactics and type of personality these foreigners have in common?

I am a foreigner from Brazil who has spent almost three years in Denmark, and no, it has never, ever been an easy path here. I was never helped by anyone but my supportive families here in Denmark and in Brazil.

Looking back, I would have loved to know some of these stories: of how other foreigners managed to think outside of the box, and also outside of the Danish integration system.

I believe there is a need to hear and see the stories of all kinds of foreigners. We all need them as role models and an inspiration. What we don’t need is one more lifted finger from a well-respected Dane.

Highly motivational
I’m not alone in this viewpoint. Foreignerd is a project initiated by a Dane who I know well (my wife), whose mission is to share the stories of Denmark-based ordinary foreigners with spectacular stories.

These stories of successful foreigners can inspire, motivate and, ultimately, contribute to a better and richer society, which I believe is in the interest of both you and I.

For all foreigners looking for some inspiration, I highly recommend you take a look at the Foreignerd Facebook page.

My name is Carlos Monteiro.

I’m the CEO and founder of Biassa. Biassa is a Business development company focused in Connecting, Developing and Growing High Performing Tech Companies in Brazil & the LATAM markets. Biassa was born out of a small blog, called denmarkbrazil.com where I shared interviews and insights about the Brazilian market.

I’m also a Foreigner in Denmark, and as such, I believe we have to take responsibility for ourselves, and find ways to be independent, entrepreneurial and creative in the society we live in.

You are lost welcome to drop me a line at cm@biassa, to follow my column at the Copenhagen Post or the articles I write about Brazil and the Brazilian market here on Linked In.