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

My name is Carlos. A Brazilian happily living in Odense, Denmark.

I have a degree in Business Administration from PUC, in Sao Paulo. I have also studied economics for three years, until deciding that the marginal cost of pursuing economics was higher than the marginal happiness derived from it.

(That was a bad economics joke.)

Why Denmark?

In my past life, I worked for the Danish Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My job was to grow international links by encouraging Danish businesses to tap into the Brazilian market.

Every six months, the Consulate would take on Danish interns to t̶r̶a̶i̶n̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶r̶m̶y̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶o̶b̶e̶d̶i̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶f̶f̶e̶e̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶r̶s̶ complement their studies with real-world experience. Among one of the groups was Cathrine – my wife. I’m sure you’ve read your share of love stories, so I will spare you mine. Cathrine and I have been together for 4.5 years now. With her around, I eventually decided to give Denmark a shot.

Footballs, Wrists and Tennis Rackets.

I lucked out in the gene lottery and was born into a loving family, who have always given me the best opportunities in life.

I’ve had the privilege of studying in private schools. I’ve had the chance to travel and absorb the world from a very early stage in my life. I am very grateful for all the blessings I’ve enjoyed in my past – most Brazilian youth doesn’t have the chances I had in my childhood.

As a kid, I have always been pretty sporty and active. At 11 years old, my life-goal was a professional career in football, like most kids in Brazil. I actually managed to get pretty good, and got recruited for Brazil’s ‘National Youth Team.’ We played in Chile, the US, Sweden and, as fate would have it, Denmark.

When I hit the age of 14, I shifted my focus to Tennis.

Why?

As the management mantra goes:

“There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.”

But there is an ‘I’ in ‘Tennis.’

Tennis is a solo sport. Which meant that if I do the work, I get the glory. That idea appealed to me. I wanted to be in full control of my successes and failures.

Eventually, I got pretty good at Tennis and was determined to pursue it professionally. All the details were worked out. I knew exactly where my life was going. Total clarity. Total certainty.

Or so it seemed.

Not long before hitting the age of 18, I suffered a wrist injury and had to rehabilitate for a long and arduous 18 months. A wrist is to a tennis player what an ear is to a musician.

So no more tennis for me.

It was devastating at the time. When you lose everything you have spent the past 4 years working on tirelessly, it doesn’t feel too good. Truth be told, it was probably the most painful time in my life.

“What am I supposed to do now?” I thought to myself. I had to find something new.

As painful as that ordeal was, it also taught me life’s most valuable lesson. The lesson that took me from uncertainty and unemployment to running my own business in a foreign country.

Keep reading and I might even share it with you.

DenmarkBrazil.com

In January 2012, my wife and I decided to flip life upside-down.

“We will move to Denmark and start a new life.”

Sounds very certain and bold when I put it like that. But in truth, I had absolutely no idea how exactly we would pull this off. All I knew is that the decision was made, and now we had to do it.

So I got the idea to build www.denmarkbrazil.com. This is a site where I gathered and collated information about Brazil as a market for potential employers in Denmark. I also did several video interviews with people in my network who had valuable information about the Brazil market.

I had no idea how it was going to work. I was not even aware of what content marketing was. I didn’t think about building email lists or using free information to upsell people to my consulting services.

All I knew was that if I can provide extra value to employers, maybe I can stand out. That was the only purpose of the website at the time.

Below, my first interview on denmarkbrazil.com

D-Day

So with a large suitcase of clothes, and a larger suitcase of uncertainty, we landed in Denmark on the 11th of June 2013. If you haven’t moved to another country before, it is an experience like no other. If you ever want to feel the true extent of what it means to be ‘out of your comfort zone’ – give it a shot.

It’s very exciting to look back at in retrospect, but it was scary and somewhat isolating at the time.

We stayed with my wife’s family for 8 months, while waiting for me to receive my work permit from the Danish government. In that time, I gathered all the content I created and launched the Denmark-Brazil website in August.

It was a strange time, living in what’s essentially a buffer-zone. I could not legally look for a job until I got my work permit. So while I was very grateful to stay with my In-Laws, (who are great people I might add) the urge to build something of my own was getting difficult to suppress.

Finally, sweet September came, and with it – my work permit. I immediately enrolled in Laerdansk to learn Danish.  I was determined to find a job fast. With three months’ worth of bottled enthusiasm and website content, I put together a simple system for finding a job.

“I will send out 4-7 applications per day, every day, until I have a job.”

Here is the email I would send to potential employers:

COMPANY NAME on Carlos Monteiro i Brasilien”

Kære Mr/Ms.Ice T

My name is Carlos Monteiro; I’m a Brazilian citizen, married to a Danish girl. Recently I had my case approved by the Danish government, and now I’m allowed to work in DK.

I have worked for the Danish Consulate in Brazil supporting Danish SME’s in tapping into the Brazilian Market.

I came across your contact through a good friend who was working as a recruiter for a Human Resources Company X until a few months ago.

The reason of my contact is to express my willingness in supporting your organization in case you are looking at Brazil as a potential market. I’m certain that there are great opportunities for your company in Brazil

If you are interested, I’d like arrange a meeting at your office to discuss it further.

Enclosed follows my CV

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Please, Feel Free to visit my website: WWW.DENMARKBRAZIL.COM also check this article about your industry:http://www.denmarkbrazil.com/what-danes-should-know-about-the-ecommerce-and-digital-sector-in-brazil/

Carlos Monteiro

Tel: (45 )60 22 40 18

Wishing you all the best

With such a stellar portfolio, relentless routine and enticing email, there was no way that I wouldn’t find a job. This was going to be a piece of cake, right?

Well, three months, 300+ companies and 300+ applications later – not a single concrete offer.

Ouch.

Most applications were ignored, but I did notice a common trend with the responses I was getting. The replies were always along the lines of:

“We are not currently looking to expand into Brazil, but we like your profile and will keep you in mind if we choose to go into that market.”

So now I had two choices:

  1. Give up. Go back to Brazil and settle for less. Blame it on racism and discrimination. Blame it on my lack of Proficiency in the Danish Language.
  1. Listen to my market and adjust. They were not looking for EMPLOYEES to help them with moving to Brazil. But they DID like who I was, and what I offered.

This is where I’m supposed to say something heroic like ‘giving up wasn’t an option.’

But when you spend three months not getting anywhere despite giving it your best, giving up is the most readily available option on the table.

And it took a lot of guts and support from people around me not to take this option, but to keep pushing in the direction of my dreams.

Pivot

When we started talking, the company of the photo was still called Remove The Background. Today, WE are known as Pixelz

As I spent days and nights thinking about how I can adapt to this situation to finally start moving forward, I realized something. This feeling of uncertainty. Of losing purpose and faith. It wasn’t new. It was familiar.

Remember that juicy life lesson I promised to share with you earlier? The one learned from the wrist injury that led to the end of my Tennis dreams? Well, just as I had to find a new way to do things after I couldn’t play tennis. I had to find a new way to do things after my job hunt failed.

We cannot control the circumstances life gives us, but we CAN control how we respond to them.

We can adjust. We can adapt. We can reinvent ourselves.

Life goes on.

So I gained some clarity and my ‘eureka moment’ came.

“If people are interested in me, and the service I provide – but not interested in hiring me as an employee, in what other way can I provide value?”

Enter Biassa.com

In November 2013, I traveled back to Brazil to see my family and recharge my batteries. My determination and clarity returned. Once I came back to Denmark, I would start my business supporting Danish SMEs in going to the Brazil market. The plan was put into motion, and thus began the creation of www.biassa.com

One day that winter, I was pecking away at the keyboard, working on a new article when I received a message on LinkedIn.

“We are interested in your offer and we would like to meet with you.”

Boom! Or maybe ‘phew.’

Probably both.

Nevertheless, my efforts finally started to pay off.

One kind soul (who I later found out was a famous Danish business figure) had been following my posts on LinkedIn. He told a certain Danish company about me, and from his recommendation – they became my first client! No rush in this world compares to the rush of getting your first client.

And as they say, ‘the rest is history.’

Interview with the CEO for the Logistics Danish Gigant in Brazil, Mikael Thomsen.

Lessons Learned

Through this journey, I have learned several things that may help those on a path similar to mine.

To Get Value, First Give Value 

Denmark has a strong volunteering culture. Danes will always look for your experiences and ability to provide value first. Help out wherever you can. Gain a reputation for solving problems wherever you go. Danes are collectivist people – therefore contribution is both valued, and rewarded.

How do you benefit from doing this? Referrals from happy clients. Contacts and networks of equally helpful people, as well as the chance to pick up new, and marketable skills.

Be Consistent 

Whether you are running a blog, posting job applications, or working on your business. Be consistent. Success is a process. Everybody and their mother will tell you to be consistent, it’s not an exciting life-hack or shortcut. But the reason everyone repeats it, is because it works.

Start Before You Are Ready

It is common to be held back by limiting beliefs. ‘I don’t speak Danish.’ ‘I’m not a specialist.’ ‘I don’t have experience.’ ‘First I will become an expert – then I will offer my service.’

These beliefs will tempt you. Giving up is easy. Giving up is comforting. Don’t do it. Keep taking action.

Action precedes clarity. Action precedes expertise. The only way you will get good at what you want to do – is by doing it.

Titles Mean Nothing if You Can’t Provide Value

Neither me, nor many of my clients care much about how many letters someone has at the end of their name.

If we liken the human brain to a radio, then there is only one frequency it’s tuned into:

“WII-FM” – Or “What’s In It for Me?”

This is the first question all potential employers, clients, and partners ask in their head. And the difference between succeeding and failing is simply having a good answer to that question.

Now that we’ve addressed some lessons learned, let’s talk about some of the challenges you are likely to meet if you want to move to Denmark, so that you can be more prepared than I was when I got here.

Obstacles to Getting Hired in Denmark

Your Language & Cultural Knowledge is becoming a Commodity

You would not believe how many Danes I met who can actually speak decent Portuguese. Sure, this number is not as high as English speakers, but it is higher than one would think – and growing.

Furthermore, Danes are a very well educated and travelled people. They have a broad horizon of cultural understanding. Therefore the value you bring just by being a foreigner is not that high anymore – and falling.

The Aftershock of the Economic Crisis

Even though it didn’t affect the Nordic states as much as the rest of Europe, employers have tightened their purse-strings.

Domestic Candidates Take Precedence over Foreign Candidates

All things being equal, Danish Employers prefer to hire Danish Candidates over Foreign Candidates. Danes have the advantage of being fluent in their language. So you have to ask yourself ‘what skills can I build to give me an extra edge?’

In Denmark, An Employee is Expensive to Keep. 

Companies in Denmark look after their staff. Both in terms of their salary and fringe benefits.

Here’s a small, non-exclusive list of said benefits: paid holidays, private insurance, free vacation, extra pay for those suffering from illness and 32 weeks of parental leave immediately after birth.

This list is far from exhaustive, there are far too many benefits to name.

So naturally, employers must be careful with whom they choose. They cannot afford to employ a liability. Are you an asset? Or a liability?

To Conclude

So now you know the barriers, and you know the lessons. You have some extra tools and extra knowledge to help you settle in Denmark.

And you certainly don’t have to copy the exact same thing I did.

I am an entrepreneur. I chose entrepreneurship because I believe I can make a difference. I enjoy the thrill of being able to create something out of nothing.

Entrepreneurship is a roller-coaster and I am loving the ride.

But not everybody wants to be an entrepreneur – and that is okay. Several people want to work in a corporate environment and build a career. If that is you – pursue it. There is a multitude of jobs with very diverse roles – if you are willing to look hard enough, you will eventually find what you are looking for.

Regardless of where you are on your journey. Regardless of if you want to pursue a path similar to mine. I hope my story serves as a signpost on your own road.

If there is only one thing I had to leave you with, it would be this:

The only way to get to where you want to be, is to keep on walking.

 Keep on walking.

My latest piece for the Copenhagen Post has been published yesterday, and surprisingly it was featured as a TOP STORY. Many thanks for that @ Ben Hamilton and team.

When I wrote this article, I’d just returned from Brazil, from one of my business trips. Over the past 3years I’ve been growing stronger, though, no matter how many times I travel to my home country, whenever I get back to Denmark, I get thoughtful, slightly confused and with a nostalgic feeling.

Whether you are an expat, you have a foreign spouse, or if you are experiencing life abroad for your very first time I hope this short piece will somehow resonate with you.

Most importantly I look forward to opening up a conversation and listening to your point of view.

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“Sometimes I long to forget … It is painful to be conscious of two worlds,” opines Eva Hoffman in ‘Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language’.

Traveling from Denmark to Brazil is a long journey, and unfortunately, there are no direct flights for this route yet. Heathrow Airport, despite all the bad comments I’ve heard, has become part of my travel routine. It doesn’t matter how many times I fly there; whenever I come back “home” ( Denmark) I’m confused.

Past and future important

“all you have is the present. Waste no energy crying over yesterday or dreaming of tomorrow. Nostalgia is fatiguing and destructive; it is the vice of the expatriate-Isabel Allende- Of Love and Shadows

Isabel Allende in ‘Of Love and Shadows’ points out that “all you have is the present. Waste no energy crying over yesterday or dreaming of tomorrow. Nostalgia is fatiguing and destructive; it is the vice of the expatriate. You must put down roots as if they were forever – you must have a sense of permanence.” But I partly disagree with her.

I disagree because I believe although the present is undoubtedly all that we have, the past transformed us into what we are today and dreams are what bring hope and a better future.

Traveling to my Brazil is something I’ve figured I love. Sure, it’s slightly nostalgic, but it is essential to me, as it always allows me to recharge my batteries, to get some real inspiration from the city I was born in, and to be able to see my family and friends who I love so much.

Best of both worlds

Paraphrasing an article I read by Emily Nemchick, a Brit living in America, we expats have always had the opportunity to look on the bright side.

On the one hand we can enjoy the country we live in and learn from another culture and lifestyle. And on the other we can count on the promise that our native country will always be there when we go back – even for a short while. As expats we either have no home, or two – I prefer to stick with the latter option.

How about you? Are you an expat? How do you cope with your feelings? I would be happy to hear from you.

——————————————–//————————————————————

My name is Carlos Monteiro.

I’m a Brazilian citizen living in Denmark.I’m also the founder of Biassa. Biassa is a Sales Acceleration company focused on accelerating sales for tech companies in Brazil, Europe, and LATAM.

Occasionally I write @ The Copenhagen Post about business, my life in Denmark and how I believe foreigners in an alien country.

You are most welcome to get in touch. Just drop me a line at cm@biassa.com or send me a message here on Linked In.

 

 

 

 

 

I believe we are the creators of our own fate; thereby we have responsibility for our actions our future and ultimately for the results we achieve.

So hopefully what you will be to take away from here are some nuggets of some of the few things I’ve done to create opportunities for me.

 

 

A moment of productive idleness is worth gold! 

During a time of “productive laziness”, I decided to count how many messages I could find on my LinkedIn Inbox related to the question “How to find a job?” or along the lines of “Can you get me a job?”. So far I have come across 105.

 

Carlos, How did you get a job in Denmark?

The last gentleman who asked me this question is a highly qualified professional in the financial services/consulting industry in Holland. As we exchanged ideas over LinkedIn, he told me he had been applying for jobs in DK for nearly a year without any success. I cannot speak for any other country than DK, so I told him I would presume that finding a job in Holland would probably be just as challenging as finding a job in DK for any foreigner. He partially disagreed as his girlfriend from Denmark found a job in Holland quite quickly.

 

Putting a Community Together

Before moving to Denmark, all I knew FOR SURE was one thing. From the moment I would step into this country, it would be quite challenging to find a job.

Enters Denmarkbrazil.com ( A blog I created before moving here)

As time went on, I kept on creating content. I also began to study more about digital marketing. What I learned from this time is that when you create content, people will check it. If it resonates with them, they will “like and eventually share it.”

Creating Denmarkbrazil.com not only allowed me to share knowledge on business in Brazil but it also gathered a community of people interested in the Brazilian and the Danish market.

*Nugget 1 Like-minded people = Higher chances of creating business opportunities

“See Me, Like Me, Trust Me, Hire Me”- Simon Gray

I am a big believer and a huge advocate of a sales development “modality” known as Social Selling. In fact, there is much hype in regards to Social Selling nowadays, and I believe that part of it is due to all the publicity LinkedIn has been pulling out.

According to Tim Hughes, a Social Selling expert that I follow, (whom I suggest you follow too), organizations are changing the way they do business. Hughes points out in his book “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers”  “Companies are now seeking out and rewarding change makers into the organizations that can go out and find ideas, products or services in the greater world that can be brought into the benefit of the business…All this means that most of the buying process is done even before the sales person gets involved with the opportunity”.

Now let’s translate Hughes statement for any company owner ( consultant, startup founders, you name it) looking to validate their ideas and most importantly: Sell their product or service.

The interaction between the readers of my articles and myself initiated conversations. If someone liked an article on LinkedIn, I’d take that as a permission to begin a relationship. I would then send a customized connection request thanking them for liking my article and asking for a feedback and what other topics they’d like to hear about.

Initiating Conversations is without a doubt vital for revenue creation ( or finding jobs). Simon Gray says that to find an opportunity, especially in the so-called ” hidden market” people need to see you, create some sort of empathy with you and then they will hire you. The most efficient way to start conversations for me has been through social media.

*Nugget 2 Producing Content, Connecting With People & Being Active On Social will help you start conversations

Still not convinced? So take a good (hard) look at the example below:

The first deal I landed in Denmark was because of a former CEO and founder of one of the most traditional Danish companies, let’s call it “Gold Mine A/S,” had been reading and following some of my articles.

He referred me, without knowing me personally (and without my acknowledgment) to another Danish company that he was sitting on the board.

Later the CEO and the Business development manager explained me that they heard from one of the board members (the CEO and founder of GoldMine A/S) that a Brazilian guy was generating some interesting content on business in Brazil.

Insight: #: Never underestimate the power of valuable content. People read and value it.

 

Another example of how content can drive conversations and revenue as a consequence of it, is this one: http://bit.ly/2eOulgP.

This article had good engagement, and it brought me two great meetings and from one the meetings one client.

But wait! One client, because of one article?

#Nugget 3: Find out what your audience would like to read about and produce content from your own angle. You will crush it! But hey, be original, be yourself ok?

 

Social Selling & Buying Influence

One recent report from IDC from 2015 shows that social buying is directly correlated with buying influence. Further, research from Forbes indicates that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Another study on Hubspot showed that only 1 in 4 sales people understand and know how to use social media to sell.

Influencing buyers. Social Selling. What the ¤#Q¤%#3 are you talking about Carlos?

All the experience I have acquired generating content, interacting with other professionals, initiating conversations, sharing content has helped me to build a foundation and a good understanding on some of the mechanisms of community building and influence creation. Plus, it helped me to build a “personal brand”

The importance of building a community is vital for sales enablement and development. By building a community, you will find like-minded people, share experiences, exchange ideas and eventually be able to earn money as well.

# Nugget 4: Building a personal brand makes the conversation much lighter. People will know more about you than you imagine, and they will be curious!

To Sum Up

Build a Community:

In most markets, there will be competition. So why not stand out from the crowd? Why not build a community around yourself on a subject you believe you are good at? Why not add value to your community by creating authentic content and engaging, connecting and starting conversations?

Create Content

Educate people. Share your thoughts and ideas. Most importantly, add value to whoever is going to consume what you are producing or sharing. An excellent way to build compelling content is by interviewing, for example, other professionals that are authorities in their fields.

Connect

Connect with people. Go to offline events. Establish your presence online, so you can create an “excuse” to connect.

To close it out

If you’re not selling socially, you may not be able to find a job in Denmark. I built a blog and a brand around marketing on LinkedIn, and while I don’t have a job, I have something better – my own business.

Creating a community around the subject # business between Denmark & Brazil was “the real deal”for me. Then nurturing this community with interesting content that they were interested in was what really made the difference.

If you do some of the things I suggested I cannot guarantee you will find a job, but I can guarantee you will start getting noticed.

Believe me; it’s worth a try.