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.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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/
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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?”
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.’
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.
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.
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?
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.