09/07/2014 08:28 BST | Updated 08/09/2014 06:59 BST

People Are People

доброе утро, صبح به خیر, good morning,

Too often, many of us are far to quick to jump to conclusions, judge people and form opinions based on other people's prejudices and experiences. Maybe it would be better for everyone if we opened our minds a little and found some things out for ourselves.

This has been both an exciting and an interesting year on the international travel front for me. In particular I have enjoyed wonderful trips to parts of the world most people don't think of travelling to in Siberia and Iran.

In both cases the reaction of people around me was one of shock, surprise and concern when they heard of my travel plans. In the West we still equate Siberia with stories of the Soviet Gulags while Iran has become a symbol of our biggest modern enemy. In both cases I travelled to regions where a much publicised war was in full flow at the time; in Ukraine back in April and in Iraq and Syria last week.

Yet in both countries I encountered nothing more overwhelming or dangerous than incredible warmth and excitement from the people I met. People were keen to meet me, ask questions and have their pictures taken with me. The wars were taking place many miles away and only impacted occasionally on conversation and not at all in daily life.


Within the conference venues I spoke at the interest of the delegates was no different to that of audiences in the UK, South Africa, Sweden, the US or anywhere else. How can I grow my business? How can I improve my promotion chances? How can I do my job better? While outside the events the conversations were also no different; with talk of music, family, romance and sport dominating the agenda. And occasionally politics.

I have sadly noticed the rapid rise of intolerance in society over the last few years. Fuelled by fear and a global recession, we look for scapegoats and inevitably our eyes settle on people who we consider to be different to us. And our media happily feed those flames. Yet, if we take the time to talk to people, get to know them and spend time with them ourselves, we might discover that the differences aren't that great after all.

In many ways, I share more in common with my new friends in other parts of the world than I do with my own neighbours.

At this point in my blog I'd normally be looking to use this experience to give advice about networking. And that would be easy to do given the way preconceptions and the pigeon-holing of people we don't take the time to know make networking so much less effective. If you'd like that, then watch this video.

But I don't want to go down that path this time. I'd just like people to realise that there are fewer differences between people than we give credit for.

I realise that I'm very lucky to be able to not only travel to less-visited parts of the world but also to spend quality time with people who live there, making new friends in the process. Not everyone has that opportunity but we can all take the time to talk to more people on our doorstep. People who are not like us, don't have the same background as us or who don't share the same beliefs.

And when we meet new people perhaps we can just take the time to listen and learn rather than jumping to snap judgments.