Goodbye to the Land of Cockaigne

Some days ago, I stumbled upon an article on a Swiss newspaper website outlining the macroeconomic reasons why Switzerland – the country I am leaving in two days for an unspecified period of time – will be the ultimate paradise for its citizens in 2012: Welcome to the Land of Cockaigne! The main insights: the national currency remains strong, lower import prices are being passed to the consumers, consumption grows, wages increase, inflation becomes negative, interest rates remain low, and the wealth on real estate property increases due to higher prices that, in turn, are driven by ridiculously low interest rates. Moreover, unemployment is expected to remain relatively low, which leads to the result that the Swiss total income stays high. The article came with an illustration of Scrooge McDuck taking a header into gold coins – obviously the allegorical portrayal of a typical Swiss.

Sure, the drawn analogy is oversimplified and brazenly exaggerated. No, the vast majority in Switzerland does not own a Maserati, and horses don’t belong to the category of usual birthday gifts, and yes, there is a poverty line, and all the nasty spin-offs of a regular society do exist indeed. And yet these obvious generalizations have to be adjusted drastically with regards to a global perspective. I have been to many places all around the world and must say – and this is not a major insight anymore – that many Swiss complain at a very high level. The economic circumstances make a very bearable living available, even for weaker social classes. And Mr. and Mrs. McDuck…well, they get themselves those thoroughbreds on a regular basis, just like everywhere else. It is safe to say though that the average citizen’s living standard ranges somewhere between the temporary bottleneck and a freaking amazing decadence.

So people keep asking me – particularly my relatives in Croatia – why I would want to leave such an environment and instead take the risk of staying unemployed for several months, put up with all the administrative drama, and use up my very modest savings for some affordable hovel down in Brooklyn or Queens. First of all, I was lucky enough to have found myself among the 50,000 winners out of 14,768,658 Green Card lottery entrants. However, this is a basic prerequisite, not an actual reason to go. I have outlined the reason in my previous post. In an economic system that is becoming increasingly global, it is getting proportionally important to develop a global mindset. Going out there and trying to manage the usual challenges in a different cultural framework can only be rewarding. Recent graduates do not really have much to lose: a few months of a lifetime and some money, if the worst comes to the worst.

So one question remains: Why New York? Basically because it is New York. Shanghai radiates an equally strong magic in my opinion, but in a clearly different way. With regards to the Big Apple, there was an amazing video published online last year: A Year in New York by Andrew Clancy, which I consider one of the realest city reflections ever. Everybody who has ever been there will understand:

A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.

The pictures speak for themselves. So why wouldn’t I be determined to say goodbye to the Land of Cockaigne at least for a while? Special regards to all its residents!

When an imminent leap in the dark initiates blogging

With regards to blogging, there has never been the slightest ambition, desire, or enthusiasm on my side. I still consider it ridiculous at times. It is just a personal perception indeed, but the obnoxious category of people which I like to call self-absorbed blowhards seems to be growing disproportionally in the world of weblogs. Why would I want to become part of it? Of course, I am not referring to the thousands of highly insightful blogs kept by marketing managers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and other professionals with some relevant knowledge in the according fields. Many bloggers share very valuable information and try to claim attention in a less pushy way. However, the truth is that blogs should not be understood as online newspapers, magazines, or similar, let’s say, web 1.0 models on professional and centralistic content creation. I studied the recent media market dynamics extensively, but I have to admit that it took me a while to sincerely accept blogs to be there for exactly the reason that anyone can start writing them. The individual motives may be diverse. I decided to give it a shot despite the latent, but still existent skepticism. My personal motive is an imminent leap in the dark.

A few months ago, I successfully completed my Master’s program in Media & Communications and Business Administration in Zurich (annotation for my international fellows with moderate geographical knowledge: yes that is Switzerland, not Sweden). As luck would have it, I won the U.S. Green Card Lottery (officially: Diversity Visa program) just after my graduation. This opens doors, at least many bureaucratic ones. The United States of America might not be the the single and only leader in the global economic system anymore. However, U.S. American business practices and management structures still have a huge influence on companies all around the planet. In order to grow personally and professionally within one of the world’s most profitable and creative marketing and media hubs, I decided to venture this radical step and move to New York City. I talked to people in that field telling me it was a tough market to get in, especially for someone coming from abroad. And especially in a time when thousands of local professionals have lost their jobs. There is no doubt about that. Nevertheless, negative estimates of a certain situation should not necessarily dilute the belief that it is usually more revealing to get an idea of this situation right on site.

Therefore, I worked on a plan that is not really a plan in fact: moving to the megacity, trying to seize opportunities, and being open for any type of progress. I am not a fan of writing personal blogs (and will never become one), yet I have set up this category called the big apple from scratch for three particular reasons: 1. To share information, opinions and experiences with people who are interested in such endeavors and related issues,  2. To establish a stable site that may be leveraged in the future to gather relevant knowledge on marketing, advertising, social media, business, and related topics, and 3. To keep my friends and family posted on my personal situation, especially the ones I won’t have extensive email or phone contact with.

My posts will be kept short and won’t be published on a regular schedule. The blog is about to be relatively footloose in the beginning, as I will be more than busy with – as the award-winning filmmaker Dan Perez recently told me – keeping on keeping it real in NYC. Nevertheless, I will be very glad to respond to any type of advice, suggestion, or question you might come up with!

See you in the city that never sleeps!