Baffled about Brexit? New consulting firm aims to shed light

Houses of Parliament, Westminster

Brexit. Bloody hell, as Sir Alex Ferguson might say.

It’s all happening, whatever “all” actually is. As I suggested previously, it may be better to assume control of your destiny now if you are likely to be affected by Brexit, rather than “wait and see”. But for those of you who want to know what your options are, and even influence talks, help might be at hand through lobbying.

A consulting outfit named Article 50 Associates has been launched in the UK by political advisers Jon Hudson and Darren Murphy (disclosure:  I used to work under him) to decipher Brexit for employers and employees alike – which is handy, as most of us haven’t the foggiest what Brexit will mean, hard, soft, or the gelatinous bit in between.

Article 50 Associates aims to explain how and why Brexit decisions are being made and communicate with decision-makers in the UK and Europe. Useful if you are involved with expat relocation and mobility, and it might produce a better outcome than taking to the streets.

If you’re resident in the UK and concerned about what’s happening, your best bet might be to speak to your employer, else launch a movement, raise funds and talk to the public affairs pros.

Estonian e-Residency a great opportunity for digital nomads

Tallinn traffic sign

An intriguing EstonianWorld article reveals that overseas citizens can apply for e-residency in Estonia and, in doing so, use its advanced digital infrastructure to not only launch an Estonian business online within one day but also manage it from anywhere in the world (among other benefits, like receiving a shiny new card).

Estonia has been a surprise success since the dissolution of the USSR (I hadn’t even heard of it until the 1990s), punching well above its weight. While it might be better known as a Ryanair weekend destination through Tallinn, the small republic has given the world Skype and established the most advanced digital society anywhere. As far as national monikers go, “e-Estonia” – as the Baltic country has been dubbed – isn’t at all bad.

Launched in December 2014, the e-Residency programme has unsurprisingly sparked an increase in interest from UK citizens owing to Brexit, especially among entrepreneurs and business leaders: average monthly applications more than doubled after the Brexit referendum in 2016.

But applicants needn’t be resident in any one country. Article author Adam Rang explains how digital nomads may register and manage their business while on the move: more than 40% of e-residency applications were reportedly to launch a location-independent business. The author adds by way of an example that the founder of a travel food blog, TripGourmets, left the UK six years ago and applied for e-residency with her partner.

At a time when some states on this planet are putting up barriers and making a lot of noise, it’s refreshing that Estonia is making a positive global impact, moving forward with the times and pioneering new approaches in a transparent way.

Anyone wishing to become an e-Estonian (and frankly, I’m giving this some thought myself), can apply online in four steps: The card can be picked up from any of the 38 Estonian embassies and consulates around the world (though the collection time can take up to 3 months in Singapore and San Francisco).

Are you a British entrepreneur moving to China? The Media Pioneers wants to hear from you

China is the new land of opportunity these days, from tourism to tech (Facebook is trying very hard to get in and Snap is reportedly eyeing a way in).

It’s also a tough nut to crack, with some American companies already deciding their big China opportunity is over. Some brands get it hopelessly wrong, and some people lose it completely.

As such, Chinese adventures make compelling television, as programmes like An Idiot Abroad confirm (though Karl Pilkington’s experiences were not a patch on mine). As luck would have it, TV production company The Media Pioneers is looking to hear from budding entrepreneurs who are leaving the UK to start a business in China for the purpose of chronicling their journey.

At a time when shows like The Apprentice feels passé (why start a business in London when you can have a go in the world’s second biggest economy?) and Brexit supposedly means Brexit, now feels a good moment to turn the spotlight on entrepreneurs in Shanghai rather than Shoreditch.

If interested, email: or (and good luck!).

Be bold in post-Brexit 2017

Shanghai skyline by night

It’s fair to say that 2016 was a year of upsets. One after another, punches rained down on the status quo, beginning with a flurry of celebrity passings. Authoritarian Duterte was elected leader of the Philippines, Trump landed the presidency and Leicester won the Premier League. It doesn’t get much odder than that.  Oh, and the UK voted to leave the European Union.

While we still don’t live in post-Brexit times, because Brexit technically hasn’t happened yet, there has been an awful lot of conjecture, hand-wringing and strained voices. Many people are unhappy, which is understandable. But we can’t go back, only forward. To undo a democratic vote would set a dangerous precedent. Besides, we’re better than that: pragmatism and resilience amidst adversity are two British strengths (I’d take those over cheery optimism any day).

Turning crisis into opportunity

I’m not a cheerleader for Brexit (I voted Remain), but we have to survey the changing landscape and recognise that there are golden opportunities. The rest of the world, beyond the EU, helpfully sees Britain in a positive light: a survey from the British Council and Ipsos MORI revealed that worldwide Brexit has had a more positive impact on the attractiveness of the UK. The survey, As Others See Us , polled 40,000 Milliennials in G20 nations:

Rapidly growing economies in Asia, from China to ASEAN, signal new possibilities in this increasingly topsy-turvy world of ours that we should pounce on.

Adman Sir Martin Sorrell recently called on young people to obtain work experience in China – an idea that Chelsea’s Oscar has apparently fully embraced with his mega-move to Shanghai:

And to use a football metaphor, the goals keep coming as China and Britain are now gelling nicely, from arts and culture to trade and education:

Another so-called BRICS nation (is the term still used?), Indonesia, is already popular with digital nomads who flock to the gentle rice fields of Ubud. But there is so much more to this sprawling archipelago than Bali:

That’s not to say the UK should turn its back on Europe. Far from it. But there is simply little point in looking to the government for direction, or huffing over a democratic outcome. The world keeps moving.

If anyone in the UK is curious about opportunities and needs pointing in the right direction, from Brazil to Vietnam, I’d be more than happy to help.

Young Brits encouraged to acquire China work experience

Great Wall of China

Big advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, has posted a rousing article on LinkedIn, To Move Upward, Move Outward, about the importance of acquiring overseas work experience, China specifically, explaining that:

In a world becoming smaller every day through globalisation and digital connectivity, we need people who can demonstrate they have what it takes to succeed in this environment. Increasingly, employers are looking for knowledge of markets beyond the West, an international outlook and the willingness to be mobile.

Sir Martin was writing as a “Leading Light”, or influential figure who has benefited from China, championing the British Council’s Generation UK: China Network, which recently celebrated its first birthday. The initiative aims to connect all UK nationals with China experience so that they continue and deepen their engagement with China. Specifically, it supports student employability and skills development, and provides a platform for Brits to further their business, academic and entrepreneurial connections to China.

As part of the campaign, the British Council will be hosting an event this Thursday on opportunities to study, work, teach or complete research in China. If you are flirting with the idea of moving to the Middle Kingdom, head on down to the British Council’s London HQ on 13 October. The two-hour event will start at 11am (full details and registration here). Who knows where a stint in this extraordinary country might take you?

British nationals with China experience already, meanwhile, can apply to join the Generation UK: China Network on LinkedIn, now numbering almost 2,500 members, to connect with other China alumni. Joining the network also provides access to high-profile speaker events, Alumni Awards and career opportunities. Sounds hen hao to me!