Cultural Cringe and World Class kiwi gals.

Just like Cactus Kate, I’m having a spot of cultural cringe over recent New Zealand newspaper headlines :

Catching up with world class Kiwis: Linda Jenkinson.

Linda Jenkinson has a fantastic story. She was born in Suckville new Zealand, (sorry Palmerston North). In 1998 Jenkinson was the first New Zealand woman to list a company on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.
Jenkinson left New Zealand 25 years ago to build two multimillion dollar companies that span the US Australia and NZ.  Good on her for her business achievements and generous spirit. 

However, I question the tone and accuracy of the headline and the underlying message of the story:

Catching up with world class kiwis: Linda Jenkinson. 

A better Headline:

Catching up with Generous, Wealthy Expat  РLinda Jenkinson. 

Firstly: What is this concept, “world class kiwi”?
The above honorific is high in cringe factor. The above headline, basically says, “Wow. Small town Kiwi girl can foot it with the Big Boys Abroad. Who’da Thunk?
This attitude is typical of our innate belief that, as Kiwis we won’t ever account for a very big proportion of the Success Pie.
Over the last year, I have talked to many expat Kiwi businesspeople. One common observation is   that New Zealanders are not very generous in praise of success.
Perhaps this is due to perceived resource scarcity. 
We think that if somebody else is successful, then that means there is less for them to share in. We are a small nation, so there is less to go around.
Americans are different. They regard success as catching. It is an affirmation; The American Dream:
“Wow. If he/she can do it then so can I”!

You just wouldn’t get the Herald angle in an American Newspaper. Not in a nation that doesn’t invite other nations to the World Series (America is the World to those within these illustrious¬† shores. Bless the Nation’s boots for this widely perpetuated misperception).
Americans expect to clean up in the realms of politics, sports and commerce overseas and then return to spend much of their time on American shores.  If this story was talking about an American, the headline would simply read:

Catching up with the generous and wealthy, Linda Jenkinson. 

Back to the original headline and part of the story:

“Linda Jenkinson is a serial entrepreneur, global citizen, sportswoman and an aspiring social entrepreneur who is committed to making the world a better place.
Ms Jenkinson has built two multimillion-dollar companies since leaving New Zealand for America 25 years ago.”

In the headline, Jenkinson is identified as a Kiwi. (Of the stellar variety, perhaps, having been attributed this so called “world class”, status).
We are told that she is a “global citizen”.

Here again. Another bullshit term that is not worth the paper it is not written on.
You cannot be a citizen of every country that you rock up to and fancy living in, either for it’s pristine beaches and business environment. There are many hoops to jump through. Being a citizen is generally exclusive, in that if you’re a citizen of one country then this precludes you from being a citizen in another. There is no such status as that of a “global citizen”.
.At the most you can have dual citizenship. This is usually due to parental status and time spent working as a resident in the country.
This is an angle that the reporter should have explored:
What legal status does Jenkinson hold in the US?  Does she hold a Green card or has she naturalized? Does she hold dual citizenship?
The term ‘Global Citizen’, smacks of a proprietary nature of the relationship between NZ and Jenkinson. IE: ” If we (New Zealand) can’t lay claim to your talents then damned if we’ll let the Yanks do so.
 My bet is that Jenkinson holds dual citizenship and is more accurately a Kiwi American.
For 25 years she has called the San Francisco and the greater US her home.
She is an expat. This is important given that one million (or one quarter) of New Zealand born kiwis live overseas.
We need to know how and what connections that these icons of Kiwi success retain with New Zealand. and other expats. We need to know details, in order to maximise the social ties and economic benefits to all New Zealanders.

The Herald story is patronising and unfulfilling.  Instead of pandering to sentimental stereotypes we should be celebrating success and exploring ties. The Kiwi diaspora is the last great diaspora and is potentially an economic engine second to none.

And now for a perv at Jenkinson’s current core business: Les Concierges:

Les Concierges is all about getting things done for the .01%

A sampling of some of the services LesConcierges can provide

  • Recommend and book highly sought restaurant reservations
  • Book hard-to-get event tickets
  • Shop for the perfect gift for anniversaries, birthdays, or “just because”
  • Organize a rejuvenating getaway or exciting family vacations
  • Plan once-in-a-lifetime milestone events
  • Research anything ‚Äď from wireless plans to a premier vintage wine
  • Create reminders and gifts for personal or business needs
  • Schedule home services for anything imaginable
  • Create exclusive personalized experiences

Having visited the Les Concierges headquarters in San Francisco, I can confirm that it reeks of wealth.
It is clean, plain and uncluttered with a quality fitout. The wealthy, like Jenkinson, would expect nothing less.

Indeed. Wealth is all about what you leave out, as much as what you have on display.

Aye wot? 

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