Austrians have a big problem: they too often lack self-confidence.
In the German-speaking area, innovation is sometimes not appreciated unless success is following a long time after the innovation happened. Looking back then, the "typical" Austrian is proud of successful people taking risks. Woe, the innovation does not lead to success (which is the risk you take of course) - then Austrians quickly say "we knew it, what a lot of shit."
Too often, Austrians don’t appreciate an Austrian export until it’s appreciated abroad.
EXAMPLES FROM REAL LIFE
Do you remember Conchita Wurst? No matter how much you like (or don’t like) the artist Conchita. It is a fact that most Austrians sneered at her before winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Austrians needed the title "ESC winner" to realise that Conchita is a great export made in Austria. Many Austrians completely changed their opinion about Conchita from the moment of winning the ESC.
Another example is a colleague and friend who works as a coach and speaker. She told me that she would be hired more in Germany than in her home country Austria. "A prophet has no honor in his own country, it’s really funny." (O-tone over a lunch in spring 2017).
DOUBLE STANDARD IN THE MEDIA
The Tyrolean business magazine "econova" published an issue titled "Progress needs innovation - pleading for more courage" in November 2017. Such a cover is good for the image and gets more readers.
However, practice looks a bit different. A completely new and innovative product (Tirol Box), that was praised by local businesses, national and international clients, Austria Marketing and politicians, got quite an odd quarter page in an "econova" in 2016 with a slightly negative comment at the end á la "Let’s see, if that even works." True to the motto "progress needs innovation - but we still don’t really like that".
Part of "econova"’s editorial team is friends with people close to Tirol Werbung, an advertising company which is often faced with negative criticism among Tyrolean businesses for good reason. In Novmeber 2016, Tirol Werbung almost copied a press release by Tirol Box published a month before.
Another evidence for the double standard of local media when speaking about innovation.
It’s sad to see how people and media claim themselves to be innovative and future-orientated whilst lacking the courage and strength to act this way themselves.
HOW SELF-CONFIDENCE MAKES PEOPLE SUCCESSFUL
Another example from my business shows how important it is to set the course for one’s future early enough: Many years ago, I started to thoroughly deal with the topics "app magazines" and "infographics". Back then, I was one of the very few graphic designers in the German-speaking area even caring about that. There was no real education for these topics then. So I had to invest many weeks to teach myself a lot, asked many detailed questions and investigated in many areas, until my perfectionism told me "yep, now it’s time to go into live mode with app magazines and infographics."
Initially, people around me used to say "why are you investing time here, don’t do that". But I staid confident that all the effort will pay off one day. I didn’t allow others to destroy my vision. Now, many years later, I know how important it was to invest so much time and effort and that it was the right decision. Nowadays, app magazines and infographics make up for about 30 % of my annual income.
Another example is my former side-job/hobby that I did for about 7 years: until approx. 2010/2011 I used to DJ because I simply loved being creative with music. Back then, a female DJ was an exception and a bit "strange".
In my first years as a DJ, I was touring in Austria, in the last years of my DJ career I toured internationally (Brazil, India, Vietnam, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy etc.). Ever since I got appreciated on a more global scale, people in Austria took me more serious and changed their opinion about me as a female DJ from "what does she want here" to "wow, her music is really great, respect". The music genre didn’t change, my style didn’t change, only the audience changed from local to global - and all of a sudden I was "hip" in Austria too.
WHY IS THAT?
It seems that Austrians need mental confirmation from outside (also by Germans by the way) for us to follow and be brave enough to like something that actually comes from our own country.
Maybe this lack of self-confidence has something to do with envy too, as we live in quite an envious society in Germany and Austria. Could it even be that envy is based on a lack of self-confidence?
After many trips abroad (for business and private reasons) and getting to know many people from different countries, I have to say that us Austrians really have a big problem with ourselves. Where is the self-confidence?
I don’t miss the self-confidence among innovators, they are confident enough to try something new in an environment with many negative people that often diss you when you don’t follow set paths. I miss the self-confidence among the mainstream. The mainstream of people that should value and praise good business people trying out new things. Without courage and innovation we would still live in caves. In this scenario us Austrians would moan and say "Damn, it’s so f*cking uncomfortable in this cave! It’s time for somebody to invent something more cosy."
This blog article does not only portray my own opinion and experiences, by the way. When I speak with people - may it be in a business or private aspect - I often hear the same things and I realise that many Austrians are annoyed by the lacking self-confidence among us. In addition to that, our tax and social insurance politics are sometimes too short-sighted, which makes some good people want to move abroad. Understandably.
This is a shame. For the self-confidence of our nation. And it is sad. For the economic output resulting from that.
We need a new entrepreneurial culture. Absolutely.