Two Ways to Get Smarter Here and Abroad

Seminars by banks prove popular, and bilingualism helps us think better

Small businesses in the U.K. have found an ally of late in banks. The New York Times reported yesterday of a “ThriveOnline” seminar held by Barclays “to explain how best to buy Google ads and create a profile on Facebook to promote their companies.” The main goal is to “encourage small and medium-size businesses to borrow more.” Apparently there have been hundreds of seminars held by banks in the last couple years for this purpose. With the Olympics coming up this summer in London, the hope is that everyone can profit from it.

The problem is one that we here in the States are familiar with: tighter lending criteria by banks coupled with a lack of confidence in the economy by business owners. The Royal Bank of Scotland has a chairman for small business and he runs four seminars a month. “Many business owners are reluctant to talk to their bank these days because they are afraid they would call in their loans,” said [Peter] Ibbetson… “We’re trying to change that and to incentivize businesses to talk to us.”

The seminars seem like a great idea—especially as live events—and one hopes it could happen here. Meanwhile, SIPA is filling that void with its webinar program. The next one is tomorrow at 1 p.m. EDT, 17.00 GMT, on eLearning Fundamentals: A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Digital Training Content. It is free for members on both sides of the Atlantic. I hope that the banks are taping these seminars for their archives, as SIPA does.

The benefits of bilingualism
We all knew that speaking two or more languages is a practical advantage—especially in a world becoming so much more diverse as we speak. But a new study, also reported in the Times, tells us that being bilingual also makes us smarter. Apparently, the “interference” of knowing two language systems—thought to be a hindrance—is actually a stimulus. “It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.” A 2004 study demonstrated that bilingual children performed certain mental tasks faster—the thinking being that bilingualism can help you better ignore distractions, switch attentions easier and hold onto information better.

The key difference appears to be that bilinguals have a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often—you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.”

Reaching out overseas
Many—if not most—SIPA companies are global these days, although what they “ship” is mostly information and not packages. Still, another recent article in the Times about what’s involved with shipping overseas was interesting. Foreign post codes can cause confusion unless you have the right software. Ordering systems, customs and postal fees must all be figured out. The article reports that the spike in foreigners buying American products comes from the sharp rise in the sales of mobile phones overseas. “Forrester Research expects online retail sales in the Western Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America regions to increase 67 percent from 2011 to 2015, compared with 42 percent for the United States.”

For SIPA’s purposes, this means that when your information can be of use to a global audience, you may want to put resources to try to make that happen. Latin America and Asia Pacific are incredibly growing markets. The fact that, as stated above, SIPA members ship mostly information should make it easier to sell to a global audience.

The article concludes with Kent Anderson, president of, saying that one-day sales, very popular here, “seem to be understood across the English-speaking world, at least.” But, Macy’s was looking into how to capitalize on country-specific promotions. “We need to pay more attention to Boxing Day,” he said.


Upcoming SIPA events for European members:

Thursday, March 22 – 17.00 GMT (1 p.m.EDT)
eLearning Fundamentals: A Step-by-Step Guide
to Launching Digital Training Content

Sign up today – it’s FREE for SIPA members!!

March 28-30
SIPA Munich 2012

International speakers and presentations;
highly relevant topics!

April 17, 2012
Advanced Copywriting Techniques for
Profitable Email Publishing & Marketing

hosted by Nick Laight and Gareth Rees –

two of the most successful copywriters
and email marketers in the UK

May 16, 2012
Web Analytics

May 20-22
SIPA 2012:
The 36th Annual International Conference

An international audience is strongly welcomed!
It’s a great time of year in Washington, DC!

Learn the seven strategies that all successful special-interest online publishers have in common by downloading our FREE Seven Online Publishing Secrets white paper.

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