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Interview with Arne Elias Corneliussen

Arne Elias Corneliussen is the founder & CEO of Norwegian Risk Consulting International (NRCI), a geopolitical risk consulting company based in Oslo. He regularly gives presentations on international affairs, risk, cross-cultural communication and leadership. In this interview, you can read about his exciting experiences, his tips for doing business across cultures and what kind of a speaker he is.

What got you interested in international relations?

From a very early age, my father used to tell me stories about history. This instilled a deep passion in me for history and international affairs. From the age of 6-7, I spent a great deal of time in an old war museum in Oslo. Then, in my teenage years I was reading very widely, everything from atlases to the news. At the age of 14, I would spend my free time reading history books and magazines from around the world, including a fantastic magazine called the Far Eastern Economic Review.


Which experiences have provided you with the insight you need as an international collaboration expert and explorer?

My unusual childhood has benefited my work greatly. My deep passion for international affairs and history combined with traveling to unique destinations around the world from a young age provided me with a ‘global comfort zone’ which allows me to feel comfortable wherever I am in the world. I travel the world without expectations, without my ‘Norwegian glasses’ on, and I maintain a deep respect for the societies I explore. This mentality lets me connect with people wherever I am, everywhere from a bus in Africa to a speaking engagement in the USA.


What are some tips you would give to someone seeking to do business across cultures?

Travel. You can’t truly understand a culture until you immerse yourself in it and forget your preconceived notions.

Whenever you travel, meet people with respect and humility. Sit down with them and have a calm, long conversation. Talk to people, all types of people, from taxi drivers to young and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Take the bus. I’ve traveled by bus across 28 countries in Africa. You really see more of the people and the country this way.


What are some of the “universals” of business across cultures?

We have a lot of things in common with each other, yet people have so many false preconceived notions. The reality is that there are good and bad people wherever you go. We all want our countries to be safe.


Do you think of yourself as more of an explorer or a businessman?

In terms of my current profession, as a geopolitical risk consultant, the two roles are really intertwined. If I don’t explore, then I can’t understand cultures as deeply as I need in order to analyze the situation worldwide on a daily basis.


What kind of a speaker are you?

I’ve been told I’m inspiring and engaging.  When I speak, I try to share my passion and create a good energy by including many stories from my own experiences. This helps people to really understand what I’m talking about and makes the talk more interactive – I want my talks to feel like a conversation, not a formal talk.


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