MEET C3'S CEO AND CHIEF TRAINER ANNETTE DAHL

– and Learn Why C3's Logo Has Gotten a Makeover

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Meet C3's CEO and Chief Trainer Annette Dahl – and Learn Why C3's Logo Has Gotten a Makeover

Annette Dahl established C3 Consulting in 2006 as an independent China expert – and within just a few years had built the business into a highly regarded provider of a broad range of intercultural training programmes.

In the interview here, we ask Annette how the business got started, what her role at C3 is today, and why C3 has just gotten a new logo.

When and why did you establish C3 Consulting?

It actually all started because of curiosity.

My first introduction to China was in 1995, after high school, when I visited the country on a world trip together with my boyfriend.

It was, to put it mildly, not a successful visit.

We had huge communication issues, since very few Chinese people spoke English back then, and we couldn't speak a word of Chinese.

But it wasn't just the language that gave us trouble. We experienced that it was difficult to integrate into Chinese life, and nothing worked right for us. After four weeks in China, it was a huge relief to leave the country again!

Back in Denmark, I couldn't seem to let go of the experiences I'd had in China. My curiosity had been piqued. What had actually happened over there? And why?

So I went to the library and dug up everything I could find about China and its people. And in the end, I decided to apply to the China Studies program at Aarhus University.

In the course of my studies, I returned to China and stayed for a longer period. My relationship to the country evolved from bewilderment to fascination. And I found that the more I learned about China, the more interested I became!

After I received my master's degree, it wasn't long before I was hired to give a training programme about Chinese culture and communication for Danfoss.

It was amazing to get the chance to share my insights and my passion for China with others – and hear afterwards how the training had really helped improve the participants' collaboration with Chinese colleagues and business partners.

So one training programme turned into several, new clients quickly appeared, I got registered with a CVR number, and in the spring of 2006 C3 Consulting became a reality!

Why has C3 Consulting gotten a new logo?

The first couple of years, C3's focus was training in Chinese cultural understanding, and the logo was the Chinese character 安, which is pronounced 'an':

Chinese characters can contain many different meanings, but the most important meaning of 安 is 'peace'. The character is made of two parts, in which the lower part means 'woman' and the upper part means 'house'. Because I started C3 as a one-woman company, and because 安 is also the first part of my Chinese name 'Anni', the character was the perfect logo!

But only a few years went by before my clients started to request trainings that focused on other countries and cultures besides China. So I partnered with a large network of intercultural trainers who were each experts in their own areas, and C3 went from being 'I' to being 'we'.

Over time, we also developed trainings that didn't focus on a specific country or culture but instead gave participants tools to navigate all kinds of cross-cultural situations.

Since 2010, C3 has provided intercultural training for any kind of need our clients may have – for example, training in global mindset, cross-cultural team training, global leadership development, intercultural coaching, cultural training for expats, and training with a focus on any culture, country, or region in the world.

Even though C3 is still Denmark's leading provider of Chinese cultural training, we decided that it's time to switch out the Chinese character with a new logo that better matches what C3 stands for today. (OK, I confess that this switch has actually been planned for quite some time, but we have been too busy developing new training concepts for our clients to actually do it!)

So without further ado, here is our new logo – we hope you like it :)

We're still called C3, and the 3 C's still stand for Culture, Communication, Collaboration.

In the new logo, the C and the 3 are woven together in a way that symbolizes collaboration and interconnectedness.

The red colour and the logo's shape are meant to signal both the passion we have for cultural training as well as the supportive and caring environment that is key for all of C3's trainings.

A huge thanks to our graphic designer, Stine Sandahl, who created the new logo.

What is your role at C3 Consulting today?

In the beginning, I was responsible for pretty much everything!

Fortunately, I quickly found good colleagues and partners who can focus on all the things they're best at, so I can focus on what I'm especially passionate about: developing and delivering cutting-edge intercultural training!

As the CEO, I am the one who is the public face of the company, and I still take the most important meetings with both old and new clients.

I'm also responsible for developing C3's training concept and teaching it to our ever-growing network of trainers and country specialists.

It's immensely important to us that our intercultural training gives noticeable results for our clients.

That is why I'm always looking for new theories and methods that can support our participants' learning, and I continually look for ongoing educational opportunities. For the last few years, I have been really interested in how knowledge about the brain's processes can help intercultural training have an even greater effect.  

And then I also continue to deliver a lot of intercultural trainings myself!

I am responsible for both short global mindset workshops and long global leadership development programmes, and I provide training in Chinese and Danish cultures, intercultural executive coaching, and cultural training for expats. I'm also a keynote speaker at a number of conferences, strategy days, and network meetings. 

Lately, I've been providing a larger share of my trainings virtually, for example with global teams whose members are spread around the world, since it's a really flexible and cost-effective solution for many of our clients.

What is the driving force behind what you do at C3?

Several years ago, we had a discussion about what was most important for us at C3. It didn't take long for us to conclude: being happy to go to work is the foundation of it all!

So we talked about what we needed to do to make sure that was the case.

And a lot of things ended up on our list.

Meaningfulness was named right from the start. As a relatively small, agile, and flexible organization, we have an easier time moving from idea to action. If we recognize that something we're doing is no longer adding value, we quickly stop doing it and use our energy on better things! 

Making a difference for our clients was also at the top of the list. It never ceases to inspire us, when we hear about how our training has had a real effect on people.

Like when I hear from a manager about how his leadership team has gotten an entirely new vocabulary to talk about the cultural differences that they have long experienced but weren't able to put into words.

Or when a participant in a training recently told me how it had given her a totally new perspective in her cross-cultural work, that instead of thinking 'different = strange' she now tries to think 'different = interesting'.

And of course there is curiosity, which is still a huge driving force for me.

To continue to meet new people, who all come with their own different perspectives. All the way from the experienced global leader whose toolbox could benefit from a few new ideas to the family who is totally excited and also a bit nervous about their first assignment abroad. I just love it!

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