May 8, 2014   //   International   //   By Alex Krog

“Well, that escalated quickly.”

This is the exact thing that I said when I found out I was going to be one of the first two people to jump out of a plane three weeks ago.  I went with other people at our firm to Kenosha on April 16th to skydive and we were figuring out the order of who would be going up to the clouds in order to fall back to the Earth.  After it was determined that I was going to be in the second group of people to go up the instructor said “Alex and Brittni, you’re up!”

Suddenly it was my time.  Long story short, it was windy, we jumped out of our plane too early (even though the guy that I was strapped to couldn’t get his foot out of the door for 45 seconds, while I had my feet out of the plane) and we missed our landing by about 2 miles.  Nobody else got to go, because we screwed it up.

Three weeks later the same thing has happened to me in Germany.  When I arrived on April 22nd I wasn’t ready to be here.  I battled the jet lag, and then suddenly it was time to attend the German-American Summit meeting.  The Managing Partner of Mueller, Dave Nissen, and our international tax extraordinaire, Amy Chamoun, hopped the little pond and joined me and our other German and American Alliance colleagues in Stuttgart Germany.

Sunday (4/28) we got to take a tour of Castle Solitude (built before America battled England in the Revolutionary War), which was a king’s quiet place to get away from everyone (not bad, but now days people just go to their room?) and then went to the Porsche Museum.  That was pretty cool.

Monday and Tuesday, there were meetings between all of the Alliance firms and I was along for the ride.  It was interesting getting to hear some of the closed door meeting information that as an Audit Associate you never get to hear.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was cool for a 25 year old kid (I will always think of myself as one, no matter how old I get) to sit in with really important people during meetings.

Monday night there was a very entertaining speaker who spoke to German companies (who have some connections to doing business in the US) and the Alliance members about the differences between doing business in America and doing business in Germany.  The big one that stuck out was that Americans are story tellers who try to sell themselves before they try to sell what they are actually selling.  German’s don’t do business like that.  It’s more about establishing long term relationships and then if a business need arises, then they get the business.

This is a big reason why I’m here.

There are no shortcuts to developing important and long lasting relationships.  Think about all of your close friends and think about how that relationship started.  Chances are for most people, you don’t remember the start of the relationship, it just kind of happened.  And it happened over a long period of time.   With every relationship made, there will be some growing pains (go ahead and insert your tall joke for this post here) along the way because there is a feeling out process that happens.  With that said, I will always remember how this relationship started, because I get to live it.

So how does this all relate to jumping out of a plane?  I’m glad I asked myself.  I’m the first American to get to come to Germany as part of our Employee Exchange Program.  If I screw it up, it’s possible nobody else gets to go.  I had no expectations on how this trip was going to go, my plan was to just live life and say yes to everything.  So far that has been accomplished, but now my coworkers have returned back to the states and it’s time to finally settle in to Munich.  For the next 10 weeks, Kleeberg has hired a personal instructor to work with me four days a week to improve my German.  It’s time to go to work.

Alex Krog, CPA is an Audit Associate and participant of Mueller’s Global Employee Exchange Program.