CHARLOTTE CRIVELLI

Director,

Klick Communications, Santa Monica

From: Australia

When did you arrive in the United States and why did you come?

I first arrived about nine years ago. I came to the United States because the business opportunities were far greater than in Australia. There are 20 million people in Australia and 300 million people in the United States. So, there are about 15 times as many people in the United States and 15 times more opportunities.

Did you intend to return to your native country at the time?

I wasn’t sure. However, I landed a job at Edelman in New York in their corporate and technology division. This was too good to turn down. I received exposure to clients and journalists I could have only dreamed of back home, journalists like Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. I was working on IPOs for revolutionary and exciting solar energy companies and running back and forth from the office to the Nasdaq. After I got a taste, I was pretty sure I couldn’t go back to Australia for a while. Maybe one day.

Why did you start your business in the United States instead of your native country?

The opportunities and market size. And I married an American.

What’s the worst thing about starting and running a business in the United States?

The need for a green card. The bureaucracy. The taxes. The paperwork and the employee tax. Navigating the health care system to make sure I’m offering my employees the best that I can afford.

What’s the best thing?

The excitement and enthusiasm of Americans. They really want to share their success stories and when they do share those stories other entrepreneurs and business owners really want to hear them. In Australia, we are humble and modest about our success. It breeds humility and a culture of people that take pride in not taking themselves seriously. But the downside to that is it’s tough to learn useful business tips or be inspired by others as Aussies don’t celebrate and talk about their success.

What were the biggest surprises?

I can’t believe how much Americans love our accents. It’s helped me stand out in a crowd and made me memorable to people that are much more important in the business world than I am. It’s been my best currency and that is truly hilarious to an Aussie considering how much we hate our accents.

Would you tell someone from your native land to start a business there or here?

Here. Without a doubt.

What advice would you give someone from there about starting a business here?

It might not be possible. Do you have a green card? Are you willing to give up being with your family? Do you want to succeed in business more than being able to see your family and friends all the time and have your children grow up in a school system you are familiar with?

Do you go back often?

Yes, several times a year.

What was your view of the United States growing up?

We loved it. It was a wonder land of “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The Simpsons” and 6-foot bubble gum tape. All the kids at school wanted to go to Disneyland and drink cherry coke. In Australia, we only had boring old regular Coke. We thought teenage girls and boys were given all kinds of freedoms that we didn’t have like driving fast convertibles and being able to go to school without a uniform. We thought there was a McDonald’s on every corner and that kids got to hang out at malls all day long. We don’t really have malls in Australia.

Did reality match your expectations?

Sure. I still can’t believe how much junk food Americans have and the variety.

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