I can't wait to find out why Coca-Cola want to take me on an all expenses paid trip to Shanghai. There have been a few hints. Vague explanations like they might want me to be on an advisory board , give them feedback on their community projects or just share my superb ideas, opinions, insights and expertise with them.
I'm still a bit suspicious though.
Did they find out about my '80s coke habit? I was a regular diet coke user at that time.
Is it to repay me for naming all of my three kids with a nod to them? Hard to explain or believe but it's something to do with the hard “c” sounds in Coca-Cola which I emulated in my kids' names. I'll share the gory details another time.
Or was it my secret beach shot?
The Real Deal
The Coca-Cola contingent deny it, claiming they contacted me to help launch their Live Positively initiative here in Australia. They want to make a positive difference in the world and that's something we've got in common.
They're interested in finding out how to talk about serious issues like sustainability or obesity in a positive way and I like that too. The most important thing with serious issues is to talk about them, but no one wants to sit around moaning, complaining and feeling sad. I'm a qualified teacher and from experience the best way to help people learn is to get them having fun. That way they enjoy the learning process and want to come back for more.
When we talk about serious things it's important to explain why they need to be talked about so people understand the facts and why something needs to be done.
Most of all I think we need to seek out positive stories about change and think of new ways to solve old problems.
We need to empower people and help everyone see that our small actions really do make a difference. That we're part of a diverse, global team of people who are determined to make the world better and everyone, from small kids who pester their parents to recycle to the CEO of Coca-Cola, has an equal role.
The Plot Thickens
The Coca-Cola website say a lot of talented people have helped promote Coca-Cola ~ people like Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, the Harlem Globetrotters and Kylie Minogue. I'm keen to join their ranks but my husband says Coca-Cola don't need me to sell their drinks, rudely inferring I'm not part of that “talented team”. He's just jealous though.
Then there are the letters to help me get a Chinese visa, like this one from the Vice President of Coca-Cola Greater China:
“It gives us great pleasure to invite you to attend a conference on Innovation and to join us at the various programs we shall activate in Shanghai during the World EXPO. Your participation would be most valuable for the discussion of this conference.”
Help! Do they want me to really take part or just go along and take a few notes? Is that why they insist it's not a holiday but a business trip?
The Height of Innovation
What's Innovation anyway? I suppose it means creativity and I do know a bit about that. Ideas come easily to me. I have so many it can actually be annoying at times, especially when I get woken at 2am by yet another brilliant idea. I'm brimming with them but bringing them to fruition takes hard work.
They say necessity's the mother of invention and it's true. One of my best works of creative genius was the wardrobe I made when I lived in Zimbabwe out of some string and a broom handle. It worked a treat for keeping my clothes off the filthy, scorpion-infested floor.
Fortunately, I think something got added in the translation. There's another letter from the President of Coca-Cola South Pacific who merely says I'm being invited to “attend” a conference (phew) and kindly agrees to “pick up all the expenses associated with my trip.” It's not every day you hear that from a man you don't know is it? It's certainly not something I'd hear from any man who does know me.
I was even given the Coca-Cola credit card details to pay for something. These coke dudes seem very trusting. I wonder how long they've studied me online and following my blog and tweets? Maybe they've had some private detectives check out my credit rating, mental health history, and criminal record. Luckily my credit record is spotless. But even then, surely you don't spend thousands of dollars on and hand your credit card details over to someone you don't know? Isn't that a bit of a no no with people you met on the Internet…
Maybe they need help coming up with some innovative drink ideas? I noticed they had some coke with vanilla in when I was at the supermarket. I like coke with a squeeze of lemon so how about adding that to it? Oh, they've already done that? How about chilli? Chocolate then? I hear the Chinese like drinking coca-cola mixed with red wine so perhaps an alcohol free version of that with all the delicious flavour of Shiraz and coke but none of the social problems and drink driving offences would go down well?
What Can I Say?
To be honest I don't really think Coca-Cola know why they want to take me. In fact, they're probably having second thoughts after reading this.
But there's no turning back now. The business class tickets (on Qantas darling!) are booked and paid for and I'm all set to help them make the world a better place anyway we can.
If you could whisper in a VIP Coca-Cola executive's ear and tell them how they could help your community or improve your daily life what would you say? They seem like smart people. They'll probably be reading your comments and working out how they can help.
Meanwhile all this thinking and wondering has left me in need of a break. Three days in Shanghai will be perfect, thank you.
I'm probably in Shanghai right now – or pinching myself as I settle down in the roomy sky bed with a glass of champagne – but if there are any interesting developments I'll write about it here when I get back.