A world traveller, observer of human nature and possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Anthony Beringen has taken the lessons learned as an employee of an international airline and developed an intriguing new business idea. Read on and be inspired …
What’s your background, Anthony?
I moved to Port Macquarie in 2003 from Sydney. I came to Port by accident – it was one of those ‘love at first sight’ things! My partner and I were on our way to Queensland for a holiday. We went to Queensland, came back to Port Macquarie on our way home and put in an offer on a place – with the idea that we’d one day move here.
As often happens, the universe conspired … and a week after I got home to Sydney, the airline, where I’d applied for a part-time job, rang and said I had half an hour to decide if I wanted the position. I lived in London for 3 years, but apart from that – I’ve been here.
What positions have you held with various airlines over the years?
I started off as a short haul flight attendant for Ansett Australia many years ago. After 5 years, I was promoted to a Cabin Manager with Ansett International. I was there for about 5 years before I left, and I’ve been with my current employer for 13 years.
The highlight of my career was being hand-picked to serve Her Majesty, the Queen, when she visited Australia. I was working as a dedicated first-class flight attendant at that time, and she was travelling from Singapore to Sydney. It was a great thrill!
I’m currently employed as a Business First Flight Attendant, so I work in the premium cabins.
What’s your favourite travel destination?
I’m a real Europhile. My heritage on my father’s side is European – he’s from Holland. I’ve had a bit of a global upbringing, as I lived and attended primary school in Holland. I love France, England and Europe. I lived for 6 years in Japan and studied Japanese through high school and university; I speak and read fluent Japanese. I did a combined Arts and Economics degree, and the Arts side was all Japanese linguistics. I actually worked on prime time TV in Japan for 2½ years on various programs.
How did you make the connection between working for an international airline and your new business concept?
The idea has come from the fact that I’ve been flying for 22 years. Flying is probably what has given me the insight to look at the privileges I’ve had in my own life, but also how culture has changed over the years. The travelling public has changed with the advent of mass tourism, cheap airfares and accessibility.
While there are huge advantages to everyone being able to travel around the world, it’s also highlighted the different types of ‘rage’ that exist around the world – ‘shopping trolley rage’, ’air rage’ and ‘road rage’. I started asking myself why people are so aggressive and competitive, and it’s given me a really broad sense of how things work … that’s the link!
Oddly enough, through that I remembered a story my grandfather told me; I’ve used this story as a starting point for the book I’m writing. When I was a little boy and I was staying with my grandparents, Christmas was coming up and I wanted to write a letter to Santa.
My grandmother had given me chocolate and I’d been eating it … and there were dirty chocolate prints all over the letter. My grandfather said, “It’s great that you’ve done this, but don’t you think Santa would be a lot more impressed if you’d written the letter minus the sticky marks?” In the interests of impressing Santa, I washed my hands and rewrote the letter … and of course, all my Christmas dreams came true! The lesson has stayed with me my whole life – and my parents and grandparents have instilled in me a sense of self respect, respecting others and having manners.
I’ve been very lucky to have a solid upbringing, and I’ve been given a set of skills and manners that have been very effective. Maybe that’s why I’ve chosen my flying career! I’ve noticed a lot of people these days don’t seem to have this advantage, and I’ve spent a couple of years researching manners and social interaction to come up with a business idea.
The business idea is called ‘Modern Manners – The Art of Success’, and it’s based on my belief that you can be inherently successful in your personal and professional life by using your manners and social skills to your advantage.
A lot of criticism is levelled these days at ‘Gen Y’- they can be very techno-savvy; they live in the digital age (and I think this a great thing … I’m not scared of it! I’m a 50-year-old boy dealing with the twitting, tweeting, Facebooking thing!) The criticism that is often levelled at Gen Ys is that they are great at representing themselves in the digital forum, but get them back to one-on-one, and there can be issues.
You obviously feel that your program is particularly beneficial to youth …
I think it’s particularly relevant to young people today; but I also think this program is relevant for anyone who feels they are not getting as much out of their life as they’d like to.
I’ve actually separated manners from etiquette. Etiquette, in my view, is an expression of exterior form, dating back to Louis XIV and the Palace of Versailles. It’s very much about which fork to use, and it’s very ceremonial in nature.
Manners are a legacy that have been handed down from our grandparents and parents, and they’re the tool we’ve been given as an expression of love – in order for us to function seamlessly in wider society. For a number of reasons – I think this process has been diluted over the years. Maybe people are working harder; society has developed a faster pace. People seemed to have lost the art of using their interpersonal skills or their manners to achieve their dreams.
I’m interested in launching this business in Port Macquarie because I think there is just a great energy here, and I love the local youth. Having been to so many places around the world, I can tell you first hand this is one of the best spots.
What kind of forum are you aiming to develop to aid this process?
My life is being controlled at the moment by finishing a book – The Me Change and the Modern Manners Advantage. It’s about establishing a personal brand and taking advantage of modern manners. Manners, in my opinion, are an expression of inner character; they have more to do with self-respect.
Once the book is completed, I’m opening expressions of interest. In January I’m opening enrolments through my website, and in February I’m planning to start seminars here in Port Macquarie. I’d like to be able to expand and visit businesses in Port Macquarie and around the country, visit schools and be a keynote speaker. I am very interested in looking at ways to engage youth and promote self-esteem.
Anyone interested in Anthony’s upcoming book and seminars should visit
Interview by Jo Atkins.