Sunshine Coast's Allan Pease is Russia's Person of the Year
IT'S not every day an Australian becomes Russia's Person of the Year.
Even body language expert Professor Allan Pease didn't see that one coming.
The Buderim resident has spent at least two months every year since 1992 educating Russian business people and students.
His first training session in the former communist society was for new Russian political figures in St Petersburg, which was organised by then deputy mayor Vladimir Putin.
In presenting the award, Russian Businessman of the Year Roman Vasilenko said the research, films and books by Prof Pease had encouraged Russian business people everywhere to set positive goals and to advance their skills to higher levels.
Prof Pease said he had been called by a client of his and told he had to fly to Russia for a five-minute talk.
"I told him I would do it over Skype because a five-minute talk would only be two- and-a-half minutes with translations," he said.
"Then he told me it was for an award and the governor would be there.
"So I knew something was coming, but I had no idea what it was."
Prof Pease took the podium alongside author Bob Doyle, co-star of the book and film The Secret and former advisor to Ronald Reagan, Doug Wead. He arrived back in Buderim on Tuesday after 56 hours of flying and a four-minute speech (including translations) at the awards ceremony.
"It is a really big honour," he said.
It was a fateful meeting at a cocktail party in 1991 that led to Prof Pease and wife Barbara's connection to Russia.
"We heard this Russian accent at a cocktail party and he told us communism was about to finish and they were looking for new ideas, services and education for the Russian people and we said, 'Boy, do we have something for you'," he said.
"We toured for nearly three months and we met Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian president, but we couldn't do anything with him because he was either drunk or just wouldn't show up.
"Then we found someone who knew the new governor of St Petersburg.
"As their first democratically elected leader, he needed someone to train the politicians how to go on TV and look credible."
Prof Pease described those early visits as entering "the wild west".
"It was such a turning point and with communism finished overnight, nobody knew quite what to do," he said.
Now a professor at three Russian universities, Prof Pease said their connection with Russia would continue well into the future.