Tuesday, October 11, 2016

French fries: Universal food?

Are what we, in the US, call French fries a universal food?  Read through Afar magazine's article “13 Ways to Eat Fries Around the World” a sampling of how French fries are represented around the world and then decide.

You’ll find Curry fries in Ireland, fries with fish in the UK, with eggs in an omelet in Tanzania.  For fries with history look to Belgium that’s been serving frites (fries) since the 1600’s.  Today they're served with a dash of mayo for dipping,

We all know that enjoying the local cuisine is a highlight of any voyage.  What version of ‘french fries” will you try next?   And which one will be your favorite?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happiest Countries, Happiest People

Who measures Gross National Happiness?   Only one country in the world, Bhutan, has officially adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator. But don’t think that indicates a lack of interest happiness as a measure of development and progress of countries at a global, governmental level. Beginning in 2012 the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network has published three World Happiness Report. (2012, 2013, 2015)  In early 2016 an update was published with a full report due in 2017.  

After interviews conducted in 156 countries they concluded that the happiest countries are:  Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland.  Least happy?  Afghanistan, Syria and Togo.  http://worldhappiness.report/.  (The United States was #13, Canada 6, and Mexico # 21.)  See the complete list (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report)

We aren’t talking about happiness in terms of laughter, which have the most comedians per capita or whose people create the best jokes.  Rather the report looks at serious issues of daily life of the residents in 156 countries around the globe. 

Katia Hetter writing for CNN Travel states that the reports authors consider “Happiness is a better measure of human welfare than measuring education, health, poverty, income and good government separately, the report's editors argue.”  There are at least seven key ingredients of happiness: People who live in the happiest countries have longer life expectancies, have more social support, have more freedom to make life choices, have lower perceptions of corruption, experience more generosity, experience less inequality of happiness and have a higher gross domestic product per capita, the report shows.  (italics added)
While the article appeared on the travel site, suggesting perhaps that one might prefer to travel to a happier country, the subject has more serious implications. 
According to World Happiness Report website “Leading experts across fields – economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more – describe how measurements of well-being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations”. 
In 2017 a new more detailed report will be issued. Let’s see which countries are Happiest and which ones have moved up or down in the ranking, and how they are seen overall as countries to visit, as business partners, and contributors to the well being of the world.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How is that Pronounced?

People’s names matter.   Getting them right, remembering them, pronouncing them  correctly is essential  to create the impression that one is polite, thoughtful and interested in each individual.    However, today, when our business networks stretch around the globe, getting it right isn’t always easy.

Deciding if someone you’re writing to is Mr. or Ms. isn’t the only puzzle. How to know what is the surname/family name and what is the given name?  Is Yao Ming   Mr. or Ms.?  Mrs. Ming or Mr. Yao?   Is the family name  (surname) written first or is it last?    (By the way Yao Ming is Mr. Yao)   In addition there’s the question:  how is the name pronounced?

Don’t despair. You can find the answer even when the usual Google search doesn’t yield a useful response. Help is often as simple phone call away.   If your city has an embassy or a consulate for the country that is home to the person with the name that puzzles you – give them a call.  Someone there will be able to help.  No embassy or consulate in your city?  Find an Embassy in Washington, DC (http://www.embassy.org/embassies/). 

Another option is to reach the officer at the Country Desk at the US Department of State that covers the country that interests you. These people are experts about the country they cover.   (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/115480.pdf). 

Check to see if there is business development organization such as the Hong Trade Development Council, a Korean or French American Chamber of Commerce, for example.  If none of those exist, try a nearby university.  Their language department may be able to advise you.

Whether you are going to visit or planning to welcome Mr. Sekou Nkrumah from Ghana, Ms. Zeynep Yildirim from Turkey, or Mr. Choi Jihoon from South Korea you can find the answers. Be prepared and make the impression that you are thoughtful , knowledgeable and polite.  People to do business with those who know their name.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Worlds of the World

We think the UN operating in six official languages is impressive but those are a tiny fraction of the 7,102 languages in the world.  Of those thousands researchers tell us 23 are mother tongues spoken by almost 50 BILLION people.  But all those people don’t live in one spot.   People move, learn new languages, and yet still speak their mother tongue – sharing it with the people in their new places.

Take a look at the Infographic created by Alberto Lucas Lopez, Graphics Director at the South China Morning Post to see what the languages are and where they’re spoken.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Changing Gobal Cities

A few days ago I heard a presentation by Mary O’hara-Deveraux of Global Foresight (http://global-foresight.net/).  Mary is a futurist who speaks regularly about the future trends in life and business.  This past week in part of her talk she referenced the findings of McKinsey’s Global Institute’s Urban World Cities project.  http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/urbanization/urban_worldcities-photo-essay.html

Briefly they said that today 600 world cities contribute 60% of the world’s GDP.  But slightly more than a dozen years from now, think 2026, 600 cities will contribute 65%.
A measurable uptick but more importantly the names of the cities on the list of 600 will change.  We’ll see hundreds of cities in China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain replacing names that are now included.   

What will drive some of these changes?  We’ll see growth, both in population and economic activity.  One driver of both is entrepreneurial activity.  Greg Lindsay wrote an intriguing article in Inc. titled  “Top 5 Start Up Hubs of the Future – and they’re not in the US”.   The list didn’t include Boston, Austin or San Jose.  His top 5?  Istanbul, Dubai, Santiago, Tallinn and Shenzhen. (http://www.inc.com/magazine/201503/greg-lindsay/pushing-the-boundaries-global-cities-photo-essay.html)

Will these five cities be on McKinsey’s list in 2016?  Let’s go see them now and again and again and decide for ourselves. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Words Matter

There are endless articles about the challenge of working globally.  Dozens and dozens of stories about problems created due to cultural misunderstandings.  Websites that lists marketing horror stories based on incorrect use of language.   20 Epic Fails in Global Branding (http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/the-20-worst-brand-translations-of-all-time.html

One has to ask how these major companies could make such a mistake.  Did they rely on Google translate, a colleague who spoke the languages but had no experience writing?    Moving from one language to another as a traveler has limited risks but in our global business where risks are high, trained professionals can make the difference.

But whom the professionals are that you need depends on what on more than just specific language. To decide which profession is qualified to help move from one language to another depends the answer to the question:  Are we talking about a written document or the spoken word (speech, meeting, conversation)?

For written material (documents, books, marketing slogans) look for a translator.  They have to understand not just the words but also the intent, the style of the writer and the topic of the document.  It’s one thing to translate a simple letter of introduction and another to work on a technical document explaining how to use a piece of equipment or legal agreement between multiple parties.  Looking for some help?    Check the website of the American Translators Association https://www.atanet.org) or the International Association of Translators and Interpreters (https://www.iapti.org/association/). 

As complicated as it can be to work with the written word, managing to move from one language to another as it is spoken presents another level of challenge. 
That’s when you need an interpreter. 

The United Nations, with its six official language, uses translators and interpreters.  The work of an interpreter is so challenging that they work in pairs, alternating in 15 – 20 minutes periods.

It isn’t just the just at UN meeting where interpreters are necessary.  Many business conferences have attendees speaking multiple languages.  Whether you are planning a conference or need an interpreter for a presentation you may find help through the AIIC – The International Association of Conference Interpreters (www.aiic.net)

If it’s a business meeting, a negotiation it is wise for each party to hire their own interpreter and to brief them well before the meeting. 

Words matter.  Spoken and written.  Be sure that the words you speak or write, the messages you want to convey make it through from one language to another.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A new flag for New Zealand?

You may have heard that New Zealand is in the midst of a debate about what their national flag should look like.  It isn’t that they don’t have one.  They do.  It was created over a century ago.  But in 2016 the look of the flag  may change.

I’d never thought of a country with a long history changing their flag and had no idea this was on the “to-do” list in New Zealand.  That is until I came across a recent article in the Economist magazine titled “Hang up the fern! A new flag for New Zealand”.  http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21664232-changing-national-symbols-proves-irksome-hang-up-fern  It seems that New Zealand has decided to redesign its flag that has to create one that people believe represents the country as it is today. 

If you think about a country as a brand and the flag it’s logo, then maybe this move isn’t so startling.  Companies do it.  Think of the global brands whose look (and slogans) have been “updated.”  Among them are Google, HSBC, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and T-Mobile. 

But a country?  Whose flag stands for its history, traditions.  For the struggles and successes of its citizens through decades and even centuries?   Its colors, stripes, stars, bars, triangles all have meaning.   It seems change can at least be considered.

To find a new design the government asked the citizens of New Zealand to submit their suggestions.  Of the thousands received the possibilities are now down to five.  To see the designs follow this link. (http://www.fastcodesign.com/3051496/a-fifth-design-joins-new-zealands-controversial-flag-competition)

In the months ahead, these five will be narrowed down to a single option.  The final decision about changing the national flag will be made by referendum in 2016.  At that time New Zealanders will decide between two choices:  keep the existing flag or go with the new design.  

How would you vote?