Sunday, June 13, 2010

Going Global? Visit the Markets

A recent set of management tips from the Harvard Business Review tells us that the ability to work in global teams, manage in a multi-cultural business environment can be developed in part by taking a vacation, immersing yourself in the local culture  

But how does one  “immerse” themselves in the local culture?  One way is to visit a local  market.  See what people eat, how the food is displayed, what the people look like, how they speak, interact.  Voices loud or soft?  Food packaged or available to be touched and tasted? Can you fill a sack with scoops of spices to season your sauces? . Do you have to weigh your fruits and vegetables before you get to checkout or risk getting yelled at?  Is the meat displayed on ice but not refrigerated?  This site can be shocking to an American eye accustomed to buying meat neatly packaged, wrapped and impossible to touch. 

No matter what country, city you visit you can find a market filled with local foods and the local residents.  If you’re in Berne, Switzerland on a Monday in November you may find the onion market.  One day where hundreds of booths are set up to sell onions.  On my next trip to Hong Kong I’m going to search out the Dried Seafood Street. Visiting a market, whether a tiny shop on a side street or the  one  like Barcelona's  La Boqueria ( in Barcelona gives you a unique view of the city, the people.  How do they dress, what do they eat, how is it displayed? 

This month Saveur magazine features the “Wide World of Markets”.  One article, Wide World of Markets ( highlights 30 markets around the world.  They range from one in Ethiopia that has 13.000 vendors to the largest farmers market in the United Sates located in Dane County, Wisconsin.
Wherever you go there are markets large and small that provide a window into the life of the local population. 

Take the time to look, learn and taste. In Los Angeles you can often sample chips, salsa, or hummus.  But in Moscow a sample of a local product can be spoonful of caviar.  A delightful way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

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