Sunday, December 28, 2014

Coffee and Company: The Year of the Cat

Thinking about where to travel, what to see in 2015?  New destinations?  New adventures?  
On the search I read the through the Los Angeles Time “Forecast for Travelers.”  It told me that airfares aren’t likely to come down, hotels may be increasingly family friendly, that a rental car may cost more and that I won’t be able to add pages to my (US) passport after 2015.  Useful predictions.  Except for the passport piece, not surprising.

But I was surprised to read that 2015 may be The Year of the Cat  - Not the Chinese zodiac calendar animal of the year but the little four legged furry feline, the one that is a popular pet with estimates of over 100 million kept as pets worldwide.  

Away form home and wishing for a little cuddle with a kitty?  Something to reduce the stress of the new place?  – look for a café that will offer coffee and a few minutes visiting with a cat.  Japan, New York, Paris, Vilnius, Madrid and Singapore  ( all are mentioned.  

Looking for others – check the article posted by CNBC.  You’ll find cafes and cats in Germany, Vienna, the UK and Budapest.

Will this new trend reach your city?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

When there's no Uber

In each new city there are things to learn.  How to unlock the door to our apartment or hotel room.  How to turn on the lights once you get in.  But it doesn’t stop there does it.  How to get around? to use their public transportation and if Uber isn’t available,  how to hail a cab. 

Must you be at a cab stand?   Can you wave one down on the street?  And if so, how do you know if a cab is available?  Light on?  Light off? Sometimes you need some advice from a friend.

And fortunately a friend recently sent the following short guide: 

In Paris, you (generally) must go to a taxi stand, get in, and instruct the driver.

In London you can hail a cab without going to a taxi stand -- but it is the custom to tell the driver through his window where you want to go and THEN get into the cab.

In Japan you do not open the doors, they open automatically!  And most drivers do not speak or understand English so if you do not speak Japanese it is wise to have your destination address written in Japanese on a card you can hand to the driver.  (That’s great advice in Hong Kong too).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Enjoy the Moment Listen for the Ping

 My friend Sheryl Rule is a food writer and sometime philosopher.  Her blog is filled with thoughtful observations topped off with wonderful recipes.  Yesterday's post was about what she calls the Ping moment in our lives.  That sound that she hears the ball hit her tennis racket and is on its way to the spot she aimed for.  A perfect moment.  We all have them, hope to hear them often, and are filled with pleasure then it happens.   What's yours?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How Do I Get There?

When we ask the question - How Do I Get There? - these days most often the reply is – just check Google maps or plus it into your nav system.  It’s easy. 

But sometimes we are looking for something special.  Sometimes we want a piece of paper, something we can hold in our hands, unfold while standing on a corner in a new city wondering where we are.   The paper map may not be the first choice but sometimes it’s the best choice.

In Memphis and want to know where Elvis lived, ate, signed up for the army?  Check the map produced by Alan and Grossman and Andrea Shaw with over100 points of interest for Elvis Fans.  (

Curious about kissing in France (is it on cheek, two or four? ) or want to know what countries are landlocked, surrounded by other counties as is the case for the Kingdom of Lesotho?  Search through Frank Jacob’s book the Book of Strange Maps.

While we know who created the Memphis guide to Elvis, it’s unusual to even think about who makes all these handy maps. How do they do it and why?  Read Ken Jennings book  Maphead:  Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks.

Whether the maps are on line or in print individuals, cartogrpahers,  create them for us to enjoy and to help us navigate the world we inhabit.   Take a moment and say a quiet Thank You to them all.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Food for the Holidays

A buffet of Jello
This morning Iistening to NPR I heard an interview with a Chef about food for the Day of Dead celebration.  In his restaurant the food linked to the holiday will be available throughout November.

What captured my interest was the idea that when the family gathers, in addition to the traditional sweet breads, the menu is expected to include dishes favored by ones ancestors.  Those who are honored at the gathering.    It seems a lovely way to keep the memories and the spirit of the family alive through the generations.

Then it occurred to me that Thanksgiving about to be celebrated November 27 in the US, includes food in the same way.  In every family that I know there are certain dishes included partly because Aunt Susie or Grandma Jean always made them.  They are served  in remembrance of someone no longer with us.  Maybe it’s sausage stuffing.  Creamed onions.  Green beans with cream of mushroom soup.  In our family it’s Nana’s cranberry/sour cream/pineapple jello.  For some a frightening pink concoction.  For others a reminder of Nana.  At our table pink jello provides a way to link one generation to the next.

As we move into the holiday season, filled with food and drink.  Take a minute and think about who created that special (if unusual) dish that appears on your table every year. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuesday? Sunday? What's the best day?

Those of us who travel frequently often believe that there is day, and maybe a time, when we’ll find the best deals on airline tickets.    What airline, website, day, time in advance of the trip is best? Advice I’ve received from many a frequent traveler?  Book on Tuesday, after 3:30 pm eastern time.  

But this week the Wall Street Journal published an article telling us that Sunday’s the day.
Read through Scott McCartney’s article and you’ll discover that airlines realized that, especially for leisure travel, many of us do our searching on the weekends.  That what hadn’t sold during the week might be purchased by the casual visitor on a Sunday afternoon.

But those of you who are Tuesday believers, don’t lose hope.  It turns out that Tuesday can be a good time to find that special offer.  An extra discount on the flight you want.

So now it appears there are two days to check those prices.  But whichever day is yours, remember sooner is better than later.  In his study it showed that domestic (US) flights had the best prices 57 days in advance while international flights from the US were best at 10 months in advance.

Now my question is do I book my February Nashville flight today, Sunday, or do I hope for better luck on Tuesday afternoon? 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pirates, Weapons and an ATM

We think that reading the headlines will tell us everything we need to know about a country far away.  Maybe one we’ll visit or do business in.  But it depends on what headlines you read what you’ll know. 

Looking for news of Somalia in the last two days I’ve seen headlines about weapons, food shortages, kidnapping and pirates.  Familiar themes. 

Imagine my surprise to discover an article about the first ever ATM arriving in Mogadishu. An ATM that gives US dollars, not the local currency the shilling.  According to the author Mohamed Moalimu, the shilling is “almost worthless” and for business, people prefer the US dollar. 

It’s a reminder that when you’re looking at a new destination for business or pleasure you can’t check enough sources.   And not to settle just for what you find on line. Find someone who has been there, is there, get the full story not just the headlines.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Discovering a New City

This past week I had that special experience.  It’s been a while since I’ve been someplace new, a city that I’ve never visited.

I went to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, to speak at a Protocol Officers Association workshop. (   Taking advantage of being there I set aside Saturday to explore this interesting city, aided by a friend who served as a guide.

What a treat it was.  First visited the National Gallery – a really wonderful dramatic building -  and discovered the Group of Seven, artists who banded together in 1920 to show Canada’s character through their landscape painting.

Too visit the Notre Dame Cahtedral Basilica with ornate interior and amazing silver spires.   Then there was lunch and a stroll though ByWard Market, followed by a walk along te UNESCO Heritage site, the Rideau Canal.  Everyone I met talked about the canal that runs through the city and freezes in the winter --- one of the attendees at the workshop shared that she skated to work all though the last winter.  Coming from L.A. it’s hardly possible to image such a commute to work.   and there’s so much more – too much to list here.

But maybe most unexpected was to see the banners for Canada 2017 – the 150th anniversary of the formation of Canada.  http://www.ottawa2017    Ottawa is clearly ready to celebrate in even though they'll have to wait 1007 days.  Let’s mark our calendars and share the event with our Canadian friends and colleagues. 

And I you'll agree that every new city we visit has something that may intrigue, excite and engage us in unexpected ways.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

This week the most important financial news in the U.S/ was the launch of a Chinese company on the New York Stock Exchange, unimaginable not too many years ago. But the financial news was the only recent reminder that important events and influences come from unexpected places. 

This month Harper's Bazaar an America fashion dating from 1867 added a more global view to the U.S. edition.  (They are already a global publication with editions published mainly in local languages in 31 countries including Bulgaria, Brazil, China, Poland, Kazakhstan, Greece, Vietnam and the UAE.)

They brought the world to the pages of their U.S. edition not simply by presenting a review of the fashion weeks in London or Paris or a story about an Italian fashion designer.  Rather under the headline Intercontinental Chic they presented full page spreads of design and culture in eight countries and locales.  There was no surprise to see  France, and England, but less expected were the others:   China, Brazil, India, Russia, the Middle East, and Japan.  (

This may simply be a recognition that their American readers understand that design, and trends, whether in fashion, furniture or food, emerge in many places.  Or it is a way to encourage their readers to expand their thinking.  Whatever the reason, it reminds us to be curious, to expect to find great things anywhere and everywhere in our world. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hot or Cold: What's the Tempo?

While Denver, Colorado (USA) and Calgary, Alberta (Canada) welcomed the first snowflakes of the season this week Los Angeles is in the midst of a record setting heat wave.  For the first time that I remember I saw an Excessive Heat Warning posted.  Predictions are for the temperatures in the area to reach or exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 centigrade).  It’s hot.

Being out in the heat made me remember that I’d read that that Climate has an influence on culture.  According to the book, A Geography of Time, by Robert Levine climate is one of five factors that influence the tempo, the speed, of a culture.

Today in the heat it was easy to believe that in a place with an extremely warm climate, especially if one lacks the ability to be cool at will, the pace would be slower than in a more moderate climate.  But I'm not sure if  people move faster where it’s colder – moving along more quickly to keep warm or maybe slower again if it’s too cold to move comfortably?  What I do believe is that temperature matters. 

This give us one more thing to consider as we explore new destinations.  Is it hot or cold?   What might that tell us about the tempo, the pace of life and business?  What are the expectations about how when something will be done?  How quickly should an email be answered?  Within half an hour?  A day?  A week?

By the way, Mr. Levine’s Five Factors that influence the tempo of life are:  Economic Well-Being.  Degree of Industrialization. Population size (people in big cities move faster), Climate and Cultural Values (whether affiliation or achievement is viewed as most importance.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Where are the 440?

If you had to book a flight to Sanaa, Lusaka or Belo where would you be going?  And what might take you there?
According to McKinsey & Co. these cities in Yemen, Zambia and Brazil are part of the 440 cities driving global growth that by 2025 – just eleven years from now – will be the “prime growth engine” for the world.

Two years ago in 2012 the McKinsey Global Institute published a report identifying 600 cities that they estimated would create nearly two thirds of global growth by 2025.  Within the 600 are the cities we expect:  London, New York, Los Angeles, Delhi, Seoul, Toronto, Shanghai and Sao Paulo.  But the majority, the 440, aren’t the familiar names highlighted in business headlines around the world.

This month September 2014 the McKinsey Quarterly  ran the “Management intuition for the next 50 years” as part of the celebration of their 50 years in business.

 This report included a reminder of the importance of the 440.  Cities we need to know.  That we may visit.  For vacation.  For business.  Cities that may be unfamiliar to us but are homes to our future clients, colleagues, competitors. 


Let’s pull out our world maps.  Discover new opportunities in new places.   Between now and 2015, if this report is correct, significant growth, economic development, will happen in many places.  Let’s be curious.  Extend ourselves, make new connections, enjoy learning about new places, meet new people.   How many of the 440 will you visit before 2025?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

When Can I Eat?

Last night I had dinner guests from Senegal, Benin, and Gabon.  All three were in Los Angeles as part of a US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership program.
They are participating in this program to learn about the US approach to transparency and good governance, looking for ideas that might be useful for their countries.

When dinner was served there was a momentary pause, when no one lifted a fork to begin.  Then the youngest member of the group (somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties) said to the oldest (maybe in his middle forties) – “Please, you must begin first.”  For him it wasn’t the host or hostess who started the meal, rather the oldest man had that honor.  Our “older” gentlemen graciously accepted this request and so our meal began.

As I reflected on the moment I thought:  Oh this would not work in the US, not in LA.  Where everyone is concerned about looking, feeling, being young.  Where there is endless advice for people start new careers after they retire, where endless ads promote products to make one look, feel young and energetic.  Suggest that someone begin dinner because they are oldest?  Do that and risk being seen as unbelievably rude rather than thoughtful and respectful.

Who eats when?  Worth checking before you travel to someplace new.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Which Country is For You?

Earlier this year Rachel Gillott of Fast Company wrote an article “What is the Best Country in the World to Work”

Drawing from statistics from the OECD she tells us that Israel ranks high for being home to Innovative Companies. That Scandinavian countries “top the charts in categories like life satisfaction and work-life balance, and they fare pretty well in the health category as well”.

Wondering where your dream country might be?  Take a look at the OECD Better Life Index.  It covers 36 countries including Australia, Chile, Japan, Turkey, Israel, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the United States.

Not only can you see the results of their analysis of data collected but also you can create your own index.  Log on and rank eleven topics including jobs, income, health, education and work-life balance and then run the numbers.
What country may be the perfect place for you? 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Food from Home: Local and Global

When I saw an article about Domino’s new spicy banana pizza I thought - now here's a new version of  from food from home.

As they expand in India Domino's is expanding and revising their menu with, among other items, Spicy Banana pizza.  A new American version of an Italian dish –with flavors (green bananas, chilis) selected to reflect the preferences of a client in Indian.  

Suddenly we have a dish that is global and local.  Is this a new food category:  Glocal?

Adapting menus to local tastes isn’t new for Dominos nor is it the only restaurant group that has revised its menu as it expanded.  McDonald’s has the McVeggie burger in India and Teriyaki burgers in Japan. Dunkin Donuts in India opened with the Mango Donut and a jerk cottage cheese ciabatta sandwich.

Next time you’re in a new place, in addition to trying iconic food of the locale, search out the local interpretation of food from your home.  Discover what flavors, textures, colors or shapes make your home town food appeal to the local population.   Discover Glocal food.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Which country is the most productive?

Work less and get more done? Can it be true that countries with laws limiting hours worked and when employees can receive email be ranked as more productive than US with a 24/7 on line all the time business culture?  

According to an article written by Jessica Stillman for Inc. magazine it’s true. 

PGi, a tech collaboration company ( worked with the OECD (, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to present data ranking countries based on the relationship between GDP and hours worked.  To see the infographic of their report click on the link:  /

You’ll quickly see that employees in South Korea, Mexico and Greece work the most hours in a year – clocking in at close to 2500 hours per year.  Germany and France with their 35 hour work week put in 1500 hours.  The US?  It’s  average at about 1800 hours per person, per year.  Notwithstanding so many fewer hours worked, Germany and France rank as the most productive with Mexico and South Korea the least.  

Good to know.  Work less.  Be more productive.  Something to consider.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Close is Too Close?

Having just returned from five weeks of travel with what seemed like endless hours spent standing in lines (airports, taxi lines, entrances to museums and more)  I’ve had lots of experience with the shape and space of lines.  I hadn’t thought much of it until I read Lisa Condle’s post about living in Italy and comments about Personal Space.

I suddenly had a vision of the lines I’d spent time in.  Not the nice long neat, one-by-one, at least 12 inches apart lines you’d find in a bank in Los Angeles.  Rather a floating, changing straggle of people generally headed in the same direction almost touching each other that I recently experienced.  Too many people, too close.  Where’s my place, your place?   

How we define the appropriate space, the personal bubble that we want around us isn’t something we often consider until someone gets too close or is too far away.   A bother we might think but it’s more than that.  It’s an essential component of how we communicate.

Edward T. Hall, the cultural anthropologist was one of the first to study and write about this area formally called Poxemics.  He identified personal space as a form of non-verbal communication.  For a more in depth look at the topic, based on Mr. Hall’s work, read through Martin Tolley’s article “The Psychology of Personal Space.”

The next time you're standing in line take a minute and as yourself.   How does you feel?  

The Gelato Search

The search was on.  Where would we find the best gelato?  Where would it be? In Rome? Florence? Venice? 

Little did we know there was more to understand about this topic than which flavor to select from the dozens that appeared in each shop.  Lemon?  Cream?  Which one of multiple versions of chocolate?  Mango?  Nutella?  Coffee?  Endless decisions and combinations.

Imagine our surprise to learn from Sarah, our guide on the Eating Italy tour ( that there is real gelato and “fake gelato.  The first made by hand with natural ingredients.  The  others from an industrial mix.  And guess which one is more impressive to look at?  Of course, the industrial version.  Piled high,  often with bright colors (think green, green pistachio), covered with pieces of fruit. Impressive to see.  But filled with air to create volume.  Less cream, less flavor. 

Now we look for containers filled just to the top,  the gelato  almost flat with quiet colors.   In our search we’ve discovered not only dozens of flavors.  We’ve also found tiny places with 5 sizes of cones and more of cups, places where the cones are colored and other where cones are not allowed.  Gelato served only in one of six sizes of cups. Discovering the gelato you love  in the size that’s right for the time of day is a delightfully time consuming, tasty process. 

But without Sarah’s advice we would never have given a second look to the flat, simple, stunningly delicious gelato we’ve enjoyed so much.  Local knowledge made the difference.

Now I have a Gelato Rule.  Search out local knowledge for business too.  Listen to people who may know things you only learn through years of experience in a place, a company, a region.

Local knowledge can help you find  best Gelato in all different forms.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where's the English?

English is the language of business.  Everyone speaks English.
Two familiar phrases which sometimes seem to be true.  But then one discovers.  Not always.

I was reminded of  this simple fact when I purchased a travel hair dryer while I was just in Paris.  Small.  Inexpensive.  With plugs that fit local outlets and electrical system appropriate for local voltage.  Cute, light weight and practical.

But when I skimmed through the instructions including a notice written in nine languages:   “do not use this device near bathtubs, showers,  and other items containing water” – I was surprised not to find a bit of English.    The  warning was clearly displayed in languages included French, Italian, Spanish, Estonian and Slovenia.  No English.

A gentle reminder from a small hair dryer -  English isn’t always everywhere. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Language?

Does language we’re using (reading, speaking) shape our decisions?  Boaz Keyser and Albert Costa make the case that whether we’re operating in our mother tongue or what for you is a foreign language, your decisions may differ.

Reporting on research in the journal PloS One they found that are responses to moral dilemmas, in this case whether it was acceptable to sacrifice one person to  save many, changed depending on the language used to solve te problem.    Read their intriguing article “Our moral tongue” published in the international edition of the New York Times.

Move this idea from a philosophical discussion to our business lives.  While  a global group, a company, may use one language to operate  diverse teams likely represent multiple mother tongues. 

How does that impact decisions that are made?  Would they change if the language changed?  I wonder.