Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Almost Time

1 official ball

32 teams

736 players

12 venues

64 matches played over 32 days

25 officiating teams

20 official sponsors 
3.3 million tickets to be sold

Add to that list

One official mascot and one official song  One World  (Ole Ola)

45 million or more who will view the games on television

Even before the first match on  June 12,  the World Cup 2014 experience begins – shared around the world.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal  for people in more than 100 countries the games begin with the effort to fill the Panini World Cup sticker album.  Sharing, talking, trading.

We could fill pages with lists of World Cup statistics.  Costs and protests.  Hot dogs and beer consumed.  Flights taken.  Hotels booked.  Souvenirs acquired.  Yellow cards.  Red cards.  Goals scored and missed.  But for a moment, let’s stop counting.  Texting. Tweeting.

For a few minutes, days, weeks, let’s recognize that around the world, wherever we are , we'll be linked by a shared focus.  In person, on line, watching, talking, arguing, rooting for and against the same teams.  We will be, as the official song says, One World (Ole Ola)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Write, Call, Hangout

Yesterday I was reminded of the value of a phone call.  Why email isn’t always the answer even if you’re in a hurry.  After an exchange of almost a dozen emails trying to get information on our choices to solve a problem – each answer leading to another question – it was time to call.  Within less than 10 minutes we figured out our choices, some of which weren’t even mentioned in the e-mails. 

Still thinking about that I came across a posting by Elizabeth Danziger of Work Talk Communications Consulting ( addressing just that issue.  Do you write or call?  Paraphrasing Liz’s advice – here’s a guide:
  •  If the topic is complicated, confidential or there’s a potential for conflict  - pick up the phone.
  • If you want a record of what’s said (is the fee $50 or $250?), need a paper trail to refer to or it’s just time to check in and say hello – email’s the ticket.
However, don't stop there.  Working globally?  There's more to consider.  What languages do the parties speak?  At what level?    For example if English is the working language but one person is fluent and the other isn't  - even if you'd prefer to call -   maybe your write first.  Having something in writing allows time to translate the information, consider the issues and then develop a reply.

Another avenue may be it’s a call where an interpreter can participate.  Speaker phone,  Skype, FaceTime,  or Google Hangout.  With the last three in addition to spoken language the parties can observe the body language that can help clarify the message. 

Call?  Write?  Text?  Hangout?  Which ones will you use?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A special day

In the United States today, Sunday May 11 is Mother’s Day.  As with many holidays its origins are often lost in a flurry of greeting cards, bouquets of flowers, meals eaten in restaurants so that Mom doesn’t have to cook.  But there is a history dating back over a hundred years.

In the US Mothers began at the end of the US Civil war in 1868.  At that time it wasn’t meant to honor all women with children rather to honor and comfort mothers whose sons had died in the war. Known then as Mothers Friendship Day It was intended to unite the nation once again as mothers day was to honor families without regard to which side they fought for.  In 1914, after another war, it was designated an official holiday.  Over the years, the holiday has lost its connection to the battles fought and evolved to honor all mothers, really all people who fill that role in the lives of children grown and growing.

While these origins are specific to the US, a holiday to honor Mothers is not.  Nor is the date although May seems to have the most Mothers Days around the world.  The US is joined by Australia, Poland, Zambia and Bolivia among others celebrating in May.  Other countries celebrate in other months including - 

Norway in February.
Nigeria, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Sudan and the UK among the countries in March
Morocco and Kenya in June. 
Argentina in October
Russia in November when they celebrate International Women’s Day, rather than Mothers Day.
And in December in Indonesia, Mother’s Day is added to the year-end festivities.

Happy Mothers Day to mothers everywhere.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How Long Can We Stay?

“We’ll seat you now at this table but you have to promise to be out in two hours.” Those words of a hostess in a trendy downtown Los Angeles restaurant were addressed to our group of three who had arrived just at the time of our reservation.

The greeting was surprising but not a unique experience.  Restaurants in the US want to turn their tables multiple times during an evening.  Not all are so direct but no matter, the message is clear.  Please come, eat, but don’t stay too long.  But to know what’s “too long”?

Travel+Liesure   ( recently had a short article that attempted to answer that question.   How Long is Too Long to Linger at a table?  Their response:  In a good restaurant in the US 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours is the limit.  . Then it’s time to go.  Don’t linger and talk, the restaurant needs to give the table to someone else.

Trained as we to this mealtime timing, it’s surprising and awkward to arrive in other countries and discover no limit even hinted at.  The table is yours for the evening. (Although I did overhear a lunchtime conversation in a French café telling two ladies they’d have to relocate if all they wanted was something to drink.  To sit in the best spot on the terrace one had to order food.  Concern here too for the revenue side of the business – but whether you ordered food and received a prime table or simply a drink and were at a lesser spot – the table was yours for the afternoon.)

In countries where sharing meals is considered an essential part of life – whether it is professional or personal - tables come without time limits.  How can we know if it takes two hours or twenty minutes to have that important conversation? 

My suggestion:  Watch the clock if you’re in New York, Dallas or Chicago.  In Rome, Paris or Buenos Aires, or any number of places you’ll visit – hide the watch and enjoy your stay.