Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kisses? Handshake? Hugs? Holiday Tip #3

Hugs? Kisses? Handshakes? Even when a holiday celebration is a business event our greetings tend to be a little warmer, more personal, less formal than during the other times of the year. A little “air” kiss on the cheek can replace a handshake without causing uproar. Friendly but reserved. No matter what you select - hug, pat on the back, kiss or handshake - remember, if a party is part business, it's business! Be remembered for your skills not your greetings.

However, the challenge of the kiss (which cheek? How many?) doesn't end with the holiday season. For the business traveler, especially those traveling outside the US, these questions are often important. Miss the rhythm and risk your nose being smacked, head bumped. Questions about what to do? Check out the website www.blistex.com and look in the Lip Info section. You’ll find a few quotes and a guide to kissing patterns in a nine European countries. This site can be an unexpected but useful resource to check before you pick your passport and head to the airport.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time to Toast - Holiday Tip #2

Inevitably at some point during a holiday celebration there’s a moment
when someone decides to offer a toast. To recall the good moments of the year ending or express hopes for the year to come. To thank someone for
great work, good spirit, or just wish everyone happy holidays.

When it’s your turn to offer a toast remember:
Keep it short
Think about what you plan to say
Lift your glass as you speak
Do not tap the glass with your knife or fork to get everyone’s attention, just stand up and hold your glass up
You do not need to clink glasses after the toast, simply take a sip

And if the toast is to honor you:
Don’t lift your class until the toast ends
Don’t drink (drinking to honor yourself isn’t a great idea)
Acknowledge the toast by lifting your glass and offering a few words of thanks

Small note: For those whose only liquid with a meal is a glass of water, you
can still participate in toasting. It’s the thought that’s important, not what’s
in your glass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Everywhere

Paris in mid-November was filled with images of our US President elect. Every kiosk seemed to overflow with magazines that had cover photos of Obama individually and others including his family.

The election was a topic of conversation everyone I saw including fashion designer Anne Willi (www.annewilli.com) when I stopped by her store. Was I happy, she asked. A friend and fashion historians wanted discuss the implications of the election and stated how pleased he was with the results. The staff at my hotel congratulated me as if his election was my success.

Neither the full magazine racks nor the conversations with friends were unexpected. What did surprise me was how our US election had made its way to the awareness of so many people. The
moment that made it clear to me was at the beginning of a tour of Chateau de Breteuil (www.breteuil.fr) when the owner welcomed us and in pointing out the young woman who could
help us with a special program, introduced her as “Obama’s younger sister”. (And there was a resemblance). There was much laughter, smiles all around at the little joke. But for me, it was a moment to realize how many people, in so many places were touched by our election, who feel in some way that this incoming president represents hope and possibility not only for the US but for the world, for their world. We hope it’s true.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't Fear That Big Presentation

We build our connections with others by communicating in a variety of ways. E-mail, voice mail, actual conversations by phone or in person and in business through presentations long and short, formal and informal. For most of us each presentation comes with a moment or two of anxiety, even panic. But there is help. Simple weekly emails that can change your presentations and reduce your level of anxiety.

These concise, clever and useful e-mails come from Deborah Shames and David Booth who are the team that is Eloqui, (www.eloqui.biz) a Presentation and Communication Training firm. Their workshops and coaching programs are beyond good. They are magical, guiding both experienced and novice presenters as they strive to create engaging, memorable and revenue generating, presentations.

But you can learn from Deborah and David simply by signing up for the Eloqui Tip of the Week. Every Sunday you’ll receive tips related to presentations, vocabulary, and clever quotes that you can use. Just email Deborah Shames (dshames@eloqui.biz) and ask to be added to their subscriber list. Here’s a recent example of what you’ll receive:

Fear Not: Fear engenders constriction. Blood is shunted to our core organs as we brace to fight or flee. Fear affects the voice and overall behavior, forcing you into a defensive posture and disposition. Although fear is an effective survival mechanism, it doesn’t make us any smarter or more effective, because it also affects synaptic response. Whether it’s anxiety over a presentation or the current economic turmoil, move beyond the voice of fear and examine your core strengths. Celebrate your wins, the goodwill you’ve created, and strategize for the future. You will have the strength to conquer fear and be a force for positive change.

Intrepid (in-TREP-id) adjective. Resolutely fearless; dauntless.

Use in a sentence: Roald Amundsen, the intrepid Arctic explorer, overcame epic obstacles of horrible weather, perilous topography and uncharted wilderness to discover the South Pole in 1912.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. -
Mark Twain, writer (1835-1910)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sounds of the City

Walking around New York City (www.nycvisit.com) At almost any hour it seems the streets are filled with people rushing along. At Times Square (www.timessquarenyc.org) it’s a crush of bodies, cars and busses going in every direction. Observing the activity it’s almost impossible to distinguish tourists from residents. Black coats, colorful scarves, denim for all ages, short skirts, knee high boots, t-shirts and sneakers. Old and young. Men and women. Everyone dressed in a similar fashion.

But the sounds of the street reveal that this city’s streets are filled with a varied, global population. Tourists or residents? Unknown. But what you discover is that the languages spoken vary more than the wardrobes. As you walk its likely you’ll catch a few words in French, Italian or Spanish. Hear English in some of it’s many forms: Accents of New York, Southern US, British and Irish. Add to these familiar sounds greetings and conversations in languages unknown to the listener. A cornucopia of sounds that blend with the shouts of vendors, music and honking cars. These are the sounds of a global, connected, energetic city reminding us that we live in a time when the people of the world come together in many ways and places.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How to Manage the Holiday Party that is a Business Event

When that Holiday Party is also Business – Tip #1

The season is about to begin. Halloween ushers in business events disguised as parties – the many dinners, lunches, cocktail receptions you’ll be required to attend. It takes some careful thought to navigate this potentially treacherous environment. Be too serious. Not great. Have a great time. Not serious enough. What to do?

Tip #1 - eat before you go. Really. Never arrive with your focus on finding the food. Even a snack will help. You’ll never worry whether the food is going to be good or bad, abundant or skimpy. Instead of searching for the cheese and crackers to head off starvation you'll be able to to chat with clients, customers, colleagues.

When the event ends have people talking about your business skills rather than how you manage to fill a small plate with an amazing amount of food.

What’s your tip for the season? Send a comment to share.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Building Global Connections

Tom Friedman’s article “Swedish Spoken Here” reminds us that we are now more than ever connected to other people, places, countries, institutions around the globe. (http://www.nytimes.com)
US financial institutions, companies large and small are partners, suppliers,
customers, borrowers and employees tied to foreign investors.

It’s a moment to consider that our American focus on our schedules, deadlines and projects aren’t always seen as the most effective way to do business. More likely the foundation for successful business is considered to be the relationships developed between individuals. Build connections, develop mutual trust and increase the opportunities to flourish wherever business takes you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Time to Vote

No matter which candidate you prefer for the next American president, even if you’re not wildly excited about either one, if you’re eligible to vote – then take advantage of that opportunity and vote. Some consider it a bother, a chore to be done, or that their vote doesn’t matter.
Too much trouble? Take it in easy steps. Register to vote on line. Go to Rock the Vote (www.rockthevote.com), The League of Women Voters (www.lwv.org), Vote 411 (www.vote411.org) or even the Obama site (www.barackobama.com). Note: the McCain site doesn’t appear to give you an option of registering. You don’t have to read any opinions, simply click and register.
Once you register you can get an absentee ballot. Fill it out in the privacy of your home and send it off. No standing in line. Scheduling time at the polling place. Fill it out, attach a stamp and your voice can be heard.
Be glad you can do this. People fight and die in our modern world to have this privilege.
You may not feel as though you’ve been heard, wonder if you count - but it’s certain - if you don’t vote there’s no chance that anyone will hear you. Rock the World in 2008. Vote.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

E-Mail the World

Business today often means we send e-mails that fly around the world. When you do that, don’t just Twitter off a quick minimal message. Think about who will receive your message. Is it someone familiar with the abbreviations, acronyms of your company, your industry? Is English their first language? Some simple measures will increase the chances that your message will be understood:
Keep things simple. Short sentences. Avoid abbreviations, in-house shorthand.
Remember communication patterns differ. Be cautious about how you phrase questions and requests. Show respect. Be careful about direct questions.
Expect that others may read your message. In cultures where consensus is essential your questions and requests will be shared and discussed before there can be a reply.
Be patient. Not everyone operates on fast, fast, immediate reply, rush ahead time.
And most important – from time to time skip the mail. Instead pick up the phone, call, Skype, build the personal connection in a way that can’t be done by words on a screen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Three Tips for Doggy Bags

Been to a great dinner. Couldn’t eat it all. What to do?
Tip #1: Don’t ask for a Doggy Bag
If the great dinner (lunch, breakfast) is business meal, eat what you can, enjoy what you can eat and then leave the remainder on the plate. When dinner and business connect, food stays in the restaurant. No doggy bag, no fancy swan made of foil, no traveling take out container. Don’t let the last image people have when they think of you be the vision of you be carrying a “doggy bag.” What’s the message there? Doesn’t want to pay for lunch tomorrow? Greedy? Have to get every little bit? Leave the food, manage the image.
Tip #2: The doggy bag stays with the puppy.
If your delicious meal was when you’re alone on a trip, with friends, or family and you want to take it home – great. Enjoy. But don’t let that container travel beyond your kitchen if you’re home, your room if in a hotel. Take out doesn’t travel more than one stop.
No matter how good it is, how much you want to eat that left over lunch with your drink in the bar at your hotel, do not ever be sighted in the hotel lounge having a snack out of your take out container. It’s easier to take the drink to your room than to bring you old food with you.
Tip #3: Away from home.
When traveling outside the United States asking for a Doggy Bag can mark you as One Of Those Americans Who Doesn’t Know Anything. In a Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) article the writer, Stan Sesser, said that in Moscow such a request was greeted with “Are you kidding?” in Tokyo it was “No” and in London, Paris the request was fulfilled but reactions were cool. Look like you belong. Let the souvenir of the dinner be matches or the restaurant’s business card, not the take out container.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Create a Cushion

When you’re planning your travels consider creating a cushion – not the kind you put your head on although that’s good but a cushion of time. Avoid having your blood pressure rise and sense of humor disappear when the rental car place in a airport you don’t know is a shuttle ride away, and the car you reserved isn’t there and the one they offer you doesn’t allow you to touch the pedals and then after you get your car, there’s an accident on the freeway on the way to your meeting.

A cushion would have allowed my friend to make her connecting flight instead, she believed the airlines that 35 minutes was enough time to connect between flights (I think it takes 20 minutes for people to get off the plane) and found herself on a different flight arriving at 1 AM not 5 pm. Big difference when you have a presentation to make the next day.

You can find a cushion to rest your head (www.flight001.com) but the other cushion you have to create. Give your self a gift. Just as you pick your seat (www.seatguru.com) you can choose to create a cushion and make your travels just a little bit easier.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You? Me? We? Us?

We celebrate our winners, mostly. The recent Olympics are a reminder that we, Americans, love winners, those who set records, those who compete vigorously. We are proud and excited by their efforts and their success.
Individuals, teams, we watch them all, hope for success. Celebrate or cry depending on the results. But according to. Bill Plaschke (latimes.com/plaschke) a sports writer at the Los Angeles Times newspaper (www.latimes.com) our American fascination with the outstanding individual overshadows our support for teams as a unit. In his recent article Unsung Hero about the swimmer Jason Lezak he tells the story of the differing post Olympic experiences of two members of the relay team. The well-known Michael Phelps and the almost unknown Jason Lezak. Jason was the member of the relay team who was instrumental in helping Michael Phelps, the winner of 8 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, reach that level. According to the article, Lezak’s outstanding performance enabled the team to win its gold medal. He went home with three medals but unlike Phelps no parades, product endorsements, speaking engagements. Lezak was a member of a team. Phelps, the individual standout was the one accorded the celebrity status.
Without question Phelps success was well earned and is to be celebrated. But it is worth noting that it was his individual effort that got the press coverage, far above what was noted for his team.
While we, Americans, value teams and know that we must work together,
it is still part of our outlook, to focus on the individual - the Michael Phelps, the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. Individual achievement outranks group results.
Working now in a global marketplace we need to recognize that the answer to Who do we celebrate? may be not be Me, but rather We, Us together, the team. Remeber Jason Lezak and all the people who supported Michael Phelps. Celebrate him but remember to celebrate them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Convenience or Curse?

The sign says the bank’s now open on Sunday. The ad points out that our lives are “hectic and full” and to make things easier the bank will now be open 10 to 4 on Sunday so you “can bank when it fits your schedule”. Convenience? Absolutely. Adds flexibility to how you plan your week. The cleaners, the drug store, the outdoor market and an open bank (not just an ATM) all together, all there open on Sunday. Lovely.
Or not so lovely? A curse, a complication? Yes that too. One more option so that we can add something else to our schedules, filling in that now open space we used to save for the bank. Another task that we can fit in on the run. Already obsessed with tasks, time and schedules. Sometimes its good NOT to be able to do something. To think about sitting for a few minutes, having a conversation, staring at the sky, even watching a silly TV movie.
Americans are the clock watchers, busy schedule, rush around people of the world. We focus on getting things done rather than connecting with people. Now we can rush to the bank on Sunday instead of having a conversation with someone, sitting, thinking, doing nothing. Convenience or curse? Yes, it is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's His, Her, Their Title?

Traveling for business outside the US and know you’ll be making introductions? Writing a letter to an elected official? Received a letter and can’t understand the title of the person who sent it? Help is here. Robert Hickey’s new book Honor & Respect (www.formsofaddress.info) is a guide to the correct usage of names, titles and forms of address for any occasion.
While you may never have to introduce a King or Queen to your mother, you are likely to introduce colleagues, clients and prospects and this book can be your guide to doing it correctly. Whether you need information for Sri Lanka, Lithuania or Los Angeles you’ll find something useful here. In a hurry and don’t have the book? Check out the website www.infoplease.com/iap/A0001618.html and you’ll some basic information.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Need help?

Far from home? A serious emergency? Need to know how to get help in a hurry? Can’ dial 911 but what do you dial? Is it 112 (France, Germany), 999 (Qatar), 191 (Thailand) or 101 (Mongolia)? How to know?

Thanks to Wikipedia, the numbers are just a click away: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_call

Check it out before you travel. You may never need this piece of information but then again, you might.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pretty in Pink

Thank heavens you can fly the day before your meeting. What a luxury, not to take a 5 AM flight, rush from the airport to a conference room and start a presentation. This time it's fly, go to the hotel, have dinner, get some sleep. Start the day where you need to be.. It’s perfect except when its not. For one woman who recently flew across the country for a critical meeting, comfortably wearing her pretty pink sweats it wasn't perfect at all.

She looked great in her pink sweats– for flying, for a coffee at Starbucks, cheering for her children at a soccer game. But pretty pink doesn’t work for a morning meeting with a client to impress. That’s what she faced. She got to her destination but her luggage didn’t. No luggage at the airport. No luggage delivered to the hotel that night. No suit for the meeting.

Don’t let lost luggage lose the deal for you. Always travel in something that can be go to a meeting. Maybe not your best suit but something that will allow you to make a joke about lost luggage while still looking professional. Everyone understands lost luggage but they don’t get pretty in pink.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Get Up Early, Stay Up Late

Sometimes the best email is the one you don’t send. Working across time zones? Get up early, stay up late, pick up the phone and don’t let time differences prevent you from making a personal connection. It’s so easy to shoot off a quick email. Get an answer. Hit reply all to send an answer. And think you’re having a conversation. But you’re not really. You’re exchanging bits of information. Pieces of data.
For most of the world, a personal connection is essential to doing business and to build a relationship you need to connect in person. A phone call, moments of direct conversation are generally more powerful than multiple e-mails.
So Stop. No Twitter. (www.twitter.com) No email. No texting. Make the call. Talk to the person. Spend a few minutes together. And see how much more productive the next round of e-mails can be. Relationships, one to one connections are what drive our global economy.
However before you dial - check the time (www.timeanddate.com) so you don’t wake some up as you make this gesture to reach out, be more personal. While you are willing to give some of your sleep, surprising someone in the middle of his or her night may not be perfect. One day of getting up early, staying up late to talk in person can save the deal, move the project forward, create a friendship, and even bring new opportunities.
People to people one call at call at a time – build your global business.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One Handshake at a Time

Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors and Consuls General generally speak for our countries. We identify them as the diplomats, the people who inform the world what we stand for as a nation, setting policies and enlisting support for national positions. We do not often recognize as diplomats the people who represent their country out of the eye of the camera quietly, daily, around the world. These are professionals, entrepreneurs, the non-governmental diplomats, whose business activities and actions tell the story of their country.

From this perspective, diplomacy is not negotiating treaties or issuing policy statements. Rather, it’s building a dialogue, creating relationships, engaging in conversations about oneself, one’s country within the context of business. As we work together we form opinions not just about the individuals working with us but extend our opinion of them to the company they represent and often to the country that is their home. And in turn, their impressions of us shape their thoughts about our company and our country.

Through a handshake, a meeting, a shared project, a dinner, a series of emails
we influence the opinions of our nation. We are diplomats and we can make a difference.

To learn more about business as diplomacy and how one organization seeks to shift the impression of America in the world, check the website for Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA) www.businessfordiplomaticaction.com Or learn more about Citizen Diplomacy at the Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy, www.coalitionforcitizendiplomacy.org. For new thinking about the topic check the USC’s Center for Public Diplomacy (www.uscpublicdiplomacy.org)

Person to person, public diplomacy. We can make a difference. One handshake at a time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Elevator Knows

Press the button for your floor and the screen tells you which elevator is for you. Is it A or F? B or D? Which one will take you to your destination? Simultaneously simple and confusing. Find your ride, go through the door Enter and there are no buttons to push. The elevator knows where to take you. Silently the doors shut and you ride to your destination. Floor 3 , floor 8 , maybe 10. Whatever has been programmed in, that’s where you’re taken. No change of mind to hop off at 4 or 9.
The elevator is in charge. Efficient? Probably. Odd. A little and uncomfortable. A change in how one experiences a common activity. Now I have to think, can’t be on auto pilot as I head for my room or the lobby. What do I push? Which one (elevator) will be mine?
And where’s the fun for the four year old as they enter the car. So grown up, in charge as they press the buttons and tell the car where to go? Now they get a lesson in the alphabet at the lobby level.
Want to experience the elevator that guides you? Visit the JW Marriott (www.marriott.com) hotel in Washington, DC (www.washington.org) and take a ride.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cell Phone News

We worry about having the latest Blackberry, are anxious to see the next version of the I-phone. We forget that making a call is small miracle. A privilege that makes our lives easier, more fun, even though on some days, more stressful.
But in Uganda a phone is new, exciting, not easily available. Thanks to Motorola it also represents an entrepreneurial opportunity. Check out the May 22 Springwise (www.springwise.com) the newsletter of “new business ideas for entrepreneurial minds” and read the article “Solar powered cell phone kiosks for Ugandan women.” Solar powered cell phones are giving women the tool to create a business, an income, potentially a better life. This is a Motorola (www.Motorola.com) program managed, through their Motopower initiative. New business for Motorola, new connections for people in Uganda. A plus for all.
The world is connecting. Amazing things are happening all the time. Unknown to most of us small steps occur creating new ways of connecting, new entrepreneurs, new possibilites. Do you know something good that’s happening? Share it with us. Tell the world!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What time is the train? call? dinner?

Is your personal clock on a 12 or 24 hour cycle? When exactly is 8 o'clock or 18 o’clock? Before venturing into the world (in person, on-line, via phone, joining a conference call) take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with how time is counted at your destination.

It’s difficult to confirm a reservation, tell a driver when to pick you up if your description of time is in 12 hour increments, where 8 o’clock can be morning or evening, and everyone else is on a 24 hour system where 8 is AM and 8 in the evening is Twenty hours. Don’t miss the dinner, driver, train, plane or call. For help, check www.dateandtime.com. Especially useful is the meeting planner tool that allows you quickly see the times in three cities of your choice.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Bread Tonight?

How many times have you been at a business lunch or dinner and the first question you heard, sometimes from a stranger who just happens to be sitting at your table, was “which plate is mine?” At that point the person is generally holding a piece of bread or basket of rolls in their hand, waving it around a bit.
Not the most impressive opening is it?

You never have to be the one to ask that question. Simply remember, BMW – Bread, Meal, Water (or Wine). That’s how the table setting is organized, left to right. For the bread, look left. Your bread plate will sit above the fork (or forks), on your left. Your wine or water will be above your knife on the right with the Meal, the plate in the middle.

And what happens when your neighbor doesn’t ask and just plunks a piece of bread on your bread plate? Nothing. Except you don’t have that beautiful roll to go with your meal because your bread plate is already taken. Harsh you say? Maybe. But how can you ask for your plate back without pointing out that your neighbor made an error didn’t know what to do?

The first rule when dining with others is to create a welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable. Pointing out an error, even one as small as using the wrong bread plate, isn’t going to make others feel at ease. Missing a bit of bread is a small sacrifice in order to avoid embarrassing someone.
No bread today? Disappointing but then your politeness may help you make a friend.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

History does make a difference

In our rush to look forward, stay current, catch the next trend we may miss the importance of what went before. History influences today’s actions. A visit to Vilnius, Lithuania (www.vilnius.com) a tour of the KGB museum, listening to conversations about attitudes toward work in Lithuania today reminded me that history counts. Lithuania is a country new (2004) to the European Union (www.europa.eu), filled with energy and possibility but some days limited by old ways of thinking, conducting business. Moving from a command economy to a free market, is not easy, nor quick. It takes time to shake off old patterns. Check the history of a country and gain some insights to what happens today.

Sources for quick look at a country’s history? CultureGrams. http://www.culturegrams.com. Order all 201 countries or only $4.00 the report for the specific country that interests you. Each report includes much more than history. Or search Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). Two sources of many. Either way, remember to look back even as you look forward.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Too Many Books, Too Little Time

Tired of ordering great, must read books from Amazon (www.amazon.com) only to pile them up in a corner unread? Feel as though you’re missing what’s current? A solution to that problem is to sign up for Business Book Reviews. (www.businessbookreview.com). At the site you’ll find an extensive selection of books in a condensed form ranging from 100 word introductions of 8 to 10 pages. Pay a small fee, download what interests you.

Looking for what’s new in books on Global Business? You’ll find over two dozen possibilities to choose from. Looking for Business Strategy, Social Responsibility, Economics? An assortment of categories, lots of choices in each one.

Speaking as an author with two books included in their Global Business selection (World Wise What to Know Before You Go and Working with Americans) I know the summaries you’ll receive are true to the original book. You’ll get the point of the book, the highlights and then you can decide if you want to to read the full version, add it to your collection.

It’s unlikely that there will ever be enough time to read everything, but this site can help you keep up with new thinking and writing in your field. Check it out.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

More than Spying

Looking for information about a specific country?
Need some facts quickly? Check the CIA World Factbook. (www.cia.gov)
The Country profiles covers countries large and small from around the globe.

Going to Afghanistan, France or Kiribati? You’ll find information organized in dozens of categories. Need to know population, government structure, economic data or number of airport runways, paved or unpaved? The information is available for you - courtesy of the CIA.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The smiley face is everywhere. We teach our children to smile, tell them to look friendly, be polite. It is the key to good customer service. Retail associates are taught to smile and greet the customer. It works, unless you’re in some place where it doesn’t.

Americans generally associate smiling with being warm, welcoming, friendly. But in Lithuania that isn't always true. When told to smile more, a trainee says “Why? No one will trust me”. A Russian mother tells her daughter, “only smile at people you know.” A French professional says, “People who smile all the time must be stupid.”

Is a smile a sign that you’re sneaky, trying to ingratiate yourself or that you’re interested and approachable? Does it mean I agree, I like what you’re saying? Or simply, I hear you, acknowledge that you’re speaking?

Smiling is good – unless its not.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not So Flat Anymore?

Tom Friedman’s best selling book, The World is Flat (www.thomaslfriedman.com/worldisflat.htm) written in 2005 told us the world is flat, fast and connected. National boundaries were less important than people’s ability to instantly connect, for business, learning, shopping and playing. The world was flat and getting flatter.

A mere three years later Bob Davis a reporter for the Wall Street Journal (bob.davis@wsj.com) tells us that boundaries do exist and are becoming increasingly important. His article “Rise of Nationalism Frays Global Ties” appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal April 28. (http://online.wsj.com/public/page2-0433.html) His perspective is that governments are creating barriers, that protectionist walls are being erected or contemplated. This is no surprise to anyone listening to the US presidential candidate.

As the world shifts again we’ll see new globalization, new nationalization, new complications. But through it all it is wise to remember that businesses will continue to be global and connected. That people from many places, many cultures will come together. Knowing about the people of the world, how they approach their lives and their business will always be as important as knowing whether the barriers are rising up or flattening out. Global. National. People. Connected.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Remember to Check In

Since when was checking in on line required rather than suggested? I missed the memo but now I know. Didn’t check in on line for Air France 1:20 pm flight to Florence? Take the 8 pm flight to Pisa and then go by taxi to Florence. Arrived at the airport two plus hours plus before the flight (generally the first time one can check in for a flight in Europe) but no, not good enough. Flight sold out and so are other the others through the day. Don’t argue. Go to Pisa. The next flight? Rome to Milan seven days from now. You can believe I’ll check in on line – at least 24 hours in advance and then keep my fingers crossed. Hassle? Surely but at least I’m missing Heathrow this trip.

Is the World Watching (continued)

Is it the endorsement of senators or the words of the daughters that count? If you read Le Figuaro (www.lefigaro.fr), a few days ago you’d have found, below the fold, the lead into the was the story of the daughters, Chelsea (Clinton) and Meghan(McCain) and their participation in campaigns of their mother and father. Read the International Herald Tribune (www.iht.com) and above the fold on the right there’s a story of Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey’s endorsement of Barack Obama. Which to feature? Family or political friends? Different views of the US election but either way the on-going contest makes news at home and abroad.

Is the World Watching?

Just as I was thinking how peaceful it was not to see photos of the candidates, headlines about who just made what mistake, when I spotted John McCain’s smiling face. This time on the front page of Le Figaro, (http://www.lefigaro.fr) one of the daily French newspapers. John McCain, The Rebel who Dreams of the White House, was the headline next to a picture of McCain shaking hands (warmly says the article) with Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France. It’s a reminder that the upcoming election is important beyond the borders of the US. News of the candidates may not make the front page daily (McCain did Monday but no candidate appeared on Tuesday). However, if you want to see daily news of the US election run up, check daily in LeFigaro’s blog Route 44. (http://blog.lefigaro.fr/electionsus08)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why Are the Stores Closed?

You remembered your passport but forgot to check the dates of holidays? Stores are closed and no one can meet with you? Or you planned your trip, checked holidays but forgot to ask: Do businesses close for one day or three? A week?

There’s nothing as quiet as Paris Easter Monday. Streets are empty. A few restaurants and shops are open but a vibrant city is as quiet as downtown Los Angeles or Houston on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t waste your time and energy. Make part of your planning a holiday search. Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_holidays_by_country
before you book a flight.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Thinking about the World?

Wondering what’s going on in the world? Check out two blogs in the International Herald Tribune (www.iht.com). Daniel Altman blogs about Globalization (blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/business/globalisation) and Roger Cohen blogs under the heading Passages (blogs.iht.com/tribtalk/opinion/passages),
Another view of the world. Agree or disagree, both blogs are thoughtful and stimulating. Check them out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Leave my Phone and Blackberry at Home?

An American diplomat told me that we Americans could do much more business around the world if we’d learn to leave our watches and blackberrys at home. Hard to imagine isn’t it? But why such an odd suggestion? Because he told me, most of the world does not live by the clock. Focus on time and schedule interferes with getting to know people and connections with people are the key to doing business. One man’s opinion?

Not exactly. A few weeks later a trade commissioner from Spain suggested that I tell all Americans to forego checking their watches and just relax a bit - take the time to have a lunch that's more than a sandwich. Talk about something other than business. Get to know the people you’re with. No watches, no e-mail, just conversation, building a connection. Regardless of location people prefer to do business with people they know, people they like. In some places establishing the relationships requires more time than in others. Sometime you have to forget the schedule, lose the watch, the blackberry. Take the time. Get to know people. Increase the opportunities for business to develop.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Napkin can be a Communication Device

A napkin is seen as a bit of cloth protecting our clothes from the errant food that slips off a fork into our laps. But its purpose is more than protection. It’s a communication tool. The host or hostess tells us to begin a meal when they place their napkin in their lap. (While we often pick up our napkin as soon as we sit down, at a formal dinner guests don’t even touch their napkins until the host makes this move).

Leaving the table during a meal, but coming back? Tell the wait staff by placing you napkin on your chair. They’ll leave your plate in place. Time to go? Place your napkin, loosely folded to the left of your plate. The staff will know they can clear. Napkins protect us and tell a story.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

B.Y.O.C. The Chopstick Dilemma

If it isn’t difficult enough to learn to use chopstick if your daily eating tools are a fork and knife, now comes the possibility of being accused of damaging the environment by using disposable chopsticks. According to the February 8 edition of the Wall St. Journal (www.wsj.com) activists in China are protesting the use of these common chopsticks claiming their manufacture and use causes environmental damage. The chopstick Industry, employing about 100,000 and manufacturing approximately 63 billion pair annually aim say their claims are inaccurate and focus on the jobs created. Once considered a practical tool, insuring that the chopsticks one used were clean and safe for some they are now a symbol of casual waste.

In response to the debate an industrial designer has created a pair of collapsible, portable chopsticks. B.Y.O. C. - Bring Your Own Chopsticks.

What will come next as the debate continues? No matter whether you consider disposable chopsticks a health conscious convenient tool, or a wasteful habit destroying forests, if you’re heading to China you’ll still need to master the art of eating with these simple tools. BYOC?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Why This Blog?

We are repeatedly told Be Global, Act Local.  Magazines are filled with stories of companies that do it well and others that don't. But what does the instruction really mean?  To me its more than selecting the local celebrity for an advertising campaign or hiring local managers rather than brining in expats.  
Act Local means Think Local.  Know the place, its history, the business culture - not simply the observable actions like greetings and meal times, but the concepts that shape the behaviors we see.  How is the question ' Who Am I? answered.  An individual or member of a group?  What's valued - truth or diplomacy?  Tasks or people?  Understand how people view the world, what's valued what isn't.  Then you can begin to Think and Act Local (and be Global).
In this blog I'll share thoughts, observations, stories that bring to life the concepts of global and local as well as some practical issues from travel to dinner as a business tool.
Join me for the adventure of working with the world.  Please send your comments, your stories and observations.  Post a comment here or reach me directly at lanie@worldwiseonline.net.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What Language Shall We Speak?

Observed in an Italian restaurant in Milan: A group of businessmen speaking Chinese among themselves, switching to English to order and discuss the menu with the waiter who, moments before, had been speaking Italian with all other customers. For the diners and the waiter was the common language allowing reasonably smooth communication.

We hear that English is THE language of business today, allowing enterprises to function, meals to be ordered world-wide. However, speaking English may not be enough. When working in Rome, my Italian guide and I found that the language most effective for us was a combination of Italian, French and English. Recognizing the level of our language skills, we adapted and with much laugher were able work together, converse clearly, accomplishing what we set out to do.

Create choices for yourself. Learn a few words of the language used at your destination. Please and thank in the local tongue are powerful tools for building connections. Learn a few phrases, common words. (Check out www. podcastalley.com or www.worldnomads.com for lessons, useful phrases) You never know when speaking some Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin or Polish can make a difference.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Be Prepared, Know the Hometown News

Wondering what people will be talking about when you reach a new destination? What should you know, be able to talk about? Whether your destination is a city or a country, you can find out what’s happening there by setting a Google News Alert (http://www.google.com/alerts). Get the news daily, or weekly or as it happens. Choose written news, videos, or blogs. Be prepared. Surprise people with what you know. Read the Google News Alerts for three weeks before you travel and be able to talk knowledge – sports or politics, economics. Check it out before you go.

When You're Not Warren Buffett

When Warren Buffet traveled to China in November 2007 Becky Quick co-author of CNBC’s Squawk Box morning news program and her camera crew accompanied him. (You can find more about this trip by going to www.cnbc.com and then entering Buffett Watch into the search box.) One video from that trip, shown on Squawk Box, showed Mr. Buffet at a banquet, holding chopsticks in hand and proclaiming that he can’t eat with them, never learned how. Amid much laughter his hosts served him a hamburger, said to be his favorite food so he could avoid the chopsticks.

When you’re Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world and a major investor, your inability to adapt to eating with local dining tools can be amusing. However, if you’re not, if you’re a professional working for oneself or representing a corporation, similar behavior is not a laughing matter. Suddenly the message may be that you’re a person who doesn’t adapt easily, isn’t interested in the local culture, lacks flexibility.

Avoid being seen in that light. Before you go take a bit of time and check the appropriate style of eating, the utensils used at your destination. Develop your ability to handle whatever’s required whether it’s chopsticks, fork and knife in the continental style or the most basic of tools - your hands. Simple gestures can give powerful messages. Be seen as adaptable, flexible and respectful of the culture, willing to invest time and energy in learning about the environment, the people.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tomatoes Are For Decoration Only

When the meal is business and your salad includes pretty little cherry tomatoes, consider them decorative elements. Think of them as a bit of color added to the plate but not to be eaten. Why? Because they are potential flying objects.

Can you be sure you’ll be able spear them with your fork without having juice fly onto you or your neighbor? Or have tomato fly through the air? Save tomatoes for when the meal isn’t business. Otherwise, enjoy the color, but leave them untouched, protecting you and your neighbors.

What Did You Say? Translations are tricky.

Imagine you pick up a brochure at an event honoring an US-China relationship and discover misspellings, improper use of a words in the first two paragraphs. Its embarrassing even for the reader to find the first word in ones language misspelled, phrases that are unclear or awkward, clearly direct translations by someone using a dictionary. Technically correct but not how the language is used. From that moment on there’s a question of what else might be missed.

Avoid that disappointing impressions, having your document announce we’re strangers here, don’t speak your language, and aren’t too thorough.
Be sure native speaker checks the translation (and then have the translation translated back into the original language. Be sure the message comes through as intended.) Taking the extra step to insure your materials use the language appropriately allows the reader to focus on the message not the spelling and grammar. Be sure they’re reading what you want to say.