Sunday, January 13, 2008

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 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.

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