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 ( hotel in Washington, DC ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 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 ( 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 (, 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. 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 ( 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 ( 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. ( 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. (
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.