Monday, December 28, 2009
Looking for something new to read? Check out the recently released list of 2009 Page Turners the recommendations of the Economist magazine (www.economist.com)
It’s a lovely list arranged by categories including History, Fiction, Science, Technology, and even books by the Economist staff members.
Whatever your interest it’s here and presents a change from the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) best seller list. My first choice to add to my Kindle? It's Richard Wrangham's "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human." What's your first choice?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Cash not plastic
As I waited at the bagel shop on a recent Sunday morning I saw two people turned away without the bagels for their Sunday morning brunch because all they had was plastic (credit cards, debit cards) – no cash. No crisp dollars or coins clinking around in a pocket to make a purchase in a place that only deals in cash.
Watching their surprised expressions, hesitation while they tried to figure out what to do next reminded me again of the importance of having some currency on you at all times. This is true especially if you are traveling in a country that is not yours.
For the people in the bagel shop this Sunday morning finding cash was as simple as getting to the nearest ATM something they were likely to be able to locate quickly. But in a city new to you, a place where the language may not be yours, finding that ATM may not be easy. Need a snack, a taxi, a coffee? Likely, you’ll need old-fashioned cash.
Don’t be surprised. Be smart, be safe, hide some cash in your wallet if you must and when plastic doesn’t work - you will still be able to buy what you need. Don't miss your bagels for Sunday brunch.
Monday, December 7, 2009
According to Isabelle Peuch, founder and creative director of Jamin Puech the Parisian accessories brand (www.jamin-puech.com) people around the world view quality differently. She knows from experience. Their handbags and other accessories are designed in Paris and manufactured in France, India, Vietnam and countries in Africa.
Their bags and accessories are sold in their stores in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Madrid, and London as well as in department stores in major cities.
In a presentation this summer Isabelle talked about their focus on quality and their efforts to insure that their standards were met no matter where the bags (or elements of them) are manufactured. As they expanded they discovered that it wasn’t enough to explain they wanted “highest quality” because that had different meanings depending on the location. Rather than complain when quality wasn’t up to their standards they decided to take another approach. They elected to teach their definition of quality. By providing examples, demonstrating techniques they were able to build a shared definition to insure the quality of their product. Patient and creative.
It’s a lesson for all of us. We may use the same word but the meaning may be different. People see things differently. You have to ask yourself – what’s their understanding? What defines quality? Being on time? Knowing that answers vary is the first step in building a common understanding, a way to work effectively together.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Sound of Your Voice
American’s pattern of communicating, quickly and directly can be perceived as helpful, surprising, annoying or rude, depending on the listener. But it is not only the “say what you mean” style that can unsettle others. I was reminded of this reality by a comment from a Swiss friend who works in Switzerland, Germany and France. He said, “the more important our conversation, the quieter we get. You Americans, he said, you’re always loud. No matter whether the topic is important or not, everyone can hear you. It’s amazing.”
As we move around the world, speaking with people from many places, in a variety of situations, it can be useful to check our volume setting. Don’t let the sound of the words take away from their importance.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Your Translator May Need Help
We think it should be easy. Like having an audio dictionary. We image that our translator will know the exact equivalent any word we use in the language they speak. The reality is that it doesn’t always work that way. Recently the word ‘sophisticated’ didn’t translate easily from English to Chinese. In fact it was a challenge for three bi-lingual people including one certified by the government as a Chinese/English (American) translator.
For several minutes they struggled and discussed with the speaker how best to convey the meaning of the word in the context where it was used. Would refined or highly evolved or polished be reasonable substitutes?
Listening to the conversation reminded me that as speakers we should be prepared to help clarify our meaning, to provide synonyms and explanations. Working well with a translator means more than submitting your slides and outline in advance. Think of the relationship as a short-term partnership dedicated to ensuring that your message is clearly communicated. So don’t get unsettled if the going isn’t smooth. Let the audience see you working together to help the message become clear. It shows that you are interested in their experience and that is good in any language.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Basketball is Global
The National Basketball Association, the N.B.A, like other U.S. enterprises is becoming increasingly global. Once a group of teams whose players came only from colleges and universities in the United States, it's now home to seventy-five players from thirty-two countries including Argentina, Australia, Cameroon, China, Latvia and the United Kingdom. The N.B.A has a global initiative (www.nba.com/global), a venture in China named NBA China and sends teams to play around the world.
Now at least one N.B.A team in the United States is about to become global as well as local. That is the New Jersey Nets (www.nba.com/nets). On September 25 the New York Times featured an article by Harvey Araton titled "N.B.A.’s Global Outreach Turns Around to the U.S. Shores”. The article discusses the planned acquisition of a majority stake in the Nets by Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire and its implications for the team and US basketball. Will his experience owning a team in Russia influence the future of the New Jersey team? Will there be other owners from outside the U.S. in years to come? Unknown. But we do know that basketball being global has a new meaning. Our world increasingly connected.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Trade is Global, Local and Regional
Last week India eNews (www.indiaenews.com) announced a ‘breakthrough” stating, that after a meeting in New Delhi the World Trade Organization officials agreed to restart the Doha round of trade talks. At the same time The Economist magazine (www.economist.com) included an article “Doing Doha Down” about the increase in regional trade agreements in Asia. That article argues that the growing number of regional trade deals are the “enemy” of the Doha effort to create a multi-lateral trade agreement.
India the host to the meeting that led to the agreement to restart the Doha negotiations and a key player in the WTO also recently signed a bi-lateral agreement with South Korea. India is a key player in both efforts. This is an example of a country searching for the most advantageous way to manage, organize and regulate their trading relationships. (According to the Economist bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) have grown from 49 in 2001 to 167 in 2009.)
What’s best for the world’s economy is hard to know. Experts argue each perspective with passion. The only thing we can know with certainty is that regardless of the agreements we are connected through our trading activities which are local, regional and global.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Business is People Connecting to Each Other
Business is about people. Reading the Women’s Wear Daily (www.wwd.com) article title “Tough Financial Times Call for Ingenuity” I was stopped by a quote from Doug Jaeger, innovation director for the creative agency Taxi Inc. (www.taxi.ca). His statement read “There is a real need for social interaction as people become more about computers and less about people.”
This struck me as yet another reminder, from a different perspective, that our connections with people are critically important today. Especially as we extend work around the world, linking with people whose approach to doing business differs from our own, the direct connections is essential. How can we do that? Sometimes it’s as simple as calling instead of sending an e-mail, reducing the opportunities for misunderstandings and allowing time for a real conversation instead of a curt message. Sometimes its taking time to share a meal or visit in person rather than by e-mail or phone. No matter how you do it, remember Linked In messages can be useful but aren’t as powerful as a direct connection one person to another.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Did You Know?
Did you know that Sri Lanka is the sapphire capital of the world? The largest manufacturer of solid rubber tires? I didn’t and if I’d checked the basic sources
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) or read through the CIA World Factbook (www.cia.gov) I wouldn’t have discovered this information. I learned these facts and more at a presentation by A.M.C. Kulasekera the Deputy Director General of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Even though this information isn’t critical to a current project it was a great reminder that when researching a country it is important not to stop with the easy sources, on line or in print. Look around and expand the search. Set a Google Alert and read current news. Send a Tweet, check for Linked In groups and ask for information. Make some phone calls and find someone who has been there. Remember to reach out to people who know the place. It’s easy to feel we can find all the answers on a nice neat web page but sometimes its only through a personal connection off line that we can find the information that’s truly important for our needs, our project.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Traveling a Scandal?
The headline on page A5 of the August 11, 2009 Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) reads “Lawmakers on Recess Take Wing for Distant Shores”. Under the headline are photos of 5 Senators and Representatives along with maps showing their destinations. After listing the travelers and destinations the writers (Brody Mullins and T.W. Farnam) ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124995134528621263.html) point out that these are “among more than a dozen taxpayer-funded trips” being taken during Congress’s summer recess. The implication is clear. These are holidays funded by taxpayer dollars at a time when many of us, the taxpayers, can’t afford to vacation. Another scandal. Or is it? I don't think so.
If you take the time to read through the article you learn that the destinations relate to the work these lawmakers do - on behalf of us, the taxpayers. To me it seems we should be relieved that the people who vote on our behalf about matters relating to places far away do go visit them. It's their job to be informed. I am glad they wish to learn something about the places where we invest money, send troops, expand trade, do research and try to sell our products and services.
As I read this article it seems to send a message implying that international engagement (travel) is wasteful, unnecessary. Further suggesting that our lawmakers can get all the information they need in their home district, off the internet, from U-Tube and CNN. Do you really think so?
The only way to understand the world is to be connected, to see, feel, touch the reality of another place. If we, the people of the US, want legislators who can serve us well let us be sure they are educated about the world we live in. Let’s celebrate and encourage their travel. The time is now to explore the world and report back - for us, for our lawmakers. Remember, years ago Marco Polo explored the world and look what happened. New ideas, new products, new possibilities. Let’s make that happen again.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Take Some Questions with You
Whether you’re visiting someplace you’ve never been or returning to a favorite destination, take some questions with you. Ask yourself - What’s new? Different from home (or the last time I was here)? What looks like home? What surprises me? How are the people walk, dressed? Do they smile easily (like Southern California) or appear cool and reserved (Paris)?
The questions will help you move through the jet lag, the challenge of reading a map, finding a cab. Better to focus on the environment. Think about what’s going on around you. Don’t just pack clothes, computers, Ipod, blackberry, and assorted chargers. Add in the questions that help you be where you are, remember more than what you see in photos, understand something of the place and the people.
I wonder - What will Paris be like this 4th trip in 8 months? Will the Eiffel Tower appear welcoming and will there be a new restaurant, new the hotel or will another store that I love have disappeared? What will I discover as I ask some questions?
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Food from Home
Hard Rock gift cards ease the homesickness of California students in Paris. Chinese businessmen are served Chinese food when attending a training program in Los Angeles. American tourists seek out Starbucks in Beijing, McDonalds in Moscow, Krispy Kreme in London. There’s Indian food everywhere in London, Sometimes it’s a novelty to find “your” food when you’re far from home but familiar dishes also helps overcome bouts of homesickness, offset the stress of coping with a new environment.
But today the definition of home food is shifting. Local (US brand) chains are expanding searching for new markets, some profits. It’s not just KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds that are popping up everywhere. Dunkin’ Donuts, Chilis’s, Romano’s Macraoni Grill all plan international expansions. (www.wsj.com) When home food is everywhere what is the food that symbolizes home?
Friday, May 22, 2009
Who Sleeps Most? Takes the Longest time to Eat? Watches television the most?
A recently released study by the Paris –based Organization for Economic cooperation & Development (OECD) (www.oecd.org) answers these questions in their just released survey Society at a Glance.
According to their research the French sleep more than Americans (an average of 530 minutes per day versus 518), the Mexicans spend much more of their leisure time than Germans watching television (48% versus 28%). France and New Zealand spend over two hours eating and drinking over an hour more than either Canada or Mexico. (The US clocks in third from the bottom of the list allowing at an average of one hour 14 minutes per day for eating and drinking).
While these few items may only seem humorous at a casual glance, good tidbits for a casual conversation that isn't the point. This study gives us another way to look at the similarities and differences in the cultures, the habits of daily life, that exist in the world around us. Seemingly small details help us understand the people that are part of our lives as we spread our connections for business and pleasure around the globe.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
We know that sports, as well as art, music, language, tell us about a people and their culture. We seldom think of the statement made by the place where the sport is played.
In The Wall Street Journal’s (www.wsj.com) article "Taking a Stand in the Grandstands" online.wsj.com/article/SB124147578109184945.html Rod Sheard of sports architecture firm Populous says the design of American sports stadiums, where the audience sits rather than stands, makes a strong statement about American attitudes. He notes that the design concept goes back to the middle ages when the nobility sat during events and the commoners stood. He goes on to say “Everyone thinks they’re king in America” hence stadiums where they sit rather than stand.
While you may not agree that all Americans think they are royalty - his point does remind us that Americans' independent, individualistic attitude, where each person considers himself or herself unique and special, reveals itself in unexpected ways.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Globalization is Alive and Personal
If we think that globalization is only about trade: ships, products and money flowing we’re thinking to narrowly. It’s more. It’s personal, alive and growing. It’s information flowing around the world from person to person. According to to Moises Naim writing in Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com), thanks to our internet connectivity, today’s globalization differs significantly from historical versions. It’s individualized not just institutionalized. Teenagers in Africa and Scotland can share music, we can read the newspapers from around the world, set your own personal Google Alert and learn what’s new in Dongguan, Santiago or Karachi. Talk (via Skype (www.Skype.com)with your friends who live in Lithuania while they vacation in Dublin. We are personally connected globally as well as locally.
We not only are able to talk, shop and get local news from places we may never visit, but many of us are now global by our choice of what we eat. We enjoy Sushi and spaghetti in Chicago as well as Tokyo or Rome and almost everywhere we visit. We find Starbucks in Paris, KFC in Beijing, Ethiopian restaurants in Los Angeles and Indian food everywhere in London.
We are all changed, enriched, challenged in subtle ways by the reality that we can reach out and touch the world with the click of a mouse. We are global whererever we are.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Independent American
Even in this time of economic uncertainty, layoffs, store closings it appears that at least some Americans still believe the can create their own destiny, make good things happen. I see evidence of this around me. People I know who have been laid off are starting new companies (and booking real paying projects) or are evolving their skills (photographer to specialty videographer) and doing well. The American attitude that you can try something new, that change brings opportunity, and the basic underlying do-it-yourself optimism that fueled the development of the country still appears to exists.
And it seems I’m not the only one who sees the independent American spirit around me. According to David Brooks writing in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24brooks.html?_r=1) Americans even in this difficult time believe“ that their own individual actions determine how they fare.” He draws his conclusion in part from recent polls (from the National Journal, Allstate, Gallup) that indicate that while Americans see volatility, uncertainty in the economy that will effect them they are reluctant to have the government step in to try to take over, fix everything. Rather the government can and should do some things but overall individualist Americans still believe they can rely on themselves. “I’ll do it myself” children say with great intensity as they learn to tie their shoes, and “I’ll do it myself” they continue to say as adults trying to find new ways to cope with uncertainty.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Way Forward
The Financial Times (www.ft.com) published an article recently titled Fifty Who Will Frame a Way Forward. Fifty people from around the world that they identified as leaders toward our future. Politicians, bankers, investors, heads of institutions economists, industrialists, representatives of media and academia. Some names were well known, (Barak Obama and Angela Merkel) others not so familiar (Lous Jiwei and Michel Pebereau). You can find the list at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2fe0826a-0dac-11de-a10d-0000779fd2ac.html.
While the list is interesting what I believe is most important point in the article is the reminder that it is networks, connections and links between individuals and institutions that will lead us forward. Isolation on any level will not work. Our futures depend on our ability to connect with people everywhere.
Once you understand that reality then its time to think about building the networks. It seems simple but sometimes it isn’t. Differences in business culture can limit our possibilities. Errors as seemingly small matters as knowing when to drink your wine at dinner, how to greet someone, and what time is “on time” can create friction and misunderstandings. Each culture in each country is unique. Differences occur in daily activities as well as in patterns of management, style of negotiations, the pace of activities.
To build networks, connections critical to our futures, spend some time learning about the varied definitions of how business is conducted, the culture that shapes the behavior you can observe. Be seen as knowledgeable, polite, linked to the world. Be prepared to be successful.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Global Business Today
For some of the artisans in Florence, Italy (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence), the global slowdown,( crisis or meltdown depending on your choice of vocabulary) is a daily reality, not simply a concept covered in the news.
We talk about business being connected around the world. But how that reveals itself may be a surprise. Would you think that a shop in Florence would be having trouble because people in the US aren’t shopping as much at the New York speciality store Barneys? (www.barneys.com) It's true for a Florentine jewelry maker who uses glass beads threaded together to create elaborate pins, bracelets and necklaces that sparkle under the lights. A favorite of visitors who (did) flock to Florence they now struggle. Fewer tourists in Florence and fewer Americans buying imported jewelry at Barney’s NY adds up to their challenge.
For the mask maker Professor Agostino Dessi (www.alicemasks.com) there are still a few special orders with packages being sent as far away as Iowa but the daily tourist business has almost vanished. Other than a group of US students learning how masks are made in the traditional methods, the store stands empty, waiting for tourists to appear. Business is badly down he says and isn’t optimistic that it will pick up soon.
The downturn here is evident in every conversation, every place in the city. Restaurants and streets seem empty. You hear very little English, some Germany, a bit of French, Japanese but it's mostly Italian that surrounds you. Compared to last year or the one before, the city feels quiet. You can walk the streets without being crushed by a group following a tour guide holding an umbrella raised to the sky or visit the Uffizi (www.uffizi.com) and see the paintings up close.
Being globally connected is wonderful when the tourists arrive and shoppers fill the stores. When times are challenging the global connections aren’t always joyful. We can only hope that the streets will be full and shops crowded soon so that these special places will still exist for us to enjoy.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Business Travel A Special Experience
No matter how exciting it is to be in a new city, or return to one that is familiar, travel is tiring. For me, it isn’t the big issues that sap my energy (the presentation, the meetings) rather its learning to turn on the light in yet another hotel room, discovering there are no drawers in your room, the light isn’t bright enough to read large pint much less the small print on your blackberry. Keeping your sense of perspective and humor are the real challenges of business travel. Where’s the subway, will it rain, how do I find an International Herald Tribune or an open network so I can download the New York Times (www.nytimes.com)to my Kindle? These are the practical questions that are part of our travel experience – It is finding the answers to these simple questions that seem challenge , consuming unexpected amounts of energy. What keeps us (me) going? I think it’s that on days that work well we remember to take a breath, look around, be happy that we can make the trip. Then we go home enriched by the experience, the people we’ve met but also thankful for the return to the ease of familiar daily routines.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Paris. The city of lights, cheese (so many choices its hard to imagine), wine, food, fashion, art. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/paris) In just two days I’ve sampled almost a dozen types of cheese and plan to continue my research, looking for a favorite.
But it isn’t just a city of food, wine and museums, good friends. It’s a place where people work and the people that I’ve talked with sound familiar when they speak about their work. Some are managing a variety of jobs simultaneously. Mix several part time spots and full time becomes 24/7. Others are seeing orders for a part of their product line slip away and having to reduce the hours of their staff to keep them employed.
Our global business community shares the problems of today. There's some good news (still in business) and more challenges (how to grow, stay in place, continue). It appears that wherever we are, we are connected in good times and less good times.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Gifts tell a story
In the last two weeks there’s been much written about gifts – specifically the gifts exchanged when Prime Minister Brown visited President Obama. According to many the gifts given to the British Prime Minister didn’t recognize the importance of the relationship between the countries, didn't acknowledge the personal interests of the Prime Minister. While it isn't clear what the Prime Minister thought it does remind all of us of the importance of details beyond just gifts can be in our relationships.
Don't think that its only at the level of Presidents and Prime Ministers that small gestures can be a way of saying “you are important.” I think of the pink bowties worn by the serving staff at a luncheon where the keynote speaker was the founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (www.komen.org). As pink is the color associated with Komen for the Cure pink flowers were expected, pink bow ties – a surprise acknowledged by the speaker. Something special. Thoughtful.
According to Sam Farmer writing in the Los Angeles Times when the Seattle Seahawks football team was trying to recruit T.J. Houshmandzadeh (www.latimes.com) they too thought of the unexpected ways to indicate his importance. They didn’t just offer a salary with many zeros but also had his favorite brand of shoes and gloves with his new (hopefully) team’s logo there to welcome him. An unexpected way to say "we took the time to think about what matters to you".
And that should be the point of our gifts, our small gestures, our greetings - to convey to the people we meet, work with, hope to get to know, future partners, to consult with – that they are important to us. Focus on the individual. Be kind. Today in our rushing around its easy to feel anonymous, just a number. We can change that experience, build stronger connections by thinking carefully about the details. Make them special. People will remember.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Time to Recharge?
Headed to a new destination? Outside the country? You know how to prepare. You call your credit card companies and the bank with your ATM card so you can buy things, get cash without a problem. You copy your passport, scan it into your computer, leave your itinerary with your office, your family.
You figure out which adapters you’ll need to recharge your phone, computer, and whatever other devices you’ll bring. You’re ready to go. But surprises happen.
If you’re accustomed to flying direct from one place to another its easy to forget to check the adapters required when you connect through a third country. Then you may find yourself as I did in the airport lounge at 4:30 AM with every intention of recharging my phone, plugging in my computer except my adapters didn’t work. I was going from LA to Hong Kong, then to Dongguan with adapters for Hong Kong and for China. But none for the airport lounge in Manila. Surprise. Lesson learned. Check, double check and ask yourself, am I prepared for everywhere I’ll be spending time? And remember even when the schedule predicts a two hour stop with just enough time to eat and find the gate can easily turn into 4 plus hours on the ground - Lots of time to recharge - or not.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The Chinese Economy Revealed
I read Keith Bradsher’s article in the New York Times Article “China’s Unemployment Swells as Exports Falter” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/business/worldbusiness just after returning from a visit to Dongguan – a city mentioned in the article as a place where many factories delayed reopening after the Chinese New Year holiday, a place of rising unemployment. Driving around, sitting in meetings listening to people focus on expanding their domestic market rather than exporting, there was no sense of the crisis described in the article. However, there was a clue – one that seems familiar to those of us in Los Angeles or New York. A restaurant where we had dinner one night, a restaurant that usually requires weeks advance notice for a reservation was only a third full. My host remarked that he was extremely surprised that he could get a reservation on the day of the dinner. If you wonder about employment, general economic conditions, you may not need to to check the railroad station to see if there are the throngs of people described in Keith Bradsher’s article, rather check the restaurants that attract a business people. Full or empty? Reservations hard to obtain or can you walk in? Let us hope that reservations become scarce soon.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Knowledge Sharing, Collaboration and Networking
Insightory says it is about Knowledge Sharing, Collaboration and Networking. The people whose work is included are all authors of books to discover. There lots of knowledge to share, collaboration and networking will evolve. You can contact all the people who have work on the site so it's an opportunity for everyone who visits to make new connections.
To get an idea of what's available take a look at recent posts. You’ll find articles and excerpts from speeches that include titles as varied as Teens and the Internet, Brand Archetypes, Fly High with Twitter and HR Leadership in Difficult Economic Times. Take a few minutes and explore what people are thinking, speaking and writing about. A new source with information. See if there's something useful for you. ￼￼
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Polite or Rude? A Challenge of Global Business
We know from experience, from stories we’ve heard, that what’s the definition of acceptable business behavior varies from company to company (high tech start up casual - law firm formal), city to city (LA - New York) and even more so county to country (Germany - Mexico).
But it isn’t only what we do that varies; most importantly it’s also how we define polite or rude. Reuters did a global study of “workplace manners” and now tells us that swearing which can lead to a hostile work environment lawsuit in the US is acceptable for 25% of Australians and that the United States and Britain are the two most sensitive countries. (www.reuters.com/lifestyle/workplacemanners.)
Don’t lose a deal because you inadvertently insulted someone by not offering a cup of coffee or by asking too many personal questions. Do some research and be considered polite wherever you go.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Silent at Lunch: Challenge of Global Communication
As I sat silently at lunch one day this week, listening to an incomprehensible swirl of Chinese around me, I realized how much energy it takes to stay connected when you don’t understand what’s being said. How many times has it happened to you? I remember conversations in Russian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Italian that surrounded me as I sat waiting for some English to emerge. It’s tiring to keep your focus on the people speaking, easy to mentally drift away, to feel that people are talking about you, your company, your project purposefully not sharing with you. From that perspective we can quickly become frustrated, annoyed and to withdraw.
But it’s essential to stay alert, to show that you are engaged with the people around you both to be polite and moreover ready for the moment the language shifts and once again you can speak, understand what’s being discussed. Don’t miss a question directed to you, an important point being made.
Thinking about that experience is a reminder to be thoughtful (even kind) when we are the host and it's the visitor who sits silently, waiting for us to shift languages or at least for the speakers to adjust their English to his or her speed, vocabulary. It’s simple to get caught up in a conversation and forget that a guest, even one who speaks some English, may not be able to catch everything that’s said when we speak at our normal pace.
We often discuss the challenges of communicating globally in terms of subtle issues,
how culture shapes our choice of words, whether we’re direct, quick to say what we mean or subtler where the answers are woven into a story, slower, less direct. But sometimes the difficulty of global communication is simply that conversations get conducted in multiple languages and we don’t always understand all the languages in the mix.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Traveling to a Global City?
Business or pleasure taking you to a new destination? If your travels will take you to one of the cities on the list of Gobal Cities created by Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com) then check out the International Herald Tribunes Globespotter’s blog (blogs.iht.com/globespotters). The entries are written by the paper’s reporters and editors and expanded by comments from readers. The only limitation is that there are only a dozen cities covered but those included are like to make your travel list. They incude, but aren't limited to: London, Paris, Hong Kong, Frankfort, Istanbul and Bangkok.
There are two components to the Globespotters section. One is a blog that brings you current insightful information about a city. In Berlin for Thanksgiving? Read the entry and you’ll know where to shop for the makings of a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner or which restaurant will be serving that special meal. A free Sunday in Madrid and wonder if there’s a flea market to explore? Click on the section on Madrid and you’ll find it.
The other piece is simply called " Travel Advice" will help you figure out how to get from the airport to your hotel, what to tip and where to find good wireless access.
With just a few minutes reading you’ll find some very useful information that can help smooth your first visit to a new city.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Cities, the places where we live and work have unique personalities, energy. We each have our favorite places - to live, to vacation or do business. Most of us have a list of places we want to explore. We categorize them as big or small, relaxed or frenetic. Now Foreign Policy (www.foreignpolicy.com) magazine gives us another designation, Global Cities.
In their November/December 2008 edition the magazine published the first index of The World’s 60 Most Global Cities. Created in collaboration with AT Kearney (www.atkearney.com) and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs (http://www.thechicagocouncil.org) the index ranked cities in five categories: Political Engagement, Cultural Experience, Information Exchange, Human Capital and Business Activity. From their perspective Global Cities serve as hubs for global integration not just in terms of economic links but through political and cultural activities as well. It’s people as well as products and process that shape our world living in cities they make alive, exciting and global.
The index leads off with the first three spots filled by New York, London and Paris and moves around the globe ending with Bangalore, Chongqing and Kolkata. In addition to the overall ranking and showing a city's rank in each category, it also tells us the Best City to be a Diplomat (Washington), to Get Some Culture (London), To Do Business (New York). Find your city and see where it ranks and tell us do you agree? My favorite cities (to date) are on the list. Are yours?