Monday, March 29, 2010

Denim Everywhere

Paris the city of haute couture, global luxury brands and unknown creative designers is  also a city of a common piece of apparel:  Blue Jeans.  The very American gift to the world of apparel.  They are now most often referred to by the name of the material:  Denim.  Wherever you look there's a pair of jeans.  Denims.  Everwhere on everyone.  Even more than a year ago. At times it’s  hard not to stare as you check the details of a particularly interesting pair of jeans.   Pockets so low they are almost at the back of the knees.  A pattern woven into the fabric.  Sequins sprinkled down the legs. 

The languages spoken, the size, shape, color and age of the people wearing these pants  vary.   What they share is one element of the clothing.  In the museums, restaurants and on the streets it's jeans, old and new, distressed or ironed with sharp creases, expensive or not.  More than shoes or shirts, the blue jean has become the uniform of the world.  How many pairs are in your closet?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easter Holidays are when?

When my appointment in Rome planned for the Thursday before Easter was cancelled due to “Easter holiday” I was reminded that planning around holidays can be complicated. Easter is on Sunday but depending on where you are it is observed (and offices closed) on the Friday before (Good Friday), the Monday after (Easter Monday) and even the Thursday before or Tuesday after. And it can change year to year depending on people’s plans.

A quick check of Wikipedia ( will give you a list of holidays by country. For exactly how they are observed you may need to check information about the specific country. For many countries celebrate May 1 as Labor Day. However, for the holiday to celebrate the creation, independence of a nation you’ll find a wide variety of dates and titles for the event. For example, it’s July 4 in the US, July 21 in Belgium, September 15 in Guatemala and December 15 in Kenya. The form of celebration may surprise you. Hot dogs and fire works which often mark July 4 in the US may not appear in Korea, South Africa or Lithuania.

No matter the date, a holiday is a day of special significance drawn from the history of a place, an event, to honor an important individual or may have religious meaning. Whatever the reason it’s useful to know when, for how long, and how it is observed. You may find the opportunity to celebrate a holiday that is new to you. One of the joys of traveling the world.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Doing business in Korea?

Did you know that you should not write Korean names in red, especially your important PowerPoint presentation? Traditionally, red was the color used to write the names of people who were deceased. Don’t start your meeting suggesting (even indirectly) that your clients are no longer alive.

If you’re doing business in Korea or planning to, if your new partners or clients are from Korea, you may want to check out It’s an on-line community focused on doing business in Korea. You’ll find articles, blog posts and tweets about current business activities plus lists of books about Korea and links to other sites. Currently they are hosting a 30 day business series that sends subscribers a daily e-mail with tips to help you navigate doing business in Korea.

Know the issues big and small that can build your success. What color ink to use, whether the family name comes first or last (first in Korea before the given name) and if the Free Trade Agreement is still alive (it is). Be prepared wherever business takes you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's a Vacation?

Think you can’t take time off for more than a weekend? Envy your French friends as they plan for three weeks in the country in the summer, the Italians who turn off the business e-mail during August?

Vacations, how much and when can be a sensitive topic. Unions negotiate for more time off on behalf of workers, employment contracts contain clauses relating to vacations to be taken and employers remind their staff that time off is a benefit not a right. But seldom does a government urge people to take more time off.

In Korea today the government urges people to take their vacation time. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal ( the Korean government has decided that workers are not taking enough vacation. The article “Vacation Takes Work in Korea” cites 2007 statistics for hours work showing that Koreans worked 2,316 hours a year – significantly more than US workers who averaged 1,794 hours or employees in the OECD countries who worked the fewest hours at 1,768.

After years of encouraging people to work to build their economy, the government now tells people to use their time off. Although Korean government workers are allotted 23 days a years the typical worker only takes six days.

Vacation. An extended period of recreation, travel, being away form home. Time to refresh. What's your plan for 2010?