Sunday, May 30, 2010

Maps Tell Stories

Maps can be more than a visual representation of continents, roads, rivers and cities.  They can tell us a story, inform us about history, how we view our place in the world.  The ten maps shown in the British Mail’s article "Ten of the Greatest:  Maps that Changed the World" make that clear.  Maps tell stories and here are ten of the most noteworthy.   (  The oldest one was created in  1400 and the most recent?  It's the 2005 Google earth.

You’ll be fascinated by the 1490 map that Columbus used to help convince the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to fund his historic voyage and the one created in 1623 for the Chinese Emperor.  It shows China at the center of the world, even larger than it is in reality.

There's one on the list that I know well, many of you will also.  It's the 1933 map of the London underground.  Why did it make the list?  

Harry Beck's Underground map solved the problem of how to represent clearly and elegantly a dense, complex interweaving of train lines.  Placing the stations at similar intervals regardless of their true locations amplifies the area of central London, increasing its clarity, while the straight lines and interchange symbols confer a simplicity and order on the network. A cartographic icon.” 

How many subway maps have you used that follow his concept?

Read more by clicking on the link or even better, visit the exhibit exhibition at the British Library in London.  It runs through September 19, 2010 (

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What date is the National Day, Marathon, Election?

Heading to Berlin or Bhutan, Sydney or South Africa?  Want to know when there’s a trade show, election, marathon or national day at your destination?   The Bank Holidays site ( can answer your questions. 

A quick search told me that there are elections October 3, 2010 in Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Bosnia & Herzegovina.  September 26 the Grand Sumo tournament will take place in Japan and there’s a marathon to run in Budapest.    Plus, national day celebrations will occur October 1 in China and Nigeria, October 3 in German and the 27th in Turkmenistan. 

The site says their lists cover all the countries of the world and a quick scroll through the countries and regions lists places big and small on all the continents of the planet.  You can choose to search the site in any of 16 different languages. The information on is free for the current year but there is a fee for the range of 2000 to 2070.   It's fascinating to see how many events, elections, trade shows, celebrations take place throughout our world month by month, day by day.    Before you make  reservations for that trip whether  business or pleasure - find out what's happening at your destination.  You'll want to know before you go.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jobs Arrive as well as Depart

We read endless articles about US jobs disappearing to places far from North Carolina, California, Texas, Michigan and every other state in the Union.  But we seldom read about the jobs that arrive, created here thanks to investments by companies who are based in those distant lands that become home to US jobs.

This month Fortune magazine ( published an article  “American made.  Chinese Owned,” that reminds us jobs move in two directions in our connected global economy.  Although Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium are among the countries with the highest dollar value of investment in the US, China’s direct investment highlighted in this article.  The author, Sheridan Prasso, points out that  Chinese businesses started 50 companies in the US in 2009 adding jobs  (1200 by one company in South Carolina alone) and bringing millions of dollars to the local economies. 

The numbers of jobs created by these international investors don’t pop up in seconds with a Google search.  Headlines don't shout the numbers at us.  But they exist.  The jobs are real. 

Today’s economic reality is that jobs leave and jobs arrive.    Let’s remember to the count flow in both directions.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Where do they Rank?

Looking for a new market?  Found a partner who says Vietnam (or Chile, South Africa, Morocco or Argentina) is the place to be?  Before you press ahead add to your research
the World Bank “Doing Business Survey” for 2010. (

This survey of 183 countries ranks countries in eleven categories including ease of doing business there, protecting investors, enforcement of contracts and trading across borders.  Singapore ranks # 1 in the Ease of Doing Business category indicating that the regulatory environment in the country is conducive to operating a business. Where does the U.S. rank?  It comes in at #4.  The most difficult place?  Central African Republic listed as  #183. 

(Greece, the country most in the news this week appears as 109 in the Ease of Doing business and 154 in Protecting Investors.)

Before you pack your bags or send investment dollars flying across the world, check out the survey.  The rankings may be enlightening. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Remember the Trains

It’s not just planes and boats that move goods (and people).  It’s time to remember roads and rail.  In the aftermath of the disruption caused by the eruption of Iceland’s volcano its easy to focus on connections dependant on air travel.   At the same time the news was filled with images of travelers sleeping in airports I came across two articles that reminded me, it's not just planes that matter today and tomorrow, next year.

According to a report by Mike Flanagan of Clothesources, ( UK provider of global sourcing intelligence presented in WGSN (  there is the “prospect of viable overland freight links between Europe and East Asia”.  He goes on to say transit times between China and Germany could be less than two weeks. 

In an article "New Silk Roads" in the April 10, 2010 edition, the Economist (  reported that China’s rail ministry projects  travel from Shanghai to London in 2025 will take just 2 days.

Roads, trains and of course planes connect us for business and pleasure.  Don’t think about one without remembering the others.  As you plan, ask yourself, what’s coming and what that may mean for trade, travel and your business.