Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music travels the world

On the evening of June 21 every year the streets of Paris are filled with music. Jazz and Rock.  Classical concerts. Bands on the corners, in the parks and on stages around the city. It is the Fete de la Musique.  Metros are full as people go from place to place enjoying the music.  Walking to dinner one June 21st we came upon a New York Gospel choir performing on a small stage on a main street.  Surprises are everywhere.

This year the surprise came when watching TV with a friend in a small village, St. Benoit, not far from Paris.  Along with the news from the World Cup were the photos of the Fete de la Musique --- in Shanghai.    French expats imported something from home.  A night to celebrate music.  On June 21 in Shanghai, the evening before June 21 would arrive in Paris, there was music in the streets.

One festival in two places.  Yet again, music links us across the globe.  In this instance it is reminder that as we move, live in new places, learn new languages, new customs we also import touches of home, sharing our lives with our new friends. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Going Global? Visit the Markets

A recent set of management tips from the Harvard Business Review tells us that the ability to work in global teams, manage in a multi-cultural business environment can be developed in part by taking a vacation, immersing yourself in the local culture  

But how does one  “immerse” themselves in the local culture?  One way is to visit a local  market.  See what people eat, how the food is displayed, what the people look like, how they speak, interact.  Voices loud or soft?  Food packaged or available to be touched and tasted? Can you fill a sack with scoops of spices to season your sauces? . Do you have to weigh your fruits and vegetables before you get to checkout or risk getting yelled at?  Is the meat displayed on ice but not refrigerated?  This site can be shocking to an American eye accustomed to buying meat neatly packaged, wrapped and impossible to touch. 

No matter what country, city you visit you can find a market filled with local foods and the local residents.  If you’re in Berne, Switzerland on a Monday in November you may find the onion market.  One day where hundreds of booths are set up to sell onions.  On my next trip to Hong Kong I’m going to search out the Dried Seafood Street. Visiting a market, whether a tiny shop on a side street or the  one  like Barcelona's  La Boqueria (www.labqueria.info) in Barcelona gives you a unique view of the city, the people.  How do they dress, what do they eat, how is it displayed? 

This month Saveur magazine features the “Wide World of Markets”.  One article, Wide World of Markets (www.saveur.com/article/Travels/Market-Guide) highlights 30 markets around the world.  They range from one in Ethiopia that has 13.000 vendors to the largest farmers market in the United Sates located in Dane County, Wisconsin.
Wherever you go there are markets large and small that provide a window into the life of the local population. 

Take the time to look, learn and taste. In Los Angeles you can often sample chips, salsa, or hummus.  But in Moscow a sample of a local product can be spoonful of caviar.  A delightful way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

World Cup Teams of 23

With the World Cup starting in less than three weeks soccer teams were forced to make the final decisions about which 23 players would compete when the games begin.    The choices are complicated and difficult.  Kevin Baxter’s article “Mexico’s roster cut has fallout” in the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com) looks at the possible ramifications of that team’s choices.  At the last day allowed they cut  talented young player named Jonathan dos Santos bringing their number to the required 23.

I have no idea if this was a good move or not.  But what struck me was a comment by one of the team who stayed on the roster.  In describing his reaction to the decision he said, “whenever a teammate leaves, a teammate with whom you’ve spent time, eaten with, practiced with, it’s difficult.”

His words reminded me again of the power of a shared meal.  Whether it’s at a training table, an elaborate awards banquet or  coffee and snack at Starbucks meals eaten with others are special. They allow us time to connect , to have conversations that might not occur in any other situation.

Next time you’re debating whether to attend that dull sounding dinner consider the potential benefits.   Recall the comment of the soccer player ranking the shared meal with the experience of practice and being together.  If meals matter in building the bonds within a soccer team then its likely they can make a difference in the links in our lives - for pleasure and for business.