The Holy Part of the Holidays

You heard it: Pope Francis, a man who was entirely unknown to the world at large ten months ago, has been named “Man of the Year” by Times Magazine.  A few weeks ago, he published his first pronouncement in which he point blank condemned capitalism without morality. 
His pronouncement hit a chord with just about everyone: Either people criticized him for dabbling into a world he doesn’t understand (the internet is littered with weekend-warrior-investors-know-better) or praised by people who are fed up by what they refer to as the scandalous conduct of “banksters” who keep on looting public funds and private pensions without scruples. 
And then there is Chris Lowney. Someone who knows Pope Francis personally. Someone who knows capitalism and the way its wheel turns intimately. 
As we prepare to enter the most important Christian celebration of the year, I encourage you to read Lowney’s piece on Pope Francis, the world and capitalism. It is well written and it will hopefully leave you with something substantial to think about and discuss while you sip eggnog throughout the holidays. I find Lowney’s message powerful and Pope Francis inspirational — and I must confess that it has been a VERY long time since I have been inspired by a religious icon! 
Happy holidays, thank you for your trust and support throughout the year and best wishes for 2014 from all of us!
“A Catholic Banker on the PopeImage
Both Pope Francis and I were Jesuit seminarians. He wanted to go to Japan as a missionary, but never got the chance. I did get to go there, but not as a Jesuit.

I left seminary in New York after a few years when I realized I wouldn’t be happy as a priest. (That’s a comment on my life calling, not on the church I love or the Catholic priesthood). I suspect the pope would have blessed my choice to leave, since he recently wrote that the church’s representatives can’t be “sourpusses” or look like “someone who has just come back from a funeral.” Better that I leave the seminary than stay and become a sourpuss. After all, our church has been suffering declining allegiance for decades, all over the developed world. We will only grow by attraction, by presenting ourselves as people, “who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” Bravo to Pope Francis for saying that.

But would the Pope have blessed my post-seminary path? I ended up an investment banker at J.P. Morgan & Co, eventually serving as a managing director on three continents. You could hardly have called me a “missionary”; at a stretch, maybe you could have called me an ambassador for the financial markets, those same markets that, as some commentators saw it, the Pope was condemning in his recent pronouncement, Evangelii Gaudium.  

How did that make me feel? Well, I have a gripe with the pope, was a bit disgusted, and was struck by his radical views. But maybe not in the ways one would predict.

During my Morgan life, I saw what wonderful things can happen when markets function well. Large swaths of Asia became more prosperous during my time there; job opportunities increased exponentially; hundreds of millions have since lifted themselves from poverty and used their God-given talents to support their families through dignified work. Poverty fell. The pope said that “business is a noble profession,” and so it is: markets had lots to do with these wonderful outcomes.

But here’s what I also discovered along the way: factory workers laboring in inhumane conditions; children too uneducated, under-nourished, and unhealthy to ever exercise their full adult potential; impoverished communities who received no benefit from their nation’s natural resource riches because of profiteering plutocrats or tycoons; financial markets that inflict spectacular collateral damage when speculative bubbles implode; and, well, you get the idea. The pope said that “growth in justice requires more than economic growth,” and anyone who has worked in markets knows this to be plainly true. Markets of themselves don’t always operate in ways that insure a fair, just, dignified world where all can flourish: that’s where we humans come in. And to shirk that part of our human responsibility is, well, a sin.

My gripe with the pope? By inserting a phrase like “trickle-down economics” in his powerful message, he let us all off the hook too easily. That simplistic caricature absolved us from thinking afresh and allowed everyone to retreat into their Republican or Democratic ideological foxholes, parrot empty catchphrases about the economy, indulge the same polarized debates that that have divided Catholics (and the rest of us) for decades, and then call it day without ever confronting the real lives of the real subjects of the pope’s comments.

And so my disgust: while the rest of us in the developed world have sloganeered, those with no voice in this discussion simply continue to suffer. No one, for example, asked the opinion of the sixteen million American children in poverty or the billion-plus around the globe living in extreme poverty.

The pope has some radical ideas, including that we should include these and all marginalized in the discussion instead of clinging to the patronizing attitude that we politicians, pundits, and others have all the answers and they can’t possible have much to add. That goes for our church. He wants a church, “which is poor and for the poor,” because, “they have much to teach us.” 

He is also trying to inspire, cajole, exhort, or shame us Catholics and others of goodwill into living our calling. “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.” That idea is plain vanilla Christian doctrine, though Pope Francis has put it front and center in way that challenges and inspires me. And, as a one-time investment banker, I know that the market’s “free hand” will not alone make good this vision of a more just society; sometimes the markets will make things worse. That’s where the free hands, heads, and hearts of us humans must come into play.”

Related from The Daily Beast

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Is the Global Symbol of Success Soon to be in Crisis?

Last week, flying to California, I sat next to a charming executive with whom I started chatting. We quickly realized that we had a lot in common as he is an international business executive for a large firm headquartered in the United States. This means that we were not short of subjects to debate, rending the trip so much more pleasant. We had probably been talking for 20 minutes when I asked my interlocutor if he had ever lived abroad. He told me that he was in fact born and raised in Brazil. Because his English is impeccable and shows no accent whatsoever, I immediately assumed that he came to the United States as a child. Not at all. He came to go to college and did not grow up bilingual. I was stunned. So few non-native English speakers have been able to get rid of their accents (me included) that I needed to know more about it. It turns out that my traveling companion, someone who became a chemist engineer at Oregon State University and who came to the U.S. on a scholarship, realized, while being a student and then later as a young professional, that people in the U.S. would silently associate his intellectual potential to the Latino accent they heard when he spoke. In his view, this had a debilitating effect. In other words, his accent was a career killer.

Aware of this demoralizing fact, he decided to take accent reduction classes with a linguist. Under that person’s guidance, my traveling companion learned to position his tongue correctly to create the treacherous `th’ sound that so many non-native English speakers cannot reproduce correctly. He learned to enunciate properly; to speak using the proper rhythm of the English language; its intonations; where to place the emphasis and of course, to appropriately use colloquialisms. His hard work paid off quickly and confirmed what he had suspected all along: to be successful in the U.S., you have to sound and look “American.” Tall, handsome, well-spoken and accent free, the doors of upper management quickly opened up to him. The resistance was gone. The suspicion about his abilities to excel at the executive level were no longer on people’s mind. The man now was the full package.

The fact that a Brazilian had to get rid of his accent to remove all trace of non-U.S.origin to reach his full professional potential brings us to people, who, mainly in Asia, recur to plastic surgery to decrease their Asian appearance by bleaching their skin, narrowing and sharpening their nose and adding creases to their eyelids to look successful in their own country. Now, interestingly, and this is according to a 2011 National Geographic video clip, the look of the most typical person in the world is the one of a Han Chinese man. The clip also predicts that by 2030, the most typical person in the world will be Indian looking. So while the statistics are pointing toward a new generation of talented, capable and now often rich people from non-Caucasian origins, it seems that the idea of having to look Caucasian to feel successful prevails. How long will this idolatry last? Perhaps, as  Nollywood, Bollywood, Chollywood, Dhallywood, Lollywood, and Caliwood generate greater volumes of movies casting inspiring, talented, beautiful, wealthy non-Caucasian people, the desire to assimilate with the overly promoted white cliché will vanish. As to speaking English with an accent, nearly one billion people speak English throughout the world as a second language. Perhaps, as the world tips upside down and non-Western countries no longer dominate, speaking English with an accent will become the sign of intelligence and sophistication native English speakers in the United States will seek to emulate. Who knows?

Posted in Cross-Cultural Communication | 6 Comments

The Global Mindset, the Esperanto of International Business?

Today’s blog can be read by clicking on this Huffington Post link or seen below:

Yesterday, I taught a workshop on cultural intelligence to a group of consultants from all around the world. In my class was a lovely lady from Germany who told me that she wrote a book on the international language of business that would soon be translated into English. When I inquired about her book, she told me that in her view, to be effective across cultures, people would have to embrace new behaviors that would ensure their success in the global arena. Her method is based on the Esperanto model where several languages are combined together to create a new one nobody can claim. When pressed for more details, I quickly realized however that her view of global success is mainly based on her cultural assumptions of what is important to succeed in business: tight time management, direct communication, flat reporting system, profit driven, etc. As such, becoming globally minded means becoming Westernized.

Recently, my work has revolved around assisting companies to understand why project management methods such as Agile create so many internal problems. When taken across cultures, I notice that few people in the world fully understand how powerful the cultural make up of each employee really is. The reality is that, according to experts like Genevieve Bell, chief anthropologist at Intel, culture does trump strategy and it is indeed essential to invest the necessary amount of time and energy in understanding the host country to pursue any across-culture business venture.

I had the opportunity to test that knowledge first hand training and consulting within one of the largest multinationals in the world, realizing that even at the highest level of management, people still confuse culture with ill will or an IQ level that would not allow employees from a certain culture to perform within the Western parameters. When I suggested that those non-Western teams were in need of support and coaching to fully grasp the Western meaning of initiative-taking, upfront communication, or articulating concepts such as having a plan A, plan B and Plan C in place, my suggestion was received with a disdained attitude that clearly demonstrated that after two years of working together those foreign teams were either fundamentally challenged or purely incapable of improving. The truth of the matter is quite different and I can attest that many teams in India, for example, where I was last, have embraced the cultural impositions their U.S. employers forced upon them fully. Compared to their fathers, brothers and uncles who are not in the high-tech industry, those Indian employees are already 80 percent Americanized. The problem lies in the fact that very few people in the United States have the capacity to appreciate how much change has been implemented as few North Americans are aware of the Indian culture per se. As such, instead of appreciating the efforts invested, they judge and focus on the distance that remains to be traveled. This comes as a disheartening criticism to the teams located in the host country and is perceived as a lack of appreciation and understanding toward their own culture.

As the world becomes more and more accessible from our keyboard, I feel that the ability to get out of our comfort zone and reach across the cultural aisle resides in the heart of each of us. Realizing that each expectation we voice, each criticism we formulate, each deadline we set, each problem we solve is rooted in the specific set of skills with which our culture provided us. It is also evident that philosophical concepts such as trust and respect are lived, experienced and demonstrated differently from one culture to another. Having had the experience to work for several companies headquartered in different parts of the world, I can attest that each corporate culture duplicates the national culture from which its leaders originate, copying the family unit model that was used to teach fundamental values to children, such as respect, integrity, honesty and trust.

Not realizing that each global employee brings with him his own understanding of the aforementioned core values is setting multinational companies up for failure. Wrong expectations are articulated through the use of flawless processes, forgetting that behind each process is a human being who will apply his own core values to the method.

In my view, the solution lies in the fact that we must recognize that today’s employees are the guinea pigs of the 21st century global economy and that practically none of those employees were adequately trained to instantaneously interact across cultures. Indeed, very few schools across the world prepare students for today’s work environment, transforming most multinationals into challenging revolving doors and frustrated leaders who do not know how to reverse the trend.

Displaying a true global mindset does not reside in forcing people to embrace a Germanic or U.S. mindset. All the opposite. It means welcoming that each culture brings its own set of solutions and that each approach has merit. It also means that employees need support in developing the global voice and heart they were not born with, as it is only through respect and understanding that we will together achieve meaningful and long-lasting results. It is often not through the established channel with which we are so comfortable dealing in the West, but rather through the exploration of other applications that also give us the opportunity to expand our horizon. By honoring cultural differences to achieve effective working relationships, we can be the change we wish to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi wisely claimed.

Posted in Cross-Cultural Communication | 2 Comments

Don’t Pull the Plug Too Fast

Readable in the Business Section of the Huffington Post at the following link or below. Happy Holidays to you all and thank you for your readership throughout the year!

As the year draws to an end, I am contemplating the biggest obstacles my clients have had and the root cause of their failures in the international arena. Interestingly, several cases can be linked to the cultural misconception that time must be accounted for in a similar fashion internationally rather than domestically.

As stated several times before, Americans are transaction-oriented; as such, they focus on the product, the price, the warranty to promote and market a product. Internationally, people assume that the price is competitive and that the product holds its own; what they are truly after is the relationship that will save the day once problems occur. As such, they need much more time to decide if partnering with a U.S. company is of interest to them compared to a domestic company. The expectations from the business relation are different, and they require a different time line to yield success.

The cultural dimension related to the way cultures differ with regard to time is a hard one to seize, especially when the executive suite is made of monolingual, mono-cultural people. The best they can do is base their forecast and expectation on the domestic experiences they have had, being oblivious to the difference they will encounter when dealing across cultures.

This is exactly what happened to Daniel, a bilingual, bicultural channel director for Latin America. His company asked him to relocate his family to Chile, hoping to generate some sales for the company in the region. Daniel was excited about the move, as he still had family and friends in Chile and wanted his son to spend time in Latin America.

What Daniel did not realize when he accepted the mandate is that his director’s expectations with regard to return on investment were not at all aligned with the cultural reality he would find in Chile. Without articulating it out loud, his company was under the impression that Daniel should be able to make money for the company within a year. After all, the company offers a product that is in high demand and that has been adopted by the biggest U.S. multinationals, something that in his directors’ minds should open immediate doors, wherever in the world. The directors had also experienced the opening of several offices in different U.S. states and one in Vancouver; they thus felt that the process and the time frame in Chile should be more or less the same.

Alas, for Daniel, he did not fully realize himself either that Chileans would be so much slower in their decision-making process and that one year in Chile, in the context of business, would be the equivalent of three months in the U.S. It was thus a shock and a huge disappointment for Daniel to hear that his directors had decided, six months into his mandate, that they would pull the plug on the Latin American project at 12 months, assessing that the lack of bites they witnessed in Chile was a sign that the product was not of interest to the local companies there.

Purchase orders started trickling in while Daniel canceled the office lease and signed his name to a new job contract with a local Chilean company. His clients were shocked and upset to see the company leave — some feeling insulted by the lack of commitment the company was displaying for the region, creating a bad name for the company and U.S. companies in general. Disaster.

This mentality is, however, not to be found in the private sector only; institutions are not immune to it either. When I met Katherine at a social gathering hosted after a talk I had given, she told me she had been leading a USAID program on Zululand in South Africa for the past eight months and that she was ready to move the after-school care program to Malawi where locals, she thought, would be more receptive to her ideas. When prompted to define what made her think that Zulus were not receptive to working with her, she mentioned the lack of cooperation she was encountering from the elders and the fact that they were delaying every possible decision she needed to move forward. When I asked Katherine about her time frame, she told me she had been under the impression that her work should have been completed within 12 months; eight months into it, she realized she was barely getting started.

While moving to Malawi — a country that has been in the news lately for having elected Joyce Banda, a female president — sounded like the response to Katherine’s plea, I was quick to point out that she would have to start from scratch all over again and would need as much time in Malawi to get the project started as she did in tribal South Africa. Truth be told, 12 months anywhere in countries where time is more circular than linear, such as South America and Africa, is the equivalent of four to twelve weeks at best in the Western world.

Why this information does not permeate to executives and university professors is beyond me. So much energy, so much time and money invested in projects overseas that dead end at 12 months due to unrealistic expectations. When will Westerners finally realize that the world does not beat to the sound of their own drum? Countries have their own tempo, and seldom will they adapt to ours to meet our needs. It is my hope that more people will understand this basic cross-cultural concept in 2013.

Posted in Africa, Cross-Cultural Communication, Cultural Intelligence, Cultural Wisdom, Foreign manager, Global Mindset, International Business Practices, International Sales, Managing People, Time Management | 4 Comments

Seek to Understand Rather than to Be Understood by “Loving Language”

I read this blog written by Richard at Loving Language this morning and felt compelled to share it with you. It’s very much to the point. Enjoy and thank you, Richard!

If language education improved in the US, we would have to undergo a cultural shift.  The Prayer of Saint Francis states this shift clearly as he writes, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek . . . to be understood, as to understand.”  Our citizens need to see that those who come from outside the US have something to teach us to become better Americans.  This shift must emphasize hearing others and putting forth the effort so we can understand them.  We need to understand them more than to be understood by them.

At the present, the US speaks its own English.  We listen to those who speak English because as a culture we do not put resources into learning languages.  We put forth few resources into schools to teach foreign languages.  When we work or socialize among people who speak other languages, we do not put time or energy into speaking their languages.  By US law we provide resources for kids to learn English so they can access education.  We provide English language education to adults, as resources permit.  Overseas we look for those who speak English–those who have capitulated to our need to talk to them.  In short we put forth efforts for people to understand us.

If we shifted our vision of education, we would emphasize how we understand others over how others understand us.  We would inject more resources into language education in schools, devoting more time in the school day for it, perhaps taking time away from other subjects.  In the workplace we would put time and energy into learning the languages of the people we work with.  In our schools, all kids would have to spend hours learning a new language, not just new immigrants; even adults who already finished school would learn the languages of immigrants.  Before we travelled overseas we would take time to learn and understand the language, and we would continue learning during our trip. Resources would go towards learning other ways of speaking.

The benefits of learning a language ultimately outweigh the costs.  It takes resources to learn languages: a little money and a ton of time.  You have to sound dumb sometimes; you have to ask “what?” a lot.  But once you learn how to speak a language, you learn how to hear others.  Rather than expect others to understand you, you take responsibility to understand them.  We benefit as a new world of knowledge and wisdom open up to learn from.

Once we can speak the language of others, we can hear them; once we can hear them we can learn from them.  The immigrants that come to this country make the US great.  They have sacrificed for the sake of their family’s interest, leaving behind the comfort of the familiar.  Some of them come as refugees, leaving behind horrible conditions, travelling an impossible path.  All of our citizens stand to learn from these people, from the wisdom they acquired from their difficult experiences.  They are resourceful and savvy, entrepreneurial and wise.  And they teach best in their own words, in their own language.

If we turn the focus off of how others can understand us and how we can understand them, we can learn.  If our people sacrifice resources so that we can learn languages, we will gain wisdom.  We learn how to speak another language, and we learn to hear a new way of life to add to our own experiences.

Posted in Cross-Cultural Communication, Cross-Cultural Friendship, Cultural Intelligence, Cultural Wisdom, Global Mindset, International Education | Tagged | 2 Comments

Are we on the right track?

Can be read in its original version in the Huffington Post “World Section” here or below:

The debate on foreign policy in the final presidential debate left me numb; the world is in full ebullition, but pertinent topics were unfortunately left off the table. President Obama, however, alluded at the fact that the United States is leading a coalition effort to provide economic stability to the Middle East and North African region (MENA), a subject that was presented by Jean-Pierre Chauffour from the World Bank during the World Conference of the World Customs Organization in Marrakech, Morocco, last month. Being offered a front seat to the conference was without a doubt the highlight of my month, and I enjoyed learning more about the “Deauville Partnership.”

The study Chauffour expertly presented is rooted in the Deauville G-8 Declaration where, on May 26 and 27, 2011, the G-8 nations met in Deauville, France, to “renew their commitment for freedom and democracy.” The Deauville Partnership is made of Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, United Arab Emirates, United States, France, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, U.K., Turkey, as well as nine international and regional financial institutions. Together, those partners have pledged to support the economic and political development of the nations considered part of the Arab Spring: Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

According to Chauffour’s report, titled and available in French only, “Rapport sur le Développement de la Région MENA: De l’éveil politique à l’éveil économique dans le monde arabe: la voie de l’intégration économique,” the rate of unemployment in the MENA region is between 35-40%. In Jordan the unemployment rate for people under the age of 29 is 70%. In short, the 400 million people who form the MENA region export the same amount of goods and services as Switzerland does-a country of 7.5 million!

The presentation also noted that the recent political uproars the world witnessed in the MENA region through the Arab Spring highlights the fact that its citizens are indeed requesting fundamental changes. The poverty and lack of economic opportunities people experience in that region, according to Chauffour, must be turned into jobs that are created through the assistance of democratic governments where the institutions work for the people and not the other way around. To attract foreign investments, the region must develop some type of competitive edge rooted in specific skills or technology, just like other regions did (read: China, India, Brazil).

As I understand it, the Deauville Partnership’s function is to offer a clear and ambitious strategic orientation for the region while analyzing and coming up with different scenarios that could profit the MENA region and thus provide economic advantages to its impoverished citizens. One forward concept Chauffour’s team articulated was to progressively re-create a geo-economical structure for the region where the commercial goods would circulate freely, as well as services, capital, and (in time) people within the Mediterranean Basin.

In a way, the Mediterranean Basin trading zone that would be created would rehabilitate some traditional and ancestral trading partners in the region today known as Turkey, the Balkans, the Maghreb, the Machrek, and certain countries now part of the European Union. As such, each Deauville partnering country would agree to remove some of the commercial restrictions presently in place with MENA. For example, the United States could be asked to extend the current agreements it has with Jordan and Morocco to Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and draft with those three countries some similar types of free-trade agreements.

Similarly, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) would also be asked to invite Egypt and Tunisia to join the Council. This would allow nationals from the member countries to circulate, work and establish themselves throughout the region freely and thus benefit from a common system for health, education, and retirement. The list goes on to ask each Deauville partner to take the lead and facilitate the economic emancipation of the region.

While I applaud the concept and cherish the idea of a unified region that would promote economic growth and stability to millions of people in need, it is once again an effort from the West to push a region to emulate a trading pattern that has, it is true, made North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia successful. Those countries were, however, not in the same turmoil as the MENA region.

Also, looking back, as the report even states, we see that countless treaties have been written among Arab countries in the past, and practically none had any success in being implemented. Are they really waiting for the Deauville Partners to show them how it’s done, or should we take their lack of interest as a sign that this may not be the right solution to the economic growth the region needs? Time will tell, but for now your guess is as good as mine…

Posted in Africa, Arab Spring, B.R.I.C. Countries, Cultural Intelligence, Global Mindset, MENA, Middle East, World Bank, World Customs Organization | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The World Ain’t Flat

Never ever, not even in my wildest dreams, had I imagined myself becoming a professional public speaker. After all, English is my third language and I was never trained to address the public.

The truth of the matter is that I started speaking in public because I could see something that I felt had to be shared with others. Having been in international business all my life, having lived all over the world, and being fluent in a multitude of languages, I could see when interacting with many of my clients that they could not see what was obvious to me. And what they could not see was the invisible wall that prevented them from reaching their goals.

In an effort to help them understand what they could not see – to make the invisible tangible – I put together a training program that dissected cultural dimensions. I presented that program to my clients (explaining the differences between cultural competency and cultural intelligence, providing them with the manual on how to read a new type of compass), who suggested I present them to the different business groups to which they belonged. Those business groups showed great interest in what I was saying, and they invited me to present at the local conferences their industries organized. Local conferences became national conferences, then international.

The results of my public speaking efforts, which were always peripheral to my consulting work and there only to facilitate the international business success of my clients, have led me to a level that took me entirely by surprise: the World Customs Organization (WCO)! Indeed, in two weeks I will be traveling to Marrakech, Morocco, to present the relevance of including cultural intelligence training to the forming of Customs officials the world over.

English: This is WCO logo with white background

Members of 178 countries are scheduled to attend the conference, and my program on cultural intelligence may have an impact on the way Customs officials deal with travelers all over the world. It’s a big coup, one I never anticipated. I never wanted to be a public speaker, and I had my eyes on the business world only.

Going to Marrakech is important for several reasons:

  • First, it shows that my vision of cultural intelligence is needed beyond the business world to include world government officials.
  • Second, it shows that what I have to say applies to all cultures, not just the United States.
  • Third, it shows that individuals, all the way to an agency of the United Nations, perceive my message to be valuable.

So what is that message that resonates so strongly with such a diverse group of people and associations, and why is it so timely? Cultural intelligence is timely because it provides a map on how to work with people who come from different cultures. Talks on globalization by people who do not fully understood how it works comforted us for a few years, making us wrongly believe that the world is flat and that everybody in the world longed to become Americanized.

In reality, the world is round and bumpy, and every culture is attached to its own communication and business style: its own social hierarchy and view of independence. To succeed and capture the market shares that this new world dynamics offers, we have to learn to adapt our own style to mirror the ones of our potential clients. It sounds easy, logical, evident. It is not.

The challenge lies behind the fact that one must admit that our way of proceeding is not universal and not exclusively better. It forces us to proceed with an open mind and a mental flexibility that we tend to have lost through childhood. Forcing ourselves to go back and re-evaluate the way we talk, the way we question, and the way we expect others to perform takes a great amount of efforts and willingness.

Until recently, few people engaged in it willingly and found it rewarding. Nowadays, everybody has to learn how to do it. The survival of corporations depend on how quickly and well its employees develop cultural intelligence, lead with the global mindset.

Looking back in time, we realize that having the West on top is a pretty recent phenomenon that started with the industrial revolution. Until then Asian nations were on top, such as China and India. They had to learn to deal with us; it’s now our turn to deal with them. And even if the change-resistant are right and the West will retrieve the upper hand quickly, learning how to positively interact with people from different cultures will remain a sharp arrow in one’s quiver.

Posted in China, Cross-Cultural Communication, Cultural Intelligence, Cultural Wisdom, Foreign manager, Global Mindset, India, International Business Practices, International business travel, Managing People, World Customs Organization | 6 Comments