monorail

Technology and My 8-Year-Old Self

It was a crowded day at the Toronto airport as I was walking to my gate recently. On the way, I heard a soft but steady swooshing sound coming up behind me. I looked up to see a red monorail drive on by above me. I immediately had a monumental flashback to my first visit to Disneyland circa 1964. I was roughly 8 years old and was in awe of all the amazing things that I witnessed, most of which was in of the Tomorrowland exhibits.

monorail

The Disney monorail was the first daily operating monorail in the United States. In my flashback to my early visit to the park, I remembered wondering if something like this would ever be commonplace. It was amazing to see it operating in Toronto and going right through the building much like it did in Tomorrowland many years ago.

As I stood there watching the monorail go on by, I realized that during that same visit (or one soon after), I also spent time gawking at the first ‘push button’ telephones and first ‘touch screen’ computer monitor (it had 9 sections and all you could do was play tic tac toe). The push button phones transitioned into daily use in the following decade but the touch screen technology took many more years to become commonplace.

It makes me want to go back to Disneyland to see what the future holds for the next generation. What technology did you first see at a Disney Park or World Fair? I’d love to hear about your experience.

Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Business

My lovely wife Beth and I immersing ourselves in the local culture while visiting Vietnam last summer.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, I’ve accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel.

What many businesspeople fail to realize about business work abroad is that is comes with a unique set of challenges. While business travel in your home country requires a certain level of planning and organization, international travel is a whole other ballpark.

No matter where you are going for business, your itinerary is your best friend. This is even more the case in a foreign country. You will undoubtedly want to spend some time visiting landmarks and taking in the culture of the area. By planning your trip in advance and scheduling in time to complete all of the work you need to do, you can fit in time to relax, see the sights, and enjoy yourself.

What kinds of customs do people in other cultures have that you could easily offend? For example, in many cultures, Japanese and Indian included, it is customary to spend a lot of time reading someone’s business card when they hand it to you – just taking it and slipping it in your pocket immediately is inappropriate.

In the same vein, be very conscious of your body language. Things that you do all the time may have completely different connotations in other cultures. Even handshakes might mean something different in other cultures, as for some it is customary to bow instead.

Learn a few key phrases in the native language of the country if you aren’t already fluent, as well. Business associates will appreciate any honest attempt you make at communicating with them in their native language.

While a little more obvious, check into your paperwork a few months in advance to when you leave. Some countries won’t accept your passport if it is nearing expiration, for example. Do you need a visa for your trip? These are things that you won’t want to leave to the last minute, as they will surely provide unneeded (or wanted) stress.

What are your top tips for traveling abroad for business? Let me know in the comments below!

Networking Amidst Cultural Differences

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

If you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

What Marketing Genius Thought of This?

 

It was 11:30 AM in Paris last Wednesday and Beth (my wife) and I had a lunch meeting that was set for 12 noon with a couple business associates. As we headed out to the curb to get into a taxi in order to drive to the restaurant, we noticed something odd. There were no taxis in the taxi stand in front of our building!

Unbeknown to us, the taxi drivers in Paris, were all on a two-day work stoppage (yes, a strike) in protest of the “Uber” App, (a personal sedan service that can be requested via an app) which has been cutting into their profits, according to the taxi drivers.  Apparently, they are hoping that the French government will ban the use of Uber in France!

We have used Uber with great success in the United States, and had not thought about using the app while here in Paris. It has been so easy, frankly, to just step outside and into one of any number of waiting taxis, that we didn’t need Uber.

But standing on the curb in the quickly intensifying sunshine with little time to spare to get to our appointment, we wondered if there was any chance of using the app now to book a car for our lunch. Beth tapped the app on her iPhone and within seconds we received confirmation that our Uber sedan would be with us in 15 minutes. After only six minutes, the car pulled up on the curb in front of our building.

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I put a high premium on a company’s ability to under promise and over deliver. They definitely did just that in the humid Paris heat!

As we headed to our lunch meeting, we began talking about the irony of the taxi drivers’ strike actually driving us (pun intended!) into the waiting arms of the very competitor they were protesting! What marketing genius thought of this blunder-head idea!? To me this is the perfect example of something I call the “unintended consequences of a ‘seemingly’ good idea.” Did no one have a conversation about how this would actually play out? Maybe something like – “let’s see, why don’t we go on strike to protest an online application that will – oh, actually force people to use that online application while we’re all sitting at the brasserie enjoying croissants.” Yea, really smart.

Because of their actions, we have now been reminded of how easy and pleasant using Uber is. There is no money to change hands – all payment arrangements are done through the app. We can enter the request for a car while finishing up whatever it is we are doing and then head straight out into the car once we receive the text notification that it has arrived. We can actually watch the progress of the car as a GPS tracker shows an icon for it en route on our Uber app’s map. Even better – the vehicle is very clean and professional (we drove in a Peugeot to the restaurant and in a Mercedes on the way back – AND it was less than a taxi ride!).

I really like the emailed receipt after being dropped off at our destination. It shows what the average speed of the drive was, the duration of the drive and the final amount. Even better is that Uber ROUNDS DOWN to the nearest dollar! I mean, who actually does THAT?

So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the taxi drivers who held this work stoppage for reminding me how amazing their competitor really is. Talk about the law of unintended consequences! I wonder how many other people took advantage of this strike to become new Uber customers. I can tell you that I will be requesting an Uber car more frequently on this trip now as a result of the strike.

Epilogue – Note to the Paris Taxi Driver’s Association:

Dear Paris Taxi Driver’s Association, the year is 2014. The internet actually exists and will most likely not disappear no matter how often you go on strike. The Genie cannot be put back into the bottle. Rather than try to “ban” a competitor who actually had a good idea – why not create your own app (as some taxi companies around the world have!) and join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Just a thought.

 

 

Meet Bob, a World Traveler & Networking V.I.P.

Fourteen years ago, I met Bob.  Bob has since then traveled to every part of the world I’ve been to and met thousands of people in the process as my right-hand wing-man and networking partner extraordinaire.

I wrote a blog some time ago telling Bob’s story because he’s a very important person in the way that he can teach us all a thing or two about staying connected.  This video is Bob’s first video blog appearance on BusinessNetworking.com and I’m excited to say that it certainly won’t be his last video blog appearance.  Watch the video now to find out more about Bob and why you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of him.

Also, be sure to read the full story about Bob by CLICKING HERE Once you read his story you’ll have a much better understanding why he’s such a popular and well-loved networker and you’ll appreciate him a lot more when he makes his upcoming video cameos.

After watching the video and reading Bob’s story, I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about Bob or your stories about different ways (whether they’re similar to Bob or not) that you stay connected when you’re traveling both near and far.  Thanks in advance for your input!

Networking in Rural Areas–Does It Produce Results?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in Sweden on business and my wife Beth and I had the truly unique and memorable experience of staying at the Ice Hotel®.  The owner of hotel happens to be a member of BNI®, the global networking organization I started back in 1985, and during my time there I had the opportunity to not only spend time with some of the members of the nearby BNI chapters,  but also to record this short video with Gunnar Selheden (National Director for BNI Scandinavia).

In this video, Gunnar and I discuss networking in rural areas and small towns in relation to the fact that the success of your business has much less to do with the size of the city in which your business is located and much more to do with the quality of the relationships you develop throughout your networking efforts.  Being that the Ice Hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a tiny little town 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, it was a very fitting place to film a video on this topic.

Are you a member of a networking group in a rural area or a small town?  If so, what has your experience been as far as getting results from your efforts within that group?  Do you find that your participation in the group has had a significant impact on the success of your business or not?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

 

Preparing to Network in Asia?–Consider These Valuable Tips

Last week I posted a blog about how cultural differences play into global networking and how understanding those differences becomes very important as we do business around the world.

On a related note, I’d like to offer some valuable tips I’ve picked up from a handful of networking experts in Asian countries–today I’ll focus on China and Vietnam and in the coming weeks, I’ll revisit this topic and provide the additional advice which comes from experts in Malaysia and Japan.

One of China’s leading experts on networking, Jihong Hall (pictured with me below), says that “face is everything to the Chinese.”  When used in a business context, face is not something you wash or shave but is something that is granted or lost.  In China the word face is an idiom for dignity, prestige, honor, respect, and status.  According to Hall, Westerners often make jokes at their own expense or at other people’s expense.  They have a knack for laughing at themselves.  However, she strongly recommends that you do not do this with the Chinese until you know them very, very well.  If you lose their face you will lose their business.

She has three additional recommendations when working with the Chinese:

  • When negotiating, always keep plenty in reserve.  A deal must be a compromise in which you have given enough ground so that their face is satisfied.
  • Numbers are very important to the Chinese.  For example, if your company was formed in 1944 it is best not to mention it because that means “death, death” in Chinese culture.  Even prices and fees charged are guided by the right numbers.
  • How you look is VERY important.  Dress well.  Smart, casual dress is fine; however, wear stylish clothes.

Vietnamese business networking expert Ho Quang Minh (pictured above) also recommends that you look formal when doing business in Asian countries.  He says:

  •  Westerners should be aware that some Asian businesspeople may talk less because they do not feel comfortable speaking English.  Don’t assume that they are not highly successful or that they are not driven business professionals simply because they come across as quiet or reserved.
  • Discuss business over a meal.  Do not go straight to the point at the first meeting.

What do you think of this advice–do you find it helpful?  If you are a networker in Asia or commonly network in Asian countries, what has your experience been?  Do you have any insights to share?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

 

How Do Cultural Differences Play into Global Networking?

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

Be sure to come back next week where I’ll be sharing some valuable tips I’ve picked up about doing business and networking within the Asian market.  In the meantime, if you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

 

Can Cultural Differences be Affecting Your Networking Success?

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event in Israel and while I was there, I got to talking to my good friend Sam Schwartz about the very different networking styles and tendencies which occur from country to country.

It is very important to consider and respect cultural differences when networking and doing business in different countries across the globe and, in this short video, Sam and I discuss why it is important and how you can prepare yourself in order to achieve great networking results no matter where in the world you may be.

After watching the video, please share your own stories in the comments section about the differences in business and networking styles and tendencies you’ve observed when networking in various countries around the world.  Also, be sure to visit the following website which is a fantastic educational resource in regard to cultural differences: www.ExecutivePlanet.com.

The New India

I’ve been in India for the past several days conducting seminars on business networking and, I have to say, I’ve been very impressed by the business community here. The businesspeople I’ve met are passionate about learning and they are hungry for information and knowledge.  I have found the audiences here to be extraordinarily respectful and almost sponge-like in their interest in absorbing new ideas.

Although it is still a developing nation, it is obvious that the infrastructure of India is growing quickly.  There are construction projects going on virtually everywhere and the development of transportation systems seems to be a high priority.

India has quite an interesting blend of history, tradition, and modern society, along with a serious quest for improving people’s lives.  I don’t think the West fully recognizes the transformation that is taking place here.  Although the middle or entrepreneurial class in India is only about 20% of the population, this percentage represents over 200 million people!

The fact is, education is crucial to achieving growth and success; India’s business community truly understands this and it is inspiring to see how they wholeheartedly embrace a culture of learning.  With their interest in education and training, and their focus on creating infrastructure, I believe that India is likely to be the financial powerhouse of Asia within the next decade.

Businesspeople around the world would benefit tremendously by following India’s example in regard to the value the people of this country place on education.  It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to experience the culture of India and the graciousness and generosity of the people here.  I am deeply grateful to all those I have met during this trip and judging from the way these people embrace knowledge and exude the Givers Gain® philosophy, I have full confidence that India will soon achieve tremendous growth and worldwide recognition.

No Faux Pas in India!

I’m headed to India this week to speak for BNI in Mumbai and Bangalore.  I look forward to meeting many people and having the chance to help them increase their business through referrals.

I’ve traveled to dozens of countries to speak and teach my philosophy of Givers Gain® in business. However, this is my first time to visit this exotic country. I’ve discovered that it is very important to get “briefed” by others before speaking around the world. I learned the hard way in one country during a public presentation that mentioning a woman’s “pants” actually indicates that you are speaking about her “underwear.” A story that talks about a woman’s pants, no matter how funny it is, doesn’t quite achieve the effect it’s supposed to when it’s told by a man and “pants”  means “underwear.”

Another thing I’ve learned is that using a specific phrase about tree roots in Australia or New Zealand can actually mean that you are talking about having sex. Who would have thought?! When I unknowingly used the phrase (in reference to tree roots–not sex) in the title of an article I wrote, folks in New Zealand and Australia began calling and e-mailing in handfuls to let me know of my blunder. On behalf of Americans everywhere who’ve used this phrase when speaking or writing to Australians and New Zealanders, I’d like to apologize.

In Sweden, there’s no expression for “word of mouth.” There, it is translated as “mouth to mouth.” Takes your mind in a whole different direction, doesn’t it?

And then there are hand gestures . . . don’t even get me started on talking about hand gestures! Suffice it to say, I’ve almost caused several international incidents by accidentally making the “wrong” hand gesture in some countries.

I’ll post a blog or two about my visit to India soon. But, before I go, help me out here would you please? Is there anything I should know about speaking in India? I’d really like to head back to the U.S. knowing for sure that the citizens of India are talking about something positive in regard to me . . . something other than me causing a public scene for saying or doing the wrong thing. 🙂

Wish me luck and, please, drop me a note here if you have any helpful information. Thanks!

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