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Does your version of the truth depend on the circumstances, or where you are doing business? These are some of the questions raised in a blog on the Harvard Business Review website. 

If you are doing business in a culture where lying is expected, do you stretch the truth? If bribes are SOP, do you fight or follow along?

Doing business internationally brings its own set of challenges.  Knowing what is the truth is one of them.

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The Great Gatsby

In ""7 Tips for Leaders Working Overseas", Margarita Gokun Silver suggests that people moving abroad read fiction which takes place in and is written by an author native to the country where they are relocating.  The idea is that the reader will begin to understand the country's value system and the people who live there.  I think it's a great suggestion, and it got me thinking about what book(s) I would recommend to someone moving to the US.

I know a lot of people think "Huckleberry Finn" is the quintessential American novel, but I don't think it would be the best choice to understand 21st century, multicultural America.  I'm more tempted by "The Great Gatsby", which depicts the promise of rags-to-riches success as well as the perils of excess. 

I'm not sure it's the best book. Is "Gatsby" too dated? Is there a more recent work of fiction that would help someone "get" the US? What book would you recommend?



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If your company is going global, you know that you need to learn about local taxes, regulations, and law.  Did you think of adding local culture to that list? 

If you plan on doing business like you do in the U.S., you may hurt your company's chances of success.  Spend time on the ground before you launch, talk to other people who have already entered the market, and as Will Rogers said, "Never miss a good chance to shut up."






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24 hour clock

Cindy King, a cross-cultural marketer, has an interesting post on different interpretations of times and dates across cultures.  It reminded me of a friend from Botswana who had a very different idea of time than I do.  He defined "later"  as any time in the future: today, tomorrow, next week, next month.  Appointments did not translate into being somewhere at a specific time or even on a particular date.  While this attitude was the norm where he did business, it would never have worked in the US.

So, what should you do when working with overseas customers? Do as the Romans: learn how your customers use times and dates and follow their lead. 


Image by Travis Jon Allison under Creative Commons license.

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Do you believe that eating certain foods on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day will give you good luck?  Lucky foods exist in many cultures: grapes in Spain, hoppin' John in the Southern U.S., and soba noodles in Japan. 

On the other hand, some people avoid eating food with wings because it could fly away, taking your luck with it.  Revelers who are putting on the ritz should steer clear of lobsters: they move backwards and could change your luck.  You might do better with oysters.

Do you eat a lucky food to welcome the new year?



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