How Understanding Foreign Cultures Can Help You Advance
If you plan to live, work, or do business with other cultures, it’s important to understand how they work. Here’s a crash course in culture politics.
Elementary Foreign Culture
Nearly every business is global in some respect, which makes cultural understanding all the more important. Nearly all U. S. companies either sell to, buy from, or employ people internationally. How much do you know about foreign cultures?
- “Heaven” in Europe is when the Germans are the Engineers, the British are the Police, the French are the Cooks, the Swiss are the Administrators and the Italians are the Lovers.
- “Hell” in Europe is when the British are the Cooks, the Germans are the Police, the French are the Engineers, the Swiss are the Lovers, and the Italians are the Administrators.
When I began working with Asia, someone explained the competitive difference between Koreans and Japanese. If one Japanese competes with one Korean, the Korean will win; if a team of Japanese compete with a team of Koreans, the Japanese will win. The point was that the powerful culture of consensus in Japan created more competitive teams—whereas the Koreans developed stronger individual competitors.
Nobody characterized the Chinese in those days, except to tell me that there was not “one China”, but several and even the languages reflected that. I was also told that in American terms, “long term” meant in the next few years, and in Asian terms, “long term” meant in the next few centuries.
The culture of a foreign country is not the only culture you must understand. There are different cultures in companies, and in different parts of the U.S. Understanding this is also important.
Of all the people who must understand the culture, the top executive is arguably the most critical one. CEO turnover in the U. S. runs about 15 percent per year, a surprisingly high number. Virtually all of these CEOs were accomplished, successful executives when they were hired. So why do that many of them fail?
Culture mismatch is a major reason, says Nat Stoddard of Crenshaw Associates. Nat studied this phenomenon and explains it in his book, The Right Leader—Finding Executives who Fit. Put an autocratic CEO in a company that was built by a collaborative leader and trouble will start on day one. Mostly it will be key employees leaving as fast as they can. When vice-versa is the case, the people wait to be told what to do, while the leader waits, assuming they will collaborate to decide what to do — very little will get done.
A great story illustrating a total cultural misunderstanding was told by an American lawyer and Army Reservist, Craig Trebilcock in his book One Weekend A Month. Craig was part of a group of reservists assigned to help the Iraqi people rebuild civic and legal structures after the “shock & awe” stage of the Iraq War.
He had a surprising revelation in a meeting with a group of Iraqi Judges, while trying to explain how they could now rule on matters as they saw fit, according to their interpretation of Iraqi law. They were frightened and incredulous, which they explained to Craig this way: “How can know what to decide with no one to tell us what to decide?” They had never experienced a culture other than Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship—in which judges were ordered what to decide. The concept of freely made decisions was totally inconceivable.
No matter how competent you are, no matter how experienced you are, until you understand the culture in which you are operating, living or simply participating, you are in many ways, a rank novice. That means, whenever you find yourself in a new place, a new setting, a new job or a new country, take time to learn about the culture. You’ll be glad you did.
The Uncommon Cure for Time Management Issues
People who have a lot to accomplish feel that they don’t have time to accomplish everything so end up not accomplishing much. People who don’t have a lot to accomplish don’t have to worry much about time but won’t accomplish much anyway.
As it has been told many times, you can’t manage time (everyone has only 24 hours) — you can only manage yourselves. If you believe in that and start working on your discipline, a lot of progress can be made. For me, this part is the obvious part. The only real resource that you have control over is you — manage it well and you can “sort of” manage time.
Lack of time is a really a manifestation of a bigger problem — lack of leverage in your life. So my proposal is this: Amp up your leverage and you solve your time management problem.
Leverage is anything for which you get a disproportionally high positive return on investment. If all else is equal between two professionals, the person with a higher leverage always wins — and he or she wins with far less effort than the other person.
1. Ensure that your job increases your personal capacity. Usually these jobs require you to stretch and walk the extra mile — capacity increases happen with certain amount of resistance. Typically, no resistance means no growth. What if your job does not provide that opportunity? Then, volunteer to pick up additional work in your workplace and do whatever it takes to get the right amount of resistance to grow. With progressively increasing personal capacity to perform you will notice an increase in leverage.
2. Get higher quality help requests. Your influence and power increases with the quality of help requests that come your way. If you position yourself to constantly receive higher quality help requests (and you work to fulfill these requests satisfactorily) you will start to notice increase in leverage. For you to have the capacity to respond to higher quality help requests, you have to learn to get away from
3. Find a second reason to do anything important. If you are working on anything important, it’s not hard to find a reason to do exactly the same thing. For example, If you are commuting to work, you can also use that time to listen to an audio book. Once you get into the habit of finding a reason, stretch yourself to find a third reason. If you succeed, start finding a fourth reason and so on. The goal here is to get multiple outcomes for the same effort – the hallmark of high leverage.
Top 50 brands in social: seven key takeaways
What we learned from analysing the top brands in social media, and food for thought for brand owners starting to look at social reputation monitoring
Our top 50 brands in social media league table caused quite a stir, and we had 20,000 page views almost overnight and comment from everywhere from Switzerland and Brazil to Australia and the Philippines.
A social media campaign isn’t always necessary to get people talking about you
The ‘reach’ of a brand is meaningless on its own
Brands don’t necessarily get talked about just because people like them
A few short bursts of social media activity won’t necessarily sustain the conversation
Yes, eBay really is the most social of the top brands
Being ‘liked’ by people on Facebook doesn’t equal engagement
Facebook isn’t everything
The real insight is derived from analysing why some brands punching above their weight and why others are failing to capitalise on the strength of their brands in social channels.
Those exhibiting strong scores all have things in common: engaging content, good segmentation of content on relevant platforms, responsiveness, sensible integration of social with other channels.They all add value to the consumer relationship.
Facebook to Surpass Yahoo! in Display Ad Revenues This Year
More than one in five US display dollars will go to the social network
For the first time, the largest share of US display ad revenues will go to Facebook, eMarketer estimates. The social network’s 80.9% growth in display ad revenues, to $2.19 billion this year, will mean Facebook sees 21.6% of all US display ad dollars.
That will put it ahead of Yahoo!, where eMarketer estimates display revenues will be up 16%. Yahoo!’s market share will inch up to 16.4%, while display gains at Google push the site’s share of display spending to 12.6%. Meanwhile, AOL will drop from 5.3% of display ad revenues in 2010 to 4.4% this year.
“Yahoo!’s US display ad revenues will increase by double digits each year from 2010 through 2012. Despite that, not only will Facebook’s display revenues surpass Yahoo!’s this year, Google’s revenues will exceed Yahoo!’s next year,” said David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer. “What that leapfrogging trend confirms is the strong demand among brand marketers for online display ad placements.”
In the search market, Google will solidify its position as the top site with an increase in market share of nearly 4 percentage points, to 75.2%. eMarketer expects Microsoft, where search revenues will be up 16.4% in 2011, to increase its market share slightly for the next two years, while search revenues at Yahoo! will continue a slow decline, dropping to $1.1 billion this year from $1.28 billion in 2010.
Netflix’s biggest competition: Facebook?
Netflix is fast becoming the king of digital movies, and is one of Hollywood’s biggest
frenemies. But even though Netflix would appear to be sitting pretty, it
may have some stiff competition soon.
This week, Warner Bros. announced that it will be offering streaming movies through the fan pages the studio operates on Facebook. In the near future, Facebook users will be able to download movies.
Warner Bros. is starting its Facebook effort with The Dark Knight, one of its biggest blockbuster hits. The Facebook fan page for Dark Knight is a popular one and has nearly 4m fans. Those fans will be able to watch the movie from within Facebook by clicking on a “Watch” tab and paying 30 Facebook Credits ($3).
According to Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, “Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.“
One analyst at Goldman Sachs (whose obvious bias should be noted) thinks Facebook “could some day become a credible threat to Netflix.” But that sort of talk seems more hype than substance at this point, as it’s unclear whether the site’s massive audience will translate to rental sales. Sure, Warner Bros. has 4m potential customers on its Dark Knight fan page, but how many will really want to watch the movie from this page?
The advantage that companies that have their own websites have is that they control the user experience. As with everything on Facebook (such as Facebook Comments), companies aren’t free to do what they’d like, which even if it doesn’t prove to be a total conversion and satisfaction killer, means that many companies may find Facebook a tricky distribution and commerce platform to master.
Social Media Now Top Marketing Pick for Local Businesses
Social media marketing is the big winner with local businesses in the marketing method sweepstakes, according to a new survey. But social media’s win comes at the expense of traditional offline marketing methods, which continue to decline.
The survey data revealed that local merchants, who usually have very limited time and money for marketing, are increasingly gravitating toward marketing methods such as Facebook and other social media, as well as toward tried-and-true online methods like search and e-mail marketing.
According to the MerchantCircle quarterly confidence index of 8,500 small and local businesses across the U.S., more than half of local merchants are spending less than $2,500 a year on marketing, and 60 percent have no plans to raise their budgets this year. This places a premium on cost-effective marketing.
Facebook is the clear category leader, according to the survey. Because of its huge consumer adoption, ease-of-use and low barrier to entry, the social media network continues to be a popular way for merchants to market their businesses, with 70 percent using Facebook for marketing, up from 50 percent a year ago.
Twitter has also grown in popularity over the past year, MerchantCircle said, with nearly 40 percent of local merchants using the platform to build awareness and community around their products and services. This is up from 32 percent in the last quarter of 2009.
Offline marketing has been the loser with local businesses. During 2010, print advertising dropped by 33 percent, use of print Yellow Pages decreased 18 percent and use of direct mail fell by 26 percent.
Nearly one in five SMBs use Twitter for local marketing efforts
Twitter usage has been growing quickly among small and medium-sized businesses, according to a report on small local firms.
Twitter was still behind many other social media tactics, with nearly half (48%) of respondents using Facebook for marketing and a quarter using some other social network.
More than a third of SMB respondents had increased their use of links and ads on social media sites over the past year, and 46% planned further increases in the next 12 months. Customer ratings and reviews were another social tool with significant planned increases.