Your Flexibility with International Business Norms

When traveling for business internationally, it is not unusual to run into snags and surprises. Some of the most frustrating challenges can come in a business context – yet often, these can become moments where we can learn something new, and shine.

 

Some countries require an unusual amount of paperwork to even consider traveling to the country. Multi-page forms, visa applications, reference letters only accepted via global snail-mail are but a few examples of challenges that business travelers run into when planning visits to countries on nearly every continent.

Other countries have very specific norms with deliveries. Sending a package containing gifts to another business in Brazil is a taxable event for the receiver of the gift! Receiving a package in Germany may be delayed by several days until each item in the package is sorted in customs and a value-amount is declared for each. Some countries’ delivery times are very limited on certain days of the week, which can create unexpected delays around holidays and long weekends.

 

Adhering to business dress codes can also cause a good bit of anxiety for travelers, especially for someone who hasn’t been to said country before. Are white pants on men ok outside of Latin America? Are women expected to wear skirts to business meetings in Japan and the Middle East? For those in the creative industries, when is business-casual “too casual”?  Answers to these questions may vary depending on your industry, meeting purpose, and time of year!

 

The most important way to de-stressify is to do your homework with plenty of time before your trip.  Before you take off, try to schedule some time to research potential snags in the country you’re traveling to. Having a quick call with a friend or expat who has spent significant time there is a very good idea, time providing. Whatever you do, make sure to always breath deeply and keep an open mind; this will help you to observe the humor, beauty, and processes that make other cultures flow!

 

How do you maintain a sense of humor and de-stress with travel surprises?

Tips for Looking Better in Photos

Nowadays, it seems we are constantly being included in photos. At the dinner table, outside restaurants, between sessions at a conference, and now, especially, on our once-sacred “lounge days” during vacation. We document the people we’re with while we’re at the places we love!

 

The catch to all this documentation is that few of us can afford to bring a professional lighting crew and “glam squad” around at all times to accentuate our best assets! You don’t have to have the resources of an A-lister, however, to be prepared and look your best in nearly every photo taken.

 

Here are a few tips we’ve shared with clients this year:

 

  1. If you anticipate that you’ll be photographed in advance of an outing, apply your makeup according to the lighting you expect
  2. Try to stand with the sun/light source behind the camera, so that you are front lit. It’s much easier to filter a photo later that’s been front lit than the opposite; check out Afterlight as a great app to correct great backlit shots (available for IOS, Android and Windows phones)h
  3. If you’ll be outside, try to avoid sparkle in foundations and eye makeup. Glitter often accentuates your fine lines and will age you
  4. Avoid wearing too much blush, and when you do, blend it in well
  5. Use a light-reflecting concealer to combat dark circles under the eyes
  6. Use an anti-shine crème to keep your skin matte
  7. It’s ok to cheat the camera. Stand sideways, cross your legs to slim the body, and always try to twist your shoulders to face the photographer
  8. Do not chew gum, and always mind your posture
  9. If you’ll be with friends, politely ask to be photographed from your “better side,” if it feels appropriate
  10. Do not ask waiters or strangers to take additional rounds after the first shot(s). They have not been hired to help you document your evening; be ok with a shot or two, and then let it be.

And, in case you need to get ready for photos in a pinch, here are a few tricks for the ladies:

 

  1. Create subtle, smoky eyes with eye shadow and your fingertips
  2. Smooth out flyaways with your hands
  3. Plump up your eyelash volume with a curler or volumizing mascara
  4. Bonus: always check your teeth for spinach and other delights!

How do you get ready for photos? Share with us ……

 

 

Your Gestures: Lost in Translation?

When traveling for business internationally, there can be many challenges. Perfecting your presentation to clients/colleagues, making sure you make your flight on time, remembering the country code when dialing, ensuring you have enough local currency – these being but a few common headaches to figure out.

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

 

While there will be many challenges you’ll have to deal with ad-hoc, there is one area where advanced research is critical before you travel: Gestures. Did you know that in Brazil and Greece, the “Ok” sign is considered vulgar or obscene? Or did you know that in Japan and southern France, the same symbol means “worthless” or “zero”? And, in Australia and the Middle East, the “thumbs up” gesture means “Up yours!”, which isn’t something you’d ever want to say in a business scenario.

 

Style of communication is also important to consider. In Germany, for example, native-Germans speak in a very matter-of-fact style. Unless you are 100% fluent in German, do not use allegories, analogies or coded language as it will not get you anywhere (even when trying to make a joke!). Ask for exactly what you want, and say what exactly you mean. It will be better for everyone

 

Before your trip – conducting Internet searches, picking up a guidebook for the plane, or having a brief conversation with your host/guide can be tremendously beneficial. Doing your research ahead of time means you’ll avoid embarrassing moments with colleagues, potential clients, or those who you meet along your stay – allowing you to focus on your big wins and enjoyment of your experiences.

 

Happy Travel

 

Dressing Well for a Job Interview

There are few occasions more important than impressing a prospective employer. Whether you’re making a career change or simply interviewing for a transfer internally, you want to present yourself in the most flattering, professional light. Taking time to get this right early in your interview preparations will allow you to spend mental energy on the important stuff – like what you’re going to say and what you’re going to ask, instead of fretting about what to wear.

 

Here are a few tips for dressing for a job interview:

  • Always follow the company dress code. Find out whether it’s formal or casual by observing employees arriving for work.
  • Plan to dress slightly better than an employee would there. At least, your clothes and shoes should be neat & clean and don’t forget to style your hair too.
  • If you have body art/tattoos, cover them up until you know whether they are acceptable in that workplace.
  • For women: makeup should be subtle and nails with reasonable length.
  • Remember, dress as you belong to that company.

From there, ask yourself a few questions before laying out your outfit:

Should I wear a suit? In many industries, it’s a good idea to wear a suit for a job interview. Especially for a conservative business. For example, if you’re applying for a job in an investment firm, go with a navy blue or dark gray suit.

What if the company I’m applying to is dressing more casual? It’s a good idea to match your interview attire to the prospective job. If you are applying for a job working on a warehouse floor, you will look out of place wearing a formal suit. Keeping that in mind, dress a bit better than you would for a regular workday there, and always ensure that clothing is cleaned and pressed as appropriate.

With any job interviews, if you’re unsure of what the dress code is – a best practice is to dress up the extra notch. It’s better to look polished than to look too casual. If you’re still unsure, your prospective employers’ HR department should be able to help you. Ask them what their staff wear in the office each day; such preparation, to most companies, will make you stand out for being prepared!

Becoming Culturally-Fluent Before Your Business Trip

For many of us, there comes the point where you need to travel internationally to conduct business. Whether your travels will be for research, sales meetings, conferences, or to check in on partners and suppliers – you should jump to take advantage of the opportunity. International travel can teach us a lot about ourselves, and the planning ahead for the travel is often a fantastic exercise in learning and creative thinking.

Here are a few tips to consider when planning for (and during) your visit.

 

  1. Be flexible and respectful. Consider your hosts’ needs and expectations, and be as open minded as possible. Be careful not to make a constant comparison with your home country. For example, if you are in Italy and order a coffee, be flexible with the cup size that is returned to you (if it’s not enough after drinking it, you may ask for a second cup).
  2. Do not take things personally. Some things people do may be frustrating to you, but try to put yourself in their shoes. An example of this is when you speak with someone, and she does not look back at you, remember that in some cultures this is not a sign of disrespect – it’s their cultural norm.
  3. Be patient. Some country’s foods and customs may be new to you, but “new” doesn’t mean it’s being done “wrong.” Try to eat a portion of the meal that you’ve never tried before, just for the experience. Try not to talk about business while you’re at the dining table; save it for another conversation.
  4. Strive to learn language basics as a sign of respect. If English is not predominantly spoken where you’re headed, try to learn a handful of basics as a sign of respect. “Good morning” and “Good evening,” “Hello,” “How are you,” “Thank you,” “Yes,” “No” and “Please” are most important.
  5. Be a good listener. Your host or colleague will hopefully explain the way things are done early in your visit. Listen closely and openly, and be sure to ask lots of thoughtful questions!
  6. Know that your perceptions are relative, not absolute. You should try to avoid stereotyping and remember that the way you view an experience is always colored by your own upbringing and culture. Try to eat new foods when they are offered to you. Try to go to the restroom when there is one (in case it won’t be convenient again for some time). Finally, be sure to keep your smartphone use to a minimum as much as possible, enjoying the moments and being present in the fascinating space that you’re in!

Tips for Men Wearing Shorts in Summer

Finally, Summer is upon us. For adult men, summer shots often create questions bigger than “should I wear a sweater over this” and “will I be warm enough in shorts, or should I wear jeans?” For many, a casual-yet-styled summer look creates conflict between being too casual and just “too much.”

Here are a few tips that have worked well with guys we’ve worked.

Tip 1:

Shorts do not belong in any formal setting or professional office unless you are in the Bahamas. Shorts should only be used for outdoor functions, vacations, beaches, or weekend road trip.

Tip 2:

Do not wear visible socks with shorts unless they are part of a uniform or you are headed to the gym.

Tip 3:

Beware of the color of your underwear and pattern if you are wearing white or light-colored shorts. Blues, reds, and purples often show through and create unwanted distractions!

Tip 4:

Avoid wearing athletic shorts, biking shorts, or anything beyond their intended function.

Tip 5:

The shorts length you choose should be based on your body and proportions. The length is better, not shorter than an inch above the knee.

 

What do you think? How do you style the guys in your life for summer? Let us know…

Timeliness Etiquette

Are you the kind of friend who shows up 5-10 minutes late to everything?

 

The incredible array of features and apps available on our smartphones have made it easy to schedule every minute in our days. And yet, we hear frequently from our clients how frustrating it is when guests, dates or colleagues seem to be late to just about everything.

 

The most important consideration in keeping a realistic schedule is avoiding overcommitting in the first place, and allowing extra time between appointments. Knowing that modern life doesn’t always accommodate this, consider these guidelines to manage expectations when you do need to be late:

 

  • Cocktail party or reception: 15-30 minutes late is acceptable, because these are designed for guests to come and go
  • Dinner party: Try to be extremely prompt. If you are more than 15 minutes late, that is rude, unless you know your host always runs late. But it can be awkward to arrive early, too
  • Business meeting or luncheon: arrive 5 minutes early, always. Time is money, and we shouldn’t waste each other’s money
  • Dinner date: In a restaurant, it’s disrespectful to arrive more than 5 minutes late. A bar or lounge may allow for a few added minutes, but keep in mind your date may not be seated until you arrive
  • Screenings, movies or live performances: Try to arrive at least 10-20 minutes before the show starts, especially if you do not have tickets in advance or assigned seating. If it’s a large venue or arena you’ve not been to, allow an extra 10 minutes to find your way around
  • Job interviews: You should always be on time, and ideally 5-10 minutes early for an interview. Try to allow extra time at the end of your scheduled interview in case there is time for a brief tour, conversations with other team members, etc.
  • Conference call: With virtual meetings, try to ‘arrive’ within 2-3 minutes of the start time. When everyone arrives on time and there is a clear purpose for the call, business can be taken care of and the call can often wrap quickly

 

The great thing about our constant connectivity is how easy it is to reach out to someone when you’re running late. If you’ll be more than 5 minutes late, send a quick text. If you anticipate being more than 10 minutes late to something, call the person with a brief explanation and offer the chance to reschedule, if appropriate. This act of respecting others’ time will reduce annoyance and maintain good relations.

 

What do you think? How do you manage your schedule? Let us know …..