My takeaway

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Being in two international business classes at Chapman University, I have learned a lot and my perspective has developed into a new direction. Some of the valuable lessons I have learned are: being culture sensitive and adaptive, being open-mind, thinking out of the box, and having the courage to go wherever opportunity appears.

Being culture sensitive and adaptive is not only a requirement but also a powerful mean for any business leader to be successful in the global business. Apparently, many people couldn’t survive in the global environment because they cannot handle with all the cultural conflicts. At the end of the day, you must find yourself comfortable and engage with the local culture because it is your new home. Understanding the differences and respecting the local culture is necessary, but getting involved and excited about the culture can bring your more benefit and eventually help you to win friends and customers. I still remember the story of a guest speaker, who came to our class to share her international experience.  She had a difficult time to get the business deal with some Chinese customers. However in one of the party with customers, she accepted the invitation to drink a glass of very strong Chinese wine. The result was very surprised; she got the business deal the day after the party. It is not because Chinese people like to drink, the underline reason is that they valued her courage to take such a difficult task supposed to be for man and her willingness to mix with the collectivity.

Having an open-mind and out of the box thinking can help you to overcome many dilemma. When we live in another world, our perspective needs to be more opened and flexible to the local context. Things which are considered unethical and illegal in US can be acceptable in other countries. Using child labor, for example, is acceptable in many developing countries and third world countries. Instead of forcing the local manager to strictly follow the ethical standard of US, the leader can think differently. Considering the fact that many families are extremely poor because parent are disability and cannot get any social benefit, therefore letting the children to work to support the family is the only choice. Giving the kids the opportunity to work in the factory is still much better than for him to get on the street to sell the lottery ticket or polish shoes. Many street kids are taken advantage by bad people to sell drug, beg for money, and robber tourisms. With creative ideas, business leader can think of way to improve working condition for kids and have education programs for kids at night to train them become a future employees for the company.

Doing business global is not without challenges. However, a true global leader is the person can overcome the fear and see the opportunity behind the challenges. Taking these into the global SWOT analysis theme, I believe that these characteristics are the real strength for an international businessman/ businesswomen who want to capture the opportunity of the global market.

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After Asia, is Africa the next place to go?

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In doing business internationally, it is imperative to look ahead than the obvious opportunity. Now with most of the eyes are steering at Asian emerging economies such as India and China, there is other opportunity for company to capture for a longer term. That opportunity names Africa. One of the most supporting evidence for this opportunity is the figure “over the past decade six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African”1. The reason behind the fast growth of these African countries maybe due to a high revenue from natural resources, which becomes rarer and more essential for countries like China, India and Brazil. High population grows is one of the factor that make Africa a promising place to do business. High population can lead to higher commodity consumption. African enthusiasm for technology is another opportunity that US companies should consider to make a quick move and capture the market. Africa has more than 600 million mobile users, which is higher than the America or Europe.

Other countries such as China, Brazil, India, Turkey, and Malaysia have also started to enter these markets. Thanks to the investment of China in the infrastructure, it will make doing business in Africa less troublesome. US in the other hands, still has very limited involvement in the business activities. US main focus is in helping African countries against HIV and poverty via some aid programs. It is good to help the countries get out of poverty at first hand, but in the long run people need more things like infrastructure, factories, and technology. There is opportunity for US companies to leverage their strength in innovation to help African countries get close to technology and services at more affordable prices.



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Sharks and Saints…

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I am in my final semester at business school earning my MBA from Chapman University. Here at school, we are initially drummed from the very first classes that the primary goal of the firm is to provide value to the shareholders and the importance of understanding the time value of money.  It’s been a whirlwind. Essentially, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!

We are taught to evaluate portfolios, make strategic choices for the firm based on financial ratios, data, and past Harvard business cases that we have broken down, analyzed, diced and sliced six ways to Sunday. SWOT analysis’ and Porter’s Five Forces are a part of our waking thoughts. We all feel that we now could either be some well-paid corporate nobody or the next Jeff Skilling, or hopefully fall somewhere in between the two.

It’s fascinating because on one hand, we are really supposed to maximize the value of the firm, increase shareholders wealth, and not worry about the little people that we may be squashing in making our key strategic decisions.

A little voice in my head asks me where is the sense of ethics, the Golden Rule, and all of the good deeds we are supposed to espouse as we make our way up the ladder.  A quote comes to mind and I am not sure who said it first, but it goes a little something like this “be good to the people who are around you when you are on your way up, you most likely will pass them again on your way down.”

This brings me to my parting thoughts, and that is, above all, be a good person, even if it costs you financially a bit more to do so, and I believe that companies big and small should also strive to adhere to this philosophy.

An individual is only as good as their word, reputations do end up preceding you, and you cannot take money with you when you die.  Legacy is all that is left.

~Make it memorably good.

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Through the shadows…

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I want to throw in my two cents on the Occupy Wall Street movement that has become so en vogue as of late. The concept of tent cities popping up in and around the civic centers in many major cities is a unique site as in our modern day, there really has not been a reason for the people to get together and rally around some central key issues since the days of the Vietnam War some forty years ago.  Indeed, this sort of thing just doesn’t really happen in America anymore.

This all began a few months ago, mid-September 2011, some people got together and began to rally around one main demand.  “We demand that Barrack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.” These people have come to believe that money, lobbyists, and special interest groups are behind most of the policy making in Washington and as such, they are fighting to be heard. Many discuss the growing divide between the rich and the poor, TARP, the public taxpayer bailout of mismanaged corporations, and the shrinking middle class as points of note in the ongoing debate.  One thing that’s certain is that people have begun to really take notice of the movement on an international level, and that in and of itself is no small feat.

The Guy Fawkes mask—worn by a ­protester in New York on Oct. 5—has become ­symbolic of the Occupy Wall Street movement

It is definitely an interesting debate, with those who are critical of the  Occupy Wall Street movement declaring that the participants are anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, anti-materialist extremists.  These views are squarely at odds with mainstream economic thought.  That said, with the overturning of dictatorships abroad, people hurting financially an suffering though a lo of debt with a government in Washington making them many hollow promises, the timing is right for such a movement to take place.

Whether it will work is anybody’s guess, but people are taking note, and that of itself is a big accomplishment.  With the overall fragmented nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement, lack of unity, and underlying stories of squalor and abuse in certain tent camps, it will most likely not last.  But people have taken note, and that’s a start.

In closing, I think it is important to analyze the words of one of the starters of this movement David Graeber as I believe it touches on something much deeper than a group of people in a city causing a chaotic scene with tents and holding signs….

“And there’s a stream—so that very morality of debt has a lot to do with it. For example, in almost all the great world religions, they talk about debt as if paying your debts is morality. In fact, even the word for debt, sin and guilt are often the same. That’s true in Sanskrit, that’s true in Aramaic. The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t actually say, “Forgive us our trespasses,” it says “Forgive us our debts just as we forgive our debtors.”  Of course, the trick is, you don’t actually forgive your debtors, do you?” David Graeber Interview with S & P Futures


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Is it a time for fighting?

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There were many blames from US and European countries that China is playing an unfair trading game. They accused China for depreciating the Renminbi to make China goods cheaper in the international market, and boost China’s export. For many years, China has enjoyed a steady growth in GDP, which was contributed mostly from export. Not until when global crisis deepens, main buyers like US and European countries feel China’s action has made their slowing economies more distress. As a result they force China to act quickly to rebalance the global trade if China doesn’t want to receive punishment from them.

China reassured US and European countries by saying in public media that since the international financial crisis, China has changed the macro-economic policy toward a more balance trade. China is trying to expand domestic demand to increase import and stabilize export. China economist pointed out that from 2008 to 2010, China import has increased considerable, and GDP growth has slowed down accordingly. China has also reduced many import duty and tariff lines to make it easier for import. China shows that its strong and steady growth economy is a potential export opportunity for the rest of the world. Recent statistic shows evidence of China effort in rebalance import and export.  In October, China Import rises sharply, while export growth slows. China trade surplus has reduced to 2.4 %, down from 3.1% last year.

Certainly, without pressure from US and European countries, China would not have changed their action like now. However, when China begins to have some effort to change their policy to follow the rule of the game, should we still impose punishment on China as some politicians are requesting? Gone are the day US is the only dominant player in the world economy. We must accept the fact that China now has become an important chain in the global economy ecosystem. If we want to revitalize this ecosystem we should encourage China to act for the benefit and health of the whole system rather than attacking them. Whenever we hit a ball we get a bounce. When we hit China we get a reaction. Fighting with China might lead to the falling down of the whole system.




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