I lived in Russia, India, and China for three months to learn how companies are started and structured in each country. Each country was a completely different business landscape because of political environments, economic structures, and citizen’s values.
Being able to do business in China meant developing Guanxi (connections with people in power), to get the permits required to do business. In Russia, I learned how American businesses can be usurped. In India, suppliers can be dishonest about their manufacturing practices, but build facades that are difficult to break through. Despite the challenges, I came away loving these countries.
While learning how to launch businesses in each location, I developed creative methods for quickly understanding the deeper parts of each culture. For example, I realized I could read national literature to pick up the values ingrained in the hearts and minds of local citizens; I was able to ascertain notions of courtesy, friendship, and leadership among many other subtler attributes (see cultural iceberg).
I came away with an ability to quickly adapt to new business cultures and validate business ideas in emerging markets.
I utilize my skill set to research business opportunities in emerging markets, develop international sales channels, and work with multinational teams.
I also volunteer my time to educate others about how to adapt to new business cultures. I created a seminar course on intercultural communication for college students. Now, I regularly use my awareness of communication styles to help mitigate misunderstandings among my teams.