Tag Archives: travel

The Worlds Best and Worst Travellers

According to an article on Yahoo! News today, here are some best and worst traveller rankings:
French are the worst, Japanese are the best.
To learn more about this, plus Americans, Canadians, Spaniards and Greeks, please click the above title to this post or click here:

What do you think about these results?

For me, I am reminded that stereotypes are based in truth. Most of these make sense from my experience travelling and from teaching people from all over the world.

Note – this article does support my opinion that I made in a blog posting a couple entries ago, about Canadians being very adaptable. I was happy to see that.

Enjoy the short and interesting article.
Enjoy your weekend too!

In Japan

Hello everyone,

I will be here in Japan until July 9th. Some work, some relaxation.
I am in Tokyo and Yokohama right now and soon I will visit Shizuoka and then Kyoto.

I will put together a post/newsletter soon about communication issues here in J-town.

For now, sorry that I have not posted for a while. Jet-lag is brutal.


Leaving Moscow – Thoughts On Doing International Business

Today was my last day of training the fine folks at WorldMark Corporation/Oil Technology Overseas here in Moscow, Russia. Although this was not my first international training mission, it is certainly one of my fondest. The reason is that in a relatively short time (6 weeks) I have acclimatized myself quickly to a new culture, gained valuable insight into my business and most importantly, have forged strong, deep friendships with people that I know I will see again.

International training (or travel for that matter) is not for everyone, and although I am not trying to make myself out like a hero I will say that I do have the right personality and characteristics for extended travel. What might they be, you ask?

I believe first and foremost that you have to be able to suspend judgment. We all are ethnocentric – we see the world through our own values from our cultural upbringing. When abroad it is essential that you have an open mind and even a curiosity for things that are not familiar to you. Can you have a frank but still polite discussion with others on the deadly topics of politics, religion or other taboos in society? Will it end in an argument or a smile? Will you risk sacrificing a fat business contract for the sake of your ego or worse yet, the beliefs of older generations?

Also I believe that when traveling (for business especially) you need to have a sense of humour. Bad things may happen. Things that were promised might get modified. The question here is can you handle a little turbulence? If all in all you are involved with a great company then I am sure you can negotiate respectfully. Pay attention to things that were given that were not promised. Do things balance out in the end?

Lastly I would like to say a business traveler needs a love of language, as language is indeed a window to the culture itself. Even when visiting a country for a short time you should learn at least a few greetings and expressions. It is the quickest way to start to understand your new friends and business partners. Not just their words, but their intention behind the words, and also why they do the things they do that may seem strange to you. In today’s world of internet access there is no excuse why you cannot download a few pages to study on your way there or shortly after you arrive.

I could go on perhaps listing other important characteristics of an international traveler but for now I think I have hit the few critical characteristics near to my heart.

As I head back to Canada tomorrow I will be smiling, thinking of the good times I have had both personally and professionally, and although I miss my home and the people there I cannot escape the feeling that I will soon miss Moscow just as much, if only for a short time.

Thanks for the memories.

Build Relationships Even When Travelling

Greetings from Moscow, Russia again!

As most of you know I teach relationship-building techniques, the art of small talk and the secrets of winning first impressions. These interpersonal communication skills are vital in life. I also teach networking skills, as these soft-skills are imperative in building business and commerce relationships. How many successful sales people do you know who are extremely introverted and find it hard to strike up a conversation? Not many I would bet. There are obvious reasons for that.

Here in Russia as I had mentioned in my last newsletter I am facing a big language communication barrier (although my reading of the Russian words has noticeably improved, I am happy to report today…) and so I rely on other communication techniques. They are worldwide, human techniques. But a few days ago I was looking for a new headset and microphone in a local mall and I saw an Indian man running a computer shop. He spoke with a strong Russian accent (so I was told) and it was obvious to me that he was an immigrant or migrant worker here. I immediately felt like I was back in Toronto and started to speak English to him. We smiled and chatted and he sold me a new headset which works very well. I am ‘Skyping’ my friends and family constantly, as you may appreciate.

Today after a great day of site-seeing (for those who know Moscow I visited Old and New Arbat, Hard Rock Café, and Victory Park) I decided to add a webcam to my long-distance conversations and returned to the same mall. I purposely sought out the same shop and yes, the same Indian man was working. We smiled again and chatted briefly. I told him this time I was in need of a webcam that can ‘skype’ and he recommended one immediately. I asked how much and the answer was 1000.00 Russian rubles (exchange rate is 1 dollar to 24 Russian rubles, so do the math if you wish) and then I asked if there was a cheaper option that could still skype. He smiled and played with his computer for a minute and then said to me that he could sell it for 800. DEAL. Done.

Some of you reading this story may not be too surprised by a seemingly independent shop keeper giving a bit of a discount, but I was told by my Russian guide that discounts at malls and proper businesses are quite impossible. She was surprised by my discount. I explained to her that I felt that he liked me for these reasons: he thought I was a nice guy, I smile which is almost rare for Russian men in that situation, he was happy to see me as a repeat customer, he did not want me going elsewhere, and finally, I think he could appreciate me as a foreigner in Russia – the same as him. 

Most of us at some point travel, and we should not think that our actions do not matter to the local people. Carry yourself as you would at home and continue to be in the constant habit of initiating great people-skills. You never know when they will help you!