Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Holiday Season!

Winter time and mostly end of December - beginning of January is a Holiday Season for most of people around the world, of all religions and all nationalities. So here is my HAPPY HOLIDAY greetings to all my readers around the Globe.

Most of the Christians have just had Holly Jolly Christmas - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody! In Russia, however, Christmas is on January 7 so this holiday is still to come. And one more thing about holidays in Russia: our Santa ("Father Frost") brings us presents not on Christmas, but on New Year's Eve and he usually comes with a company - his granddaugter, The Snowgirl. So below are 2 greeting cards: for my Western and Russian friends (Santa and Snowgirl):

Our Jewish friends have their own holiday this time of the year - Chanukah, which is the festival of light and it celebrates triumph of light over darkness. The festival lasts 8 days and in 2006 it was celebrated December 16 - 23. Happy Chanukah!

Our Muslim friends celebrate their holiday this time of year too - Eid-al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice. It lasts for 3 days and commemorates Ibraham's (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. According to the Koran, Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son when a voice from heaven stopped him and allowed him to sacrifice a ram instead. In 2006 Eid-al-Adha will be celebrated on December 31. Happy Eid!

Finally, our Chinese friends will be celebrating Chinese New Year on February 18, 2007. And thought there is still time till that holiday I wanted to congratulate our Asian friends anyway since we are talking about Christmas and New Year. Year 2007 will be the year of Pig according to the Chinese calendar. I wish you Good Luck in the New Year!

You can find more beautiful e-cards for all your family, friends, colleagues and customers on these websites (where I found mine): ,,
In my experience, it doesn't matter what nationality a person is - everyon will be very happy to receive a note from you on THEIR holiday. So send warm wishes and spread the joy!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Russia in the Spotilight, Part II

One of my blog readers asked about the link to the articles about Russia I mentioned in my post called "Russia in the Spotlight". I didn't include the links to these articles because I read these articles in the hard copy of Business Week. But I value my reader's opinion and thus, I performed on-line search for these 2 artcile and here are the links:


Monday, December 18, 2006

How to be a successful International Business Consultant

At the end of November 2006 I was giving a presentation at the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC USA, Chicago Chapter) about skills to have and things to know to be a successful International Business consultant. I put the essence of this presentation into an article which I have recently published. You can read this article at (article # 5)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Russia in the spotlight

If you are interested in doing busienss in/with Russia you should have a look at the recent Business Week magazine (December 18, 2006) There are 2 full articles about Russia, which in a way complement each other.

On the bright side it shows that Russian middle class is growing, hence the consumption is growing too including the demand for foreign made goods. In addition Russia is also popular with foreign investors and the stock market is up.

However on the dark side there is a question raised about the sustainability of such a growth since the most of the money inflow is oil money and only a very tiny percentage of population really benefit from it. And in addition all the recent political scandals and a growing controling role of the government are called "troubling signs" by foreign experts.

Both articles make a great reading (one is an essay style and the other is an interview with a famous Russian chess player, Garry Kasparov) and I just wanted to add my personal views on the topic. It is true that sometimes doing business in Russia is like walking on the mine field unless you have a map of dangerous areas. But even with the "map" you have to be very careful because there might be a dozen of addendums to it which you, as an outsider, might not know about. Or in the middle of your walk the government can intervene and change the rules of the game...

Why are people still coming then, you may ask? Well, I guess it's because the prize on the other side of the field is really attractive. Just look at the automotive industry: in the recent years a number of foreign car manufactures (Ford, Toyota, VW, etc.) started to open their huge manufacturing plants in Russia despite the fact that the Russian governemt is very protective of the Russian automotive industry and potentially it can interefere with the foreign manufactures' plans if they see a real threat. But Ford and the likes are still going for it because there is demand and hence, there is future. It might not be the bright and easy one but the potential is there.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Links we LOVE

I wanted to say a few words about a section of this blog called "Links we Love".
These are not the links I am paid to promote but rather great examples of orgnizations that excell in doing business internationally: sensibly and for the greater good of the communities they opperate in. An I believe the future competitve landscape will be changed by the appearance of a bigger number of such organizations who sincerely care about communities and environment and are not just extracting cheap resources (labor, natural resources) from developing countries.

Protect Nature link takes you to Word Wide Fund for nature protection. This organization is famous all over the world and doesn't need a special introduction. I just admire their work in all the remoter coners of the globe and support them by being a member of WWF and taking action whenever I could.

Beauty+Purpose link takes you to the fashion site (scarves designer). The company's accessories are designed in USA and are hand made in Latin America. For once, this company tries to preserve a rare technique of knitting (doing greater good for the local community) and also it makes sure that a percentage of the proceeds from sales support organizations dedicated to Conservation of Beauty, Environment and Community.

International Art Gallery link is a link to an internet art gallery, which gives possibility for artists around the world to exhibit and sell their art. This is especially importnat for the countries where e-commerce capabilities are not well developed yet and the talanted artists do not have an outlet to promote their art internationally (Russia is a goof example here). A portion of procedes from sales is also spent on charitable purposes.

EMAdvice is my own company and my goal is to promote understanding and cooperation between cultures and countries for the benefit of all the sides. And in addition I support WWF, as I mentioned earlier and this is my contribution to "the greater good".

77 Sigma is a link to my friend's blog who is like myself a consultant and a great promoter of being internationally aware. A great expert on China, he runs an organizatioonal development consultancy whose slogan is "Make your Resources more Human."

Each of these links reperesent a case study if you wish that helps you understand what makes an organization successful internationally. Each from a different industry but with the similar purpose in mind.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

International Trade Newsletters

I've recently found a couple of useful newsletters to which you can subscribe for free and get loads of precious information if your business is related to International Trade. They will provide you with the latest news on trade, trade shows, laws, etc. Here they are:

International Trade Law Alert
Offers news up-dates on International Trade, Export, Import and Immigration Law.

Latin Business Chronicle
A fantastic source of information if you you are doing/planning to do business in Latin America

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Today is November 23, 2006 and it is Thanksgiving holiday in USA. I very often heard American say that Thanksgiving is the most American of all holidays and, probably, the most loved. If you are not American but you live in USA you still cannot forget what day it is today: first of all, on my way to the local supermarket I was constantly followed by a delicious smell of turkeys being roasted in every house in the neighborhood. Second of all, you couldn't even get a hair cut at noon - nearly everything is closed (except for supermarkets and drug stores that work half day today).

Here is a short history of Thanksgiving for my readers outside USA (the info taken from
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, to commemorate the harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter. In that year Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Indians. Days of thanksgiving were celebrated throughout the colonies after fall harvests. All thirteen colonies did not, however, celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time until October 1777. George Washington was the first president to declare the holiday, in 1789.

By the mid–1800s, many states observed a Thanksgiving holiday. Meanwhile, the poet and editor Sarah J. Hale had begun lobbying for a national Thanksgiving holiday. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, looking for ways to unite the nation, discussed the subject with Hale. In 1863 he gave his Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday in November a day of thanksgiving. In 1939, 1940, and 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, proclaimed Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November. Controversy followed, and Congress passed a joint resolution in 1941 decreeing that Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November, where it remains.

And here are some fun facts about the Turkey, the most important food of the day:
1. There are a number of explanations for the origin of the name of Thanksgiving's favorite dinner guest. Some believe Christopher Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, and believed the bird he discovered (the turkey) was a type of peacock. He therefore called it 'tuka,' which is 'peacock' in Tamil, an Indian language.
Though the turkey is actually a type of pheasant, one can't blame the explorer for trying.
The Native American name for turkey is 'firkee'; some say this is how turkeys got their name. Simple facts, however, sometimes produce the best answers—when a turkey is scared, it makes a "turk, turk, turk" noise.
2. At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly", was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a coward".
3. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving
4. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys, however, can fly for short distances at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. They can also reach speeds of 25 miles per hour on the ground.
5. Turkeys can have heart attacks: turkeys in fields near the Air Force test areas over which the sound barrier was broken were known to drop dead from the shock of passing jets.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Images of Mauritius

Here are some of my own images of Mauritius: ocean, volcano crater, watrefalls, coloured sends and much more!


In this abstract I want to continue the tradition of writing stories about countries I visited and this one is about MAURITIUS.

I just wonder how many of my readers even know where this country is... Well, to solve the mystery, it is a small island in the Indian ocean to the east of Madagascar. My personal facination with this country is due to the fact that it is tiny, with not so many natural resources and yet it is one of the best developed countries in Africa.

Here is a short abstract about Mauritius economy from CIA World Factbook: "Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government's development strategy centers on expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector , has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act". Just look at the labels on the bunch of your cotton stuff (from underwear to T-shirts to jeans) and you will be surprised how many of them are produced in Mauritius.

But not only that: Mauritus worked hard on developing the tourist sector and having tried the benefits of it myself I can definitely say they did a fantastic job. Finally, Mauritius has established itslef as one of just a handful of diamond cutting places in the world. Graff's diamonds and jewlry manufacturing base is situated in Mauritius. Unfortunately I couldn't afford any of their masterpieces (which they absolutely are!) but I can assure you that I will never forget in my life what I saw in their factory's exhibition hall.

So what I was driving at is my amazement at how this tiny African country somewhere at the End of the World reinvented itself, which is still not possible for a lot of countries on the Black Continent...

In addition to the "economic wonder" Mauritius is a good example of how cultures blend with each other and live happily together. Here you can find strong French, Indian and creole influences and each of them just adds to the beauty and uniqueness of the island.

Finally, there is fascinating nature here: lush tropical vegetation in the wild and in botanic gardens, waterfalls, coloured sands, volcano and of course turquoise lagoons and millions of tropical fish.

To me there is only one definition for Mauritius - it is one of the most Precious Jems in the African crown and I strongly recommend everyone to see it for themselves.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Corruption discussion

I would like to invite you to discuss corruption as a phenomenon. It is obviously a barrier to business and trade develpopment and it is, unfortunately, most common in those countries which now represent the most attractive markets: India, China, Russia...

Corruption always has a money label attached to it but how do you define the following phenomenon, which doesn' t involve money transaction but still is a barrier to fair trade in the aforesaid countries: Mr X needs A from Mr Y. But instead of paying 100 USD to get A, Mr X promises Mr Y to help him with B because he knows that Mr Y needs B. Mr V and W who also need A will never get it and Mr S and T who need B will never get B because Mr X and Mr Y have a sort of agreement or arrangement with regards A-B exchange. A and B can represent products, services, favors - anything besides money. It looks like corruption it feels like one and it hurts like one. So what is it?

I cannot find a name for it, at least not in English, which is not my native language but the issue is that this phenomenon exists and florishes. In Russia there are networks of people (on personal, busness and government levels) that are tied together in this way. It doesn't matter that you are the best at what you do, someone esle will get the contract you want because, say, his wife is a personal dentist of the guy from the local authorities who is responsible for deciding who gets the contract under discussion.

It is extrememly difficult to do business in Russia in this respect for those who are not a part of the relevant network or if you don't know anyone who can connect you to the network. So even if the government solves the problem of corruption this phenomenon will still remain because it is a part of culture and mentality. So what do you think of that?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Corruption worldwide

Corruption is an unfortunate cost of doing business in some countries. Transparency International is a nonprofit organization that monitors corruption internationally, and on their website is an invaluable resource for research on markets and countries. The site has unbiased information that will help you see what's really going on in various countries. It is a great feed into the Risk Analysis part of your New Market Entry Strategy (see my New Market Entry Strategy post dated 10/24/2006)

There are regional and national surveys and indices, a Bribe Payers Index, a Global Corruption Barometer, the latest news, a Corruption Perceptions Index, tips on how to fight corruption, and much more.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Greeting Cards as a CRM tool

Today I would like to continue the topic of Customer Relationship Management. In my CRM article (see my post dated october 29, 2006) I was talking about greeting cards as a powerful Customer Relationship Management tool. Many companies produce and sell greeting cards but one specific company stands out - SendOutCards ( Why is it so? When I first read their introductory message to the website visitors it touched my heart:

When was the last time you sent an unexpected card at an unexpected time to someone you care about? Do you think it would make a difference?

Do you remember people's birthdays and other special occasions? Do you think that matters to them?
How about a simple thank you or expression of appreciation. Do you think that would make a difference?

With this incredible tool, not only can you remember people and share appreciation, you can motivate, uplift, encourage and truly make a difference. Here is the interesting thing, the more you do this, the more you realize that you, the sender of these cards, benefit the most.
We are changing people's lives for good one simple card at a time.

And these are not just words. SendOutCards offer several unique benefits:
1.Convenience: you can send out cards out of your home
2. No stuffing, stamping or sending – just a click of a button
3. Time saver: you can send a card in under 60 seconds. You can send hundreds of cards in minutes: just download your contacts into the system in Excel and never write an address again
4. Contact Manager and Campaign Manager functions
5. Money saver: it costs less than 1 USD to send a card, including postage and handling
6. Quantity and quality: choose from 2500 original glossy cards for all business and personal occasions
7. Personalized approach: choose hand written font you like, download your pictures, logos, your signature.
8. Add 10 – 50 USD gift card from leading retailers.
9. For Winter Holiday season: send a card that has a 2007 calendar inside – at no extra cost!

But most importantly these greeting cards help you to build and develop relationship with customers. There are types of greeting cards in SendOutCards catalogue that you cannot find anywhere else: depending on your business, there are cards for detists, brokers, realters, beauty palors, etc. Once a friend of mine who organizes chocolate tours asked if SendOutCards had a card with chocolate on it... and they did! There are Thank You and Meeting Requests cards and cards-calendars. There are fantastic cards series which you can send one after the other with motivational and inspirational themes that use various proverbs and sayings of famous people.

The reaction of the person who receives such a card will always be positive: this is not a spam e-mail, this is a real nice glossy (and wise) card which one would most definitely keep because it made him/her feel good. The person will never forget you because your card will definitely stand out among all the junk mail that he receives. Even if this card will not bring you business imediately, it will make someone smile - isn't this great?

So how does SendOutCards relate to my International Experiences theme? Well, first of all, this is an international company and its services are now available in USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zeland and it's growing.

Secondly, SendOutCards catalogue has series of "international"cards: there is a series in mandarin and English with oriental wishes, the Spanish language section and a new collection is being developed now, which is called Around the World where you will be able to choose from photografic postcards from... around the world. The collection has started with the photos from all US states.

So to sum up, on SendOutCards site you can find a nice something for all your collegues, family, customers and friends. And it is especially important now when the holiday season is on your door step!

You can find more information about these greeting cards at There you will be able to see some sample cards but to see the full 2500 cards' catalogue you have to be registered with them. If you are interested and would like to register, please, send an e-mail to I guarantee you a response within 48 hours: isn't this a great example of customer relationship management?

P.S. Just wanted to leave you with a nice thought that I borowed from one of SendOutCards greeting cards:
Life isn't measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Customer Relationship Management article

Today I continue publishing articles that I wrote as an EMAdvice consultant. I believe that proper customer relationship management is crucial for any organization because very often it makes the difference bewteen losing the customer and customer retention. I wrote this article after I came to USA and frankly had a cultural shock in this respect. In my job I have noticed that understanding of CRM, its meaning and importance is so much lower in America than in Europe where I come from.

I based this article on my personal experiences and I hope it helps my Blog readers to get insights into the essence of CRM concept and its successful implementation.

The article can be viewd at , 2nd article in the list.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Market Entry Strategy article

As I have promissed in one of my earlier posts I am starting to post articles that I worte as an EMAdvice consultant in relation to various business topics.

The first article is New Market Entry Strategy. This is a step-by-step guide on planning a New Market Entry irrsepetive of the geographical region you plan to expand to. It consists of 2 parts: Analytics and Implementation and draws your attention to the factors not present in your standard local marketing plan, such as: country risk analysis, unfair competition, stakeholder management on government level, etc. Special attention is devoted to Exit strategy in case things are not going according to plan. These are the basics of International Marketing you must know before expanding your business overseas.

The article is 1st in the list of EMAdvice articles at

Your comments on the article will be very much appreciated.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Photos of USA

With all the difficulties of doing business in America one has to admit: it is a VERY beautiful country. Of course, its location and wide territory provided this richness of nature but we should give credit to Americans who are still manageing to preserving these riches very well. I haven't been to many places yet but here are some of my impressions from Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Doing Business in USA

Here in USA businesses are interested to expand globally, therefore, the rest of the world has to learn to deal with Americans. This story is about my own experience of doing business with Americans in America.

Usually, building international business starts with the 1st business visit to the country and one can understand a lot about the nation just from dealing with its customs authorities. I am no longer surprised that I am being held in a detention center (for documents check) every other time I cross US border. But I am surprised with the tendency: I was NEVER stopped by an American who was born in US, but I am nearly ALWAYS detained by a former immigrant. How do I know? I can tell from the accent that the guy is Mexican or Polish but not born and raised here, he was in my position, probably, a couple of years ago and then he got the passport and now he’s “the king”.
The same thing you’d notice anywhere here while dealing with business people or authorities: the ones who were once in a disadvantaged position themselves now tend to over-exercise their authority and make your life miserable.

The next thing you do (if you are let into the country) is getting acquainted with potential customers, partners, etc. I often feel uncomfortable in this situation because most likely the dialogue goes like this:
- So where are you from?
- Russia
- Oh!!!! My great-great-great grandmother was from POLNAD!!!!!!!

And then I am confused: I see that the person is over-excited by the fact that he met someone, as he believes, from his homeland. But I cannot share his enthusiasm: I have nothing to do with Poland, Russia doesn’t even have a boarder with Poland (or Czech Republic, or Slovakia or Croatia, etc.) We are two different countries!! But at the same time I don’t want to upset him. So at this point I just smile for about 20 seconds and then try to change the topic of the conversation.

The discussion of the potential business opportunity is the most difficult bit. Most Americans are sure that they know everything about other countries or rather they think they don’t really need to know anything about other countries because for them selling their products from Illinois to California seem to be the same thing as selling products from USA to UK. They don’t see why the process/product/price/advertising campaign etc. should be any different. And if they ever sold a product abroad, say to UK then they believe that the whole world will be at their feet because they already know how to do business internationally. They don’t have a slightest doubt that you cannot approach the Russian market the way you approach the UK market. By the same token the Brazilian, Chinese, French, etc. markets will be totally different. You would think that by now they should have learnt something from their mistakes but NO! Just recently I heard from a potential customer who never worked with Russia and was looking for some consulting advice: “We don’t need market research, we just want to sell”.

And this case is not exception it’s a RULE. At a certain stage I was so upset with American approach to doing business that I wrote a series of educational articles on how to do business with other cultures, which I will be publishing on my blog soon (please, come back to read!). The first of them is New Market Entry Strategy where I talk about steps a company must take when deciding on entering a new market. Some of the steps should be taken before entering the market to avoid mistakes in the process.

After the meeting there is time to follow up. Americans almost never follow up. And if you do follow-up yourself they are not likely to respond. Generally, they are not likely to respond to about 90% of correspondence sent to them. You won’t believe how many e-mails, postcards, letters and faxes that I sent were left unanswered. If it is a “cold call” - 99% of your correspondence will get no response. But even if you met with a person before, your chances of getting an answer are very slim too. Many times I was sending people I know information that was beneficial to them (articles, links, invitations, etc.) and I never even got a “thank you” note. Most of the time they even don’t call you back when you leave them a voicemail! This is very frustrating. In my culture it is disrespectful and if it were up to me I would never deal with such people, but I have no choice: then I would have to cross out the majority of American customers and colleagues. The funny thing is they all admit with regret that this is true about their way of dealing with people and still they don’t change it.

The only way to fight with this approach is continuous education, I guess. So the second article I wrote is about Customer Relationship Management, which I will also be publishing in my blog too.

This is a snapshot of what I learnt about American business culture during the 9 months of my living and working in USA. I don’t want to sound negative, though, but I guess this was an outlet for my frustration that built up over a period of time. In reality it is not all “doom and gloom” here. The best part of doing business in US (if you have your business registered in US) is a great support for small and medium size businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives of all sorts. Especially if you a minority, say, a woman. The amount of support groups, associations, government programs, etc. is just phenomenal! And all of them exist with the sole purpose of helping you to develop your business.

I guess it’s been a bit difficult for me because I am foreigner and I need to adjust to this new culture and this is why I am sharing my experience with you – so that you are prepared if you want to business in USA.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Photos of Ukraine

The photos are from a wonderful site with much more pictures and useful info.

PS I especially like that these photos represent the diversity of of Ukraine: here you can see Greek (Chersones, the Crimea), muslim (Bahchisarai, the Crimea), catholic (Lviv) and Russian orthodox (Kiev) legacy - all in one.


I would like to finish my Eastern European sketches with the one of Ukraine. There is so much to say but I cannot find the right words. The story of our 2 countries is the story of love and pain that lasts for centuries. We were together and apart and then togther and then apart... For those of you who know TV series "Friends" , from my point of view the story of Russia and Ukraine is the story of Ross and Rachel: "I love Ross - I hate Ross! I love Ross - I hate Ross!"... Even the names sound very similar :-))
Ukraine is very close to evry Russian heart because most of us have relatives and friends there. Historically, Ukraine, Russia and Beylorussia (being Slavic nations) were most close to each other which led to very close cultural, social and economic interchange. And frankly, now if someone blindfolds me and takes me to a city in Ukraine, I would hardly be able to tell that I am not in Russia. We are so similar from traditional, cutural, historical, social, religious etc. point of view. And if a person were walking along the street in my home city I would never be able to say if he is Russian or Ukrainian.

I mean, when you cross a border from England to France you KNOW you are in France or by the same token from Bulgaria to Greece. You most definitely can tell an Englishman, from an Italian, a Greek, a Finn. And even if some Ukrainians will not like me for that, but I have to say it: I don't see much difference between us, we started as one country more than 10 centuries ago, then we drifted apart but we were constantly drawn in together... So I cannot see a reason (except for political ambitions of some people) why we cannot be together...

But to be fair to Ukrainians, I would like to draw your attention to some things that are particular to them, some unique pecularities (I understand that they might be offended that every single foreigner calls them "Russians" not seeing any difference whatsoever). If you respect these you will be very welcome in Ukraine:
1. The capital of Ukraine is Kiev and it is very different from Moscow, much older and thus has a lot of historical heritage, especially from religious point of view. That's where our orthodoxy comes from. The famous Sofia Kievskaya cathedral is one of the most important and sacred monuments in orthodox relegion.
2. The Ukrainians have their own language - Ukrainian. And though it is very similar to Russian, it has some pecularities in vocabulary and spelling.
3. The famous Russian borsch (soup) actually originates from Ukraine and Ukrainians are very proud of that. And these guys do like to eat good food and a lot. And they like people who eat a lot. So if you happen to visit a Ukrainian home you will be "fed to death" in a good sense. This is the famous Ukrainian hospitality.
4. As Kent is the garden of England, Ukraine was the garden of the USSR and it still has the best wheet, vegetables and fruit due to its southern location relative to Russia. Great wine too: the Crimea produces one of the best wines I ever tasted.

And when I say that Ukraine is very similar to Russia I by no means want to say that if you saw Russia you saw it all. Definitely go to Ukraine! There are so many spectacular places there: Kiev, Lviv, the Carpathian mountains, the Crimea and so much more! Just see the photos I posted!

For more information on Ukraine you can visit This site is really good because it gives you not only information on Ukraine you can get in Ukraine but Ukraine-related links in your country!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

International Business resource

Here is a new International Busines resource where you can find a lot of useful information on various countries from maps to real estate to local newspapers to businesses etc.:
It is good for country intelligence as well as just for being up-to-date with world's current affairs. It also has some interesting links that regular international busienss websites usually don't have, such as: international book store, translations, travel advisories, etc.
Definitely worth exploring!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Budapest Crisis, September 2006

All Europe and probably the whole world was following the violent events in Budapest this September. I too was watching daily news with great attention because Budapest was my home for 2 years. I have great memories about Budapest - beautiful, full of sunshine - you can read my story about THAT Budapest in the archives of my Blog. Now I cannot stop wondering: what if this had happened when I was there? Would I have ever been able to finish my studies or would I have run away from this nightmare?...

I don't want to discuss the political side of these events, who is right or wrong but in my previous story I mentioned that Hungarians made an impression of a sad nation on me and also some of them told me that Hungary had the highst rate of suicides in Europe - there should have been a reason for that. So the government should have noticed that they lived next to a dormant volcano bound to errupt sooner or later.

Mostly I would like to dwell on the possible consequences of what had happened. First of all, in the recent years Budapest managed to establish itself as a great educational center of Easter Europe. Central European University attracted hundreds of students from all over the region every year. Will they choose Budapest as a place to study next year? Personally, I will think twice before recommending CEU to anyone due to these events.

Secondly, tourism industry will also suffer greatly, which accounts for a substancial share of the country's budget. Eventually, people naturally forget and they will travel to Hungary again but it depends when. A couple of months without tourists won't hurt too bad but, say, a year will. No one knows if this was the end of violence or there will be repetition of events in the near future...

Finally, investors. Will you invest your money in the country with high political risk? The answer is obvious.

It is so sad that those people who started this nightmare because, allegedly, the current government didn't do anything for the development of Hungarian economy in the recent years , actually themselves underminded the country's economy even more by this sequence of unfortunate events.

I wish to see Budapest in its former beauty and glory - will it ever happen again?...

Friday, September 15, 2006


Poland for me is not about places but more about people. Probably it’s because I didn’t see much of it and I wouldn’t speculate about things I haven’t seen and Warsaw where I visited didn’t really make an impression on me at all. This city like Bucharest was badly destroyed during WWII so there isn’t much left there of its original beauty and the communist era buildings are far from being the masterpieces of architecture.

Poland is definitely about people. Pope John Paul II immediately comes to mind to most of the people but my story is about amazing famous polish women.

I would like to start with Marie Sklodowska-Curie. She was one of the greatest scientists in the history of mankind. Her main contribution was the discovery of polonium and radium, which laid the foundation of radiology. She won 2 Nobel prizes for her work and I am especially admire that woman because she made the breakthrough in science at the end of 19th – beginning of the 20th century when women had hardly any rights but she fought her way through to the men’s world and proved to be the best.

Another polish woman I admire is a contemporary writer, Ioanna Hmelevskaya. Her ironic detective stories (novels) are famous all over Eastern Europe. They are captivating, hilariously funny and smart. My favorite one is called “What the Dead Man Said”. Unfortunately, her novels have been only translated into Czech, Slovak, Russian and Swedish. According to the author the recent translations into English, German and Italian were very bad and people didn’t get the humor. So I challenge anyone to try to come up with a great translation because these books are really worth sharing with the world!

Finally, my favorite is the polish actress Barbara Brylska. She is especially dear to a Russian heart because she played a leading role of Nadya in a New Year’s Eve romantic comedy “The Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath!”. The film was produced in 1975 and since then it became a classic, one of the most popular movies in Russia of all times. It has the same symbolic importance to the Russians as, say, “White Christmas” for Americans. One has to see it every New Year’s Eve, this is a tradition without which it won’t be a proper holiday. But why I liked this particular actress is because for me she is the symbol of an ideal woman: intelligent, beautiful, elegant – a role model. I watch this movie every year for about 25 years now and I never get bored or stop laughing.

So to sum up, Poland for me is a country of outstanding women. If you know any other great women from this country, please, share your story with us!

PS for more information on Poland you can visit

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Photos of Romania

I deliberately do not include the photos of Bucharest because I don't really like the city as I mentioned in my story about Romania, but the rest of the country is beautiful (see above: the Danube, Bran castle, the mountains, the seaside and more).
More goregeous pictures of Romania at:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today I would like to tell you about Romania. I didn't know much abou the country as a child (they didn't import anything eatable to USSR as far as I remember :-) but much later I used to travel to Romania quite often, both on business and for pleasure.

Some importnat political information: Romania boarders Hungary on the North-West and these two countries have centuries' long ethnic conflict going on with regards Transylvania region (now part of Romania). Both Romanians and Hungarians were inhabitants of this land and it was under Hungarian and Romanian rule at different time. Both countries claim the right for Transylvania and it looks like the conflict will never be resolved. If you want to avoid overheated discussion then you'd rather not mention this subject especially if there are representatives of the both countries in the room. Also a person born and raised in Transivania, with a Romanian passport but having some Hungarian roots will always consider himself Hugarian and would refuse to speak Romanian to you though he'll be perfectly bilingual. So beware - VERY sensitive issue!

In my mind Romania is associated with the word "romantic" because it is indeed a romantic country. It could have been the "France" of Eastern Europe if the years of communist reign and the struggle for survival after it hadn't scarred the country as much as they did. This country has it all: the mighty mountins, the Carpathians, the beautiful seaside; the wonderful Danube Delta, which is a part of UNESCO world heritage; amazing medeival towns and castles and welcoming people. Romania, like France, also has great wines, especially the sweet varieties, the most famous one is the semi-sweet white "Cotnari". But the infrustructure necessary to connect it all is much to be desired...

Bucharest, the capital, is not a bright spot on the country's map either, through no fault of its own, though: it was badly damaged during WWII and what was left of old Bucharest was completely destroyed in the earthquake of 1977... So the post-war communist-style architecture that you see there now is an ugly reminder of the difficult times the country went through.

One thing Romania is most famous for (or I'd rather say Transyvania) is Count Dracula: his real-life prototype, Prince Vlad Tepes had his residence there in the Bran castle. In fact the legend is so famous all over the world that Romanians decided to capitulize on it: in 2001 they announced building a theme park, Dracula Land, which they hope will attract thousands of tourists from around the globe. It's a controversial project since Romanian church opposes it (another thing why Romania is close to a Russian heart is because among all European countries only Romania and Greece as well as Russia have orthodox church vs catholic church in the rest of Europe), but if Dracula means money, the country is in desperate need of it! So keep on look-out for the news of the grand opening!

Good inormational websites about Romania are:

Friday, September 01, 2006

How to get information on busiess in Central and Eastern Europe

I have not very good news for people doing or planning to do business in CEE: they have been deprived of one important information resource. Central Eastern Europe Business Information Center (which was a part of US Trade Administration and provided excellent info and help with regards market data, trends, advice, etc.) is now closed for good... It is still listed in all CEE directories but it doesn't provide any services as of end 2005...

On its original website they provide names of organizations that now perform parts of its former duties, please, visit:
However this is not complete suite of services in one place as it was before, not as efficient and conveniet.

We at EMAdvice also try to cover for many of the Center's services, especially with regards of market research, trends analysis, etc. Please, visit us at

In this blog we are commited to providing resources related to business, culture, tourism, etc. not only in CEE but globally. Please, visit us regularly for more useful information.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


An addition to my previous story: some pictures of Budapest from the useful country website: and from the Thermal Baths website that I mention in my story below (if you haven't read it yet - it is worth reading!)


Today I would like to continue my series of stories about Eastern European countries and this one is about Hungary. Hungary is very close to my heart because I lived and studied there for 2 years.

When I was a little child I believed that Hungary was a place where my Grandma had her garden because the majority of products that were exported from Hungary to USSR in those days were fruits and vegetables, the canned ones in particular, for instance tomatos in their own juice, plum and cherry compot, pickles, peppers (paprika). This was heaven on Earth especially in winter!

When I went to Hungary to study I had a feeling of going back to my childhood. For one, paprika was everywhere, they add it to everything, for the exception of, may be, ice-cream :-) The climate in Hungary is such that allows to grow all these fruits and vegetables and I actually had an impression that Budapest had about 300 sunny days in a year! This same climate is fantastic for grapes and that is why Hungary is famous for its sweet desert wine - Tokaj. It can actually be so sweet (if it has 6 stars) that it has a honey-like texture and extreme sweetness.

With all this sweetness around, however, Hungary made a different impression on me than Czech Rep. It felt like it was a more sad country, people smiled less as if they were constantly depressed by something... There was no sign of that bubbling evergy and the only place where there were bubbles were the famous Hungarian thermal baths/spas.

This is indeed a unique experience: it is kind of a big water park but there are no slides, only pools, plenty of them, with different water temperatures, outdoors and indoors, just with water or with some salts and herbs added, steam rooms and saunas. Hungarians claim these will treat any of your diseases. That's one thing you MUST experience in Budapest. For more information, please, see the link:

I also would like to say a couple of words with an educatioal institution I was associated with: CEU- Central European University. I think what is unique about it is diversity: it attracts students from all over Central Europe, including all those tiny countries most people have never heard of. This is a great place to learn about the region.

Another thing that is unique about CEU is the Department of Gender Studies. I never heard about anything like this anywhere I went, may be you have? Up to this day I am puzzled about the essence of this program. I was doing my MBA at that time and didn't have an opportunity to go into details about that department but it felt like they were studying differences between men and women and also feminism. For one, the absolute majority of the class were ladies and only 1 or 2 men. Well, this is still an unsloved mystery for me and I invite you to try to "solve" it, if nothing else, it would be a great learning experience:

The last thing I would like to mention about my Hungarian experience is the fireworks. I was lucky to see tremendous fireworks in 1999 in Budapest, which celebrated, if I am not mistaken (and let the Hungarians forgive me) 1000 years of the foundation of Hungarian State. I have never ever in my life seen anything like this before in its length, might and beauty! And I have seen a number of good ones, like Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee fireworks in London, several Independence Day fireworks in USA, 300-th anniversary of the Russian Navy fireworks - all really good but Hungarians made it an excellent unforgetable show! If you are lucky enought to live till the 1500's anniversary of the Hungarian State or even better - 2000's :-)))) make sure you are in Budpest at the end of august - I promise you an experience of a lifetime!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Getting started in International Trade

Today I would like to introduce a very usful link for those who are thinking about getting invloved in INTERNATIONAL TRADE. Please, visit the website:
The article is very useful for beginners. Also check out Incoterms guide on the left-hand column navigation.

One great tip for beginners: do A LOT OF market research. Even if in the end you decide not to developm export-import relationship with that particular country your market research will surve you good - it means it preveted you from loosing a lot of money in the venture that was not worth it.

Always start with a humble attitude "I don't know anything" rather than "I know everything - let's just go and do it!" that I often hear from my clients in Chicago in my day-to-day activities. KNOWLEDGE/INFORMATION IS POWER! This is my favourite proverb.

Monday, August 28, 2006


As promissed here are some photos of Prague borrowed from Prague Information Service: (very useful site and much more photos there!):

Eastern European Stories: Czeck Republic.

Dear Readers!
Today I would like to start a series of stories that will uncover some myths about Eastern Europe that exist. And the greatest myth of all is the following: it is believed in many countries outside Eastern Europe that countries, which are located in that region are very simillar and many people won't be able to tell the difference between, say, Poland and Hungary. I would like to correct that. Each country in the region is unique and proud of its individual character, though many of them share some history.

I plan to write a little story about some of the countries in the region (mainly the ones I visited, so that I speak from my own experience and not someone's words), provide some useful links and pictures and hopefully it will bring people aronud the world closer to understanding of the importance and heritage of each individual nation.

If you have any stories of your own about these countries, please, write a coment! In this way we can truely enrich this site.


I would like to start with this country because for me it represents the sweetest and the most exciting of memeories form my childhood: firstly, the tastiest cake I ever tried in my life is a Russian cake called "Praha" (Prague). Second of all, it's a distant memory of a the most important festivities where champaign has to be poured in Bohemian Crystal glasses (still one of the most famous products produced in Czech Rep.) So for me it was a fairy tale country, which was all about fun and celebration.

I went to Czech Republic in 2000s and somehow that was exactly the way I found this facinating country: very welcoming and cheerful people, great food and BEER (one of the best in the world!) and generally I felt a lot of energy and enthusiasm form my colleagues there and just people in the streets. I think it's not by accident that this nation was the homeland of the world-known writer - Jaroslav Gashek who created the famous hilariously funny novel "The Good Soldier Svejk". (definitely worth reading!!!)

Another thing Czechs are famous for is sports: those who are at least a little bit interested in soccer and ice hockey will understand what I am talking about (those who are not interested in these games but want to do business in Czech Rep. here is a tip: get interested! Especially in ice hockey. Czechs are historycally outstanding in it - great ice breaker! And if you mention their life-long rivalry with Russia in this sport they will love you for taking the time to understand and appreciate at least one thing that is very important ot their hearts). And don't forget Martina Navratilova - this is for tennis lovers.

Of course, no story about Czech Republic will be complete without mentioning Prague. One cannot really talk about this city, one has to see it. It is wonderfully beautiful and I really don't want to spend much time elaborating on this, just see the photos for yourself (I will be placing them in my next post because otherwise they mess up the text)

I great resource about all aspects regarding Czech Republic (political, historical, cultural, tourism, etc.) is: I love their "Did you know...?" section on the right-hand side navigation: even if you think you know it all it will present you with a surprise!

An interesting comment from my blog's visitor

For those who missed my friend's comment regarding my August 26 post, here is an interesting link he left:
It is an educational discussion between a Harvard Business School professor and a Russian student: it is entertaining in its format but also it gives a lot of useful information about Russian economy, growth potential, immigration, etc.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Brunei blog and VISA to Russia

It's fantastic that this blog is starting to get feeds from all of the world! The recent comment from Seemon from Brunei is very valuable. (BTW if you didn't find the address of his blog about Brunei, here it is : )
I knew where Brunei was (geography is one of the important subjects that are taught in Russian schools) but for many it is a mysterios place somewhere on the other side of the world, so there you go - take a glance.

As for the the VISA to Russia question, it was always quite simple for African and Asian nations to get visa to Russia - these were our friends in the time of USSR. Loads of students from these countries studied in the best Universities of Moscow and other major cities. When I travelled to Mauritius (and I will be publishing a story about this facinating land soon) I had to go to a doctor. He spoke perfect Russian because used to study in Moscow Medical University for several years!
There might be less foreign student in Moscow now (a lot of them are going to USA these days) but I guess we are still good friends with Africa and Asia for the most part. So it's worth checking with the Embassy: the visa process might be easier and shorter for countries of these regions.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Doing business in Russia

Just to add to what I said in my "3 Myths" story about Russia: the country is great to visit as a tourist but to do business there is one big headache for a foreigner (unless you know the right people and you have an insider, i.e. Russian helping you). My friend sent me this link the other day:
This is an audio story of an American who opened his business in Moscow - quite educational!

What Russians think about Americans

Hello there!
First of all, I am glad my blog is of interest to people - this is the goal of having it. So, please, spread the word about it! I plan to up-date it on a regular basis with interesting stories, articles, experiences.
Now about the question that Mrs. B. Roth wrote: there are several perceptions Russians have about Americans: first of all, we admire you being very goal-oriented, organized, and great entrepreneurs. However general population in Russia think Americans are not open-hearted. In terms of being not really smart, well, it is believed that as individuals Americans are very interesting people, very often well-educated and intelligent but somehow as a crowd they don't make the same impression.
Please, don't get offended, as I said, these are just general perceptions of an average Russian.

Friday, August 25, 2006

3 myths about Russia

People all around the world usually ask me 3 main questions that are based on their image of Russia and today I want to give answers to them for everyone to know:
1.Russia is cold? Russia is NOT cold, it has 4 different climates from subtropical to tundra. It is cold in the north but hot in the south. In Moscow summer temperature is around + 25 C (77 F) but it can also reach midle 30s C (middle 80s) in July and August.
2. Russians and vodka go together? Russians prefer beer! The results of the consumer research performed in 2002 showed that beer comes first in most answers (accept for men between 36 and 50, but the difference is negligeable). Wine comes as a close 3d and if you put beer and wine preferences together the figure will be nearly twice as big as vodka preferences. For detailed report, please, see the following link:
3. Russia is danagerous? Russia is not dangerous! Moscow and St.Petersburg are not more dangerous than Chicago, London or Paris. The only problem tourists might encounter is when they would like to ask directions: not all people in the street will speak a foreign language.
As for the business it is a different story: you need an insider to expand your busienss into Russia. It is about who you know, not what you know and connections are everything. But here where we can help! visit us at

Rarely seen pictures of Russia

Hello everybody!
As promissed I am publishing some rare pictures of Russia. I will be bring more whenever I travel back home, please, keep coming back!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wellcome to my Blog!
I would like to start with introducing the country where I come from - RUSSIA.
Good place to learn news about Russia is from "Russia Today":
Travel information can be found at Lonely Planet:
Please, visit later for pictures! I plan to show not the standard Moscow - St. Petersburg photos but something you cannot find in regular travel guides: smaller towns, local beauty