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.