Friday, December 14, 2007

Answering my reader's comment - 2

I was thinking a lot about my another reader's comment regarding Russian, Chinese or Indian companies making mistakes while working with Americans. These cases are more difficult to find. I have not managed a project for an Indian or Chinese company so I cannot say. In terms of the Russians, here is the story.

They usually aproach an international project possibility with a lot of attention to detail. They do excellent background research. While Amercians might not KNOW how to deal with other cultures Russians, in most cases, do, but sometime they prefer to IGNORE that just because of being obstinate. Once I lead negotiations between a Russian and a British party and the former knew the latter very well, but chose to stick to their unacceptable methods of dealing with the other party because they didn't want to loose and inch. The ultimatum basically was "take it or loose it" and this is not the way to deal with the British (well, not the way to deal with anyone, really) The Russians KNEW that and this was their conscious choice to behave that way.

Did they win anything? They did, in terms of money on that one particular deal. They lost in terms of respect from the British and possibilities of having further deals with this party.

Another thing is that I noticed that Russians when aware of the other party's limitations will use this knowledge against the other party creating a win-lose situation rather than trying to make a compromise and get a "win-win".

Not all Russian companies are the same, of course but these are the things to be aware of.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Everything about global air travel

Now that the holiday season is upon us many will be travelling to visit family and friends around the world and comprehensive information about air travel will be very handy.

There are plenty of sites on the Web with flights information, but Airtimetable ( ) is a portal with a wide variety of airline and travel information, where you can find everything in one place. You can check routes, compare fares, book a flight, scan airplane seat maps, locate an airport, find a discount airline, read reviews of airline food, track a flight in real time, get a weather report, look at a map, read a guide to your destination, and much more.

Happy and safe travelling!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Answering my reader's comment

Following up on one of the comments left by 1 of my readers to the following post (what is "an 'all-star cast' of assets to have when going into the international arena" ) my professional opinion can be summarized as: you need a man with a plan at least.

What I mean by this is that for any international expansion to succeed, primarily, there should be a person (or a team of people) internal or external working with an organization who have the vision, the knowledge and the experience in the international field. This person or a team of people should be leading the project. As obvious as it sounds it is very often not the case.

For example, I know 1 company which continuously wants to be my client and I continuously refuse to work with them because the new owner (a rich guy from a rural Midwest who never worked abroad) wants me to organize the project of their expansion into Russia the same way the previous owner penetrated South Africa. Overall, the company does have some international experience but the guy at the top doesn't have a clue.

Secondly, any new market entry project should follow a certain set of steps (a plan). The steps are basically the same, no matter what country you are looking at. However, the information you get at each step and decisions you make based on this information will be different for each new market. I developed this topic more profoundly in my article "New Market Entry Strategy" ( Obviously, this is just a basic "skeleton" and my job as a consultant is too put "meat" on it but it gives you a general idea of what I was referring to earlier.

These are just the basics but you will be very surprised to find out how many companies don't get even these basics.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My book has been published!

My dear blog readers!

I apologize that I have not been posting any information for a coupe of weeks: I was caught in the launch of my first book - "Legal Alien's Guide. Building a Career and Life in Chicago, Illinois".
The book is based on my own unique "international experience" of relocating to USA and starting my life from scratch, building my own business and making friends. "Legal Alien's Guide" is a comprehensive reference guide to various networking organizations, groups and clubs that help you to find a job, start your own business and meet people in "the land of opportunity".

You can learn more about the book from my publisher's book store (though the book is also available at major retailers such as and
as well as the book's blog:

From now on I will have more time to up-date the blog. In the near future I am planning to address some interesting comments that my visitors left regarding the previous post. Keep tuned!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Major mistakes companies make when they decide to expand internationally

I want to share my experience having interacted with many business owners who would like to expand internationally and I hope it will help you to avoid mistakes in your business. Here are some classic examples:
1. A company has no idea what exactly it wants to do: just to export a product, open an office in a different country, set up a number of distributors, etc. The objectives change in the process and as a result there is no clear vision of where the company wants to go.

2. If it is the first "international experience" there might be no specific person on staff responsible for this project. The project might be allocated to a marketing manager, business development manager or anyone else who also has his/her own primary responsibilities and has vague idea about international business. As a result the project is stalled each time an important decision has to be made, i.e. there is no structure in place to successfully develop the project.

3. If a company already did a new market entry there might be a belief that any subsequent new market entry will be very easy and each new country will be pretty much the same. It is erroneous to think that the experience in Russia will be the same in Romania or Hungary, for example. The simplistic approach to doing business internationally may cause a lot of troubles based on the lack of understanding another country's culture, business models, values, etc.

4. There is a wrong belief that a lot of valuable information required for the project are available on-line. Indeed there are a lot of sources of information on the Internet but it is important to remember to study not only English language reports but the ones in the local language which sometimes can only be found through a local search engine (not standard Google search) Sometimes the mos valuable insights are the ones that have not been translated into English yet.

As an International Marketing and Business Development consultant I try to help people to avoid these pitfalls, I also always utilize my local knowledge and experience on every project I work. I will keep posting information related to the topics mentioned above and I hope they will be useful to many.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

International networking made easier

Nearly everyone knows about such popular networking sites as LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook. You can find profiles of millions of people around the world: your colleagues, classmates, friends - current ones and those you have not seen for years.

Recently I found out about a great new site that actually makes your global search for people much easier. It is called WINK the people search engine, You type the name of a person (and a location globally if you know it) and it will give you links to his/her profile wherever it can find it. When I typed my name WINK pulled out my LinkedIn profile AND my membership page at Institute of Management Consultants USA. Thus, you don't need to guess which network a person might belong to and perform a search on each of them. You just search once and see all results immediately. I found it very helpful.

Friday, September 28, 2007


These days to have an international experience one needs a passport. Most of us have one, an official document issued by our respective countries.

However I know about 2 other types of passports that help you in your international experiences and allow you to help a good cause too. I wrote about one of them, AllergyFree Passport, in one of my previous posts

Today I would like to tell you about another Passport - WWF Passport: This one is "issued" by World Wide Fund for nature protection. WWF Passport is no ordinary website because you can do extraordinary things. It is your licence to campaign for the environment, no matter where you are in the world, all over the world. It’s not a toy or an environmental Internet game. It is for the genuinely concerned individual who takes action on-line for on-the-ground results. Passport provides concise calls to action on important issues such as endangered species, global warming, and forest protection. The whole idea behind Passport is that it makes it easier for people who are short on time to have a big say on critical issues.

I have WWF Passport since 2000 and I campaigned or various environmental issues on all continents and the great thing about it is that it works. Out of a couple dozens of campaigns I got 2 e-mail responses and one personal letter form 3 countries (2 ministers and 1 prime-minister) informing me that they paid attention to our appeal and actually changed their environmental policies. Three responses out of approximately 20 is not too much but at least it's something! And definitely know your concerned voice is heard!

In addition to addressing environmental issues with WWF Passport you have a chance to learn a lot of things about different countries, animal and plan life around the world without leaving your home.

I am personally very proud that I have WWF Passport and it helps me to make my own contribution to nature conservation on our planet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MegaConverter 2

If you are involved in ANY sort of international activity: business or just travelling you cannot do without this very handy MegaConverter 2

It has hundreds of conversions in areas like chemistry, cooking, currency, dress sizes, engineering, finance, fuel efficiency, lighting, oceans, shoe sizes, and more.

The site also has a scientific calculator that performs operations far beyond adding, multiplying, subtracting or dividing. It calculates logarithms, tangents, random numbers and may other things (if you know what they mean and where to use them :-)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Best world airlines awards 2007

Though summer is over it might still be a good time to go on vacation since airlines will soon start to lower their ticket prices with the beginning of the "off-pick" season.

Here is a good website to check out before flying wherever you go and wherever you live - GLOBALLY: Here you can find information on the best airlines in the world, i.e. you can see who won 2007 World Airline Awards in various categories, such as:
- Airline of the year
- best cabin staff
- best catering
- best lounges
- best business class
- best economy class, etc.

It's interesting to note that most of the best airlines in the world are Asian or Middle Eastern, the majority of the European and U.S. airlines didn't even come close to the top...

And the absolute winner is... Singapore Airlines:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Doing business in European Union

EU represents a huge attractive market for many companies around the world but to succeed on this market one needs to know all rules, regulations and existing opportunities.

One good site,, provides a lot of information on doing business in EU. It has links to:
- EU standards & regulations;
- where to find EU grants, tenders & financing;
- reports on various sectors of the EU market;
- trade documents;
- the latest news & information and much more.

Of course doing business in France might be a very different experience from doing business, say, in Hungary because of country specific business culture, mentality, etc. You will most likely need to find an organization (consulting) that will help you with peculiarities of a specific market but at least the aforesaid site can give you a big overall picture which is also very important.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On-line solutions for global expansion of small businesses

I would like to continue the tradition of providing examples of successful strategies small businesses apply in expanding internationally.

The easiest way to reach wide audiences globally is, of course, through the Internet. But what else can you do if you already have your business running on the Internet? It doesn’t seem like much… unless you are very motivated and creative, like art gallery. is an on-line art gallery and auction that exhibits and sells art works of various artists from around the globe. And recently they added another line of business - an on-line gift shop! When you visit, say, National Gallery in London and you fell in love with a couple of, say, Monet works what do you do? You buy a calendar or a fridge magnet or something of this sort to take a piece of Monet with you, don’t you? followed the same logic: why don’t give our visitors a chance to buy a gift with an image of their favorite work of art if they cannot buy the work itself? And the choice of gifts at their gift store is fantastic: cups, bags, apparel, clocks even cute teddy bears - lot's of stuff for you, your family and friends!!! But what is most important, the prices are very affordable and gifts can be shipped anywhere in the world! Excellent customer service, 30 days return policy, secure transactions – everything you will expect from a major reputable on-line store.
I believe it is a great idea, very well thought-through and very much in-line with their core business, which actually enhances their core business even more. I applaud their creativity, enthusiasm and consistency in pursuing their international ambitions. This is a great example every small business can learn from.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

World Maps and more

Whether you are interested in international issues due to the nature of your business, love of travelling, your studies, etc. various maps of the World will come handy.

National Geographic site has a very good maps resource. There are satellite maps, road maps, and maps with special themes (Weather, Natural Disasters, Population Density, Farming & Natural Resources). The maps are easy to read and show details like vegetation, average temperature, and local habitat in bright colors.

In addition to maps general National Geographic site has loads of information about various destinations/countries, nature, global issues, etc.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

AllergyFree Passport

Travelling internationally can be very exciting if you are a healthy person and quite miserable if you have any types of food allergies. You might not be able to find the food you used to at home or the labelling on products might be very different which can present a big problem. Even if you think you don't have any food allergies chances are you might try some exotic food in a fancy restaurant on the other side of the world and to find out that, yes, you do have an allergy, hopefully not a severe one.

AllergyFree Passport®, its affiliate GlutenFree Passport®, are global consulting firms focused on health education and creators of the award-winning, internationally acclaimed book series, Let's Eat Out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free book series. These organizations provide you with wealth of information on allergies and international cuisine both in their books and on their website.

Now they also launched a unique global research study: Understanding Gluten and Allergen-Free Experiences of Guests & Hospitality Worldwide which bridges the gap between allergen-free guests and the restaurants who serve them. Focused on eating out and travel experiences, the ground-breaking study surveys guests living with food allergies, intolerances and celiac/coeliac; as well as the food service and hospitality professionals who cater to them.

Guests and hospitality professionals can participate in this global study by completing one of the 3 surveys that best describes their respective point-of-view.
To be a part of the Understanding Gluten and Allergen-Free Experiences of Guests & Hospitality Worldwide study, individuals and businesses can share their insights by visiting: for those managing food allergies for celiacs/coeliacs and the gluten/wheat intolerant or for hospitality & food service professionals.

Each survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. All feedback is confidential and will not be shared with any third party. Only one submission per e-mail address will be accepted and the survey closes as of 31 August, 2007.

Upon successful submission and if requested, respondents will receive complimentary eating out educational materials and be entered into various prize drawings. In addition, in the fall of 2007, key findings will be sent electronically to participants if requested.

This innovative study should empower individuals with the knowledge to safely and confidently live a better quality of life anywhere in the world. At the same time, businesses can leverage the empirical data to justify new programs and services addressing needs of people with allergies.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Undegraduate education around the world

In July 2007 SCIENCE magazine published a very interesting special report about undergraduate eduction in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) The report focuses on lives of a dozen faculty members covering countries on all 6 continents (ex.: Australia, UK, USA, Russia, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa, etc.) It's an extremely interesting report looking into the fields of studies that will play the most important role in the progress of our society in the future.

As it is indicated in the introduction to the report despite the vast differences in the makeup of their students, cultural, economic and other factors specific to each country under analysis, university professors in all these countries have the same issues and problems. All these faculty members point to "lagging interest and poor preparation in science among students, insufficient resources, heavy professional burdens and antiscience attitudes in society at large." But each of these scientists is trying to bring science in the life of students in exciting and innovative ways.

This exciting report can be found in SCIENCE VOL 317, 6 JUL 2007. The complete discussion is also available at

Friday, July 27, 2007

Understanding international trade documentation made easy

Here is an extremely useful site for international businesses: A glossary of selection of terms used in world trade of goods, products and services, in 4 different languages: Spanish, English, French and German.

The only drawback of the glossary is that the terms are sorted alphabetically in English only (i.e. it's made easy to translate a word from English to any other 3 languages). However, if you have a German word, say "Vorleistung" and you need to translate it in English or any other language you'll find it difficult because it is not listed under V, it is listed opposite English word "advance" under A.

But this site also offers information on a number of other useful world trade documentation such as (check the links on the same page above the glossary of trade terms):

and others.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

UK in photos

Here are some of my photos from London, Bath and Hever Castle to give you a flavor of UK:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland

Before coming to US 1,5 years ago I lived in UK for 5 years. It was like second home that’s why nostalgia made it quite difficult to write about it for quite some time… But now that passed and here is my story. I planned to write it in summer because it’s the best time to visit the country since July – August give you the best chance of avoiding rain.

There are 3 concepts in my mind that describe UK best of all: tradition, mystery and aristocracy.

TRADITION and HISTORY: everything in this country is about tradition and most of its customs go centuries back, so far that you start doubting if the world existed then… The guys still have the Queen, the Crown and other stuff like that! It feels like there are more palaces and ancient castles per square mile than anywhere else. And it’s not enough to visit one or 2 of them to get the full picture. Each castle is unique, it has different architecture, interior design, surrounding garden and it dates back to a specific era and has its own history and (often) love story behind it. Security cameras at royal palaces (mostly Hampton Court) even capture old ghosts in black cloaks on camera from time to time. Nowhere else you’ll be able to see the abundance of ancient armor and crown jewels on display.

Speaking about customs I couldn’t avoid mentioning one specific, tradition which is well known but not so well understood around the world: English tea. It’s not the tea that’s important but the ritual. It is a 2 hours’ long occasion when the tea is served with special finger sandwiches, small cakes, scones, clotted cream and jam. Take away 1 ingredient and it is not English tea anymore.

MYSTERY: besides the ghosts that haunt the royal Hampton Court Britain is home to 2 other most famous mystical sites: the Stonehenge and the Loch Ness. I visited both of them and each one made a deep impression on me though I have not seen the Loch Ness monster with my own eyes (note: the less the amount of tourists found at the spot the better the impression). There is something inexplicable about these places, something beyond words. I even didn’t try to explain anything to myself; I was just left with an inner feeling that I touched the untouchable, the unimaginable… One must see and feel it with ones own eyes….

ARISTOCRATIC: or “high-class”, or “upscale” or “posh” whatever word you use Britain has a lot of places and events you can attend which will make you feel like “royalty” for a day. For starters it will cost you a fortune but this is exactly the point: if you could afford it every day it wouldn’t be such a special treat! Try special seats at Wimbledon with Champaign and strawberries; a visit to Ascot (horse races favored by the royal family) where you HAVE TO be dressed elegantly (for ladies a beautiful dress, heels and a stunning hat is a must); or see a performance at Royal Albert Hall or Royal Opera.

Finally, don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a chance to meet the Queen - go see the change of the royal guards that the Buckingham palace. The site of dozens of well-trained, handsome, tall and young “warriors” will definitely substitute for that of one old lady.

Monday, July 02, 2007

World Public Opinion - Global Issues 2007

A week ago the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released an in-depth study of world public opinion on key international issues, including climate change, globalization, the future of the United Nations, U.S. leadership, and the rise of China.

Participating research centers interviewed nearly 22,000 people in China, India, the United States, Russia, Indonesia, France, Thailand, Ukraine, Poland, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Argentina, Peru, Armenia and Israel, plus the Palestinian territories. In addition to a global overview of opinion on key issues, the report includes detailed country-by-country analysis. The publics polled represent about 56 percent of the world’s population.

On this site you can download the full report or just the parts of it, depending on what you are interested in. I personally found the study very interesting and enlightening in a way

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Useful sites for Tourism

Though I do talk about International Business a lot (since this is my profession - International Business Consultant :-) I cannot ignore the fact that it is summer now and many people are finally fulfilling their dream of a long vacation. So to help those planning a trip (nationally or internationally) here is a good resource:

It is a centralised directory including information on 70 most popular countries on all 5 continents in various categories: airlines, accommodation, golf, festivals, limousines, discos - anything. When you perform a search the results will bring you Internet links to relevant sites. Very handy "one stop shop" for travellers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Trade Promotion Directory

I just recently found an excellent resource for companies who are doing or planning to do business in Europe: UNECE 's (United Nations Trade Economic Commission for Europe) Trade Promotion Directory,

As mentioned on the site "this Directory is intended to help enterprises and investors find the organizations and information they need for trading or investing in the UNECE region.

The information is organized by country. Under each of the 55 European countries (the list includes also USA and a couple of countries in the Near East, such as Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, etc.) are lists of organizations covering the following areas:
-Information for investment and enterprises
-Government organizations and other supporting organizations
-Trade facilitation
-Corporate governance (including regulatory agencies)
-Trade and enterprise financing
-Chambers of commerce, and business associations
-Sectoral business associations "

The informatin is regularly updates and the site mentions in which country directory there were recent changes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

World Customs Organization

As fantastic as it was to talk about travelling there is always business to attend. Here is a great resource for everyone doing business internationally: Customs Administartion Websites world-wide

Everyone trading across the borders knows that customs regulations and procedures are usually the most complicated in any country. On this site you can find links to Customs offices in most of the countries in the world that will make your task a little bit easier.

One tip: when you try to select "Europe" as a continent the page does not work properlly, so just select a country you are interested in from the "select a quick link" drop-down menu below.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Puerto Rico, Part III of III

As usual, here is the visiual story to go with the text (all photos we made ourselves while in Puerto Rico). From the rain forest to underground caves to old San Juan Puerto Rico didn't stop to amaze me. Do you see a wild geiko on a "Wild Life Watch" sign? :-)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Puerto Rico, Part II of III

In my previous comment about Puerto Rico I forgot to mention the business side of things (I was so mesmerised by the natural and architectural beauty of the island that I forgot about everything else).

It's another example of a small territory in a region (Caribbean) that managed to recreate itself and achieve great results (compare with similar stories I already posted about Dubai (Middle East) and Mauritius (Africa)) Puerto Rico was poor, devastated by hunger, unemployment and hurricanes in late 1930s. In the forties the government of PR realised that they could not any more rely on agriculture for the growth of the economy and in 1942 established Puerto Rican Industrial Development Corporation. They placed their bet on 3 main areas: rum, industry and tourism - and won.

To cut a long story short, though since 1940s Puerto Rico had some ups and downs, eventually great results were achieved. It was a smart move to finally realise that fight with poverty was more important than fight for independence from the U.S. and Puerto Ricans managed to capitalize on all the benefits the tie with the U.S. offered, especially the Section 936 of Internal Revenue code that for some time exempted manufactures from having to pay federal income tax on profits earned by their subsidiaries located in Puerto Rico. And though this clause was later abolished thanks to it more than 2000 factories operate now on the island. Pharmaceutical industry accounts for 1/4 of gross domestic product and I already mentioned the famous Bacardi factory in my previous post. Tourism industry is booming too: more than 700 cruise ships come to the port of San Juan every year.

Though Puerto Rican per capita income is less than anywhere in USA it tops most of the Caribbean islands and it is higher than anywhere in Latin America. Actually, Puerto Rico has one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean.

Once again I cannot fail to mention how fascinated I am with such stories of success, the stories of how small countries can make big changes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Puerto Rico, Part I of III

I have never been to Latin America and this May was my first time – we went to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a US island in the Caribbean basin though only on paper. In spirit it is nothing but. It is truly Latin American in all respects and this is what I liked most about it.

If I had to describe Puerto Rico in two words I would say it is all about Celebration of Life. From the lush green and bright fragrant flowers everywhere to multi-colored houses of old San Juan (the capital) where indeed there are no 2 houses alike: pale pink next to bright orange, sky blue to vibrant green - it seems like these houses represent all colors of the rainbow, all shades and all variations except for boring black and gray which dominate the usual urban landscape.

The abundance of tropical fish swimming even in shallow waters right at the beach compete in variety of colors with the old San Juan’s buildings.

In addition you hear birds singing everywhere: various birds, many distinct voices. You might not see them since they are hidden somewhere among beautiful tropical plants but their songs follow you wherever you go.

In the evenings there are other songs heard on every corner: street festivals, bars, and clubs welcome you. It is not by chance that it was Puerto Ricans who invented one of the hottest Latin American dances – salsa.

Puerto Rico reminded me of Mauritius (I already wrote about this island on my blog): it is tiny but it has so many things to explore. An amazing tropical rain forest with magnificent waterfalls, a cave park with stunning stalactites and stalagmites, old fortresses and cathedrals, the famous Arecibo Observatory and so much more. If you are into nature or arts or history or astronomy you will realize that your trip to Puerto Rico was worth making.
So when next time you see a Bacardi rum commercial on TV which invites you to the “Latin Quarter” you can be sure that the “spirit” it is talking about is very much real and it is very much Puerto Rican (again, it is not by chance, I think, that the largest Bacardi plant is located on this amazing island).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Small businesses going global: International Art Gallery

When we talk about International Business, most of us think about huge multinational corporations. What fascinates me personally is the ability of small businesses to find their unique niche and grow the business globally. With this article I start a series of stories about such companies.

Capucines Boulevard art gallery and auction ( is a very interesting entrepreneurial venture based out of Chicago, IL which succeeded in becoming international on several levels:

1. Capucines Boulevard gallery attracts artists from all over the world: though it's a relatively new venture founded in 2005 it already represents nearly 60 artists from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, India, USA. Therefore it creates a unique opportunity for visitors to experience everything from the mesmerising landscapes of New Mexico to unusual sceneries from a small Russian village. Paintings, ink drawings, prints; glass and metal works; painted silk - an art lover can find anything and everything in this gallery. But most importanly many of the exhibited works of art can be found ONLY at Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, for example, are not strong in e-commerce yet and is the only outlet where artists from these countries offer you their art for purchase.

2. Being an Internet based art gallery and auction has a truly global outreach: it can sell a work of art to anyone anywhere in the world. You can make a purchase from the comfort of your own home and it will be delivered to you by a courier within a couple of days.

Of course, there are many Internet art galleries but the following characteristics make unique:
1. It does not specialise on just 1 - 2 - 3 countries, this gallery is truly diverse and international
2. The experience you get from interaction with the gallery is dynamic: you can view the photos of the works of art, listen to the artist's favourite music or their interviews, view virtual tours of their studios, etc.
3. Even static works of art come to life in gallery!! To learn how it's possible you can watch these videos:

This company is a great example of a small business going global, an excellent sales and marketing approach and an exciting experience for customers - all in one.

PS The ink drawing included in the article is called "Dancing Libra" from Zodiac collection of a Russian painter Anatoly Kudravcev exhibited at

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

International Consultants

I wanted to share my recent observations with regards so-called "international consultants" who are plenty in USA and whom I meet quite often at various networking events.

I don't really understand what is the reason behind the phenomenon I am going to talk about (may be the geographical position of USA - far away from most of the world, i.e. Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa) but most of Americans I meet who spent at least a couple of months abroad during their lifetime (either working or as a student) consider themselves to be professional international consultants. Here are 2 classic examples that I recently met:

1. Middle-aged guy who spent 3 months in Europe as a student (about 20 years ago) insists on being extremely knowledgeable about in European business. He never worked in any European company and since his days over there many countries do not exist any more and new ones emerged.

2. A lady who spent a year or so in Europe working as a ground personnel for 1 of the American Airlines (you know those girls who check in your luggage before the flight) now has her own consulting company specializing in... international business and international relations! How much did she learn about European business models printing baggage receipts???

Moreover, neither of these so-called "international consultants" speak any foreign language and I suspect has know clue about cultural aspects of the regions they "specialize in" either.

However, their businesses exist and, apparently, some companies trust them! I just wanted to warn my readers about these types of "consultants" and "international experiences". Don't waste your money! If you have never been abroad except as a tourist your experience and knowledge is not inferior to that of such "consultants" even if they spent several month abroad. The main question you have to ask is what were they able to learn doing whatever they were doing while staying abroad? Drinking in pubs with other students or printing boarding passes (as per my examples) has nothing to do with understanding the principles of international business.

I do call myself an international consultant too (my company is Emerging Markets Advice ) but in contrast to what I have already mentioned I lived, studied and worked in 5 different countries (and when I say "studied" I mean I studied international management, and when I say "worked" I mean I worked as international business development professional in big multinational companies). I also participated in a number of cross-regional and global projects involving a dozen other countries and in addition I speak 3 languages.

This phenomenon does not exist, say, in Europe because you cannot fool a truly international community where the majority speaks at least 2 languages, has experience studying abroad and some of them have worked abroad too. There you really have to show you can add value compared to everyone else.

Therefore, dear business owners, if you plan an international expansion, please, be careful choosing a consultant to help you with the task! Beware of former international camp councelors, flight attendants and the like.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Starting in Exporting

Last year (August 29, 2006, see the blog archive) I posted information on this blog on how to start in International Trade from a UK point of view. I mean the site it based in UK but information they give is pretty generic and quite useful.

Here is a great US site of the similar nature: Though some specifics are US and food industry related they are just a few, most of the information is applicable to any industry. For instance, there is a checklist you need to go through to evaluate if your company is ready for exporting or guidelines on export pricing applicable no matter what product you are planning to export.

Each page on the site gives you numerous useful links on that topic too, for example:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I borrowed some of these photos from some excellent sites where you can see even more pictures of Morocco, such as:,
PS: photos above represent several of the places of interest I mentioned in my story about Morocco:
Pic 1: Yves Saint Laurant Garden
Pic 2: Marrakesh
Pic 3: Atlas mountains
Pic 4: Marrakesh, main market squareDjemaa el-Fina

Monday, April 16, 2007


To continue the theme started in my recent posts - here is another story about the Muslim World. This one is about Morocco. I also decided to write this story now because recently I saw a new movie, “Babel”, a part of which takes place in Morocco and I can definitely say that the movie doesn’t give this country justice. And don’t get me wrong, the movie is great (actually it is in itself a great international experience since the action unfolds in 4 locations: USA, Mexico, Morocco and Japan) but they way it portrays Morocco is horrible it doesn’t show any of the beauty and charm of this African jewel so I decided to restore the country’s reputation in this abstract.

If Dubai has the “future” look of the Muslim World, Morocco has the past (in the good sense of this word). Naturally, your hotel will be as modern as anywhere else but outside its walls there is a totally different world. The only truly modern city you will find in Morocco is Agadir, the resort city on the Atlantic coast, but it is modern only because a terrible earthquake entirely destroyed the old city in the middle of the 20th century. It is funny how, in fact, Dubai, is trying to imitate Moroccan heritage: one of the most famous hotels in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, is built in the old Moroccan style.

Morocco made a major impression on me in three ways:

1. UNUSUAL SIGHTS: I always had a misconception, as many of you, my readers, probably do too, that Africa is hot and there is no snow there except for the top of the famous Kilimanjaro. Imagine my astonishment to see snow covered mounts on the background of Moroccan sun burnt landscape in May, which turned to be the Atlas mountains. They look magnificent!

Another amazing sight, which I have never seen before – goats on the top branches on trees! (I don’t remember the name of the tree but goats love its fruit (or leaves) and they climb all the way up to get some!)

The most remarkable sight though is the main market square (the square in front of the souq) in Marrakech: fruit and sweets traders, acrobats, magicians, snake charmers and other performers – the picture out of a fairy tale indeed…

2. SMELLS: the amount of various extraordinary smells embracing you on your trip: eucalyptus forest (camel ride through which is a hilarious experience), cooked lamb, freshly baked bread, spices, Agadir seafood market and the famous Moroccan mint tea everywhere…

3. COLORS: the amount and brightness of various colors like in Morocco I have never seen before: the colors of the souq (everything from carpets to silk scarfs of all colors of the rainbow, really), the colors of the Majorelle Botanic Gardens (which not so long ago was taken over and restored by a famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge – it combines pink and red flowers, bright blue buildings, green foliage and red-brown paved walkways), mosaics in the mosques, palaces and restaurants, etc.

My story-telling ability is not too good to be able to describe in words all the richness of this country. If you are intrigued you can read more in Paolo Cohelo’s book “The Alchemist”, but better still go there and experience it by yourself – trust me there is nothing in the world like Morocco.
I will be posting some photos of Morocco later this week: they won’t be able to reproduce the smells but I will do my best at the sights!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Legal Alien's Guide

One of my biggest and most important International experiences was relocating to live in USA. It is very hard for a newcomer to rebuild one's life in a new place so I decided to write a book based on my own experience which, I hope, will make the life of everyone relocating to US and even within US to Chicago much easier.

The book is called "Legal Aliens Guide. Chicago. IL. USA". It's a comprehensive guide to various organizations, associations, clubs, etc. that help you to find a job, start/develop your own business or just find friends. The book is also full of useful Internet resources from cheap international telephony services to free daily networking calendars of events.

The guide is designed to be a help for everyone who is new to the networking scene and though I give Chicago as an example most of the organizations I talk about are active nationwide.

The book is in publishing now and it is coming out end of spring - beginning of summer 2007.

For more information you can visit the book's blog It not only provides information about the book but it is a living addition to the book because new organizations appear every day, interesting one-time events are being held which are not mentioned in the Guide but they will be posted on the blog as soon as the information about them comes to my attention.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

I would like to continue this year's introduction of holidays around the globe. Today is a rare occasion when both Catholic and Orthodox Easters coinside (they usually don't because since 16th centuray Catholics adopted Gregorian Calendar and Orthodox kept the Julian one). I send all my warm wishes to everyone who celebrate this Great Holiday today. Here are 2 postcards representing how the two communities celebrate this holiday: the "chocolate" one for my Catholic friends and the egg and "kulich" (specially cooked cake) for my Orthodox friends.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Truly International Experience - RIVERDANCE

I just came back from Riverdance performance in Chicago (they are touring USA at the moment and the other company is touring Europe, as I understand they do these tours every year) and I could not fail to mention it. It's an eccentric and exciting fusion of Celtic folk dance, Irish history and other folk traditions: Flamenco, Russian folk dances, jazz, etc. It is a truely international fest of dance, music, light and colour.

If the Company is coming to your city I strongly recommend going - I bet you have not seen anything like this before. To learn more information about the performances, locations and dates, visit their site: (the photo is from the site)

"In Paris, Language Sparks Culture War"

The title of this post is the title of an interesting article published in New York Times on March 31, 2007. The article is a great find especially for those interested in France and the French language. It describes how such processes as globalization can dramatically influence a country, a culture, its language and literature.

Here is the link:

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trade in Muslim World

If you are planning to engage in international trade with a Muslim country (whether in Middle East or Africa) here is a great help: This site has great country specific information such as export/import regulations, legal framework, banking system, taxation, etc.

Some of the countries' profiles are missing for now, such as Jordan and UAE, for example, but the site promisses that "other muslim countries are on the way..." so it's worthwhile checking it out on regular basis for new additions.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

French Chambers of Commerce and Industry Overseas

I have a personal interest in France and French culture and the other day while researching some info on France I found a great website that would be useful for everyone interested in international business, not only business with France. This is the site of the Union of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry Overseas which brings together and supports the development of the 112 CCIs overseas in more than 75 countries:

Part of the site is, of course dedicated to France: you can obtain a lot of useful info about everything from doing business to travelling in France. The other part of the site, however, is dedicated to French Chambers of Commerce work overseas: here you can find market research, market information (i.e. useful publications) about most of those 75 countries around the world where French CCIs work.

The site can be viewed in French, English and Spanish.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dubai: Part III of III

As I promised finally here are some pictures of Dubai. It is surprising that there is no 1 good site about Dubai where you can see all the great photos so I borrowed these from a number of sites: ,,, But even neither of these photos give due credit to what is there in reality. I guess the only way to appreciate this place is to see it with your own eyes...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dubai: Part II of III

One of my readers has recently left a comment or rather a request to write about memorable things that happened to me while travelling. I hope this part of Dubai story will cover that.

I went to Dubai after having travelled nearly all over Europe and USA and not expecting to be very much surprised. Well, I was wrong: I was astonished, amazed and surprised by Dubai every step during my visit.

It started at the arrival gate of the Dubai International Airport. I had a greeting service booked for me: this is a kind of VIP service that is probably available in most of the airports but just for VERY important people. In Dubai you can easily book it for yourself for just 21 USD and it it highly recommended for first time visitors, elderly, passengers with kids - They meet you at the aircraft door, take you to the customs in a nice little car, you don't wait in line for visa clearance (and lines there are enormous!! it looks like an endless sea of people! - that was my only negative impression of Dubai) then they wait with you for your luggage as long as it takes and make sure that you get everything and in proper order and finally deliver you to the trustworthy hands of your hotel representative in the Arrival hall. And all the way they are nice, smiling and courteous which makes you feel that you are the most important person in the world.

My second surprise was waiting for me in my hotel room. I stayed in a regular 4 star hotel in the business district, nothing special, not like those amazing ones that Dubai has along the seashore, but still... When I entered my STANDARD room I was amazed to see that it is 3 times bigger than the regular room: first it had a regular bed, 2 night stands, an armchair a table and then you already expect to see the wall with a window - not at all! Right after that I had.... a castle! I assume it was a place for kids if I came with a family! The castle was as high as the room itself, had 4 walls and windows and a door and inside it had 2 beds, storage space and "gaming" place!
And after the castle I also had a sofa and a coffee table and THEN I had the wall and the window!

The thrid surprise was waiting for me on the street: there is virtually no system of public transport. Most people drive their own cars and only poor workers usually take buses and may be occasional tourists because taxis in Dubai are very cheap and this is the best means of transportation around the city excpet if you want to go to a major shopping mall in the rush hour: to get back you will have to wait in line for a taxi for 30 minutes at the mall..

All major siteseeing places will amaze you too. Definitely start with the Dubai National Museum to learn the story about this wonderufl city (much more than than I told you in my Post I about Dubai) :

Then go see the famous Burj Al Arab (known as the Sail) - the most expensive hotel in the world. They have excursions inside and you can also visit their skyview bar on the top or "aquarium" style restaurant at the bottom (it is below the sea level) The only luxury of similar sort I saw in Versaille Palace, France but even there the rooms are so much smaller :-))

A lot of modern wonders you see in Dubai are considered to be the most technologically advanced in the world: try Wild Wadi water park to understand what I mean

Definitely go outside Dubai for a desert safari with dune rides, arabian BBQ, henna painting and belly dancing It will be like a "time machine" experience: from the ultra moredern to the good old days in arabian desert.

My final surprise was waiting for me at Dubai International Airport. I did expect a great duty free shopping but what I saw really exceeded my expectations: a huge golden palm tree in the middle of the hall which made the roof of an enormous gold jewlry store! People buy gold here not by item but by weight and this is how they are priced: you can only see the price of a gram of gold and then you ask a shop assistant to weigh whatever little masterpiece you've chosen.

To sum up, Dubai really NEVER stops surprising you and due to the fact that it is constantly developing, evolving and modernising, every time you go new wonders will be waiting for you on every corner.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dubai: Part I of III

In my blog I haven’t yet written about the Middle East and today I want to share one of my stories about this region.

Dubai is one of the most fascinating places in the world I have been to. And I am usually most amazed by the ability of certain countries to grow from nearly nothing to incredible heights (and for that matter the inability of others in the region to do the same). The rise of South Korea or Mauritius (about which I already wrote in my blog) is very similar to the rise of Dubai though the latter took it a very much advanced level.

Even in the middle of the 20th century Dubai (which is a part of United Arab Emirates) was still a small fishing port which had 2 main possessions: the sands and the sea. How many small ports around the world can you name that have never developed into something as magnificent as Dubai? Probably dozens. But Dubai did. And its main secret is not oil: there is practically no oil in this part of UAE; the secret is the smart heads of the state that ruled this territory in the 20th century. They were able to see something that many other country rulers in the region still don’t see in the 21st century. They saw that freedom, international trade, good climate for investment and later tourism are key for the prosperity of the region. And just in about 40 years they achieved their dream!

Nowadays Dubai is one of the most modern cities I have ever seen. You drive to the outskirts of the city and there is only desert and… the best highway in the world. In the city itself the construction never stops, not even at night and Dubai is now constantly producing the architectural marvels never seen before: the most luxurious hotel in the world (the “Sail”), the Palm Island and the Burj Dubai that is currently built, which will become the highest building in the world. Dubai also has one of the fastest growing airports and international airlines that strive to be the best in global aviation industry and, frankly, they are not too far from their goal.
But most importantly this is one of the few states in the Middle East that gave equal rights to women. You will probably be surprised to know that the majority of students at UAE University and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) are women. Besides the traditional fields of education and health, there are many women graduates working in various disciplines such as engineering, science, media and communications, computer technology, law, commerce, and the oil industry. There is even a women's corps within the Armed Forces.

If you want to learn more about this fascinating place, please, visit and also wait for my 2nd post about Dubai where I will share particular interesting stories and impressions from my visit there. The post with photos will follow too.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Law Library: International Taxes

I would like to introduce the Law Libray - fantastic resource for anyone doing business internationally: it provides an incredible listing of sites related to International Tax Laws per country (25 "most wanted" countries included from around the world from Australia to Russia to Brazil to South Africa). Whether you are an accountant, a lawyer or a marketing manager doing market analysis - this site will be a great help for you:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sea Ports Worldwide

This is a great resources for those working in the field of Export/Import, Transportation, Supply Chain and Logistics. The website below lists links to all major sea ports around the world:

This comes very handy since you have all ports in one place and you don't need to spend your time looking around. One correction, though: the link to Russian port of Vladivostok is invalid, the proper link is:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Environmental Issues

This is a wall pannel from Chicago's Field Museum: "From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved", - Charles Darwin.

I was thinking the other day that there is one truly international “thing” that unites all of us around the Globe. It is the environment, the nature. Air and oceans do not have boarders: the division is purely artificial, man-forced. That is why I believe that our efforts to preserve the environment cannot be country-specific they have to be international and coordinated globally.

I travel a lot and I see that the “eco-friendly” efforts are very much dispersed. European Union is very concerned with the issue. In Germany’s Frankfurt airport I recently saw 3-4 different types of garbage cans: for paper, plastic, glass and other stuff. When I was living in UK, since 2004 we had special blue plastic bags delivered home for free where we could deposit all recyclable waste.

EU also initiated a so-called “Stand-by” initiative as early as 1997. Stand-by power of electrical equipment is the electricity consumed by end-use devices when they are switched off or not performing their main function. Stand-by power consumption is an increasing fraction of the electricity use and the fast penetration of new and digital technology is likely to increase this share. It is estimated that stand-by power already accounts for about 10% of the electricity use in homes and offices of the EU Member States. A number of proactive steps has been taken by EU in this regard and you can read more details at

Central Europe, Russia included, are a bit behind. I know in my hometown there is a big buzz about energy saving light bulbs. They need less electricity to electric bill is smaller and therefore a lot of pensioners (my parents are a good example here) changed their light bulbs to more efficient ones. This is not much but at least it’s a step forward. In addition, in most families I know (my relatives and friends) there is a strict rule of not leaving any equipment on stand-by.

Now having lived in USA for more than a year I am very surprised that the question of environment protection is not as burning as elsewhere. My husband (who lived in USA for 5 years and traveled a lot around the country) says that he saw a couple of recycling bins for newspapers and soda tins but I haven’t seen any here yet. I am surprised that this issue is not widely discussed or implemented. May be I don’t know much about this country yet but here are my observations: tons of electricity are wasted (especially by equipment on stand-by), monstrous SUVs are everywhere (huge cars that consume a LOT of gallons of fuel per mile).

The one thing USA is good at, as it seems to me, is animal/plant life conservation. Only in Chicago there are 3 museums that I know of that in one way or the other devote their exhibitions to nature conservation. There are also 2 zoos, one of which is FREE to public where you can also learn about endangered species.

Washington zoo has recently had a baby panda born in captivity for the first time and the news was everywhere. It seemed to be nearly as important event as presidential elections. I even saw a 1-hour film on TV made to this occasion!

I don’t have a plan how to make environment protection a truly global effort or to force USA sign the Kyoto agreement. But I truly belief that if every single person out of 6 billion living on the planet makes at least 1 conservation effort on a regular basis the Earth will be a much better place to live.

My own New Year’s resolution is to reduce to minimum the amount of time my home/work appliances left on stand-by. I also already fulfilled my previous resolution: we bought one of the most fuel efficient cars on the market, new Honda Civic, not the hybrid yet (that will probably be the next step) and I also have been supporting World Wide Fund (WWF) for many years (you can see more details about this organization by clicking “Protect Nature” link on the right-hand side navigation panel).

I came to write this little abstract now because this has been the warmest winter ever, both in Chicago and in Russia where I am from. I do not want my children to celebrate their Christmases in raincoats listening to the stories about a strange substance called “snow” or extinct creatures called “penguins”. I am sure most of you feel the same way too! I strongly believe that this issue is not just governments’ responsibility, it is every one’s responsibility everywhere, because we don’t have Chinese nature or Argentinean nature or Egypt’s nature it’s all ours, it is international!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Foreign Direct Investment

Recenty I found a great market reserach tool analyzing Foreign Direct Investment Projects globally: . Extensive reports can be ordered for a fee but snapshot reports and some extra reports are available for FREE per country.

The snapshot reports give you data for the last 4 years (2003-2006) and provide information on total figures, figures per country (investing in your chosen country), industry, by business function and data on the top 5 multinational companies investments.

In Downloads section you can find some extra free reports and presentations related to international business and FDI.

Finally, Locomonitor publishes free quaterly reports per certain topic. For instance, Q1 2006 report analyses China outbound FDI and Q3 2005 report is talking about Strategic Ivestment Locations for 2005.

I hope you find this information useful for your International Business/FDI projects.