Cultures

Multicultual

Having lived in three continents and working in a profession investing in developed and emerging markets all day long and working with many types of nationalities, I have always thought I am a pretty multi-cultural person.  This book called “The Art of Doing Business Across Cultures” by Craig Storti is a recent favourite of mine, opening my eyes to the nuances of 10 very important cultures of the world (they tend to be the larger countries including The Arab Middle East, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and Russia).  Even though it is written from the perspective of Americans dealing with the different cultures, in this global marketplace, every business person will have a chance to deal with many different cultures and would find the advice of this book useful.

I love some of the writings of the book:

Germany

The Americans are culturally quite close to the Germans.  According to John Ardagh:

[they] may differ greatly in their degree of social formality, but they share something of the same business ethos, the same liking for thoroughness, efficiency and modernism, and the same fondness for litigation.”

So what are some of their differences:

Americans are more tolerant when the lines between work and personal life become blurred, perhaps because professional accomplishments comprise more of their identity.

According to Greg Nees:

[W]hen they are at work, Germans do indeed work quite effectively and with great focus.  But when the workday is finished, so are the workers.  Punctuality is apparent, not only in starting times but also at the end of the workday; employees see overtime as an infringement on their private lives…

The Germans say Dienst ist Dienst, und Schnaps ist Schnaps – duty is duty, and liquor is liquor.

Brazil

Things do get done in Brazil, but it’s in spite of the system, not because of it.

This is the Brazilian’s jeito or jeitinho – their subtle ways to circumvent difficult situations via “doing favours”.  This is quite foreign or even looked upon negatively in America as Americans do not promote “favoritism”.  As Jacqueline Oliveira said:

The primacy of family and the ingroup in the Brazilian value system often explains Brazilian behaviour, including why punctuality cannot always take priority.  

Jacqueline Oliveira said this:

[Brazilians} may forgo a business obligation if a family matter arises…

There is also a deep sense of fatalism that pervades the Brazilian culture – many things can happen outside of one’s control which therefore simply must be accepted.  Fatalism and resignation thus explain why Brazilians often tolerate lateness, while Americans are obsessed with time [Americans believe in achievements, which are effort + time.]

China

Other cultures may find the Chinese way of dealing with compliments curious.  As Scott Seligman writes:

Accepting them outright is not considered good etiquette; a Chinese is expected to deflect compliments  and pretend he or she is unworthy of receiving them…one of the common phrase [the Chinese use]…is nali…that has come to mean something like “it was nothing.” It’s as if to say the kind words you have just uttered couldn’t possibly be directed at me…

Valuing group’s opinion over one’s own, the Chinese are taught to be humble, leading to routine self-effacement and personal modesty, which the Americans inevitably misinterpret as a lack of confidence.  Americans are one of the most individualist and the least group-oriented of all cultures, and so anything that affirms, supports, or strengthens the self is valued in America.  The Americans come across as boastful because in their culture, unlike that of the Chinese, they cannot rely automatically on other group members for support and validation.

France

Americans, despite their directness, do not like to argue; in their conversations, they look for common ground and they often agree to disagree. But not the French.  As Erin Meyer writes:

French business people view conflict and dissonance as bringing hidden contradictions to light, and stimulating fresh thinking…[W]e make our points passionately.  We like to disagree openly. We like to say things that shock.  With confrontation, you reach excellence, you have more creativity, and you eliminate risk.

The Arab Middle East

The Arabs are not only exuberant, enthusiastic, emotional people – not just in their actions but even more so in their words.

This tendency to exaggerate [and overemphasize] makes it difficult for Westerners to understand how Arabs actually feel and how enthusiastic they truly are about suggestions and proposals.  A quick guide: The absence of any enthusiasm or positive comments is a sure sign of a negative reaching, especially given the fact that Arabs, unfailingly polite, rarely indulge in overt criticism.  Modest enthusiasm, a few pieces of mild praise, signals a neutral reaction.  Effusiveness, exaggerated enthusiam, and hyperbolic praise all indicate a positive response.

Russia

A standard complaint by Russians against Americans is that they lack dusha, or soul. Russians like to connect with their business partners, to have a brief glimpse of the other’s soul. Elizabeth Roberts observes:

Russians prize the quality of soul above others…they often have a tendency to open their soul to complete strangers.

Yale Richmond writes:

Russians do have a rich spirituality, that does indeed contrast with Western rationalism, materialism, and pragmatism…the rational and pragmatic approach does not always work for them.  More often it is personal relations, feelings, and traditional values that determine a course of action.  Westerners are more likely to depend on the cold facts and to do what works.

There are many more gems and dialogues as exercises in the book to enjoy and learn.

The author said, there is always a reason why people do the strange things they do, the reason is almost never to upset you, and there is always a way forward.

 

 

 

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Some of My Favourite Colours

With the summer months upon us, everything looks so vibrant and colourful under the sun and the beautiful weather.

Some of the colours that have sparked joy in my life are captured here:

Beauties in the San Francisco Farmers Market
Just right along the curb in front of my apartment building
San Francisco CIty Hall at night
Stained glass in the French restaurant Jeanne D’Arc in San Francisco
The magical Bellagio Hotel water fountain in Las Vegas

Great San Francisco Food Streets

As visitors are coming to town to San Francisco, there are a couple of streets here that offer a great variety of eateries without hurting your purses or wallets too much.

Enter the graffiti-filled Polk Street, which has a great variety of ethnic and international food ranging from Mexican cocktails, Moroccan food, Indian buffets, super cheat groceries, to fine diners including Michelin-starred La Folie and the romantic Italian Aquerello.

Next is Kearny Street, which links up the financial district and Chinatown to the Union Square.

Here choices include Greek eateries, Japanese curry and ramen, Thai food, International Food Court, American Classics, Cantonese flagship (R&G), and many popular boba tea places. There is an EscapeSF outfit now, which visitors should try. It is rated the top 2 most fun games in SF by Trip Advisors.

A Secret Ingredient for Health

Bone Broth reasons
Courtesy of revivalistkitchen.com

One has probably heard about bone broth (made from beef, pork, chicken, fish) and veggie broth, but Heather Dane really explained well why we need bone broth, especially after age 40!  The star in bone broth – collagen – supports, strengthens, cushions, provides structure, and holds the body together like glue, according to Heather.  If your body starts to lose collagen, no wonder you can feel more aches and pains, have wrinkles, thinner hair, and eye problems, experience loss of muscle tone, have digestive issues, etc.  Bone broth is also the key ingredient to many tasty Chinese soups such as this wonton soup (Hong Kong-style) and this 5-minute veggie soup (add animal protein if you like).  I have personally experienced really really tasty Shanghainese wonton soup in the streets of Shanghai – the secret is no doubt their long and well-simmered bone broth!

What is a Great Salad Meal to Make?

Brenda Davis Super Salad.jpg

There is an online food revolution summit going on currently which contains life-changing health information.  The experts all seem to agree that a plant-based diet is better for human’s health.  Given everyone’s body is built differently, there is no one formula that fits all.  However, there is enough science about the higher benefits of plant protein vs. animal protein and why a vegetarian diet helps.  Risks of Diabetes are 62% lower with a healthy plant-based vegan diet from a recent study.  Heme iron from red meat, as opposed to non-heme iron from plant food, leads to increased risks of heart disease.  Experts warn that one needs to supplement with Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Iodine if one eats a vegan diet.  In general, many of us do not eat enough fibre.

What might be a great vegetarian dish – like a perfect salad?

Here is a great recommendation from Brenda Davis, a registered dietitian.  I have never enjoyed salad quite as much as I am now. A salad is not boring and is completely fulfilling and tasty.  To kickstart a vegan diet, try this 21day program free: 21DayKickstart.org

Source: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/my-favorite-supper-salad/

My Favorite Supper Salad (Brenda Davis)

My favorite meal is salad. Seriously.  To me, a beautiful salad is a masterpiece of colour, texture and flavor.  Of course, we are not talking iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkle on top; we are talking about a full, satisfying meal.  I make a giant salad that lasts up to 4 days.  Greens are torn and dressing is always on the side so the salad does not brown or wilt. Nutritionally, it doesn’t get much better than this!

This salad is a full meal deal. It provides a rainbow of color and a feast of phytochemicals. Choose organic produce, if possible. By eating it with some fat-containing food such as a seed-based salad dressing, nutrient absorption is maximized.

 

The Greens

Choose any dark greens you have on hand. Throw in some red or purple leafy vegetable for variety and color. Use about 8 cups in total – mix and match as you like. Here is a suggested combination:

 

4 cups wild, mixed greens

2 cups kale, stem removed and sliced matchstick thin

2 cups chopped radicchio or thinly sliced red or purple cabbage

 

The Veggies and Fruits

The key is to cover the rainbow in your selection. Aim for 5 color families – green, yellow-orange, pink- red, purple- blue and white-beige. Use a total of about 5 cups veggies (1 cup from each color family). Mix and match as you like or simply select 1-2 options from each color category. Here are a few suggestions:

 

Green

1 cup broccolini or broccoli florets and stems, sliced diagonally

1 cup asparagus (raw or steamed), sliced diagonally

1 cup zucchini, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally

1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas

1 cup sprouts, tightly packed (e.g. sunflower, pea or other)

1 cup fresh herbs, tightly packed (e.g. mint, basil or dill)

2 kiwi fruit, chopped

 

Yellow-Orange

1-2 yellow or orange carrots, sliced or grated

1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1 pint heirloom colored grape or other tomatoes

1 cup golden cauliflower florets

1 cup yellow beets (steamed or boiled), cubed

1-2 oranges or 1 grapefruit, bite sized pieces

1 mango, chopped

 

Pink-Red

1 cup watermelon radish, cut into small cubes

1 red pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 cup beets (steamed or boiled), cubed

1 cup pomegranate seeds (or seeds from one pomegranate)

1-2 cups strawberries, sliced or raspberries

1/2 cup gogi berries

 

Purple-Blue

1 purple pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1-2 purple carrots, sliced or grated

1 cup purple cauliflower florets

1 cup roasted eggplant

1 cup blueberries or blackberries

 

White-Beige

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 salad turnips, sliced

1 small kohlrabi, cut in thin strips

1 small jicama, cut in thin strips

 

Plant Protein

Choose at least 1-2 protein sources for your salad. Some great options are:

6-8 oz. smoked tofu, cubed

6-8 oz. tofu, cubed and sautéed with tamari, turmeric, herbs and spices

6-8 oz tempeh, cooked

1-2 cups chickpeas or other beans

1-2 cups lentils

1 cup hummus

4-8 falafel balls or other veggie balls

 

Healthy Fats

Choose one or two healthy fat sources to help enhance nutrient absorption from your meal.

1/4 cup peanuts

1/4 cup tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, almonds)

1/4 cup seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower or hemp)

1 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup olives, whole pitted or sliced

 

Great Starches

Choose one starchy vegetable or grain to add calories and make the meal more satisfying.

1 sweet potato, steamed and cubed

1 purple or white potato, steamed and cubed

1 cup butternut squash (or other winter squash), steamed and cubed

1 cup corn

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup cooked kamut or spelt

1 cup cooked wild rice

 

Herbs

Add herbs for a boost of flavor and phytochemicals.

1/4 to 1/2 cup dill, parsley, basil or other fresh herbs

 

Directions

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables as outlined above.
  2. Place the leafy vegetables in a large bowl.
  3. Top with other colorful vegetables.
  4. Add the plant protein source and starchy choices if eating the whole salad. If saving some of the salad for another day, keep the protein source, starchy choice and avocado separate and add just before serving.
  5. Serve with a nut or seed-based dressing.