I thought black tie banquets were behind me, left to the socialites, aristocrats and fundraisers of D.C. Tonight I was glad to be wrong, as I attended the International Consular Ball hosted by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Alongside others who believe everyone should have the opportunity to be globally engaged, I was pleased to learn that Delta is a proud sponsor of this initiative.
International vs. Global. What’s the difference?
A company is international, for example, if it’s headquartered in the U.S., remains mostly vested in the U.S. and maintains an American worldview while conducting business in other countries. Each Consul General at tonight’s event is acting internationally, officially representing his/her home country in Atlanta.
Global organizations are interdependent with markets around the world. They “localize” products, services and business practices to suit unique market preferences. For example, Delta flights to Narita offer Japanese entertainment, meal choices and announcements, and our APAC-focused sales reps are trained on standard Japanese business practices.
This is an important distinction at the individual level, too. Whether you’re a sales rep negotiating a contract with Japanese clients, casual tourist visiting Beirut or friendly neighbor welcoming a Parisian family to your neighborhood, will you orient your behavior to reflect an understanding of the other culture?
It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters.
In the 1960’s, communication theorist Marshal McLuhan predicted that technological advances would enable our ability to communicate as if we all live in the same village, and a multi-sensory view of the world would result. Instant, worldwide communication has become a reality, but has our societal view of other cultures become more understanding? Are we more thoughtful about how to present ideas in a manner that will be well-received?
In any case, I hope you’ll seek out opportunities to expand your horizon, to experience and understand cultural differences around the world and in your own backyard. It’s an adventure waiting to happen!