MIKE SMITH: You can only understand another culture by living it

Mike Smith (Photo: Bloomberg)

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 2 2013 and has been re-published with some updates to reflect the company’s upcoming IPO in the US later this year.

This comes from Mike Smith, the former CEO at ANZ, via LinkedIn:

“My overriding message to people wanting to work and do business in Asia is that you need to immerse yourself in the culture by living it. As an outsider you may never completely understand the culture but you have to develop empathy and a love for it to succeed.”

Though it might be difficult for every business person to expand their company internationally, Smith’s message applies to all business relationships. Instead of thinking about it in terms of countries, think about Smith’s example in terms of merging two small companies.

“If you are entering a new market, quickly surround yourself with trusted advisors who can help you navigate the landscape and avoid preventable mistakes. It’s hard to think of two places less alike than Thailand and Korea, but I’m constantly amazed how often western business people approach Asia as if it was one place with one culture. They fail to respect the cultural differences of each country and ultimately end up paying the price.”

See the original article here.

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