Farrar's Faucet: A psychologist’s candid, productive and often humorous take on principled business behavior and better business outcomes.

The New Global Market: Panel discussion at Carslon School of Management

This is a quick update to the recent panel discussion I participated in at Carlson School of Management. Each of the participants had a unique point of view on The New Global Market, but there was also a lot in common among the four of us.

(L to R: Brett Schockley, David Farrar, James Thomas, Amit Gupta)

Our moderator was Dileep Rao, Ph.D., Carlson School of Management: three-time Outstanding MBA Teacher of the Year; international entrepreneur and author of the book "Bootstrap to Billions."

In his opening remarks Dileep talked about some of the causes of the global economic crisis. Having started us at such a high level of analysis he went on to talk about individuals and how they can best succeed in an international market. Two of his best pieces of advice were "do your passion" and "jump on a trend". If you want to know what some of the trends were that he mentioned you'll have to buy his book!

Amit Gupta
Chairman, Amsum & Ash, Inc

• Co-founder and chairman of TAB India, a Jaipur-based quarrier, processor and marketer of granite, marble, slate and sandstone sold around the world.

Here is the one best piece of advice I took from Amit's talk: "Take a non-business business trip." Amit told us how he has built his business from a standing start to a major global player in the stone business. Whenever he entered a new market he has always invested in a non-business trip first for himself and his key sales people. Although you might think stone is stone, Amit talked about how every market he works in is different. His non--business business trips enable him and his team to understand how each market differs culturally in the way they do business in general, and in his industry in particular.

For example, we think our kitchen industry is pretty advanced in America. I was surprised to hear Amit talk about just how long people in Europe have been working and living with stone in their kitchens. While we think of marble bench tops as the latest things our European colleagues have had stone and marble countertops for hundreds of years. To work in that market you had better be sure you have an open mind and are prepared to see things differently.

Brett Schockley
Vice President of Emerging Products & Technology, Avaya

• Co-founder of Spanlink Communications
• Leads Avaya’s global professional services team for Contact Center and Unified Communications
• MBA, Carlson School of Management

Brett has seen and done amazing things in the IT industry. You might think his presentation would have been all about the technology but in fact one of the first things Brett said to our audience was "invest in relationships". Brett talked about how international business is a lot like local business: you have to add value and you have to be able to demonstrate how you can serve the customer.

Brett also talked ethics and principles. Although many markets vary in their views of what is right and proper, Brett emphasized principles of doing business that he held fast to regardless of the market he was in.

Brett's summary was that at the end of the day it's all about how you get on with your customers, your colleagues and your community.

James Thomas
Vice President of International Sales, Mate Precision Tooling in Anoka

• New sales channels in Mexico, Eastern Europe and Brazil
• Former President of Colder Products International
• MBA Thunderbird-Garvin School of International Management

Jim took a very pragmatic approach. He himself describes his business as putting holes in pieces of metal. He has built an extensive business around the world and a lot of it is based upon finding the right salespeople for the right market. Jim talked about putting effort into finding good salespeople and setting them up with the right tools. One of Jim's key points was that international business is not one market, it's 135 markets or more. You have to market globally, and sell locally. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the lessons learned that Jim talked about were people lessons.

And then there was me...

Dr. David Farrar
International Business Consultant

• Former head of human resources in Southeast Asia and Global Organization Effectiveness Manager at Cargill.
• Speaker and consulting roles in Australia, Belgium, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and U.S.

This was a really high-powered panel. Each of the previous presenters has built a significant global business and made a real contribution to the local and international business community. Most of my working life has been spent inside organizations. It is only in the last five years that I've worked for myself, built up my own business, and worked on my own behalf with clients here and overseas, although on a much smaller scale than my fellow panelists.

My perspective was a little different, but it had a lot in common with the others. I talked about having to keep an open mind to different ways of doing business, but making sure you stayed true to yourself and your principles. I mentioned some of the tools I have used with my clients, such as the Freedom Scale for understanding how much delegation you can afford to give your international partners, and the Loose/Tight analysis that can help you decide just what principles you need to hold on to and which practices you can afford to let go.

Afterward there were plenty of questions from an enthusiastic audience of sales and marketing professionals, MBA students and budding entrepreneurs. Here's my take on three points I think we all converged on In our answers:

  • Be open to different cultural perspectives
  • Provide value as seen from your customer's point of view
  • Be trustworthy and principled
As we were leaving I noticed something that none of us had commented on, but each of us had taken for granted.

We all talked about getting out there, connecting in person, and building relationships face-to-face. Nothing beats a personal connection, and when you're doing business internationally it's so easy for things to go wrong, and so necessary to have a personal relationship. We all assumed you have to be able to build personal relationships with people. In a modern world full of video conferences, virtual meetings and...blogs...it's nice to think the personal touch is still all important.

Many thanks to Duane Roemmich of Mercuri International, and Roger Hokansen of Predictable Performance for arranging our event, Dileep Rao and the Carlson School of Management for hosting, (check out his book "Bootstrap To Billions"), the audience for their excellent and often challenging questions, and my fellow panelists for their fine contributions.

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