Mind Your Business: Business Around The World
You can have lots of great meetings in offices, but it's during dinner and drinks where most deals are made. You get to know someone better over dinner and drinks than you do in a 15-minute meeting and people work with people they know.
Business deals are often done in expensive restaurants. Personally, I prefer to eat in family-run joints, but that's not where the deals are made.
The biggest differences I have seen in how business is done are in China. For instance, when you accept a business card in China (and in most of Asia), you should accept it with both hands, and look at it. Business cards are held in high regard in the East. If you just grab it and stuff it in your pocket, you're saying that you don't care much for that person.
The Chinese put on a great show, but they don't like criticism in public. I ran into this during a show-and-tell session with several Chinese animation studios presenting their work. I started giving notes in an open forum and the room got very quiet. Unnaturally quiet, kind of like when a 5-year-old is the center of attention at their parent's party and that toddler suddenly tells his parents to go F… themselves. I felt like that 5-year-old. I asked the producers if they would like to step into another private room to discuss their show. I gave very direct notes in private, and they listened intently. They thanked me for my honesty for the next two days.
All business meetings in China entail drinking. A lot of it: regardless of the time of day. Every time we were in a meeting, at a lunch, at a dinner, or at an event, there were toasts. Our hosts would go from table to table making toasts. (The trouble is that we had 20 or more hosts and they each came to our tables alone. That's a lot of toasts) Toasts in China are made either with half-to-full glasses of wine or with small rice wine shot glasses (104 proof). Each toast entails draining your glass and displaying the empty glass to everyone at your table.
Drunken-ness ensues for them and a lot of pressure on me to drink more than just water.
Feature animation producer Max Howard told me he also doesn't drink, so we were sober buddies. He was slicker than I was, though. Max would fill his rice wine glass with water so he could participate in the toasts without keeling over.
Mexicans are very casual. So casual that it's sometimes hard to get crews to show up on time. However, when they do finally show up, their attitudes are great and they work hard.
I have found the execs in Mexico to be very bold and direct, and they like it when you are too. The more open and direct you are, the more they like it.
After work, they like to go out and drink, both in nice restaurants and in tiny family joints. However, I saw less per-capita consumption in Mexico than anywhere else.
There are also some similarities in doing business in most cultures.