International cat herding

For some, cat herding is a national pastime. I try to avoid it.

I shy away from anything that requires direction for a large number of people. I admire people who specialize in “managing departments," “organizing volunteers” or even “shepherding passengers on to aircraft.”

I was able to run multiple businesses at one time, but put my two children in a room with me and I developed a remarkable admiration for my wife’s skills.

That is probably why I feel so out of place here in the Philippines.

For a start, there are a lot of people – all running, driving or riding around without any particular sense of direction or lane management.

The air is more congested that the roads as I cough and splutter my way through a morning jog.

The streets of Cebu are rarely quiet, but they certainly come alive at 7 a.m.

Honking horns appear to be some kind of ritual heralding and then serenading the sun on its daily visits to this bustling town that has a hard time deciding if it is a business centre, impoverished community or tourist destination.

For me, at least on this trip, it is a business centre. It is a place that I have come to train some staff.

Hence, the herding cats reference,

Filipinos are wonderful people, happy, smiling and very polite. But the politeness has been getting us in trouble.

Not unlike Canadian’s prolific desire to apologize, the Philippine people prefer to use the phrase “Yes, sir.”

So if you ask them, do they understand, they will respond “Yes, sir,” which really means, “I have no clue what you want.”

It is not a big problem until you get to the end of the work day or work week and find out that not much has been done from a productive standpoint.

Desperately searching to find a quick fix so I didn’t find myself trying to step on cat’s tails all day long, I honed in on the most delightful trait of the Filipinos.

So my first lesson to our team here was to be less polite. Kind of like asking a Canadian not to apologize.

Lo and behold, there was less cat herding to do. Fewer mistakes to clear up. Less chasing around for the real information.

The lesson was all about communication in the end. One of the most serious challenges in business is learning to communicate.

In international business, that revolves around understanding other cultures.

Thank goodness Canada is multi-cultural because without that background, I would have been calling my wife for help.


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About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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