Guest: Dennis O’Malley
Presenter: Neal Howard
Overview: Dennis O’Malley talks about his company, CALIVA and how they help consumers choose the right Cannabis options.
Bio: Dennis O’Malley is President of Caliva, the largest vertically integrated cannabis company in California. Driven by a passion for enabling people to choose their own health and wellness options, Dennis has launched Caliva into a rapid growth phase, racing to become the #1 trusted brand in cannabis.
Dennis has over a 20 year track record of leadership roles in fast growing companies in emerging markets as well as successfully raising capital from institutional investors and in addition holds multiple technology patents.
Most recently Dennis co-founded and lead a venture backed software company that enabled brands like Red Bull, Nike, Adidas, The North Face, and Reebok to scale their revenue through ambassador marketing programs. The company was sold in 2016 for a 10x revenue multiple.
Neal Howard: Welcome to Talkers.FM Business Radio. I’m your host Neil Howard, glad that you could join us. We here at Talkers.FM Business Radio are about promoting businesses, business information, products and books are just ideas on a worldwide basis and we’re doing that this segment with Mr. Dean Foster. He is a returning guest and he’s joining us to talk about some of the ways that we can succeed in cross-cultural business communications. Welcome to the program Dean, how are you?
Dean Foster: I’m doing well Neal, thank you so much.
Neal: I’m glad that you came back and talked with us. But for those of us who haven’t heard our conversations before, give us just a little brief background about yourself.
Dean: Well, sure. I’ve been involved in providing what we call “cultural consulting and training” for businesses working in other countries. What we do is provide you with the information that you need to know about the culture that you’re going to be working and traveling in so that you can just succeed more quickly and overcome the cultural differences that you will inevitably encounter in your efforts to do business abroad.
Neal: When I hear a news story or see something on TV portraying a company moving all of their operations overseas, in my mind I’m thinking, “Okay, all these cultural differences, those have to be worked out by the higher-ups, the people in the high-level executive positions.” What about the people that are sent out to initially talk to these people, find a factory’s building site or maybe another distributor. How is it that these communications are going to be successful when maybe you don’t speak the language or have a very rudimentary understanding of the language and the culture?
Dean: Well in fact, the statistics aren’t encouraging. Those who don’t manage the cultural differences usually don’t succeed and it can be very painful and very expensive adventure for the company and for the individuals. On the other hand, it doesn’t take a lot to become sensitive to the cultural differences, and to learn about them, and to succeed with them and then once you work with them because after all, you’re not being paid to change a culture, you’re being paid to work successfully with it. And once you understand it and then manage those cultural differences, they can accelerate your success dramatically. Then you have the upper hand against competition that may not know these cultural differences. So it becomes really the critical tipping point for success when working in other cultures. You know, most people have their job because they are experts at what they do. And interestingly, the people who are sent abroad to do the work to find the factory to build the plant, to get the talent that the company needs, to create a market in another country. These are the folks who really know their job. They’ve got the expertise and the technical skills to do the work but oftentimes what they’re missing is the cultural skills. And so this requires training and this requires information but once provided, that gives you the upper hand, that’s the tipping point for success. So everybody’s got to develop these soft cultural skills when working globally and everyone is working globally in the 21st century.
Neal: In your experience, what are the differences in the real or perceived learning curve dealing in business abroad? Are people culturally more forgiving as Americans try to learn the nuances? Are we as Americans forgiving as those coming over here to do business try to learn our ways and we’ve got different gestures, different handshakes, even a head nod can mean a totally different thing?
Dean: And I think the very first thing is adjust your attitude when you cross the latitudes. In other words, you can’t expect people to understand everything that you intend because the way they see the world is going to be different and you can’t expect yourself to understand what their meaning, and saying and doing unless you investigate their culture. So go with some humility and I would say respectfully and humbly ask a lot of questions, “What did you mean by that? What does it mean when somebody does this? Why did you walk up to me and give me a kiss, we don’t even know each other?” I think if you ask humbly and respectfully, people will appreciate your interest in their culture and my experience is that they are very open and most people love to talk to you about their culture, “Why is it that you do this?” You will always get a response that will be clarifying and helpful in most cases and that enables you to also build the all-important relationship that’s going to be critical to your success. People love to talk about their culture, so ask questions. And when people comment about your culture and probably are saying things that are misinformed because after all most people, if they haven’t traveled to the U.S., they probably don’t know much about it other than what they’ve seen on TV. If they say something that’s not quite right. then be a teacher and say something like, “Well, that’s true.” Isn the U.S., some people are like that but also, it’s a little bit more complicated and other people are like this. So be a student when it comes to their culture, be a teacher when it comes to yours and you’ll build that all-important relationship that will carry you through.
Neal: What about the pressure of being successful in your business communications from the introduction to the closing of the deal and the lack of pressure say, if you’re visiting that culture on vacation or maybe, some pleasurable event before the actual business, do you think that maybe learning the culture without the pressure beforehand is maybe a little tip or something, I don’t know?
Dean: Yes, it’s very important. I think you’re making a very important point. The more you know, before you go, the better it’s going to be. In many cases it’s, not what you do once you get there but it’s actually what you’ve done beforehand in preparation that will enable you to succeed once you get there. Once you’re there on business, are you meeting with the right people or should you have spent time making sure that you’re actually meeting with the decision-makers? Did you build a relationship with people so that they feel comfortable with you before you get off the plane or are you meeting people cold? A lot of times, the greatest success will come with better preparation. And if you’re just traveling and touring as a casual tourist knowing, this ahead of time is also going to make your trip that much richer and and much deeper experience for you. You’ll get out of the tourist bubble, you’ll be able to talk with people more comfortably. And remember, many people are using a form of global English. So English or the lack of, isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be? Remember, when they do use English they’ve also were pathway to meet you, how well have you worked halfway did speak their language? So people are already making the accommodation before the English speaking American. It’s the fairest thing to do is to try to accommodate to learn about their culture before you step onto the plane.
Neal: It’s a very, very big topic but I’d like you to suggest one of your books. You’re the author of several books on world, cultures, travel and business. Offer a book that can tell us about that all-important email that lots of businesses conducted for years cross-culturally all via email. Talk about the importance of understanding email cross-culturally as that relates to business?
Dean: Well, we spend a good bit of time in my book, “Bargaining Across Borders” discussing long-distance communications and of course, email is one of them. When a U.S. American has a business opportunity with another U.S. American, we can just shoot off an email to them whether we know each other or not and if there’s some opportunity in this for both of us, we can start a business negotiation. But sending an email to someone who’s unknown in another country and another culture has lots of built-in challenges. In many cultures I need to know who you are and they need to trust you as an individual before I’ll even respond to an email. If it’s an email from someone I don’t know who I haven’t been introduced to, then even if there’s a good business opportunity in this, it’s likely that in these cultures, you won’t even get a response. So how you send your email, who you send it to is critically important. Whether you spend time in your email on the relationship side of things not just the business deal and the terms is also important. In many cultures, we need to use email and virtual communication as an extension of our relationship. So you don’t just ask, “What do you think of my proposal?” But rather you ask about the family and you ask about how they’re doing and you ask about when they’re next coming to visit you in the United States. You want to spend a little bit of time in your email talking about your personal relationship with each other. How you manage Global English in your email is important because if you’re using English as the language of communication and in business, it often is, then you have to be careful about the English that you use when people are reading your email who are not English speakers. You want to be sure not to use too many sports terms, or acronyms or abbreviations that may not be understood. In the U.S., we speak a lot of what we call “Baseball English” like “give me a homerun on this one step up to the plate, I’ll touch base with you in the morning,” the list goes on. In countries where we don’t play baseball and where we don’t speak English, people are not going to know what you’re talking about. And they may not ask you because that make them look like they don’t know what they should know. So you have to become responsible for not using these terms in your emails. And there are just little things that you want to watch out for like Americans assume that when you send an email to someone. I’ll get an acknowledgement that it was received. But in many cultures, I don’t acknowledge that it’s been received until I have something substantive to respond to you with. So all these little things can be different culture by culture and it’s very important to manage these differences.
Neal: Now again, give us the title of that book that discusses successful emails abroad and tell us where we can get it online?
Dean: Well, my book is “Bargaining Across Borders” and we spend a good bit of time talking about virtual communications, long-distance communications, emails included. And any of my books, you can get at my website which is deanfosterglobal.com.
Neal: Dean, always a pleasure and I’m looking forward to talking with you again. Thanks for coming back.
Dean: Neal, anytime. My pleasure.
Neal: If you’ve missed our conversation, I’ve been talking with Mr. Dean Foster here on Talkers.FM. You can hear this broadcast again here on our platform at Talkers.FM. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and listen in on SoundCloud.