By Blog of Lists - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - 0 Comments
“Every year we see hundreds of pitches, and probably one in 10 is a good business idea, so nine others make no sense for whatever reason,” says Kevin O’Leary, the Dragon’s Den outspoken dragon. “Sometimes you go into the most insane space.”
1. Bottled Intentions: The idea was to sell bottles of water with inspirational words written on them. When O’Leary questioned the sanity of the entrepre- neur making the pitch, she asked him, “Are you suggesting that I’m a nutbar?” “Yes,” O’Leary replied.
By Angelina Chapin - Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Multicultural staff are a boon to companies expanding overseas. Why aren’t Canadian firms catching on?
Paul Beamish hired Gigi Wong because of her answer to a simple question: how would she react if a Chinese businessman belched after his meal? It was a difference in cultural etiquette he’d observed hosting Asian clients and wanted to know how a prospective employee would handle the situation. A Canadian-born job candidate said she’d politely tell the person to stop, but Wong had the correct response. “I would ignore it,” she said. “It’s a sign they are enjoying themselves.”
Thirteen years later she’s still the associate director of Asian management at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. Beamish, director of the Asian Management Institute, was looking for someone to help set up an Ivey School of Business branch in Hong Kong, and a colleague recommended Wong, who had been working at the university registrar’s office for 10 years previously, and before that in Hong Kong as a high school teacher. He needed someone with cultural sensitivity, who could help develop teaching materials for the region, host Asian businesspeople and anticipate challenges that would arise. Wong was the perfect fit—entrepreneurial and culturally savvy.
Beamish says when it comes to expanding internationally, companies often need only look as far as their own staff to find someone with the cultural expertise. “These people are often already in an organization and should be the next incremental hire,” he says. “Too many Canadian companies are so risk-averse they don’t notice.”