Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Developing A Global Mindset

The odds are better than 50/50 that kids going to school today will work for a global company.   As such, parents and schools need to work on developing a global mindset from a very young age.  This means studying other languages and being exposed to the world throughout elementary, secondary and university years.   And, if possible, at least in some years, travel to other countries is a great way to expose children and young adults to the world, they will eventually face at work. 

As a former history and government teacher, this CEO Blogger will be a teacher for the rest of my life.   As a result,  we used vacations, not just for fun; but to educate our sons.   We were very fortunate since as a result of my business travel, we always had lots of airline and hotel points, which allowed us to travel for free.   While I had traveled to various cities in the United States by the time I was 20, my first trip to Europe happened the summer I was 20.   Our sons, on the other hand, not only saw many major cities in the United States, by the time they were 18, they had been to Europe several times and one of them to Japan before university graduation.  

Obviously, this is not possible for most families because of the cost, as was the case when I was growing up,  so out of natural curiosity, I turned to book learning and studying various other languages, which provided not only a window to the world; but cultural training and orientation.  Ideally, if I was advising a young kid today, I would suggest getting an undergraduate liberal arts degree to learn about the world, including learning two or three other languages, followed by an international MBA to learn about business.   This is the perfect and necessary education to prepare anyone to work for a global company. 

Those working for a global company today, that did not come into the workforce with this exposure, must fast track the development of a global mindset.   There is no other alternative.   This means business and vacation travel to numerous countries; but it also means using the Internet and some book learning, including studying other languages.   Yes, it is fun to have a beer in a local pub in another country; but that is the tip of the iceberg related to developing a global mindset.  

Understanding the religious, historical, linguistic and cultural heritage of a country is the key to doing business in that country.   That knowledge will not come from just business, or vacation travel.  Developing a Global Mindset involves travel, serious study and interaction with locals.   There really is no other way, if it did not happen early in life.   

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