Tempting Cultural Training–It’s Good For You

Remember seeing those ads while in college, “Teach English in a foreign country?” They sounded so tempting. However, they became less tempting as time went on. But you did notice that it seemed the neat thing to do at the time.

And it was. When you’re 25.

No amount of preparation is going to help unless you are 25 and have no fear of the world. When I was in my mid-thirties (and I consider myself pretty fearless), I was offered a job by a Japanese company that sold Western Culture to the big companies. For the younger employees you might say they taught English, but everyone was learning English in school then. So as a corporate employee went up the ladder so did I, his level of assistance was more appropriate owing to his station in life.What this company was offering was native speakers to help employees smooth out their dealings with native speakers of the same language.

Here was my bright idea. I’d do this for a time–all the while researching via dialogue doing business in Japan. I would write a book, or at least a long article. Instead, I found myself culture shocked and couldn’t wait to get to the comfort of my own culture.

This memory was sparked by seeing a critically acclaimed film, Lost in Translation. Of course the film’s morass was deeper than my own, but when it happens to you, it couldn’t be much worse. I had studied the culture for nine months, and when I got to the airport, I struggled to use the telephone to call my boss.

Think of this every time you have a foreign student or trainee. The older you get, the harder it hits you. Try to incorporate some of their culture if you can do so unobtrusively. Lost in Translation has special meaning to me now. Don’t get so angry at older people who don’t adapt so easily. That could be you some day. I never did write the book, but I did learn something valuable. We are more adventurous when we are young. You can call it reckless, but it’s really a form of courage.

My book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development, has some interesting ideas you may totally disagree with today but not tomorrow. I’m told it is a different take on the world of training and development. For a piddling investment, you could have a few extra ideas.

My novel, IN MAKR’S SHADOW–another creative side of me speaks–will be available this year. You’ve heard of Steve Martin’s film, “The Man with Two Brains?” I may be the man with two right brains…if you agree with that theory. MAKR is all about what happens when people stop talking to each other and let their devices control what the world becomes based on facts, proven and tested. By the way, the world is doomed. At first a fantasy, then doomed? That’s a “visceral” question if I ever heard one. Better check it out, too, before it is too late.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

This is a great line, Jack:

“I never did write the book, but I did learn something valuable. We are more adventurous when we are young. You can call it reckless, but it’s really a form of courage.”

What I was thinking as a follow on statement – “…and it might seem reckless to trust the people who’ve gone before you and gathered valuable experience, but that kind of trust is also an act of courage – the courage to admit that you don’t know everything and have much more to learn.”

Stephen Peteritas

I’m right there with Jack. I often fantasize about working abroad for some random company and picking up a different perspective on life.