Making Friends and Doing Business – Why You Need a Culture Pilot #43

Making Friends and Doing Business – Why You Need a Culture Pilot with Jan de Haldevang #43

It’s so easy to get it wrong, especially in far-flung foreign lands. I’ve done it all in my time – dressed wrong, failed to bow to the right people, and as for saying the wrong things – well, the expression “open mouth, put foot in it” was probably invented for me.

I’ve arrived 5 minutes early for a presentation in Japan, only to learn afterwards that I should have been at least 15 minutes early, if only just to be shown which seat to sit in. One doesn’t really get an audience reaction in business meetings in Japan – but in this case, the displeasure clearly showed.

Even in North America I’ve been castigated – perhaps not too badly, for turning up with a tie to a company with a casual dress code, and without a tie to a very formal one.

Of course, sometimes the advice is exaggerated or wrong. Before my first business trip to China, I was begged to shave off my beard as I was told nobody would respect or listen to me – I refused, and it turned out that it didn’t matter at all, at least not with the people I met, as the business was successful.

Nevertheless, I’m still glad that I had that discussion. And I’ve learnt the hard way the value of learning about other cultures, especially their attitudes to business and personal relationships, before going to a country for the first time.

It’s important everywhere, but a good example of a region that’s difficult for us westerners is the Middle East.  In this podcast, I’m talking with Jan de Haldevang, self-styled as an International Culture Pilot – in other words, guiding people to developing good, happy, successful and lasting business relationships. I was fascinated by what he had to say, and think you will be too.

Jan’s a really interesting person. He was born in Arabia and travelled all his life; he’s fluent in Arabic and German as well as English. He was a soldier in Iraq, Oman, Northern Ireland and Cyprus, before becoming a professional sales and marketing executive for some major companies, specialising in Middle Eastern markets. Now, as Senior Partner of International Culture Pilot, he and his team are helping others adapt culturally to the markets they want to work in – learning how to communicate successfully and in a culturally aware way.

Take a listen – wherever in the world you’re headed, Jan’s got some really useful insights to share with us.

For more information and to get in touch with Jan de Haldevang:

Contact details and Links

You can find out more about International Culture Pilot at

Jan’s LinkedIn profile is at


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