And so through these conversations, number one, I improved my readiness, and then the second thing that was really important is the folks that I was going to meet in advance of these meetings. I made sure I crafted emails of introduction. And so we did some fun things and got to know family and perspective and where they’re from and how long they’d been with their respective companies before the meeting took place. So when I landed, in this example I’ll use in in Munich, Germany, I was not meeting people for the very first time, I was talking with colleagues that I developed some level of relationship with, and then it was, it’s so nice to meet you in person, versus just so nice to meet you.
The final thing that I think is really important is I think that politeness is universal. A smile is universal and a thoughtful curiosity of what is appropriate is almost always welcomed. And so being humble and not thinking, you know, all the answers, but really asking questions about what will land well is something that’s really, really important. Especially if you’re working with someone that may be a mid-level manager and executive, and you’re going to present or work with their boss or their boss’s boss. They want to help you be ready because you actually, even if you’re not a part of the same company, you represent their good judgement by them, introducing you in a business construct to their superiors. And so they’re more than willing to help you get ready for those sessions.
So even if the answer is yes or no, in terms of the deal, you want to make sure that you’ve built a relationship that will stay steady and growing for the long-term. Those are a couple of tips that I’ve learned, certainly now, for those of you there’s Google, there’s tutorials, there’s all kinds of cool and different things. Twenty-five years ago, when I first started, I had the old school it, and I really had to be thoughtful and talk to people and prepare and take lots of notes.
One of the things in my business career that was very fortunate to be a part of a team that grew a business, and exited and sold a business. And, uh, one of the firms that I worked with was sold to a company, uh, out of Pune, India. And so there was a lot of interaction throughout the acquisition process, both with legal, with M and A teams, with boards of directors and different things. And it created an environment where I spent quite a bit of time in country, in India. Uh, during the process. And so for me, this was a drastic cultural shift in terms of the difference between the United States and obviously India. And so I had a lot of preparation in terms of going on this trip.
And one of the things that is a blessing to me is the friends that I’ve made even 20 years later, right? The ability to pick up the phone and call folks that we met through these interactions because the people were amazing. Now, as good as the folks were, they had a standard of how business was done in their country, and I was an American entrepreneur. And so they had assumptions about me as an American entrepreneur.
One of the things I had to learn very quickly is that folks in other cultures may nod and you think it’s an affirmative and it may not be, they may say yes, because it is outside of their normal practice to say no to you. That does not mean necessarily agreeing with what you have proposed, and this is a very important distinction as we’re dealing with with folks of other backgrounds and nationalities and ethnicities.
And so one of the things that I had to learn very quickly is that when you have discussions that follow-up documentation of that discussion is very, very important. And then getting people to repeat back to you what they understand as the status and the go forward next steps. So I’ll give you an example. If we’re talking about pricing of software technology. I’ll use that as an example.
And I will say is this price point, is how I would talk, is this acceptable to you and your leadership team? There may be a nod, well that nod doesn’t mean that they’re going to pay the money, it means that they understand what I’ve asked. That’s very different than someone’s agreement to what I proposed. And so I had to understand the difference between understanding of a conversation and that nod of, yes, I, I hear you, I acknowledge what you’re saying, versus agreement.
The other thing that was really important is understanding the hierarchy, the structure. In America. We are more prone to dive into a conversation with our leaders present. In other cultures, there is a very different approach to allowing the leader to set the tone verbally for anything that’s done or said in the meeting. And people will wait patiently to be asked to engage by the leader based on title, based on stature in that room.
And so these are some of the subtleties that I had to learn over time in dealing with business internationally, and it has been an amazing journey for me because it made me realize sometimes how a little bit arrogant we are as Americans, that the way we think about the world is the world. And it made me slow down and create a little bit more humility to learn how others see through their lens, what we’re trying to do and portray.
And then the final thing is that it has broadened me as an individual to be able to work across boundaries, across cultures and be successful, because at the end of the day, we’re all trying to do well in our job. We’re trying to have a boss that appreciates us, and we’re trying to take care of the families that we adore. And there are so many things that bring us together, that the things that make us different create some really nice spices of uniqueness. And my international business work has been a lot of fun.