February 5, 1996

Making Evaluation

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A few years ago I participated in a two-week research trip around the world. We stopped in a dozen countries exploring a new business idea. To prepare, one of my partners read up on the places we would be visiting. The most obvious challenge was going to be the language and communication barrier. Can you imaging trying to learn enough languages to travel the globe? It’s nearly impossible.

My friend, however, found that there are a few common elements of communication in almost all languages. For instance, the hand gestures for stop and go don’t seem to vary much. I’m not sure how much good those did us, but hey, at least we knew them!

This quandary got us thinking. There really aren’t too many universal elements of communication. But one that works almost everywhere: A smile. That’s right, a good, old-fashioned smile breaks the ice as easily in Africa as it does in Ireland as it does on the street on which you live.

So we tried it. We smiled a lot. And it worked like a charm. It was the ultimate universal traveling accessory.

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