My Big, Embarrassing Business Blunder

Hey everyone!

Two weeks ago I gave you a peek into my adventures in Hong Kong. With my first time being a featured speaker internationally, a whole new list of things to worry about came with it. Especially after messing up so royally the first time I traveled abroad for business. You’ll get a laugh out of this one…

I was still in my finance career on my first trip to Japan where I was representing the CEO of the bank. I knew of the bow as a greeting practice. What I didn’t know was the depth of the bow was according to your rank. Apparently, my rank was the highest and when I bowed slightly lower, the man returned with an even deeper bow. Not knowing when this reciprocating bowing ended, I bowed again as deep. Standing at 4’10”, the poor man was on his knees trying to bow deeper than me while my colleague was in hysterics watching the exchange.

Just as I think you should do your research before meeting an acquaintance to ensure a that a better relationship will be built, I also think that you should research the culture you are about to visit and become a part of before you go! I learned my lesson and fortunately didn’t make the same mistakes when I went to Hong Kong.

Here are my top 5 moments from that trip…​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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1. The man who hired me for the conference took me and my family on a tour of Hong Kong that tourists don’t normally get a chance to see! One of my favorite things about travel is immersing myself in different cultures and connecting to new places without having to be just a ‘tourist’. Thank you Francis for that amazing experience! ​​​​​​​

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2. My friends and family had a good laugh when I was called a ‘Guru Speaker’. What I didn’t learn until I was there, though, is that I was the first female Guru in the 5-year history of the conference! That’s me at the top of the page! Talk about a proud moment. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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3. Going into the conference, I was so nervous about speaking to a huge crowd because I rely on connecting and interacting with the audience. The best lesson for me is that I can walk in heels, get off the stage, and still connect with the audience despite my size. Good to know that even with a large audience, you can still create connection and interaction. ​​​​​​

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4. Right before I went on, my youngest son, who was 8-years-old at the time, said, “You’re going to be awesome, Mommy!” I then shared that story in my talk when explaining different types of productive energy. Adding fuel to the fire can sound like not such a great idea, but in this situation, he set off fireworks.

5. The concept of relationships is international – I was worried about the audience being able to internationally connect with my message. Will my humor translate? Did I wear the wrong color? It’s important to understand the cultural norms of a location that you’re in, but then you still have to bring you if you want to connect.

My trip to Hong Kong was a wonderful experience. I got an amazing view into a beautiful culture where, instead of giving me a gift, they made a donation in my name – very cool!

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Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What were the Top 5 Moments of your visit?

Michelle

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