Lost In Translation?

Does it pay to be multi-cultural?

Source: Snopes.com

Last week the world went gaga when Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, conducted a Q&A session in Mandarin Chinese when he was at a university in Beijing. Zuckerberg’s fluency in Mandarin is striking, but he had a personal motivation as well: he had reportedly asked his fiancé’s parents for their blessing in their native tongue two years before.

It’s a positive sign when the CEOs of global franchises learn the languages of their markets. Coca-cola scored a win in China when they transliterated their trademark into characters that mean “makes mouth happy.” The size and scope of America’s marketplace can become a hindrance when it allows our corporate chieftains to be insular.

And it’s not enough to learn a language. Culture is crucial. Different cultures have different systems for learning, different means of showing respect, different ways of coming to a decision. If you’re trying to make a point in another country and you don’t understand how people there think, you may say something entirely different from what you intend. Such misunderstanding can lead to some comical errors.

When asked why he learned Chinese, Zuckerberg said he likes challenges. That’s for sure. Maybe that’s why the 30-year old is running a $200 billion company.


Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Phone: 603-224-1350
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By | 2017-07-17T12:23:14+00:00 October 31st, 2014|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. –
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!
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