I have been active in business and mostly international business for close onto 25 years. Drifting between intercontinental corporate cultures from Asian to European to businesses in America and I have always between fascinated by why US companies (not the banks but others) generally come up smiling in a macro business culture. It cannot be access to capital as the spread of capital has moved away from the US in the last 25 years. It cannot be superior products as anybody that has driven cars from Japan or used building material from Europe or a pc from China knows that the US hegemony on good quality products is long past. It cannot be the American capacity for risk as a company such as Nokia gambled everything and lost. So examples of risk are a pound a penny. The list goes on and on and it has always been difficult to place my finger on it.
And then as bolts go, they generally accumulate and then suddenly strike…. yes, you guessed it, out of the blue it struck me.
I am in the middle of a massive intercontinental project in the retail space where I am in discussions with producers, manufactures, service providers the whole shebang on 4 continents. And the singular thing that puts the Americans apart is responsiveness. And not just responsiveness but responsiveness with a smile. They make me want to work with them. Even if the Korean products are superior (and the product should sell itself) I always get the feeling that they believe they are doing me a favor. Chasing them to set up a meeting is painful and when they eventually do meet the onus is still on me to just accept that their products are on a different level. And don’t get me started on Europeans, consensus management is seriously hamstringing Europe. Europe has time, the world hasn’t and as long as Europeans are unable to hustle and think on their feet they will come of 2nd or 3rd best.
Americans are altruistic in the share of good vibes. Yes, it might not be genuine and they are making a move or taking advantage but at least I feel good about it. Why? Because they put their consumer dead center and first. Both in the B2B and B2C environment. You as the consumer make them. Asian and European companies are clunky, dogmatic and always assume that obviously the consumer naturally has to come the conclusion that their products and services are superior. Non-American companies believe that they make you. Its a terminal strategy and view on life.
Until the rest of the world understands the fluidity of consumers and the fact that all consumers want to feel part of the process and happy about their choices, American corporations will come out on top.
Make your customers feel good about themselves. Plain and simple.
If you want a crash course on things that corporate Americans think and feel I can highly recommend Tim Sander’s book, Love is the Killer App.