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    By Mark McCrum.

    Profile Books
    As the world gets smaller, cultures will inevitably clash or mash. Ultimately, the cultural intricacies at play could mean the difference between securing that million-dollar deal and eating humble business pie (or sushi, or bratwurst, or curry, etc.).

    In his new book, Going Dutch in Beijing, Mark McCrum identifies the most common cultural faux pas faced by business people or travellers alike throughout the world.

    The book takes an ordered approach to handling new cultural interactions. Beginning with correct meeting and greeting procedures, the book moves through every step involved during the creation of new relationships. These range from meetings, dinners, what to wear, whom to speak to and how to address different people, to marriage rites and dealing with illness and death.

    Interestingly, it also looks at the different interpretations for common hand signals and signs. Such as the Aussie favourite “thumbs up”, which, in most Westernised countries, means “good on ya mate” or something similar. However, produce the same sign in Sardinia and you are literally telling the recipient to “sit on this”.

    Going Dutch in Beijing takes a light-hearted approach to what can be a serious topic with major business or travelling implications. The book mixes interesting facts and comical situations with vital information that should be adhered to by travellers and businessmen/women alike.

    Usefully, it differentiates between cultural standards for the social or business trip and also provides translations for common phrases that should and, more importantly, should not be repeated.

    Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, or you plan to do so in the future, Going Dutch in Beijing is both a tool for avoiding international egg on you face and a good read to whet your travelling whiskers.


    By Michael Gates Gill.
    Random House

    There are some books that creep up on you, catching you at vulnerable moment, before sucking you in. This is one of them.

    How Starbucks Saved My Life is not a tome dedicated to the success of the world’s most frequented coffee chain. Rather, it is a heartfelt journey through the life of author Michael Gates Gill and the life-changing experiences that accompanied his fall from big-shot status in the higher echelons of the US advertising industry to Barista, sweeper and toilet cleaner in the less glamorous world of franchised coffee.

    At Anthill, we’re fortunate enough to be sent business books for free. It sounds great but, sadly, the vast majority are rubbish. Why is it that business authors usually can’t educate and entertain? It’s invariably one or the other. In this instance, if I am to be honest, I never intended to read How Starbucks Saved My Life. The title put me off. So, it was with delight that this book fell into my lap, caught me on the first page and sent me headlong, at first reluctantly, into a story peppered with interesting anecdotes about Gill’s childhood in New York, his former successes as an advertising executive and, finally, his transformation from a person with ingrained prejudices to a humbler, happier person.

    Every good story requires a journey (physical, emotional or meta-physical). This book is no different. Pick up How Starbucks Saved My Life and grab a cup of Joe if you think a bit of self-reflection might be on the cards. What better way to start the new year.