Now is the time for pundits and experts of all kinds to try out their fortunetelling skills and make predictions about the year ahead. And now I’m jumping into the fortune- telling tent myself. So, from an interculturalist’s perspective, who is also involved in global business, here are some of my thoughts:
In Hebrew, the alphanumeric equivalent of 18 (for 2018) is Chai, which means “life” OF CHAI] and clearly implies a good life! Interestingly the Hebrew Chai symbol resembles the Chinese symbol for Prosperity. So, let’s assume that we’re looking at a pretty good year, full of life and prosperity. If that’s not enough to make you feel optimistic, what else can we expect in 2018?
From an American business perspective, 2018 promises to be an exceptionally good year! Business is booming; the stock market is soaring, and Christmas sales figures have shown that there’s a great deal of optimism in the marketplace. From a British and European perspective, there’s a lot to wonder about: What impact will Brexit have on the UK and EU, and how will it ripple through those economies?
American President Donald Trump threw down that gauntlet when he began talking about America “winning.” While I know that kind of win/lose competitive statement may upset lots of people, I believe that it can be a catalyst for collaboration.
Let’s quickly examine the cultural aspects.
Being competitive affects people from different cultures differently, and for lots of us, being competitive is clearly uncomfortable. Some cultures look to create harmonious, collaborative environments while others encourage colleagues to compete so that everyone performs better. But let me point out that in today’s world, you can’t win without collaborating and cooperating and that means collaborating across cultures and around the world. In that way, we all win.
As an indication, I found French president Macron’s New Year’s speech to be quite encouraging. Clearly he feels France and the EU are ready to compete, with strength and energy, and I think he’s on to something. We’re coming off a very long period of economic stagnation, and he realizes--as do lots of other world leaders--that under 1.6% growth is not a tolerable situation, certainly not one that will ever enable the western economies to repay the enormous national debts they’ve piled up.
Look around. There are signs of global business competition bubbling up in lots of places and that’s great for the global economy because despite the nationalistic fervor, there’s no way to win in our intertwined marketplace without global cooperation as well.
So I’m expecting an interesting competition in the global business world that will benefit and expand many national economies, and that’s great.
Maybe good life and good fortune will come to us in 2018.