Today’s Cross-Cultural Interview is with Bill Ward. You can also find him on Twitter: @DR4WARD.
The transcript of the Twitter Interview is below.
Bill teaches integrated marketing communications and 360 degree branding in the College of Business at Ferris State University. What I noticed most about Bill is how active he is in bringing the international dimension of social media with his students.
I’ve had some great international marketing insights from following @DR4WARD and hope you will enjoy hearing more about Bill as much as I know I will.
This is a 2 part interview:
- Part 1 – The Blog Interview to get to know Bill
- Part 2 – The Twitter Interview where Bill answers 10 Cross-Cultural & International Questions
Bill Ward – Part 1
Here is the first part of the interview with Bill.
Bill, For those who don’t know you, can you please tell us something about yourself?
Bill Ward: I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Michigan, but I have also lived in New York and Colorado. Though I’ve never spent enough time abroad to consider that I’ve lived abroad I have taken over 200 students on study away programs throughout Italy and France for up to two months at a time. Some of my other experiences abroad have been spent teaching international marketing to Chinese students in China, and as a delegate to the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for a number of years. I have also been on a number of trips to Europe visiting friends and family, so I’ve been able to experience the culture from the more intimate setting in family homes.
I admire those who speak multiple languages, however, as a product of an American educational system that did not stress learning multiple languages I didn’t learn the value until later on. As yet, I am unable to claim speaking more than conversational Italian and polite greetings in French, Chinese and Spanish. Luckily, I have found that most of the people who I’ve encountered on these travels have been willing to work with my minimal language skills when I present myself as respectful and try to communicate in the local language, even if I fall far short.
The greatest skill that I’ve discovered while traveling abroad is the ability to laugh at myself while learning from my gaffes. I enjoy learning about all cultures but feel particularly close to the French and Italian cultures and their passion for life. When I am not teaching I enjoy riding motorcycles or snowmobiles depending on the season and also being in, on, and around the water as much as possible
How did you pick up your cross-cultural skills?
Bill Ward: I am curious by nature and have learned to spend time observing locals to understand about how best to conduct myself. I like to understand the similarities and differences between cultures. The more I learn the more I realize how little I know which helps me stay observant.
How do you use your cross-cultural skills in your job?
Bill Ward: Experience has taught me that there are many ways to reach the same end. When I bring students abroad I try to prepare them for a cross-cultural experience and encourage them to understand that they will have to learn things through their own experience and missteps. Sometimes, the best way to learn is first-hand.
Can you tell us about your blog and what you do online?
Bill Ward: I named my blog DR4WARD because when I searched online I found that there are more popular and famous people who I share my name with, for example the drummer for Black Sabbath. Once I realized I could not own my name on the search engines I decided to add my credentials to my 4Ward (“Forward”) philosophy of trying to look ahead and figure out what’s next, creating DR4WARD. I discuss topics related to 360 degree branding like marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media. I also share activities of my students, classes, and travels.
Is there anything new about your blog you would like to share?
Bill Ward: I am finding that more and more of my time learning, sharing, and creating is happening on micro-blogs like Twitter and sites like Posterous that help aggregate & link the ever growing network of social systems / life streams and media. These tools provide more opportunities than ever to connect with and learn from people all over the world so it is an exciting time for cross-cultural networking and learning.
Can you give us some deeper insights about yourself regarding your cross-cultural background?
Bill Ward: I remember watching James Bond movies as a child and being fascinated by all the exotic locations of his globe trotting adventures. There are so many places I have not been. India, Brazil, and Turkey are all places I would like to visit because they look like there is an interesting mix of the modern and the old.
The greatest insight that I could provide for those who are traveling abroad for the first time or the hundredth time is to be comfortable being a little uncomfortable. Traveling abroad is generally very safe and exciting, but still understand that the same risks exist abroad that exist anywhere. A little preparation will carry you a long way.
Have you come across any cultural stereotypes that bother you, or you find inappropriate?
Bill Ward: People who repeat cultural stereotypes that have never spent any time in the culture and who have no first hand experience with any individuals from that culture drive me crazy! Too many cultural stereotypes are based on comparing other cultures to our own and making incorrect conclusions. These misunderstandings are too often repeated by those too lazy or too afraid to try to understand why another culture does things differently.
One stereotype I hate is the rude French waiter. Someone from the U.S. not understanding French culture believes the waiter to be providing poor service citing slow service and infrequent contact. Someone understanding French culture will value the opportunity to enjoy the food & company and the unobtrusive service provided by the same waiter.
Do you have a favorite movie that could help people understand cultural issues?
Bill Ward: My two favorite movies for understanding culture issues are Lost in Translation and L’auberge espagnole (The Spanish Apartment).
Lost in Translation, with Bill Murray, reminds me of my first experience traveling abroad. I was supposed to travel with a friend but ended up traveling alone instead. Lost in Translation reminds me that you do not understand cultural issues by looking out a window, but by experiencing culture first hand in the streets.
L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) can help people understand cultural issues by watching what happens when a cast of characters from different cultures all over Europe end up together in a culture they are not a familiar with and learn together. (A must see for any person studying or traveling abroad)
Part 2 – The Twitter Interview
@DR4WARD: Culture is a way of life. The shared beliefs, attitudes&values of a group that are passed on, often without thought
@CindyKing: “often without thought”… I like this Now, let’s make it harder – “Culture is…” in one word only
@DR4WARD: Culture is communication
@CindyKing: “Culture is communication” a great one!
Along the same lines – Can you finish the sentence “International business is…”
@DR4WARD: International business is challenging and fun….also transactions between two or more countries.
@CindyKing: What is the one tip you would give people to improve their cross-cultural skills?
@DR4WARD: One tip to improve cross-cultural skills is understand your own values&attitudes 1st so you can compare& contrast
@CindyKing: I think this is the most important tip for most people
What one bit of advice would you give people interested in international business?
@DR4WARD: One bit of advice to people in international business is be prepared to make mistakes so don’t forget to have fun
@CindyKing: It’s true, mistakes and glitches always happen in international business and the right attitiude helps you
With your experience what tip would you give to people interested in going abroad?
@DR4WARD: A tip to people moving abroad is learn polite terms & greetings in host country & don’t be afraid to use them.
@CindyKing: 4 more questions before I let you go…
What is your favorite website for international or cross-cultural inspiration? …anything at all.
@DR4WARD: My favorite cross-cultural website is http://globaledge.msu.edu/ Great source for global business + culture
@CindyKing: Ahhh… http://globaledge.msu.edu/ is a favorite for many of us interested in improving communication across cultures
Can you suggest one other cross-cultural person to follow on Twitter?
@DR4WARD: One cross-cultural person to follow is @CultureShocks Elliot Polak shares great cultural insights & case studies
@CindyKing: Oh… thanks for sharing @CultureShocks – I don’t know Elliot and am looking forward to following him
@DR4WARD: I like your list of international people to follow on Twitter. http://cindyking.biz/resources/twitter/
@CindyKing: Thanks Bill – I’m always adding to the list http://cindyking.biz/resources/twitter/
And finally, are there any categories of international or cross-cultural people you would be interested in meeting?
@DR4WARD: I would like to meet global biz people who want to help students learn about cross-culture & share case studies
@CindyKing: OK, I’ll put the word out, I sometimes run into people involved in the studying abroad sector
That wraps up our Twitter Interview. Thanks so much for your time Bill and…
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and invite everyone to read the full interview on http://bit.ly/12PxWA
And I also like to invite you to continue the conversations on www.internationalbusinessideas.com.
@DR4WARD: Merci Beaucoup. It has been a pleasure. I appreciate the cross-culture & international resources & networks you share
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: International Social Media
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