By Frederick Andresen
Author of Walking on Ice, An American Businessman in Russia
“Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems to be marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.” Alexis de Tocqueville had it right in 1831 about America and Russia. And his perspective is right today. How does the United States interact with its closest neighbor next to Canada and Mexico? Many Americans have worked hard at this. Some have failed and others have succeeded. Based on one of those successes, this nine-part series focuses on the issues and practices that make success happen in Russia today.
Part 9: Five P’s for success
Is there a secret for success in Russia? Not really. Of course, there are no secrets to success in Russia, Japan, China or anywhere else. Everyone has his different experience and his own road to walk. Progress has to be built on a basis of personal trust and honest relationships. However, if I have to list my guiding principles, here are five “Ps” that make the point:
Patience: Things take time. Russia, like many cultures, is a thousand years old. Things will not work out always to your schedule. It is an Asian, not a Western country. Patience pays off.
Perseverance: According to some dictionaries, perseverance is “persistence toward a worthy goal.” By itself, persistence may be like knocking your head against the wall, when the solution may be to go around it. Keep the goal in your sights, but be prepared for an unplanned course to reach it.
Perspicacity: It’s about understanding and discernment. It may require you to not accept what is said, but to understand what is meant. You may be surprised.
Professionalism: So important. Character and standards must be clear and consistent. Know your business and be open to the thoughts and solutions of others. Russians are resourceful. Give them opportunity to make their point.
Perspiration: There are no 40-hour weeks in Russia, not from my experience. Set a standard. Work hard. And enjoy it.
But these secrets are nothing new. They are simple, and no different from what works anywhere else. Some foreigners seem to forget that in Russia. Where they think they can take short cuts and slip around the proven rules of the road, they learn they have to try harder.
>> Read Part 1: Three Sides of the Coin
>> Read Part 2: Walking on Ice
>> Read Part 3: Quest for Global Status
>> Read Part 4: The Burden of ‘Yes’
>> Read Part 5: Tollgates, Not Roadblocks
>> Read Part 6: The Rule of Thumbs
>> Read Part 7: Deciphering the Culture
>> Read Part 8: Power of Human Capital
Title: Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia
Author: Frederick R. Andresen, a 1958 graduate of Thunderbird School of Global Management, specializes in general business management, marketing, entrepreneurship and relationship building in Russia and other emerging markets.
Endorsement: This book “is mandatory reading for all who contemplate a tour of duty whether government or business in Russia or who have worked there … it brings back memories and reality. With insight, understanding, and a rare degree of humor, Fred Andresen tells us about working with the Russians,” Richard Weden, general director, American Express Russia, 1995 to 2004.
Publisher: Outskirts Press (September 2007)