Reflections on Speaking in Turkey

With a history dating back thousands of years, Turkeys business culture is based on layers of politics, pathos, and practice reinforced over its 2000 years as the crossroads between three continents. Doing business in Turkey is highly sophisticated and not for the uninitiated, as it is a very small community with tightly defined circles of influence. I did learn that:

  • Turkey has just completed its 4th year of political and economic stability and its international competitive index has improved to 59 from 79 out of 200 countries.
  • Having survived crippling earthquakes, currency devaluations, and endless delays towards joining the European Economic Union, Turkey has an insecurity complex and negative stereotypes to overcome. Unfortunately I was reminded of my home town of Cleveland, Ohio which has not endured such hardships but carries similar baggage.
  • Middle market Turkish companies, beyond Mom and Pop businesses are a minority in a country dominated by government, large holding companies, and multinational businesses. This was important to me as $1-100 companies bolster any countrys middle class and comprise my target market.
  • Speaking to and connecting with a bilingual crowd was a real challenge, especially as I read my introduction in Turkish and then attempted to engage a Turkish audience in English that was translated real time into Turkish.
  • The hospitality and curiosity afforded a semi-native son (my father is a naturalized American who brought us to live in Turkey while he ran Pan Am) is endless, but doing business takes a longer-term commitment.

If I have a Thanksgiving lesson blessing this year, it is that of adding one more fantastic experience to my blessed life. I would like to thank the KalDer Association and their Vice President of Marketing, Samih Yedievli for their gracious hospitality.

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