Friday, 28 October 2005

Newsletter Issue 104, October 2005

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 104, October 2005
Hi guys,
How well would you cope with a multicultural workforce? Get some ideas from Multicultural Communications Tips below.
If you are stuck on Finding Your USP, here are a few simple steps to help. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Multicultural Communication Tips

In the US according to the 2000 census, only 82% of the population has English as their first language, 11% have Spanish, 4% Indo-European, 3% Asian / Pacific Island.
In 2001 in New Zealand, 70% of our population was European, 8% was Maori, 6% was Asian and 4% was Pacific Islander. The remaining 12% was unspecified or 'mixed'.
While mindful that European is not necessarily synonymous with 'English', we have pretty homogenous origins in Kiwiland, with only 10% of New Zealand's population not having English as their first language.
Not only do global trends suggest that this percentage will rise in the coming years, but we have very low unemployment in New Zealand (3.9% nationally, 2% in Nelson). As one in ten of us does not have English as a first language, employers who are short of employees may be best advised to put strategies in place so that they can work well with non-English speakers.
Robert Rosen, American author of "Partnering, the New Face of Leadership", feels that to thrive, businesses "must develop a multicultural perspective, an international knowledge base and a global imagination—in other words, cultural literacy”.
An interesting phrase, cultural literacy. It conveys the flavour of learning the basics in cross-ethnic communications. And we must communicate to effectively get the message across to all our team members, excluding no one, and offending no one through unintended cultural gaffes.
So how can you grow in cultural literacy? Here are some simple tips:
  • Keep your language simple (remember Winston Churchill's low "fog factor" in his speeches. If you don't, go to
  • Make instructions active. "You take the folder to James in Accounts" not "The folder should be taken to Accounts"
  • Avoid negative questions. “You aren't coming, are you?” can be answered affirmatively either way - “No” I'm not coming (English) or “Yes” I'm not coming (German) well as "No" I am coming and "Yes" I am coming...
  • Have a good induction policy that explains where key information can be found and who to ask. Consider assigning a Buddy to each new person
  • Make sure that all important staff messages are in a consistent format that makes key information easy to pick up
  • Communicate important messages via different media to ensure that they are received (and initially, check personally - or get the Buddy to check - that the message has been received and understood)
  • Develop a list of company-used technical terms, jargon, acronyms and abbreviations. Advise all personnel where they can access - and add to - the list
  • If you are not understood, don't repeat more loudly - people are not deaf. Repeat slowly, rephrase or write it down
  • If you do not understand, ask people to repeat slowly, to rephrase or to write it down
  • Foreign team members’ ideas and logic may be different from yours - be patient and you just might learn something new from them
  • If you think you have made a gaffe or if you have been embarrassed by another's actions, keep calm and clarify meanings and/or intentions. Avoid emotional responses; people will generally be mortified to find they have unwittingly caused offence
  • Get yourself a mentor who can guide you through a culture's social mores at functions and social occasions, or employ "Monkey See, Monkey Do"
  • Adapt your space requirements whenever possible. You can judge someone’s comfort zone by the distance to which they extend their hand when shaking hands
  • If all else fails, ask why someone took a particular action, and let them know what your initial reaction was. That way you can both learn
There are also a number of websites that give a guide to how to work with other cultures. They are:

Finding Your USP

As we looked at in issue 101, USPs - or unique selling propositions - answer the consumer's question "What distinguishes you from similar products, services or businesses?"
However, it can be difficult to uncover the uniqueness of your products and services. But, by using (a) information about your product (b) information about your competitors' product and (c) comparing the offers, it gets a bit easier.
The steps:
  1. Make a list of your product's features and benefits.
  2. Now you need to know your competition, by selecting a couple of equal - or very closely matched - competitors; be careful to choose organisations whose product offer shares your product characteristics very closely. If you are offering a new service or seeking new markets, find an organisation which is established in the area you want to get into to use as your competitor.
    Then gather all the competitor's product information and materials that you can find. Add to the list of your product's features and benefits; matching features and benefits where they occur.
  3. Compare your products. Look for differences. Ask yourself if any of the differences could be expanded into a USP?
However, if you still feel that you are stuck, give me a call - there are a range of tools to use to help you get through the process of identifying your USPs.

Excel's COUNTIF Function Part 4

Last time we looked at criteria using the dates and wildcards. This time it is mathematical operations and vote counting.
Mathematical Operations
You can use a CountIF statement as part of a mathematical expression. If you use =COUNTIF(A1:A8,"<2")+COUNTIF(A1:A8,">13"), you will add any values less than 2 (2) with any values greater than 13 (1), which will return 3:
         Column A
  1. 1
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 5
  6. 8
  7. 13
  8. 21
You can also use letters, wildcards or dates; eg =COUNTIF(B1:B10,"<b*")+COUNTIF(B1:B10,">x*") on the names list we used in issue 103 would return 2 (Aaron & Zachary).
Vote Counting
Excel's help file has a COUNTIF example calculating voting percentage results. The formula to count the votes recorded from B2:B99 for 'Aye' would be =COUNTIF(B2:B99, "Aye") and 'Nay' =COUNTIF(B2:B99, "Nay").
However, to obtain the "Aye" vote percentage, you use simple division and the formula =COUNTIF(B2:B99, "Aye") / COUNTA(B2:B99). Format the cell to show percentages. Just swap out the "Aye" for "No" if you need to show both.

Excel's help file also uses a more convoluted option to count non-blank cells ROWS(B2:B99) - COUNTIF("<>"&"*").
Thanks to Woody's Office Watch for the background for this series. View what the Office Watch team have to offer at

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • DWDM, Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. A technology that exponentially increases the carrying capacity of fibre optic cables

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Continuing our Outlook hot key list, this time we look at all you can do with the plain old alphabet keys with Alt, Shift, Ctrl. In this newsletter we take letters K to P;
  • Outlook "Check names or (in Word as email editor mode only) insert a hyperlink " Ctrl & K
  • Outlook "Create a new Task or open an existing one" Ctrl & Shift & K
  • Outlook "Left align text" Ctrl & L
  • Outlook "Add bullets or distribution list" Ctrl & Shift & L
  • Outlook "Check for new mail" Ctrl & M
  • Outlook "Create a new Message or open an existing one" Ctrl & Shift & M
  • Outlook "Open a new message" Ctrl & N
  • Outlook "Create a new Note or open and existing Note" Ctrl & Shift & N
  • Outlook "Switch to Outbox or convert an HTML or RTF message to plain text" Ctrl & Shift & O
  • Outlook "Display the Print dialog box" Ctrl & P

Hot Linx
How good do you think your internal clock is? Test yourself over ten seconds against the clock at
If you want a satirical take on the news of the day - in America - then head over to the Onion for a bit of a laugh at
Do you remember the Max Headroom series? If you remember the series fondly, then perhaps you will enjoy a visit to "Blank James" labour of love at
There's a new web thing happening for you to store your favourites; you can keep 'em, share 'em, find 'em and get recommendations. It's a cool idea and you can find it at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here