Last night I had supper in an Italian restaurant in Cork, Ireland, with a Chinese colleague, and made plans to meet her in Beijing in April. That’s one aspect of global business development. On the other hand, at London Online, I’ll be talking to a lot of U.S. colleagues. It’s a strange thing, the modern way of the road warrior. We travel to distant venues to meet for half an hour in person, and we see the same people at conference after conference. In theory, these events are educational, and there’s lots of attention paid to speakers and panels in all the promotional materials. But many people never go to a panel; they simply make the rounds. Don’t think I’m pointing fingers: conferences are neither relaxing or educational for me, either! But they are a great chance to build relationships, and this particular meeting brings together people from different parts of my working life, and happens to be in one of the places on earth I think of as home.
As usual, I’m wearing more than one hat: I plan to write about the conference for the issue of Against the Grain I’m wrapping up this week.
I have two observations about Ireland. First, Irish feelings about the English are close to the surface: my cab driver couldn’t be enjoying the cricket results more. More than one person made it clear that the English are a former colonial power and won’t be forgiven for that any time soon, reinforcing one of the key lessons of Global Perspectives on the United States, that people do not forget. We Americans may have short memories, but other people do not. Second, the Irish are just as friendly and warm as I’d heard. I was presented with tea and scones on a tray within a few minutes of arriving at my hotel. Sadly, I can’t report on the pub scene, another aspect of Irish culture I’ve been hoping to investigate.