He Who Knows Everything

Monday, March 7, 2016, by Eliane Karsaklian

i know it allThe guy had all figured out. He knew about business and he knew about culture. If you told him something he already (thought he) knew, he wouldn’t listen to you and made it a point to show how bored he was when listening to you.

If you said something he didn’t know, he would disagree with you and be skeptical about your statement, because he was not familiar with that concept, idea, or tool.

If you gave an example about China, he would disagree; “That is not right. You are stereotyping. We are people who have lived abroad. We know that this is all biased”.

If you explained that researchers have been working on creating tools to understand international business for more than 50 years, and that it is still evolving, he would argue, “This is all ‘has been’. We need to move on and have new tools”.

You agree, of course, that we need new tools. This is what researchers work on every day. Then you ask him, “do you happen to have any new tools?”

“No, I don’t, and it is not my job. But we should stop talking about what is old and move to what is new”, he replies.

Then you ask him, “what do you use when it rains?”

“An umbrella”, he answers.

Then you ask, “Don’t you think that umbrellas are archaic cumbersome tools? Shouldn’t we move to something more modern and practical?”

He doesn’t answer and looks uneasy. You keep going. “Then your options today are either you try to stay dry by using the old tool, the only one we have today although it is not perfect, or face the rain and stay wet until something better is created”.

The guy feels angry and challenged. He leaves the classroom and never comes back.

He is a 24 year-old German student who had spent six months as an exchange student in China.

And he had all figured out.