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SAN ANTONIO-With globalization creating a melting pot of opportunities, the CCIM Institute and Institute of Real Estate Management used their national conference, Success Series 2007, as an international forum to deliver a street-savvy guide for doing business on all continents. The annual October event is a week of education, professional grooming, networking and CCIM testing.

The condensed version of several sessions is the passport of success is learning to respect other cultures before, not after, a deal is initiated to stave off faux pas that could kill one’s ability for present and future transactions. It boils down to doing one’s homework and being culturally sensitive and competent.

“One of the ways we become more culturally competent is to become more culturally curious,” Laraine Kaminsky of Graybridge Malkam of Ottawa, Ontario, said during a cross-cultural exchange for Success Series 2007, held at the Henry B. Gonazalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Kaminsky, a consultant for international training, stressed the importance of learning written and unwritten rules of other cultures before trying to work a deal on foreign land or US soil with other nationalities.

“The United States is a very young country. It’s seen as immature if you’re impatient,” Kaminsky said. “It’s critical to focus on the relationship and then getting the task done.”

With tips flying fast and furious, conference-goers picked up strategies like how female brokers can win the “battle of the check” without insulting their client or would-be client. There’s always a tug of war when the check arrives, forewarned Adrian Arriaga, president of AAA Real Estate Investments in McAllen, TX and commissioner of the Texas Real Estate Commission. The easy way to win, he explained, is to say “the company’s doing it not me.”

The cross-cultural panel included Juan Carlos Latorre of Administraciones Las Bellotas of Santiago, Chile, who explained the importance of using local partners to open doors in other countries rather than crashing the gate and opening an office. “Go in, partner and learn,” he said, adding it’s the best safeguard against the inevitable “barriers of distrust.”

Other how-to tidbits are: think and talk meters not square foot; have a diverse workforce in age and ethnicity; be open to new ideas; and no cold calls. Equally important, don’t mistake the meaning of the word “yes”–it more often means “I understand” than “I agree.”

“What’s really important is the relationship. It takes a lot longer to build up that relationship than in the US,” said Pius K. Leung of Realm Business Solutions Inc. in Houston. “The more you push they will think ‘what’s wrong with this deal.’”

Success Series 2007′s keynote speakers were Nido Qubein, president of High Point University in High Point, NC and chairman of the 218-store Great Harvest Bread Co., and Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes Inc. Qubein’s rise to prosperity from arriving in the US as a 17-year-old immigrant with $50 in his pocket was a striking dichotomy to Forbes’s privileged upbringing as heir to a 91-year-old investment-savvy family and a former White House-chasing candidate for the GOP nomination.

Consultant and economist Dr. John Trucillo delivered the state of the union address for commercial real estate, where it is today and where it’s going in 2008. “The US is no longer the growth leader of the world and that could mean continued weakness in the economy,” he said. “The economy will grow more slowly next year than this year.”

Trucillo, siding with many of his peers, predicted it will be the end of 2008, possibly early 2009, before the residential market starts to pick up. Other economists have predicted a 2.5% growth in the US economic indicators; Trucillo believes that’s just a bit high.

Sound bytes from capital markets’ sessions confirm investment capital is still available, with adjustments being made in terms of leverage, financial packaging and pricing. And, foreign investors are still mining the US despite the dollar’s present state. The industry’s well aware of the players: Australians, Germans, British, Middle Eastern and Asian. And, it’s a two-way street as many US companies have proved.

“Globalization is here. If you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities, you’re missing a huge opportunity,” stressed Eric D. Brown, senior vice president and regional manager for Denver-based ProLogis, which secured a foothold on China’s coast. “Any major company in the US, if they’re not doing business in China today, they need to go because they will be doing business in China.”

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