With the advent of globalization, where businesses are not restricted to a region, communication plays a significant role in expanding a business. One of the most valuable traits for a person is the ability to converse in a second language. Being bilingual or multilingual, will be an added advantage when it comes to dealing with people who speak different languages.
A majority of American and English entrepreneurs are monolingual and thus, face severe problems while communicating to other people. The critical misconception, of ‘knowing English is the best way‘ breeds catastrophe. As per the study by the U.S. Committee on Economic Development (CED), American businesses lose more than $2 million each year, due to cultural misunderstandings and language barriers.
As India emerges to be the second largest English speaking country in the world, the ability to speak in English is becoming less of a differentiator and or an added advantage. Nearly, 80% of business leaders surveyed by CED, unanimously, conclude that their overall business would grow if they learn another language.
So, how exactly does being a multilingual help you and your business? According to Ryan McMunn, CEO of BRIC Language System, his business in China would have never flourished, had he not learned the language. A five-hour meeting with his vendor in fluent Mandarin, yielded more than expected result, ultimately creating huge profits for the company. McMunn credits his success abroad, to his language skills.
The graph above, clearly indicates that Chinese is the most widely-spoken language in the world, followed by Spanish and English. This crown, adorned by Mandarin, could be attributed to the fact, that China has the largest population in the world, hence, creating a behemothic opportunity for companies to do business. With an enormous scope of building a fortune for themselves, a large number of business owners are rapidly enrolling for a course in Mandarin. A British Council report, based on trading opportunities and market growth, has declared Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese as the most vital languages for business building relationships.
Facebook’s success needs no introduction. It is the crowned king of social media with 80% of social media users accessing this site, every day. As the king, one often wonders as to why does CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is learning Chinese? It is an established fact that this English language based social networking site is banned in China and is mostly accessed by users who are bilingual, if not more.
For a talk with students at Tsinghua University, the social networking mogul spoke in Mandarin. Upon being asked, why does he study Chinese, he replied that his wife is of Chinese origin and that he likes challenges, as learning Mandarin is a challenge in itself. What leaves us wondering is the fact that, China with a ban on Facebook and 1.3 billion strong population, out of which 53% % are Internet users, provides a lucrative avenue for Facebook to fill its pockets. And what could be a better way to enter the Dragon’s Den, than to speak its language?
Do you now, wonder, which all elites, can impress you in another language? Take a look below.
Steve Jobs, Founder and former CEO, Apple
Tech genius was born to Muslim Syrian migrants and could converse in fluent Armenian, apart from English.
Indira Krishnamurthy Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
The iron lady of Pepsi, Nooyi, is an Indian American. Ms Nooyi is fluent in three languages, namely, English, Hindi and Tamil with Tamil being her mother tongue. She has won the hearts of millions of Indians with her impressive language skills and with her immense success.
Brady Dougan, former CEO, Credit Suisse
The CEO of Switzerland’s second-largest bank, Credit Suisse, speaks French and Japanese and considers himself to be talented at languages.
Tidjane Thiam, new CEO, Credit Suisse
The successor to Brady Dougan, Thiam is an Ivory Coast national who can impress you with his German, French and English speaking abilities.
Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestle
The nutrition, health and wellness group head quartered in Switzerland, is headed by Paul Bulcke. Paul praises the cultural influences from Germany, France and Italy on Nestle. And this leader can speak in five different languages, apart from English. They are Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Micheal Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City and CEO, Founder at Bloomberg L.L.P
With a major section of New York City, being occupied by Spanish-speaking population, this Mayor and philanthropist billionaire from Big Apple is eagerly waiting to converse in fluent Spanish.
Leo Apotheker, Former CEO, Hewlett-Packard
The wizard to head the technology giant can speak five languages including Dutch, German and Hebrew.
Madeline Johnson, CEO, Market Council
As the chief executive officer of a public relations and marketing firm, Madeline has to converse with people from different lingual backgrounds and impress them with her language skills. She is reported to be speaking Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
Learning a native language of the country with whom one wants to do business, not only brings a substantial increase in revenue, but also adds to the ease of meeting potential clients and acquiring governmental permits.
Summarizing, the added advantage of being able to communicate in another language, not only widens your market, but allows you to interact with a number of people from a variety of geographical regions, eventually increasing your revenue, exposure and success. In this new era of internet, mobile and startup, where entrepreneurs start chasing their dreams quite early in their life and get connected with hundreds of their peers across the sea communication could be a daunting task. However, having an added advantage of language skill may land you in the right spot cracking the dream opportunity.