We recently returned from our Rotary service project in Antigua, “Improving Education Through Technology” and I’d like to share seven observations, with a business lesson or tip with each.
- Observations from Antigua We had a meeting with the Prime Minister, his first question was, “What do you think is going on with Covid?” and I answered, “I think it’s about over. Omicron is much weaker, more vaccinations, and even the NY Times says there’s probably a high percentage of unvaccinated people with natural immunity they don’t know they have.” His response, “I agree but I can’t say that – yet.” Lesson, in government and in business there has to be a “need to know” policy. Not everybody in a business needs to know all going on.
- Antigua is a lifestyle country. Time and timeliness aren’t as important as in the hectic US (and other developed countries). This is not always a bad thing. There seems to be an appreciation for life not just how productive one can be. Tip, take the time to honor the cliché, “smell the roses.”
- You’d never complain about roads where you live after driving on the narrow, pothole filled roads in Antigua. The roads are like an airline hub system. To cross the island, you have to go north to a hub, south to another one, and then to your destination. A friend commutes from the NW corner to the SE corner, it’s not that far and it takes 45 minutes. She says, “You get used to it.” We can get used to a lot of minor inconveniences in life.
- Business is business, service is service, and education is education. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the West Indies or the USA. The basics are important. It’s just that in Antigua the time for the service is a bit longer than at home. But you get used to it.
- People are people. They have the same feelings, cares, and desires no matter where they live, their race, religion, etc. Treat others fairly and good things will happen. And on that note, while there I was emailing our cousin in Slovakia, about what’s going in the Ukraine. He’s about 4 hours (drive) from western Ukraine and 14 hours from Kyiv. He also does business (construction) in Russia, this has hurt his business, and his comment was he really feels for his Russian friends who are “normal people” being affected by this.
- Be careful who you take on as a partner. Antigua has signed on to the China “Belt and Road” program. More Chinese investment than ever including a massive embassy, with a huge part of it underground (wonder what they do there?). We’ll see what transpires. It could be great, or it could be like a really bad investor in a business, creating more problems than it’s worth long-term.
- Finally, a restaurant owner shared she has the same issues with finding good people as we have here. And she added, it’s also tough to get reliable provisions. No Sysco, US Foods, or others with regular deliveries. The day we had lunch there she opened late as she was driving around looking for the produce she needed. I’m sure she’d trade the higher cost of cucumbers (delivered) for the time, gas expense, and hassle of doing it herself. Reliable service and providers are worth it.