It’s easy to take traveling for granted sometimes, but on this trip, each day we recognized that we were experiencing something truly special. As English-speaking business school students, it takes a lot to takes us out of our comfort zones. But Mongolia, with its signs in Cyrillic alphabet and vast stretches of untamed nature, took us for a wild ride into the unknown.
Our packed itinerary took us to some drastically different places and to meetings with many highly inspirational people. Through this, I’ve assembled a messy collection of trip highlights and lessons learned.
- Accounting is more important than you think – We were curious as to what it would take to encourage economic growth and diversification in Mongolia, and posed this question to all the investment-minded professionals we met. The perhaps surprising answer? Accounting standards. In the US, we are accustomed to a certain level of trust when it comes to a company’s financial records. However, in Mongolia, it is not uncommon for a business owner to take cash out of the business for personal purposes. Increasing financial accountability education and awareness seems to be the most crucial step in increasing both local and foreign investment. Here’s some key evidence that LIFO and FIFO are still useful after the core.
- It’s important to wear closed-toe shoes when meeting with the Mongolian President – also the president will offer you Golden Gobi chocolates, they are delicious, take more
- “From goat to coat” is probably the best slogan for a cashmere company ever
- Business culture difference still exist – we were all pleasantly surprised at how warm, high energy, and candid the Mongolia professionals we met were, creating a distinctly Mongolian way of doing business that’s built on openness and trust. At Newcom Group, the CEO of EnergyAsia described his experience with the Japanese work culture. “The Mongolians are entrepreneurial problem solvers who want to start doing things right away, whereas the Japanese are more risk-averse and need to see more reports and plans.”
- Throat singing and contorting are two traditional Mongolian arts that are each hauntingly beautiful in their own way – a contortionist performance is not for the weak of heart or the squeamish
- Reindeer are real, y’all – I don’t know if you already knew this, but FYI
- Your classmates will make fun of you for bringing a selfie-stick, but it will be single-handedly the best way to get group pictures so who’s laughing now?
- Bring plenty of sunscreen, eye drops, moisturizer, and lip balm – it’s dry here! Or you can pick them up at Lhamour
- Your CBS classmates are some of the most hilarious, inspiring, adventurous, inquisitive, brave, easy-going, and fun people you will ever have the pleasure of taking a trip with – you will still want to be their friend even when you are stuck in the airport together for the 12th hour in a row
At our closing dinner, our amazing organizers gave out superlatives for each person on the trip. It’s crazy to think that a week ago, these people had been strangers, and now I can easily identify them by the sound of their voice and can call them my friends.
I, along with everyone on the trip, are incredibly grateful for the chance to visit Mongolia on such a well-planned journey. Hope to see you soon again, Mongolia!