Business Book Review: 'There’s No Business, Like International Business'Written by Oliver Dowson, There’s No Business Like International Business: Business Travel - But Not Like You Know It’ takes business people away from the doldrums of tele-conferencing and transports them to exotic locales across the globe. As the owner of a multi-national company, Dowson logged more flight hours than many airline captains, and his unique perspective on life, work and the vagaries of travel will keep readers who love travel stories riveted to the last page as our business writer Ian Garner found out
The author, Oliver Dowson, is an experienced entrepreneur who built his energy management consultancy business into a small, successful multi-national business.
In his introduction, the author explains that his book is 'not a business book, nor a how-to guide.' On the face of it that is true. However, if you look deeply into his writings you see lots of little gems that help you understand some of the basics of business travel and doing business overseas.
I get asked to review business books from time to time. They are usually crammed full of advice, hints & tips, best practice and theory. They can be a bit dry or very entertaining, depending on the writer’s style (or maybe the mood I’m in!).
This book was a bit of a unique experience.
Initially, I thought this is a fun book with entertaining stories from someone I think I might enjoy chatting with over a beer (or, in my case, a Diet Coke). I really enjoyed the anecdotal style and the keen sense of humour evident in every page, and that is true, but more than that, it is an excellent guide on the subject.
Oliver’s stories reminded me of some of my own experiences travelling on business in the developed and developing world. Only, Dowson’s experiences were so much more extreme. He describes his book as 'factual fiction' which may be true, but I suspect it is mostly fact with just a little embellishment to give the added spice.
However, once I thought more deeply about these stories, I realised that there are a lot of hints & tips, advice and insightful suggestions wrapped up in the text, which are a valuable introduction to business travel for even the more experienced business person.
His stories are entertaining and engaging, I laughed aloud at some of his ‘adventures’ and felt at times that I was travelling with him, he describes the people and places so graphically.
His adventures in South America and East Asia are classic ‘road trips’ and he writes engagingly about the people and places, sights and sounds and the images and smells that make you feel like you were there with him, or wish you were!
Then I started to think about the recurring themes.
If you want to do business in any country you need to get an understanding of the market, the culture, the mood of the people and what’s viewed locally as important.
You can’t get these things in a conference call, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or even on Skype.
You can’t establish a relationship over a phone call or video conference. You can’t build trust with a client or key supplier using technology. It is personal connection that’s so valuable and that’s done face-to-face and often achieved outside formal meetings.
British-American author and journalist, Christopher Hitchens, famously said: “Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay." Oliver Dowson has proved he is one of the exceptions.
I found the book very entertaining. If you are travelling on a long journey by train or plane or waiting in a departure lounge and you want to be charmed, amused, and captivated, you could do no better than to read this book.
If you’re a veteran of international business travel or are about to embark on this stage of your career, or just up for a laugh, this book is for you.
There’s no Business, like International Business – Business Travel, but not as you know it
– is written by Oliver Dowson and published by Matador, the self-publishing wing of Troubador Publishing Ltd.
Visit the author’s official website: https://oliverdowson.com
Ian Garner is a retired Fellow of the Chartered Management Instituteand a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. He is Vice-Chair of the Institute of Directors, North Yorkshire Branch. https://www.iod.com/events-community/regions/yorkshire-north-east
He is founder and director at Practical Solutions Management, a strategic consultancy practice and skilled in developing strategy and providing strategic direction, specialising in business growth and leadership.
Ian is a Board Member of Maggie’s Yorkshire. Maggie’s provides emotional and practical cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online, with their centre in Leeds based at St James’s Hospital.