photo of woman smiling working at computer

Enplug’s CEO, Nanxi Liu, is interviewed by Tanya Tarr in this recent Forbes article on leadership titled, “How Does This 26-Year-Old CEO Negotiate Business Globally?”

Here’s an excerpt:

What would you do if you had to negotiate with businesses in five different countries? Nanxi Liu, CEO and Co-Founder of Enplug digital signage, has done just that. At 26, she helms a company that develops digital display software for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, and has clients around the globe. But going global wasn’t easy. Liu had to negotiate with her co-founders to take this risky decision and convince them that it would pay off. Let’s see how she did it:

Tanya Tarr: How did you convince your team to take the risk?

Liu: It wasn’t easy. I had to show them that expanding our licensing internationally would be worth the risk. I also thought it could be helpful in motivating our development team if they saw our software being used abroad. When we got positive feedback from our new European distributor, it was definitely motivating for our team.That initial spark helped me convince the other founders to expand our international presence.

Tarr: What tactics do you think were key to helping your co-founders see the value in expanding internationally?

Liu: I think I had to convince them that even though expanding internationally seemed risky, it was more risky to say no to this opportunity. I had to help them understand that there is value in letting people have ownership over decisions. Our European partnership helped us attract other international business, and that new business helped convince my co-founders that going international was a good idea.

Nanxi Liu

Tarr: What are the key cultural differences you’ve noticed in negotiating styles?

Liu: Well, it’s hard to generalize a whole country’s culture from one or a few people. But business negotiations do give you a sense of their cultural traditions, particularly the ways in which cultures communicate respect.

Our European partners were mainly from Slovakia, and so their communication was extremely direct, both written and verbally. Our Japanese partners were totally different. They were very formal and reserved in our discussions, and they also highly value gift giving as a form of respect. Our Brazilian partners were very outgoing. It was important for us to do things like have meals together. They also value learning together, so they share a collaborative approach.

Tarr: What do you think helped you succeed in these negotiations?

Liu: I always tried to start out by expressing the common values we share. We both want to win and we both want to make more money. Any time negotiations seem to get contentious, I always stress that we’re exploring a contract together. I let them know I’m on their side, and that there isn’t any pressure to make decisions until people feel they have enough information. I also have found that being transparent builds trust, especially when it comes to pricing. Finally, I try to be as predictable as possible, particularly in expressing respect.

Oh, and catering helps a lot, too. Especially when the meetings go long.

For the full article, click here.

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