International Trade / MN Governor Trade Mission



One of my product development initiatives at the university was around creating services for supporting international B2B joint ventures and strategic alliances.   We have been doing direct 1:1 education and consulting to corporations directly to support their international business development objectives.    These would be long running engagements providing education, coaching, international networking, building business models,  etc, etc.    It was during this time period that the Governors Trade Mission to Mexico was underway and I was asked to attended. This mission would be from August 9 – 14th and be visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara with multiple meetings in each location.   We also meet with many of the planners and share our current activities and serves to re-imagine what might be possible during a trade mission and how to support the mission directly and the ongoing business afterwards.

We separated the initiative into four distinct phases based on a time horizon.   The first three phases where trade mission centric focusing on the pre, during, and post mission activities.   The four phase would be really be offering these durable business services to the public in an ongoing model to build and continue the international relationships and accelerate the ongoing exchange of business between the regions.
(Image: Activities by time phase)
Pre-Mission Activities
  1. Pre-Mission Webinars:  Drive Awareness & Recruitment (MN/MX) B2B in Mexico Briefing:
  2. Event for Attendees to drive deeper into doing business and exporting to Mexico (MN) Attendee
  3. Profiles:  UMN Created profiles of attendees for pre-mission distribution. (MN/MX)
  4. Joint Fund Raising:  Explore Mission sponsors,  attendees, and interested firms. (MN/MX?)
Trade-Mission Activities
  1. UMN channels will publish a TBD: “International Business with Mexico” Article and highlight the trade mission. (MN)
  2. Host a TBD: “International Business with Minnesota” (MX)
  3. Host B2B Business Development Session (MX)
  4. Provide B2B Assessments (MX)
  5. Host Academic Networking Event in Mexico(MX)
Post-Mission Activities
  1. Joint Press Release (MN/MX)
  2. Publish Activity Report (MN/MX)
  3. On Going Joint Venture Services (MN/MX)
On-going Activiites
  1. Letter from Governor (MX)
  2. UMN Business in Mexico Article (MN)
  3. Host Int. Biz in MN / Emersion Event (MN)
  4. B2B Networking Sessions (MN/MX)
  5. International MN/MX B2B Report (MN/MX)
  6. Annual International Report (MN/MX)
  7. Joint Press Release (MN/MX)
( Image services )
The images gives a few examples of services based on timeframes.   Given there is a large number of services available, I would summarize the services portfolio by several major categories that could be use to corporations, academic and government institutions on both sides of an international relationship.
  • Networking: This category of services represents the development and maintenance of two way relationships between the regions.   This is intended to be a proactive effort to have developed networks prior to the need to accelerate the speed at which connections can be made.   This effort also builds various advisory boards in advance to help coach and mentor parties through the process of international opportunities.
  • Marketing:  Regional joint marketing is also a key set of activities to help both regions keep abreast of events,  business partnerships, market trends, etc.    Basic open communication and awareness.
  • Market Profiles:  Data collection on industries, companies, institutions, market trends, political trends, economic trends, etc.
  • Events:  These are planned and reoccurring trade events.   Includes registration and facilitated sessions.
  • Business:  These are deeper services around Strategic Alliances and Joint ventures.   Evaluating partnerships,  strategic plans,  cultural training,  operations models,  communication, investment, etc.
  • Assessments: This is the data and metrics underpinnings of all the other services.   It is measuring all the activity and deals being done to build a base of metrics around time, cost, practices required to do this type of business between the respective regions and the overall impact that portfolio of business has created.
These international services could be used directly to support the trade mission or for any corporation in general looking to build international business opportunities.   The long term goal would for these processes and services to be running on going for all regional business to plug into as they needed to accelerate their international business objectives.    It would also keep the relationships active between Minnesota and other key regions around the globe,  again speeding the ability to network interested businesses in both directions.

Innovation Discussions with Pentagon / DOD


I was one of twelve members invited to a meeting with a top innovation consultant at the Pentagon.    His mission was visiting cities in the USA meeting with innovation leaders and defense contract companies.  Both my work in innovation at Microsoft and the University of Minnesota provided rich content for the discussion.
The Pentagon / DOD is interested in several key topics:
  1. What are the current challenges and improvements that need to be made to the defense contracting processes to speed innovation
  2. How can the federal government say more plugged into innovations across all market sectors
  3. What are future trends in innovation from a corporate, government, and academic perspectives.
The initial topic delved deeper into the challenges MN defense contractors are having in the current system.   Much of the difficulty centered around funding programs not being efficient or timely enough to support the speed of business and innovation.  Many of the processes and systems are not well integrated and communication and feedback is poor throughout the process.
The second topic I presented on the work of developing innovation ecosystems and the best practices we where finding looking at innovation center development around the globe.   This model would provide both the portfolio level data of innovation by sector that could help map areas of federal programs to private sector advancements.   It would also proved a platform in which federal programs could fund prioritized areas of innovation through the network of centers & services they provide.
The discussion also included dialogue around future trends.   My role at Microsoft, as a strategy advisory, across so many companies and international projects provided me an opportunity to share many of the business and innovation practices I had scene in the past decade.   There are many cultural differences that span how innovation in both the public and private sectors.   Also is the nature of global business competition and the diversity of approaches and funding that other nations must explore in order to compete against today’s leading companies.   One of the key aspects is the work we are doing in the area of co-opition and how that model of collective innovation both accelerates the scale of innovation through support of a larger ecosystem of services, but also the competitive advantage individual companies still can attain while participating in more collaborative models.   Much of this discussion has factored into the designs of the future innovation centers and regional ecosystem models being current proposed for development in North America.
This was the beginning of a much larger dialogue that has continued with our initiatives as federal agencies.

US / Australia – American Chamber Event

Hon. John Berry, US Ambassador to Australia
I had the opportunity to attend the American Chamber event with The Hon. John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Australia.
The event was full and hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.   The focus of the event was to discuss American and Australia current relationship and explore opportunities for collaboration and business partnership.
Several US business representatives shared their success stories partnering with Australian companies.   The insights and motives for the partnerships all differed, but each saw strategic gains from their respective business case study they shared.
The speakers are highlighted on the agenda below:
The keynote was from Ambassador John Berry.   He opened with a personal story of his father’s WWII experience with the 1st Marine Division on Gradual Canal and his units deployment to Australia after that campaign.   The story told of the deep US / Australian alliance throughout WWII and set the stage of continued cooperation into today.  As my father also served in the 1st & 3rd Marine Divisions in WWII this was a great opportunity for me to talk with the Ambassador during the networking session of the event.  His presentation also outlined the strong cultural alignment between the two nations and the history of both government and business partnerships.   He commented on the business case studies and how they modeled what was possible.   He also emphasized on how Australia was, in many cases,  a better place for US businesses to begin going global and Australia’s strong ties to business connections in Asia as a good partner to help enter those markets.  Lastly, he emphasized Australia’s interest in investment in the USA.
This was a very strategic meeting for me in terms of making good connections with the both US chamber and trade organizations in both the USA and Australia.   The work I’m doing in developing innovation ecosystems today spans business, government, entrepreneurial and infrastructure investment opportunities.   Already this work is spanning investment partners from the USA, Europe, and Asia,  so the opportunities to build partnerships with Australia is great timing.
See more event images in the gallery

Conversations with Potomac Institute

Potomac InstI connecting with the Potomac Institute to discuss the Northstar Initiative in Minnesota for creating innovation centers.   The resources of the institute are amazing in terms of expertise,  network, and overall reach.   Partnership opportunities abound, but it will be governed by the speed at which Minnesota can move forward in creating the innovation centers and strategic alliances required.



Norway Delegation visits Minnesota


As a follow on to the Minnesota delegation visit to Norway to meet with business and Parliament the MN MIT and Harvard Clubs hosted several Norwegian debates to Minnesota.   The reception was held at Marquette Place and in attendance included the    Mayor of Telemark, Mr. Terje Riis Johansen ( former Minister of Petroleum and Energy.). The Telemark region is developing a business and higher education strategy that focuses exclusively on the Midwest (Minnesota and North Dakota).   Partnerships around business, research, and education are being explored.    A larger delegation of Minnesota representatives is being planned for late summer of 2015.   

Global Branding Event / Brand Matters @ Carlson School of Management

Brand Matters Event

Entering global markets is can be a large shift in brand strategies for mature brands.    The event opened the door to the conversation by explore ones understanding of the culture your brand was trying to reach.   Brands need to consider that their brand equity at home will not count or transfer at all into the next global market.   Having a brand or launching a new brand that is not known may be a better starting point vs. any negative perceptions foreign cultures may have of corporate identities abroad.  In either case there is a large chasm of trust to be crossed.   Many cultural studies focus on basics of symbols, colors, and general beliefs.   While these are critical starting points to begin to understand the differences in cultural values and perceptions it only scratches the surface of understand the marketing landscape.   In many countries the conversation about foreign brands has been underway for quite some time.   Regardless of any accuracy,  foreign stakeholders have been driving the conversation and setting the tone.   Historical stigmas of imperial exploration and colonization still linger in the cultural concision of the population.  Modern day corporate greed splashes across daily headline.   Foreign policies create unfair playing fields for market competition.   So how does a brand overcome global challenges such as these?

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