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Business dining…

Gabriel Tlagae

Corporate Acumen

Did you know that the Chinese business community insists on “small talk” before starting a meeting? With a population of over one billion and one of the strongest economies in the world to boost, one can see where they are coming from. Go figure! Today’s article focuses on the etiquette of mixing dining with business.

A renounced business consultant, Dennis Cornell deems etiquette as thinking about the people that you are with, considering their feels and ensuring that you keep at your optimum best. Etiquette guru Malebogo Marumoagae often laments that etiquette is behavior that is accepted and often envisioned and admired in society.

Many business deals are often brokered over meals or may include celebrating after. I recall a colleague of mine who is a branding expert once sharing an experience where she was dining with the top brass of her then employer and one board member ordered a seasoned glass of wine only to call it bitter and added grape juice to the horror of his dinner companions. This had me thinking, how then should one behave, eat or drink when out for a meal with a potential clients, senior management from your workplace or even colleagues you are trying to impress?  

I infer that your seasoned business dinner etiquette just might get you the job you want, the contract that takes your startup business to the next level or leads to the promotion you have been dreaming of. The opposite of this is that, poor dinner manners can drown those opportunities you have been eyeing for so long in a finger snap. The following points will assist you in ensuring not to embarrass yourself and assure that you come out on top every time you host a client or have a meal with your CEO or a group of edgy sophisticated executives you want association with.  

Engage in small talk; the main purpose of the meal may be to talk sharp but certain pleasantries like the latest news in your area, sports, music or a certain phenomenon goes a long way. Just the other day, I was meeting with a certain investment banker, I was nervous but I brought up the topic of people who are about to set off to live in Mars costing millions of Dollars. We conversed for not more than ten minutes on this and by the time we got to the bedrock of our meeting, I was comfortable enough and had eased up. If over dinner, engage in small talk and save discussing business matters until the main course or coffee and dessert are served.

Pace your consumption to match your guest’s. Remember, this dinner is all about what makes your guest feel relaxed and comfortable. People have different eating patterns, some slow, some fast whilst some may want to reduce the conversation pace and concentrate on eating. Measure all these when the meal starts. You want to avoid sitting before an empty plate while your guest is still eating or continuing to eat after your guest has finished. Also embrace table etiquette that if your food comes before everyone’s, wait, so theirs arrive before jumping in. I would assume we all know our cutlery etiquette right?

Pre-pay your bill. If this is a busy individual or no nonsense client you have been trying to hitch, pre pay the bill so that if your lunch is interrupted by an emergency at their office or something, you are able to walk them out and wrap up your pitch. Possibly, asking someone out to eat, they may feel obligated to want to share costs, imagine how prepared and nonchalant you would seem if you say “It’s already handled” Awesome right? Something off Olivia Pope’s handbook. Often you would get people that become uncomfortable at the sight of the bill, this way; all the discomforts are out the window fast.  

Show respect to the wait staff; how you communicate with restaurant staff literally shows how you treat people beneath your station. If its dinner with your bosses, it shows them how you treat your juniors and even reflects your character as a person. Be pleasant. Speak to the waiting staff with respect. It’s not to say you cannot show dissatisfaction if your meal came twelve minutes later than everyone’s but do it with poise. 

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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