Check Out This Successful Businessman Who Uses His Love of Food to Get Ahead

Sirota_Dan_133x200When Dan Sirota spoke to a group of business language educators at a conference in Bloomington, Indiana last month, here’s what he talked about:

Cuisine, cuisine, cuisine. He said the word “cuisine” about 100 times. He sucked me in with cuisine. Because I LOVE FOOD.

But Dan Sirota is not a chef. He’s not a business language teacher. In fact, he confessed that his low grades in Japanese forced him out of the pre-med track in college.

Dan Sirota is vice president and global business leader for Cook Medical, one of the largest medical devices companies in the world.  At Cook Medical, Dan leads the Interventional Radiology business unit and the Critical Care division. He has an MBA and he uses those B-school skills everyday.  His early interest in medicine is a big part of his career.

But what does he use to connect with clients all over the world?


The same thing that sucked me into his talk is what he uses to succeed in business internationally.

If the hosts sit on cushions and eat with their hands, Dan does too.  Whatever food is put in front of him, he eats with the same gusto as the locals.

And he does more than that. He uses the long international flights to read up on the area he is visiting. He makes sure he knows a little bit about their history and their language.  He doesn’t become a specialist. He does become sensitive to the context he’ll be working in. He seems educated and interested in others (coming from a country where many expect everyone else in the world to be educated about and interested in us). He learns how to say “hello,” “good-bye,” “thank you,” and any other fixed expressions that show he has made an effort–even though he is obviously not a speaker of the local language.

For Dan, it’s not fluency in one language or immersion in one culture that makes him the ideal international employee. It’s his open-minded, genuine interest in others and their cultures. It’s his flexibility. It’s his willingness to change, to move fluidly outside of his own comfort zone.

This is the same thing you have to show in your job applications and interviews.  And it is not enough to say that you are “fluent,” “open-minded,” “flexible.”  You have to show that you are those things with very specific examples like Dan’s examples of using food and studying up on specific historical and linguistic background before he travels.  Dan has a formula that works for him:

1-cuisine, cuisine, cuisine

2-he uses air travel time to read up on the historical context of the place he’s about to visit

3-he learns a few fixed expressions in the local language

What will your formula be?


Darcy Lear is a Chicago-based career coach specializing in training students to highlight their language studies so they standout in the job search and workplace. For one-on-one coaching or to set up a workshop, contact Darcy:

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1 Response to Check Out This Successful Businessman Who Uses His Love of Food to Get Ahead

  1. Pingback: Do You Know How to Behave Appropriately in Every Professional Situation? | darcylear

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