Riches Among the Ruins by Robert P. Smith


» Lesson learned in Guatemala: the right hand in any large business organization usually doesn't know what the left hand is doing. If you keep such information to yourself there can be good money in it. I once bought bonds from the Guatemala branch of an international bank and resold them to the parent company in the same building on the same day for a handsome profit.

» Lesson learned in Saigon during the Vietnam War: the ugly American will get screwed, figuratively, all the time. The respectful American who strives to understand the culture he is in will have doors opened.


Lesson learned in a hotel restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria: If you are in a country where the food supply is suspect and you have a meal that doesn’t kill you or make you ill, order the same meal every time.

» Lesson learned on the streets of San Salvador, El Salvador: If you are trying to be inconspicuous because to be an American is to be a target, don’t travel in a hired town car. Use an ordinary taxi. You’ll also learn something of value about what is going on in any city in the world by talking to a cab driver.

» Lesson learned in Rio de Janeiro: In any business negotiation let your counter-party fill in the awkward silences. There is always leverage in stating your position second.

» Lesson learned in the Moscow nightclub “Nightflight”: Despite what they will tell you, those beautiful women in high heels and low-cut dresses are not economics students. They are, however, very interested in your personal economy.

» Lesson learned in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam: In the midst of nascent insurgency, hire well-trained, well-armed bodyguards who, for a better price, would just as soon kill you. Just be sure you always pay top dollar.
» Lesson learned on a hotel balcony in Istanbul: there is no business problem so vexing that it can’t be solved with hard thinking stimulated by hard alcohol.

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