How can Internationals/Asians (East Asians) do better in the American corporate environment? What are some behaviors/traits that hold them back?

I'm particularly interested as an international who did my undergraduate degree in the US and is currently working in management consulting. Would be great to hear thoughts from Asians/Asian Americans who've gone through the process or from non-Asians who have a view of this issue and have experience to share.


Being bold and assertive, both in terms of communicating a vision as well as standing up for yourself, is something I've struggled with as an East Asian entrepreneur, and it's something I also see other Asians/Asian-Americans struggling with. Growing up, my parents always instilled a respect for hard work beyond all else. If I worked twice as hard as the competition, I'd achieve my goals. But what I realized as an adult is that your work ethic is just one part of a successful career. You need to know how to promote yourself and how to influence people, and these were areas that I was totally unprepared for. What was perceived as "lack of confidence" was really mostly shyness and a desire to keep my head down and plug away. You can lose out on a lot of opportunities with that kind of mentality.

What changed it for me was reaching out to non-Asian friends and peers who I admired and asking for their take on how to deal with a particular situation. How do I sell myself in this email? What kind of approach do I need to take with a prospective client that will allow me to close him or her? I'd then use their suggestions as close to verbatim as possible, and ignore the natural feeling in my gut that said, "Stop! This is not polite!" and push through. The results were undeniably better this way, which was encouraging, and over time, these new methods of communication and assertion started to become habitual.

Answered 9 years ago

Whenever you walk into corporate world you walk with your personalities and traits you grew up.
1. An isolated population is likely to become more introverted and inward focused through the generations as bolder individuals are more likely to choose to emigrate: A recent series of studies conducted with islanders resident in several isolated Italian archipelagos put these principles to the test. Andrea Ciani at the University of Padova and his colleagues found that islanders are less extraverted and open-minded, but more conscientious and emotionally stable, than their mainland neighbours located 10 to 40 miles away. Supporting this, a sample of recent emigrants from the islands to the mainland were found to score higher on extraversion and openness than the remaining islanders. Ciani's team also genotyped a sample of islanders and mainlanders and found that a version of a gene previously associated with risk-taking was less common among islanders. The researchers said this suggests there is “some genetic basis for the observation that individuals in long-isolated communities exhibit a particular personality type”. Experts have also speculated that differences in climate could influence regional differences in personality, such as cold regions with a lack of sunlight contributing to greater emotional instability.
2. Living in a crowded environment leads us to adopt a more future-oriented mindset, such as investing more in long-term relationships: Whatever the causes, once regional differences in personality are established, one possibility is that they may become self-perpetuating as there is evidence that people are drawn to live in areas occupied by others with similar character profiles to their own. Given how important personality traits are to life outcomes at the individual level – from wellbeing to career success – this issue of national differences in personality is arguably more than a lively conversation topic for a dinner party. Any cross-cultural differences in trait levels at the national level might contribute to, or at least reflect, international differences in such things as wealth, happiness, corruption, innovation, and health. Higher-trait neuroticism, for example, is strongly associated with numerous negative health outcomes, including mental health diagnoses like anxiety and depression, but also chronic physical conditions like heart disease and dementia. It stands to reason that in countries where average trait neuroticism is higher, citizens will be more vulnerable to physical and mental ill health. Personality differences around the world might even have contributed to the emergence of different political systems. Although we can’t conclude that more of this personality trait in a national population causes democracy , Barceló believes this is certainly plausible and that part of the reason is that open-minded citizens are more motivated by self-expression and less by traditional values. “Societal personality differences may play a larger role in predicting a country’s democracy than previously realized,” he said. At the very least, the findings on international differences in personality could be another reason for us to question our assumptions about other countries’ attitudes and behaviours. As the personality psychologist Richard Robins commented in 2005, this line of research suggests that “in contrast to personality traits – which reflect actual differences in the way people think, feel and behave – stereotypes about national character seem to be social constructions designed to serve specific societal purposes.
Although humility is a universal virtue, it is also quite rare. When we appoint humble people to leadership roles, they are less likely to damage their teams and organizations. In fact, even narcissistic leaders will be able to exert a positive influence on their teams and organizations when they have some humility. We would probably not value humility as much if we had it in abundance. Or perhaps the bigger issue is that while we do like and value humility, we are more seduced by charisma, confidence, and arrogance.

Therefore, we often end up selecting incompetent men over competent women for leadership roles. If you are too assertive, you will end up being less likable, and if you are self-critical, humble, and caring, you will not be leadership material. In reality, the very trait that we like to revere may end up hindering career success because we are more likely to punish humility than reward it, even if we still like the idea of successful people being humble. Here are three signs that humility may be working against you in your career.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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