…Not so fast!
What You See is What You Get……not so fast! After living in the USA for more than 16 years, you sometimes forget the somewhat minor differences between the Netherlands (or other countries for that matter) and the US of A. So, walking the streets of San Francisco from time to time, I scribble down all topics of interest that surprises folks when visiting the Golden State.
Sales tax: coming from Europe you are so used to the fact that the price on the tag is also the price you pay (VAT included). Nope, that isn’t the case over here. Sales tax will be added, and it varies from city to city. Count on an average of 10% on top, and you’ll be safe. And it really adds up when you buy a car! When staying at a hotel, the percentage could be as much as 20% because most cities charge a Hotel Room Tax, to be collected by the hotel.
Now let’s deal with ‘What You Hear is…’ most likely what you want to hear. Countless times I’ve heard a young energetic and excited entrepreneur say that after his demonstration his audience said it was interesting. Interesting according to the dictionary: adj. exciting or holding one’s attention. In polite California it means ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’.
And realize, this is a big country, some of these values are totally different when visiting the East Coast or the Midwest parts of the US. Just like it is also difficult to comprehend that laws do vary from state to state. Beware! Since I am at it, I’d like to stress once more the fact that it is wise to confirm an appointment the morning of the very day you have it. Be nice though, say in a friendly manner that you are looking forward to having such and such meeting (or lunch) at the given time. You’d be surprised about the many times you will be disappointed if you don’t. Then, make sure you take enough time to get there. In the Bay Area with its many bridges and toll booths, a few miles could easily take half an hour or so. If possible, take public transportation. Don’t waste time of your counterpart during a meeting. First ask how much time you have, because within that time frame you’ll have to get to the point. Hence, don’t burn time with small talk! If it clicks, you’ll have eventually enough time to chat about other things than business. And, if they are throw you a curve ball, you will realize you weren’t as prepared as you might have.