Troubador There's No Business Like International Business

Released: 28/03/2022

ISBN: 9781803131917

eISBN: 9781803139104

Format: Paperback/eBook

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There's No Business Like International Business

Business Travel – But Not As You Know It


First, on a whirlwind business trip around half the countries in South America in just a fortnight, Oliver Dowson faces near-death experiences in planes and cars, meets civil insurrection face-to-face, risks kidnap and must overcome mindless bureaucracy that could derail the itinerary on a daily basis.

Next, follow along as he travels around the Far East for three weeks in the company of an obstreperous, can’t-do-without but can’t-do-with female colleague, learning new cultures fast. Oh, and all in the pursuit of business goals that somehow still seem to be met along the way.

These unique trips may have had a business purpose, but this is no business book or how-to guide; rather, it’s a delightful, off-beat travelogue with an off-beat much travelled narrator. There are plenty of vivid characters to meet en route, an abundance of anecdotal fun, plus an education on local cultures and cuisines to be gained.

Pre-publication reviewers write: “Exceptionally well crafted, each page illuminated with entertainment, wit, and candour, to categorize it as simply a travelogue seems to do it a great injustice. Here, we have something of true merit.” (Thomas J Kenny), “Exciting, fun, and all-around surprising. A clear masterpiece.” (Andrea Scholar), “Oliver Dowson has created something I never thought possible: a nonfiction book about business trips that is actually fun and engaging to read.” (Brandon Diehl)

There's no business like International Business is Oliver's first book.
He's now packing in as many travel experiences as pandemic-era travel will allow, gaining inspiration and working on his next book - it's a novel, but with plenty of travel tidbits thrown in. So expect to find scenes set in places Oliver has recently visited or has lined up over the next few months - Cape Verde, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Brazil amongst them. He posts some travel blogs - belatedly - on his website, and in more normal times posts his favourite pictures on social media - an actively he has largely curtailed for now, as travel snaps are out of place when such terrible things are going on in Ukraine - man's inhumanity to man knows no bounds.

Every reader approaches a book with one of these goals: to be educated, thrilled, entertained, or inspired. When I first approached this book, I believed that I would get educated on business and international business aspects and possibly launch something based on the information I acquired. While this could be the case, I acknowledge that I was caught by surprise. Is this a business book? Yes. Does it have more to offer? Yes, way more than I expected, and made it possibly the best business book I have ever read. Oliver Dowson’s “There’s No Business Like International Business” is a stellar literature piece that transcends its genre and brings forward one of the most unforgettable stories of travels and business, unlike any other author I have read before.
Did the author intend to make this a book about travel? Honestly, I do not think so. However, he takes the reader on an exciting journey around the world, showing different cultures and businesses in a way that other platforms could not have achieved. I read this book in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that I was locked up most of the time, and the only way I could interact with other cultures was through social media. However, Dowson has candidly described the world unconventionally and enticingly, making the book addictive. As he traveled through South America, from Sao Paolo to Argentina, we get to see and know different characters and their businesses; their achievements, challenges, and motivations. From all the books I have read, not many authors have managed to find a perfect balance between all these aspects like Dowson has. And he doesn’t stop there; he takes us to Asia on a similarly exciting and educative journey.
More importantly, this book talks about businesses all over the world. Oliver Dowson, by reputation, is one of the most travelled authors, and in this book, he gives the reader an insight into small and big businesses from all over the world. While he gives his account of how he views small businesses, he also gives the reader an insight into how the most successful people in business think. He shows how to approach opportunities, find solutions to their problems, and deal with disappointing subordinates and business partners. I don’t think one can get such information from an ordinary book, and in my opinion, this is one thing that makes the book a treasure. I am recommending this book to my friends, and I would highly recommend this book to any aspiring business mind to see international business in a whole new light.
“Exciting, fun, and all-around surprising. A clear masterpiece. A stellar literature piece that transcends its genre and brings forward one of the most unforgettable stories of travels and business, unlike any other author I have read before”

by Andrea Schola

In every positive sense, this book was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a travel book with an emphasis on business trips, a how-to guide on how to maximize your time and efficiency while abroad. In a sense, I didn’t expect the book to be fun. Recently, I’ve found myself reading a lot of nonfiction, usually guides on how to be successful in various niches or fields with the occasional historical piece. This book was not one of those books.
Oliver Dowson has created something I never thought possible: a nonfiction book about business trips that is actually fun and engaging to read. The book is self-aware and never really tries to be a guide to anything really, aside from Dowson’s own analysis of it as a guide on how not to go on business trips. The book is clever and funny a lot of the time; one of my favorite parts was the comparison between Indiana Jones’ Lost Arks and electricity bills.
The book is split into two parts, each focusing on a separate trip. The first part is in South America (and you will find yourself wondering why he decided to travel to so many countries in such a short time) and the second in Southeast Asia. The two parts are different, yet both are equally engaging and fun. I found myself looking forward to being able to pick the book up again.
All in all, I found Oliver Dowson to have created something unique. It was fun to compare my own travel experiences (albeit much later in time than his trips), especially in places I have visited myself, like Quito, Ecuador. Reading about Dowson’s reactions and interactions with unfamiliar places and cultures was both exciting and a learning experience. While there was plenty to be learned about the inner workings of businesses that people like myself may have very limited knowledge of, it was the cultural experiences that was the real winner in my eyes.
I highly recommend this book, even to people uninterested in business. It’s so much more than a travel guide.

by Brandon Diehl

TNBLIB is a wonderfully engaging and idiosyncratic offering that confidently transcends the seemingly steady travelogue genre. Dowson is a successful businessman. Almost twenty years ago his company was faced with the task of expanding globally; commercial necessity expanded his passion for international travel and cuisine. Fortunately for us, Dowson has recounted events from this period, dispatching something to savour.
Split into two sections, the first takes us across South America. Seven countries within twelve days, interspersed with supplementary recollections. The second takes us through China, Japan, and Korea in 3 weeks of business meetings and cultural immersion.
We have the vividity of exotica that travelogue junkies demand: the impossibility of navigating tropical rainstorms, car ferries that more closely resemble ‘oversized pallets’, blazing Venezuelan buses, night flights on an ancient aircraft courtesy of the Ecuadorian military, and DIY internet connections that result in explosions¬¬.
We are consumed from the outset. A hair-raising experience on a Sao Paolo highway, adroitly juxtaposed with the value of immersive travel. Not for Dowson to delegate the practicalities of booking flights, hotel rooms, nor bemoan long-haul lassitude. Each seemingly mundane step is viewed as an amuse-gueule, or strategic opportunity. There’s fulfilment and integrity in throwing oneself into the entire logistical process. Even better if one gets to the other side of the world and is met with insalubrious or defective accommodation. He’s your man if your hotel room needs a tap fixed.
Indomitability proves paramount. An appreciatively brief initial visit to Venezuela (comprising riots, kidnappers, and corrupt officials) yields immutable advice about rental vehicles should an armoured 4x4, or police escort prove unavailable. Farcical demonstrations bankrolled by the Ecuadorian government results in our protagonist’s first, and mercifully only encounter with tear gas.
Familiarity with Colombia’s cartels and civil strife aside, a brow is justifiably arched at hotel security diktats, whereby the use of taxi from portico to the immediate restaurants is non-negotiable. Realisation that flight crew administer editions of El Espectador post take-off becomes the stuff of whimsy. We are indeed grateful that our narrator survives an assault by lightning on the oldest Boeing 727 in commercial service on route to Quito; surpassed in mirabilia only by a later flight on the delightfully bijou propeller plane to Buenos Aires. We learn later that aviation insouciance is embraced with equal vigour by the Chinese.
Observations give us the fragility, chaos, and peril of life within South American countries, and the corporate rigidity that still pervades the key South-East Asian heavy hitters. Throughout the Pacific, commonality of bureaucracy is central. Weaponised by immigration officers and plant security guards, reinforced by officialdom. So too the energetic and conscientious lower orders. Hispanic shop floor workers and Asian suits, stifled by inequality and etiquette, afford us a glimpse of old-fashioned values allied with plain old graft. Callow Chinese entrepreneurs and Korean Apprentice style boardroom shootouts aside, transformation and modernity are reserved for the sprawling cityscapes.
Standout characters are South American cooking, and Dowson’s supposedly multi-lingual colleague Jin Ae. Food is Dowson’s true travel companion. Descriptions suffuse the pages; rhapsodies champion unpretentious local fare. Effort is expended in the evocation of finding the best padarias to satisfy one’s cravings for cozinhas and pao de queijo, the presentation of a barbequed picanha, and the virility and variety of Brazilian pizza. The unadorned becomes the extraordinary. Take the Colombian dish of potatoes, chicken, corn, cream, and capers. There are hearty soups, and then it seems, there’s ajiaco.
So, to Jin Ae. An enterprising, if unpopular, employee who Dowson is sufficiently impressed with to invite on his far east business marathon. A compositional tour de force of comedic gold, she merits a concluding chapter that unquestionably serves as much needed cognitive therapy for the traumatised Dowson.
TNBLIB’s brilliance is in flaunting travel’s unparalleled USP - discovery. Of self, of others, and the familiar or absurd in alien worlds. He communicates the experiential authentically and with zeal. A convincing case is made for exploration to achieve transcendence; we just might not do it exactly like Dowson!

by Thomas J Kenny

Oliver Dowson

Oliver Dowson spent a long career building a multi-national business from scratch, exploiting his love of foreign travel, cultures, languages and food. He has visited more than 140 countries for business and pleasure, and tries to add at least another new one every year! Oliver is also the host of the Grow Through International Expansion podcast, writes many articles, and mentors and supports several new young ambitious entrepreneurs. When he's not away adding new experiences further afield, he divides his time between homes in North London and Asturias Spain.

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