LinkedIn Newsletter by Steven Weigler
I just finished forty hours of coursework to earn my Certificate in International Trade from the World Trade Center in Denver, Colorado.
A Personal Journey
If you have ever worked with me, you will quickly learn that I am both intellectually curious and, depending on how one looks at it, am either blessed or cursed with wanderlust. As an example, as a freshman in college, I became infatuated with the history of Western Civilization. I convinced my parents to fund an organized trip to Israel. Once I very quickly saw the sights of Israel, I disappeared from the tour to travel independently to Greece (for two months), Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam. Needless to say, my parents were none too happy upon my return. I haven’t really stopped since.
International Business Law
I took an international law course in law school, where I learned there is really no such thing as international law. Instead, there are treaties and protocols that countries use to communicate and enforce each other’s law if they so choose (like the Madrid Protocol for trademarks) and the theory of systems of law that tie certain countries (British common law and French civil law are examples).
So what I needed to figure out on my own was how to practice international business law: a) understanding the issues that are common in international trade, b) having a good legal analytical framework/being a good lawyer in your own jurisdiction, and c) building meaningful relationships/a deep Rolodex with other counsel around the world and d) putting that all together to mutually lawyer towards client success.
Why Did I Go Back To School?
So my reason for studying international business/trade relates to a) above: formally educating myself on the issues/matters that come up in international trade.
I work with a lot of eCommerce businesses, and every business I work with imports something. So one of the courses I brushed up on was on import trade/customs regulations. Some of my clients also grow to the point where they need to ship using large containers. I took a course on Incoterms® which involves codes that shippers use to manage liability during shipping (which is remarkably different than what I learned in law school). I also took courses in trade finance/letters of credit, international contracting, and international eCommerce. All my coursework was super practical, super interesting (to me), and amazingly super convenient (all my studies were conducted at the World Trade Center in Denver)!
Taking time away from family and tasks is not a light undertaking. And the topics without context can be dry. However, I will reap what I sow. While I love the fun part (traveling and meeting people all over the world), I need to always study to understand the minutia so my clients and friends can trust me and place the focus back on their businesses.
The Transcendental Element
One fun part was studying with other students who either work with international US-based businesses or are in international businesses servicing the US. We reflected on our international business experiences, and all agreed that the world is a big and complicated place. However, we generally agreed that a) kindness is a universal trait, b) communication efforts generally work in building meaningful relationships even if there is a language barrier, and c) doing business in e.g. Prague is not that much different than in e.g. Cleveland (both positively and negatively). I will always practice under that transcendental framework.
I look forward to keeping you posted on my learning journey!