6 November 2007
New Book on Business in Russia
American author brings a fresh and honest look
at doing business in today’s Russia
To truly know Russia, one must come to understand the Russian psyche—something impossible by reading travel books, scholarly treatises, or the popular media. Walking on Ice is a rich portrait of a people and a culture whose traits are similar in many ways to our own and yet surprisingly different in others. From one who has conducted business in Russia for the past sixteen years, author Frederick Andresen conveys the Russian experience “from the trenches” and with such humor and compassion that he makes the adventure an experience we could make our own.
Leaving his home in Southern California, Andresen went to Russia in the chaos of the collapsing Soviet Union and the promising dawn of a free-market economy. It was 1991, and although his goal was to create a telecom company in Russia, he quickly learned that he could not do it “the American way.” Instead he had to come to understand the evolving Russian mindset— the thriving prospects of personal opportunity against the habits of generations of authoritarian rule.
Paraphrasing Dostoyevsky, Andresen writes; “These three things are generic to the traditional Russian character: the idea that good, if any, will come from some unexpected outside source (miracle); that man is not ordained to be responsible for his own welfare and progress (mystery); and that guidance and protection come only from constant dependence on and obedience to someone else (authority).” He saw things struggling to change, and he was determined to be a part of it.
Witnessing the new energy and amazing resourcefulness, particularly among the young, he realized it all had to overcome the cultural “optimistic fatalism and sense of personal inability to make a difference, to affect events.” Andresen had many lessons to learn:
“Doing business as a foreigner in Russia is also very much like walking on ice. Nothing is ever secure; nothing is for sure. As on ice, progressing in a straight line is hard enough. You change directions with care or spin out of control. Slipping around confused by the eternal problems of doing business in Russia might well end you up in the snow bank like the drunk. The reason for this insecurity is of course that Russia is not a country of laws but of personalities and tactics, both unpredictable.”
To those who may find themselves living in or doing business in Russia, Andresen offers five guiding principles to help one traverse the daily unpredictability of Russian life. He stresses his positive experiences with the new generation of young Russian entrepreneurs; while not overlooking the corruption, or “disorganized crime;” the plight and promise of women in the new environment; and the ill effects on a nation where too many still seek solace in a vodka bottle. He urges digging into the rich literary and artistic Russia soul.
Walking on Ice is a must-read for anyone who is going to Russia to work or to study. It is for those who teach and for those who are fascinated by other cultures and want to broaden their cultural perspective. It is also, Andresen points out, for those veterans of Russian business who wish to sit back, reminisce, and smile at it all.
Buy it from Amazon.com:
Walking on Ice: An American Businessman in Russia
Praise for Walking on Ice –
“What Andresen has written is romantic and accurate and nostalgic and prophetic and all of the wonderful and confusing and simple things we ‘veterans’ know Russia to be. It is a story that resonates with any of us living through this dramatic and productive era.”
Kevin Cuffe, Vice President/Managing Director, SOVINTEL/Golden Telecom, Moscow
“Based on his years of doing business there, at a particularly formative point in Russian history, Andresen has done a great service in helping to unravel and explain all these contradictions and conundrums that seem to grow deeper and deeper the longer you spend there. This will be of real interest to the casual reader as well as of great value to those looking to make their own mark in the world of Russian business. Has he explained it all? Why would he succeed where others have failed for a thousand years? Has he made a significant contribution? Without doubt. A book of valuable insights from one of the real pioneers.”
Peter Charow, Founder and first president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and builder and defender of businesses in Russia for 20 years, presently British Petroleum Regional Director for Russia, CIS and Turkey
About Frederick R. Andersen:
Frederick R. Andresen is an international business veteran with over thirty-five years of success in Asia, Europe, and now Russia. He founded DirectNet Telecommunications, which was recognized as a leading American company in Russia, and is now President and Chairman of Prioritel Holdings, Inc., a global IP based telecom enterprise centered in Moscow. He is President of the Los Angeles-St. Petersburg Sister City Committee, a board member of the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, as well as an active supporter of the performing arts in Orange County, California. He is a Graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and Colorado State University, and a recipient of the 2005 William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award. A published author and a recognized photographer, he currently lives in Corona del Mar, California. Within a lifetime of international business, Fred Andresen counts his years in Russia as the most challenging, enriching, and enjoyable.
Contact the Publisher:
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. – 515
Parker, Colorado 80134