Lost in Translation

Sorry for Your Loss … of Fashion Sense

Photographer: Forest Woodward/Getty Images

Photographer: Forest Woodward/Getty Images

Call it a culture clash of clothing.

Like many dressed-down techies, Nir Zuk knew his hacker's wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts wouldn't be well-received in more formal business settings. So before an important meeting in 2004 with customers in Japan, he went to Nordstrom, got fitted for an expensive suit and tie, and left feeling he'd make a great first impression.

But an unexpected thing happened when he arrived. Zuk, a computer security specialist at NetScreen Technologies at the time, said he noticed that people were unusually sad around him. This being his first time in Japan, he figured it was just a cultural difference.

It wasn't until he got home that he found out the people he met with in Japan thought Zuk, who is co-founder and chief technology officer of Palo Alto Networks, was in mourning.

Apparently the fancy black silk tie that Zuk wore with his suit made it look like he was going to a funeral, as that is the customary look. He had no idea.

"I learned to travel with a different tie to Japan," he said.

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