Monthly Archives: January 2007

My Guest Post

guest.jpg I’m very excited to say I’ve guest-posted on Flooring The Consumer blog, by Christine Whittemore. Christine and I met here at the blogsphere, through the Z-list, and have been communicating with each other ever since. She invited me to guest post on her blog about my transcultural point of view on the US retail environment. Christine writes about consumers’ retail experience and have put together one of the most interesting blogs out there.

I must say, our efforts turned out great! My guest post together with her commentary is one heck of a post! CHECK it out, it’s a very interesting and thought provoking read. And as usual, let me know what you thoguht of it.

Don’t take it personally

I don’t know if it’s just me and the way I was raised (I tend to believe that most people I know from Brazil are like that too), but I used to to take personally many things people told me. This is certainly a bad thing to do…

Here in the US, people are not like that. There’s a clear invisible line separating their personal person from the professional person, and no comments made either way is rarely taken personally. A comment about your professional skills is just that, a comment about your professional skills. It was almost unbelievable how people could do that. In my mind, if you talked about me, it was almost a personal attack, regardless of what it was really (how crazy was that?).

Adjusting to that was hell as you might imagine… I was so hung up on the “personal attack” that it was really difficult for me to start thinking differently. Eventuallly I did. Adapting to this mindset has been one invaluable lesson I’ve learned from living here. It has opened my mind to many opportunities I could have lost (and maybe did) because of my silly thinking.

5 Things You Should Know about Me…

I got tagged! Twice! So, no more excuses not to participate, right? This meme is really fun actually 🙂

Ok, here are the 5 most important things you should know about moi picture-27.jpg

1. I’m happily married to a wonderful man who has taught me marketing, Spanish and how to grab life by the horns (and to kick butt) here in the US.

2. I’m a shortie, 5’3”… sometimes I over compensate that with very high heels.

3. I came to the USA with my sister when I was 19 and she, 21. We dropped out of university and had only $300 dollars each.

4. I love speaking foreign languages… I speak 3 at the moment, but I have plans to learn French, Italian and Japanese.

5. I’m a globalized person, a citizen of the world… I embrace anything and everything foreign and worldly. I keep myself up to date on international news, I travel abroad, I learn about other countries, I make foreign friends… I love that we’re so different from one another.

Here’re the five people I want to tag:

Henry – author of the blog Men-agement and the wonderful man I married

Keith – good blogging friend and Latin culture connoisseur

Hélène – good blogging friend and a “qually” too

Paul – crazy guy who toured the US on his bike to raise money for his cause

Becky – for her, customers rock!

Thanks for tagging me Franci and Eliane!

Rice vs. Rice

Last Sunday, my husband and I had his cousin from Panama over for a gathering/lunch. I told her I was going to cook “bacalhoada”, a traditional Portuguese dish of cod fish, and she offered to bring “arroz con pollo”, “rice with chicken” (literally translated), which is a very traditional dish in all of Latin America. I was delighted! The last time I ate “arroz com frango” (“arroz con pollo” in Portuguese) was about 10 years ago when I was still in Brazil.

I was salivating just to think about “arroz com frang0″… it’s a very simple dish we make in Brazil, but yet, very deliscious. The dish, in Brazil, is simply cooking white rice with a bunch of chicken pieces (legs, breast, etc) in it.

Sunday came, and I just couldn’t wait to see what she had prepared! As soon as she arrived I went straight to the serving dish… and as soon as I opened it, I was SHOCKED! “Oh no!” I said to myself… “This is not what I was expecting!” True. It really wasn’t. “Arroz con pollo” in Panama is a very ellaborate dish that contains not only rice and chicken, but also vegetables. And not only that, the rice is colored (not white as I was used to) and the chicken is shredded (not in whole pieces). Super tasting and delicious dish, but it was not “my” “arroz com frango”, the one I’ve been dreaming about.

Had I known how Panamanians make their “arroz con pollo”, I wouldn’t be so disappointed. But, the lesson I took was to never assume about others what you do about yourself. This is so true in marketing too… can you imagine an advertising using the Panamanian colored rice with shredded chicken to sell utensiles in Brazil? Me neither.

That’s How We Are…

Today I had an interesting conversation with my American colleague about sales techniques, but mainly body language involved in the sales process. He even remembered and was describing the body language of Jaime, a Hispanic male we met Saturday at a party. Relating back to our sales techniques/body language conversation, my colleague was very presice in describing how (differently) Jaime behaved with the male and female party attendees.

The body language “movement”, if you will, Jaime enacted while being introduced to the women at the party was the following:

  • He extended his right hand to shake and placed his left hand on the women’s side of the arm just above the elbow

This according to my colleague is a “technique” that tells the person who you just met that you’re friendly and not intimidating.

On the other hand, when Jaime was being introduced to the men at the party, he did the following:

  • He extended his right arm and shaked the other men’s hand very firmly and in an assertive manner

This according to my colleague is also a “technique” that tells the person who you just met that you’re not to be fulled around with… especially since this is a man-to-man scenario, where men want to assert themselves and mark their territory right from the get go.

The conversation was really interesting, but I couldn’t agree that Jaime, an educator (not a businessman), could have used sophisticated sales techniques to lure the women at the party. So I started thinking about it… even though my colleague analyzed that expose as being a display of good sales techniques, I concluded that that was just how Jaime was. No doubt, that these are sales techniques, I just don’t believe Jaime was doing them.

As I mentioned earlier, Jaime is a Hispanic male from Guadalaraja, Mexico. Even though he has lived in the US for many years, he, deep down, like me, is still a Latin. Men in Latin America are supposed to be – and they like to be – charming and delicate with women… a real gentleman; and they’re also supposed to be manly with other men… it’s a macho thing! No matter the socio-economic status, men in Latin America are generally very gracious with women.

This whole episode just goes to show how people tend to impose their value system, thoughts and way of life on other people. My colleague analyzed the whole episode as being a good display of sales techniques, which is what he does all the time, so he assumed that other men would do the same. He, however, failed to take into consideration the cultural background behind the scenes that ultimately dictated how Jaime behaved, AND how he looked at Jaime – I bet that not even an European man would have concluded what my colleague concluded because Americans tend to make a science of just about anything, any subject, and deal with other people in a very “black or white” way with (somewhat) total disregard for cultural differences.

In Latin America, that’s just how we are… social pressure teaches us, from our first years of life, how to behave with (or impress) others in a very natural way… our efforts are not at all concious. Sales techniques are, on the other hand, very concious and one must prepare to execute them correctly.

So, was Jaime pulling off sales techniques at the party? I don’t think so for all the reasons I cited. But what makes this story interesting is that misinterpretation (and miscommunication) like that happens all the time and many go undetected… and many more happen even with people who share the same background! Case in point, marriage. Do I need to say more?