When in Rome...or should I say Brazil
(Speaking Topics for Corporate Events)
I hadn’t realized that São Paulo is sharply divided into two sets of soccer fans - São Paulo and Corinthians... a verbal brawl broke out and I lost control of the meeting...
Global Biz looks and feels different - language, style and approach - across the US & also across continents.
If you intend to work globally, open yourself up to the world – literally - and quickly realize that preparing for the nuances of other countries DOES make a DIFFERENCE.
In a meeting onsite at Schindler Elevators in São Paulo Brazil, I opened up the meeting at the head of the conference room in front of a full table of IT staff...
I wanted to open with a fun icebreaker and naturally thought of soccer, which I also really like myself… They immediately brightened and were engaged...Nice, I had just energized a room full of Brazilians talking about their national sport…
Then I made the mistake of choosing to say,
‘How bout those Corinthians?’
It was like saying, ‘How bout those Mets?’ during a Yankees/Mets World Series. The CTO and right-half of the table loved me, but the IT director and left-side of the table hated me… I hadn’t realized that São Paulo is sharply divided into two sets of soccer fans - São Paulo and Corinthians... a verbal brawl broke out and I lost control of the meeting.
I had finally learned to break the “cultural ice” in a non-offensive way… We had a great meeting and they became an eventual customer.
By Rio de Janeiro 2 days later I learned my lesson… I was preparing for the same type of meeting, this time at Furnas, the city electric company, and I was determined that my icebreaker would not result in a brawl again.
I introduced myself and told everyone that I love working in Brazil because it has all of my favorite things… Cafecino (strong Brazilian coffee is served at all times of the day – this company actually had a coffee dispenser mounted on the wall which I’d never seen before & thought was so cool), Feijoada (the national dish), Açaí (berry that makes great smoothies) and of course soccer!
They brightened once again!
However this time I had checked the newspaper standings the night before - and of all 13 Rio league teams, the cellar-dweller worst team in 13th place was a team called Botafogo…
Fechado! - that was now my team!
When I announced that I was ‘Botafogense’, they erupted in laughter, consoled me, & said ‘oh poor you’ and all had a hearty time… the meeting agenda moved right along with success.
I had learned to break the “cultural ice” in a non-offensive way… We had a great meeting and they became an eventual customer.
By the time I reached Brasilia I felt like a pro. Government officials there can’t accept gifts of any value, but food is fine. We served cafecinos at Caixa, the government bank, & carried out trays of the famous Brazilian cheese bread called pao de queijo as my first slide displayed a picture of the equally famous company that baked it - who was already a customer of ours. Everyone in the meeting made the connection and enjoyed the snack.
“Tamo Junt”, I opened.. It means
“We are together.”
We were. Biz followed.
..stay tuned for Bonding with Customers & Partners - coming up soon!
I am available for speaking engagements & corporate events on Global Leadership, Business, & Travel - on this topic & all my featured Blogs!..
...contact me @ armyrangeratMIT@gmail.com