212°: The Extra Degree

by Mac Anderson

The 212° concept is one of the most powerful communication ideas that I have experienced in my 30 years as an entrepreneur.

A few years ago, Sam Parker and I wrote the Simple Truths gift book titled 212°: The Extra Degree, and it has been successful beyond my wildest dreams!

If you’re not familiar, here’s the idea:

At 211 degrees…water is hot.

At 212 degrees…it boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And steam can power a locomotive.
And, it’s that one extra degree that…
Makes all the difference.

So many times, in business and in life, it’s that one extra degree of effort that separates the good from the great.

What I love about the 212° idea is that you can use it to fit your own needs. It may be 212° service that you’d like to reinforce, or 212° attitude, leadership, or quality. Or maybe, you’ll choose to build your entire culture around the 212° concept…to differentiate you from your competition.

The real beauty of 212° is the simplicity of the idea. Once explained…everybody gets it. And once you get it…it’s hard to forget!


Entrepreneurs Often Squander Time, Money and Resources

Learning to Focus on One Thing is Critical to Success
By Mitchell York , About.com Guide
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How can you avoid the pitfalls that destroy most entrepreneurs? Rob Kelly, a San Francisco-based Internet veteran who has started, sold, bought and, by his own admission, even bankrupted a business, says there are five major mistakes entrepreneurs of failed businesses make. If you avoid these mistakes, he says, your chances of creating a winning business go way up.

1. Failed entrepreneurs believe that “if you build it, they will come”: Webvan is perhaps the most compelling example of a business that assumed tons of customers would flock to its service.

In reality, what happened (as reported in The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steven Gary Blank) was:

They had close to 400 employees by the time they shipped their first product.
They spent $18 million to develop proprietary software and $40 million to set up their first automated warehouse (before they had shipped a single item).
One month after Webvan’s product shipped, they spent $1 billion on a warehouse deal with Bechtel.
While Webvan came out of the gates with customer orders most of us would dream of (2,000 orders a day), it had nowhere near the volume needed (8,000 per day) to sustain the substantial investments it had made. And so it failed.

Kelly says a good tip to avoiding the “if you build it, they will come” pitfall is to create a “minimum viable product” (MVP) before you invest too much time and resources. Simply put, the idea is to put no more features and expense into product development than are required to make it minimally acceptable enough to ship.

2. They spend too much time on business support and not enough on money-making: Entrepreneurs often waste valuable time on items related to supporting the business before they’ve figured out their money-making formula. Examples of wasteful business support items include:

Accounting – Selecting an accounting program to track their financials.
Design – Choosing a logo for business cards or a Web site.
Intellectual Property – Figuring out how what parts of your idea can get a copyright, trademark or patent.
While those can be important later on, you shouldn’t sweat supporting a business until you have a business capable of making money. Here are the key money-making topics Kelly says you should dig into before you work on supporting your business:

Lead generation – What are your sources for new customers?
Converting leads – How do you convert your leads into first-time customers?
Upselling – How do you sell additional products to your existing customers?
Nail those money-makers first before sweating what your new logo should look like.

3. They run out of money and time: Most entrepreneurs fail because they run out of money or resources. Even mighty Webvan (with billions of dollars available to it) fell victim to this. They run out of money because they did a poor job at one of these three parts of financial projections:

You were optimistic on your revenues.
You underestimated your expenses.
You mis-projected your balances.
The root cause of many missed financial projections is that the revenues take longer to bring in than expected; yet meanwhile the meter is running on such expenses as people and office space. “Figure out how to buy time,” Kelly advises. “With enough time anything is possible.”

Obtaining cash is one good way to buy time. And if you don’t have cash, make sure you minimize your cash outlays until your money-making is kicking in. A good entrepreneur substantially minimizes cash outlays until the business is off the ground, Kelly notes.

4. They lack strong execution: Entrepreneurs often fail because they execute poorly. This is not surprising since a common characteristic of entrepreneurs is that they are often more creative — which is in part why they come up with great ideas for businesses — than they are organized and detail-oriented. Kelly believes the key items for strong execution are:

Pick a vision/general direction for your business;
Set goals/priorities toward that vision;
Measure your progress on those goals/priorities in regular meetings in which you and your team are held accountable;
Refine your vision and goals on a regular basis;
If you are a solo-entrepreneur (with no real team), take advantage of experienced business-people or friends who can act as your accountability buddy on your progress.
5. They start too many things: Kelly says he knows an entrepreneur who has a full-time job (which he dreams of quitting) and has three Web sites running in his limited part time. He’s spreading himself too thin on the three web side-projects — one of them is showing promise (it dominates a niche market and generates $1,000 per month in revenue and growing). Kelly told him he should focus on that side-business and let the other two go.

Kelly says he knows another entrepreneur who is almost single-handedly running both a web application and a mobile application business.When he her pushed her on which business had the real potential, she admitted that the mobile app is what she has tremendous confidence in — yet she spends 80% of her time on the Web site.

Kelly advises: Constantly apply the 80/20 rule to your work by asking yourself, “What are the 20% of my projects that generate 80% of my value?” And then try to drop everything else and reinvest your time in the most valuable projects . Finally, don’t start something new unless you feel strongly that it is going to be generating 80% of your value some time soon.

Adjusting to Mexico: Transitional anxiety – Part 3, an overview

Dr. Marc J. Ehrlich
Business in Mexico

Part 1 provides an Introduction and Interpersonal effects.

Part 2 – Intrapersonal Symptoms

During the time that I have been living in Mexico, I have worked with many international families. They were in Mexico City mostly as a result of the husband’s work transfer. The contact with these families, however, usually came as a result of their need for help.

Although each family has been different, there was a pattern quite frequent among those who were having adjustment difficulties. The executive husband was overworked, yet, stimulated by the challenge of working in Mexico. The satisfaction of contributing and being an important member of an international team more than compensated for the long hours and being continually frustrated with the way business was done in Mexico.

The wife, on the other hand, had quite a different experience. Unable to work and confined to her walled-in house, she usually felt isolated from friends, family, and familiar surroundings. She had to struggle to share her intimate space with a maid she couldn’t understand and was unfortunately separated from her husband for longer and longer periods of time. She felt abandoned, ignored, and overwhelmed. The husband, doing his best to keep his professional head above water, became increasingly more impatient with his wife’s constant phone calls to the office. On the one hand, he wanted to be attentive and sympathetic to his wife’s dilemma. On the other, he was angry and frustrated by his wife’s apparent unwillingness or inability to “make the best of things.”

Being conscious of her unhappiness and unwilling to add “fuel to the fire”, the husband would hold back information about his problems as well as stifle his anger and irritation with his wife’s inability to cope. While there may have been some benefit to such a stoic response, the husband’s silence only served to further isolate his spouse. Sensing her husband’s impatience and disapproval, the wife felt that much more misunderstood and cut-off from the love and attention she so desperately needed. There is no wonder why these couples sought out psychological consultation.

While these wives were the most obviously troubled by the transition to Mexico, there was always an assortment of marital and family issues which contributed significantly to their anxiety and difficulty adjusting. In some cases, for instance, the husband had a pattern of ignoring or minimizing his wife’s feelings and problems. Even under the best of circumstances, the marriage was strained. With the added problems of struggling to live and work in Mexico, the wife’s frustrated needs for attention, understanding, and companionship pushed her to the edge. With a more sensitive and attentive husband, such women might have been able to make a more positive adjustment.

Within these families, there was also a tendency for one or more of the children to experience school problems. This only exacerbated the mother’s belief that a mistake was made by coming to this “polluted, strange, and horrible” place. Their problems caused considerable stress for the mother who was left alone to find a way to help them. Problem compounded problem and it soon became too much to bear. One international family after another, coming apart at the seams, would pass through my consulting room.

Adjustment to Mexico, however, does not have to be this way. In future commentaries, I will share some of the success stories and what was done to ensure a positive and happy tour in Mexico.

Adjusting to Mexico: Transitional anxiety and interpersonal effects – Part 2

Dr. Marc J. Ehrlich
Business in Mexico

Part 1 provides an Introduction and Interpersonal effects.

Part 3 – Overview

Moving to a foreign country makes enormous demands upon our psyche. Not only do we have to deal with the stress of leaving home, we also have to struggle to find the way to live within a country whose culture, society, and language are so different from our own. For some, this double challenge can become overwhelming and lead to a variety of psychological and emotional reactions.

Depression. Depression is a reaction to loss. When under the throes of transitional anxiety, it is more likely that the individual will focus on what s/he no longer has available. While the losses of transition are quite personal, some of the more common losses include: the loss of freedom (“What happens if I get lost in the car? I wouldn’t even know how to ask for help!”), the loss of contact with friends and relatives, the loss of a predictable life (the uninterrupted flow of electricity is never guaranteed), the loss of feeling self-sufficient and independent, the loss of knowing what is being said between the lines, and the “simple” losses of one’s everyday routines. Once depression sets in, it is possible that the person will experience insomnia, fatigue, lethargy, and a need to avoid contact with others.

Annoyance and Irritation. Have you ever sat in a room with people who all seem to know what is going on and your ears are so clogged that you cannot hear a thing? There is a sense of being in a fish-bowl, out-of-touch with everyone and everything. Coming to Mexico confronts the foreigner with a barrage of unfamiliar social, professional, and interpersonal rules (for example, how to relate to servants, how to determine what is being expected from you within social and professional situations, and how to get your point across to others without being aggressive or appearing insecure). For some, not knowing what to do keeps them on the defensive and hypersensitive to others’ behavior. At times, this state of irritation becomes chronic and overflows into relationships that otherwise would be quite tranquil.

Confusion and Withdrawal. One of the more common reactions to persistent anxiety is that of confusion and withdrawal from the perceived source of the problem. Some seek refuge from the demands of adapting to Mexico by isolating themselves from Nationals or from those who do not share their negative perceptions of Mexico and Mexicans. In some cases, the anxiety related to being in Mexico forces certain foreigners to withdraw emotionally from their family members which only creates greater family instability. For some, separating from some of the routines considered untouchable (the lunch hour, favorite holidays, family ceremonies) and realizing just how relative everything is leads them towards a certain existential confusion. In the face of such angst, some find refuge in solitude and silence.

Loneliness and Boredom. Being unable to meet the challenge of adapting to Mexico, some individuals become overwhelmed with loneliness. The loneliness results from the defensive reactions described above, as well as from being cut-off from the tried and true. These people often bemoan the fact that they are not with their “best” friends or can no longer go to their “favorite” places. The farther away they are from home, the more these people and places take on a bigger-than-life aura. In comparison to the old routines and familiar activities, Mexico has nothing to offer! This reaction occurs frequently with adolescents who struggle with the additional burden of having less freedom of movement and less opportunity to explore their environment. The experience of boredom at times is a camouflage for fear or depression.

Behavioral Excesses. Both here and back home, eating too much, sleeping too much, cleaning too much, taking too much medication, and drinking excessively are ways of calming the anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and depression. Without proper support and friendly advice (which is unlikely given their isolation and the need to maintain a mask within their new social group), these individuals run the risk of falling so deep into an emotional hole that climbing out often requires professional help. Some executives find that they get caught-up in the long lunches so typical within the Mexican business environment. Their professional insecurity or the need to “get along” with their Mexican colleagues may make it difficult for them to set appropriate limits, and, as a result, eat and drink much more than they prefer or enjoy.

Psychosomatic Illness. Despite our best attempts to repress the painful emotions of an unsuccessful adaptation to Mexico, our bodies will absorb the emotional stress and develop physical symptoms. Not only does the physical symptom provide a symbolic expression of the emotional trauma, it enables the person to get the help and attention that is so desperately needed (without having to risk being emotionally vulnerable). The more common psychosomatic problems experienced by the executive and his/her family are: lower back aches, indigestion, high blood pressure, dizziness, chronic colds and other respiratory disturbances, as well as headaches, insomnia, and fatigue.

Loss of Self-esteem. The loss of self-esteem for the executive frequently stems from his unexpected difficulties on the job. Despite doing everything “by the book,” being as respectful as he can, even struggling to speak in Spanish, he is not getting results. Furthermore, the home office seems unsympathetic to his explanations that “things are just not done the same way down here.” The less effective he feels, the more he pushes, and the more ineffective he becomes. The non-working spouse often suffers from what is referred to as “ego-deflation.” She begins to feel useless and unproductive. It is extremely difficult to feel motivated to explore, go out and meet new friends, or provide the emotional support needed by other family members when feeling worthless.

In some families making the adjustment to Mexico, problems develop as a result of a disparity between the self-esteem of the executive and his spouse. Some executives are provided a privileged position: an important role in the Mexican subsidiary, bi-lingual assistants who are eager to satisfy his every beck and call, an attentive chauffeur, housing and tuition allowances, and a chance to finally save some real money. His wife, on the other hand, is feeling more and more deflated. She may begin to resent her husband’s successes and feels a need to shoot down his rising star. The contrast between his feeling powerful and admired on the job (oftentimes for the first time in his career) and struggling with his wife’s disdain forces an emotional wedge between them. The greater the distance, the worse they both feel.

In other cases, the executive feels guilty about how his wife is suffering and feels painfully inept and useless to help her. Rather than lend a loving and attentive hand, he slowly withdraws or falls into a defensive stance in which he is critical or minimizes the wife’s pain. It is at this point that she begins to feel betrayed, abused, and abandoned–the ingredients for a debilitating crisis. The loss of self-esteem runs deep within many of the symptoms described above. Learning new behaviors, while at first uncomfortable, awkward, and distressing, will eventually expand one’s behavioral repertoire. Developing new ways of relating to others, understanding just how relative everything is (Independence Day, for instance, can be July 4 or September 16 and be equally as valid), and realizing that no one has a monopoly on truth will eventually lead to a healthier self-esteem. But, it takes work.

Adjusting to Mexico: Transitional anxiety and interpersonal effects – Part 1

Dr. Marc J. Ehrlich
Business in Mexico

As many international families can attest, adjusting to life in Mexico City or other major city in Mexico is a unique challenge. Some families, unfortunately, do not fare too well. In this article, some of the more common symptoms of a difficult personal and social adjustment to Mexico will be discussed.

These symptoms, commonly referred to as “culture shock” can be divided roughly into two broad categories: interpersonal and intrapersonal. The interpersonal symptoms affect the way the individual relates socially, while the intrapersonal symptoms are internal emotional and psychological reactions.

It is important to remind the reader that these so-called symptoms of culture shock are basically anxiety reactions. When confronting the demands of an emotional, social, and professional adaptation to Mexico, many people find that they are not sure how to behave or how to understand the Mexican’s behavior. Furthermore, there is a great sense of uncertainty and insecurity surrounding even the most simple of activities (as when confronting the different denominations of money on an impatient and long check-out line). Feeling ignorant, dependent, insecure, and trapped within a confusing maze of social and professional rules lead to what can be called, “transitional anxiety.”

The interpersonal symptoms include the following: excessive concern over cleanliness, excessive fear of servants, extreme dependence upon ex-pats, undue concern about being cheated, robbed, or injured, isolation from nationals, and feeling overwhelmed by normal family and marital conflicts. The intrapersonal symptoms are: depression, annoyance and irritation, confusion and withdrawal, loneliness and boredom, behavioral excesses, psychosomatic illness, and a debilitating loss of self-esteem.

The Interpersonal Symptoms

Excessive concern over cleanliness. One of the clearest symptoms of anxiety is worrying excessively about keeping things clean and neat. The struggle to maintain order is an external manifestation of the need to control the many difficult and troublesome feelings inherent in an international move. This form of anxiety frequently leads the person to believe that everything is dirty and germ-infested. Oftentimes, this belief leads to compulsive cleaning, an exaggerated reaction to colds and infections, and to incessant complaining about “how things are done” in Mexico. The reality of Mexico’s pollution serves as an objective mask for this mostly psychological reaction.

Excessive suspicion of workers. Related to the obsessiveness about cleanliness, is an intense and unrealistic suspicion of maids, chauffeurs, gardeners, servicemen, and subordinates. This paranoia stems from the painful combination of being unable to communicate appropriately, feeling ignorant about the proper etiquette and social rules, and struggling with any number of assaults on one’s ego (as when the executive doesn’t know how to get his subordinates to respond as he would like or the non-working spouse feels useless in her forced role of “dependent”). The insecurity, anxiety, loneliness, and feeling of being disconnected from the familiar are projected onto the Mexican. It is always easy to deal with an external threat than the reality of one’s feelings.

Extreme dependence on expatriates. When under the pangs of anxiety, there is a natural tendency to hold on to what is familiar and known. Given the personal, familial, and social stresses of the initial phases of an international move, it is typical for people to feel somewhat lost and disconnected. One of the surest ways of feeling more secure and “at home” is to be with others who “speak your own language.” Literally and figuratively. Such dependence, however, also serves to isolate the ex-pats and insulate them from the Mexicans and Mexican culture. They become a prisoner, in a sense, of their own habits and customs.

Undue Concern About Being Cheated, Robbed, or Injured. While Mexico does have a shadow side, it is basically a city of law and order. As with any major urban area, one needs to take the necessary precautions in order to live, work, and socialize safely. When the anxiety and insecurities build up, it is not uncommon for people to view their immediate world through the veil of fear. When normal worry and caution become symptomatic, one’s life is severely restricted. Trips to the supermarket and bank are perceived to be a journey into the war zone. One’s life becomes increasingly more restricted to the safety of the home or to outings with known and trusted friends.

Isolation From Nationals. As might be expected, if the newcomer to Mexico suffers from the symptoms described above, s/he will find it nearly impossible to socialize comfortably with Nationals. These individuals might rationalize, “I really don’t have anything against the Mexicans. It’s just ….I don’t know. I just don’t feel comfortable around them.” Under the weight of transitional anxiety, in the face of a continual bombardment of difficult-to-assimilate information, and with an increasing sense of isolation from the tried and true, it is quite understandable that these emotional reactions will lead to “The Mexican” becoming a useful target. It is believed mistakenly that by avoiding the Mexican and the Mexican ways one can protect him/herself from the psychological turbulence brewing inside.

Feeling Overwhelmed by Normal Family and Marital Conflicts. Everyone has family conflicts. With all of the talk about dysfunctional families, we have lost sight of the fact that it is impossible to live intimately with others without conflict. Under normal circumstances, these conflicts are managed more or less effectively. Given the undercurrent of impatience, intolerance, irritability, and a painfully low threshold of frustration which underlie all symptoms of transitional anxiety, even the most mundane of family difficulties can seem like an enormous burden. As one corporate wife bemoaned, “Even just thinking about what to tell the maid to make for dinner seemed too much of a burden.” The emotional package that families bring with them expand geometrically when one or more members are unable to adapt successfully to Mexico. Such symptoms are often contagious. As one member suffers, others will to.

Mexico – The Social Perspective

Dr. Marc J. Ehrlich
Business in Mexico

One of the ways to soften personality shock is knowing what to expect from the Mexican. In this chapter special attention will he placed on helping the foreign executive understand the general differences between the Mexican and Anglo personalities. This should help clarify some of the more common work-related problems faced by the foreign executive within the Mexican work environment and help him learn how to avoid some of the more typical mistakes.

Most, if not all, Anglo executives coming for the first time to Mexico have considerable difficulty understanding the motivations and values of the Mexican worker. Many become exasperated as they cannot find the way to encourage their Mexican subordinates and colleagues to work according to “commonly-accepted” professional standards. As the executives frustrations increase, so too his attempts to change the Mexican’s professional style. At this point, the interpersonal gap between the foreign executive and Mexican worker becomes even greater and both parties begin to feel misunderstood.

The professional and interpersonal conflicts between the newly-arrived foreign executive and his Mexican counterpart result from specific social and managerial differences. Socio-cultural differences in work style and ways of relating on the job are especially troublesome as they operate unconsciously on the individual. Most do not know their behavior is reflecting a cultural value as they have always interacted with others who share similar values. It is only when confronted with different and equally valid ways of behaving does one realize that change cannot be forced upon someone, even if one believes that his way is the “right way” of getting things done.

In any discussion of cultural differences, it is important to emphasize what is referred to as “preponderance of belief.” This concept refers to generalizations about a culture and the people who share it. Obviously not everyone will reflect the stereotypes used to describe that group of people. One looks, however, for a preponderance of a certain set of characteristics in order to describe tendencies within the culture. Such descriptions allow for a reasonable explanation of why people act as they do, Based upon an understanding of what motivates others, it is hoped that one can learn to become sufficiently flexible so as to permit a smoother and more productive integration into the host culture.

Individuality vs. Individualism
The Mexican believes strongly in what could be defined roughly as “soul”. It is generally thought that each person is basically good and decent and that one’s dignity is unaffected by what he does. Mexicans tend to accept the inherent worth of friends and colleagues without demanding or expecting a specific performance or achievement. The Mexican’s soul imbues him with both mystique and mystery, making him curiously attractive and difficult to define.

The Anglo’s sense of individualism is based upon three basic premises: 1) people are basically the same, 2) people should be judged upon their merits, and 3) these merits, which are thought to include one’s inherent worth and character, are manifested through one’s behavior and achievements. In striking contrast to the Mexican’s sense of “soul”, the Anglo believes that one proves his integrity or dignity by what he does and how he does it. Parker (1987), writing about the Puritan ethic within the Anglo culture explained, “Work gives man moral dignity, and economic success gives him honor.” For the northern neighbors, the one who wins is obviously the “better person” while for the Mexican, one is “better” whether he wins or not.

Points of Conflict
For the Mexican, the Anglo’s tendency to judge a person for what they do and how efficiently they do it, simply misses the point. Such an attitude unfortunately reduces the person’s value to an impersonal standard and obviously reflects an arrogantly superficial attitude towards others. Given such an obvious lack of respect for the individual, there is little motivation to prove oneself or to go out of one’s way for the boss. From the foreign executives perspective, the Mexican’s apparent indifference to continually strive for greater and greater achievement is believed to reflect a basic laziness or lack of ambitiousness. In order to “teach” the Mexican subordinate the -value of hard work and “going the extra mile”, many foreign executives become harsh disciplinarians which only serves to promote increasingly more subtle forms of resistance.

Obedience to People vs. Obedience to Rules
Given the Anglo’s belief that all people are basically the same it follows logically that one would not look for any special favors or exemptions from the rules and regulations which govern social interactions. There is a strong belief in the saying, “No one is above the law.” In order to maintain the order and predictability that is so much a part of the Anglo culture, there is a deep respect for social rules and principles and an expectation that everyone will conform to policy. The “larger” system is valued strongly as it provides a structure and a sense of continuity that is comfortably independent of the people who work within it.

Rules, policies, and procedures are, at times, ignored by the Mexican worker in favor of adhering to the wishes of the person in charge or satisfying a co-workers personal needs. Given the belief in the uniqueness of each individual and the special value the individual’s soul has for the Mexican, it stands to reason that the person would he respected more than abstract principles or concepts. This attitude provides the Mexican with a deep sense of loyalty with those with whom he feels an emotional connection, while, for the same reason, makes for a shaky commitment to the organization.

Points of conflict.
For many Mexicans, the Anglo’s insistence on “playing by the rules” is often received with amused, yet, polite disregard. Some perfunctory attempts are made to play the game, yet, the Mexican’s heart is not really in it. Following rules and regulations is often considered to be the most inefficient way of getting things done. The foreign executives’ naive belief that the system” is predictable ind orderly only further strengthens the Mexican’s belief that the executive does not really know what he is doing. On the other hand, the apparent “half-hearted” efforts to follow company procedures or operating manuals is viewed as indicating the Mexican’s defiance, rebelliousness, or lack of commitment to the organization. This perception typically leads the Anglo to become irritated, impatient, and harsh with his Mexican counterpart who obviously is not part of the “team.”

Emphasis on Pleasing vs. Emphasis on the Facts
Another major source of conflict between the foreign executive and the Mexican worker stems from the different emphasis placed on pleasing and being objective. There is a strong tendency in the Mexican to shun open confrontation stemming from a fear of losing face and from having to confront disagreements. For many Mexicans the messenger and the bad news are often one and the same. As a result, negative or disappointing information is either withheld or modified so as to avoid offending or irritating the other person or, worse, being blamed for the bad news.

The author recently had an experience with a Mexican worker which demonstrated quite clearly the Mexican’s need to save-face. The tiled wall of a bathroom was being refurbished. It was decided that it was to be covered with stucco and then painted. When the worker was asked if the tiles were going to show through the stucco, he guaranteed that they would not. When the job was finished, the tiles were all too evident underneath a much too thin layer of stucco. When the worker was confronted with this problem, teasing him somewhat for the way it turned out, he quite seriously explained, “Se ve, pero no se nota” (You can see it but it doesn’t show). That response was the perfect way to avoid offending the boss, which he would have if he had denied what was clearly evident, and simultaneously avoid losing face by admitting that he had made a mistake.

The Anglo typically places a greater emphasis on stating the facts, regardless of the impact this has on the other’s feelings. Emotions have no place on the job. The Anglo values the facts, getting down to business quickly, and giving others objective and straight-forward feedback.

Points of Conflict.
This cultural difference is one of the most common sources of professional misunderstanding. The Mexican perceives the Anglo’s directness and objective approach to business as reflecting an insensitivity and cold heartedness more so than an efficient professional style. It is yet further evidence that the business-only foreign executive cannot be trusted completely and, as a result, does not “deserve one’s total commitment”. The foreign executive, who cannot seem to get a straight answer from his Mexican subordinate and colleague, perceives this difficulty as a reflection of the Mexican’s dishonesty, inefficiency, or unprofessional style. Through a variety of verbal and non-verbal cues, the foreign executive transmits his disapproval and criticalness, thereby provoking even greater distrust on the part of the Mexican.

Respect and Power vs. Respect and Fair Play
Within the Mexican society, there is a tendency to respect those who are the most powerful. Title, position, influence, and the ability to control others are usually sufficient to enforce obedience. Fear and respect go -hand-in-hand. The boss’s respectability is manifested by his maintaining a definite social distance, through an unwillingness to delegate, and by his ability to dominate others (by whatever means necessary). The Mexican tendency to instill absolute power in his leader emerges out of a -political, social, and religious history in which power was concentrated in one figure. From the time of the Aztecs, through the era of Porfilio Diaz (the Mexican president who had a 30-year reign), to the current power of the PRI and the, system of investing in the President the power of a virtual dictator (presidencialismo), the Mexican seems to prefer an authoritarian leader.

Fair play, shared responsibility, and playing by the rules are the ingredients of respect for the Anglo executive. Respect is earned, not given, by adherence to company policy, by maintaining an objective and somewhat impersonal managerial style, and by treating everyone as equally as possible. The ability of the executive to be “one of the guys” is believed to reflect his inherent respectability. He will often insist on being dealt with on a first-name basis and will work to break down social barriers between organizational levels. Within the Anglo political system, for instance, there is a strong tendency to personalize its leaders. Within the United States, especially, the public wants to literally get into the president’s bedroom, demanding as complete a personal disclosure as possible.

Points of Conflict.
The Anglo executive frequently perceives the Mexican’s submission to authority as indicating a lack of resolve and an inefficient professional passivity. He is often frustrated and irritated by the Mexican’s unwillingness to circumvent cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and believe–, it to be yet another indication of the Mexican’s resistance to change, inherently low motivation, and inability to assimilate-, technological improvements.

The Mexican will typically view the foreign executive’s insistence on fair play, desire to delegate, and the removal of social barriers as reflecting an inability to accept the power associated with his leadership. At times, it may even lead to believing that the foreign executive is not worthy of his position. This belief, in conduction with the distaste for direct confrontation, often leads to a passive-aggressive response to the foreign executive’s orders or requests (in the form of forgetting, procrastinating, or not following through).

Integration Strategies
Despite these and other cultural differences in the work place, multi-cultural companies manage to do business and do it successfully. It is unlikely that these interpersonal and professional conflicts will interfere significantly with the company’s performance. They are pervasive enough, however, to lead to considerable on-the-job stress with serious implications for the foreign executives mental health and professional performance.

The foreign executives who have been able to integrate successfully into the Mexican work environment are those who were able to see themselves and their work style from the perspective of the Mexican worker. These professionals were able to disengage somewhat from their habitual ways of working. More importantly, they were able to avoid unrealistic and uninformed expectations about their Mexican subordinates and colleagues. By recognizing the relativity of cultural values, these executives were able to engage the Mexican workers with respect and with an acceptance of the validity of their way of getting the job done.

More specifically, it is recommended that foreign executives make an effort in the following direction (please see Chapter 5 for a complete description of these sociocultural differences and other suggestions to ensure a positive professional and personal adaptation to Mexico):

The best way to avoid unproductive conflict is to anticipate the nature of the conflicts one most likely will confront. It is essential that one understands that life and business in Mexico proceed according to different standards and differing rhythms. Before one criticizes the subordinates for not proceeding according to the plan, one must analyze if both the plan and deadlines were realistic and viable within the Mexican work environment.
The foreign executives must be continually aware of pressures from headquarters to meet production goals, increase profit margins, and ensure quality control objectives. When under such pressure, it is more likely that the executives will adopt an even more authoritative and critical style of leadership. It is essential that the executives allow themselves sufficient flexibility and time so as to minimize the number of unproductive and unrealistic demands. It may also be necessary to provide the home office with more precise information about the nature of the Mexican work environment in order to ensure that production or profit difficulties are not interpreted solely as a reflection of the executive’s performance. At times, it will be important for the home-office executives to visit the Mexican operation in order to experience the nature of the Mexican work environment.
The executives will need to pay close attention to the personal impact they have on the Mexican subordinate and colleague. It is unlikely that they will garnish support and loyalty as a result of their technical brilliance. They are more likely to influence positively the Mexican worker if attention is placed on the following:
. Act politely without violating any existing and necessary social barriers. it is important for the executive to maintain as many of the social courtesies as possible (for example, greeting others as “Ingeniero” or “Licenciado”) as this creates the necessary social distance and serves as a sign of respect for the other’s professional status.
Even if there is sufficient reason to reprimand a subordinate, do not embarrass him in public. Although this might give the executive a chance to “blow off steam,” it will create silent resentments and almost inevitably provoke a serious lack of cooperation- It is imperative that the executive have the patience to work through the Mexican’s cultural tendency to “save face” and avoid appearing incompetent. Focus more on the actions and behaviors which lead to the problem and not on the personal aspects of the worker.
Make an attempt to speak in Spanish. Most Mexicans will appreciate the effort exerted to speak Spanish as it communicates the executives openness and flexibility to adjust to their environment. It also avoids the appearance of being overly ego-centric- and “bossy” by expecting everyone to speak English. It will be considerably more beneficial, from an interpersonal perspective, to appear somewhat foolish with incorrect Spanish than to be grammatically correct in English and socially removed from nationals. Learn and use as many idioms and informal phrases as possible.
Allow for time to repeat instructions (even though they were “clearly” written out) and to continually check on what was previously agreed to (despite being “sure” that the agreement was obtained). It is essential that the executive remember that time is not always lineal in Mexico. Plans just do not proceed neatly. There is always something that occurs which delays deadlines and interferes with subordinates completing their jobs as previously established.
. Ensure that there are various people within the organization that can be trusted to provide clear and direct information about how one’s department is functioning. Such information is, at times, hard to obtain. Do not take subordinates’ difficulty to “tell things as it is” as a reflection of professional incompetence or personal weakness. If the executive is not convinced or satisfied with the information provided, be sure to ask specific questions. Ask the questions calmly, carefully, and with a precise goal in mind. Avoid the appearance of trying to “catch” the other in a lie or with incorrect data.
Avoid judging negatively a subordinate who is not willing to “go the extra mile” for the company. This may reflect the fact that the worker does not feel sufficiently identified with the company. Mexicans tend to be more responsive to the social and interpersonal network than to organizational policy.

Cancún va por turismo médico

22/05/2011 21:02

Autoridades y empresarios de Cancún, Quintana Roo, enfocan estrategias para promocionar el turismo de salud y lograr la llegada de 40,000 turistas de este segmento en 2013 y superar los 10,000 pacientes atendidos en 2010.

Para ello el gobierno estatal y empresas conformaron la Medical Travel México AC a finales del 2010, con el objetivo expreso de promocionar los servicios médicos del estado bajo el nombre -Mexico Care Travel-, la oferta médico-turística que tienen Cancún y la Riviera Maya.

Servando Acuña, presidente de la Medical Travel México, explicó que en los últimos 15 años en Estados Unidos el costo del cuidado de la salud está muy por arriba del índice inflacionario, lo cual generó que mucha gente opte por salir de ese país a costear tratamientos que de otra manera le resultarían impagables.

El entrevistado mencionó que la competencia directa con Cancún es Costa Rica, que lleva 5 años de ventaja, pero carece de beneficios estratégicos con los que sí cuenta el Caribe mexicano.

Una de esas ventajas es la cercanía con Estados Unidos y la conectividad que ofrece el aeropuerto de Cancún con 60 ciudades norteamericanas, razón por la que existe un área de oportunidad que hace posible pensar en un crecimiento del 400% en el 2013, explicó Acuña.

Para aprovechar el mercado, un grupo de empresarios de Cancún, encabezado por la hotelera Patricia de la Peña Segura, pondrá en operación una clínica especializada en cirugías estética, plástica y reconstructiva a finales del 2011.

Explicó que a partir de su inauguración los planes son cerrar en el 2012 con 700 operaciones, es decir atender un promedio diario de 20 pacientes.

Los servicios del complejo médico incluyen la presencia de los mejores especialistas en cirugías plásticas especializadas, así como en ortopedia y maxilofacial.

La empresaria precisó que el segmento que buscarán atender es de medio alto principalmente de Estados Unidos y Canadá que pueden encontrar precios en operaciones hasta un 60% por debajo de lo que encuentran en sus países.

Hotel que no ofrece sol ni playa
Un precursor de este segmento es El Hotel B2B, que abrió sus puertas desde el 2010 y no ofrece sol y playa a sus huéspedes: se trata de un concepto que brinda todos los servicios necesarios para el turista de negocios y su apuesta más importante es captar el auge del turismo médico que se prevé para el 2012.

El edificio se construyó en la zona de Malecón Cancún (el centro de la ciudad) y es perteneciente al Grupo AVSI, el mismo que en 1980 instaló en la zona de playas el emblemático hotel TuCancún Beach, a partir del cual vieron de cerca y analizaron el crecimiento, bonanza y declive de los hoteles All Inclusive y los llamados de Plan Europeo.

Hugo Ramírez García, director comercial del B2B, explicó que la idea de construir en la ciudad un hotel de enormes dimensiones como los que se encuentran en la zona de playas pero que estuviese enfocado al viajero de negocios surgió luego del 2005 en que el impacto del huracán Wilma obligó a reinventar Cancún.

(Mexican Business Web / El Economista)

Pulling Together

An excerpt from
by John Murphy
At the center of every high performance team is a common purpose – a mission that rises above and beyond each of the individual team members. To be successful, the team’s interests and needs come first. This requires “we-opic” vision (“What’s in it for we?”), a challenging step up from the common “me-opic” mind-set.

Effective team players understand that personal issues and personality differences are secondary to team demands. This does not mean abandoning who you are or giving up your individuality. On the contrary, it means sharing your unique strengths and differences to move the team forward. It is this “we-opic” focus and vision – this cooperation of collective capability – that empowers a team and generates synergy.

Cooperation means working together for mutual gain – sharing responsibility for success and failure and covering for one another on a moment’s notice. It does not mean competing with one another at the team’s expense, withholding important data or information to be “one up” on your peers, or submitting to “groupthink” by going along so as not to make waves. These are “rule breakers,” that are direct contradictions to the “team first” mind-set.

High performance teams recognize that it takes a joint effort to synergize, generating power above and beyond the collected individuals. It is with this spirit of cooperation that effective teams learn to capitalize on individual strengths and offset individual weaknesses, using diversity as an advantage.

Effective teams also understand the importance of establishing cooperative systems, structures, incentives and rewards. We get what we inspect, not what we expect. Think about it. Do you have team job descriptions, team performance reviews and team reward systems? Do you recognize people by pitting them against standards of excellence, or one another? What are you doing to cultivate a team-first, cooperative environment in this competitive, “me-opic” world?

To embrace the team-first rule, make sure your team purpose and priorities are clear. What is your overall mission? What is your game plan? What is expected of each team member? How can each member contribute most effectively? What constants will hold the team together? Then stop and ask yourself, are you putting the team first?

Pulling Together

Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant and author says this about teamwork:

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we;” they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit…This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”

10 Things You Need to Check Before Investing in a Startup

19 hours ago by Bill Clark

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Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a securities broker/dealer that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 to $10,000 in startups online. You can follow him on twitter @austinbillc.

You may already know where to find interesting startups, but what do you do once you’re actually ready to invest? It’s important to conduct your own due diligence on a startup before you write a check. You shouldn’t only rely on a great pitch, or assume others are doing the due diligence for you.

Let’s go over some items that you should investigate.

1. Understand the Industry

While you are looking for startups to invest in, make sure you invest in what you know. If you are a high tech expert and someone comes along with the next great idea in biotech, you might get caught up in the hype. The problem is that you may not have a deep knowledge of the market.

Your decision could be swayed more by the sales pitch than your actual experience, making the investment more risky. Make sure you read up and understand the industry before you put any money down.

2. Get to Know the Team

When you are investing in a startup, you are really investing in the team. When the direction needs to be changed because something is not working, having a good team is the difference between success and failure. You want to make sure that the co-founders have experience in what they are trying to accomplish. Have they been successful with another company, or, if this is their first business venture, how well do they work together?

Find out what their history is with each other. Knowing who is running the business is as important as what they are trying to run. A bad team can ruin a great business.

3. Assess the Monetization Strategy

Does the company already have a strategy on how it is going to make money? Twitter focused on growing its user base at first and waited to unveil how they were going to become profitable. You should at least have an idea of a few ways that the startup can charge for its service and it should be a reasonable price that you would pay as a user. You want to make sure that the founders have a strategy even if they are not executing on it yet.

4. Size Up the Competition

You need to understand who is competing with your startup for the same customers. Are the features something that the competition doesn’t currently offer? How quickly can the competition create something similar and what would happen if they did? The competition might also have the potential to acquire the startup in question, so you’ll want to investigate the competition’s acquisition history as well.

5. Review the Adviser List

If the startup has advisers, you should call them to understand how they are helping. Are they offering advice when needed? Helping to connect with people? Or are they just a name on a slide? You should also see how long the advisory period will last.

It isn’t the end of the world if the startup doesn’t have a list of advisers, but if they are using their names as a selling point in the pitch, they should be active.

6. Check the Cap Table

You should look at the cap table to see how much stock has been issued and how many investors are on the list. You can see the valuation of the company and also if there is an option pool and how it will affect the shareholders.

7. Investigate the Financials

It is important to review the financials of a startup. Why? Because it will show you the money, of course. You can see how many assets they have, liabilities you may have overlooked and any potential revenue. You can also see how they are spending the money they currently have.

What did they spend the seed money on? Was it development costs? Marketing? Or did they give the founders raises and waste the money on toys? Every startup should have financial history, so make sure you take a look and understand the story it tells.

8. Review the Plans for Future Funding

How does the startup plan to use the next round of capital? They should have a solid idea of what they plan to spend it on. Typically, startups will give a high-level breakdown with sections like growth, marketing and development. It is important to get more details.

Look at the bigger expenses and understand those costs. Does development mean they are going to hire more technical people? If so, how many and at what cost? Is there really a marketing plan, or just a number they came up with because it sounded good?

9. Note the Burn Rate

It can take a startup thee months or more to raise capital, so you want to make sure you understand how long the money raised will last. Will they burn through the cash in six months, 12 months or longer? I like to make sure the round will last for at least 12 months — ideally 15 months or more. This allows the startup to focus more on building a great product rather than trying to ramp up for another round of financing.

10. Look Over the Legal Documents

You should look over items like articles of incorporation, by-laws, and board and shareholder meeting minutes. This will give you some insight into how the company was formed, who is on the board of directors, who has control, and what was discussed in the board meetings. Making sure a startup is upholding ethical and legal obligations ensures your investments will not be going toward financing shady deals.

This is by no means a complete list, and everyone should have their own set of criteria when evaluating an investment opportunity. However, these 10 points should give you a basic understanding of a startup’s health before you write a check. When you first start investing, it is a good idea to invest with other angels that have more experience or are knowledge experts in the startup’s industry. That way, they can help you out with the due diligence process and find things that you may have overlooked or should at least consider before making an investment.