The other day, I was meeting with Andrew Funk, CEO of English Metas, and we spoke about the differences between US citizens and Spanish ones; and the truth is that we are in total agreement on many levels.
Consequently, I’d like to describe some points that we spoke about and that I think are meaningful to understand when studying the differences between the countries (It is possible that I will speak about the similarities between the countries another day).
· Spain’s youth want to be civil servants, which is unthought-of in the US.
I think that this solution is out-dated. I don’t know if this is a good option anymore.
· In the US, there is a financial culture, unlike Spain.
This is an important error! In the US, young people know how they can make their money grow through stock and investment: people understand stock options. I am not saying that everyone is financially well-off, but I do think that it is very important to have a basic foundation regarding financial issues. In Spain, this financial culture does not exist. I think that most people don’t know how to calculate a mortgage credit, and I think that this is an important problem in our society.
· In Spain, an entrepreneur is a good person, but being a businessman is very bad.
In Spain, entrepreneurs are people who start small businesses without a future, and businessmen are people who have a bad image in society. I think that this is due to our history because the businessman has always been the chieftain. Fortunantely, this is changing. We need to understand that big business is good for our country, and good for all of us.
· We have different types of idols
Everyone speaks about idols, but this is not changing… Our idols are singers, and sports athletes. This is not a bad thing, but Don’t you think it would be good to have idols like Tomás Diago (Softonic), Xavier Verdaguer (Innovalley), Iñaki Ecenarro (Trovit), and Ferran Adrià (El Bulli)? These people are people like you and me, who have managed to create large companies or brands. Why aren’t they our idols in Spain?
· Intenet is not the future, but the present.
The entire world understands that internet is a leading industry with a future, and that it is generating a lot of money, but, in Spain, a lot of people are surprised when you say that there people living off of internet. Aat this time, they are a minority but they do exist.
· Work hard and have fun.
In the US, people work long hours, but this is not a problem because they understand that there is a goal to achieve, and usually you get into projects that you like and that you are passionate about, so it is not an issue to spend hours on end if you actually like what you do.
In Spain, this is penalized! If you work more hours than the one’s on your schedule, you are a fool. People do not realize that it does not matter how many hours you spend working on something you love especially when you are motivated.
I always say that you normally work more time at work than with your family, so if you don’t have fun in your company, you need changed.
· The money is very bad.
In Spain, the money is something negative. If you have money, people question why, and if you don’t have money, they ask the same question.
Personally, I think that this is an important error, money is money, and nothing else. Consequently, if you have money, congratulations! Enjoy it! And if you don’t have money, don’t worry! Go get it! Here’s a great video in Spanish of Martin Varsavsky talking about this.
· Fear of Failure
In Spain, we live in culture of idea killers. When I first became an entrepreneur, the financional director of the business where I worked told me I was going to lose it all. True indeed!! The Financial Director was right because, two years later, I had to close the company with a heavy loss, but this is not a problem. I eventually paid my debt, and as time passed I started 8 companies. I earned a lot in some, and lost a lot in others. However, the important thing to remember is that you do what you want to. And if you failure, you learn from it.
I have commented on the differences between the entrepreneurial mindset in Spain and the U.S.
What do you think about them? Do you agree or disagree? What other differences do you see?