Business development, culture differences, and chimney sweep luck
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
COVID-19 took the world on a rollercoaster, and when we’re finally out of the woods, things will probably never be same again. There are tons of studies and endless opinions about the impact this pandemic has on the world and on business. We’re all feeling the effects of the pandemic in our daily lives, and the business world is only just coming into grasp with the repercussions.
Although Israel was in lockdown and flights were dramatically decreased, 3d Signals was working as usual. I joined 3d Signals six months ago as a strategic account manager. Within my role, I initiate, build, and manage the company’s relationships with consulting firms that lead digital transformation processes in industrial factories. Since my target market is Germany, being locked-down in Israel was challenging (and that’s an understatement).
After 4.5 months of building relationship infrastructures remotely, I finally got to travel to Germany to meet my partners face to face.
This trip was a first deep dive into a mindset I’ve never met: old-school German culture during a period social distancing. Or, in other words: challenge accepted.
Three major lessons I learned from my first (and certainly not last) business trip to Germany:
It’s all about the people
Although there are considerable language, state of mind, and cultural differences, at the end of the day, people want successful human connection. During my visit to Germany, I went with my CEO, Ariel Rosenfeld, to visit Samson, one of our customer’s sites. Ariel arrived with a Bayern-München mask he received as a present from Uwe Berger, the shop floor’s manager. The look in his eyes when he saw Ariel wearing this mask was priceless. Sometimes, small gestures are all that counts.
Yes, we can!
In many places, whether it’s business oriented or leisure time, the automated reaction is “No. These are rough times. We can’t do it”. This trip taught me that even in tough times, it is all about your attitude: Germany has social restrictions regarding COVID-19. However, everybody is doing the best they can in order to have as much of a normal life as possible: Germans go running, have meetings with masks and open windows, and present negative Corona tests when needed. Having a normal life by living with the pandemic makes this period much easier to manage.
Chimney sweep as a symbol for good luck
My last meeting in Germany was on the morning of my flight back to Israel. I met with Florian Disson, the managing director of Solita. As we were chatting about everyday life over some morning coffee, a chimney sweeper passed by us. To me, he looked like a hipster with a funny hat. Florian froze for a minute and then said: “a pinch for good luck.” I looked at him with puzzled eyes, and then he explained: there is an old German belief that pinching someone you are with when you see a chimney sweeper brings good luck. We laughed at the cultural differences and how our perspectives was totally different because of where we come from.
Looking forward, here are my two cents
I am just in the beginning of working globally with a new culture and market. However, there are basic rules that are not different to where you’re coming from and what language you speak: when you can relate to someone’s interests or touch their soul, you can speak with your eyes and share your symbols of luck. All the rest is secondary.