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Latin America and Leadership with Rocky Zapata

Rocky Zapata

Family, Food, Faith and Fiestas. Community and Connections. These are the primary values of Latin America that enable people to manage daily life in spite of massive corruption, top-down business culture, and dictatorial or autocratic but democratic-appearing governments. While people emulate US leadership styles, safety standards, finance standards and checks and balances, the reality on the ground is quite different. Miami-based Rocky Zapata who owns three businesses (leadership training, safety training, and tourist yacht trips) explores the changing role of working women, the appeal of cheap labor to draw inbound investment, and some amusing differences in Spanish between countries.

Highlights:

Similarities between Latin America and the USA

Work in Mexico

Latin America and the role of the employees versus the managers?

Differences between Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia

Latin America and the male-female relationships.

Rocky Zapata Bio:

Based out of Broward County, Florida, Rocky has served as the President of Rocky Zapata Safety Consultants since the company’s inception in 2014. Rocky has over 19 years of experience in safety management and specializes in EH&S compliance audits, technical research, safety training, claims management, and corporate program development.

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Full Transcript

Hello, and welcome to Global Gurus! Every Friday, we explore stories of international business and speak with industry leaders around the world. I’m your host, Philip Auerbach of Auerbach International (www.auerbach-intl.com).  Thank you so much for joining us today. 

As most of you know, we start each program with a running segment called “Faux pas Fridays,” where we examine amusing bloopers or mistranslations that don’t quite convey the professional image your company wishes to project. And since today’s guest is from Latin America, we thought it would be appropriate to do a blooper from Mexico, and as you will see, one simple word could dramatically change the meaning of the sentence. And there was a sign in a hotel in Acapulco that said in English quite simply, “The manager has personally passed all the waters served here.” 

So, with that, today’s guest is Rocky Zapata.

Rocky has two consulting businesses in Latin America, mostly in Nicaragua, as well as in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. He primarily advises clients in the construction industry. He consults in leadership, environmental health, and behavior safety. He has owned clothing stores in his native Nicaragua where he still owns coffee fields, and he also owns a tourist yacht charter business in Miami, where his consulting business is based. 

Rocky has dedicated his life to developing people of all backgrounds and cultures and discovering the leadership they carry within. Hundreds of people have enrolled in his online leadership school, rockyzapata.org mostly again, in Latin America. We’re delighted you can join us today, Rocky.

Well, Phil, first and foremost, thank you for the invitation.

My pleasure. 

So perhaps you can tell us a bit about your background, including where you grew up, how you grew up, how you came to the United States, and how you got into your current businesses.

Well, my story is always a funny one because I was born in the middle of a saga. And in Nicaragua, we just finished a civil war in 1979. So, the left-wing party of the Sandinistas had taken over the country and we were in our tenth year of Sandinista rule. I was born right in the middle. I was born in 1984, right in the middle of that. So, when I said I was born into a crisis saga, it was because—yes, I mean, I remember as a kid, we used to form lines, and we would get half a pound of rice for the whole family for two weeks. Half of a bar of soup for the whole family for two weeks, and as you know, Phil, there was then nothing because there was no Facebook or DIRECTV. There were a lot of kids. There are plenty of kids, so within that, you know it was the perfect time to develop a real losing mentality, right? 

But my mother, who is my hero, did an amazing job. I mean a phenomenal job. Just letting you know, Rocky, hang in there. This is temporary, and I know things look bad around us because the one thing that Latin American governments steal from their people is the ability to dream and dream big. 

So, I grew up, you know, within that. And then came 1992. And my mom just couldn’t take it anymore. I feel like half of my family was imprisoned by the current government, and there were no laws. Nothing has changed since then, but she brought me to the United States, the greatest country on the planet. By the way, let me state that it is the best-known country to mankind.

And were you able to obtain a visa without difficulty? Or did you have to sneak out? How did you do it? How did you get out of Nicaragua?

Yeah, we had to sneak out because, at that moment, with the current crisis that the country was facing, they were not letting anybody out.  So, your only option was to sneak out, which we did in 1990.

And I’m sorry, did you sneak out by boat or cross a border by land?

We had to cross the border between Nicaragua and Honduras. 

Yes, so we had to cross the border to the north over to Honduras because they were not letting anybody out. What happened was in 1990, ten years later. The first elections were held, and that was for Violeta Chamorro, who was the first female president of Latin America. She came into power, even though she was already in power. From the outside, it seemed like everything was OK. The reality is that, even though she was president at the moment, the military was still ruled by the Sandinistas. So she was just the face, but the arms—you know, everything was by the Sandinistas—so we had to cross into Honduras from the north. And that’s how we were able to escape the country. 

And I arrived in South Florida, where other members of my family lived. When I was nine years old, I remember maybe getting here a month before Hurricane Andrew. I don’t know if you remember Hurricane Andrew, that just destroyed the city of Homestead, and because of that hurricane, building codes changed a lot in the South Florida market after it destroyed everything.

Oh yes. Right.

So, there you have it, my package here. Hurricane Andrew.

I was nine years old at the time, so that was pretty much my story growing up: growing up in poverty and moving intercountry, to which country? Now, coming into this country was very tough, Phil, because it was a different culture. Even though I was nine, the language was different, right? I go to school, school and all the kids speak English. It was difficult for me to leave everything behind at home because the language was so different, but we began developing and growing in this country, and you came to high school. 

My mother, you know, is very telling. Tell you the truth. We lived in a one bedroom apartment, with just one bed. I didn’t know what to go to school for. To tell the truth. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was in high school. We had no idea. My mother had one as well. 

I said “mother, why do I go to school?” Or she’ll say, “Well, I know that” but then say, “I don’t know that.”  You still have to go to school, but she doesn’t know why I have to go to school. I didn’t know what I had to go to school for. I mean, we don’t have any money for school anyway. 

And then I remember I was 19 years old, and my mom and I were attending church at the time, and one of the brothers from church told me, “Hey, you want to get into construction?” I said, “Well, you know what?  I’ve never done construction in my life.” But at that time, which was 2003, they were going to pay me $7.50 an hour. So, when I was working in banking, I was paid 7.50 dollars an hour. You know I’m a millionaire. At this point, you know what I mean. You know, I felt like I was throwing money in the air. You know this. So, I started as a carpenter at $7.50, and at the time, one of the safety managers was from Nicaragua, but he didn’t manage the English language very well. There was a language barrier for him. 

So, he got me, and I started doing his paperwork and I started translating everything for him, and I was like, “This is easy.” So that’s when I started going to college at the time—Miami-Dade College and then FIU [Florida International University]. And that’s when I started getting into the whole safety arena because I was doing his paperwork. I was doing everything for him. 

To me, it was good because I got to be there: the air conditioning and not out in the sun with the other construction workers who are 19 years old, right? I told you I’d translate anything you wanted me to translate for you, buddy. So, you know, I usually get the question, “What was the secret sauce to my growth?” I think it was being bilingual in South Florida.

I mean, because I went to school and then I started working for a company, and I started working for a company at 23 years old as the safety director at that time. Now, at 23, I am your safety director.

I was already making about $80,000 a year. Yes, I was 23 years old. I was nervous.

Wow, that’s fantastic. That is a great salary for you! 

Yeah, I would know that he was a billionaire, and I was undeniably a billionaire, as I noticed at the time. I saw a need and a gap to fill. So, a lot of companies are smaller companies that maybe couldn’t afford a safety professional like myself. 

The need for safety…so they started calling me because I knew I knew the Spanish language and could communicate with their Latino workforce. In 2000, not a lot of people could communicate with their Latino workforce. 

In 2014, “You know what? I’m going to venture on my own?,” I said, taking a leap of faith. I’m going to start Rocky’s safety consultants. I was a little worried because I was used to the weekly paycheck. You know that on Friday that check came in, and I was really happy because the check came in. But I had some savings. 

There, in 2014, I took a leap of faith and began Rocky’s work on the safety consulting team. And within a year, I already had three safety professionals working for me. It was rapid growth.

That’s fantastic. 

It was. 

Yes, it was rapid growth simply because the language dropped because their workforce required someone to speak Spanish to them.

That’s great. 

So, from there, I grew, and I started venturing out and opening other businesses and doing conferences and I started my yacht business and did a lot of things related to safety. So, safety was good for me.

That’s outstanding. Please answer two quick questions about your family. You mentioned you and your mother. What about your father and your siblings? Did they come with you?

When I said earlier that we had a lot of children, it was because my grandmother was my maternal grandmother. My mother had 13 kids and my paternal grandfather had 33 kids. Wow, I had a lot of cousins. I mean, I can win a presidential election in Nicaragua just with my family, right? I’ll win. 

But my mother and father only had me. As a result, I am an only child. I’m an only child, so I’m my mom’s only child. We grew up together. My dad stayed back home; you know. Do you know how the old man used to be a big masochistic? You know that I’m the man, and I get to have 100 women. My mother would never roll that way. You could keep 99, but I’m out of here, so I have other siblings. However, my home is in Nicaragua and Guatemala. 

So, my dad was going back and forth. He had a welding business, or he did, so he was back and forth. So, I have some siblings in Guatemala and Nicaragua. But you are aware of their very limits. I’m content with them because I grew up by myself, just my mom and me.

It’s fascinating; it’s great and unusual for Latin America. So that’s very interesting.

Yeah, but did you know that is no longer the case for women today? You understand what I mean.

So, tell me about your experience with Latin American business. How would you characterize some of the similarities and differences with the US?

So, let me begin with this. First and foremost, given the differences between the United States and Latin America, I’ll dive into Nicaragua and tell you that in most Latin American countries, there is no open or free society. OK, so these countries have no laws. These countries have no regulations whatsoever, and these countries are 100% managed by the government.

Let me give you a quick example. I was in Nicaragua last week. I went to see some of the coffee fields, and I was there last weekend. It’s so dangerous that I promised myself I’d stop going because I have a 10-year-old daughter and want to be there for her. So, I promised myself not to go to Nicaragua for at least two to three years until everything settled down. But as I was there last week, the biggest pawn shop in Nicaragua, which is called Casa de Empeño in Spanish, is called Parisa OK, a pawn shop. I mean, the government completely seizes all their 20 locations around the nation. They took the gold. Assume you have a gold chain and want to travel. A pawn shop in Mecca received $300 for your gold chain, rather than paying the government. They went to all 20 locations in the country… because remember, it is not a big country it has slightly more than 6 million people, including political figures and the financial market, everything is concentrated in Managua, the capital; 90% of everything is concentrated in Managua, and the remaining 10% is distributed throughout the country.

Right, yes.

So, the government went in and seized everything from the pawn shop under Parisa pawn shop. So, they took everything. I mean gold, silver, equipment, anything you can think of. Employees were held hostage for more than 18 hours. You know, imagine you’re just an employee. I mean, I just go there to work. They were held hostage for more than 18 hours. So, in Latin America and Nicaragua, where I’ve done the majority of my business. In the United States, business is done differently. [In Nicaragua,] no laws, no regulations—you go in there and do business. You don’t know when it’s going to end, but it’s not going to end because you sell your business. It’s going to end because the government will seize your business and take over your business as a whole. So, it’s a huge difference from that market to here.

Well, Nicaragua is a dictatorship, and that is the case in most dictatorships. What about Mexico? You are aware of other ostensibly more democratic countries?

So, places that are perceived to be more democratic are on the outside, correct? If I give you one, I’ll give you a quick example. Let’s talk about Colombia, right? As a result, Colombia’s government is more democratic than the majority of them. Business is different in these countries because there is a lot cheaper labor. So that is one of the reasons why a lot of businesses shift to Mexico or Colombia, because what you would pay here in the US is $20.00 an hour.

Right.

You can get paid in Colombia at $5 an hour, right? So that lifestyle is different. I’ll give you a quick example. My neighbor—he is the vice president of HBO Latino, right? You’re familiar with HBO, so he’s the VP of HBO. HBO Latino when the Biden presidency began in January 2020–2021, they simply began closing shops in Sunrise, FL, due to the huge tax hits that we were going to receive from the government. 

So, they shift. I mean, they shift all their operations down to Chile in Latin America, and my neighbor tells me that what they would pay an engineer here is, say, $130,000. They are paying an engineer over there $10,000, and this is an annual salary right on both sides of the aisle. 

So, in Latin America, where you have just a little bit more democracy, labor is going to be cheaper. Depending on the government, you’ll get a lot of tax cuts in Latin America, and that’s because you know most of the time there are no laws or regulations in place. So, you know, it’s a lot easier to buy out your local politicians and get lower… I mean way lower…. Corruption is widespread. You know, I hate to say that on your podcast, but it’s just, you know, massive. 

It’s massive. I mean, it’s massive, you know. You have to have the right connection, and you’re going to be golfing with business. It’s just—I mean, you’ve probably heard. Remember when the entire company ordered a large number of bricks and brakes? The biggest construction company in the world—I did some work for them here at Miami International Airport. I provided consulting services to Odebrecht. 

And sorry, for our listeners, it’s Odebrecht, and it’s a German company that was working in Brazil, right? This was a scandal.

That was the center of the scandal, where they were, as you know, buying things out. I mean Peru, Brazil, and Chile. They were buying out all these governments, and they were getting all the construction contracts. Or why is Odebrecht winning everything all over London? They were buying land and building Latin America as a whole, but it was a huge scandal, so there was a huge difference in doing business over there. I mean, we’re doing business here, as you know. We live in a free and open society. It’s a lot; you know the structure. It’s structured better for business owners. Depending on the government, this is also where you adhere to certain tax brackets and codes established by the government for businesses.

What about a normal office in terms of management style? How would that be in terms of the employees versus the managers?

So, the style in Latin America is very different because the majority of Latin American countries are still following third-world management styles. Some of them are fifth-world countries, like Nicaragua, so you can say there’s probably little to zero education to a certain extent, but there’s not a lot of respect coming back from managers to employees. The lack of pay makes you realize that most of them don’t care, and so there’s just a little back and forth. And there isn’t the same respect for laws and regulations that you can find here. With that type of management style, it’s extremely difficult. It’s very difficult.

Is it extremely top-down with the owner? The manager says this is what you do then the workers do it? Or there’s the growing middle class?

Do they ever offer good suggestions to middle-class workers? You know, Patron [boss], that there’s another way to do it, and perhaps we should consider it this way.

So, in third-world countries, there’s no middle class. You know, that doesn’t exist as in the US market, so there isn’t a middle class.

Right. 

So, it pretty much comes down to another dictatorship there. You’re in the workforce, so it’s pretty much what you do. You have to do it. This is the pay. This is the work that must be done. The people have to work.

Right. 

People have to feed their families, so the majority of the time, you know it’s theirs. It’s the way it’s going with that type of management, and you know things out there in Latin America.

OK, so, as you know, there are educated people there, and …

Yes, a ton.

Yes, and, as you are aware, Mexico is similar to Colombia and Peru. There are some middle-class people, when they are in these countries’ companies, are they likely to suggest alternative ideas or does it depend on the company?

So, a lot of it depends on the company, Phil. I mean, I’m going to give you a quick example, right? Chile has a massively educated population. I mean, mass, right? I mean big.

Yes. 

And if you go to a Chilean organization, a Chilean country, and one of their top big organizations, it comes down to the company and its approach to accountability for its employees. So, when you have Chile, which has a lot of educated people, the middle class, or a class of that type. Middle Class. They all have different ideas about where the company should go or what path it should take. It is taken into consideration, but ultimately, it’s almost still a dictatorship where we’ll consider your opinion, but we’re going to decide the way we go from here. Even though it’s taking some, it is little to none. In other words, there’s more to give these employees the feeling that, yeah, they’re considering that it’s tough out there. It is tough.

What about cultural issues in general in terms of marketing, packaging, or pricing? How would it be different in Latin America?

Let’s get right into marketing, right?

I mean, I know what everyone does instinctively, right? 

I mean, most people I talked to made me feel like, well, Latinos are Latinos. Regardless of whether this is correct, here’s what I’m going to tell you: even if what my father and sister have said is true, it is still far from the truth, right? If that makes any sense whatsoever, let me give you an example. 

Nicaraguans, yes, Nicaraguans, have their language, culture, and temperament. Uh, temperament—do you know any Argentinians or Mexicans? Mexicans, so when you market to a Latino, you have to use their local market demographics to establish, say, some sort of strong marketing plan. So, you have to not perceive which country and tradition you’re targeting with dot-com marketing. Because even though we are pursuing all Latinos, it’s not just that we’re Latinos; we’re also so far away at the same time.

Right. 

So, I’ll give you an example. 

Last week, I was at our business conference. “Hey, can I translate my English into Spanish, right?,” one of the attendees inquired. And, unfortunately, as I previously stated, that may not be as successful; you know what I mean. If you want to, just compare apples to apples. From English to Spanish, the marketing is different. You know the language is different, and the culture is different.

So, everyone, what is your set percentage country for identity marketing? Mexico, you know, says, “Hey, Mexico is Mexican; do you know what I mean?” And we’re Mexicans, and when you go to Costa Rica, the Costa Ricans tell you to bring either Mahia Costa Rican or Mahia Costa Rican. So, it’s difficult, but it’s also enjoyable because, even though we’re all Latinos and speak Spanish, our dialects differ greatly from theirs.

Well, since you teach leadership through your online school and the way you teach safety, are there differences in how you would approach people in Costa Rica, for example, versus Mexico or Colombia?

So yeah, there’s a huge difference in how to approach them now. When I do approach them, I use my Latino side, you know. and inform them. Hey, I’m Latino, and I’m from Nicaragua. You know you’re Mexican and you’re from Argentina, and you know we’re going to disagree, even on food; you know we’re going to disagree on everything… food per se. So my approach to them and the ship is always trying to connect with them, so when you see me with Mexicans in front of me, you know I’ve got great Mexican friends, I love the Mexican people, and I know a lot about politics in Latin America, so it helps me out a lot.

Right.

You are aware that when I discuss politics, I am not taking sides. That never ends well, but I start talking about their history. Do you know what I mean? Who’s in power? Now, you know what happened before he entered power. How is it going now? How is it going with the business, the food, the tacos, you know? I start naming places I’ve been to in Mexico, and I just connect with them at that moment, and I believe it sparks the love between Mexicans and Americans in this case, so I always try to get personal with them. one-on-one, from where they are there, and Latinos value that. 

But are there any … is there an approach or not? For example, are there words that you can say to a Mexican that you can’t say to a Colombian as part of your team?

All the time, 

Like what?

I’ll give you an example from Columbia. I’m going to laugh at this question.

And I don’t mean slang or words with multiple meanings; you know when you’re teaching leadership. Is there anything else you can say to Mexicans that the Costa Ricans and Colombians don’t understand? 

There’s no slang. I try to keep my Spanish at the center, at the level.

They try to use professionals, but you know if you can, right? You know they come from Latvia and Lithuania, right? Attempt to use the actual Academy Awards. You know, everybody kind of knows. So, I try to keep those words in mind at all times.

Now, the lingo per se or specific words you are familiar with—as Latinos, we change them around. You already knew I was in Colombia and Nicaragua say that “Calentura” means you have a fever. Have a fever. But saying “calentura” in Colombia means you want to have sex. So, it was like that. People are staring at me as if I’m strange, you know. I see, hey. You know, what did I say wrong here? 

I guess I connected with people. and not, you know, even. Despite this, I was able to connect with them. You know they were laughing. Then we got into it as well, and it was fantastic. So no, I mean, I try to connect based on their culture. I try to connect with them one-on-one. I try to use general Spanish as much as possible when I travel to these countries.

But again, in terms of leadership concepts. In Latin America, it is very top-down, right? So, are there concepts of leadership that you would teach in Mexico that apply to Mexico but do not apply in other countries?

No, so our leadership training is over. Phil is pretty much a leader. I mean down the line. Leadership that I’ve learned here, so I think the leadership that we learn or have in the United States is the model for Latin America. I’m referring to Miami, South Florida. South Florida is known as the capital of Latin America. Right, so even with safety, is that right?

Right. 

I mean, even with safety. Everything is from the US—you know, OSHA. We want OSHA safety in the United States. We want the US to be safe. You are knowledgeable about the environment and health. We wonder about the leadership we wanted from the US because remember, we are the first world, and we are ahead of Latin America. 

So, whenever you teach leadership or even safety, or if you know anything of that nature, everyone wants it to come from here because the whole world views us as the example of what leadership, safety, and finances look like. We are the leaders, and they view us as such. As you know, they want to learn our model to be able to move forward. I mean, even you know that Pinochet was the Chilean leader-dictator back then. He had nine economists when he came to power in 1973.

Right.

OK, and he sent them over to the University of Chicago, which I believe is there Or the Chicago Police, right? Yes, he does, and he says, “Listen to me.” Do you want to learn more about the American economy? Because I want to grow the Chilean economy.

So, these nine, as you know, came to the University of Chicago. The learned US economy, returned to Chile and aided the Chilean economy’s growth at the time. So, we are the model for them. Phil, so to answer your question, no, they want US leadership, and it’s across the board in Latin America.

OK, so one of the aspects of US leadership is, for example, soliciting opinions from your managers. And you are aware that you are receiving feedback from a large number of people on how to improve your company, products, or services, whatever they may be.

But you also said that the typical style in Latin America is top-down: I thank you very much for your advice but this is what you are going to do.

In a way, learning US leadership styles and learning well-being may be different, but learning US leadership styles doesn’t matter because they’re not doing it anyway.

Well, they’re not doing it anyway. You are correct, but they still want to learn it. They still want to hear it. I’ll give you a quick example. 

I was in Guatemala sometime back, and I was speaking to the CEO of a hotel chain, and I told him to listen; I said, “You know what you need here? you need more training, right? Unfortunately, you know you need your management to be trained, right? You need your managers to train their managers to learn how to listen to their employees. You know you need some of that training,” and he is good at it. He says, “You know what, Rocky?  You’re correct. I do need it.” I needed someone to ask, and then he called one of his managers, who is below him, saying, “Hey, listen, this is a rough suggestion; we should have some training.” So, we’re going to bring all the managers together, and we’re going to have this training on how to listen to people. Even though the CEO was receptive right away to this, the manager says, “Well, why are we going to train the other managers? How about if they leave? Right, so we’re going to train. What if they leave?”

They’ll leave, right? What if they do?

Leave, and then you’ll know I was shocked. You can tell because the CEO says, “Hey, I want this.” I want to change the culture, and I want to do something about it. Here comes the manager who says, “Well, why are we going to train people?” How about it? They leave, and the CEO comes back with a great response. He says, “What happens if they stay?”

Good, perfect. 

So, you know, I didn’t even give that response. You might not have noticed how frequently he said that. He’s like, “Hey, what happens if they stay?” And I said that I thought it was the best response I’d heard from a CEO in Latin America. By all means.

It was great, but you could just see entirely where the managers were when I said, “Who cares?” you know what I mean? Why train people if they’re just going to leave?

Right. 

He’s like, “What? If they stay, then what?”

And this is part of the process of teaching leadership. America and its leaders are drawn to the tool. Phil, is, you know, teaching them to love people, right? And part of loving people is wanting to help them grow, even if one day they leave you. It is, after all, what it is. 

I always give the analogy of—you know, the father and son analogy—to those who have. I told you that you were good to your child. You educate your kid, and you know you want your kid to grow up and be somebody. Even though one day he’s going to leave you, you know he’s going to live his own life, or she’s going to live her own life. 

And isn’t that what true leadership entails? You know, you know, it eventually gets to you. Want to make sure that all your employees learn? You educate them. You prepare them, and even though one day they leave, you understand that you did your part as a leader in developing these people.

It’s fascinating, right?

In terms of ….  well, you mainly deal with the construction industry. Do you have any experience with the service industry (hotels, shops, etc.)?

We do.

So, for the bulk of our business: 80% is the construction of the other 20%. We do. The best places to go are banks, daycares, and restaurants. Restaurants are the best because they always want to feed me. You’ve experienced it. Nothing different is going to happen, guys, if you feed me for free, you know. Restaurants, as well as a few mechanic shops. So yes, we have that 20%, which we call the general … the actual general industry.

In my experience in Latin America, at least in tourist destinations, the service is generally very good. But when I’ve gone to banks, the service is terrible. The tellers will just take time to talk to the customers, talk with each other, and all of that. 

And in this country, there is the sense that time is money, you know …. efficiency, and you just serve the customers and move them through. Whereas in other countries, it’s much more casual, friendly, and slow, with a person-to-person relationship, which is great unless you’re in a hurry and need to get somewhere or do something. 

So, when you teach services…  It seems like you’re saying that they value U.S. methods, but do you teach this idea of serving the customer and moving on? And instead of just talking, you can talk to your customers more casually about their families and friends.

Well, the thing with that, Phil, is that Latinos communicate through relationships, and that’s just a part of who we are as a culture. So, you know, Latinos are big on faith, family, food, and, you know, fiesta. Sports: soccer or baseball, depending on which. 

In reality, Latinos connect to these things, and because they connect to these things, they connect to other Latinos. Whether you know us or not, we’ll hug you, shake your hand, kiss you here, kiss you there.

Latinos are, and it’s tough to change that. I know exactly what you’re referring to because you are the bankers, and the guys are conversing. You know how high it is. You saw those soccer games last night, right? Yeah, and then we just go.

Exactly so.

On and on, and where do we come from? A different type of method per se, right? A different type of system. You know what you know here. This is like, on the clock, baby; we’re moving you. Know what I mean? So even I, you know, lose it sometimes. “Hey guys, you know?” I mean, I know you guys, and you are lovely. But there’s a whole line, so it’s tough to change that because that’s just who Latinos are. They’re very fond of the goings-on in the community, and that’s how they communicate. It’s a tough one; I failed, but it is a tough one on that one. I can’t help you there. I even have a tough time when I travel by myself.

It’s comforting to know that I’m not being very American when I go there and start feeling frustrated.

Then just accept. But yeah.

Because you understand how the system works here. You know we’re always running, don’t you?

Right.

I mean, I run three businesses here, so it’s almost like doing business from here to here; sure, each business has a manager, but you know how it is: you have to connect with these people, and they’re calling you and here. And that’s all there is to it. 

It gets overwhelming here—over there… I mean, still today, in some places in Latin America—I mean, the doctor goes to lunch for three hours. You know, I would. Yeah, it’s like I was in multi-alpha the other day. You know, when I was in Nicaragua last week and met Alpha, it was maybe two hours from the capital, Managua. And you know, sign outside; I’m out to lunch. I’ll be back at 3:30, and it’s 12:40, you know. How long is this guy’s lunch? They go, they eat, you know they say hi to the kids, they sleep, they wake up, and when everything is done, they get back to the office at 3:30. So you know it’s just that type of culture.

As I’ve said on other podcasts, I used to live in Africa, where things worked on what we call “Africa time.” So, if you go to a theater or a show of any kind and you know the starting time is 8:00, which means that everyone starts arriving at 7:45, and in the lobby, you have to greet everyone you know because they know people you know. How are you? How are your children? How’s it going with this particular situation? I know you just bought a new car. You have a new pet, whatever that is. So, you have to talk to people because it’s all about relationships, and maybe around 9:00, at 9:15, 9:30, that’s when the show will start.

Isn’t that Latin America? Relationships with people. That’s who we are. We both like hugging, shaking hands and kissing everyone.

So, it’s just a Latino thing.

Very good. Thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before we close?

Uh, no,v I think we’ve talked a lot. You know one of the things I always tell people, even going back to our first distinction was between, say, Latin America or some Latin American countries, their global ones, dictatorships, and so on. And you know. 

In the US, we have huge checks and balances. You know, right? Latin America. Some areas have zero checks, and balances. So, it’s a huge difference, right? Like, we’re doing business over there, and this is the majority of Latin American countries, right? 

One person dictates everything, even in some democracies, so you know you’ve got to go through one person. Here, we have plenty of checks and balances. You’ve got to go through a lot of people meeting in various ways, so it’s a little different than doing business in Latin America, isn’t it? It’s been great, you know, for me doing business in Latin America and doing business here, and I’m hoping one day things get better and we go back and do some more business in our country.

I’m sorry; there is one other issue that I forgot.I had a question for you about male-female relationships. 

So, if a woman wants to buy a car, for example, first of all, I know in Latin America if there’s a car, it’s a family car as opposed to here, where the husband might have his own and the wife might have her own.

But if a woman wants to buy a car or buy anything else such as clothing or something substantial for the house for example, does the husband generally have to go along with her, or can she do it on her own? What is the relationship there? 

Ah, depending on the husband, I’d probably say the majority. You know it’s changed. The culture has changed a lot in Philly and elsewhere, and I know exactly what you’re talking about. So, because the culture has changed in the last decade, the truth used  to be whatever the men said. You know, can I [the woman] buy this? No way, no how.

So, culture has been shifting a lot in Latin America. You know, women have been waking up and saying, “You know, I’m not your slave guy.” You know I have my mind, right? I have my reasons, so I can. I can go buy my things, and now, you know, women work. So, you have many women in the labor force. A large number of women make their own. Culture, in my opinion, takes many forms. Because you are familiar with a male figure, such as the family’s father, right? He was the breadwinner.

Right.

So, he’s the one going out and bringing the money. They would have a lot of kids, and the wife would stay home and take care of the kids. 

So, I think that’s where that mentality came from. Now you have a lot of professional women in Latin America, even if they’re not professionals. Taking crap from a man Yeah, but I mean it. It makes no difference which way around, so I believe that just about all women have awakened, and they are now making more of their own decisions rather than waiting for their men to do it. 

Oh, that’s very refreshing to hear. Thank you so much. So, this has been a wonderful talk with Rocky Zapata, and it’s been a wonderful pleasure again to gain your insights. Thank you so much.

Thank you, sir; I appreciate the invitation.

So this has been Philip Auerbach. Please join us again next week for another edition of Global Gurus, with their stories of international business. And if you’d like to connect with me, our website is www.auerbach-intl.com.  Thank you so much.

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