STORY INLINE POST
You may have heard the expression that when you stop learning, you stop growing. As a believer in lifelong learning, I know this is true. It is the foundation for WorldWise Consulting’s mission. No one can possibly know all there is to know about conducting business around the world as is the case with other fields of study and industries. The fatal mistake of businesses, governments, and individuals is when we think we know all there is to know. If anything made that argument crystal clear, it is how dramatically COVID changed the world we live in.
Though I am the last to say that I understand everything about doing business in Mexico and Mexican culture, I believed I had a good handle on what life and work are like in this country. That is, until WorldWise relocated its headquarters from Phoenix, Arizona, to Mexico City in October. We have been present at trade shows and expos in Mexico since 2019. We have had offices in Hermosillo, Sonora, and considered one in San Luis Potosi. We have collaborated closely with the US Consulates in Nogales and Hermosillo and traveled several times to Mexico City prior to relocation. Our clients have included Mexican universities, industry clusters, and governments. If there’s anything those activities prepared us for, it is that Mexico City is a game changer. The “rules” we previously lived by no longer apply.
2022 has been an incredible year forWorldWise, including:
moderating the first panel focused on the participation of women in the Mexican mining sector in Mexico Mining Forum history in January
joining the Board of Directors, American Chamber of Commerce Canada Pacific chapter in Vancouver and being named Mining Committee chair in February.
leading the first delegation of international Arizonans to Sonora as guests of the government of Sonora in July
collaborating with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to co-organize their agenda at the AIMMGM Sonora International Mining Conference and presenting intercultural communication business techniques at the same conference in October
speaking as opening keynote at NASBITE International National Small Business Exporter Summit in November
Despite all this, we’ve never stopped learning and never stopped building.
Landing in Mexico City, after working at a pace that was already not for the faint of heart, turned our world briefly upside down. This electrifying city, which I describe to friends who don’t know it as “New York City energy times a thousand,” has given us an entirely different perspective. This move was under consideration long before it was executed. It may have happened sooner had it not been for COVID, but it was always simply a matter of time.
As I traveled here over the past few years, people of various nationalities said to me, “But isn’t it dangerous?” and “I can’t imagine wanting to live there.” The beautiful thing about each of us is that we have a mind and a will of our own. Don’t want to live in one of the world’s most dynamic cities where opportunity abounds? Great! Having your definition of “dangerous” be what’s reported in the news in your country about “other places” when your country ranks higher for the number of murders by firearms* than Mexico? Well, it’s probably not the place for you.
For us, Mexico City is the place. The number of driven, intelligent young people gives it an advantage as a developing nation as an incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. Progress is not weighed down here by the old-world bureaucracy of Europe, the litigation fever of the US, or the language barriers of Asia. It is a capital city exploding with opportunity. As one new friend recently told me, “Your Mexico City can be anything you want it to be.” As recently as September, that sounded too good to be true. Now, I not only see the incredible amount of potential, I see that the forward decisions are ours to make. The direction of the future can be any one of multiple superhighways.
I am aware we are in the honeymoon phase of our relationship with our new hometown. We are aware of its pitfalls as much as its advantages. We can look ourselves in the mirror and recognize that success or failure here is ours for the making, but for the first time in a long time we see possibility where once we were surrounded by walls.
Walls made by people, governments, or organizations — take your pick — are ineffective. Structures that keep people apart rather than bringing them together will always have a limited lifespan. It is only by building bridges that true innovation occurs. Bridges are inherently symbolic. They satisfy the human need for connection. Ralph Ellison told us that, “Education is all a matter of building bridges.” Manny Pacquiao said, “All those who are around me are the bridge to my success, so they are all important.” Most fitting, however, is a quote from Kjell Magne Bondevik: “Knowledge of other people’s beliefs and ways of thinking must be used to build bridges, not to create conflicts.”
As mentioned earlier, free will is the amazing gift that each of us is born with. When we can look past our differences to recognize our similarities, difficult tasks become easier. Challenging situations don’t take a lasting toll. Miscommunications are resolved quicker. In every case, we decide how things will turn out, knowingly or unknowingly. Trust that making the decision to grow may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.