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Cultural Mastery: How to Lead and Sell in the 21st Century

This post is based on a podcast with Ricardo Gonzalez. If you’d like to listen to more #FlipMyFunnel Podcast episodes, you can check them out here and listen to this episode below!

Culture is the invisible water in which we swim. If you’re not aware of its currents, you can drown.

Cultural mastery is a 21st-century skill that leaders and salespeople need in order to thrive.

To discover the six steps to cultural mastery, listen to today’s episode of the Flip My Funnel podcast. We spoke with Ricardo Gonzalez, CEO of Bilingual America and author of The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery.

Here’s What We’re Unpacking Today:

  • Fun Fact
  • Racism vs. Culturalism
  • Cultural Mastery: Start with the End in Mind
  • The Six Stages of Cultural Mastery
  • Cultural Mastery for Sales
  • Sangram’s Summary
  • Ricardo’s Challenge

This post is based on a podcast with Sangram Vajre and Ricardo Gonzalez, CEO of Bilingual America and author of The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below.

Fun Fact:

Gonzalez’s dad is one of 27 kids from the mountains of Puerto Rico. His mother was an orphan from the state of Kentucky.

“So I’m what I call a Puerto Rican hillbilly,” said Gonzalez.  

Racism vs. Culturalism

A lot of what we call racism is really ethnicism or culturalism, according to Gonzalez. People are reacting to the cultural distinctions, not necessarily color. But in the United States, it gets marked as racism.

Gonzalez advocates a more thoughtful approach.

He has designed a six-day cultural mastery course for sales professionals, educators, business leaders, and law enforcement. These courses help people from all walks of life master a diverse environment.

Culture is the water we swim in and most people aren’t even aware of how their values, beliefs, and behavior are unconsciously dictated by culture. You can’t change what you don’t understand.

Cultural Mastery: Start with the End in Mind

As with many things in life, you want to start with the end in mind.

Cultural tolerance is the wrong goal. Tolerance suggests enduring each other through gritted teeth.

Originally, Gonzalez created a course to bridge the cultural divides through education. But that approach still caused problems when leaders tried to apply it to the real world.

The original course didn’t work, Gonzalez realized, because the attendees didn’t need information, they needed to go through a process where they themselves changed.

The Six Stages of Cultural Mastery

Step 1: Education

Gonzalez finds it astonishing how many people who have been working together for a long time, or who are selling to other people, have no knowledge of the other person’s culture.

He once consulted with a large construction company that employs hundreds of Latinos (mostly Mexicans and Central Americans), but the leadership couldn’t tell him even basic things about Mexican people.

The first step, education, helps leaders understand the culture of their team.

Step 2: Engagement

The cultural mastery course explores how we interface and interact with people in a way that’s meaningful to both them and us.

Step 3: Empathy

Most people think empathy is sympathy (feeling sorry for people). Empathy in this context means seeking to understand and embrace the other person’s culture.

Step 4: Excitement

In stage four, people become excited about their relationship.

“This is the stage in which we set a vision together,” said Gonzalez. “If we’re excited about the relationship, we want to do something together. And the crazy thing is most leaders want to go straight to stage four, create a vision, and then sell it to people who’ve never even been involved in stages one, two, and three together.”

Step 5: Empowerment

Stage five is about empowering that shared vision.

Step 6: Endearment

”In America, we actually have a kind of cultural/civil war going on,” said Gonzalez.

There has to be a better end result and a better goal. So to me, that’s endearment. Can we get to a place where we are culturally endeared to one another, where we actually love each other?

At stage six, participants have true cultural endearment. They don’t fall in love, they grow in love.

This is cultural mastery.

Cultural Mastery for Sales

When you’re dealing with sales, and especially if someone’s in international or global sales, you’re dealing with people from all over the world.

You have to go through all six stages.

When you get to the stage where you are creating a shared vision, that’s the relational aspect of sales. It’s the dynamic aspect of sales where the salesperson and the customer become true partners.

Instead of selling, your goal should be a partnership.

Sangram’s Summary

  • The first thing that really spoke to me is this idea of being a tolerant person and to have endearment for others, which really comes from a place of love. That’s the place we all want to be.
  • The other part is that people mean well. You have to go get the skills to be able to connect with other people in jobs, in life, and just in general. You can be a good person, that’s fine, but you have to have skills to really connect. So I think that was a big idea.
  • People don’t fall in love, they grow in love.
  • In order to do any of this effectively, you have to have an internal transformation.

Ricardo’s Challenge:

The biggest thing I see, especially for leaders and salespeople, is we want to get to the end result. We tend to skip through the process, try to fast forward through it.

I think leaders put too much emphasis on creating this framework around people, rather than actually getting people culturally healthy and skilled.

Here’s the challenge to leaders – let’s get our people culturally healthy and skilled.