#69 | Global Marketing and Translation in Risky Environments

Adam Blanco, Founder and Managing Director at e8/Q Technologies, thrives in situations with political volatility and emerging markets.

He joined the Peace Corp to go to Russia during their emerging capitalism journey.

Now, he consults with companies in the Balkans and Ukraine.

Adam’s insights into when to enter, how to succeed, and when to get out in markets lacking infrastructure, laws, financial support, banking systems captivated me.

And learn why Russians are more apt to say they are “normalna” (so-so) rather than “great” when you ask them how they are doing.


Connect with Wendy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendypease/

Connect with Adam -

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/adam-a-blanco-1412743/

Email - aablanco@e8qtechnologies.com

Website - www.e8qtechnologies.com

GloMusic: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com


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ATTENTION: Below is a machine generated transcription of the podcast. Yes, at Rapport International, we talk a lot about how machine translation is not good quality. Here you see an example of what a machine can do in your own your language. This transcription is provided as a gist and to give time indicators to find a topic of interest.


[00:00:34] Wendy: Hello, everybody, no matter where you are, what you're doing. Thank you so much for tuning into the global marketing show. Another fabulous guest. To introduce you today. I am so excited to hear his stories because he's made some different life choices than other people that are in global marketing.

[00:00:55] So we're going to get some inside scopes and just. Keep in mind if [00:01:00] you're enjoying this podcast, share it with somebody else we're downloaded in over 40 countries now. So there's probably somebody in your network, you know, that has an interest in global Blit business or global marketing, or has a business that could be selling internationally.

[00:01:14] We, we started the podcast to help people figure out how to do it. All right. So today I'm going to introduce Adam Blanco. Welcome Adam.

[00:01:26] Adam: Thank you for having.

[00:01:28] Wendy: I am so [00:01:30] excited. Let me tell you a little bit more about Adam. He's a multicultural and multilingual executive with experience working in public and private sectors.

[00:01:40] He launched and managed economic development programs for us aid and worked in Russia as it changed to a capitalistic market. This is so interesting. So tell me. I know a little bit more about your background and you seem to thrive in [00:02:00] situations where there's political volatility and changing markets.

[00:02:06] Why would any organization or person want to launch in such a risky environment?

[00:02:13] Adam: That's a good question, Wendy. I would call it borderline crazy. When, when I, when I first went to Russia, I went as a peace Corps volunteer. So there was a lot of, there was, was a lot of idealism involved [00:02:30] and also the idea of going into a, an environment where there were also of course, economic interests.

[00:02:42] When one considers the Soviet union and the collapse of the Soviet union, I strongly believed that there would be huge economic opportunities there. Yes, the risks would be high. I even today, probably more so today than it was back then. [00:03:00] That's another, that's another story. Um,

[00:03:05] Wendy: out a little bit, you think that the risks are higher today than back then?

[00:03:08] Adam: Let me, let me, let me back back that up. The opportunities are not as great today as they were back then. Yeah to do business in Russia today you really have to have, you really have to have a good link into the government.

[00:03:28] Be it the [00:03:30] local government or the federal government, the opportunities are not what they want. In the, in the nineties and the two thousands.

[00:03:40] Wendy: And then what did it, what did it look like? You went over a peace Corps volunteer. What was your mission in the peace Corps?

[00:03:48] Adam: We were, we were the first group of volunteers to Russia.

[00:03:52] We were a total of a hundred, 102 volunteers. And our mission was economic development. [00:04:00] We were sent to advise. Entrepreneurs do business plans, help them raise capital advise the local administrations on the private privatization process. Although we were not formally involved in that organizations like IFC, the world bank, they were much more, they were formally involved in those privatization programs.

[00:04:29] [00:04:30] Of large enterprises, small businesses even land privatization. And

[00:04:36] Wendy: what was your background to end up being part of this group that went to Russia?

[00:04:41] Adam: I was, I was a banker with Dressner bank based in Miami in, when, when the Soviet union collapsed. First of all, came down in In Eastern Europe. And I had asked to be transferred to [00:05:00] Germany, but I didn't speak German.

[00:05:02] And in those days really addressing her pain towards your bank. The large banks, even the American banks were not as international as they are today. So I was looking for ways to get to Eastern Europe. Russia was not on my radar. Originally that came, that came later when, when I saw an advertisement in the wall street journal for peace Corps volunteers.

[00:05:26] And it was specifically for Russia. [00:05:30] And I had read a piece prior to that about a up and coming young politician by the name of force themself in the niche that I'd reach and how he was doing reform. And the, I think the tipping point for me was advice that I had gotten from some friends, older friends who had been in the peace Corps and a, uh, counterpart who had [00:06:00] left to open up the office in Russia for his loss.

[00:06:05] So that's, those were the two, those were the two tipping points. I would say that, that convinced me that that was, that was the place to go. And I always had, I always had an international background. I grew up in, in a multi-lingual family. So for me, going into that kind of environment was, was not Unnatural.

[00:06:27] Right. So you

[00:06:28] Wendy: grew up in a family [00:06:30] and you learn Spanish, of course, English and then Portuguese. And your father was from the Basque region of France.

[00:06:41] Adam: So you we're from the Basque region of France and from the box region.

[00:06:47] Wendy: Yeah. Okay. So all of your multi-lingual background had nothing to do with Eastern Europe or Russia,

[00:06:53] Adam: correct?

[00:06:54] Yes. Correct. But my grandparents were also quite influential in [00:07:00] that they're, they're pulling their political views. Where were Marxists and anarchist.

[00:07:07] Wendy: Okay. So you felt a little bit of draw to Marxism in Russia. Is that what pulled you over to that area

[00:07:18] Adam: or was there? I didn't see. I didn't feel a draw to Marxism at all or, or in our charism. Although one would say children are in our guests, [00:07:30]

[00:07:30] Wendy: your parent, you

[00:07:31] Adam: agree. There's certainly a curiosity. And I think it was more about the unknown and the curiosity of it all.

[00:07:44] Wendy: Okay. So now you're a banker. You apply to go to the peace Corps in Russia. You get over there and what's it.

[00:07:53] Adam: Like it was. It was an incredible new culture, new language, [00:08:00] wonderful people. And to this day, wonderful people in Russia, it's a beautiful country and beautiful people, wonderful culture. It was, you could see the economic hardship.

[00:08:13] Literally people selling their, your silverware, their goods, their, their clothing on the street, literally lined up and people are selling their wares. Think about, think about having a hundred thousand [00:08:30] dollars in your bank account today and tomorrow, or in a couple of months, you wake up and your a hundred thousand dollars is more, nothing.

[00:08:39] And that is what happened to millions of people, pensioners in mid-career mid-career professionals. So you talk about reinvention. They really had to reinvent themselves in a lot of them. Didn't make it.

[00:08:55] They didn't make it economically. They, you know, [00:09:00] they never recovered from that. From that loss. Many of them.

[00:09:07] Wendy: So I, so I think of before the wall came down, Russia was, you were either in the party and you were doing well. And so you tried to sing the party platform and then the bottom falls out. Was it the party executives who didn't do well, or it was across the board who seemed to suffer the [00:09:30] most.

[00:09:31] Adam: Now the prime party executives. Most of them didn't. But they're your, your average Soviet citizen. And I'm talking about Soviet citizens, not just Russia, Kazakhstan all over the Soviet union. They, they suffered, they suffered hardships.

[00:09:49] Okay. So you're walking

[00:09:51] Wendy: into a country that you've got the mass of people you're talking like the middle CRA class. Yes. And lower income [00:10:00] earners, just, it fell out. They had nothing.

[00:10:03] Adam: That's correct.

[00:10:06] Wendy: So when the wall fell down, I was actually traveling in Europe. I'm on an extended time off, I've took three or four months into the backpack and went through Europe and I got to Hungary and that was about the closest we could get to the, to the Eastern block at the time.

[00:10:22] And I just remember thinking that prices were so rant. I mean, I joked with my traveling companion that [00:10:30] it looked like somebody sat in a back room and wrote prices and then somebody else went out and just stuck them on things. Cause there was no American value system of what costs more and what costs less.

[00:10:43] And so here you've got a population that has no money, capitalism starting to come in. How do we even look at that? And why would I have experienced this random pricing on goods? That seem random to me?

[00:10:59] Adam: [00:11:00] Yeah. Well, you, you don't, you don't, the economy is, is being completely restructured. Your currency has, is, has been destroyed.

[00:11:12] So you literally start from scratch. Your infrastructure, the idea of, of credit to the consumer that took a long time to establish the infrastructure that support commercial banking was non-existent. [00:11:30] And as, as we, as we understand it in a capitalistic system that didn't exist in Russia or

[00:11:41] Wendy: any of that, we had to do, like, how do you go in and restore this? I mean, to me, it seems unimaginable to start from scratch with that many people in that much wealth already in the.

[00:11:53] Adam: Yeah, well, a lot of money was spent on technical assistance by [00:12:00] USA ID, the European union. So the IMF, the world bank. So you had, you had armies of consultants in, in bankers going in to Russia to help them build that infrastructure. And over time, That that know-how was then transferred to them and they, you know, they, [00:12:30] they, they created a banking system.

[00:12:33] They created the infrastructure

[00:12:36] Wendy: doing in particular when you were there.

[00:12:39] Adam: As well as a peace Corps volunteer, I worked with small businesses and I help them write business plans and we would take these business plans and market them in Moscow and try to raise money from the likes of the IFC international finance corporation.

[00:12:56] The EDRD in European banks, reconstruction development. [00:13:00] And get investments into those companies.

[00:13:07] Well, those businesses it, it varied a brick factory was one, a machine tool factory. That actually was part of the Soviet military infrastructure. That factory in particular was running at 15% capacity and had laid off all of its workers, [00:13:30] pretty much the workers, but the workers were still coming in to work.

[00:13:35] They weren't being paid. They could not, the, the factory could not pay them. They didn't have the money to pay them. Wow. That was a restructured. That I had done together with Pricewaterhouse. Part of that restructuring included establishing a Coca-Cola plant in this was initially notepad. So part of the factory was the territory [00:14:00] was 49 hectors and we divided up the factory and took a piece of.

[00:14:07] Piece of that territory and built a bottling and distribution plant Coca-Cola distribution plant there. And that created that created revenues for the local administration created jobs. And it also provided revenues to the, to the machine, to a factory. [00:14:30] However, the machine tool factory, also the technology that they were using was, was, was quite dated.

[00:14:36] Hm.

[00:14:38] Wendy: Okay. So you're really talking about, you know, the heart of the company, you know, country, when you're talking about brick manufacturing, machine tooling which just seems so difficult to believe in the United States that have a factory like that. Well, I guess you said they were outdated, they didn't have any [00:15:00] money.

[00:15:00] And so you were able to get the money partnerships with Coca-Cola and they were able to restart.

[00:15:05] Adam: Exactly. And that was part of the restructuring. You've got, you've got idle assets sitting there. What do you do with it while you need to put it to work? So dividing up that territory and establishing the Coca-Cola plant was part of that.

[00:15:21] We also had machine machine tool traders come in and they, they bought a [00:15:30] number of powerful laves and machines.

[00:15:34] Correct. And so that was another cash generator for the, for the factory. And they use that money to read through. So

[00:15:42] Wendy: you go in to help these companies, and you've got a great background to do it, and you've got some resources to support. Yet you speak different languages and more that way with them one there's of course, just the [00:16:00] language you speak, English and Spanish and they speak Russian.

[00:16:03] And then you speak capitalism. Which is a completely different language to that. So how did you communicate across the primary, you know, spoken language, but then also across these concepts you're trying to get across.

[00:16:20] Adam: Yeah. When did that? That's a good question. That's a very good question. It was a difficult transition for particularly the Soviet [00:16:30] directors.

[00:16:31] The, the younger. The younger generation, they were the ones that, that took the reins and tried to try to move the country into a more, more capitalist society. Survival.

[00:16:48] Wendy: Okay. So they were just, they saw the American consumption or the Western consumption and knew that there was a market economy where I could sell stuff [00:17:00] and make money, but I needed to sell stuff to make money. So where am I going to get the stuff to sell?

[00:17:05] Adam: Exactly exactly. And I, and I would say it was not just American, but European, broad capitalism as, as a whole, you know,

[00:17:17] Wendy: I corrected my, I said, you know, in the us, but then I said Western, so, but the capitalistic yeah, good point.

[00:17:23] Adam: And I would call, I would call what took place in the nineties. Unbridled [00:17:30] pure capitalism, which is not very pretty. There's a reason there are regulations. You really didn't have rule of law. Law was be rule of law was being law was being, being, being made. Then as you, as you go through the transition

[00:17:52] Wendy: and so what kind of, I mean, there's no laws and laws,

[00:17:58] Adam: there are laws, [00:18:00] but the laws don't really don't really not conformed, but contribute to the environment of transition in capitalism.

[00:18:13] Wendy: Violation of these laws or expectations. Did you see that could have been most damaging

[00:18:20] Adam: taxes? The taxation was, was a big issue in those days. It was very high. It [00:18:30] was you, you really, you simply didn't have.

[00:18:35] Wendy: So taxes were high, but people didn't pay them because there

[00:18:38] Adam: was no and pay them because they, you didn't, you really didn't have an agency that could collect those taxes efficiently.

[00:18:47] And, and the businessman always looked for ways not to pay the taxes.

[00:18:57] There was a lack of trust between between the [00:19:00] business community. And the government and the government was very weak. That changed today. The government is very strong tax collection today in Russia's very high. There is a level of, of stability, I would say in Russia today. And there is proper tax collection having said.

[00:19:26] Rule of law is not applied equally. [00:19:30] It's quite selective in Russia today.

[00:19:34] Wendy: Tell me more about that.

[00:19:35] Adam: The good example of that.

[00:19:36] Were you coasts? Yeah. Yukos oil company is a good example of that, where they were. This was in 2003. I believe that was, was was arrested in the, in the oil company was liquidated and it was liquidated on the basis of the pre-tax was unpaid [00:20:00] taxes.

[00:20:00] Now that situation could have been applied to many other companies, but it was not, it was applied to the UCO swell company

[00:20:09] and they, and they, they, they did nothing, nothing in particular that was different from the other world companies.

[00:20:18] Wendy: So why do you think they were

[00:20:19] Adam: singled out? Because Nicole had the scheme was was a very powerful man. And he was getting involved in politics, which is something that at the time, [00:20:30] president Putin had warned the Ali cards not to do politics focused on your business.

[00:20:38] And and that was, that was the.

[00:20:41] Wendy: Okay. So now back to, um, the communication. So we kind of talked on the capitalistic language as the young people were very motivated to change. So they pick that up. How did you communicate when you didn't speak Russian and you were trying to work at a very [00:21:00] high level over there?

[00:21:01] Adam: Well, I had to learn Russian. So in, when, when I started there the first six for six months, Three months. I'm sorry. First three months I did go through Russian training. I was, I was posted outside of of she know God in a smaller city by myself. So I had no choice, but to, but to learn the language.

[00:21:27] And I had to learn it very quickly if I [00:21:30] wanted to eat.

[00:21:34] Wendy: Okay. All right. And so were there interpreters around at that point or was there much English being spoken?

[00:21:43] Adam: There were, there were there, I did rely on a few interpreters. Particularly when the, when the discussions became very detailed. I did. Um, but over the years, over the 18 years that I spent in Russia and central [00:22:00] Asia I now speak the language.

[00:22:03] And in fact, that's lingua franca at our house.

[00:22:10] Wendy: Oh, you're my wife is Russian. You speak it and then your children do, huh?

[00:22:20] That's great. All right. So you started out in the peace Corps there, which is only a two year assignment typically.

[00:22:29] Adam: [00:22:30] Yep. That's

[00:22:30] Wendy: right. How did you decide to stay longer? How did you, what did you transition to?

[00:22:36] Adam: I decided to start my own business after peace Corps. I did, and I was a consulting business.

[00:22:43] I had some opportunities to to join larger organizations, but I decided to start my own business and I consulted. Enterprises small businesses. I would originate the projects out in the regions and take him to [00:23:00] Moscow and partner up with larger corporations. A perfect example of that is the, is the machine tool factory which was going, which I had proposed to them and restructuring.

[00:23:13] I took the deal to price smarter house and we partnered. To do the restructuring of that factory. The Coca-Cola deal in that, in that, uh, machine tool factory was separate from the restructuring with [00:23:30] Pricewaterhouse. And that's what I did for a few years. Then the crisis hit in 98 where the global economic crisis hit in August, 1998.

[00:23:41] At that time, the bottom had had fallen out in Russia. If you don't, if you recall. And I was in, I took a position with with a financial consulting group called financial services, volunteer Corps in Moscow as their country [00:24:00] director. Actually, my first position was in the city of somata. Sorry. I established our office in Samana.

[00:24:09] Our work was with the central bank of Russia. So we worked with the central bank in in, uh, bank supervision, Prudential supervision, as well as payments and regulation of commercial banks. So what we did was we organized conferences and seminars with the central. In the regions [00:24:30] as well as in Moscow.

[00:24:31] Wendy: And so this was mostly for Russian business owners to come and learn.

[00:24:37] Adam: This is specifically for Russian commercial bank. And the central bank.

[00:24:44] Wendy: So it was for banks to come learn about capitalistic

[00:24:49] Adam: financing, not so much capitalistic financing, but I would, I would describe it as, as, as Prudential for the central [00:25:00] bank, it was about payment systems.

[00:25:02] It was also about commercial bank product. Prudential supervision. How do you supervise commercial banking? What are, what, what do we do in the west, as in, what are the, what are, what are the policies that we we follow and what are the, what are, what are the governing administrative normatives that we follow in, in the us?

[00:25:27] How do we apply that to commercial banking?[00:25:30]

[00:25:30] Wendy: So I found a tangent. My mom went to study the prison systems in China. And so often from the west, we come in thinking, oh, we can, we can bring the way we do it in. And she learned a lot of things that they do better, which is a whole other podcast. That we could bring to the United States.

[00:25:50] So I'm curious, here you go to Russia during a time that they're in complete upheaval and they have to learn a bunch of stuff. What do you think that [00:26:00] Western capitalistic economies could learn from either what they had to put in or what they're doing now?

[00:26:09] Adam: That's a good question, Wendy. I can, I can say in my time there, I learned more about the United States. I learned as much about the United States as I did about Russia, central Asia. We here in the west, we're quite privileged. [00:26:30] You have an infrastructure that's established, you have rule of law. That's established doing that, establishing an infrastructure that supports to the economy today.

[00:26:42] That's a very, very challenging process when you've got 145 million. Talking about Russia in particular in the nineties and going through to today, Russia has Russia has made incredible advancements over the [00:27:00] past two over the past three decades. In those environments, I think what one really needs to understand that. They have their way of doing things, whether it be Russia, whether it be China, whether it be Nicaragua or Brazil, the culture is it. One needs to take into account the culture and in how they have done things in the past may not be, may not be right.

[00:27:25] May not be the best for everyone. There is a system. [00:27:30] How do you change that system? Does that, does that need to be changed? The first question and if it does need to be changed, how do you change that system? That's their position, how they do that.

[00:27:44] Wendy: So you had to be.

[00:27:46] Adam: I don't know if I answered your question.

[00:27:48] Wendy: I wanted to get you more down into the detail. But I think what I heard is you're coming in as an expert from the United States and these other peace Corps [00:28:00] volunteers as experts in their area. And you're going to tell them how to do it. But what you learned is you can't tell them you have to work with them to figure out what's gonna work.

[00:28:12] And their culture and system to help drive the vision of what they want.

[00:28:20] Adam: That's right, Wendy, you, you can not go into these environments and tell anyone how to do things. [00:28:30] You can only advise what are best practices and. Good examples of those. It is up to them to take that information and implement it, execute it the best they can in their environment.

[00:28:47] Wendy: Now, which countries have you worked in?

[00:28:49] Adam: Russia? Um, as she could find, this is quite an interesting environment, Nicaragua as the [00:29:00] Pasha and Georgia and Bella,

[00:29:03] Wendy: and then you're working in the Balkans right now, right?

[00:29:06] Adam: Yes. Right now I'm, I'm working in the Balkans. I'm advising a, uh, a digital bank in the Balkans.

[00:29:16] I also have a client in And Ukraine that is aerospace related. Those are, those are my two main projects right now. I also have a, I also have a a clean [00:29:30] energy chemical specialty materials, science, specialty chemicals business as well. And

[00:29:36] Wendy: now, what are you doing for these companies? Why would somebody come and hire you?

[00:29:42] Adam: These are relations that I, that I had have developed over the past three decades. The, the digital bank is someone that I had done business with in course, in 2009, 2010. And [00:30:00] here's, uh, he's a banker and he's based, he's based in London and they have launched a digital bank in the Balkans.

[00:30:09] So my knowledge, of course, of all in, in the, in the Balkans, in particular given money. There is what brought him to me. He came to me similar situation with the Ukrainian aerospace factory that's with an American group [00:30:30] that is doing business with the Ukrainian factory. It's a very large Ukrainian factory and they asked for my assistance,

[00:30:41] Wendy: what are you doing for

[00:30:42] Adam: them?

[00:30:42] Helping them negotiate terms. How I would say it's not so much the terms of the deal. It's not so much pricing. It's more about

[00:30:54] translating the ideas in the culture. There are so many, [00:31:00] so many miscommunications that happen, particularly by email. If you read the email and in Russian many, many Ukrainians speak Russian the, the ideas do not translate literally into Russian. So a lot of it is a lot of the is relationship building.

[00:31:20] Wendy: So that's exactly what we were talking about before, where you have. The subject, which is one language, and then you've got the language, which is another. [00:31:30] So right now you're talking about, it's not just the language, but it's also understanding the concepts,

[00:31:36] Adam: correct. That's right. To be flown in, in a language. One really needs to be also fluent in the culture and understand the. The one can be perfect grammatically in the language, but not really understand what's being said.

[00:31:54] If you don't understand the culture.

[00:31:56] Wendy: Yes. It's very interesting because when we go to hire [00:32:00] translators, if they've learned their language in the United States and not the country where the languages, the translation is going to be used, we can't, we can't hire them. They have to have an understanding.

[00:32:17] Adam: That's right. That's right. And, and even in Russia, you have, you've got, you have different dialogues. For example in the Volker river region in Initio versus Moscow, [00:32:30] Russian is spoken a little bit differently and even all the way down the Volta river, down to us in places like , um, somata as well, try to perfect example is the river AKA in, in, in Moscow, it's called the ARCA.

[00:32:51] Okay. Initially, no, God it's called the . Okay. Oh, okay. Although it's spelled. [00:33:00] Okay. So those, those small changes are important, but more important is really understanding the culture because that's where the language comes from, comes out of the culture.

[00:33:17] Wendy: It does. It really does. So tell me more about that.

[00:33:21] Well, you know, ironically, I just recorded a global minute. We do a [00:33:30] social post called the global minute that goes out on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn every Monday. And I did one about how, if you lose a language, you lose that culture too, because there's ways you express yourself in your history. If you don't have the cultural, like they're so intertwined.

[00:33:48] And one of them is there are three D 3000 different varieties of potatoes in Peru. My dad sat on the board for the potato center there, and [00:34:00] that's how I learned. There were 3000 potatoes and the catch one language, there's a name for each of the different kinds of varieties.

[00:34:11] Adam: And it depends on the region where that potato comes from and they may call it a different may give it a different name than what you may hear at, in Lima, for example, and, and something you pointed out, if you can [00:34:30] lose the language. If you lose contact with your culture? My original language, my mother tongue was Spanish.

[00:34:36] I didn't learn English until I was five, six years old today. My Russian is significantly better than my Spanish. Although having said that, really what I need is just two, three months. I can, I'm fine. In Spanish. But it, I don't feel as comfortable in Spanish as I [00:35:00] do in Russian. Sometimes when, when I get together with family, the Spanish speaking side of the family Russian words will come out, um, going a hundred, a hundred miles an hour in Spanish, and then suddenly, boom, Russian, Russian word will come out and that's a function of, of not using.

[00:35:25] Wendy: Or there's not a word for it. I mean, I, I may have given this example. [00:35:30] Yeah, my, the, I grew up in first and second grade in Mexico and the word Pika means something spicy. Where in English we'd say it's hot. So that could mean temperature. Or spicy hot, but I like to distinguish between the two. So I always told my kids, you know, this is Pika.

[00:35:47] So they went to school and an elementary school they're in Spanish class and they came home and they were like, mom, did you know that Pico's a Spanish word? It was just naturally in our vocabulary. Cause we [00:36:00] needed a word for it.

[00:36:04] Adam: No, that's true. Through we, we, we often in our house. Well, we'll have, we'll have Russian in English next up. Happens a lot, happens a lot, but the primary language at home is Russian.

[00:36:20] Wendy: So Spanish and English is Spanglish. I've heard there's a Portuguese since Spanish spin a geese. What is Russian and [00:36:30] English

[00:36:30] Adam: called?

[00:36:30] Wendy: Oh, that's funny. Well, we'll have to we'll think of that. If you're listening to this on social media, put it, put your suggestion down below. Yeah. So earlier we had talked about. You had worked in Russian to Zika San Nicaragua. You know, the buck ends in and we were also talking about how you have to know the culture to make things work.

[00:36:59] [00:37:00] So you've worked cross culturally. What, what were the biggest challenges in each of the cultures of the country? That were most different from you? Like where were the biggest struggles? And this is, you know, so think about, you're talking to somebody that wants to go to another country to do business or wants to expand internationally.

[00:37:22] What are, what were some of the challenges in the countries that you didn't expect for were surprising?

[00:37:28] Adam: Well, let [00:37:30] me, let me, let me start by. Let me just start with, how do you address the challenges and the best way to address the challenges is to listen, listen to what they are telling you. Listen to listen.

[00:37:48] Sounds odd. Listen to how they live. Look at the. The biggest challenge that I had really was setting up a microfinance business [00:38:00] in Tajikistan. The challenge was finding, finding loan officers. The country had gone through a civil war, really bloody civil war, where the clans were still while there was peace.

[00:38:16] There was still, there were still some bad blood in many parts of the country, as a result of civil war, that civil war had really wiped out a generation of education. [00:38:30] The educational system had collapsed. So particularly out in the provinces, outside of the Capitol Duchamp bay,

[00:38:38] Really, it was difficult to find loan officers. What do I mean by difficult to find loan officers, literally people who can, who can do mathematics and read basic, basic needs. And that was, that was the result of the civil war.

[00:38:58] We trained them. We, [00:39:00] we, we looked for them. Most of the loan officers that I did hire came out of university and in Duchenne bay, somewhere educated in Moscow, um, out in the regions, we did find, we did find a few they're out. You just, you just need to, you just need to go out there and find them, and it's not easy.

[00:39:26] This is true in any, I, I believe in [00:39:30] many market that is going through a transition,

[00:39:34] Wendy: uh, even in the United States. There's so many companies that are struggled to hire now.

[00:39:39] Adam: Right. Well that, that's a, that's a different discussion entirely. And that's not, that's not a function of that's that's capitalism being.

[00:39:51] Revise is the way I see it, but that's another, that's another discussion. That's a whole

[00:39:59] Wendy: other [00:40:00] podcast episode. Yeah. So we're getting to the end. I'd love to hear your recommendations for anybody who's thinking about. Global expansion, particularly into the politically changing or more volatile situations.

[00:40:17] And then we'll get into a few personal questions. So what would be your recommendations for anybody wanting to expand internationally?

[00:40:24] Adam: Listen, listen to the people on the ground. They are the ones that are going to tell [00:40:30] you. What's what's really happening politically and economic. You really, really have to be in touch with the locals to understand that the, the, the, the market know when to get out of that market. Know what do I mean by that?

[00:40:49] While the market is very may look very lucrative, there may be political obstacles. That just are very difficult to move [00:41:00] and you're not going to be able to get into that market, or you're already in that market. Things had gone very well, but you see that the environment is changing. That's happened in Russia.

[00:41:12] Today, today, most of. A good portion of GDP is generated from, from the Russian government, not private business. So your opportunities have shrunk significantly there. And of course it depends on the sector that you're involved. [00:41:30] Yeah.

[00:41:30] Wendy: Yeah. Well, that's good. That's great.

[00:41:33] Adam: But I think, I think, I think the main advice is have a good team on the ground.

[00:41:37] You have to have a good team on the ground. They are your eyes and ears in the business. They understand the culture, they understand language, they understand what is going on.

[00:41:51] The framework, have a framework understand when it's time to get out [00:42:00] when it's time to enter as well. What are, what, what are the metrics that you have? What are the, what are, what are the milestones that you have for, for that business and that. Have those in place. How

[00:42:13] Wendy: do you find people on the ground

[00:42:15] Adam: through word of mouth, through the universities, through contacts that that you establish over time?

[00:42:21] Locals that are trained that not only Western trained locals locals that are training. [00:42:30] And the local businesses is, well, you hire them, find them. How do you find them? You go into the country and you do your, do your research in the country.

[00:42:47] Exactly. You can always join the chambers of commerce. What have you, but. Ex Patriot communities are just that they're there. They [00:43:00] tend to be isolated. You really need to get out there into, into the, uh, the local environment, the local culture, the local business club businesses.

[00:43:13] Wendy: That's that's great advice.

[00:43:15] All right. We're, we're really running out of time now, but I want to ask you, what's your favorite foreign.

[00:43:20] Adam: What does that mean? Now? Tamala is, is a, is a response in Russian. When somebody asks you, how [00:43:30] are you doing

[00:43:34] How are you how's today? How are you doing? And the response generally is nothing. My mama literal translation is, is normal. I'm okay. And it's reflective of the culture it's reflective of, of, of Russian history. You remember the Russia was, was [00:44:00] a land of SERPs for centuries. As opposed to, when you ask someone in the United States, how are you? Oh, I'm great. Things are wonderful. Really.

[00:44:15] Wendy: But I, you know, a lot of people in the United States who would answer that way, haven't been serfs. They've had a different cultural

[00:44:24] Adam: experience, probably not. And, and, and that, that goes to the point of understanding the [00:44:30] culture. If you understand the culture and the history of the people, that'll give you a better understanding of the language.

[00:44:37] And better command of the language.

[00:44:41] Wendy: Okay. How about favorite vacation?

[00:44:42] Adam: Barcelona.

[00:44:46] And I would say Dubrovnik is a, is a very, very close second or close number one to prove Nick as a beautiful place. Okay, [00:45:00]

[00:45:02] Wendy: fantastic. So that's on my list. Another

[00:45:04] Adam: beautiful in other beautiful places. Montenegro. I could go on. I could go on a lot of places. Barcelona is for me is number one. Spain is number one.

[00:45:18] I love Spain. I did my graduate studies in Barcelona. So I, I, I know, I know the country. I know the.

[00:45:26] Wendy: Excellent. So if anybody would [00:45:30] like to reach you, what, how what's the best way to do that?

[00:45:34] Adam: Reach? Best way to reach me is by email. My email address is eight, a Blanco, B L a N C O AA, B L a N C O app, E as in echo eight, as in the number Q as in Quebec. [00:46:00] Technology's dot com

[00:46:02] Wendy: and your website

[00:46:03] Adam: E Q technologies.com.

[00:46:08] Wendy: Excellent. If

[00:46:10] Adam: there, if there are any chess players, They would recognize E Q as when the pond gets promoted to queen. Ah,

[00:46:25] Wendy: I have wondered every time I look at your email, I have [00:46:30] wondered what that means, so, okay.

[00:46:34] I am not a chess player. One of these days. Well, thank you so much, Adam, for being here, it's been a delightful conversation. Um, I

[00:46:46] Adam: really, really thank you for inviting me. I greatly appreciate the time that you spent with. And really enjoyed the conversation

[00:46:58] Wendy: I did too. [00:47:00] So if you're out there and you're listening, Adam and I met through an organization called I E R G it's international executive resource group, which is a gathering of people who have had international experience.

[00:47:12] And there's. There's all over the place and they come together. A lot of them still for virtual meetings that you can get involved with and meet other people that have that global view. It's been very refreshing to me and I really enjoy the connections that I've made from them. So again, if you know anybody who [00:47:30] might be interested in this podcast, please send it on to them and tune into us next time.

[00:47:37] We'll have somebody new to talk about another experience in global marketing. Thanks so much for today.

[00:47:43] [00:48:00]

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