LATAM IN GERMANY: meet Hans-Joachim Stickel
LATAM in Germany is a new interview series and section, especially designed to highlight the EMERGE21 platform, both aiming to support Argentinian, Chilean, & overall LATAM founders and startups to strive their scaling into new markets, with a focus of having Hessen and Germany as an entrance point into Germany, Europe and the world.
Frankfurt Valley as a Media Partner, will highlight different leaders and founders, whose stories and records should inspire and motivate other LATAM stakeholders to join us.
Today, we bring to our virtual stage Hans-Joachim Stickel — a seasoned Serial Entrepreneur, Chief Officer of FCJ, Venture Builder, Brazil, Multi Trusted Advisor and an International Mentor that spends half of the year in Brazil and the other half in Hessen.
Dear Hans, where are you right now? Brazil or Germany? Can you tell us a bit about your great geographical arrangement?
Well, Pedro, at this time of the European summer, I continue to stay in Germany and enjoy springtime and the renaissance of nature. During European fall and winter time I escape to Brazil and we live in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, which is about an hour’s flight from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
What brought you to be so involved with Brazil?
It was around almost 20 years ago that I was invited for a trip to Brazil and immediately fell in love with the country and the people. It happened that some time later during another trip I met my then future wife, and shortly after got married. That was one of the best decisions of my life.
What are you currently working on? Do you think our region in Hessen is the perfect spot for Brazilian and LATAM entrepreneurs?
I have found my perfect mission being an international business mentor on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean. With my experience of having founded many companies in the earlier years of my career and having consulted many international clients I am today perfectly prepared to care for startups and midsize companies in Germany and Brazil.
Regarding Frankfurt being an outstanding location for Brazil and LATAM entrepreneurs it almost sounds like a rhetorical question, excuse me, don’t want to be rude. But what has been excellent for a tradition of more classical companies should be just perfect for a new type of enterprises and startups from LATAM, in the first place being the infrastructural prerequisites, the readiness of administration and legal entities to receive new players in the region and certainly the warm-hearted Hessen citizens.
Having lived in the state of Hessen in the Rhein-Main-area for almost 40 years myself I can confess that the society of the Hessen is multi-cultural and extremely receptive to whatever external nationality. Here you can breathe that you live in a global village. My personal impression has always been that almost everybody from Latam has been integrated almost by no time, because the “Latin way” of being more emotional is just what the easy-going people from Hessen like.
How much have you been involved in Innovation and Entrepreneurship locally and globally?
My former management consultancy had a “Blue Ocean” license for Germany from INSEAD and the two professors Chan Kim and René Mauborgne. So we had the privilege to focus on all kinds of innovation projects and have consulted many huge enterprises in the innovation area. Myself as a mentor of CEOs of startups have during many years by now had the pleasure to accompany leaders in those two important areas of leadership.
I could provide many times proven benefits for my mentees all over Europe and Brazil because nobody is perfect. Either they are great in innovation and have their difficulties in entrepreneurship or the lack of experience is a severe obstacle to scale up as fast as they want. Some CEOs risk falling into the trap of procrastination because they suffer from perfectionism. Probably my pragmatic way in chasing my mentees to implement as fast as possible has been the most valuable contribution in guiding CEOs.
With a multicultural background — how was your experience and things you overcame? Do you have interesting stories either in Europe or South America?
Well, Pedro, you touched a subject there that I could come up with many stories. But let me share a big lesson with you: It is about punctuality in starting meetings.
It took me years to adapt to the fact that in Brazil meetings being 15 minutes late is just the most natural thing. First 15 minutes after the meeting started you certainly needed to share your experiences about what you did last weekend — or talking about your plans for the upcoming weekend, not to mention family subjects, football games or praising your favorite bar or restaurant.
It took me quite some time to understand that this is part of the negotiation process. You create trust, companionship and empathy during the small talk part of the meeting, that may be more important than to discuss the details of the closing paragraphs of your contract. The result is surprising because later in the meeting the contract may be signed without hesitation if you have developed tight social bonds with your counterpart.
As a German this has influenced my personality considerably because today I know that with a good sense of humor you close deals almost faster than with lots of knowledge of (irrelevant) details.
If you could mix the best of both worlds, what would be the top skills you would mix from both sides of the Ocean (LATAM and Germany)?
That is an easy one: Take discipline, punctuality and dedication from the old continent and mix with empathy, humor and easy-going of the Latin people and you have the best mix imaginable to be successful. Good humor and positive energy are guaranteed, and good business results as well.
Can you share some tips or stories with other LATAM Founders that are about to take the leap to start business in Germany-Europe?
I should point out more general issues that I have seen on the two sides of the Atlantic and that value for Latins heading for Europe and Europeans heading for Latam:
– Don’t create negative self-fulfilling prophecies, do not waste too much time in thinking of what could go wrong.
– Be aware that with Latin blood and good manors you conquer European and especially German hearts very easily. Make use of your natural talents.
– Don’t be shy to ask for help or assistance. Your communicative skills will help you more than you believe.
– Have your business model adjusted to the local requirements. Prove that you are well prepared.
– Talk upfront to experienced people who will be ready to assist you. “Silverbacks” like myself (one mentee used the term to describe my protective way of connecting myself to my mentees) are ready to help. Avoid making the failures that generations of earlier CEOs committed. Take the fast way and learn from their competencies.
To close the interview, we invite all our readers to discover the initiative from AHK Argentina — Cámara de Industria y Comercio Argentino-Alemana together with Mainstage Incubator and Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH: