Yeah, I know. It’s a marketing slogan, right? Well, I’d say there’s a very positive and powerful reality behind the slogan. Spain IS different. Let me give you a gíri’s perspective on some differences and why different means better.
Spain is Diverse
I don’t want to fall into stereotypes but the cultural impact is an important factor when applied to business. One lesson I’ve learned is that in order to succeed in Spanish business, you must first understand the region’s cultural mindset.
Spain’s history is rich and varied. It’s the product of thousands of years of migrations, settlements, battles and invasions. Celts, Arabs, Jews, Romans and Gothic tribes all helped shape what Spain is today. They left roads, cities, castles, aqueducts, palaces, cathedrals and synagogues. But most importantly they left their DNA and an extensive cultural heritage.
When I first moved to Spain I lived in Madrid and I innocently thought that the rest of Spain was basically like Madrid. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Just travel 300kms. In any direction and the food, cultural traditions, accent and even language can change. A basic rule in business is to understand your customer’s motivations and how they think. Considering the cultural context is one more factor to keep in mind.
Spain is Creative
The Spanish “Chapuza” is really a synonym for creativity. I’ve met a lot of people who grew up during the post-war, when Amazon was only a river and Spain was economically and politically isolated from the rest of Europe. But that didn’t stop Spaniards from finding solutions. The “chapuza” was a way of achieving results without having the proper tools or materials. I believe that Spain’s inventive spirit is as strong as ever and is a genuine resource to be exploited.
Spain is direct
I learned Spanish grammar and vocabulary but adapting to the Spanish cultural directness took me more time. “Ponme un café” or “Quiero una caña” may be perfect… in Spanish. But if you walk into a coffee shop in London and say “Give me a coffee”, I’m sure the room would go silent and all eyes would be on you. Colorful Spanish curse expressions are commonplace, sometimes used to insult but often just used to emphasise a point or bring a smile. Understanding the words is fairly easy. Correctly interpreting the meaning takes longer.
Spain is carpe díem
Although every region is unique there is one thing that is typically Spanish from Cataluña to Extremadura and from Almería to Galicia. Spaniards really know how to enjoy life. There’s always time for a coffee, a beer or a wine, where conversation, jokes and opinions flow freely. Family, friends, kisses and hugs and a lot of laughing are all part of everyday life.
Political, regional and even sport club rivalries are all part of everyday life in Spain. There always seems to be some sort of a crisis going and another on the horizon. Who knows, maybe this constant need for division is precisely what all of Spain has in common and it just might be the glue that holds the country together.