I just came back from my 6th visit to Buenos Aires. I first went to Argentina in 2005. The country had had a recent financial haircut in 2001 when everybody woke us and found out that their personal worth had been cut dramatically. The country offered great value and talent.
My interactive partner Dante Fiorini is in Argentina. I met him in person on our first trip. I call him most days on a local OC area code and stay connected. It’s the New Normal.
I was in Buenos Aires again in early September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed and almost everyone in the U.S. got their haircut. In fact many of us continue to have buzz cuts as the recovery has not favored all proportionately. It was kind of strange to be so far away and watch the world melt in another language.
Networking is a little bit different in Argentina. I first find the people very gregarious. It is tough not to think that when you meet a person for the first time and they give you a kiss on the check. People talk to each other in Argentina. We took a shuttle from Dante’s place in Mar del Plata (surfing capital) to Buenos Aires. People were dropped off at various places in the cities. As they walked to the door they said “Ciao” to everybody on the bus they passed. They just wanted to acknowledge that we shared the experience of a bus ride and had successfully arrived. We said Ciao to everyone we passed as we left as well.
We had coffee one morning at Josephina’s Café. It is a very nice place near DDB. I visited with the Managing Director during my last trip. An obvious regular came in. She kissed all three waiters on the check and then sat down. Try that at your favorite Starbucks. It seems a little bit more sincere that the obviously scripted “How’s your day going so far?”
I didn’t see too many smartphones in Buenos Aires. Mostly because they cost a lot. This has some advantages. People talk to each other and are not slaves to their screens. Even those people who have Smart phones do not seem obsessed at checking them constantly as if their phones were their umbilical cords. Phones are still just something that ring from time to time while you talk to people, read a paper, a book or maybe just stare off into thin air and do nothing.
Maybe I am wrong but I think the people in other countries understand that your phone doesn’t tell you if your heart is beating. Your life does.
When we were leaving at the airport there was a family of four sitting together at the same table. They were obviously Americans and all had sat there staring at their iPhone screens. Alone together naturally.
I am planning my next trip.
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