The Value of Zen And Cultural Competency For Continuous Learning And Engagement with Shama Hyder and Ricardo Gonzalez

A harmonious workplace is conducive for productivity and creativity. In the absence of friction, ideas and innovation flow more efficiently. Shama Hyder, known as the Zen Master of marketing, talks about maintaining a Zen level in the workplace and being in student mode, open to learning and improvement. Ricardo Gonzalez discusses the benefits of cultural mastery across multinational and multicultural companies to endear people and achieve mutual education, engagement, and empowerment. High CQ or Cultural Competency means being a cultural master, and a truly successful cultural master is finely-tuned to the balance between the things that are done and what’s inside of us.

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning


I’m very excited for the show because I have two of my favorite people on. We’ve got Shama Hyder. Shama has so many titles and awards behind her name. She’s the Zen Master of marketing, and Ricardo Gonzalez who is one of the nicest, smartest guys I’ve ever met. He talks about culture and the different things that he handles in his company, Bilingual America. His discussion of CQ, as compared to IQ or EQ, will be interesting.

Listen to the podcast here

The Value of Zen And Cultural Competency For Continuous Learning And Engagement with Shama Hyder

I’m with Shama Hyder who’s known as the Zen Master of Marketing by Entrepreneur Magazine and the Millennial Master of the Universe by Fast Company, as well as named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List of Movers and Shakers. Shama has been the recipient of the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO Award. She’s also named one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25 by Business Week and one of the Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs in America. Shama has been honored at the White House and the United Nations as one of the Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in North America. She’s the bestselling author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and an acclaimed international keynote speaker who has been invited to share the speaking stage in the world’s top leaders, including President Obama and the Dalai Lama. A trusted media expert insight after TV personality, Shama has frequently appeared on Fox Business, CBS, CW 33, and Fox News. As a thought leader, she’s been featured in major publications including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Inc. Magazine, and Forbes.

How did you get to be such a success at such a young age? 

Some of it was probably at the right time and at the right place. I graduated from the University of Texas. I have a master’s in Organizational Communication and Technology. I did my thesis on Twitter before social media was a thing. That’s a huge difference in terms of being able to start my career in an industry, which was relatively new.

You capture people’s attention. You’ve got a magnetism to you that I don’t see in a lot of young people. Do you think that people of your age group have more difficulty getting that attention or do you think it’s time for the millennials to shine? 

When we talk about millennials, we talk about it like they’re a small group. By 2020, millennials will make up the majority of the workforce.

They’re going to take over compared to the boomers were. We are a smaller group, even when they were in control. When millennials are going to take over, it’s a huge group. The Gen X’s, you don’t hear as much about because the two other groups have overshadowed them. The way you have learned to do this with your marketing and your social media, how did you get past good and become Zen level? What do you mean by Zen level? 

Zen, to me, which is so true across the board, is the idea that if you go with the flow, things are a lot easier than when you fight it. Social media is a good example. When companies try and push messages on a new medium, they say, ”Good.” They begin to blast out their message, “It’s not going to work.”When we start to understand how social media works and you go with the flow, you’ll see success.

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning
The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue

You’ve focused your writing on Twitter. Is that your main area where you focus your attention in terms of social media? 

I’m platform agnostic. You go where your audience is and where you’re seeing traction. When we work with clients, you step across the board.

Your award-winning Zen Group average 400% growth annually since it started in 2009. How did you accomplish that? Do you have any tips for people to learn how to get that growth? 

Part of it was right time, right place. The important thing that I taught a lot of entrepreneurs that I mentor is you have to find that sweet spot between your passion and market demand. Some people are like, “Go follow your passion.” That’s not the best advice because you can be passionate about certain things. If there is no market demand, what does it really matter?

How do you determine the demand? Sometimes there’s something new that nobody’s even known they wanted. 

When I started, people didn’t even know what social media was. People will say, “What’s Twitter?” It’s not like companies we’re all gung-ho about. It was a very different landscape, but the demand was,” We want to get out there. We want to get visibility. The ads aren’t doing what they used to.” Things are shifting. There was definitely a shift in the market place. When I started the company, it was the worst recession since the great depression. Some of it was also, “How do we get into this?” Small businesses especially we’re saying, “Does this get me customer? How do I get known? How do we get visibility?”

It’s tough because there’s so many platforms out there. To get a message out at scale and still make it personalized, how do you do that? Each company has such a unique product, each company has a unique message, and then you want to get different messages to different people. Do you find it challenging? 

Companies have different messages and audiences, but they’re very similar in the sense that they have to have the right messaging. The messaging is good, you just got to find where your audience is, and then working with the spots for you to make a difference. In some ways it sounds simplistic, but it’s not. The old rules of marketing still apply. You need a good story and something that gets people talking. You’re using new media to be able to tell that story in a way that it hasn’t been told and you deliver it to reach people in masses.

How do you create the story? Can you give our listeners an idea of how to create a good story? 

Being able to tell stories and understanding how story telling works is a crucial skill in this world. You wouldn’t envision that ten, fifteen years ago. A good story follows the traditional story are, which is its characters are interesting, there is a twist, and then the conclusion. Even an ad, if you think about a good ad that you watch, I was watching one and it was for State Farm Insurance. This guy who sees a cause, a character of that cause starts to follow him around all day. It’s like this thing remained on his mind. When he goes home, it’s only when he takes action that they disappear.

We see a lot of ads that are cool or funny, but you remember what the product is. You tied that back into State Farm. How do you get it so that you remember the product? 

It’s in consistency. The ad can’t be so off the base that people don’t remember, and it does happen. Tying it back to your messaging, it has to stay relevant. What’s funny in non-profits and giving, what you find is companies, when they give back to organizations, it helps their brand when it’s related to what they would offer to the bigger picture. Not just like, ”We’ll give for the sake of giving.” Pepsi said, “We’re going to give a million dollars to charity.” People applauded, but it was not a successful campaign at all for Pepsi. They thought that driving buzz would help. It’s clearly not what Pepsi particularly means. Compare that to Mary Kay, who happened to be one of our clients, because they do so much work with women. One of their partnerships and their philanthropy extends to speaking out against domestic abuse. In some ways, you could think they’re all about empowering women. They would take a stance against anything that was disempowering. It’s being curious too, even in marketing advertising, finding the right fit.

It’s interesting that you have done what you’ve done at such a young age. What was it like to be honored at the White House and United Nations, and what brought that to fruition? How’d you get to that? 

It was a great experience. I was very excited when we went to the White House, being able to talk to some particulars. It’s an exciting place to be in terms of the people you surround yourself and how important that is. I was excited because sometimes, when you’re running a company, you’re in a silo. To be able to see other people who were doing that was just heartening. There was that element to it. It was through impact, which has a process to recognize the Top 100 entrepreneurs in North America. From all perspectives, you need to be able to connect with other young entrepreneur to make these things happen. These are people who see the world from a “why not,” not a “no” perspective.

Did it all start from your Twitter or your report you wrote for that? When did you start to get the attention? 

Starting the company was the big thing. The marketing venue was arguably one of the first social media agencies in the world.

Is success everything you thought it would be? Did you expect it to be like this or did it take you by surprise? 

I feel grateful but I also feel a sense of, “You’re given all these opportunities, so what are you to do with it now?”I live by the credo, “To whom much has been given much shall be expected.” I feel like much has been given to me. I even recognize that a lot of people work hard all their lives and don’t have the recognition or the support or the community support that I have been given and shown. I feel a strong sense of, “I have to give back.” I continue to speak and do a lot of immediate things. A big part of that is because I will be a role model for other younger women, for teens. I love it when I speak somewhere, someone will come up and say, “This is so cool.” I didn’t know this was an option saying, “I do believe it’s hard to be what you can’t see. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I do think it’s harder.” It’s more about how you look and what you wear and what you’re doing. If I can be an anti-thesis to that in some way and by living my life and keeping growing to company and shouldering our clients and doing great work and then clearing that transparency so people can see what we’re doing.

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning
Continuous Learning: I feel like much has been given to me. I feel a strong sense that I have to give back.

It’s got to be hard to grow up a business so fast when you are that young. Was it overwhelming to you at the beginning? 

It was and still is, to some degree because part of me is always pinching myself. Like, “This is so cool.”

It’s fun to watch you speak because I don’t feel that there’s any intimidation. You probably were talking to a lot of older boomer-type age group in that audience. Is it challenging for you to reach different age groups or is it all the same for you? 

Part of that is being in tune which is good because the balance is, “This is awesome,” and then, “How do I give back?” I have been given this great opportunity, and for me, I see everything that way. “What a great opportunity. How do I show up and give my best?” Reaching different audiences, no. It’s because for me, it’s like different audiences. I’m a millennial, so anytime it’s a younger audience, it’s natural easy fits, but your older clients are baby boomers. Most of my clients are men baby boomers. Working with that cohort has been “do this, do that” day in and day out when you’re in important meetings, when you’re in the C-Suite that you see a lot of. I don’t think there’s any audience that Irun across. I’ve done stuff for the life settlement industry, we’re talking about life to octogenarians. I don’t think there’s any audience where I felt like they don’t get it. You must make it relevant to them. What is relevant to a 65-year-old CEO who understood Snapchat? Then there’s this kid who uses it and it’s very different than the person graduating, who is looking to like, “How to enter in the market place and how do I make a career for myself?”

It’s interesting to talk about the different generations. I was talking to Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments about how he does a lot of training for people to get along different age, the millennials with boomers. I think he was telling me he pairs up people, like a millennial with the Gen X, or a millennial with a boomer, too. You didn’t want to have the big gap between the groups. They feel like they’re more related to the next age group or the next generation. Do you think that companies are doing enough to get the distance between the boomers and the millennials to reduce that gap? How do you get them? You obviously have learned to do it by making it relevant to them, but what do you think leaders need to do? Every meeting I go to, they talk about the challenges of working with millennials. How do you work with millennials? What advice do you give leaders? 

Being a millennial, I also hire more millennials in my agency. It’s fun to be on both sides of the equation. I don’t think companies do enough. I assume most companies don’t feel like take a proactive approach, or if they do, they’re doing things in a way that they’re familiar with rather than looking at what are millennials. They’ll say, “Let’s do the buddy system or we do annual reviews.” Annual reviews don’t know much to millennials. These grown-ups come a system of constant feedback. Their assistant gives them more feedback than they get from their job. It’s not to say that companies need to constantly figure out a feedback mechanism, but there’s definitely things you can do if you want to engage and retain the millennial workforce and to have them grow with the company. You can give them that more feedback they’re certainly been getting.

How much is too much? How do you know? 

Every industry is going to be bit different in that way. It doesn’t have to be all the way top. For example, a tool that we use is called fifteen sides. The way it works is it all comes to me, but each team leader has their own fifteen sides. What it is is a tool that employees take fifteen minutes a week, let’s say on Fridays, they see what’s going on, “What are your challenges? What are you excited about? How’s morale? “You can customize these questions and they sent these answers in, and then the team lead, the supervisor has five minutes, takes five minutes essentially every week we go through and that’s a great way to keep a pulse of your company.

I’ve been in companies where they had weekly meetings where everybody shares what they were doing in a group setting. It was more like, “Here’s what I’m doing.” Next person says, “What I’m doing?”it was an ineffective way to find out. I like the one on one. I like the interaction more than just speaking at each other. Do you see that a lot of companies do that? updating rather than interacting? 

There’s a time and place for updating. Sometimes, when that is in lieu of feedback, they try to squeeze in how awesome they’re doing, or complaint, because I didn’t have the chance to do that.

What’s next for you? What’s your next big accomplishment you’re hoping to do? 

The next big thing is the company. It’s taking up so much time and effort, which I love. I’m passionate about what I’m doing, so it makes a lot of sense to continue to grow the company. We finished our viral campaign for Dippin’ Dot, and in the campaign we’ve added for them got 1.4 billion in reach, which is the equivalent of about eleven Super Bowl ads. It did go viral in the true sense of the word. I love what we’re doing at marketing, and we serve clients around the world. I’m very excited about continuing to share my knowledge and my passion. I’m platform agnostic. People ask me where you might be in five years and I say, “I want to stay relevant.” That’s what I want because I don’t know what relevance looks like in five years. If you find a way to stay relevant to your audience, you win. It’s not about I want to grow the company x percent, or I want these clients. What I really want is to stay relevant because I feel all the right opportunities find you.

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning
Continuous Learning: People ask me where you might be in five years and I say, “I want to stay relevant.”

You do that by reading and staying educated? 

You do that by reading, but also being in the trenches. I read academic papers because I’m an academic. It’s not pop culture reading. I crossover and I do a lot of stuff with the media and on camera. I get a lot of information as a journalist would. I feel like I have a decent insight into some of these things.

That’s one way to really learn something is if you have to write about it. I’ve learned that it could even be helpful. 

I tell people that the best thing you can do is to improve your communication skills as college students and high school students. That’s the one subject, communication. If you can learn how to get your ideas across, that’s 80% of the game.

What advice would you give to leaders that want to be successful with, if you had 60 seconds? 

Learn to be an editor and a non-perfectionist, and learn. You have to be in student mode more than ever before. What I mean by that is everything is iterative. If something’s good enough, get it out there, keep improving, keep doing better. To me, progress and not perfection, is your goal.

If anybody wants to reach you, can you share how they can do that? 

I can be found at Lots of great content there. You can enjoy these topics. My own site is That has some good content on there too.

Shama, it’s always great to talk to you and I am glad that we had a chance to have you on the show. Thank you so much for being here. 

Thanks so much.

The Value of Zen And Cultural Competency For Continuous Learning And Engagement with Ricardo Gonzalez

I’m with Ricardo Gonzalez who’s the founder and CEO of Bilingual America. He developed Bilingual America courses, including 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery, Success with Hispanics, Líderes Exitosos (Successful Leaders), Spanish Power, Ingles Poderoso, among several others. Ricardo speaks internationally on cultural mastery, multi-cultural leadership, organizational culture, and Latino, non-Latino business relations. He is the founding member of the Speakers Guild of America, a professional member of the National Speakers Association, and a speaker for Leader Cast Now. He’s the author of The Twelve Hidden Truths to Learning Spanish, and 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery. It’s so nice to have you here. 

Thank you for the opportunity and the privilege of being with you.

I was hoping to hear a little bit more about what my audience could gain as far as insight from your book, The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery. How can that help leaders in today’s culturally complex world? 

It’s a very powerful process. There are a couple of things that drives us. Number one, we can’t lead people to the highest levels until we know them at the deepest levels. The six stages of cultural mastery are taking us through a process to master another culture. That’s one of the things from a standpoint of our own leadership. If we’re going to bring out the very best in people from diverse cultures or who are different than us, we have to be able to connect with them at the deepest levels. The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery takes people through that process. Another reason is that we are living in a world where if a leader missteps or misspeaks regarding ethnic diversities or minority groups in today’s climate, it can derail their career and perhaps even their company. We’ve seen multiple examples of this, and this continues to happen. There’s a bit of an inoculation that needs to take place for leaders. They need to go through the internal work.

The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery

This came about because we were seeing leaders who would go through our training. For example, they would go through Success with Hispanics Training, and we would teach them all of the ins and outs of the Latino culture. Here’s who we are and how we think and why. Here’s where we’re at and here’s how this developed in the cultural framework. We would do all the psycho-social training, and then we would take that and we say, “Here’s how you apply this strategically to your business. Here’s how this applies to labor management. Here’s how this applies to safety training. Here’s how this applies to social media. Here’s how this applies to your sales processes or your leadership development with Latinos and the structuring of the leadership model.” They would go through this and then they would still make mistakes.

Even though they had all the strategic knowledge, what we found out was they weren’t internally prepared. They were trying to effect external change without being internally transformed.The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery is about the leader, him or herself. How do I, as a person, as a leader, become a master of culture? There’s a trilogy of books in the series. The next book will be the Six Stages of Cultural Transformation. Once I become a cultural master, then I’m prepared to transform culture. The last book is a cautionary. It’s called The Six Stages of Cultural Destruction, and how cultures decline and how they disintegrate.

You focus on the Latina and Latino culture. There are so many different cultures now. I teach a lot of marketing and different courses where my students have to deal with understanding not only how to share the company’s culture, but how to deal with diversity in the workplace and all the things that you’re dealing with. There’s so many cultures and people in the United States are from different regions around the world that have moved here. You might be able to do okay with one group but there’s so many groups. How do you keep up? 

We have two entities. One is Bilingual America, which is focused on Latino, non-Latino business organizational relationships. There is a company called The 6 Stages, which will handle more of the broader cultural mastery and cultural transformation work because they’re separate things. One is very specific to the Latino, non-Latino relationships, and the other one is broader. The first thing is that the leader must understand how culture works. As we’re developing our training courses for 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery, we will put people on concentrations. We have a group of ten C-suite leaders. Each of us need to be stretched and we need to be prepared. Perhaps there’s one of the leaders who needs to understand Latinos or Hispanics, that’s a group that they work with frequently. Maybe there’s someone who wants to be stretched. They struggle with perhaps connecting with a particular group of people or ethnicity. It could be LGBT, it could be Muslims, it can be millennials, it could be African American. In those training process, we’re going to take people through those six stages.

The first stage is education. What do I know, what don’t I know? In the book, I talk about seven things you absolutely must know about any culture. Our work with Bilingual America leaders across the country, let’s say they’re working with predominantly Mexican workforce, we may put up a picture of President Trump and President Obama and say, “Who are these two guys?”Everybody’s upset for some reason or another. They will say, “Those two are the past and present Presidents of the United States of America.” Then we put up a picture of the President and past President of Mexico. Who are these two guys? They don’t even know their names, and they have been working many times with Mexicans for 20 or 30 years. Then we’ll do other things with them. Maybe we’ll show them a picture of LeBron James. “Who’s that?” “That’s LeBron James. Everybody knows LeBron James.” We’ll show them a picture of the goalie for the Mexican National Soccer Team, Guillermo Ochoa, and we go, “Who’s this?” He’s every bit as important in the Mexican culture as LeBron James is in the US culture. In that first stage which is education, we go, “How do we connect with people who we don’t know anything about?” We challenge our students and our learners to get that education. That’s only stage one out of six.

Stage two is engagement. How do I engage in meaningful, deep ways with that culture or a culture of my choice? I was speaking with somebody and I was at Leader Cast. I was doing staff training there. One of the ladies came up to me and she said, “I’m on the school board, and we have 40% Indian population in our school system.” She said I need to learn the Indian culture. The same process works, whether it’s Indian culture or whether it’s Hispanic or millennials. We start talking about this and engagement. How do we effectively engage? One of the things that I tell people is that I’m Puerto Rican background. My father is Puerto Rican. My mother was an orphan from the state of Kentucky. I’m a Puerto Rican hillbilly. I grew up in this bicultural, bilingual, very crazy, and very dysfunctional world.

As we look at culture, the ways that people engage in these cultures are very different. The US has 66% to 67% of Latinos or Mexicans. When I got serious many years ago about teaching this, I had to learn the Mexican culture. One of the things that I did was I went out and I a PhD in Mexican studies. It’s not your typical academic degree, it’s a full haul degree. I literally went out and bought a pool table, put it in my living room, got good enough where I could go hang out in the Mexican pool halls on Friday and Saturday nights. This was in Atlanta, Georgia, down in Buford highway area. This is one of the best things I ever did from an engagement standpoint because I learn the people in that environment.

That takes me to stage three, which is empathy. I can say I care deeply about people, but unless I know about them, unless I’ve engaged with them, I’m fooling myself. A lot of people think that empathy is caring about or feeling deeply for, but it’s a word that is “empathos,” which means passion. To have empathy means to be passionate about people and another culture. That takes us to stage four, which is excitement. That’s where we start creating a vision together of potential. What can we accomplish together? One of the things we teach our clients is we’re not divided because we disagree, we’re divided because we’re disagreeable. I have true empathy. I have engaged with you and your culture, now I know you. I understand your culture. I’ve done the educational part. Now, we can create together, excited together about our future and our potential, which takes me stage five which is empowerment. We put the resources together, it’s like getting together our power tools.

We get the resources together to make something happen, to execute the vision. That takes us to stage six which is the pinnacle. That is endearment. We love each other. We sacrifice for the good of one another. This is where we’ve gone wrong in many cases in our concept of diversity. We talk a lot about acceptance and tolerance. I don’t want to tolerate you, I don’t want to accept you. I want to love you and I want you to love me back. We can’t get to true endearment. We can’t get to that deep love unless we’ve gone through these other five stages. This is why we’re struggling so much in our cultural relationships because we’re just basing these relationships and many times just focusing on our differences rather than going through a process of building ourselves together and learning to get to that point where we actually love each other and are willing to sacrifice for each other and for the common good.

In the book, we go into great detail as to how do we do these things, but the thing I love about it is that it’s a perfect balance between the hand and the heart. Three of them are very emotive, and three of them are very proactive. Education, engagement, and empowerment are very proactive steps. Empathy, excitement, and endearment, those are questions of the heart. The truly successful cultural leader or cultural master has a very fine-tuned balance between the things that are done and what’s inside of us. When we love people, we’re not at danger of saying things or doing things that are going to offend them because we love each other and we understand each other. We’ve engaged together, we get it.

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning
Continuous Learning: Empathy, excitement, and endearment, those are questions of the heart.

This is impressive because I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. I’m very interested in how you would develop the empathy in some of those characteristics you’re talking about. How long does this take, this process? 

In some ways, it’s a journey for people. I don’t think it’s an overnight thing. We’re looking at how do we compress a training process into six or twelve hours. We’re sending people on a path, and as we’ve looked at it, that stage of education, that can be framed up relatively quickly, where it takes a little bit more thoughtfulness and perhaps an ability to get out there and expose ourselves with engagement. Some people are even naturally timid. One of the things we talk about in the chapter on engagement is how do we overcome that fear, because that’s a barrier to engagement. How do we work with that?

From a training standpoint, we can accomplish a great transformation in people in six to twelve hours. The reality is it’s a journey of a lifetime. Maybe I become a cultural master in the Hispanic culture and absolutely love the Hispanic people and gone through this process, but then maybe my life shifts and all of a sudden, I’m managing a manufacturing company and we start hiring people from Bosnia. I need to go through the process again with the Bosnians. Maybe my life shifts and I get transferred to Asia. I need to go through that process with people in China or in another country, which not all Asians are the same, just as not all English-speaking people are the same. Culturally, we will be learning our whole lives.

Are you focused mostly on leaders or do you think that employees need to get this training early on? When did they start this? At what point would you recommend? 

Ideally, we would start in the C-suite and work with high-level executives and help them to understand these principles and go through these processes. It’d be very transformative for them because they’re helping to engage in setting the vision of the enterprise as you go down into the organization, going down into senior level management and supervisory, depending on the organization. It’s a much different organization if you’re dealing with a large construction company as if you’re dealing with a multinational company, say, a client of ours, MetLife, they’re expanding into different countries in Latin America. It depends on the way that organization is structured as to what that would look like.

Have you seen a lot of a big-name companies have leaders that have absolutely no idea what they’re doing in terms of this type of cultural awareness? How scary is it out there? 

I try to keep it positive. I have seen leaders enter Latin American divisions for Fortune 500 companies who, when they are named to that post, speak no Spanish and have not been in any significant way engaged in Latin America. A company you would know, one of the leading organizations in the world, this happened. The gentleman calls me up, he says, “They said I needed to talk with you. We actually worked on training. The answer is yes.”

TTL 15 | Continuous Learning
Continuous Learning: Being a master of a culture where you are endeared to those people and they to you, where you have a mutual empowerment, and there’s mutual excitement.

From what I have seen, I would imagine it’s higher than anybody probably imagines. 

In the book it’s in the preface or the introduction, I talk about a conversation I had with a friend of mine who was raised under Apartheid in South Africa of Indian descent. We had a conversation one day, that at one point in the past, high IQ was necessary for leaders. Then it was EQ, emotional quotient. Now it’s CQ. The highly successful leader in today’s world will really need all three.

Can you define CQ? I understand you are saying cultural. How would you define it? How do you measure the EQ? 

We talk about cultural competency. Who wants to be competent? I want to be a master. There’s a huge difference between knowing some stuff about our culture and knowing how to say a few words in another language. Being a master of a culture where you are endeared to those people and they to you, where you have a mutual empowerment, and there’s mutual excitement. There’s mutual empathy. It’s very unique, it’s something that probably has not really been espoused out there to this degree. For me, high CQ means being a cultural master.

We’re in a world where people talk about xenophobia, they talk about bigotry, they talk about bias, they talk about all these things and very few people even understand the meaning of these words. We get all this stuff thrown around in a very politically correct world. The President of the University of Louisville, I think two Halloweens ago wore a Mexican sombrero and a poncho, and he just got grilled and forced into cultural sensitivity training. Where do we go here? How do we navigate this? The whole point here is can we provide a blueprint, can we provide a roadmap for leaders that is going to serve them well?

I don’t know if they have bad meaning behind what they do but they aren’t putting it into perspective of how it comes across. If you had 60 seconds to talk to the people, what advice would you give them based on all this that you know from all your books and all your research? 

I was in a golf scramble with an executive of a large association who invited me to come up. They asked me, “Do you play golf?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “What’s your handicap?” I told him. He said, “You’re pretty good.” When I get there, the guys are very Type A, and they’re playing for about $3,000. I realized very quickly this guy wants to win. I buried the first hole. He’s happy, I’m happy. We go to the second hole. I parred the second hole. Everybody’s good. We get to the third one, I bogey the third hole. He looks at me and he says, “Are you okay?” “I’m fine.” We get to the fourth hole and I double bogeyed the fourth hole and the guy looks at me sideway and he says, “I thought you said you were doing as that a fluke?” Now I’m nervous. This was welling up inside of me. We get to the fifth hole, amateur golfer who’s under pressure, you know what happens. I’m lying fine in the fairway, at the par four. My tee shot off in the woods, and just everything is blowing up. The guy’s standing off to my left like twenty feet. I hit my fifth shot. It’s like a seven or eight, and the ball literally pops up in the air, goes off to the right, comes down, hits a cement cart path and pops out in the woods. This guy is on my left and he lost it. He screams at me. He says, “What in the (blank), why don’t you go back to Puerto Rico and steal hubcaps?”

How’d you react to that? 

I looked at the guy. I’ve learned not to react or respond. I looked at the guy and said, “You can come to my conference tomorrow on cultural mastery.” Here’s the lesson for leaders. Whatever is inside of us, it doesn’t matter what, whatever’s deep inside of us, at some point for some reason, it’ll come out. When it does, it has the potential to destroy us in the world that we’re living in. We’re in a very culturally sensitive world. This is work that leaders absolutely must do, it should be a priority in their lives, to go through this type of process for their own safety. For their own security, for the ability to lead people to very high levels. It has duality of purpose. I would say to leaders that we have to be very serious about what’s lurking on the inside. This is internal work, it’s important work that we need to do, but it’s exciting work. It creates unbelievable opportunities.

How can people find out more about your work? is the easiest place. The books can be found at 

It was so wonderful to talk to you. 

I’m looking forward to it.

I’d really like to thank Ricardo and Shama for being on the show. Both of them had so much useful advice. I hope you take a look at each of their websites. I can’t say high enough accolades about either of those two because they are two of my favorite people and I appreciate having them on the show.

About Shama Hyder

Shama HyderShama Hyder is known as the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Fast Company as well as named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list of Movers and Shakers. Shama has been the recipient of the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was also named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009 and one of the “Top 30 under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2015. In addition, Shama has been honored at the White House and the United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in North America. She is the bestselling author of the Zen of Social Media Marketing (4th edition), Momentum; and an acclaimed international keynote speaker who has been invited to share the speaking stage with the world’s top leaders, including President Obama and the Dalai Lama. A trusted media expert and sought-after TV personality, Shama has frequently appeared on Fox Business, CBS, CW33 and Fox News. As a thought leader, she’s been featured in many major publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc Magazine and Forbes.

About Ricardo Gonzalez

Ricardo GonzalezRicardo Gonzalez is the founder and CEO of Bilingual America. He developed Bilingual America’s courses, including 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery, Success with Hispanics, Líderes Exitosos (Successful Leaders), Spanish Power, Inglés Poderoso, among several others. Ricardo speaks internationally on cultural mastery, multi-cultural leadership, organizational culture and Latino / non-Latino business relations. He is a founding member of The Speakers Guild of America, a professional member of the National Speakers Association and a speaker for LeadercastNow. He is author of “The 12 Hidden Truths to Learning Spanish” and his newest book, scheduled for release in May of 2017 is titled, “The 6 Stages of Cultural Mastery”.


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