We’ve been interviewing a number of very smart and qualified young candidates for summer internships. One thing that has struck me is that when we have met with foreign students (as well as American students) the foreign students have shown a proclivity to solve problems in a creative way quite different than their American counterparts.
This is not to say the American students are not creative marketing problem solvers. However I do have a theory that because the foreign students are – well foreign, they never got into the proverbial ‘box’ in which people are always referring to stepping outside in order to be more creative. The varying degrees of different life experiences of a non-American can and should lead to different solutions than an American counterpart.
I had thought that foreign students may not have the U.S. market understanding and consequently that undermined their ability to contribute. My recent experiences have caused me to rethink that perception. In fact NOT having similar experiences to those of Americans makes a foreign student (or non-student for that matter), able to contribute in some very different ways, more so before they assimilate into American culture. Different is good – sometimes great.
The short history of the American people has featured the assimilation of people from many different countries. I truly believe the culture of American diversity is a primary contributor to the success the U.S. has enjoyed over the past 200+ years. Whether it is thinking differently (or remember “THINK DIFFERENT”) or thinking outside the box, diversity of thought and opinion offers the widest solution pool.
If you really want to think outside the box, do everything you can to not go into the box in the first place. I know I am now thinking differently about how to build a good marketing team using the advantage of teaming with people from very different backgrounds and cultures.
Do you feel differently?
Interesting insight, Mark. Hopefully having experience with these students will reveal over time that they are creative problem solvers and not just raised inside a different box that, at first glance, appears not to be a box at all.
I would submit that just the fact that these non-Americans are living/studying/working in a foreign country already makes them unique “risk takers’ who are more probably disposed to “think out of the box”. Everyday of life can be a compare/contrast experience for them, leading them to constantly think “why?”, questioning things that average Americans take for granted (or conversely their fellow citizens at home accept without questioning).. Not to say this automatically makes them creative thinkers, but potentially can lead them in that direction.
Thanks Tom and your point is a good one – the fact that they arrived in the U.S. in the first place makes them ‘different’ to begin with.