10 Jan

Dr. Finn Majlergaard of Gugin on The Steve Coogan Podcast

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Full Transcipt

If you are you’re listening to this podcast it’s highly likely you are one of the early adopters i’m an entrepreneur investor and today your podcast host outside being an entrepreneur and investor i hold a masters from ucl and have recently acquired two additional diplomas one from harvard and another one from stanford and many other financial qualifications from the london

school of business and finance i also studied my undergrad in computer science and today i’m your podcast host the value proposition of the broadcast is the startups businesses and want to be entrepreneurs the idea is to learn from world leading guests and up and coming

entrepreneurs our aim is to attract a small community of like-minded folks that connect learn and execute new ideas the theme business activism disruptive technologies is so pretty 2020

today’s guest dr finn maj lagarde i hope i’m pronouncing that correctly with some killer content 

It’s great honor and and in the world we’re living in today our ability to uh deal with different cultures without stereotyping without putting people in boxes is more important than ever before and I was born in a very small country but i have always lived all over the world so i have always been exposed to too many different cultures of all kinds so so it kind of came natural to me to to work with these issues and what i think is about important about culture is that it can both serve as uh a great tool for bringing people together and create a common community with shared values and shared norms but it’s also a tool for politicians to divide people and that is what we are seeing all the time that politicians actually are the enemy of the people because politicians can only build the power base by singling out a cultural group a religious group or a national group or an ethnic group and they that they are the root causes of all the problems so it’s so easy to put people into boxes and say oh you have that skin color or you come from that country when you become that convert or that education you are like that so when i started up my company cooking uh almost 10 years 20 years ago and now um we decided that everything we do should not be based on stereotyping and if you look at one of the first researchers in the cross-cultural management it was a dutch guy called get hoof stated and everything he did was putting people into boxes based on nationality saying that the british are like that the germans aren’t like that and so on and of course that is not true it was not true 45 years ago when you did it and it’s certainly not true today so whenever you put people into boxes you create a cultural country a potential cultural conflict and you might say you have an open mind or things like that but if you’re going to a country where you have never been before and you read uh get hosting this book about how are people in country x when you go there you don’t have an open mind because our brain is working in a different way it works in the way that when you go there your brain is sorting things out and it’s going to look for everything that confirms what you’ve been reading in advance and in that way you’re not approaching a new country or a new company or a new family or whatever culture with an open mind so we decided to to turn everything around so instead of putting people in in boxes we decided decided to uh create knowledge and create tools for seeing what’s happening when you bring cultures together what are the dynamics

uh what are the cultural dilemmas and how do we overcome these dilemmas so we

can actually create

synergies from the so in context of somewhere like um german and france really good extreme culture i think one’s very organized and processed now you’re stereotyping again because you’re saying that the friends aren’t like that and the germans are like that which is absolutely not true okay that’s that’s uh that’s a good bit of insight but what my my tell me what you think because you’re the professional um i’ve had um clients actually where they’re french and you

Know working in a french company they find it much more laid back harder to get things

Done culturally whereas in german and they don’t like organization hierarchical structures but in german when they’ve worked for a german company they found it very organized and structured and hierarchical but that’s how long has it taken the germans to to finish the new airport in berlin for instance yeah i don’t know and how how lazy were they to act to get things done after they had the natural disaster with the floodings it took a long time where in the village where i’m leaving you can see on the first one behind me we had a much bigger natural disaster

uh a year ago and at no point did we miss any food or anything to drink despite we were cut

off from the the entire world around us due to an intervention by the french

military and security forces so it works perfectly fine and a lot of things in france are working extremely well we have the best healthcare system in the world much better than they have in germany uh and so so you cannot see where where are these stereotypes coming from

and then how do you you know knowing what you know uh uh utilize the benefit of each or add

the value of each culture benefit and what yeah so how do you think they come about

you mean your stereotypes yeah the stereotypes and then the you know then so there’s the stereotype because it is stereotype there are times i created all the time uh they are created because one of the functions of a culture is to create a belongingness inside the cultural group that you’re in whether it’s a company or a family or a country or a religion or whatever any culture each of us is a member of between 10 to 30 different cultural groups where the national culture is only one of them and over studies show especially among the younger population

that the national culture is close to irrelevant in many countries so so that the belonging mixed to other cultural groups is much more important sorry well so it’s like regional so there’s like regional cultures it’s not necessarily a geographical culture at all it can be a professional culture

it can be an educational culture it can be a spiritual culture which is on the rising in in many parts of the world right now so so the culture of belongingness is not necessarily based on geography it can be based on a lot of other things but listen one of the things we know is that in in most countries people who are living in the big cities they have more in common

let’s say a person living in london probably has a lot more in common with a person living in new york or paris or hong kong or sao paulo than he or she has with the farmer in outside the countryside in london and that farmer probably has a lot more in common with obama living in the united states or australia or somewhere else so so based on the nationality putting people in boxes based on that is totally ridiculous and it’s actually harming our way of working together but but these stereotypes they exist and they are kept alive because another function of a generic function of a culture any culture is to define who we are not so whenever we we are in a group which has a culture all groups have a culture it’s so important for us to to define how are we different from other similar groups so if you are in a company with a company culture it’s so

important for for the storytelling inside the company to tell how are we different from our competitors or we’re more focused on quality we are cheaper we are more innovative so so we we very much define ourselves both as individuals and as groups by who we are not so how that that’s all the the problem then so how solution wise if you were to go into um a company um with your case studies and say because i know you’ve done a lot of work in hedge funds what would you what would you what would you be called in for as a problem and then how would you use that knowledge to develop the solution and then implement it well let’s assume they have a problem a lot of companies don’t have a problem but a lot of companies have have problems because their culture is is not matching the strategy that they have for instance if they have a strategy about that they want to have the best customer service of everyone in the industry and when you look at the culture which when you look at what dictates people’s behavior what they are behaving upon and if they’re behaving upon that they just want to make as much money as as possible and they don’t care about customer service then you have a mismatch between the strategy and what’s actually happening so we have to look at how do you change the reward system how do you change the motivation systems how do you change that

Uh and increase the level of authenticity so that the managers are actively doing what they’re saying that’s one of the biggest problems in most companies that that that when you

look at the cohort websites there’s all this there about how good they are great in many places

there’s quite a big difference between uh the corporate budget on the website and what’s actually happening in the company so one of the first things that we are doing when we are working with the company is to make it very clear to them that what you are promoting on your

website is very different from what you are actually doing not only does it frustrate the customers because they think that the company will behave in a certain way it also cross rates uh new employees uh because they think oh i’m going to join a company that is sustainable or have focused on customer service oh everything i like and when you get inside the company you you you experience a completely different Reality uh so these things need to be aligned

and another case where we work a lot with is post murder inspirations where you yeah company is doing the cultural integration of the two companies how can you synergize from from the different cultures that you have and that’s always challenging because usually two companies merging yesterday they were competitors meaning that they had created images about each other how good we are and how bad they are suddenly they’re in the same bed and have to

sleep together obviously that causes a lot of troubles uh because suddenly you need to tell a

different story that they weren’t that mad they weren’t that bad after all we actually said

no so one of the things we do there is we do a culture due diligence process where we find out what what is the cultural dna of the two computers where are the the potential synergies well the potential conflicts for instance how to solve problems is is one thing that usually causes a a lot of work for us to deal with if you have a company a where they sort of problems buy if you have an employee who has a problem and he or she oh i don’t know what to do with this i send

it out to my boss company b Uh oh i have a problem hey guys come on help me i have a problem here i need you to help me sold it out but when these two uh problem-solving paradigms which also is embedded in the culture they collide then you will have a conflict

and that crisis management usually happens when when companies are emerging with another company or they’re going through a major strategic change and they think that oh we can do that we are world champions and everything and then they find out that they’re not world

champions and everything and customers started to leave an employee starts starts to leave and and suddenly when it’s like really bad they come to us and and we can help them

out yeah culture how culture can affect a startup because you’re more than m a buyouts that type of thing maybe talk about how a startup or a startup community and also how exciting it can be because you’ve got you’re at the beginning of the process so yeah it’s not about how people should start thinking when they’re building their company yeah very good question actually one of the the types of companies i have worked a lot with startup companies because most people think that corporate culture is only something that that applies to to large

Corporate but it’s even more important when you’re starting up a company uh and the reason

why it is important is that uh especially in in the tech world uh people who starts up uh companies they are usually very much alike they usually have studied together uh and they are

all having the same educational background they’re usually uh the same age group and they are usually the same gender so so they can they can very easily agree on where they’re going and they share their mindset and they’re full of energy when you’re starting up a company you need so many different resources you need someone who can play the devil’s advocate you can you need someone who can uh play a different role and look at the world at a different way for instance when they’re creating let’s say it’s an i.t startup and then they create a solution for something they’re all very excited about it because wow we created this they need someone in the group and in the in the culture in the company who can look critical at it and say well i think this or i think that so you need the diversity even in a small company and i have coached quite a lot of indian startups because they are very homogeneous and most of them fail not because they are uh are not taking logical viable or taking not even knowledge about about what they’re doing but because they don’t have the diversity in the startup group so the need to have that uh

diversity from the very beginning not an objective thinking not looking at things through different lenses just looking at one thing very modern yeah exactly have different perspectives

and can have different angles to it and so so you need from the very beginning to have the whole range of of assets uh intellectual assets in your company for for you to succeed because i’ve seen so many startups especially in it that they have a they’ve created a a great product but they have have no one to market it and they don’t know how to market it they don’t know how to

promote it they don’t know how to deal with legal issues so they don’t have that that diversified skill set around them when they start up and personally i was also invited many

many years ago to be a part of the board of directors of hedge fund and i have no financial knowledge so i was quite out of stock why do you want me on board and the owner said it was a family-owned hedge fund australian headphone i said we want someone with a non-financial background to ask all the questions that they don’t ask themselves because they

think they know the answer um and with all due respect i i think i added quite a lot of value to that hedge fund and we’re also one of the first ones to move into a different kind of

investment that had nothing to do with their or regional portfolio because they’re

thinking differently because they start thinking differently and have a different perspective yeah and they also got an artist on board of the board directors who have and not even another perspective and it worked out very very well yeah it’s very committed

that’s innovation in itself it is i think it was einstein who said as long as children cannot ask questions that no adults can answer then we need science we need research and that goes

Also for having diversity in groups even on board of directors and is there anything else anything else that you’re working on any books anything like that uh i’m actually i’ve been working on a book since tuesday i i published two books uh which you can find on my website on google.com um but i’ve been working on a book since 2007 about laziness the importance of being lazy and and uh i actually believe it’s important being lazy because you cannot be busy and thinking at the same time it’s like music the rhythm is in between the notes if you just be

Thankful between the the music that that’s what makes up beautiful music uh well i’m researching this book and it will come out at the end of this year actually um and it’s all about that the romans knew that they knew that if they kept people busy that they had to

work a lot work hard then they would never question if the system was fair or things like that

because they were so busy just working hard to to to meet the daily needs so that they could support the families and that’s pretty much how the scientists work working today as well

yeah i think yeah i think i do think that but like you were saying earlier about the spiritual revolution i think this this event has made people question um that their spirituality even if they

weren’t spiritual because um they feel no matter what position you know whatever side of the fence are you around this um this pandemic environment it’s it just feels like there’s a dark force and they then people are trying to find some sort of sanctuary within that and yeah i think they’re connecting to that in whatever form it may be not in necessarily something specific

to a abrahamic religion or and also eastern or eastern spiritualities but something true to themselves exactly um and i’m guessing we have reached a point in our evolution as human beings where we need more people to be lazy we need more people to think think about it most of the the fundamental technology and concepts we have today they were developed by the

greeks and the romans and the reason why that is is because they had time to think they had other people to work for them that they had had time to think they had time to Reflect uh well that’s today we were so busy uh running after other people’s agendas and people on social media who are there they’re so busy being acknowledged to getting likes and things like that so we forget to think we forget to find out am i actually doing the right thing we let other people possibly very few people set the agenda for us what we should do or not do and we need to change that that’s why we need to become more lazy yeah we’ll get into contact with nature

go for country walks let’s look at yeah that’s why that’s why i live here in the high mountains and i never take my cell phone with me i i i don’t even have a smartphone anymore uh i don’t have a facebook profile and when i go out in the mountains uh i don’t bring my phone it wouldn’t help

anyway because there’s no signal because we’re living in one of europe’s largest national parks

so that detachment and giving time to think is really really important all the best ideas i have got and developed into to solutions for our clients or or or things i have done or written about

or come up with it came to me when i was alone in the mountains well funny i think henry ford used to put time aside every day to go fishing i don’t know how true that was

but i read it somewhere yeah so we could think yeah exactly and i just reached meet so many people close among my students at the universities and business schools

where i’m teaching usually the the top ones uh that they are so busy and they’re just so

focused uh but the problem is that when you are when you’re focused no matter what age

you have when you’re so focused on reaching a particular goal you don’t see the world around you you you don’t have time to reflect am i actually going in the right direction and that’s why we

see so many uh people who who suddenly achieve getting a a particular position in a company or or a particular degree and suddenly when they have it they found out it didn’t make

them happy yeah well i think this um it’s like the the pursuit of fame and success like a drug you know you’re going to come down you need to get back up again yeah one thing actually before we go is around how um a startup community you know what are they what are the pros and cons which they should be looking out for because obviously if they’re setting up a community they take 10 people moving to a location buy 10 houses or something and then they will set up their own schools their families that type of thing they’re not religious they’re non-secular because most people are or maybe not so much just you know we talked about that going back into spirituality because that split them religious frameworks can help because it gives you

some sort of cultural discipline um whereas if you’re going into that type of community and you don’t then you might find there’s some conflicts yeah principles that they could sort of install at the beginning that they can start thinking about i i think because usually most startups as i said before and it’s homogeneous people finding together because they have the same mindset

and they’ve already had the same myers-briggs profile as well we should force ourselves to to diversify ourselves hook up with people we would usually not hook up with uh trying to get people on board are you pick the only way that that you can develop as a team from the from the very beginning try to get as much diversity into the group from the very beginning and then get some training on how you how you you leverage that diversity because it in the beginning if if you don’t have the right mindset um then diversity is bloody annoying uh and that’s why you need to move the little switch you have in your head from start by looking at similarities to

start from starting by looking at differences into starting by looking at similarities because usually

when we meet another person for the first time or group of people we look for how are he she or they how are they different from me uh and then we make a long list of how they’re different when you made that list it’s so difficult afterwards to find out what do we actually have in

common but we have a little switch up here we can move to the other position where we start by looking for what do i have in common with he or she or they so when you have a long list of what you have in common it’s so easy to overcome the differences afterwards and that’s

what you need when you start up that’s what you need when you set your team

whether it’s it’s a core team or it’s an advisory board it’s like a mission so

the first thing is you set your mission your mission statement if it’s a company a community or it’s like so it’s a community at the moment if you know go back to that case that they are sort of

made up you would say that our mission is civil liberties and uh getting into touch with nature something like that whatever it is it’s important to get different perspectives in not only the

people who who who think that you are the greatest person on this planet okay cool well

really appreciate your um your time uh and expertise and if anyone wants to find you what’s your website uh it’s a googing.comin.com solution i hope you enjoyed the show and the

insights adds value to your startup company or life as a thank you to the guests for their time kindly follow them on social media and check out what they’re up to to keep up to date with my brand new guests and entrepreneurial journey hit me up on facebook twitter linkedin

instagram youtube odyssey and gab my website is stevencoogan.co.uk