Ep 25 Insights and Lessons from Latin American Entrepreneurs — the Best Of Crossing Borders
As I’ve featured Latin American entrepreneurs over the last 24 episodes I’ve learned more than anyone. The insights these entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem builders in Latin America have are extremely helpful to anyone who’s looking to start their own company or grow an existing one.
I decided to share my key takeaways with you on this 25th episode, so what you’re going to hear is a shorter “best of” session featuring a handful of the great entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with over the last few episodes. I also take a few moments after each clip to share why I thought the advice shared is so valuable. And just in case you want to hear each of the interviews in their entirety, I’ve linked these great Latin American entrepreneur and investor names to their original episodes in the bullet point outline below.
You can’t learn when you’re talking, so learn how to listen more than you speak.
Patricio Williams Becú believes that one of the most important things for any entrepreneur to make sure is happening in their experience is that they are learning. And he’s learned the hard way that you can’t learn when you’re talking — so it’s vital to learn how to listen more than you speak.
This lesson is powerful when applied to customers especially because they are the people who can best tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong from the viewpoint of the end user. That’s valuable information for any founder to know.
You have a limited amount of time. Focus on your industry to get maximum impact.
One of the things that stood out to me from my conversation with Federico Vega is that he’s become very focused on the things that will actually move his business forward. One area where he’s effectively narrowed his focus is in the decisions he makes about what events to attend.
He doesn’t attend general networking events anymore. Instead, he’s focused on building relationships with those inside his industry, those who he can learn from in specific ways that are most relevant to what he does. I find this advice very helpful. In my experience, it’s those types of connections that are most impacting long-term. In fact, both of the businesses I’ve sold were sold to people I’d met within my industry.
If you are the leader or CEO in an organization, you can’t be the bottleneck.
As Brian Requarth has built VivaReal he’s learned that company growth is something that has to be managed wisely. It’s tempting — and many startups make the mistake — to add a load of new people all at once when funding comes through. But a measured, paced approach is better in the long run. It enables you to wisely offload the things you shouldn’t be doing anymore as CEO, and it helps you instill the proper cultural mindset into every new team member.
Brian’s advice is something we all need to heed if we’re going to see our teams grow in terms of culture and in terms of competence and skill.
The opportunity to learn quickly often reveals the right decision.
We all have a hard time discerning which opportunities we should take, which ones will pay off the most. Guimar Vaca Sittic has a philosophy that makes a lot of sense when it comes to choosing opportunities. He says if he has an option that will force him to learn a lot and another that won’t, he’ll choose the learning opportunity every time.
It’s not always about immediate, fast-track growth for the company. Sometimes it’s about the future that you can’t see yet, and learning now is what sets you up for success then. Guimar is one of the Latin American Entrepreneurs those of us from the United States can learn a lot from. I hope you’ll take time to listen, and learn.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:49] Patricio Williams Becú on learning from clients by listening.
- [2:06] Diego Saez-Gil about seeking for criticism from smart people.
- [2:56] Adrian Fisher on the lesson he learned from his dad about learning to invest in himself, taking the time to earn results.
- [4:17] Federico Vega about why he doesn’t waste time on networking events.
- [5:16] Jonathan Nelson on the role of true leaders.
- [7:32] Marco de Mello about spending time with your team to instill vision and values.
- [9:17] Marco de Mello on receiving open, respectful feedback at any time.
- [11:18] Codie Sanchez about asking for what you want and expecting to get it.
- [12:30] Alejandro Freund about determining the best market in light of competition.
- [14:42] Brian Requarth on growing a company wisely, in phases.
- [17:55] Guimar Vaca Sittic on choosing the right opportunities.
Resources & People Mentioned
- ASECH — Association of Entrepreneurs in Chile
- BlueSmart -
- Hackers and Founders
- FJ Labs Venture Capital
- Derek Sivers