If you can’t remember the last time you had an interesting conversation, go find Derek J. Sine. If he’s not in your neck of the woods right now, chances are, he will be soon. Derek is one of those fascinating people who travels all over the world and uses lots of big words. He’s the Managing Director of Vander Group, an eCommerce solutions provider. Derek casually mentioned to me that in high school, he had an outsourcing team in India. No biggie.
Derek graciously shared his experiences with me before jetting off to London for yet another work trip. If you haven’t checked it out yet, he recommends reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Derek says that Catcher in the Rye reflects on going through fake motions to uphold societal norms.
Here’s more of what Derek shared about finding meaning in global business.
Cultural norms from a consumption perspective
“People are all the same. Cultural norms are on a people level. I look at it from a consumption point. The world runs on consumption- all societies are tied by consumption, brands. You have emerging markets, which are becoming more Western. Western culture is the culture of consumption. We are working in Columbia and London, targeting Spanish speaking cultures, and also are in the process of going to China. Chinese people consume goods entirely differently as well. All humans are the same, we all want the exact same thing at a basic level. Corporations localize content for those cultures, but only with small tweaks.”
“All societies buy things differently. In the US, malls were super important in the 90’s. People used to go to the malls and hang out. In Guadalajara, Mexico, currently there’s a crazy mall. Families go there and hang out and walk the mall. Then there’s a separate main strip in Guadalajara with vendors, so those shoppers consume goods differently than they would at the mall. Spanish speaking people are the next consumption population. We’re going to countries where we can continue to sell goods. Why would I go somewhere to sell one tube of toothpaste when I can go somewhere that I can sell three?”
“An interesting problem in today’s society is scaling a company sustainably. The world doesn’t motivate good business today. It’s all about acquisition- I need to be acquired, I need to sell my company. People put low-quality businesses in a cool wrapper, and then sell them and let someone else deal with the problem. The world is motivated by short gratification.”
“I’m trying to be disciplined and build a strong foundation that will be around for a long time. I want my children’s children to know what Vander is. Good things take time. People want instant gratification. Like with relationships- people just settle early on. Entrepreneurship is not fun- so many people kill themselves from being lonely or alienating themselves. I’ve slept in the office more times than I’ve slept in a bed. That’s the key to my success. It’s a ton of work and a ton of luck. There’s no easy way.”
“I’m searching for meaningful purpose that has scale. Not just gratification for me but gratification for the rest of the world and the economy. We’re building a company much like climbing a wall. We’re climbing, put a hook in, and then tying in. Right now people are climbing to the top as fast as they can without securing areas. When people fall in today’s society they fall really hard.”
Personal advice: ‘Don’t like everything’
“I’m constantly driven by being relevant. I could be oblivious and not look into knowing what you’re about. I love to read, I love to ask questions. I’m not really afraid of anything. Except for heights. And needles. I hate needles.”
“You’re lucky if you find something to obsess over. That will nurture you and take care of you. There’s too much noise in the world. You’ve got find a compass. My biggest advice is don’t like everything. If you like everything, you’ll be a dog in a room with a tennis ball. The secret is finding an angle and going after it. Focus your life on that one entire role.”
A huge thanks to Derek for teaching me about finding meaning in global commerce. Derek’s story shows how no matter how successful we become, it is imperative to stay connected to our purpose. Do you have any ideas on finding a meaningful purpose that has scale? Leave a reply below.
Until next time- Salud!