Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Workplace Culture Experts & Barefoot Wine Founders

By Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey – Workplace Culture Experts & Barefoot Wine Founders

In Some Cultures, Soft Skills Are Signs of Weakness

In Some Cultures, Soft Skills Are Signs of Weakness 150 150 MIchael and Bonnie Harvey

We like to invite Entrepreneurship Masters students from around the world to the wine country—our home. We enjoy giving them a break from the concrete jungle and campuses they visit in Silicon Valley. These students come from all over to pay tribute to the Technopreneurship success stories of our time. After being wowed by tech, lectured by VCs, and dazzled by Google, Twitter, and Facebook tours, they have a chance to put their feet on the ground again—literally. We bring them to “Your Outdoor Classroom in the Wine Country.”

We offer creeks, redwoods, and grassy meadows next to a Russian River Valley vineyard, instead of glass, steel, and concrete. Rather than talking about engineering, VCs, unicorns, and tech, we like to discuss soft-skill approaches to the three essential relationships in business: Employees, Buyers, and Vendors. We choose a natural setting and engage these students in a conversation about using soft skills to earn hard cash. After all, it’s through soft skills that we can attract, train, and retain the best staff. It’s through these essential skills that we can extend our credit and terms. It’s also through soft skills that we can make sales and keep loyal customers.

But some students’ cultures look down on soft skills as if they are indications of weakness or “softness”.

Their cultures might be new to entrepreneurship. For example, these students themselves might have great reasons not to trust their governments or corporations. They might think that strength, wealth, monopoly, and coercion are the best tools with which to achieve success.

The biggest problem with that mindset is that it lessens the opportunities for entrepreneurship unless you are already in a wealthier class. You can easily suffer from high turnover, lack of staff engagement, and overspending because nobody trusts you.

This brings us to these students’ fascination with the West. Our business culture is based on a foundation of trust! And trust is based on empathy. “Does the person I’m doing business with understand, care, and acknowledge my challenges? Do they communicate with me in ways that make me feel comfortable taking a risk with them?” If answered in the affirmative by your vendors, employees, and buyers, these questions can slash your need for capital and thereby increase your bottom line.

Building culture on a foundation of trust is NOT weak!

A business’s strength relies on the creation of entrepreneurship and mutual benefit—not just “old money”.  This creation leads to more breakthroughs that will bring costs down and the standard of living up. Most US jobs today are with small entrepreneurs.

On one hand, we have engineering, which is based on physics and science. On the other hand, we have a negotiation, which is based on mutual benefit and soft skills. A great negotiator will find efficient solutions that benefit both parties—this is anything but weak. On the contrary, it shows a unique strength that transforms competition into collaboration.

Cultures that are new to entrepreneurship send their students to America to learn why our type of entrepreneurship works as well as it does. We hope to share these foundations of soft skills and how they impact trust to promote loyalty, terms, and credit, reducing the need for cash. We want to get across the fact that soft skills earn hard cash!

Maybe these students will sow these soft skill seeds in their own backyards. And maybe they’ll bloom into many opportunities for their own people! Soft skills are not weak—they’re strong!

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/