A New Perspective

June 02, 2015

A New Perspective By: Maggie Potente, KOSBE Intern & University of Tennessee Global Leadership Scholar

I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with The University of Tennessee last December. On this trip, we visited several businesses, large and small, and met with a variety of community leaders.

Not only did the way of life differ in Costa Rica, but so did business practices. Costa Ricans, or “Ticos,” live a much more relaxed lifestyle than we do in America. Ticos value family and spending time with loved ones; they don’t rush or worry, but rather take life moment by moment. They are also very proud of their country’s natural beauty. They spend the majority of their time outdoors, and take extra measures to protect their unique environment.

Ticos’ lifestyles are directly reflected into their business practices. Since Ticos take life moment by moment, they often run late; business meetings never start on time, nor will businesses open at a specific time each day. In Costa Rica, they even use the saying “Tico time,” meaning at least ten minutes later than planned. All small businesses are generally closed on Sunday, and work never comes before family. Therefore, businesses often close for family events even if it’s just their son’s soccer game. All businesses in Costa Rica practice sustainability. They value their environment and will raise costs just to take extra measures to protect it. Even large corporate companies located in Costa Rica, such as Abbott Vascular, go above and beyond to practice sustainability.

Although Costa Rican practices may “lack structure” and are more costly, incorporating some of their values into your personal business practices can help put business into a new perspective. Here are a few ways you can incorporate the Tico practices into your own:

Get to know your customers. Ticos are all very friendly and will take as much time as needed to get to know you on a personal level. Make time to be with your family. Ticos never let their business become a priority over family. Family is always first. Recycle. It is the easiest way to start practicing sustainability, and can make a huge difference world-wide. Conserve. Another easy way to practice sustainability, and even save some money! For example, turn the lights off when not being used or don’t leave the water running.

I encourage you to channel your inner “Tico,” and give their way of life and business a try!