In September, I had the pleasure of being one of CONAREC’s International Keynote Speakers at the 15th Annual Congress held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This was my first international work trip as well as my first trip to South America. Besides my speaking engagement, I also wanted to make the most of my time there. While I had only had 48 hours in Brazil, I felt like it was 48 hours well spent.
Here are some highlights from my experience.
- Learning about Millennials in Brazil. Since I was speaking on Millennial mindset and knowing not all Millennials are created equal, I first had to learn about Brazilian Millennials. Many of the basic trends of Millennials in the USA and Brazil are similar. However, the Brazilian Culture differs, which ultimately is reflected in the difference between Brazilian Millennials vs. American Millennials. For example, Millennials in Brazil want their organization’s manager to serve as a role model for them. Whereas, Millennials in the USA want a manager who empowers their employees.
- Getting a Visa. Several of the wonderful people at the Chicago Brazil Consulate and I developed a lovely friendship. (I had to make several visits in order to finalize my Business Visa.) I now have a great appreciation for the patience of those employees. I’ve been told you have one chance to make a positive impression. Your countrymen at the Chicago Brazil Consulate made a great first impression on me about your great country.
- Flying to Brazil. To get to Sao Paulo, we flew Aero Mexico from Chicago, to Mexico City, to Sao Paulo. As we made our way farther south, I loved hearing how the languages and people began to change. Having taken Spanish classes in high school and college, I went from completely understanding the flight attendants in Chicago, to somewhat understanding the flight attendants in Mexico City, to not at all understanding flight attendants in Sao Paulo. Chicago is a “melting pot” city. Yet, it did not prepare me for the language difference of Brazil.
- Arriving in Sau Paulo. Once my cousin, who traveled with me, and I arrived we made our way to the TransAmerica hotel where the 15th Annual CONAREC Congress was being held. The drive to the airport was an adventure. I was amazed at all of the motorcycles and how the rules of the road seemingly didn’t apply to them. They zipped past us, hanging on tightly to their bikes. Once settled at the hotel, we went to Feijoada do Bolinha for their famous Feijoada. It was wonderful! These two Americans were delighted to have such delicious and local food. Sao Paulo food is full of flavor, color, and textures. I loved discovering the Brazilian cuisine.
- Speaking at the CONAREC Congress. The CONAREC Congress was an incredible speaking engagement, and also a wonderful experience. This Congress was unlike one you would find in the states. Everything was grand. Speaking in the main theatre in front of 1,200 people was an amazing experience. Those who did not speak English wore headphones. A translator translated English to Portuguese for them. Working with a translator was a new experience for me. As a presenter I had to try and bridge the translation gap. The attendees were kind and gracious and I loved sharing my Millennial insights with them.
- Serving on Panel Discussion at CONAREC Congress. With the CEOs of Pepsi Co Brazil and Whirlpool Brazil, the tables turned when I served on a panel with them. These two leaders spoke about the incredible things they are doing to keep their companies fresh and multi-generation friendly. I wore headphones so a translator would translate Portuguese questions back to me in English. What a gift she was!
- Exploring Sao Paulo. After the Congress, my cousin and I used our remaining time to explore the great city of Sao Paulo, thanks to our wonderful driver and our Translation Apps. We ate Pao de Queijo, bought Havaianas flip flops, walked around different malls, and saw sights all around the city. My biggest take-away was how large Sao Paulo is. We drove through the city for an hour and it still seemed that we were in the heart of the city. The size of Sao Paulo was something I had never experienced in any of my U.S. and International travels.
- Flying home to Chicago. With sad hearts but full stomachs, we boarded our flight back first to Mexico City and then to Chicago. I felt like a new person. I had fallen in love with the city and people of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
I had a fantastic trip. Millennials love to travel and adventure. Sao Paulo, you have fed my heart and soul. I look forward to my next trip to Brazil! Obrigada!