Blog/Twitter interview puts Southeast Schnitzel on an international stage
I guess there is a first time for everything in life.
Some of you who read this blog probably know that I am very active on Twitter (@HoeferleConsult). One of my followers is Cindy King, who was born and raised in the Bahamas and who now lives in Paris. Cindy is one of only a few cross-culture experts on Twitter with a significant following. So of course I agreed when she asked me last week if I was available for an interview.
The unusual part was, she wanted to do it via Twitter. Having conducted hundreds of interviews myself throughout my career, I was baffled. I just hadn’t thought of Twitter as an interview medium. Well, I was wrong. It actually worked like a charm.
Cindy started out the interview with some questions on her blog. You can read my answers there or scroll down to see what I copied here.
After completing Part 1 we moved the conversation over to Twitter. If you want to follow up on our exchange search for the hashtag #CKinterview. Try this link, too.
Feel free to send your thoughts and comments, either by leaving a blurb here or DMing me on Twitter. Thanks.
Cross-Cultural Twitter Interview With Christian Hoeferle
9 SEPTEMBER, 2009
Today’s Cross-Cultural Interview is with Christian Hoeferle. You can also find Christian on Twitter: @hoeferleconsult. Just like the cross-cultural interviews last week, the interview is in 2 parts:
Part 1 – On this blog we get to know Christian
Part 2 – Christian answers 10 cross-cultural questions on Twitter later today with the hashtag #CKinterview.
Christian Hoeferle is a German who has immigrated to the southeastern region of the US with his family. In addition to being a journalist, Christian runs Höferle Consulting to provide cross-cultural communication and intercultural solutions for businesses.
Christian’s blog, Southeast Schnitzel, gives valuable cross-cultural insights for anyone interested in honing their skills. He also tweets lots of interesting links on cross-cultural or international business topics. He is a great cross-cultural person to network with on social media.
Christian Hoeferle – Part 1
This is part 1 of a 2-part interview with Christian – Join us on Twitter later today at 14:00 GMT for the second part of this interview. You can follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #CKinterview.
Cindy King: Hi Christian, as you know, I started following you several months ago on Twitter. I have to say that I really enjoy reading your Tweets for their cross-cultural insights and business focus. For those who don’t know you, can you please tell us something about yourself?
Christian Hoeferle: I am a 38-year-old journalist and consultant from Germany. I was born in a small town in the southeastern German state of Bavaria, graduated form High School (Gymnasium) there and went on to the University of Passau. I spent one year as an exchange student in Minnesota where I must have caught the US virus – my family and I relocated from Munich to the Chattanooga metro area in Southeast Tennessee in 2004. My wife owns & operates a Montessori School here. I work as a consultant for cross-cultural communications and intercultural solutions with my company Höferle Consulting. My wife and I have two daughters, Amélie (7) and Ana (4).
Cindy King: Before you moved to live in the US did you live anywhere else abroad?
Christian Hoeferle: At age 17 (in 1988) I spent ten months as a foreign exchange student in Minnesota (near Fargo, ND). Apart form that experience I didn’t live in other countries – but growing up in central Europe I did a lot of traveling.
Cindy King: Do you speak any other languages besides German and English?
Christian Hoeferle: Unfortunately I don’t. I took five years of Latin in High School, which was a blessing. At least I can get by in countries where Spanish or Italian are spoken. I can read and understand these two languages quite okay – speaking them? Well, I can order food in a restaurant without getting surprise meals ….
Cindy King: Is there a story behind your interest in international business?
Christian Hoeferle: Having started three different businesses as an immigrant to the United States, much of my experience is related to that. However, being part of a bicultural and bilingual family with strong German roots in the Southeast of the USA adds a lot of personal experience, too.
Cindy King: How did you pick up your cross-cultural skills?
Christian Hoeferle: By being alive, working, listening, experiencing, learning, understanding, compromising, persuading, convincing and communicating every single day.
Cindy King: Is there anything else about your international background that you’d like to share?
Christian Hoeferle: I think in my family I am the only one who isn’t afraid to pack his stuff and move. Most of my relatives have deep roots. Mine are shallow. I know I can go anywhere in world and be happy.
Cindy King: Let’s talk about your blog… how did you come to blog?
Christian Hoeferle: I’ve been a writer for most of my professional career. So blogging comes naturally. It’s a means to communicate myself to world. And with Southeast Schnitzel blogging has also become a marketing tool. I’ve been meeting both, local people and from across the U.S. and the world, through the blog.
The name is supposed to signal to American readers: Hey, I’m one of you guys – I’m from the Southeast, I speak your language, I understand your culture. And also: I’m different. I come from Germany where they like to eat strange dishes like Schnitzel. Plus: I like to eat.
The name for my blog isn’t meant to be taken 100% seriously. After all, it’s a blog, not a corporate website.
Cindy King: Can you share one of your favorite blog posts with us?
Christian Hoeferle: That would be like picking your favorite child. Read and decide for yourself.
Cindy King: Have you noticed any current trends in the conversations you have through your blog?
Christian Hoeferle: The most current trend is that people look to me for help when it comes to get hired with some of the German companies who are coming to our area. Volkswagen and Wacker Chemie have committed $1 billion each to the greater Chattanooga area. The German impact to our region will be unprecedented. That’s where my company, Höferle Consulting, comes into the picture to help navigate the cultural differences.
Cindy King: What other online activities to do you do besides blogging?
Christian Hoeferle: Facebook, Twitter, research
Cindy King: Can you give us some insights into your cross-cultural affinities?
Christian Hoeferle: Currently I am honing my skills as a public speaker and workshop organizer. In regards to languages: my Spanish and Italian could be much better …
Cindy King: Which foreign destination would you like to go on vacation?
Christian Hoeferle: Italy. Always loved it, always will.
Cindy King: Have you come across any cultural stereotypes that bother you, or you find inappropriate?
Christian Hoeferle: “Contrary to popular belief, Germans don’t know everything. They know everything better.” – very true, unfortunately. Especially when German companies go abroad to set up shop. The arrogance and the reluctance to be guided and advised drives me nuts.
My general rule – and maybe I’m just a little bit sensitive on that topic: No jokes or “funny” references to Hitler and Nazi Germany, please. It ain’t as funny as you may think. We hate ourselves enough for our ancestors’ terrible crimes. No need to rub it in, okay? Having an educated discussion about Germany’s dark past? Anytime!
And even though I am Bavarian myself, I find it a little bit disturbing that when Americans think of Germany most of them do so with Bavaria in their minds. Apparently Lederhosen, BMW, Oktoberfest and King Ludwig fairy tale castles define the image of Germany more than anything else.
However, no stereotype exists without good reason. I like stereotypes and idiosyncrasies. They provide me with work.
Cindy King: Do you have a favorite movie that could help people understand cultural issues?
Christian Hoeferle: That’s a tough one. For Americans to get a glimpse into German minds, maybe “Schultze gets the Blues”, “The Lives of Others” and Chevy Chase’s “European Vacation” (just kidding on the last one). If you understand German, I highly recommend the 80s TV shows “Monaco Franze” and “Kir Royal” to help understand the Bavarian/German culture.
Cindy King: Thank you Christian! It is great to know more about you. This reminds me that I need to visit Italy again. I love your comment about stereotypes and idiosyncrasies bringing you work! And thank your for sharing names of these films. I’m looking forward to the second half of the interview on Twitter later today.