Business before Pleasure

Bernd, are you really German?

I shared a short story here a few months ago, thinking about how strongly my German background is perceived in an international environment. See

Yesterday, an exchange of ideas with Steve Lazars from the Ethnic Minority Employment and Entrepreneurship Network (EMEEN) on the subject of Intercultural Leadership gave me pause for thought.

Steve, then in his HR recruiting role, told me about his contact with the managers of a German company that was building a new plant in India and wanted to hire the employees for it.

The German managers always went straight to work in the morning without further fuss and only in the evening after work was there time for personal conversations in a relaxed atmosphere.

Steve was quite impressed with the related work ethics and the precision of this approach.

Quite spontaneously, I remembered a German proverb for it.

✳ “Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen.”

It really seems to be a saying and very German. Because in the translation I found different variations in English, as for example

✳ Business before pleasure, or
✳ First work, then play.

I realized for myself that I actually grew up with this belief. An educational theme and a mantra in my parents’ home.

And hence the answer to the question from above: Yes, I am really German.

Today I am no longer sure whether this behaviour actually has cultural roots, in example is a German stereotype, or not. Also, it no longer applies to me. I’ve adjusted it over the course of my working life.

✳ Business with pleasure or work means play.
✳ Or in German: Mit der Arbeit kommt das Vergnügen.

Nevertheless, I trust, that work ethics and precision is not suffering from this change of my believe.

➡ And how do you see it: Business before pleasure – typically German?

If you are interested: I accompany executives who travel internationally or would like to clarify issues in intercultural situations.

Thanks to Steve for the interesting discussion and to Aldona Giesbrecht, who shared an interesting post on this topic here some time ago. See

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