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Diversity Means Thinking Differently

A missionary for the Methodist church in Piedras Negras, Mexico took a special interest in Hector Ruiz, a young man who would grow up to be one of a select few Latinos to lead Fortune 500 companies.

"I remember her asking me once what I wanted to do with my life," Ruiz says. "I was fourteen, and I had confidently answered that I wanted to be an auto mechanic." And so the missionary told Ruiz "I had better learn English because all the auto manuals were written in English." 

Once he had learned English three years later, Ruiz graduated valedictorian from a Texas high. Ruiz went on to become a leader in the information technology and consumer electronics sectors as an engineer, corporate strategist and chief executive. His career has included the stunning turnaround of Advanced Micro Devices. 

As someone who rose out of poverty to lead a Fortune 500 company, Ruiz is acutely aware of the importance of diversity in the workplace. "Because of their cultures, their religion, their surroundings, their family, people think differently," Ruiz says. And yet, even Ruiz, the current CEO of Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions, admits to having made mistakes in this area - most notably, the mistake of failing to gather diverse perspectives.

In a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world, Ruiz explains a mistake he made while running a communications business for Motorola. 

In order to promote a certain consumer product in China, Ruiz and his team put together an advertising campaign they were proud of, only to find out that the Chinese people were offended by it.

"It really taught me a hard lesson," Ruiz says, "because it’s something I should have known better, especially [as someone who] came from another country and another background."

Sign up for a free trial subscription on Big Think Edge and watch Ruiz's lesson here:

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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