Welcome to YOU Make a Difference.  Stories...observations and reflection on our Leadership Journey!

How has Technology Humbled & Amazed YOU?

How has Technology Humbled & Amazed YOU?

The plane was due to land in San Jose, Costa Rica at 11pm on a Sunday night…a place I had never been…where I did not speak the language. I travel a lot for work and I did not give it a second thought until the day before I left.

Given the late hour and that I was on my own I thought I should arrange a car service to pick me up. For some reason the thought of having someone holding a sign with my name on it to greet me really appealed to me. So I called the hotel to see if they could help me out. Luckily, the nice man at the Wyndham spoke English and informed me that the airport shuttle stopped running at 9 pm so he encouraged me to just take the “Orange Cab” at the airport….it would be just fine.

Now…not that I overthink things…but sometimes in a foreign city they don’t always take a credit card…they want local cash and I had no time to get any Colones. You can also find yourself taking the long way to your destination and over charged. So I did some research and the more I found out the more comfortable I felt that it would all work out. So I sucked up my fear…uncertainty and doubt to commit to the Orange Cab plan.

I had a seamless set of flights from Phoenix to Dallas….Dallas to San Jose. Everything was on time and went well. As I passed through the first customs checkpoint and headed to the baggage area it was looking a little more chaotic so I was grateful (as always) that I had carried on. As I exited the checkpoint where you drop off your customs card and have your luggage security scanned I looked around for signs of an Orange Cab.

Fortunately there was a man standing inside the very small arrivals area (that doubled as the rental car pick up too) saying “Taxi…Taxi” on repeat. He was wearing an orange lanyard and looked legit. I approached him and asked “Orange Cab? Do you speak English?” Si to the first one…No to the second. Thankfully there was an airport employee nearby who was able to translate and he explained where I was headed and confirmed that the driver took a credit card. So out into the street we went.

As we headed to the car...the driver took out his cell phone and amid the chaos and shouting of the arrivals area he spoke into his phone then handed it to me. A little confused I took it and looked at the screen. He had Google Translate App open with the screen displaying Spanish to English as follows…

“My name is Gabriel. Blessings to you from my family to yours”

Cue instant smile…genuine relief…and a whisper of “how cool” under my breath.

He pointed for me to press the English button and speak into the phone as he loaded my suitcase into the back of the cab. I replied with…

“Thank you, my name is Marcie, I send blessings to your family too.”

This back and forth continued for what turned out to be a short 15 minute drive to the hotel.

As I checked in and got myself settled in my room I kept thinking about how I work in technology and consider myself to be quite tech savvy…but in that instant I was humbled….grateful…and put at ease by a stranger who did not speak my language. I was simultaneously embarrassed that I did not think of it first. I was so focused on my traditional ways of approaching things and the hope that the driver would speak English that I did not think of other creative ways to solve the challenges that were causing me fear…uncertainty and doubt.

I also could not help but reflect that 30 years ago, when I backpacked through Europe as a teenager, how amazing this app would have been. I traveled with several translation books and mangled countless languages on my way through numerous countries…relying on the kindness of others to work out my communication barriers. Now this capability is accessible to anyone with a cell phone…from any background around the world….including Gabriel…a taxi driver in Costa Rica!

So....I’m ready and excited for next time...armed with Google Translate on my phone. I even tested it out at our Global Sales event the following week to the delight of several of my colleagues from around the world.

Technology...you continue to humble and amaze me!

Leadership Questions of the Week for YOU:

  • When was the last time YOU caught yourself stuck in an old paradigm and not leveraging technology to its fullest to creatively solve problems?

  • Have YOU used Google Translator to communicate in other countries and if so what was YOUR experience?

  • How has technology humbled YOU in an unexpected way?

Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!

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