On Thanksgiving, we had some friends over to share the holiday with us. One of our friends who came over is a fellow American, and he was telling me about a movie that he recently saw on TV. It is called “Outsourced” and, as the name implies, is about the Outsourcing business, call centers, etc. This theme plays prominently here in the Philippines, as outsourcing is a big business here. I couldn’t say for sure how many, but you can bet that thousands of American jobs have moved to the Philippines in the past 5 years or so.
Anyway, my friend told me about the movie, and recommended that I see it if the possibility presented itself. A few days ago, Feyma and I watched the movie. I believe that the movie is classified as a comedy, but it was much more than that for Feyma and I. It almost seemed like a life story!
You see, the fellow who starred in the movie (the character’s name is Todd) had his offices jobs outsourced to India. Luckily for Todd, he was able to keep his job, but it became his responsibility to go to India and teach the people there how to take his place. Not necessarily something that most look forward to – training your replacement – none the less, Todd was lucky to have any job at all, because all of his co-workers were out on the street.
Well, when Todd moved to India, he ran up against all kinds of cultural hurdles. Things that he did not understand, yet affected his life and his work greatly. It took Todd time to learn how to overcome these hurdles, and to make changes in the way he lived his life to make things work out for him, and to train these new people how to get the job done. Watching this was much like seeing a replay of our lives when we first moved to the Philippines!
Honestly, when I saw the things happening on this movie, I could not help but think about this site, because there were so many things in common with what people will experience when they move to the Philippines. I really got thinking that this movie should be required viewing for people who want to move here to live permanently.
It so happened that the next day, after seeing this movie, I happened to touch base with another friend. This friend moved to Davao City around a year ago, as I recall. He came here to set up a call center for a US company. My friend, I’ll call him John, was very gung-ho, and ready to get going with the call center. He had dreams of making some nice money, and enjoying a new life in the tropics. Almost immediately, when he moved here, he started doing things that I felt were mistakes. He set up his business downtown in an area that I didn’t feel would be right for him. He moved into a house pretty far out of town. Commuting time would be a real horror for him.
About 3 or 4 months later, I stopped by at John’s call center operation to see how he was doing, and to take him out for lunch. John started telling me horror stories about how much he hated it here. He told me about how he could not find good employees. Nothing in Davao was right for his business. Of course, I knew that there were already dozens of successful call centers in Davao, but I chose not to speak up with that. John told me so many bad things. Some of the things he told me were very obviously mistakes that he was making – mostly cultural mistakes that were killing his business prospects. I tried to explain a couple fo things to John, but he told me that I just didn’t understand the business. So, I just decided to just say nothing to him, except to offer my sympathy for his problems. It seemed that he didn’t want to hear solutions, and it would only lead to ruffled feathers, so i kept quiet.
When I contacted John this week, he informed me that he had given up on Davao and left the country. It simply is not possible to do business here, he said, and he had lost a lot of money. I really felt bad for John, because he didn’t give it enough time. He did not take time to learn the things he needed to know in order to succeed here. Indeed, he dropped a lot of money here (at least in the 5 figures, possibly 6 figures in USD ) so, I do really feel bad for him.
I guess it is important to always remember, if you decide to come here – you are not in America (or insert the country where you are coming from) anymore. You have to change if you want to live here. You can’t change 90 million people to suit you, you have to change to at least understand them!
If you have a chance, watch the movie “Outsourced” and see how Todd deals with all the changes. I found some parts of the movie a little unrealistic, but overall, it is truly an educational tool!