The Miami Bubble

by John on December 2, 2011

Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion with some current b-school students and recent alumni. Our audience was primarily composed of non business majors from around the university and the various business related affinity groups on campus.

Now usually when I moderate I mix things up for the panel. I don’t ask questions in order, I’ll move into an area that someone may bring up organically and at times, I’ll take a contrary position just to get a reaction from the panel. However, someone brought up this concept of “The Miami Bubble”.

Interested, I probed a bit more and asked the panelist for clarification. They explained that the bubble is formed or created while they’re in school, and that even though we may have a higher than normal level of multiculturalism and diversity in our classes and on campus, it’s vastly different once you leave the confines of “the bubble”.

This got me thinking about how we all are guilty of creating our own versions of the “Miami Bubble” within our organizations. You know, when we say statements that are along the lines of :“Yeah that’s OK experience, but it’s not really relevant to our company/culture/organization” or maybe something like “Well I just don’t see how someone that junior is ready to take on a managerial role”.

Call me full of hot air, but I think we’ve all been a bit guilty of this type of thinking.

My own experience with the “Miami Bubble” happens when I travel, especially to towns in the southern U.S., the Midwest, or even the west coast of Florida and the U.S.. I find myself getting nervous being around so many people that look and think the same. Now before you scream bull…err, shenanigans, hear me out. I’m constantly surrounded by multiple languages, dialects, political views, and religions (and that’s just within my immediate family only 780 feet around the corner). When I travel to a portion of the country where everyone speaks English and can understand me, I get nervous. I expect a mix of peeps and when everyone looks and sounds the same, I get confused (ironic for the gringo eh?) To me, the mix is normal. Too much of the same is abnormal.

Another interesting point is in how I greet friends of the opposite sex. Here at home it’s common for a quick air kiss on the cheek. It’s perfectly innocent and innocuous. However, when I traveled to conferences this year and did that with some peeps, the reactions I got were pretty funny. Granted, they didn’t run away, but they were confused when I invaded their personal space, touched my cheek to theirs and made a kissy sound. I distinctly remember a few confused looks and in one case was told that type of behavior made them uncomfortable and was unacceptable.

Kissing example aside, how many of us are guilty of creating our own “Insert town or Company culture here – Bubbles”? Is it a fair thing to do? Why do we as some pretty savvy HR folks still allow that thinking to prevail? I’m gonna chew on this one for a while.

And if the whole air kissy thingee bothers you, don’t worry. My wife, Laurie, and even Steve Boese can attest, Johnny Nyk loves all the pretty ladies!

Photo credit: & Getty Images

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