What Bush, Obama, and John Mayer are Doing That You’re Not.



From 2000-2010 the growth of the Hispanic population in America outpaced the White population by a factor of 10. In the state of Illinois right now (all politics are local, right?), 21% of all K-12 students are Hispanic.


Then it’s not surprising when politicians craft their messages specifically to the Hispanic population. George Bush frequently broke out his Spanish skills. While this put him in the cross-hairs of people like Jon Stewart, Bush spoke Spanish for one reason: it worked.




Obama has been doing the same. Is his Spanish great? Hardly. Does it matter? Hardly.




The secret is simple: TRY. That’s it. Hispanics appreciate the effort.


José Cancela, in his book The Power of Business en Español :: 7 Fundamental Keys to Unlocking the Potential of the Spanish-Language Hispanic Market, made this statement.


When we hear you speaking Spanish it tells us you noticed us. It tells us you care enough to try. It says you know what’s important to us and that it’s important to you. That’s important.


Just remember MOPFI (MOP-fee): Make Other People Feel Important. When you leave your comfort zone and put yourself “at risk” to communicate in another language – Spanish-speakers appreciate the effort. They appreciate it so much because it’s so rare….


I frequently hear the statement, “Well, they live in America. They should learn how to speak American.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion and we should respect this view even if you don’t agree with it. But this sentiment becomes problematic when carried into this little arena known as Commerce.


As companies grind through each week looking for a competitive advantage, a common destination is the land of Find New Customers. But maybe New Customers aren’t the answer.  Do you have customers – Hispanic or otherwise – that you currently don’t make feel very important. Can you put a simple plan in place to increase revenue among the customers you already have?


Here, I’ll get you started….


The What: MOPFI

The How: TRY

Before you TRY – here is a quick rundown of some pronunciation básicos to help you sound a bit more authentic.



A (ah)  //  E (ay)

Think of Las Vegas. It’s not (lahs VEE-giss) – The “VAY” is because the Spanish E is pronounced as (ay). Or think of the San Diego Padres. Or Catherine Zeta (SAY-tah) Jones.



I (ee)

I know, I know…. The E in Spanish sounds like an English A and the Spanish I sounds like an English E. Think of Enrique Iglesias ( I like to refer to him as Ricky Churches). Keep an eye on the phonetics here: (ayn-REE-kay  ee-GLAY-syahs). Notice the I in Iglesias is pronounced as EE.


Ricky Churches loves el pollo.


O (oh)

Think Homer Simpson’s “Doh!”


U (ooh)

As in super (SOOH-payr) which is a fine Spanish Twin.


Bince Baughn y su perro caliente.

B’s = V’s

They’re all B’s, no V’s. They sound the same… B. Practice on Bince Baughn.



They are silent. Fuhgedditaboddit.



They sound like H’s. José Canseco. Jorge Posada.



Like onion. Think of El Niño.


Chris Farley era El Niño.



Pronounced as an S. Catherine Zeta (SAY-tah) Jones. Or Zorro = (SOH-rroh)



Like juggling or teaching a polar bear to ride a tricycle, this is a skill that can be acquired with practice. This is not a talent you’re born with. Don’t say “I can’t”… Say “I haven’t yet.”


Go forth… and TRY.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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1 reply


  1. 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Spanish Speaker. « redanglespanish

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