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How Can I Make the Most of My Pacific Background, in Business?

Some of the most rewarding moments with Talanoa happen during the conversations we have with young Pacific people. We listen as they pour out their dreams, struggles, and bright and beautiful ideas.

More often than not, we hear them voice a common concern – at one (or more) points in time; they were made to feel as if their culture, a huge part of their identity, needed to be pushed aside in order for them to succeed, particularly in business.

Whether it was society, their teachers, bosses or even their parents who told them not to mix their culture and career, majority said it didn’t sit well with them.

Here at Talanoa, we like to think the reason it didn’t sit well is because it’s completely untrue. Our culture is part of what makes us diverse, and diversity is a huge asset any of us can bring to the table.

Harness the good, leave out the bad

Like anything, it’s important to highlight what makes our culture so great. Our warm and welcoming nature, a mutual respect for our elders and for each other, an accommodating and easy-going attitude – these are just a few things that make us who we are.

All of those things can work well in business, and aren’t things we should shut off.  Work on them and find where you can put them to best use.

Also, be aware that acknowledging our weaknesses is just as important. They can be anything from lack of punctuality (always running late? Yeah, we’ve all done it), inability to speak up to management with an issue (we don’t talk back at home, so why should we in the workplace?), and even down to being open to new ways of doing things (but this way always worked, why should I change?).

Identify those weaknesses and learn to be open and honest about them. It’s equally as important to work as hard on them as you do on your strengths.

Embrace what makes us different

Unlike your gender, style, partner and direction in life, race and culture are things you just can’t change.  Rather than focusing on the negatives, or looking down on your culture, it’s so much more powerful to embrace it – it’s what makes you unique!

Regardless of where you come from, the good and bad will always exist, so there’s no point trying to fight it. If you take time to learn more about your culture (outside of what you heard or were taught at home), you might just come to appreciate it.

Pick out the best parts and learn from the wrongs of those who have walked before you.  A quote I love by James Baldwin says, “Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it”. There is no need for us to fight against our culture, for our elders have paid the price for us to enjoy what it has evolved to today. All you need to do is embrace it.

Share it with your community

Alright, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be tough if you’re the only Pacific person in your community, OR, if you’re the only Pacific person within a community who is willing to use their culture for their benefit in business.

If you arm yourself with transparency and honesty, no one can use your culture against you. Well, at least not effectively.

Don’t be afraid to tell people in business who you are and what you stand for, and how your culture has influenced your progress to date.

If society doesn’t know about us, how can they even begin to support us? Yes, there are still many closed-minded people out there, but the more you put yourself out there, the more you will find that the amount of kind, supportive and encouraging people heavily outweigh the others.

Want to know more about how we can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses to achieve your goals? Read more about Talanoa and our services.

Photo credit: Troy Carney

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