Below is an interview with Larry Kruguer about how learning other languages has changed his career:
Micah from Fluency Corp: What is your job title and what do you do exactly every day?
Larry: I am President International and Executive Officer at Wingstop Restaurants Inc, a publicly traded company on NASDAQ (WING). As an Executive officer, I work with our CEO and other executive team members to set the strategy and oversee the growth of our restaurant business and specifically in my role as President International overseeing all the existing business and expansion of our network outside of the United States.
Micah: What languages do you speak?
Larry: I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Micah: How did you learn those languages?
Larry: I was born in the US and grew up speaking English at school, while speaking Spanish at home with my parents who were originally from Argentina. My Spanish vocabulary improved as I grew older. I studied it at college and used it more and more as a professional. Portuguese became an important language of focus for me as I did business in Brazil for various years; a personal tutor helped build my vocabulary and grammar.
Micah: How has knowing another language helped your career?
Larry: It allowed me to achieve great success in public companies as well as my entrepreneurial ventures internationally. Not only was the knowledge of foreign language a key part of my success, but also the appreciation and understanding of foreign cultures that come as part of learning other languages. I have a good understanding of French and Italian as well which allows me to feel comfortable literally anywhere in the world.
Micah: What could you not have done if you hadn’t known another language?
Larry: I don’t believe I could have achieved the level of success that I have. I would have been limited in an International career and would have not provided me a clear advantage/differentiation to other executives in my company or industry. Many times I have been the only officer of my company who has spoken a language other than English and has had extensive global knowledge of different cultures and trends.
Micah: Why do you think it’s important to know another language than just your native language?
Larry: It provides you a totally different level of understanding of the world, its various cultures and an appreciation to the differences of how people relate. When you speak to someone in their language, they feel that you understand them better and are making an effort to know their point of view much better.
Micah: If someone was thinking about studying another language for their career, what advice would you give them about learning a language? Would you wholeheartedly tell them to learn one?
Larry: Yes, absolutely critical. The earlier in their life the better, but there is never a bad time to learn. It will expand your mind in many ways beyond the language itself. Today’s world is more connected than ever and even just in the US, the Hispanic community is the fastest growing sector of the population. If they can learn English, why can’t we learn Spanish? Most educated people around the world grow up speaking more than one language – we can do the same here.