Building companies and living on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, I have learned that there are many things that distinguish Europe and America at all levels. Here´s a random list:

-America has more murders, Europe has more suicides.

-Americans mostly love guns, Europeans mostly hate and regulate guns.

-Americans are mostly religious, Europeans are mostly non religious.

-Americans believe in equal opportunity, Europeans believe in equal outcomes.

-Europeans believe in the rule of law, Americans believe in the rule of lawyers.

-Americans believe in the individual, Europeans believe in the collective.

Now having come up with this list and before you start finding exceptions to what I just said and disagreeing with me, here´s another comment on what makes Americans and Europeans different that you can disagree with.

-American top managers believe they “own” their employees, European top managers know they don´t.

First, I will start by saying that our partners who run what I think is the best managed corporation in USA, Google, have realized this and behave in a more “european” manner (thank God the Republicans lost and I can write this without fearing of getting Google into trouble), in the sense that they allow employees to spend 20% of their time doing special projects. But this is not the case in most American corporations in which employees are forced to sign agreements as they join the companies that are so confining, that I would argue that being married has less obligations that being an employee of a US corporation.

Americans make employees sign non compete agreements that are mostly non enforceable in Europe, as this clash with the concept of freedom of the employee. In Europe, courts believe that if you have specialty you cannot be forced not to compete in it and they side with the employee. So, at FON we have a very European way of working that is leading fantastic results around the world, but that I sometimes find it hard to explain to managers in the States.

FON has become the largest WiFi network in the world and is growing at a rate of 20K access points per month (around one T Mobile per month in terms of T Mobile WiFi number of access points), but SURPRISINGLY it is being managed by many part time managers who, other than running FON, do other things as well. I know this sounds BAD in America, where having two top corporate jobs is seen as cheating on your wife or husband (as Steve Martin said, to cheat on your wife is French, to get caught is American).

Case in point, FON China, for example, is kicking ass under the leadership of Yat Siu, who only oversees FON part time and mostly runs Outblaze. Why? Because Yat Siu is so good at what he does that Yat Siu part time help overseeing our full time team works better than a lesser full time manager. So at FON we don´t care if managers are not “faithful” to us so long as they do a great job.

At FON we care about results which are so visible. All you need to do is to look at our maps that if a manager is producing as well as Yat Siu we just see that on googlemaps. And in any case top managers at top corporations are also multitasking, so what difference does it make if it´s inside the corporation or outside?

FON believes that amazing employees should really be partners and find the right formula of interaction with us. And this blend of full time and part time is yielding great results.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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