RW3's CultureWizard is a leader in the intercultural and e-learning industries. He creates customized, co-branded CultureWizard websites that teach culture and foster cultural awareness through interactive e-learning tools and resources.
CultureWizard works with experienced interculturalists globally and tens of thousands of employees of global corporations turn to his insights daily. Country specific information on over 135 countries provides a wealth of cultural information and strategies for success when living and working around the world.
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The United Nation’s mandate for “safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice and promoting economic and social progress” is not one the average person likely considers on a regular basis. However, on May 21, 2013, the UN urges us to act in a way that promotes understanding between cultures and communities worldwide.
May 21 is the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity, “an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better.” At a crucial time in global history, we must do our best to promote intercultural understanding and cooperation (for more information from the UN, click here).
Photo credit: bachmansparrow.
As a young man recently out of university, my first years of professional life were spent as a chef at a swank catering outfit. It was an incredible company that did parties from 2 to 20,000, anywhere from private homes to the most beautiful museums, parks and performance spaces. We used the best ingredients, prepared foods from the world over, served the finest wines and catered to a jaw-dropping list of power brokers, celebrities and socialites.
However, seeming glamour aside, the kitchen itself was a downright mean, negativity magnet of a place. In keeping with many kitchen stereotypes, the executive chefs tended to be obsessive, dictatorial and mean-spirited, with furious tempers, feared for their vicious tongue-lashings.
Why is it that so many professional kitchens are known to be such ruthless environments? I never fully understood why, until I recently saw this TED lecture by Dan Ariely, an Argentine sociologist. According to him, the thing that makes a chef mean and kitchens ruthless is important for any business manager or team leader to know: most chefs and cooks toil in obscurity, doing the same thing over and over again – prepping, cooking, plating ad infinitum. Even if the plating is gorgeous and food delicious, it’s devoured in minutes without so much as a glance from the person who ate it — from art to leftovers in a matter of mouthfuls with little acknowledgment.
As the Ted lecture explores, monotony makes humans mean. Work that is devoid of meaning, regardless of compensation levels, with no time to collectively recognize accomplishment causes organizations to break down, employees losing inspiration. Fascinating concepts to mull over and think about how you can keep your company and teams away from these workplace dilemmas.
The larger, global question is: how can multinational organizations inspire its workforce across cultures that derive motivation from very different sources?
HSBC Expat today announces the opening of its sixth annual Expat Explorer Survey and is encouraging expats from across the globe to take part by sharing their experiences of living and working abroad.
Expats have the opportunity to be part of the world’s largest global survey of its kind. The results are used to create Expat Explorer Interactive – an award-winning online resource that paints a comprehensive picture of expat life and shows how it differs from country to country. The annual survey gives expats a voice on aspects of life overseas including economic outlook, lifestyle and raising a family abroad.
In 2012, more than 5,300 expats from over 100 countries took part in the Expat Explorer survey, making it the largest sample to date. This year HSBC Expat is hoping to reach even more expats from a wider variety of countries to take part and share their experiences.
“Expat Explorer is well established within the expat community and we’ve seen how they have been enthusiastic to share their experiences by taking part in the survey each year. Now in our sixth year, we want Expat Explorer to deliver even greater insights by getting even more respondents from more countries to participate.” said Dean Blackburn, Head of HSBC Expat.
Last year’s survey revealed that South East Asian countries topped the charts for increased earnings with Singapore being home to the wealthiest expats.
Other key findings from the 2012 research included:
+ The Middle-East proves a draw for expats looking for financial and career benefits but only for the short term
+ In comparison, expats in the Eurozone remained resilient in the face of economic turmoil choosing not to move elsewhere
+ High profile events showcased the UK as a cultural hotspot with expats rating it highly as a destination for entertainment and culture.
“The Expat Explorer survey offers unrivalled insight into what it’s like to live and work abroad. As a business, the research is an invaluable asset which helps us understand our expat customers. We’re keen to hear from all expats, which is why we’re not only asking for expats to fill out the survey but to share it with their family and friends and wider expat network” said Dean.
Check out the survey and share your experience of life abroad by filling in the Expat Explorer 2013 survey here.
If you want to know how your country performed in last year’s Expat Explorer survey league tables, visit Expat Explorer Interactive.
“How ugly we can become when we obsess over our beauty, and how beautiful we can be when we don’t.”
A wise insight, and it got me thinking about a recent article I read in The Atlantic regarding cultural variance in the way parents view their children. “Researchers compiled a list of the attributes that 60 families in six different countries used to describe their children,” and what they found between Italy, Australia, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands is that the parents of these nations emphasized the happiness and ease of their child’s temperament. In the US, however, parents overwhelmingly described their children as “intelligent,” “alert” and “especially bright”.
Of the top 6 or 7 phrases that the researchers charted for each nation, those one or two words that parents most often used to describe their children, happiness, didn’t even make the US list.
Looking at this through the intercultural lens, the value Americans place on competition, education and hard-work shines through this data pretty clearly. In contrast, Europeans are more cognizant of their babies’ emotional state in addition to their being easy to handle (the burden of being a parent).
Now, I’ve been to Spain, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands and Sweden, and met a good many adults and children from those nations, and I live and raise my children in the US, and I can say with certainty, that I don’t find American children to be any smarter than children anywhere else, but I certainly find American parents to be much more intense and obsessed over their child’s aptitude than just about anywhere else on the globe. All of which begs the question; in the push to make our children so smart are we making ourselves dumber?
RW3 CultureWizard is a leading provider of cross cultural training and information through the CultureWizard intercultural learning platform.
British writer Adam Fletcher examines everyday German life in this post where he intends to teach readers how to be German in 20 steps. While the perspective he takes is satirical and sometimes critical, it’s also very accurate.
Reading it, I caught myself nodding and laughing many times, agreeing with his descriptions. From a foreigner’s point of view, a lot of it may seem ridiculous and utterly banal — details that you’d only come to know if you’ve spent time experiencing Germans in their native environment, where the sentiment for house shoes can truly express itself. Where spargel season is in full swing, Apelshorle and German bread are served at lengthy weekend breakfasts. You’d have to attend a German party to laugh about the omnipresent Kartoffelsalat, the creative ways of opening beer bottles or the obligatory eye contact when toasting with a resounding prost.
Fletcher describes himself as a “hipster” and probably surrounds himself with young urban middle class adults and students. While I can relate to his view of German society, older generations or people from different social backgrounds might not be familiar with what he describes as “German”.
What would you suggest to folks trying to work and live effectively in Germany? For example, New Yorkers should avoid crossing the street unless the signal allows for it (or else risk someone scolding you!). And, don’t expect to go shopping on Sundays, everything is closed!
Look: Need a 9-minute dose of You Can Do It Inspiration? Check out this TEDx talk about a 15 year old boy who discovered an incredible new method for cancer detection using only his will and the internet.
Listen: Fish, Chips, but no Bread. In 1974, Costa Thomas was a nine-year-old boy and was forced to flee Cyprus for the UK because of the Turkish invasion. In 2008 Cyprus joined the EU and Costa returned to the land of his birth, on promises of EU stability, to open a business and enjoy the warm weather. Sadly, that decision has left a chill in his bones.
Read: Like it or not, the world is getting smaller and you can get McDonald’s just about anywhere. However, can you get a Chicken Maharaja Mac delivered to your door with a soda, smile and no delivery charge? Check out this great article about an aspect of expat life in Mumbai, which reminds us that while the world is certainly getting smaller, cultural variance within a theme can cause even the most familiar things to seem wildly different.
While the world continues to get smaller, that the nuclear bluster from North Korea is at an all-time high, that the Middle-East seems forever ruled by age-old rancor, and that yet another European country is on the brink, but really — soda will soon surpass wine as the beverage of choice in France?
In a shocking bit of ‘I want life to go back to way it used to be’, the French are at an all-time low of per capita consumption of wine, according to this BBC piece.
In 1980 more than half of (French) adults were consuming wine on a near-daily basis. Today that figure has fallen to 17%.
As an interculturist working at a multicultural organization, my notions of the world are hardly quaint. This is, however, a statistic that has French “oenophiles, cultural commentators, flag-wavers for French exceptionalism,” and many, many others of us who would prefer to see a wine bar in Avignon over a generic convenience store, or a food cart in Shanghai frying noodles over a Sausage Double Beef Burger for that matter.
It all begs the question, has the world gotten too small? In our push for efficiency and growth, expanding markets and wealth, is planet Earth and the myriad of wonderful and unique towns, cities and nations upon it, starting to all look the same?
I’m curious how our community feels. As you travel and live life around the world, do you ever feel that cities and experiences have become a bit more homogenized? Do you find yourself pining for the Europe of Hemmingway, or do you like drinking a soda as you sit down to a plate of coq au vin?
“State With Highest Obesity Rate Passes Bill to Ban Bloomberg-Like Food Regulation.” Now there’s a headline that got my attention.
For those of you whom might not be aware, New York City is in the midst of a brouhaha over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent efforts to ban eateries from serving sodas over 16 ounces. Bloomberg’s reasoning is that sugary sodas have a direct correlation to America’s skyrocketing obesity rates — a serious problem that is now a major public health concern, costing the US billions in healthcare and lost worker productivity.
The price tag for diabetes related illness in the USA for 2012 was $245 billion.
Mayor Bloomberg, a somewhat independent, pro-business republican (net worth estimated at $27 billion), saw the obesity problem as a clear threat to his city’s well-being and productivity, and did what any CEO might do: sought to limit damage and keep a big problem from becoming a disaster. However, something else happened in the process. Bloomberg’s actions cut against core American cultural values of independence and self determination, and a significant backlash erupted. So much so that the legislature of Mississippi, the state with the highest obesity rates in the world, sought to ensure that no Bloomberg-like law will ever take place there.
I happened to be in Italy in 1996 when the seat belt law took effect, and I recall fondly waking up the next morning in Florence to find the streets flooded with vendors selling white tee-shirts with a black seat belt stripe cutting across them. Reckless driving is, after all, a virtual birthright to Italians, but this recent action by the Mississippi legislature struck me as a particularly lamentable expression of a land’s cultural traits working against the best interests of its people.
At what point is it necessary for government to get involved in such choices when a country seems to be eating and drinking itself into oblivion?
How do Americans feel about this subject? If you lived in a place where 31% of the adult population was obese, 67% was overweight, as were 20% of children, would you be open to government intervention on the matter or would you prefer government to stay off your menu?