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Navigating Cultural Differences: The Key to Psychological Safety in Global Teams

In today's episode, Tim and Junior dive into the world of cross-cultural communication and explore the importance of understanding cultural differences. From nonverbal communication to attitudes towards conflict and time orientation, they examine how cultural dimensions impact our behavior and interactions with others. Join them for an episode full of practical tips for developing intercultural competence and improving your effectiveness in a globalized world.

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Episode Show Notes

In today's episode, Tim and Junior dive into the world of cross-cultural communication and explore the importance of understanding cultural differences. From nonverbal communication to attitudes towards conflict and time orientation, they examine how cultural dimensions impact our behavior and interactions with others. Join them for an episode full of practical tips for developing intercultural competence and improving your effectiveness in a globalized world.

(0:01:27) Introduction. Over 70% of failed international ventures are due to cultural differences. Cultural misunderstandings, we'll talk about those today, can cost companies millions of dollars, and they can damage relationships with partners and customers around the world.

(0:14:25) Defining cultural differences. The way that we view cultural differences is often geographic, our awareness of that needs to be not just at the level of geography, but at the level of person-to-person. 

(0:20:09) Some cultural variables to consider. The effectiveness of our approach to culture will be dictated in some measure by the awareness of these differences that we've talked about and how those differences impact our behavior and strategy. Are your people used to communicating directly or indirectly? Do they value individualism or collectivism? How do they view hierarchy? What is their time orientation? How do they use nonverbal communication? What’s their attitude towards conflict?

(0:37:55) Localization and globalization examples. Why won’t you find the same McDonald's menu in every country? 

(0:42:52) Geert Hofstede and power distance. Tim and Junior share a cultural dimensions theory based on a series of surveys that were done in the '70s and '80s at IBM.

(0:47:32) Power distance and psychological safety. Cultures with low power distance that emphasize equality, individual rights, and autonomy create an environment more conducive to developing Stage 4: Challenger Safety.

(0:51:20) Overcoming bias on global teams. Tim and Junior discuss how to create Stage 1: Inclusion Safety and frame humanity above human characteristics.

(1:04:13) Developing interpersonal or intercultural competence. This is how you improve your teams on a practical level.

Episode Transcript

0:00:02.0 Producer: Welcome back, Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddy, one of the producers of the podcast. And in today's episode, we're talking about navigating cultural differences, the key to psychological safety in global teams. We define culture as the way we interact, and in different places, we interact differently. Rather than try and become an expert on every single culture around the world, you can focus first on the practical application of psychological safety for individuals and organizations that Tim and Junior will discuss today. As always, this episode show notes can be found at Thanks again for listening. Enjoy today's episode on, navigating cultural differences.

0:00:54.5 Junior: Welcome back everyone to Culture by Design. My name is Junior, and I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark, and today we'll be discussing navigating cultural differences and the role that that plays in global teams. Tim, how are you doing? 

0:01:06.2 Tim: I'm doing great, and I'm excited for this conversation. This is going to be a fascinating topic for anyone who works on a team, I think.

0:01:17.2 Junior: I think you're right. I'm looking at our notes here and they're lengthy, that's one way to put them, they're lengthy. There's a lot to talk about today, so I'm excited to dive in.

0:01:26.8 Tim: There is.

0:01:27.5 Junior: Let me start with a question, for everyone listening, did you know that over 70% of failed international ventures are due to cultural differences. Cultural misunderstandings, we'll talk a little bit about those today, can cost companies millions of dollars, they can damage relationships with partners and customers around the world. So today, we'll explore the challenges of navigating cultural differences and share very practical tips for improving your cross-cultural communication and social skills. And when we say cross-cultural, it really is human-to-human where each part of micro-cultures, and so that shows up not just in what you might think of as a culture, but just person-to-person in almost in any interaction.

0:02:12.4 Junior: We're gonna talk about also today, the fact that diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice. You may have heard us say that before. And, is diversity important? Well, McKinsey says that companies with diverse teams are 35% more likely to outperform their industry peers, so we're excited to dive into that too. And a plug on the front end today for a self-assessment, called the Ladder of Vulnerability, which is free on our website. We'll go ahead and put a link to that in the show notes. We're excited to share this with you for free. It's going to inform a subsequent episode that we've got scheduled a few weeks out to talk about the differences in the way that each of us perceives vulnerability, so we'll touch on that a little bit later too, but I'm excited. Very excited for that.

0:03:00.3 Tim: Hey, Junior, I just wanna emphasize that, so we've gone public with this assessment and it's free, we're not charging for it, we have fine-tuned the instrument, you go through and rank order the 20 most common acts of vulnerability, so you're systematically measuring your own vulnerability, and the output, the results that you get from the ladder of vulnerability self-assessment will show you rank ordered your highest risk behavior, all the way down to your lowest risk behavior. It's incredibly valuable, incredibly insightful. I would say 99.9% of people have never taken an assessment like this. They've never systematically measured their own vulnerability. It's very helpful. Very practical, so take advantage of that.

0:03:52.7 Junior: Do it. And part of the cool thing about that is that your ladder is different from mine, and my ladder is different from everyone else's, and so on and so forth. We perceive vulnerability differently, and that's informed by all of our experience, and some of that has to do with demographics, and psycho-graphics, and some of the cultural components that we'll talk about today, but very interesting. We've been gathering a lot of data based on this assessment, we'll gather even more, and I'm very excited about some of the publication that we'll have the opportunity to do in the future based on some of this research. So, let's start today with some numbers, to set the stage. After all, a lot of what we're going to be sharing today is not just our opinion, it's the facts. We'll show some of the most important data that has to do with our topic today. So, this is from Forbes, to start, only 36% of employees believe their company effectively navigates cultural differences, one in three, 36%. Here's one from HBR, over 70% of failed international ventures are due to cultural differences. SHRM says, 85% of employees cite a lack of cultural competence as a barrier to their success in global teams, 85%.

0:05:10.3 Tim: 85.

0:05:12.4 Junior: HBR, 62% of ex-pats fail in their assignments due to difficulties in adapting the local culture. What does that tell you? Is it an easy thing to do? Or is it a hard thing to do.

0:05:21.7 Tim: Extremely hard.

0:05:23.9 Junior: It's a hard thing to do.

0:05:24.7 Tim: To be successful. Yeah.

0:05:26.7 Junior: So psychological safety doesn't show up the same way in every place and culture. I read a blog post several years ago by Morgan Housel for a Collab Fund, and it's called The Psychology of Money. I would definitely check it out. There's a book by the same name. I like the blog post. It's just fantastic, the book is based on it. But anyway, one of the biases that he calls out, he calls the anchor to your own history bias. And I've always loved this one, it really struck a cord with me when I first read it. He says, your personal experiences make up maybe 0.10, than 10 zeros, 1% of what's happens in the world. So maybe a millionth percent of what happens in the world, but maybe 80% of how you think the world works. The first time I read that, it hit me like a ton of bricks, because I know that I'm not much different than anyone else in this case, and I probably thought that the world worked about 80% according to my experience.

0:06:30.4 Junior: Then he goes on to point out a few different pieces of history and the perception differences across generational cohorts. So the first one that he points out is the stock market. If you were born in 1970, the stock market went up 10 fold, adjusted for inflation in your teens and 20s. Your young, impressionable years, when you were learning baseline knowledge about how investing and the economy work. If you were born in 1950, just 20 years prior, the same market went exactly nowhere, in your teens and 20s. That same period of impressionable years when you were putting together your baseline knowledge about how investing in the economy worked, so just that 20-year gap gave you a very different data set that you probably then extrapolate it out into the future as a prediction regarding how it would be in the future.

0:07:27.3 Tim: Isn't that interesting? So one generation thinks, "This is how the stock market works," the next generation thinks, "This is how the stock market works," based on that lived experience, based on that period of time, and those two experiences were almost diametrically opposed to each other.

0:07:47.8 Junior: Yeah.

0:07:47.9 Tim: But yeah, that's all you know.

0:07:50.4 Junior: That's right.

0:07:52.4 Tim: So your perceptions, your understanding, your interpretations, they come from your experience, they can't come from anywhere else. But it's so interesting how limited they can be.

0:08:00.9 Junior: Yeah, and you can very easily make the subsequent jumps to behavior. So you were born in 1970, are you more or less likely than the person born in 1950 to put the next marginal dollar into the stock market. So the behavior becomes very, very different. Here's another example, someone who grew up in Flint, Michigan, got a very different view of the importance of manufacturing jobs, than someone who grew up in Washington DC.

0:08:30.4 Tim: Yeah.

0:08:30.5 Junior: Coming of age during the Great Depression, or in war ravaged 1940s Europe, set you on a path of beliefs, goals, and priorities that most people reading this, including myself can't fathom. Then he goes into the Great Depression, the Great Depression, scared the generation for the rest of their lives. You've had some experience, I've had some experience meeting people of that era.

0:08:52.0 Tim: Yeah.

0:08:53.5 Junior: Most of them, at least, in 1959, John F. Kennedy was asked by a reporter what he remembered from the Depression.

0:09:01.2 Tim: Junior, this blew my mind when I first heard this quote, and I'll give you a contrast and example with my grandmother after you've finished sharing this.

0:09:10.0 Junior: Yeah, listen to this, quote, "I have no first-hand knowledge of the depression. My family had one of the great fortunes of the world, and it was worth more than ever then. We had bigger houses, more servants, we traveled more. About the only thing that I saw directly was when my father hired some extra gardeners just to give them a job so they could eat. I really did not learn about the depression until I read about it at Harvard."

0:09:36.9 Tim: This is JFK.

0:09:38.9 Junior: This is JFK in 1959.

0:09:41.2 Tim: This is not a man of the people, at least that was not his experience. Now, let me contrast that, Junior, what you just shared with, a couple of patterns that I noticed in my grandmother when I was a young child, I remember going to her house and I remember two things in particular, so she would buy margarine, and back in those days, you'd buy a margarine, the square would come wrapped in, not a plastic or a paper, but it was foil, it was actually foil. And she would take the square of margarine out, she would unwrap it, she'd put it on a play, and then she would scrape the residue of the margarine on the foil, she'd scrape it with a butter knife and save that. And then she would take that square of foil that the margarine had come wrapped in, and she would save it, and there was a big stack of these square pieces or rectangular pieces of foil, she did that.

0:10:46.1 Tim: The other thing she did is, the newspaper would come every morning and it would be sitting there on the step on the front porch, and she'd get the newspaper, and the newspaper would have a rubber band around it, that's the way that the paper... I mean, I did this, I was a paper boy when I was a kid. You'd wrap the papers and you'd put a rubber band around the newspaper to hold it in place, she'd take a rubber band off and put the rubber band in a cigar box. I still remember this. So we have these pieces of foil from the margarine, and we had these rubber bands from the newspapers in a cigar box. Well, why did she do that? These were the period effects of the Great Depression, the impact of that experience was so deep, so profound, so penetrating, that these were some of the consequences, the behavioral consequences. Isn't that interesting? 

0:11:43.6 Junior: It's fascinating.

0:11:44.3 Tim: So what all this says to me, Junior, is that we all have different experiences, we are all in some ways, and in some cases, we are all provincial and parochial. We are all narrow, when we really think about it. We are all ethnocentric, when we step out of ourselves and realize that we have limited experience. Even if you're the most cosmopolitan person in the world, or at least you think you are, your experience is still quite limited. That's the reality.

0:12:18.5 Junior: That is the reality. And why is it the reality? Why is that our default mode? Because we need to make sense of the world.

0:12:27.5 Tim: Yeah.

0:12:29.2 Junior: We need a predictable environment in which to behave and engage. Otherwise, our brains would explode. It would be hard, Morgan says, to be optimistic, if you woke up in the morning and said, "I don't know why most people think the way they do," right? 

0:12:43.8 Tim: Yeah.

0:12:44.6 Junior: So we use the lessons of our experience to create models of how we think the world should work, and that dictates our behavior. And it's also problematic, because what everyone has experienced is a fraction of what could be experienced. And yet we explain those experiences to, or use those experiences to explain everything that's happening around us, and sometimes that ends up in us becoming disappointed or confused or dumbfounded at other people's decisions. And then Morgan concludes, a team of economists once crunched the data on a centuries worth of people's investing habits and concluded, quote, "Current investment beliefs depend on the realizations experienced in the past." How about that? I love how succinct that is. So our behavior is so influenced by what we have experienced. Yet, again, our experience is an infinitesimal portion of the world's experience and extrapolating out that personal experience and projecting that out on to the world can be very, very dangerous.

0:13:56.7 Tim: That's right. Well, and that's why navigating cultural differences in a business setting, in a business context is not easy to do at all, because we're bringing that limited experience, limited perspective, and we're trying to open up cultivate a relationship, open up a collaboration, create value in a new way, but think about how formidable it is to do that.

0:14:25.7 Junior: Yeah. Well, I wanted to start there upstream from navigating cultural differences, because the way that we view cultural differences is often geographic, it's often by area and location. And we say, "Well, this part of the world is this way. This part of the world is this way." And yes, that may be true, speaking in generalities, but your grandmother and JFK may have shared many demographics, but had very different experiences on the ground, that thus change their behavior. And so it really does differ at the end of the day, person-to-person, and our awareness of that needs to be not just at the level of geography, but at the level of person-to-person. Or the person sitting across from you, regardless of where they're from, has a different set of experiences that informs their behavior, and you need to be sensitive, not just to geographic differences and cultural differences at large, but the experiences that every single person has had that may be different from yours. So let's dig into culture, because we're talking, after all, about navigating cultural differences. So a few different definitions of culture, Tim, you've got two down here from Hofstede and Geertz. Do you wanna talk about both of those? 

0:15:47.6 Tim: Yeah, I do. These are a couple of definitions that I've admired over the years, the first one comes from a Professor Geert Hofstede, he was a Dutch organizational anthropologist, and he's the one that developed the power index. And he defined culture this way, the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others. So, yes, you have limited experience, but if you're with a group of people and you live together in a certain geography, then chances are that that experience becomes similar. So if you develop patterns, you develop norms, and so your collective programming is going to be a lot like the people who are around you. I like that definition. The collective programming of the mind. Now, here's the second definition, that I also find quite valuable, this comes from Clifford Geertz, who was a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, and made a significant contribution to our understanding of culture. He said, "Culture is a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men and women communicate perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life." Now, there's a lot there, but let me focus on one thing that he says that I think distinguishes his definition, "A system of inherited conceptions." The word inherited is interesting, isn't it? 

0:17:35.6 Junior: Yeah, it is.

0:17:37.2 Tim: It didn't come from nowhere. Much of the culture that you have, you didn't create it, you created very little of it, you inherited it, and you're also going to perpetuate it to the next generation. So the concept that it's heritable is so fascinating and yet so true. I don't think we take the time to realize that the culture that we live in, we inherited, and we're going to pass that down. Now, we'll probably have some impact on that. We'll probably change that to some degree. Isn't that fascinating though? So those two conceptions of culture, I think, are very important, they're insightful, and they will inform our discussion as we go, Junior. So number one, let me repeat, the collective programming of the mind. Number two, a system of inherited conceptions.

0:18:36.0 Junior: It makes me think of your grandmother and her children and the way that they would have viewed the saving of the foil and the rubber bands. And it was probably not weird, and it probably became more weird across generations as that inheritance became more and more diluted. It's pretty interesting.

0:18:55.1 Tim: Yeah. Well, it gets weirder. I don't think that's a word, but I think it's a good word. It gets weirder as you move away from the context in which that behavior was performed. So as we move away from The Great Depression, it seems more strange unless you interpret it in context.

0:19:16.9 Junior: Yeah.

0:19:17.0 Tim: Yeah.

0:19:17.9 Junior: Well, we deal with that all the time. Everyone. Each one of us does, where we have these artifacts of culture that we've inherited and, oftentimes, we don't even know where they come from. We don't know the context that created them originally and it may be time to shed those artifacts of culture. It may be something that we want to preserve. So that might be a conversation for another day, but that's an interesting thing to think about. Okay, here's a third definition of culture for you, not as clinical as the others, but it's the operating definition we like to use. "Culture is the way we interact." There you go. That's the essence of culture. It's the way that humans interact. And the premise of this episode is that people interact differently in different places because of those inherited conceptions.

0:20:08.1 Tim: That's right.

0:20:09.3 Junior: So there are a few variables, or we could call them inherited conceptions, that differ wildly across cultures. And we wanna go into a few of those to help you look at the differences in culture with a little bit more specificity, a little bit more information to help you make better decisions. So here's the first one, direct versus indirect communication. This is something that changes culture to culture. In some cultures... And understand as we launch into this section that we're speaking in generalities. And so there are micro-cultures and subcultures that exist inside of these generalities and there's always room for that, but it is important to draw some conclusions based on some of the patterns that we see. So some places like the United States, direct communication is valued, people expressing their thoughts and opinions in a pretty explicit way. In other cultures, such as Japan, indirect communication is often preferred where people rely on non-verbal cues or subtle hints to get across their message. Have you ever see this, Tim? 

0:21:18.9 Tim: [chuckle] Yes, I have. I'll give you an example, if you want one.

0:21:23.2 Junior: Sure.

0:21:25.5 Tim: So years ago, I was a missionary in Korea and when I first got to Korea... Well, before I got to Korea, my teachers and instructors told me. Now, they emphasized the indirect nature of communication, but when I got there, I realized it was a surprising mixture of candor sometimes, but very indirect communication at other times and I wasn't prepared for that. So I'll give you an example. So I get there and I'm not... I guess, I'm on the tall side, I'm 6'5, and I remember getting there and I had done a lot of language study. And so I'm getting to the point where I can understand basic communication and I remember the people that I would greet and meet and they would very directly say, "You are a tall American with a big nose." And they would say that to me. In Korean, they would say...

[foreign language]

0:22:33.1 Tim: So "You're an American, and that, you're very tall and you have a big nose." And I was taken back by that. I wasn't offended, but I had to smile. Then I thought, "Wow, I didn't realize that you were that direct" because even in American culture, we wouldn't really say that, right? 

0:22:50.1 Tim: You wouldn't say that to someone. You wouldn't go up to them and say, "You're tall and you have a big nose." [chuckle] You just wouldn't do that. That's not a cultural norm. And so I really smiled and I thought, "This is very interesting." But then in other circumstances, the mode of communication was very indirect to save face, to not offend. For example, even the way we conjugate verbs in Korean, if someone's talking to you and they're telling you something, you won't say, "Oh, I understand," or "Oh, I get it." You put it in the future tense and you'll say, "I will understand" or "I will know that." Isn't that interesting? So you'll put it in the future tense to take the edge off of the candor. So there's this interesting mixture of both direct and indirect. Well, all of that was new to me. So you can see that you could very easily misinterpret things, you could easily miscommunicate. You could easily be offended. All of these things can happen if you don't understand what's going on.

0:24:04.9 Junior: That's an interesting example, and there are many. And I'm sure that those listening can probably point out some that have been in other places and sometimes those are shocking. They'll take you by surprise. To the next one, individualism and collectivism. Some cultures place greater emphasis on individualism, more value on personal achievement, more value on independence, while other cultures prioritize collectivism. They value group harmony, they value cooperation, they value collaboration. Hierarchy, there's another one. I mean, this is a big one. In some cultures, like Latin America, the Middle East, hierarchy is highly respected. People show deference and respect to those in positions of authority on almost outsized deference and respect. Well, it depends on where you're from, I suppose. In other cultures, such as the United States, you may have flatter hierarchies and more equal distribution of power that's valued. So we see this often with clients as we travel and we go to different places. You've had a lot of experience with this one.

0:25:09.9 Tim: I have, Junior. I'll give you an example, here, that's really fascinating. So not too long ago, I was training a group of clinical research scientists in Shanghai in China. These are research scientists that work in the pharmaceutical industry, highly trained scientists, and we're doing exercises in small groups and I ask the groups, "Okay, well, would someone like to start this exercise?" And no one said anything. And I thought, well, this is strange because I've done this before and someone will typically step forward and start the exercise and then others will join in. But no one would say anything. No one would do anything. And then I realized, and I talked to some people offline, some of the participants, and they said, "Well, you don't really do it that way. You ask the leader to start, because there's deference for the hierarchy, for the chain of command. And so let the leaders start and then everyone will jump in, but if the leader has not initiated that and hasn't started things off, no one's gonna do anything." And sure enough, no one was doing anything 'cause I had asked the wrong question to get the exercise started. Isn't that interesting? 

0:26:33.8 Tim: So I learned the nature of hierarchy in that cultural context and how I could work with that norm to be successful, to be effective in a training setting. Now, you can contrast that. For example, not very long ago, I worked with a leadership team out of Copenhagen, Denmark. The patterns of participation were quite different. In fact, if you had walked into the room and you were looking at everyone and looking at the patterns of interaction, you would not be able to tell who the boss was. You would not be able to discern the hierarchy. It was that egalitarian. It was that collaborative. It was that democratic. Isn't that interesting? So we're not necessarily putting a judgment on that. We're just acknowledging the role that hierarchy plays in terms of behavioral norms, in terms of communication patterns, in terms of collaboration. We're trying to be able to work with that in an effective way. We've gotta be aware of what those norms are. We need to be aware of those patterns.

0:27:52.7 Junior: Here's another one, time orientation. Some cultures place greater emphasis on punctuality, on time management. People are expected to adhere to very strict schedules, deadlines, and those deadlines are deadlines. In other cultures, some in Latin America, some in the Middle East, time may be perceived as more fluid, less rigidly structured. I have a lot of experience with this. I lived in Ecuador, and Ecuador is a place where, generally speaking, time is viewed as more fluid.

0:28:28.0 Tim: More fluid, more flexible.

0:28:30.5 Junior: More flexible. And I remember being so frustrated by this at the beginning because, to me, my acculturation, my inheritance, was that 5:00 PM was 5:00 PM. To me, that was a very objective measure of time. And some may say, "Well, it's ultimately objective and I might agree with you." But what I learned was that when others looked at time more fluidly, they were giving priority to other things.

0:29:01.5 Tim: That's right.

0:29:01.9 Junior: Like socializing and connecting. Like, doing some of these other activities that I may have been missing out on because of the rigidity with which I was looking at time. So as you said, not passing judgment, but acknowledging the difference and understanding that my effectiveness inside that culture would be somewhat determine my ability to be flexible and adapt to that culture and the perception of time.

0:29:29.4 Tim: That's a really good example.

0:29:31.7 Junior: Non-verbal communication is the next one. So, facial expressions, gestures, body language, those can vary greatly between cultures. I remember in Latin America, people would be pointing with their lips. I'm like, "Why are you pointing with your lips?" And it took me a while to catch on to that. In some cultures, direct eye contact may be seen as a sign of respect and attentiveness. In other cultures, it may be seen as confrontational, as rude. And understanding that there's room for that sort of difference across cultures in body language is very important, because if you go out and you interact with that culture and you're rigid in your perception of these different variables and how you view them, you can come up against a brick wall. You can become very ineffective.

0:30:20.0 Junior: Next one, attitude towards conflict. This one's interesting when we start talking about psychological safety and speaking up. In some cultures, Western Europe, North America, open debate and disagreement are often valued. People are expected to voice their opinions and engage in, hopefully, healthy conflict. In other cultures, East Asia, Middle East, indirect communication and avoidance of conflict might be preferred. Next we go to uncertainty avoidance. Well, these are our last two, or maybe three. We'll see if we've got another one or two. This cultural dimension refers to the extent to which a society tolerates ambiguity and uncertainty. This one plays out very interestingly in the business world. In cultures with high uncertainty avoidance, individuals may feel uncomfortable with ambiguity. They prefer strict rules and clear guidelines. Cultures with low uncertainty avoidance may be more accepting of change and ambiguity and maybe the risk tolerance is higher. We have indulgence and restraint. So a society's attitude toward pleasure and gratification versus impulse control. Are we prioritizing enjoyment here? Are we emphasizing self-discipline? That's another angle. How about work relationships, personal relationships, work time, personal time? We've seen some interesting patterns in this one.

0:31:47.7 Tim: That's a really interesting one, Junior. I'll give you an example on that one. Approach to relationships. So early in my career, I worked for a firm and it was a Japanese firm. And my boss was a Japanese gentleman, a wonderful gentleman, but here's what I noticed. When we were at work during the work day, we focused on work and we did not mix the personal with the work during the work day. But after work, we could do that. We'd go off and have dinner or we'd do a little karaoke or whatever it was, and we could really connect on a personal level and share with each other about our lives and it was fantastic. But it was clearly demarcated pattern where you kind of compartmentalize. You have the work day. And then you have, after the work day. And after the work day, we can share and we can make personal connections.

0:32:51.6 Tim: Now, contrast that with Brazil, for example. I just got back from Brazil. And it was almost the opposite where they would put the personal first, not last. They didn't wait till after the work day, but they were incredibly personal and they were wanting to connect at the beginning of the day, of the beginning of the work day. And they hug each other. They're incredibly warm. Very different cultural pattern. Very, very different right from the beginning of the day. And then they mix that end so it's kind of mixed. It's a marble cake, the personal and the professional, and they're not separated as clearly and as cleanly as they were in the Japanese war culture. Isn't that fascinating? Now, again, as you said, we're not passing judgment on that, but we need to be aware. We need to be aware of the cultural context in which we're operating. Our powers of observation need to go to another level. We need to be paying attention to this. If we're missing this, if we're aloof to these patterns, we're gonna be far less effective.

0:34:15.1 Junior: And that point affects more people than it ever has before. We're more connected. Globalization has gone to an entirely new level with hybrid workforces, virtual teams, global teams. I was chatting with a friend just this last week about their team and their team spans across seven countries and six time zones.

0:34:44.0 Tim: Wow.

0:34:44.8 Junior: It's unbelievable. So what's the gist of this section? The effectiveness of our approach to culture will be dictated in some measure by the awareness of these differences that we've talked about and the way that those differences impact our behavior and our strategy. So how do we mess this up? We often underestimate those differences across cultures or we forget to address the fact that there's any difference at all. We take that point, the millionth percent of the world's experience, and we think that that is how the world works. When in reality, it does not.

0:35:25.1 Tim: Then we're projecting our understanding, we're projecting our experience on those around us.

0:35:30.4 Junior: Precisely.

0:35:31.5 Tim: And we're just, we're not paying attention. We're not tuned in. Culturally, we're not perceiving what's going on around us.

0:35:42.6 Junior: That's right. And organizations do this all the time, even very large and prominent organizations that show us that one size does not fit all or that it rarely works. So Coca-Cola, this is recently, 2016, not that long ago, launched a campaign called "Taste The Feeling" across 200 countries. It was a big campaign of commercials and it fell flat across a number of regions. And the commercials that featured people expressing their emotions and their feelings weren't very well-received in some Asian countries where people tend to value more privacy and more restraint. And the commercials that featured couples and romantic relationships were criticized in some Middle Eastern countries for being too provocative and inappropriate. So what's interesting is the scale of, what is private? What shows restraint? What provocative? What's inappropriate? That scale varies across the world.

0:36:38.1 Tim: Yeah, it really does.

0:36:38.9 Junior: Depending on your geography in general. And so what did they do when they got all of this feedback? They started working with local advertising agencies before launching significant global campaigns. So if they're going to do another 200-country "Taste The Feeling" campaign, they might go to a couple of Middle Eastern agencies. They might go to an Eastern European Agency in North America, South American agency, and say, "Hey, how does this sound to you? If we were to do this, how would it go? What's your reaction to this first draft of copy? What's your reaction to this commercial that we're thinking of airing and testing that." Doing a quick litmus test with people that are boots on the ground inside those cultures. There are so many examples that have happened over time, and we're not gonna go into all of them, but here's another one, Pepsi's "Come Alive With The Pepsi Generation" slogan was translated in Taiwan as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead." So I don't think they wanted to make that claim, right? And so they do this and it shows up so differently just in translation alone and there are some interesting comedic bits from organizations getting this wrong over time.

0:37:55.7 Junior: Here's an interesting organization that's got it right. I'm sure they've had some... Their flailings as well. But McDonald's localization strategy, I think, is fascinating. It had some stumbles, but, overall, they've adapted wildly successfully to hundreds of different markets and countries. You will not find the same McDonald's menu in every country. I've been really chewing on this. This has been bouncing around in my brain for a couple of weeks now. What does that tell us? So McDonald's is a public company driven by, one, driven to generate shareholder value. And they've found that the best way to generate shareholder value is to not copy their menu in every market. That's amazing to me. So India, they've got vegetarian options. They got the Tikki Burger. Japan has a Teriyaki Burger. China has the Taro Ball McFlurry. In the Middle East, they have the McArabia Sandwich. In Brazil, the Cheddar McMelt and the Brigadeiro McFlurry. Not items you will find anywhere close to us.

0:38:55.7 Tim: That's so fascinating. Junior, I'm really dying to try the Taro Ball McFlurry, though. I gotta tell you.

0:39:01.6 Junior: I know. You will.

0:39:02.7 Tim: That sounds really good because I've had Taro before and it's fantastic. Now, in a McFlurry, I don't know, but it's intriguing. Isn't it? The localization.

0:39:13.9 Junior: What you just said, right? I've had Taro before, as if it's something that you go and try, and some people may not have had it. But if you're native to China and you said, "Yeah, I've had Taro," that may be sound to some like, "Oh, yeah, I've had water before."

0:39:31.2 Tim: Yeah, exactly.

0:39:31.3 Junior: It's pretty good.

0:39:32.1 Tim: Yeah. It's pretty normal, yeah.

0:39:33.3 Junior: Yeah, it's very normal. So what this tells me is that there are distinct differences across cultures and that cuisine is just one representation of some of those big differences.

0:39:47.9 Tim: That's right.

0:39:48.5 Junior: So if you look at cuisine, let's say that you have someone of the mind that there really aren't big differences and, "My culture is the better culture," or, "The way that I see the world is the way that everyone should see the world," or so on and so forth, you can't contradict, you can't argue with the fact that money has votes in all of these things.

0:40:12.9 Tim: That's right.

0:40:13.6 Junior: And that people are voting with their dollars as to which menus they would prefer, and they're not the same menu.

0:40:21.9 Tim: No.

0:40:22.0 Junior: So that's as clear an example to me that there are cultural differences as any example ever.

0:40:28.8 Tim: Well, and you can't argue preferences. Yeah.

0:40:30.0 Junior: No. No, and you can't argue...

0:40:31.1 Tim: It doesn't make sense.

0:40:32.7 Junior: You also can't argue that those preferences show patterns, right? 

0:40:37.6 Tim: Yeah.

0:40:38.2 Junior: It's not that there's one McDonald's menu on this street corner and another on the next. There are geographic patterns and preferences, be they in cuisine or in human interaction, right? 

0:40:54.2 Tim: Very true.

0:40:54.3 Junior: So here's another interesting one. A little more, I don't know if you'd call it practical, but here's Journal of General Internal Medicine, reputable journal. "Japanese patients tend to use indirect communication strategies with their healthcare providers." This is interesting. "Relying on non-verbal cues and subtle hands to convey their health concerns." So what happens if you are a healthcare provider and you pay no attention to the difference in communication styles across cultures? Now, you can't be all things to all people and you can't understand every single cultural nuance, but if you have a cohort of Japanese patients and you ignore the non-verbal cues and the subtle hints and some of the things that they are attempting to communicate, you may be missing out on a huge piece of what would inform your diagnosis and subsequent treatment. So healthcare providers, this is a great example, should be aware of these types of cultural differences and must adapt their communication style accordingly. And there are some tools and tips that we can go over a little bit later as to how you do that, but I thought that this was a poignant example because it can lead to very different outcomes in the clinical environment.

0:42:10.1 Tim: That's right. Hey, Junior, it makes me realize that in all of this, when we are sensitive to the cultural context, the norms, the mores, the customs, the traditions, the symbols, the artifacts, we are perhaps above all, we're expressing respect for that culture. We're expressing appreciation for that culture. We're not casting judgment. We're not making a superiority claim. We're expressing appreciation and respect. That's fundamentally what we need to be able to do.

0:42:52.0 Junior: Yeah. I couldn't agree more. So let's talk about Geert Hofstede. So Geert Hofstede's work on power distance, it's a cultural dimensions theory based on a series of surveys that were done in the '70s and '80s at IBM.

0:43:08.4 Tim: Yeah, when we worked at IBM. That's where it all started. It's amazing.

0:43:12.8 Junior: Yeah, it's fascinating. So those series looked at the extent to which people in a culture accept and expect power inequalities. Cultures with high power distance value hierarchy, respect for authority, and deference to those in power. So cultures with high power distance, based on the data, include countries, many countries, in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. So they're saying, we value hierarchy, generally, and respect for authority, which can lead to very clear structures, efficient decision-making, and it's got some liabilities as well. Maybe it leads to a lack of innovation and unwillingness to change the status quo or challenge it. Maybe there's limited opportunity for upward mobility for those in lower positions.

0:44:03.7 Junior: To contrast that, we have cultures with low power distance that value equality, independence, individual rights. So in these cultures, there's greater emphasis on sharing power and decision-making. Leaders are expected to be more approachable and accessible to their subordinates. And power distance can affect communication and leadership styles as well as perceptions of teamwork and decision-making. So low power distance, examples, Western Europe, North America, Australia. We're saying we value individual autonomy. And the upside of this, we promote creativity and innovation, but on the flip side, it may lead to lack of structure, difficulty in decision-making, potential conflicts due to lack of clearly defined roles. And so understand that this is empirical. This isn't just observational. This is quantitative data coming out of these studies that seem to be pretty bullet-proof. What do you think, Tim? 

0:45:07.7 Tim: Well, it is. Hofstede's scale by which he measured power distance is very reliable and the work includes several decades now of global survey research. And so you can't really argue with the data at this point. It's pretty clear. You made the point, Junior, and I would just emphasize it again and that is that with low power distance or high power distance, there are strengths and liabilities associated with each part of that spectrum and we need to understand that, and we need to, again, be sensitive and respectful about the norms that prevail in these cultures so that we can be effective. Again, what are we trying to do? We're trying to negotiate and navigate these cultural differences effectively. So we need to understand that there are strengths and weaknesses associated with any of these patterns.

0:46:08.0 Junior: So let's talk about psychological safety and you'll see how this ties in. So is power distance correlated with psychological safety or what does psychological safety have to do with power distance? I would say, put simply, if you expect that every culture respond the same way to your psychological safety initiative, you're being ignorant to some of these massive differences that it needs to be tuned based on what we know about some of these cultures. So it would follow that our psychological safety initiative in Asia be different from our psychological safety initiative in North America. Maybe it has the same bones, maybe it has the same principles, the same tools, but there may be some nuance that we want to pay attention to when we're deploying messaging, when we're deploying training, assessment, to match some of the things that we know like power distance. So in high power distance cultures, individuals may be, or perhaps are, less likely to speak up or challenge authority figures because of the strong emphasis on hierarchy and because of the deference to those in power. You can see how that can become problematic for something like Stage 4: Challenger Safety.

0:47:32.1 Junior: So this can create a place where people feel less safe to express their ideas or their opinions. On the contrary, in cultures with low power distance where emphasizing equality, individual rights, autonomy, that may produce an environment more conducive or easier to develop something like Stage 4: Challenger Safety where we're challenging the status quo, the perception of the leaders themselves, they could be seen as more or less approachable, more or less open to feedback. And so, certainly, these have a relationship. We don't know exactly what that is. It's something that we can hopefully study more over time, but you can see some of the obvious implications of throwing out psychological safety initiatives into diverse markets.

0:48:25.0 Tim: That's very true, Junior. And if you look at the leader factor, psychological safety or global normative database based on the four stages, it's very clear that there are cultural zones or regions around the world. And when you're in a strongly hierarchical culture where there's a very high deference to the chain of command, where there's authority bias, psychological safety is just as important, but think about Stage 4: Challenger Safety. How do we challenge the status quo? We have to learn how to do that in the cultural context that we are in. So for example, in some cultural regions, the tolerance for candor is not as high, the invitation to dissent is not as strong and, therefore, we need to learn how to challenge the status quo. What works? What is effective? For example, the way we use inquiry, the way that we use questions becomes critically important in some of these cultural environments in order to be effective. We have to be sensitive to that and we have to learn what works and what's effective without offending people and without creating strife. We're trying to generate light, not heat. And so we really need to learn what works in the cultural environment.

0:50:02.0 Junior: The last piece of this that complicates that even more is bias, conscious and unconscious. I think we would be remiss to not touch on this in this sort of conversation. So conscious bias, probably don't need to talk too much about that. That's something we would obviously wanna solve for. Unconscious bias becomes a little bit more difficult because of the word before bias. It's unconscious. So attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious way. So these can be formed through our upbringing, our experiences, our cultural background, and they can influence our interactions with other people without us even realizing it. That can lead to discrimination, unequal treatment. And it's imperative that we do what we can to become aware of this in order to make fair and equitable decisions, to get third-party feedback, to really think about what we're doing, to think about the decision tree, the logic that we're following when we're making these types of decisions. As I mentioned before, some of what we inherit, we want to keep. Some of what we inherit through culture, we want to get rid of.

0:51:16.9 Tim: We wanna let go of.

0:51:18.8 Junior: We wanna unlearn.

0:51:20.8 Tim: That's right. Well, Junior, let me say a word about bias. Bias, we are all dripping with bias. Bias is natural. We develop bias. Biases are preferences. And so, actually, the concept of a bias is not negative. It does have a negative connotation, but the actual concept of a bias is not inherently negative. It's simply that you've developed a preference and you develop a preference based on your experience, based on consequences, based on observation, but some biases are negative and they are destructive, and they are prejudicial, and they're not helpful, and we need to remove those. We need to get rid of those. And as you say, some are conscious and others are unconscious. So the trick is, how do you make the unconscious conscious? Because once they're conscience, then you can deal with them and you can try to remove them.

0:52:25.5 Tim: So the unconscious biases, they're there. The best way that we surface those is when we learn, when we have dialogue with people who are not like us, when we are actively engaged in observation, when we are asking questions. This is how we surface the unconscious bias, make it conscious and then deal with it, try to understand why we think the way that we think, why our preferences are what they are, and identify any biases that may be destructive that really need to be eliminated. That's the process that we all need to go through. It's not easy, but it's simply the exposure. If we're around... If it's a homogenous environment and we're around people with whom we share affinity, we rarely are able to surface bias. So we need to reach out, interact, get to know, study, observe people, situations, cultures that are not like us and then we're able to surface the bias.

0:53:38.3 Junior: So let's go that direction then. Let's jump into that. What are some things that we can do? So we've set the stage. We now understand that there are differences across humans. There are differences across cultures. Our ability to navigate those will, in a major way, determine our success. So what do we do? One of the first things that we would like to point out is Stage 1: Inclusion Safety, and this is so much of where I think the answer lies and, specifically, framing humanity above human characteristics. We've shared a lot of content on this point before, but to summarize, there are components of our shared humanity and there are human characteristics and that could be your demographics, your psychographics, it could be the school you went to, who your parents were, how much money you make, the color of your skin, your gender, whatever. You have characteristics. I have characteristics.

0:54:42.5 Junior: And one of the quotes that we often share in this light is from Frederick Douglass, "I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity." So much of where this goes wrong is when we place human characteristics above our shared humanity and that's the first thing we look at. We look at the differences. We also don't want to get rid of those differences. Those differences are what make us unique. They're what make us distinct. They're important. And so many of them are good and some of them are not good or bad. They're just there. They're differences. And so we don't mean to get rid of all of those, but placing humanity above human characteristics is probably the single most important principle that has helped me, personally, in navigating some of what can be a thorny, difficult issue is when you get buried in those differences. I think that that's where it starts to get really difficult.

0:55:43.0 Tim: Yeah.

0:55:43.9 Junior: What do you think, Tim? 

0:55:44.0 Tim: No, I agree. You gotta keep your eye on humanity and at the same time recognize that the human differences, they do represent the sources, the cherished sources, of people's identity. And so we value their human characteristics. We value our human characteristics. All of the demographics, the ball, the constellation of demographics and psychographics and cultural attributes that makes you who you are, we value that, we celebrate that, but we don't elevate those human characteristics above humanity because as soon as we do that, we begin to fracture, we begin to tribalize, we sow the seeds of division. And so we have to do two things simultaneously. So we elevate and value humanity above everything else, but we also appreciate and cherish the human characteristics that make us who we are. That's what makes this all work.

0:56:52.0 Junior: So this means that we should treat everyone with kindness, empathy, compassion, regardless of their background, their identity. To look at people as individuals that have stories that are unique, they have experiences that are unique and perspectives, rather than just representatives of a group. And as you imply, Tim, it's a balancing act, and those are two things that we need to do simultaneously and do well. To learn a little bit more about this section, if you haven't watched the Inclusion Safety episode in the Psychological Safety series, I would highly recommend that. Great episode to watch. I also wanna talk about intent. So let's talk about intent for a little while. We often talked about the fact that humans have a unique ability to infer intent and I learned a little bit about this over the last little while and I'd like to share a few things that I've learned. Some biology, some neuroscience, some psychology. It bleeds into a bunch of different disciplines, but I've found that we have some interesting hardware that we come with that allows us to do this pretty well. The superior temporal sulcus, or the STS, and the medial prefrontal cortex, the MPFC, these are two brain regions that are involved in social cognition and theory of mind.

0:58:14.3 Junior: So the STS piece processes social cues like facial expressions, body language. It feeds all of that information into the medial prefrontal cortex. And forgive me, for those neuroscientists out there if I'm getting any of this wrong, but I did wanna share because it was so impactful to me. The MPFC integrates this information from the STS along with a few other sources like memory and context. So what we've experienced in the past, what we remember, to form, this is so cool, a mental representation of others' mental states. So we're envisioning this. We're spinning up an avatar, if you will, that we inject other's mental states into. So these two systems work together to enable us to infer other's mental states, including their intentions. So what is the theory of mind? It's the ability to attribute mental states such as beliefs, desires, and intentions to oneself and others. What does this allow us to do? It allows us to understand and predict others' behavior and engage in cooperative interactions. This starts in childhood and continues to develop through life.

0:59:31.4 Junior: Why am I sharing this? Because this is a very important aspect of empathy and it is what enables us to understand and relate to others' mental states. So think about this, theory of mind and empathy. If we don't do this well, it means that we're deficient in being able to spin up those versions of others' mental states and draw conclusions about what they might be feeling, about what they might be thinking, and all of that gets packaged and translated into our response. So if we can't think about or if we are less effective in thinking about, what would happen if I did this? What would this person think if I said this? What would this person feel if I did this with my body language? 

1:00:19.9 Junior: If we're not running those mental models and that math constantly, then we're not going to show the type of empathy required to have that person respond positively to whatever it is that we're doing and understand that we have good intent and that we want to help, that we want a cooperative, productive relationship. If you don't develop empathy such that you develop strong theory of mind, you won't acknowledge as easily the fact that other people have different desires than you based on their culture, their socialization, and a host of other factors. So I wanted to bring this in because it's given me a new lens to look through and help me understand I have hardware to do this, but I need to train this hardware with some really good software to help me interact more effectively with other people and understand that the way they see the world is not the way that I see the world.

1:01:17.6 Junior: Because if I spin up an avatar of somebody else and I just project my own beliefs and what I think I would do if I were in that situation, then we can get into trouble. And this has probably happened to all of us where we've said something and got a certain reaction and thought, "Wow, that was ridiculous. I would never have done that. I would have never responded that way." Yeah, well, you're not them. You don't have the collective experience that they do for better or worse and you need to acknowledge that if you're going to interact effectively.

1:01:47.9 Tim: Junior, the most important thing that I learned from this is that empathy is a function of observation. And when I fully internalize that, when that really registers with me, when that really hits home, then I understand how important it is for me to be paying attention, to be mindful, to exercise mindfulness, to be aware in the moment, to be alert, attentive, observant. If I'm not doing that, then I am not taking in the data streams that are coming to me from those around me based on the verbal and the non-verbal. All of it. Facial expressions, gestures, everything. I'm not taking that in. I'm not processing that. If I'm not doing that or if I'm just turned inwardly and I'm preoccupied with myself, then as a rule, by definition, my empathy is going to be lower because my observation is low. So that connection, to me, is massively important. If we're aloof, if we're preoccupied, we are not processing the external environment. Our social awareness is low. We're not going to be able to produce the empathy based on the synthesis of all of that data. We're not gonna do a very good job. So this is just... I can't believe how powerful it is to help me understand, you've got to stay aware. You've got to stay engaged as you interact.

1:03:36.2 Junior: I love that connection. And that's kind of a light bulb for me. When I think about paying attention, what does that mean? It means that you're attending to the person in front of you. Can you do that without physically facing the person? Can you do that without active listening? Can you do that without some of the mirroring and other things that should be going on? If you're not paying attention, you're not attending to that person. Then almost causally, your ability to empathize goes down.

1:04:09.4 Tim: It does.

1:04:10.3 Junior: I think that's a very strong argument and I think it's very powerful.

1:04:13.1 Tim: Yeah.

1:04:13.9 Junior: So what are some things that we can do to improve this on a practical level? Let's talk about the personal for a second. You can develop interpersonal or intercultural competence. You can educate yourself about other cultures, just the awareness and some broad education. It doesn't have to be even terribly targeted, but just going out and looking at different cultures and understanding that the world is different outside of your world is helpful.

1:04:42.9 Tim: Junior, let me mention something that is shockingly simple and yet people are afraid to do it, and that is, when you're in a different cultural environment and there are things that you don't understand, people, we, are often reluctant to simply ask questions for fear that we will offend, but in almost every case, people are not offended when you ask a question about a cultural pattern or a norm or a tradition or a more or whatever it may be, a custom. And so I would encourage people to do that. "If you don't mind my asking, why do you do this?" Most of the time, people are not offended and they'll explain it to you and they'll be happy to explain it to you. And they'll be grateful that you've asked. We don't do that enough.

1:05:36.8 Junior: I think you're right. I need to do this more. One of the ways... So just last week, we were at a restaurant getting some Indian food and I asked a server, I was making some decision about our ordering and I said, "What would you do?" And he's like, "Well, this goes really well with this." And I said, "Well, why? What is it about that?" And I started asking some questions. He lights up and just start... He's from India and starts telling me, "This is why" and "This, this... " But there was some trepidation on my part at the beginning.

1:06:09.5 Tim: That's true.

1:06:09.6 Junior: I'm like, "I don't wanna seem stupid. Like, I don't know. Maybe I should know what I want. Maybe... " Right? And we do that and it's an act of vulnerability.

1:06:20.7 Tim: It is.

1:06:20.9 Junior: But I kind of ventured out and it was so cool because then we were able to have a more meaningful conversation. Had a fantastic meal. It was probably better because I asked some questions and, yeah, really cool. So I appreciate you sharing that.

1:06:33.7 Tim: I think you just have to be sincere, Junior.

1:06:36.2 Junior: Yeah.

1:06:37.1 Tim: Again, people can sense, they can smell your intent. So if you're sincere, they're going to respond in good faith. You can't be flippant. You can't be glib. We're not talking about that. We're talking about sincere interest, genuine concern and curiosity. And people, in almost every case, are excited to share.

1:07:01.5 Junior: Yeah. Well, you mentioned showing interest. I think this is one of the most practical things that we can do to really open up this conversation and especially cross-culturally is demonstrating interest. I can't think of a single time where I've demonstrated any interest and that backfired on me, when it was really genuine. And so active listening is one. Here are some examples: "Can you tell me more about that?" "What do you mean by?" "How did that make you feel?" "Can you help me understand why?" "What else?" And then paraphrasing back. You're avoiding interrupting or changing the subject. We do this all the time. I find myself doing this, just changing the subject even inadvertently, just taking the conversation a totally different direction. Don't do that.

1:07:52.2 Junior: What are some other things? Eye contact. Here's one that I noticed just last week, nodding. Okay? Nodding, N-O-D-D. So we're in a team meeting and I noticed... We were going around. We were doing the ladder of vulnerability, a segment of our team. So if you haven't done it, go do it, but we were sharing our ladders, okay? It's kind of a vulnerable thing. And what I noticed was when someone was sharing and other people were nodding, that person, it seemed, felt way more comfortable sharing. And then I found that that was absolutely true when it came around to me. I started sharing and there were some nods. And I felt this as a facilitator too, if I'm ever leading a discussion or we're doing whatever it is, and you get nods, what is that doing? It's indicating a... Not necessarily agreement, but in some cases, at least acknowledgement, right? 

1:08:53.1 Tim: Support and validation.

1:08:54.4 Junior: Support. It's encouraging you to continue sharing and it conveys empathy and understanding. So there's one for you. Next time you're in a conversation and someone's telling you something, just nod and be engaged in a real, sincere way like, "Continue." So...

1:09:12.3 Tim: It's so simple.

1:09:13.0 Junior: Yeah, it so simple. Some very basic practical things that we can do to improve on this. And imagine doing those things after asking a question about some cultural interest. And then you're nodding, eye contact. You're doing those things. It goes a long way.

1:09:32.2 Tim: It really does, it really does.

1:09:34.6 Junior: So let's talk for a moment about, organizationally, what can we do? We talked personally. Here are some things that we've run into, translations, that's a big one. And not just having the translations available, but the cultural implications in the translations. If possible, and you're translating material, have a native speaker react to it. This has saved us before in just running something by someone with a little bit more context and understanding than us about a certain geography or language, and they're like, "Yeah, you know, I would change this. I would change this thing" or "This comes off this way. Maybe consider changing this word." Awesome. General accessibility. And then here's one, focus on messaging that plays off of the shared experience of the human species not something that would have a high likelihood of being different culture to culture. And I think a lot of us... Most of us probably have a pretty good sense for this, of what might be inter-culturally risky, and what's pretty safe because it's within the realm of shared human experience. So that's a lens to look at, a tool to use organizationally as we're considering messaging, things of that nature.

1:10:47.9 Junior: So ladder of vulnerability, we have analyzed the responses from people around the world as they have assigned different levels of perceived vulnerability related to certain behaviors like admitting a mistake or asking for more resources. So before we close up today, I wanted to plug that one more time because it is available for free on the site and it's helping to inform our research regarding perceived vulnerability, not just person-to person, but across cultures and demographics. We've gathered a tremendous amount of data so far and we're putting together the bones of an episode that will air in the future that should be an absolute blast and I'm very much looking forward to.

1:11:30.8 Junior: So to wrap up today, a few summary points. First of all, remember, all of us, myself included, you don't represent everyone on earth. Most people think differently than you do. Your ability to navigate differences, be they cultural or otherwise, will dictate your interpersonal effectiveness at some level. So don't limit yourself. Don't think, "This isn't for me," or, "I don't have a global team." These are universal principles that affect your ability to interact with everyone around you. Focus on treating others as humans. Appreciate their differences, but more than anything else, treat them in a way that shows respect and allows them to participate in whatever it is that you're doing. Listen actively, show some empathy, and keep trying because intent in this game is absolutely everything.

1:12:29.0 Tim: It really is.

1:12:30.0 Junior: Tim, what would you say as we wrap up? 

1:12:31.9 Tim: I would wrap up with this thought and that is that people want to share who they are. They're proud of their cultural heritage. They're proud of their demographics. They're proud of their traditions, customs, mores, artifacts, language. It goes on and on. They're proud of that and they should be. These are sources of identity. And so part of it... The last thing I wanna share is that we need to show not only our interest, but our appreciation and even our enthusiasm about these cultural attributes and characteristics that people have.

1:13:12.8 Tim: Let me give you an example. So not long ago, I was in Bogotá, Colombia, and the organization that was hosting me and the people that were hosting me, they got so excited because they were going to serve me their national dish for dinner. And it's a soup and it's called Ajiaco. And I don't know if I'm saying that right, Junior. You speak Spanish, I don't. But it was this beautiful soup that has corn and potatoes and chicken and it was absolutely incredible. And they were so excited to share their national dish with me. And I had never had it before. It was incredible. I told them, "Oh, I understand why this is your national dish because it's delicious. It's unbelievable." And they were so pleased with that. And so when we can come together and have those special moments where we share and then we appreciate what we're able to share with each other, I don't know how to describe it, but this is where we make deep human connections. And I just wanna emphasize the fact that we need to appreciate, celebrate and be very enthusiastic about those cultural differences.

1:14:35.5 Junior: Love it. I love that. Well, this was a fun conversation for me. Really enjoyed our time together. And for those listening, thank you for your time and your attention. We appreciate your listenership. We're very grateful and thankful to you for the work you do in the world and we're here to support you. You can always reach out to us at As always, we appreciate your likes, your reviews, and your shares. Take care, everyone. We will see you next episode. Bye-bye.


1:15:10.6 Producer: Hey, Culture by Design listeners. You made it to the end of today's episode. Thank you, again, for listening and for making culture something that you do by design and not by default. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please be so kind to leave us a review. It helps us reach a wider audience and accomplish our mission of influencing the world for good at scale. Today's episode show notes and other relevant resources related to today's topic can be found at And with that, we'll see you next episode.

Show Notes

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

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Episode Transcript

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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