What’s Culture Got To Do With It?

“We flew into Iquitos from Lima last night. And the mess began as soon as we landed . The airport looked like a dilapidated barn.”

“But they sure took baggage security seriously”

“They wouldn’t let us have our bags until they checked the tags. I guess they have to do that here; otherwise people would steal them.”

“We’re supposed to meet the Peruvian hosts at nine. But people aren’t very punctual here. Maybe they need a time management seminar.”

“What I wouldn’t give to have something normal tonight! A good burger, an ice-cold drink and a salad would taste so great. Instead I expect another round of beans and rice…”

(from Leading With Cultural Intelligence by Dr. David Livermore)

So begins a journal entry from a North American business person traveling in South America.

We have met the enemy and he is us

This example of ethnocentric arrogance is a good metaphor for the underlying reason many US brands have taken a dive all over the world.

But, luckily, cultural ignorance doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. We can all grow to understand the power of culture in how brands, causes and communications are perceived in other countries.

And we can all do something about it. Even if our programs only reach domestic markets. Because even if your communicatons effort doesn’t cross international boarders you can be sure it crosses cultures.

Check your IQ and your humanity

You can start the fight against cross-culture ignorance by getting an assessment of your own cultural IQ at cq-portal.com

And you can get some ideas on how to improve your cultural empathy and smarts by checking out a video of Dr. Livermore’s presentation at to a group of American marketers.

Then do something about it. Because if your communications crosses cultures in one way or another, the chances are astronomically high that it needs an attitude adjustment.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?