CULTURE CURIOUS GLOBAL MINDS – the official community blog site of StrategicStraits, Inc.

The Culture Curious Global Minds Blog is a site where internationally working professionals meet, learn and create together.

We created this site as a complimentary learning opportunity in addition to the Culture Curious Global Minds Linked-in Group. Click here to join the Linked-in Group.

For weekly Turkey/U.S. Bilateral & Bilingual Business News and Dialogue, please visit the Kahve Arası/Coffee Break Blog.


Recent advancements in 3D-printing allow the Oregon company Icon Construction and Development to aim building homes within 12-24 hours for projects in other countries where homes at this construction speed and cost will be much valued.

Important to notice is also how increasingly more venture capital firms are investing in multinational innovation and recognizing the value of multicultural start-up founder teams.  History validates this strategy. More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies listed in 2017 were started by immigrant founders or their children. The Brookings Institution reported that this figure was more than half among the top 35 firms.

Data from the intercultural field shows that multicultural teams outperform homogeneous teams when the leader is able to lead across cultures and systems unlike his or her own.

Last week we shared Julie Yoder’s blog about helping non-native speakers participate in group conversations with confidence.  Stay tuned for more on this topic while we also start conversations about the importance and ways of integrating international diversity and markets for business growth and multicultural team performance.

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In my graduate classes and in and my private practice, students and clients often remark on how confident their colleagues or fellow students appear when they are participating in group discussions. They feel a ‘confidence gap’ in their own speaking and many fear they will never aspire to the same level as their U.S. counterparts.

Participating in a group discussion in your target language, especially one that is dominated by native speakers, is an extremely complex and often challenging task. However, if you are only listening and refraining from contributing to the discussion out of fear of making mistakes or having people judge your speaking ability, the others who are present will never benefit from your experience, insight, perspective or ideas. How can you close the ‘confidence gap’?

Non-native English speakers can feel insecure about speaking for many reasons, but regardless of individual challenges, there is one technical skill everyone can master to boost their command over any conversation and raise their confidence in the process. The “secret sauce” for effectively and confidently participating in group conversations in English is the use of discourse markers. Discourse markers are the signposts in any conversation. They send signals to the others speakers such as “I am about to interrupt”, “I want to add to an idea already presented”, “I do indeed understand what you just said”, “Get ready because I am going to respectfully disagree with you”, and “I don’t believe it!”, among many other functions. They are function words and phrases that do not necessarily contain meaning on their own, so looking them up in a bilingual dictionary or typing them into Google translate probably won’t help you understand how to use them. This is one of the reasons why many highly advanced speakers of English still lack appropriate command of discourse markers. As a result, their interruptions and signals in group discussions can sound awkward or unsophisticated — for example, using “please” to interrupt in all circumstances, or saying a plain “No” or “I don’t agree”, which can sound too direct or rude when something like “Perhaps we should consider . . .” would be more likely to win people over to your idea. Intuitive knowledge and use of these phrases give native English speakers an advantage in any conversation, so you should commit to learning and using them if you wish to be a full participant.

If you want to introduce these phrases into your vocabulary and strengthen your command while speaking, you should learn at least two or three phrases for common functions such as organizing your speech, responding, changing the topic, rephrasing, and interrupting. Then put them into practice in all your conversations. At first this may feel unnatural, like you are an actor performing lines, but experiencing how they contribute to the flow of natural conversation should encourage you to keep trying until they feel more natural and you feel more confident using them. For an example of discourse markers in action, see this BBC Masterclass YouTube series. Good luck!

Blog by Julie Yoder, Founder/Lead Instructor, The English Teacher Collective

The English Teacher Collective is an English language instruction company that identifies the individual challenges of international professionals and their families and creates customized courses and programs to meet them in Washington, DC and online.


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The theme of a number of upcoming global trade and investment conferences is innovation. Quoting from the book titled “Leading Across New Borders”, “Michael Porter once said that innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity”.  The innovation theme is definitely hot topic these days.  How could it not be…successful innovation results in unique value for customers, new jobs and a positive impact on the society.

Similarly, companies that enter new foreign markets successfully can bring unique solutions they created in their home country, new jobs and a deep interest in the local society.  Great success happens when this market entry act is viewed as innovation by the market entrants and their audiences. Market entrants then focus on the strategic customer (user) and try to understand the local market nuances to possibly pursue product localization or localization in their business model (e.g. marketing and communications). The product or service being offered helps solve a problem, finds traction in the market and can be marketed with a scalable business model. Customers can focus on how this new product or service will serve them and improve their lives in unique ways.

However, this “market entry as a form of global innovation” thought requires a change in mindset.  As business people we need to understand that our products and services will make sense if we can introduce an innovative idea or business model nuance and communicate it effectively.  As consumers or business partners we need to be open to new sources of innovation.

Again, “Leading Across New Borders” lays out four global trends in innovation:

  • Incremental modifications to existing technologies in can produce disruptive outcomes.
  • Innovation in fast-growth markets can have disruptive impacts even in developed markets.
  • Subsidiaries and companies based in fast-growth markets with limited resources are often strong innovators.
  • Product innovation and social innovation are often linked.

Globalization surrounds us with its opportunities as well as challenges.  Strategic thinking and a global mindset can help seize opportunities while addressing any challenges.

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first published on LinkedIn, October 7, 2015

Many U.S. companies want to enter the Turkish market, and Turkish companies the U.S. market to offer their products and services or to establish a regional presence. Initiating the market entry or even organizational thinking about the market entry, however, can be challenging. Bridging the geographic distance, reconciling market differences and assessing market opportunities Vs. risk are some of the top complexities of market entry. A carefully crafted market entry planning system tailored to your unique business and effective global leadership skills will help address these complexities and facilitate discussions.

How can you make your market entry a success?

1 – Understand who is most likely to be interested in your products and services, and who will share your vision, early in your market entry efforts. Contrary to the usual belief and also due to advancements in the field, market research does not have to be exceptionally costly. It also is an ingredient for success rather than an item to shop for when attempting to achieve a successful market entry. Therefore, if you can utilize cost-effective ways of getting data unique to your market you will be able to account for this as an investment rather than an expense. Most important questions will be “who will buy”, “what will they buy”, “what will they pay”, “what should your company do better than anyone else” and “what should your company say for your customers, their communities and societies to trust in/love your offerings and business”. Early in your market entry efforts, establish data collection and analysis systems that help you care about your users, customers and stakeholders, and increase your revenues. Simply commit yourself to continuously understanding your customers and delivering your unique promise. This is going to be critical to mitigating risk before, during and after your market entry and help you enter the market in a fast, efficient and lasting way.

2 – Invest in yourself and your employees. It is you and the human capital of your organization which will make the market entry a success. You are the visionaries and the drivers. You will be the initiators of influence, builders of trust and managers of risk. Hence you need to master three important leadership areas:

  • Strategic thinking to inspire and build competitive advantage in new market – Turkish and U.S. markets are governed and regulated differently, host different competitors and supplier options, respond with different kinds of consumer behavior, have different levels of technology penetration and enjoy different world outlooks.
  • Emotional readiness to lead with confidence, energy and resilience – market distance and differences can be challenging; you will need to experience and enjoy the nuances of these two countries, become aware of your sources of presumptions, enthusiasm and discomfort when working in each other’s markets; ask why the Turkish or U.S. market is important for your business, what do you think about past, present and future affairs between these two countries, what do you think about Turkish or American cultural differences, who do you know to talk about their experience in the market you are interested in.
  • The ability to build trust across cultures to lead effectively and efficiently- Turkish people have a long-term view on relationships while U.S. Americans like to get together to achieve specific goals quickly; to work productively it’s important to fully understand these two worldviews and build on cultural/historic similarities. Reflect on how you build trust, how important it is for you to keep promises for the task at hand and what your vision might be on what could continue the relationship.

The Global Mindset® leadership concept developed by Thunderbird School of Global Management is the most comprehensive global leadership concept in the field due to its scope relating to business strategy, emotional readiness as well as trust building skills, and an excellent way for identifying your strength and development areas. Global Mindset levels can be easily assessed with the Global Mindset Inventory® (GMI). The concept was validated in 62 countries and is positively correlated with results, thought, people and personal leadership in international business. Entrepreneurs tend to have high Global Mindset® levels. If you are a business owner explore your Global Mindset capital and help others in your company succeed.

3 – Find joy in diversifying your repertoire of business conduct. Understanding different cultures is not only important to build trust, relationships and the right types of networks but also to gain input for your product and service design. Hence it is best to become culturally curious early on in your market entry journey.

Firstly, it’s a skill also validated by the Global Mindset research, to look at things with a sense of humor. Americans who go on Blue Cruises in Turkey say that they had no idea that one could make so many dishes with eggplants. Many Turkish people living in the United States experiment with making cranberry jam because cranberries are native to the U.S. and widely available, and they deliver a similar taste to the sour cherry jam which is very popular in Turkey. As they would say…the taste sort of reminds them of what they are used to…

Secondly, it’s important to commit to “in-depth” cultural understanding. GlobeSmart®, an extensively researched global business tool developed by Aperian Global shows significant differences in aspects of culture that are critical for achieving results in Turkish/American relationships. American respondents to the GlobeSmart Profile survey emphasize their task orientation, their way of communicating directly, their willingness to dive into dealing with ambiguous situations sometimes even with people they don’t necessarily know all too well, their pursuit for equality and the importance of individual expression rather than group harmony. Turkish respondents emphasize the value of relationships, social roles, group decision making while enjoying initiative takers and extensive considerations in communications.

Here are two experiential exercises you can do to reflect on and learn more about either culture in addition to reading books and attending educational events. To gain a deeper insight into the Turkish culture, have a cup of Turkish coffee, if possible, with a Turkish friend or your Turkish waiter. To gain a deeper insight into the U.S. American culture, go to a football or baseball game. Observe and ask as many “why” questions as you can. Why do Turkish people care if somebody drinks coffee without sugar, little, some or a lot of sugar? Why does a Turkish proverb say that one cup of coffee will be remembered a thousand times? Why do American football players huddle, something not common in soccer – a passion for many Turks? Why does an American proverb say “time is money” and which Turkish proverb does this remind you of? How can you explore metaphors like these for further understanding? These activities will not be sufficient to gain a full grasp of either culture but they will give you a good start and traction for asking more questions. Beware for instance that each U.S. State complements the U.S. history with its unique experience, operates with its own rules and regulations and is likely to have a special economic focus.  Turks tend to be proud of the town or even village where their families are from and each Turkish city enjoys a strong reputation for a historic expertise ranging from cuisine to a manufacturing sector like textiles.

If you have experience in either country still challenge your assumptions, have an inquisitive mind as a continuous effort for deep cultural understanding is necessary for working well together, and we are often blinded not only by our national but even our personal cultural lenses.

Finally, good organizations to follow and join in order to start building networks on the U.S.-Turkey commercial highway are the American Turkish Council (ATC), the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) as well as local organizations like the Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce in addition to embassy services. Turkish American relationships are rooted in strong common history and there is plenty of experience. Please feel free to share additional resources via this blog post, too.

At StrategicStraits, Inc. we help clients learn from extensive leadership studies to identify critical global business attributes and fine-tune skills for success. We also assist them in developing a unique market entry system that helps seize maximum market opportunity and reduce market entry risk. To learn more about our approach email us at and schedule a one-hour online “Grow your Business Globally with Confidence and Finesse” presentation.

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Do you and your members see value in your association’s international growth?  Below are a few things you need to do to prepare for global thinking and action.  Why global thinking?  This is critical because markets are interdependent due to their relationships with other markets as well as the growing influence of technology every single day.

Develop a global mindset first. Familiarize yourself with the Global Mindset® leadership concept of Thunderbird School of Global Management.  The definition of the Global Mindset is influence across organizations, systems and cultures unlike the leaders.  The Global Mindset helps leaders become not only culturally aware but knowledgeable, strategic, confident and diplomatic. Hence this is a very comprehensive and scientifically researched leadership concept for the executives of internationally growing organizations.

Work with a human centered business model. Association executives need to know how to analyze the decision making rationale of customers, members, key stakeholders and their staff as well as board members.  A good level of alignment needs to be achieved among all these human aspects of the organization to be able to articulate the comparative advantage of the association and help achieve highest potential engagement in its activities from its customers, members and stakeholders.  The importance of strategic thinking has multiplied in our interconnected world as has the importance of creative thinking and agility that support strategic thinking.  However, good research will help identify different growth and communication scenarios preparing the association for the very dynamic and complex world of global business.

Cultural awareness is important and becomes most functional when it results in curiosity.  Firstly, cultural awareness is important because associations are not viewed in the same way in different countries.  The American association concept for instance is very much rooted in the U.S. American culture and experience.  Secondly, to be able to connect well emotionally which is the path to long term collaborative potential as well an open mind, association executives need to become self-aware, curious about the other and diplomatic to be able to integrate different perspectives in pleasant and productive ways.  Cultural awareness training needs to be experiential to be able to fully debrief experiences in relation to learners and prepare them well for the real world.

Be prepared for international ventures and partnerships. Associations may grow in various different ways in new markets including partnerships and even mergers.  To be prepared for negotiations executives need to familiarize themselves with the Global Mindset and become culture-aware ahead of negotiations.  This will require only a minimum investment compared with what can go wrong or undermine performance during and after negotiations.  Once decisions are made about partnerships it is critical to engage in global team building processes that help all sides become culturally aware and also agree on the key elements of high performance global teams like agreeing on vision and values, goals, communications, meeting management and conflict management processes.  Coaching and even peer-to-peer coaching should be engaged to maximize return on organizational and professional development efforts.

Associations need to educate themselves on the importance and elements of global trust building to guide their members. As the world globalizes companies are quick to jump into opportunities.  However, for these ventures to be successful in the long-term the leaders of these businesses need to understand the anatomy of global trust building.  Being able to demonstrate guidance in this to their members is a great opportunity for associations and will add to the long term success of the associations’ efforts locally, internationally and globally.

With globalization offering so many opportunities as well as challenges or pitfalls I see many opportunities for transparent and global minded association management, and believe that these efforts will lead to globalization efforts that contribute to local wealth, social engagement, environmental health and stability enhancing the value of associations in return.

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