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.


Progression of man mankind from ancient to modern

Better late than not was our motto for the first Culture Curious Global Minds article of 2019, and we wish health, happiness and peace in the new year. 

Before you continue reading, here are the two reasons for this delay: we’re late in writing because one, 2018 left us with some new cultural awareness. We counted at least seven different ways to ask “why” in German: warum, weshalb, wieso, weswegen, wofür, wozu and aus welchem Grund. Two, we were able to dive into exploring this further with Bruce Burnside, a PhD candidate in Anthropology and Education, Columbia University with much research in Germany and Turkey.

Bruce said it’s only fitting for a word with such potential. And I say please read on because in our interconnected (shared) day-an-age which will go into history as the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, anthropological curiosity is the one key (must-do) citizen and business activity that will lead to not only exponential innovation but to exponential shared prosperity, health, competitive (free) thinking and peace.

While we only have the one “why” in English, we would do well if we remembered that our one word can be nuanced in many ways and produce many diferent kinds of results. 

“Why” is a powerful word. As parents we know it can be a key tool for our children to learn about the world around them. They learn that there is a reason to wait at a stoplight, give a hug or to eat spinach. And slowly, they stop asking this question for learned reasoning and utilize it for new learning.

Adults also realize the limits of “why”. We come to know that there are many, many things without obvious reasons. So, we utilize the question to understand and clarify. Sometimes, we ask “why” as an attack and prod for answers with force. We also know that there are times when we cannot ask why or only in certain ways. In front of a stern boss, we may feel we have no place to question a command. Pulled over by a police officer, we may only timidly question the reason.

“Why”, despite being part of our everyday lives, is a word that is worth getting reacquainted with, for it can open new worlds to us, including a reopening of our own.

A cultural anthropologist uses the word in a similar way to a child when studying a society different from her own. After all, the anthropologist may be learning the local language for the first time, as well as the customs, mores and rites of that society. Things that are so common and everyday, and which seem obvious to its members, become key ways to understand a culture. The anthropologist will ask “why” about the simplest things from why people eat this food but not that one, to why they sit at a family gathering in one order and not another or why they call upon divine help in this instance but not that one. She also knows that people often have never had the need to articulate these reasons, and may not always know/remember them. This “why” is not the demanding why of an inquisitor, but is instead asked in an open and curious manner, and commonly followed up with “Tell me more about that.”

This open-ended questioning can lead to an exploration by both parties into reasons or (or lack of reasons) that shape our everyday lives. There is also a curious effect for the anthropologist. Confronted with different ways of doing and being human, she may for the first time turn the questions on her own culture. Why do we do this and not that? There are things that may have seemed like universal truths, but are suddenly challenged by her new observations. The anthropologist Margaret Mead, in her first fieldwork in Samoa in the 1920s learned that this South Sea Pacific society did not have a concept of the angsty, rebellious teenager. There, teenagers were calm, relaxed and contented. Mead was forced to ask herself if the “typical” teenagers at home and their problems were not just the result of passage through a “natural” phase, but instead, a product of American society. New “whys” emerged: Why do we assume some things are “just the way they are”? What if new skeptical evidence allows us to learn that things do not have to be one way. What might we do differently?

Anthropology is the science of human beings.  As technology becomes a much bigger part of the human life and the business world, and as a not only welcome but also forced collaboration/sharing of information/goods/services/equity increase we see the value proposition of the anthropologist re-emerge. Stay tuned for more thoughts and expertise from Bruce Burnside and anthropologist colleagues.  Thank you, Bruce for your first contribution on the Culture Curious Global Minds Blog and we look forward to hearing much more from you.  “Please tell us more about that!”

Bruce BurnsideBruce Burnside can be reached at

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As we prepare for 2019, I wish all friends and colleagues many opportunities to share with family, friends and colleagues.

Sharing is a powerful word in today’s business world. We share and connect on social media multiple times a day. We use shared business platforms multiple times a day to get things done faster and more efficiently (as users and professionals across sectors).

The wisdom of sharing is being rediscovered in the 21st Century but its oldest forms of use may still be the most effective and productive.

Fun…love…learning…understanding…resilience…curiosity…inspiration…more love…trust…creativity…

These are the treasures I got from a recent multicultural potluck dinner. We celebrated different cultures around the world. We shared and connected with our immense interest in different cultures. We listened to personal stories of tension, comfort, courage and joy while enjoying food prepared or offered by the storytellers. In the end, we left “not as one person” but enriched through “many in one”.

Sharing food and stories connect people at very personal levels and can result in very transformative experiences and new paths.

This connection is invaluable for leadership and global or cross-cultural leadership.

So, while wishing health, success and prosperity might be the one sentence I could write here I am writing more to wish many opportunities to connect with families, friends and colleagues as we say bye to 2018 and hi to 2019!

Note: this post is dedicated to the Washington, DC Chapter of the Society of Intercultural Education,Training and Research (SIETAR).  Please check out the wonderful new website.

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By Martin Moon

by Martin Moon

“How does conflict make you feel when working internationally?” is a good question to ask yourself. Then, how do you react to conflict? Do you tend to avoid it, address it on the spot, do you welcome it while wondering how this feels for the other?

Conflict often takes a big toll on business. This week, the news about how the Seattle business community reacted to the City Council’s new head tax traveled quickly around the world. There were probably articles about many other similar incidents, too. And how about the ones in your very own office, with your colleagues, board members, business partners, vendors, clients…

Additionally, doing business internationally takes the probability and complexity of conflict to a different level. Cultural, structural and geographic differences can add many new dimensions to conflict.

We were thrilled that Howard G. Beasey, the President and CEO of the American Turkish Council (ATC) was able to contribute to the Culture Curious Global Minds blog this week.

It is great to be able to elaborate on the importance of diplomacy skills when wanting to succeed in international business based on Mr. Beasey’s extensive experience in the U.S. – Turkey commercial relationship. There are surely many differences between the U.S. and Turkish markets. Yet the bilateral history is full of mutual journeys and business partnerships. We hope that this interview is a resource to those who work and want to work in this commercial space:

How do you see conflicts turn into opportunities in your efforts facilitating trade and investment between the United States and Turkey?

HB: When it comes to trade and investment it is important to remember that for a healthy bilateral relationship the trade must flow both ways.  The duality of prosperous trade relations creates a great deal of room for compromise and fertile ground for win/win opportunities if one is willing to look for them. 

What skills have you found most helpful when addressing conflicts? 

HB: The willingness and mental agility to accept the fact that business norms and cultures can and will differ and that these differences should not be viewed as good or bad but simply as the reality.  The sooner a person can come to this mindset the faster they will then be able to react and navigate the path for a successful outcome.  Too often we get caught up in the difference itself and cannot move past this to find a way forward. 

What life experiences do you find were/are critical to fulfilling the diplomacy and relationship building requirements in your job today? 

HB: I have had a number of interesting experiences in my career that have helped me to be more or less successful in building and maintaining professional cross-cultural relations.  For starters I have always espoused a “yes” mentality. In other words, one must start with the notion that yes is the answer and let’s figure out how to make this happen.  We have all met the individual who starts with “no” and then must be convinced that something can be done, who already starts from a deficit.  Additionally, I think that the experience of working in a multi-language environment over the years is helpful.  When you are working in these types of environments with or without interpreters you tend to use simple, concise, and direct language when communicating and secondly you will take time to listen and ensure you are understanding the subject or discussion before responding.  This professional patience and careful listening pays big dividends in this setting or frankly, any meaningful relationship.  

If interested in learning more about the nuances of doing business between the United States and Turkey consider signing up for “Work with a Global Mindset on the U.S. – Turkey Commercial Highway” to learn applicable leadership, management and communications models and engage in a Q & A session.

Unlocking the Global Mindset Energy Well: How often do you celebrate accomplishments? Celebrating the 12th Issue of StrategicStraits Weekly today – published in twelve consecutive weeks! Please use link if you would like this Newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox every week.


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2017 Conference PanelDid you sign up for our upcoming event “Working with a Global Mindset on the U.S. – Turkey Commercial Highway”?

he Turkish Statistical Institute announced a 7.4% growth rate earlier this year. Oya Narin, the Head of Turkish Tourism Investors Association said in an interview that 2018 will be a time for transition and rise for Turkey. Turkish investors and business people continue exploring U.S. markets via personal trips, trade missions and the SelectUSA Conferences. At the same time, economic analysts express concerns about key financial indicators of Turkey.

The value of a global mindset is amplified in our interconnected world especially when stakes are high. The “reciprocal understanding” through the global mindset enables us to build relationships, communicate effectively, give feedback, negotiate and solve conflicts to achieve desirable results across cultural, administrative, geographic and economic divides.

Experience exchange and being well informed are critical when working in new markets. Members of the American Turkish Council (ATC) can register at ATC member rate. The participation of business people with and without experience in this bilateral relationship will enrich the content and functionality of this webinar.  We hope for a diverse attendance.


Did you know? Some Facts about Business in Turkey

There are over a thousand U.S. businesses doing business in Turkey. Large American companies like GE, Pfizer, Merck, P & G, Unilever, Coca Cola, Pepsi, IBM, Hilton, Ford have had headquarters in Turkey for many years with GE since the 1940s. More recent additions are Microsoft, Amgen and Amazon. Many of these firms have their regional operations in Turkey.

Turkish Airlines flies to the highest number of international destinations in the world. The airline has ranked as the best European airline for consecutive years and its philosophy is “Globally Yours”.

Turkish people are proud of (emotionally connected to) their brands. They’ve trusted the now internationally growing brands like Ülker (food), Arçelik (appliances), Mavi Jeans (textiles and fashion), Doğan Construction (construction) and Turkish Airlines (airlines) for decades.

Forty percent of small and mid-size businesses are involved in trade in Turkey. Many of these are dynamic family businesses with much experience in European and Asian markets looking to grow through bilateral and international collaborations. Turkey has also moved up on the Bloomberg Innovation Index. The geographic distance that gets perceived strongly and mentioned much more often than cultural differences by traditional small and mid-size businesses doesn’t appear to be a challenge to the innovation community of Turkey.

People address each other with Mr. And Ms. titles for a long time into the relationship or until a mutual agreement is made for first name basis. We will discuss this topic during the webinar.


Did you know? Some Facts about Business in the United States:

There are 50 states with their own rules and regulations. Many federal rules and regulations impact a foreign market entry such as the FDA regulations for incoming biotech firms. Additionally, there are many state and local rules and regulations that impact business incorporations, taxes, employment and other business areas.

Much meaning is packaged into words. You may receive a note saying “we have a 60-day cancelation policy” will remind trusted friends, colleagues and legal advisers in the United States. While understanding rules, regulations and contractual relationships raises the importance of working with good legal counsel this cultural nuance also results in helpful public content on websites and social media.

Business world and brands trusted. The business entity is expected to be a trusted institution. Brand reputation thrives through the brand promise, strategic communications and trustful customer relationships. Business leaders recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility towards the communities and the larger society.

Less than 10% of American small and mid-size businesses are engaged in international trade. Also, often times, a large portion of the trade in a company can be with only one country.

About a quarter of Fortune Global 500 are headquartered in the U.S. In addition to having businesses that were started in previous centuries on the list, the American business world is quick to send 21st Century model businesses like Airbnb, Uber and Tesla into the global business space.


Collaboration can help learn from each other and thrive internationally and globally

Being able to leverage cultural differences can result in innovation, productivity and effective global storytelling. We will compare the GlobeSmart® profiles of the United States and Turkey during the webinar. This will allow us to discuss some of the cultural nuances of the two countries. Diverse teams thrive when their leaders are educated in leading across diversity and global trends, and when team members are aware of differences and similarities.

Being able to leverage differences in business experience and geographic location can also enhance the empathy levels, relationship building capacity and global reach of diverse teams.


We recommend researching the nuances and history of this high potential bilateral relationship, and look forward to great conversations on June 6, 2018.


Unlocking the Global Mindset Energy Well: IKIGAI: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, a book authored by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles is being discussed in the international business community, too. “Eat until you’re 80% full” is one of the recommendations.

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02G69742This week, a business leader asked how he can make his team aware of the importance of global mindset.

We encounter this question often. Also, research shows that the number one concern for business leaders in internationally growing organizations is how to create business functions (departments/units) that are globally ready. The number one concern for the HR leaders of internationally growing organizations is how to find the globally ready talent.

Starting conversations by asking a few questions may help create an initial awareness about the importance of a global mindset among your employees and business partners:

  • What differences and similarities do we have among our current and future customers?
  • How do we differ from each other or how could we define diversity in our organization?
  • Your email this morning was very clear. Do you think that (…) cc:d got the message, too?
  • How do our organizational and personal culture profile(s) on tools like GlobeSmart compare with external environments?
  • What shared beliefs and values make our organization unique?
  • Studies show that a major path to international success is via intercultural effectiveness. What is culture?
  • What are we doing right today and why?
  • Where are our revenues coming from and what may change in the future?
  • Why is understanding competition important for business success and what is competition like in a foreign market or at global level?
  • How comfortable do we feel with doing business in Country X?
  • What are the rules and regulations for our field there?
  • How are we going to get paid and how are we going to pay for services? What is the cost of…?
  • What is our reputation like in Country X?
  • Who do we know in Country X?
  • What is our time difference with Country X and how is this going to affect our business?

Can you think of questions to start conversations about cultural, administrative, geographic and economic differences in your team or organization?  Some organizations have global coffee mornings.  These types of events are great to start these global conversations and identify next steps.

New! Unlocking the Global Mindset Energy Well: feedback this week suggested to focus on energy since “being/feeling energetic” is the significant Global Mindset attribute internationally working professionals need to keep at high levels. Maintaining good mind and body health is critical to enjoying life and being successful. “Negotiators can achieve buoyancy and build trust with their counterparts by developing full cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual awareness and equilibrium.” says Dr. Karen Walch in her new book Quantum Negotiation.

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