Welcome to The Culture Guy Podcast - this is the show dedicated to all of you who are passionate about cultures and how culture influences everything we do: The way we talk, the way we listen, the way we act or react, the way we feel and the way we see the world.
This show is a place for you to connect and engage with people from around the world who care about cultural understanding, making meaningful global connections, and fostering diversity.
Together we will learn on this show how culture shapes all our behaviors and how we can inspire, motivate, lead, and communicate better across cultures.
Join your host, Christian Höferle, also known as The Culture Guy, on a journey to becoming agents of peace. Because together we will make the world a more peaceful place by helping people from different cultures understand each other better.
Making a Home Across the Atlantic and Back
Music industry executive Patrick Joest shares his experience of being a German-Argentinian Jew in different cultures
For years he had been traveling back and forth for work between Germany and the United States. Dozens of times Patrick Joest had visited Los Angeles. When his company sent him and his family on an expatriate assignment to California, Patrick quickly realized there’s a bit of a difference between being a business traveler and someone who re-establishes himself in a new environment, a twelve-hour flight and nine time zones away from where he grew up.
In his more than eleven years at BMG Music, the German music rights company owned by the Bertelsmann Group, Patrick built and led a global team from scratch. In fact, in 2009 he became the company’s first hire when they launched the department that he would lead to a business with nine-digit US-$ in revenues and 100+ staff across twelve offices around the globe. From 2015 until 2018 he worked out of the company’s Los Angeles office.
During their conversation Patrick and The Culture Guy talk about what it was like to adjust to a new “normal” against the backdrop of having grown up with different cultures in his family. Born in the Frankfurt area, his mom was of Argentinian-German-Jewish descent and the first language Patrick spoke as a kid was Spanish. A fact he didn’t cherish much once he realized the other kids on the playground didn’t want to play with him – the foreigner boy.
Adjusting without becoming a chameleon
In this episode Patrick shares his experiences of becoming a “cultural translator” in his professional world and rediscovering his spiritual roots while living in one of the centers of Jewish life in the United States. He also reflects on the re-adjustment phase he and his family went through after they returned to Berlin. Not only did it take him almost a year to feel like he belonged again in his native culture, the way he lives his Jewish faith also changed after moving from West Hollywood to Germany’s capital.
Here are some of Patrick’s tips for fitting in abroad:
* Observe more, talk less. * Ask more questions, make less blanket statements.* Learn the language, become familiar with its nuances.* Give people around you opportunities to shine.
You can connect with Patrick Joest via his LinkedIn profile, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
If you want to learn how cultural training and coaching will help your organization in developing cultural competence, please visit our Homepage and The Culture Shop. To get a complimentary consultation on best ways to apply cultural learning tools, training, and coaching programs, schedule a call with us. We look forward to talking with you!
Do you have feedback, questions, comments for The Culture Guy?
Listener feedback for The Culture Guy Podcast continues to be excellent and we encourage you to keep sending us your input for future episodes:
* What are your tips and tricks for cultural adjustment?* What were some of your most memorable “cultural fool moments”?* Which topics would you like to hear discussed on future podcast episodes?
Tim Mahoney’s Success Recipe for Working Across Cultures? “Human Stories, Simply Told”
The automotive marketing maven tells his cross-cultural tales of selling Porsches, Chevys, Subarus, and VWs around the globe
Selling a product requires understanding the needs and desires of your potential customer. You need to recognize what problems customer have and how your product can be a solution to that problem. Sales and Marketing are professional tasks that are difficult enough in your domestic market – which is an ever-changing arena. Now imagine promoting and selling your product around the world, where consumer demands are often widely different and where the problems your product wants to solve are either not the same as in your home market, or people perceive the solution you provide in a different way.
Meet Tim Mahoney who spent more than three decades selling cars around the globe. He didn’t sell them himself, through a dealership. Tim was the marketing mastermind for internationally renowned automotive brands like Subaru, Porsche, Volkswagen, and General Motors. He sold Foresters, 911s, Passats, or Camaros via the ads and commercials you see online, hear on the radio, and see in a magazine. Tim’s engineering colleagues designed the vehicles, he and his marketing team designed the brand images and the campaigns to make the cars attractive to you.
During our conversation we talk about what it takes to successfully sell across cultures. Tim’s formula for that sounds straightforward: “Human stories, simply told” – and yet, there’s a bit more to that narrative. “A lot of data suggests people will forget facts and figures and names and faces and everything else, but a good story they will remember, and it improves the retention significantly. The question is how to do that across cultures,” Tim says.
In this episode we look at some examples how he and his team adjusted the storytelling to different markets and across cultural differences. In a way, Tim’s eduction prepared him for this challenge. As a foreign exchange student in Austria and Germany he quickly learned to adjust his behavior and his communicative style. Later on, in the early stages of his car career, he did it again in Japan.
Transferring this skill set into finding the right message for many different consumer types around the world shaped Tim’s line of work. During our conversation he also shares some examples of when that didn’t work out.
From Power Points to Sausages
Here is a link to the Subaru heaven commercial hat Tim mentions during our conversation. And another one to a successful VW commercial: “It’s the one that seemed to thread the needle between a general population and a hispanic target. This commercial also managed to get me deposed in the Dieselgate inquiry.”
Now that Tim is retired from the automotive world, he is following a passion which he has been nurturing for years: food. During the times he spent in the German-speaking world Tim developed a love for meat products. Sausage making and meat curing are more than hobby for him – he has spent a small fortune on educating himself around butchering skills and assembling the proper equipment to produce his delicacies.
You can connect with Tim Mahoney via his LinkedIn profile. Please direct serious inquiries which might lead to sausage making opportunities for Tim at us – we’ll connect you.
A Conversation about Identity, “Race,” White Blindspots, and Apfelschorle
How Malcolm Ohanwe shines light on inequality by nudging white folks to talk about it
He works for one of Germany’s biggest public broadcasting companies, the Bayerische Rundfunk. The country today is as diverse as it has probably never been, yet when Malcolm Ohanwe stepped foot into the BR offices for the first time he “thought I entered Narnia. Everything’s as white as snow here”. It was another reminder that even as he gets to play with the “indigenous Germans [Ohanwe’s tongue in cheek terminology]” his skin color is still being perceived as an exception by many. Born and raised in Munich as the son of a Nigerian father and a German/Palestinian mother, Malcolm has sometimes been at odds with how his country is dealing with the question of identity and the social construct of “race.”
I met Malcolm Ohanwe during his time in Atlanta where he spent a month as an exchange journalist. Somehow I even made it into one of his productions for WABE, the local NPR affiliate – a piece about German reunification and being German in the United States. In return Malcolm sat down with me to talk about being black, being German, being “different.”
During our conversation we touched upon a variety of topics:
* (national) identity * Germans and “indigenous Germans”* European whiteness* the role of PoC in today’s society
Asked which “typical” German traits he resonates with most, Malcolm at first struggled to find an answer. Then he he quickly identified a few that matter quite a bit:
* the German educational system which formed the way he forms and articulated his thoughts* the use of a bicycle as an everyday means of transportation (even though he learned the hard way how motorists in the U.S. rarely pay enough attention to bicyclists sharing the road; after getting hit by a car, he ended up in an Atlanta hospital with fractures)* his fondness of Apfelschorle (a mixed soft drink made from sparkling water and apple juice)
Finding his voice as an advocate for equality
Most recently, in the wake of the anti-racist wave of protests originating in the United States, following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other PoC who died at the hands of law enforcement (or sick people who wish they were law enforcement), Malcolm became an increasingly sought after news analyst and commentator for many German media outlets. He has been behind the idea of asking white people to scrutinize their whiteness using the hashtag #KritischWeißsein which was featured in leading news outlets like Spiegel, jetzt, Deutsche Welle, et. al.
You can connect with Malcolm Ohanwe via his website, his Instagram profile, and on Twitter. You might also want to visit his YouTube channel or connect with him on a href="https...
Learning to Go 120 Miles Wide and 2 Inches Deep as a California Expat
Back from California’s beaches Martin Brem reflects on expat life
He works for one of the most global businesses in one of the most global industries. Yet, when Martin Brem made a professional move from Central Europe to Southern California for the music business, his Red Bull wings didn’t fully prepare him for the cultural change he was about to experience as an expat in the United States.
Now back in his native country of Austria, Martin reflects on the five years he spent as a California Expat in the greater Los Angeles area – where he was confronted with a culture he describes as challenging. “Growing up in post-World-War-2 Austria you have this idea of the United States as ‘God’s Own Country,’ the home of Elvis and Dylan and Woodstock, the land of freedom. Then you go there and see the obscene wealth and the even more obscene poverty. That was rather shocking at first.”
Martin quickly came to realize what people mean when they describe the L.A. area as “120 miles wide and two inches deep.” Often Europeans who were raised in societies with long standing traditions of classical education at first miss a certain intellectual depth when they come to the U.S. West Coast. It wasn’t much different for Martin who initially perceived Californians as a bit superficial: “Making a real connection was quite hard.”
It took perseverance and time to recognize the true human potential in his new environment (remember this blog or the one about peaches and coconuts?). The key skill for success across cultures, Martin realized, is listening. And a willingness to adjust – without losing yourself in the process. After all his plan was to be a California Expat, not to become a local.
From European singing contests to record company executive
After a career in the media, marketing, and music industries, Martin is currently Head of Music Portfolio at Red Bull Media House, a multi-platform content outlet which produces TV, mobile, digital, audio, and print products. It is part of the soft drink empire with the scarlet colored bovine creatures in its logo. Martin now lives in Salzburg – the Austrian city which was home for many notable individuals, like Wolfgang A. Mozart, Stephan Zweig, Thomas Bernhard, Herbert von Karajan, or Theodor Herzl.
Before becoming the man behind the music, Martin Brem was front and center stage. He represented his home country at the Eurovision Song Contest as part of the group Blue Danube in 1980 and as a solo artist in 1981. He also contributed songs to the soundtrack for the 1986 musical comedy “Müllers Büro” – an Austrian cult classic. In his career as a musician Martin was a member of several bands in the 1980s, including Sauerkraut, Spastic Elastic, and Mordbuben AG.
You can connect with Martin Brem via his LinkedIn profile, he may or may not accept you as a “friend” on Facebook. He even has a Wikipedia page! Red Bull Media House has a presence on a h...
Adapt. Don’t Adopt. [The Culture Guy Podcast]
Russell Harlow on why even monkeys fall from trees
Can you be “too Japanese” as a foreign professional in Japan? Apparently you can. On this episode Russell Harlow tells us how his success in adjusting to his new environment in Tokyo initially had a detrimental effect on his effectiveness as a leader of a multinational organization in Japan.
Russell is one of the founders of UK-based training firm TMA World that is behind the cross-cultural assessment and e-learning tool Country Navigator which we use with many of our clients. He has more than three decades of experience in working globally and across cultures.
Now based in North London, he is one of TMA World’s lead trainers on issues of global leadership and cross-cultural intelligence. Russell lived and worked in many parts of Asia, including Japan and China and has travelled throughout Southeast Asia. Before moving into his global role at TMA World, he spent ten years working as a presentation and negotiation skills consultant for European and Asian corporate clients.
“Overadjusting” may hurt your cross-cultural success
During his time in Tokyo, one time Russell was charged with facilitating a change process among his Japanese team. He was taken aback when, after a night out with his colleagues, one of the team mates approached him and explained to him that he was behaving “too Japanese” in order to succeed with his task. That’s when Russell “learned to adapt – not to adopt.”
Among his key insights from working around the world, Russell points out one in particular: “You have to recognize that if you are not prepared to listen, you’ll miss out and you won’t understand the details of another culture.” And no matter how much cultural intelligence you develop, there will always be room for more learning. Or, as Russell puts it, using an old Japanese proverb: “Saru Mo Ki Kara Ochiro” – even monkeys fall from trees. Regardless how much of an experts you (think you) are, you’ll still make mistakes. On this episode Russell shares another one he made while in France. It involves him and a Parisian taxi driver. Tune in!
You can connect with Russel Harlow via his LinkedIn profile. TMA World has a presence on LinkedIn as well, as does Country Navigator. If you prefer the other socials: TMA is active on Facebook and Twitter, Country Navigator has profiles on these platforms, too (FB – TW).
If you want to learn more about how Country Navigator will help your organization in developing cultural competence, please visit the CN section on our website and order your CN license in The Culture Shop. To get a complimentary consultation on best ways to apply cultural learning tools, training, and coaching programs, schedule a call with us. We look forward to talking with you!
The Mayor who Manages a Multicultural Municipality [The Culture Guy Podcast]
Ted Terry on how a hyper-diverse community becomes inclusive
He is in his 30s. He has been called a hipster. And he is the mayor who has been putting a small town just outside of Atlanta on the map. Ted Terry shot to fame via an episode of season 2 of the hugely successful Netflix show Queer Eye. during which he enjoyed a styling makeover from the show’s team of experts, the Fab Five. Interestingly, one of the five (Karamo Brown) is considered the culture guy of that show. So it is only appropriate that the actual Culture Guy also sat down with Mayor Ted for a talk.
Ted is the mayor of Clarkston, GA – a city some people call the “Ellis Island of the South” and the most diverse square mile in the entire United States. Located about half an hour from the heart of Atlanta, this small working-class town in Georgia is not only hyper-diverse, it is also quite an inclusive community in a region which outsider wouldn’t immediately associate with these qualities.
The main reason Clarkston became so diverse is the fact that in the past 25 years more than 40,000 refugees from all over the world have been resettled here. They come from various corners of the globe. Among the biggest groups in recent years are people from Syria, Somalia, Vietnam, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Congo. The town is now home to residents from 40 different nations, speaking 60 languages.
How do you manage to not only find new homes and work for thousands of displaced people, but also make them integral to the town’s sense of identity? The Culture Guy sat down with Mayor Ted to find out, at Clarkston’s “media hub” – the Refuge Coffee Co.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
from The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus
You can (and you should) connect with Mayor Ted via his LinkedIn profile or Facebook and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
Find out more about the City of Clarkston, GA (official government website) or via the city’s social media handles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Check out Queer Eye on Netflix, which is going into its third season in March of 2019 (in the U.S.). Find more about the show on Twitter and Instagram.
Do you have feedback for The Culture Guy, Questions, Comments?
Listener feedback for The Culture Guy Podcast continues to be excellent and we encourage you to keep sending us your input for future episodes:
* What are your tips and tricks for cultural adjustment?
* What were some of your most memorable “cultural fool moments”?
* Which topics would you like to hear discussed on future podcast episodes?
To send in your feedback for the show,
Before I met Christian I never took into account one's culture. It wasn't even on my radar. I just went along, assuming everyone was similar. And with technology literally shrinking our world by making people from around the globe available at the click of a button, being aware of our differences (and similarities) is more important than ever. Thanks Culture Guy!
I'm a faving fan of the Culture Guy and the work he does. More of those kind of people who really make an effort of getting to know the "other" and relating to them on their level and their model of the world! I've taking his coaching class and his mastermind and am in awe of the knowledge and experience that Christian brings to the table. Definitely one of my favorite!!
Fan of blog, happy to have more from Culture Guy
Ive followed Christians blog for many years, and enjoyed the writing style. Now we get more great content in a new format. Really happy to get to LISTEN to more from Christian and culture discussions in a fun way.