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There’s nothing like being forced out of your comfort zone to give you new ideas and inspiration. And what better way than rapid immersion in not just another business environment, but another culture?

This was the opportunity I was given on a recent visit to South Africa together with a group of business leaders from Denmark. Just a few hours after stepping off the long flight from Europe, we were released into Durban’s Central Business District. It’s a far cry from the sterile, grayscale business district of a northern European city. Colors and sounds line the pavements. People swarm over intersections, dodging the taxi vans, busses and occasional car. It’s an eclectic mix of cultures where urban dwellers dominate, but there are still plenty of people with obviously strong tribal roots.

For the next few hours, we explored the district, interacting with people to learn about their businesses and lives as best we could, sometimes in English, sometimes through an interpreter, and almost always with wild hand gestures. Continue reading

The secret to communicating with multicultural audiences

The United States is a more culturally diverse nation than it’s ever been before. Together, cultural minorities comprise nearly half of our overall population: 56 million Americans are Hispanic, 34 million are black, 20 million are of Asian descent, and 45 million have roots either in the Middle East or Eastern Europe. The numbers are growing daily.

For businesses, these figures are tremendously important. If your communications strategy is culturally homogenous, you run the risk of alienating a large share of your audience. But it’s challenging to run a campaign that resonates with people from different cultural backgrounds. Continue reading