Tangible Development Blog

What Thailand can teach us about having fun

November 24th, 2015 by Tangible Development

The BBC’s travel news tells us that Thailand is the most fun country in the world. Suprising?  Maybe, but there are cultural reasons why.

Western culture is task-focused and direct. Thai culture is process-focused and indirect. Fun is not something done in order to achieve an outcome – such as relaxation or team building – but is pursued for its own sake.”

It’s the concept of sanuk, which will even drive a Thai person to leave a good paying job if it’s not fun! Read why the Thai culture places such importance on having fun for fun’s sake.

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Is it cultural discrimination?

June 2nd, 2015 by Tangible Development

A Muslim woman — who was wearing a hijab — was recently refused an unopened can of soda on an airplane flight. The flight attendant’s reason was that they are unauthorized to give closed cans of soda because they can be used as a weapon. The flight attendant did, however, present the woman’s seat mate with an unopened can of beer. The flight attendant did not remedy the situation, which was further complicated by a rude passenger who reportedly said: “You Muslim, you need to shut the f*** up.”  The woman is Indian-born and Illinois-raised Tahera Ahmad. You can see the CNN interview with Ahmad, a Muslim chaplain and director of interfaith engagement at Northwestern University, here:

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The airline has now engaged its PR machine to limit the fallout. While some solid crisis communications strategy is definitely in order, the airline needs to go back to square one and take a look at how it trains flight attendants. Obviously, attendants who work on international flights are multilingual and well-trained in international service expectations. But what about US domestic flight attendants? In a quick Google search, only Delta Airlines pops up with clearly identified cultural service expectations being covered in its Customer Service 101 training course.

It’s not news that this country’s demographics are rapidly changing. Immigrants, visitors, and Americans from diverse backgrounds will make up an increasing majority in this nation. According to the Pew Research Center, it is projected that “the nation’s population will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and fully 82% of the growth during this period will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their descendants.”  Non-hispanic whites will make up 47% of the population.

No matter where you live, or what industry you are in, it behooves you to learn about cultural sensitivity in order to serve those markets and grow your business. The demographics are too powerful to ignore.

Now, it’s just too bad we can’t train airline passengers to have a little cultural sensitivity…

InterContinental Banks on Culturally Specific Hotels

May 26th, 2015 by Tangible Development

A couple of years ago, InterContinental Hotels undertook a new venture — launching a plan that involves opening 100 hotels that are “made for China.” The launch was under a completely new brand name: Hualuxe. This incorporates the Chinese word “hua” for majestic and the English term “luxe” to connote luxury.

Here’s an interview that BBC Shanghai reporter John Sudworth did with the hotel group’s CEO, Richard Solomons.

In the interview, Solomons agrees that being so China-specific may turn off some customers. He rightly points out that any brand with a good niche will appeal to a specific group, and will not appeal to others.

InterContinental’s move is a high-stakes demonstration of how important culture can be to customer service, particularly in hospitality.  While the average American, state-side hotel may not need to want to go to such great lengths, catering to other cultures can add to a positive guest experience and better bottom line.


Cultural skills critical for talent development

April 26th, 2015 by Tangible Development

Developing talent in your organization is a multifaceted process that spans a variety of disciplines.  But no matter the industry, cultural skills are critical.  Given that those who can successfully navigate a multicultural terrain will be most successful, we are so excited to be presenting at the Talent Development Summit presented by the Hudson Mohawk chapter of the Association for Talent Development.

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s on the agenda:

Demographic drama for property managers

December 15th, 2014 by Tangible Development

Without a doubt, New York City is a unique place, and when it comes to demographics, the city’s singularity is even more apparent. Last week, as we were pulling together information for a presentation at the LandlordsNY Symposium, I faced a dramatic demographic profile with regard to the city’s foreign-born residents.

First, some stunning comparisons can be made:

  • New York State has the second highest percentage of foreign-born residents in the country, second only to California. Texas and Florida round out the top four.
  • There are more foreign-born residents in New York City than there are people living in Chicago. (Huffington Post)
  • The Chinese population in New York City is the largest outside of China itself. (WNYC)

    Image courtesy of Damian Brandon/freedigitalphotos.net

    Image courtesy of Damian Brandon/freedigitalphotos.net

Digging further into data available from the City Planning Department, we find that the traditional immigrant base of European source countries is no longer. Latin America is now the largest area of origin, accounting for almost one-third of the city’s foreign-born, followed by Asia at 28 percent, and the non-Hispanic Caribbean at 19 percent.

Ok, big deal, you say. Well, the most surprising thing is that this picture in no way resembles the national snapshot of foreign-born residents. As a country, nearly one-third of our 40 million immigrants are of Mexican origin. Furthermore, China comes in second, followed by India, and a host of other countries. Most notable is that six countries on the nation’s top 10 list—Philippines, El Salvador, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and Guatemala—were not among the city’s top 10 groups, and the last 3 were not even among the city’s top 20 groups.

My aim in highlighting these demographics to property managers and owners was to emphasize that cultural differences cannot be ignored in the property business. By learning more about the ethnic residents that property managers serve, they can increase resident satisfaction, decrease time and effort in the leasing process, and save significant money in maintenance costs.


Come see us at the summit!

November 5th, 2014 by Tangible Development

We hope you’re going to be at the Business Opportunities to Success Summit (BOSS) next week because it’s going to be jam-packed full of inspiration and ideas!  More than 50 chief executive officers will share the hard lessons they learned growing their companies at the all-day session on on Nov. 12, 2014.

Sujata Chaudhry, a principal with Tangible Development LLC, will be one of the thought leaders from across the region to speak at the event. The second annual BOSS event will once again spotlight leaders from various industries throughout the region. Each will deliver 5-minute concise, candid insights on what experience has taught them. The goal of the day is to provide numerous “aha” moments for the more than 400 businesspeople in attendance.

This year’s roster of speakers is once again a “Who’s Who” of thought leaders in the Capital Region. Visit http://www.boss518.com for the full list of speakers.

“As geographical borders continue to fade, business success hinges on understanding how to interact with people from different cultures, says Chaudhry, who will address how to motivate a muliticultural workforce.

BOSS will be held on Nov. 12, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy, New York. The event is open to entrepreneurs, executives, researchers, students, business professionals, and investors.

The focus of the Summit, Mastering the Pivot, recognizes that innovators and entrepreneurs routinely encounter a difficult question along the path of entrepreneurship: If the business climate is shifting, do I stay the planned course, or pivot to achieve success?

BOSS breaks the mold of traditional conferences, seminars, and networking events by combining elements of all three in a fast-paced format that maximizes the exposure of participants and attendees to potential customers, strategic partners, service providers, mentors, and collaborators. BOSS has been designed to increase the probability that each attendee will leave with at least one memorable business transforming, actionable idea.


For more information, visit: http://boss518.com.

Life is Like a Salad Bowl

October 23rd, 2014 by Tangible Development

I love that headline! This item from the Huffington Post is just one of the articles featured in this week’s Global Culture Report.

Other topics this week include:

  • the brain benefits of learning another languageScreen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.48.08 AM
  • the mother and daughter-in-law conflict
  • teaching a global mindset, and
  • Latinos are Hawaii’s fastest growing ethnic group.


Glad we can help you catch up on the global culture news that affects your business!

Keeping up with global news

October 8th, 2014 by Tangible Development

Even if you’re a news junkie, keeping up with the latest happenings can be time consuming. When you add global media and insights to the mix, it can be difficult to stay on top of the latest reports, analysis and intelligence that can affect your business.  That’s why we’re happy to announce the Global Culture Report, our weekly compilation of news, features, blogs and studies about global business, attitudes and culture. Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.19.44 PM

Subscribe to the updates and you’ll get insightful articles, blogs and analysis delivered straight to your inbox every week.  Don’t waste your time clicking around the internet to find information that can help you work more effectively with your global colleagues and clients.  We’re here to do that for you.  Moreover, it’s free.

Check it out and sign up today!

Power posing and global cultures

September 22nd, 2014 by Tangible Development

Most people know that often, body language can say more than words, so it’s no surprise that Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on “Power Poses” is one of the most watched ever. Before you start striking a power pose at your next team meeting, however, you might want to take into account the cultural background of your counterparts.

Yesterday’s New York Times featured Cuddy and her research and talked about how organizations from Zappos to Feed to Facebook are learning about her theories and practices. While it’s fascinating stuff, it may not translate well.

As Westerners, we tend to assume that business is conducted around the world the same way it is in our own country. Unfortunately, many business people find out that’s not necessarily the case when they start working with a global team or try to strike a deal with a foreign entity.

Generally speaking, we Americans are a verbal bunch. We count on our colleagues, clients and customers to tell us what they want, to freely contribute ideas to the discussion, and to say what they mean. In other words, we’re low-context communicators. In some cultures, behaviors that we consider business as usual – gesturing, disagreeing, expressing emotions – are seen as rude. High-context communicators generally lend much more importance to non-verbal behaviors than Westerners do. Everything from your posture to closing your eyes can mean something. Striking the kinds of power poses that Cuddy proposes we use would be considered inappropriate in many boardrooms across the globe.

Personally, I find Cuddy’s research fascinating. How nonverbal cues can make us react differently to a situation or person without even realizing it is intriguing. Equally compelling is how other cultures view these types of behaviors.

Learning about your global colleagues and clients and how they prefer to communicate can go a long way toward better communication and smoother business relationships. When you move your business to the global marketplace, you might just need to leave the power poses at home.



Closing the deal with multicultural clients

July 22nd, 2014 by Tangible Development

Educating staff to communicate and negotiate effectively is a key goal when working with our real estate and property management clients.  We’re really excited to have the opportunity to share our expertise with professionals across the state by contributing an article to the New York Real Estate Journal.

Check it out here: