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The Culture Code for Me

I was born in Utah, raised Mormon, now live between Austin, Texas, and Calgary, Canada, and travel around North America (and the world when I can). I’m an American in Canada, a born Mormon in Baptist country and, at least some of my friends would say, something of a bull in a china shop. I’m a salesman and a marketer who works with writers and entrepreneurs, and I often speak my mind in a way that doesn’t earn me politeness points.

I don’t know what my culture code label would be. Maybe AGGRESSIVE? Or something like FRIENDLY PERSUASION?

Insights Into Cultures

I’ve been thinking of that because I recently read The Culture Code, an insightful book by the French-born American marketing expert Clotaire Rapaille, who founded Archetype Discoveries Worldwide, a marketing and research firm. One of Rapaille’s most insightful readings into national culture is that, for marketing purposes at least, is that there are some basic “codes” or identifying characteristics or frames of mind that a marketer can apply to a country when figuring out how best to approach it.

And that means looking at how a country sees itself, as well as how others see it. Rapaille has determined that for Americans, the culture code is DREAM. Which makes sense, since it’s a country founded on beliefs (rather than geography), and has existed as a place where people can accomplish things. France’s culture code for America is SPACE TRAVELERS, based not only on our achievements in sending men to the moon, but our Hollywood, fantasy and imaginative prowess.

Knowing these codes (from our own perspective and that of other countries) helps us understand other countries and their attitudes. This code, for example, shows why the French sometimes feel they can’t relate to us, why they believe our motivations for doing things are different from theirs. (Rapaille says they see us Americans as “usurpers,” taking things – which is ironic coming from a nation that had a long, and often cruel, colonial tradition.)

But what a culture code does, is what I try to do in understanding what makes others tick, for my work and career. I often meet a person and can tell, after a few minutes of conversation, whether he or she is an extrovert or introvert, a sensing or feeling or methodical or spontaneous type. This isn’t a judgment call on my part, it’s an effort to understand this person’s motivations. Sometimes it affects how I phrase my sales pitch (if I’m selling something) or my response, if I’m asked something.

But it’s all in an effort to understand the “code” for someone else. I’m a salesman at heart, and something of a showman (despite being a somewhat introverted person who can rise to situational extroversion), and I want to make a connection so that I can move forward in the relationship. I don’t easily give up.

I guess you could say that, after all, the culture code for me is probably DETERMINATION. This could change, of course. I’m a person, not a country. But the whole area of personality typing, of cultural coding, and of societal shift, is of tremendous interest to me.

If you were to give yourself a “culture code,” what would it be? I’d love to hear how you see yourself (and perhaps how others see you, if you can ask them the same question of you).

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7 Responses to “The Culture Code for Me”

  1. Enin Serdna October 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    I see my culture code as Authenticity. It’s a funny thing that in our digital age where connectivity is king, it’s hard to tell the real from not. Through these modes of personality typing and culture coding it really help weed out the feedback from the true voice. 

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