The Culture Smart! series has only been made possible thanks to efforts of our worldwide team. We would like to acknowledge our authors, editors, designers, proof-readers, booksellers, distributors and all those involved, for their contributions.
Having moved to the United Kingdom in my late twenties, I have always been acutely aware of the need for a certain amount of cultural literacy in order to really 'get' what is going on around me.
Of course, I learned the hard way; turns of phrase, body language and local customs are not all things that are necessarily learned overnight. In some cases, years of experience is what it took to become really fluent. I vividly remember how, during those first months, I often wished there were some way I could read from the same rulebook that everyone else seemed to have access to, the 'crib sheet' of unspoken gestures and social dynamic.
These experiences were my inspiration for creating a range of guidebooks that would give visitors to foreign lands a key to understanding the expectations and unwritten rules of the local culture, a relatively quick and painless way to acquire a good level of understanding and practical know-how.
In an age of global travel, Culture Smart! guides are something I feel can make a real contribution to people all over world who are going to spend time abroad and who have a desire to understand what is going on around them – for me, it was the difference between night and day.
Today, I see the range as my small contribution to building cross-cultural bridges in a world that is always in need of a little more patience and understanding, especially if we want to be truly successful in becoming a functional global community.
When Joshua Kuperard invited me to join him in creating a new kind of cultural guide, I leapt at the chance. It was a perfect fit.
Having lived in three countries myself, I’ve had first-hand experience of the cultural learning curve, a process that goes from the shock of the new to the rediscovery of what’s universally human. Settling into a publishing career in London, I became a glutton for information and happily involved in the business of passing on knowledge to the general reader.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for three major English publishing houses and some interesting minor ones, in a stimulating time in British publishing. With every book I learned something new, from general reference, history, archaeology, and comparative religion to the fine and applied arts and popular science. Working in publishing has been rather like living in the university of the first, second, and third ages, with one’s authors as interesting teachers and, often, friends. Also, for years, through my wife’s work I’ve watched a steady stream of first-time visitors from abroad learning to cope with life in the UK.
All this was an excellent preparation for the launch of the Culture Smart! guides, which we created for travelers looking for a rich and rewarding cultural experience and a deeper understanding of the people they will meet. At present there are nearly a hundred titles in the series, and there are many more to come. Our journey of discovery continues.
As a book designer for more than twenty-five years, being able to work on a wide variety of books has always been a thrill, as each project is different. Whether it is cookery, natural history, photography, or travel, I have each time learned something new during the process.
Having designed hundreds of titles, those involving travel have been particular favorites. One of the first was Full Circle, by Michael Palin, in which he mixed travel, anecdotes, and humor. It opened the door to different countries and cultures, just as Culture Smart! does. Designing travel books allowed me to be somewhere else while remaining tied to my desk, trying to meet the latest deadline.
I have been involved with Culture Smart! since the start of the series and it has been a very rewarding, informative, and enjoyable experience, partly due to the great team we have.
My early travel experiences date back to the seventies, traveling by car through France and Spain. There was little help available then for the traveler, so we had to learn through our own mistakes. Lately my traveling has been fairly limited, but working on these books means that I’m well prepared for my next big adventure . . . whenever it comes.
Since joining CultureSmart! Consulting in 2001 I have been involved in the recruitment of, and assistance to, our range of country specialists. My personal passion for culture comes from extensive worldwide travel, as well as having had the opportunity to live in a variety of countries and thus having had to learn to thrive in their different cultural settings.
As such, working for a company that offers bespoke training seminars for in and out bound foreign assignees, cross-cultural team building, call centres and diversity training, allows me to make creative use of my own personal experience in a way that is beneficial for those facing similar challenges.
With a background in sales and marketing in the wholesale travel industry, I also deal directly with our clients, both in the corporate and non-corporate sector, and help tailor proposals, fine-tune the content and facilitate key follow up opportunities.