Culture Matters and Cultural Differences are No Priority?

[4-min read]

Some people get it and… most don’t: Culture Matters.

The other day I received the request if I could come and speak at a networking event organized by a hotel that is part of an international hotel chain. This “speaking” or “Lecturing” is something I do quite often. Most of the time was the event topic but this time it was to get more people to the suggested networking event. A speaking engagement usually is anything between 45 minutes to two hours. Always interactive and engaging.

Together with the organizer, we decided on the objective of my presentation and all the other logistics involved. I put, what we talked about, in a proposal and sent it off to him.

A week later he called me to tell me that Head Quarters didn’t think it was necessary to pay attention to Cultural Differences and that they were not willing to free up the budget for this…

“So, you’re working as an international hotel chain. Where the majority of your clients are international… and you don’t think culture matters?”

What Gets Measured Gets Done

I think this paragraph title was coined by Tom Peters. What gets measured, gets done. This is also true for cultural matters.

But I haven’t seen one company in my 20+ years of experience in this field that actually does this.

What do I mean by measuring the impact of culture matters? Let me explain. When you work internationally or with people from different cultures the following can happen:

  • Teamwork suffers (because you think your “foreign” colleagues are stupid (or vice versa).
  • (Technical) information isn’t shared enough. Because you don’t trust each other.
  • Innovation suffers (because of the above).
  • Time to market takes longer (because of the above).
  • Mutual distrust.
  • The good people leave.
  • etc.

Not all these issues will happen at once (although they might as well) but they are typical for organizations working with different cultures.

For one, all of the above will cost more time. And time is money. In addition, if (the good) people leave, it’s also costly. Like I said, in my 20+ years of experience I haven’t seen any company that is calculating the impact of all this. Nor the expense of hiring a new person because one other person leaves out of being culturally frustrated.

Pizza for Culture MattersCulture matters pizza

Of course, I realize that I suffer from professional deformation; for me, everything can be led back to cultural differences.

And I also realize that is not the case.

So I see it as this metaphor:

Culture matters are a piece of the total business pizza. All slices take up part of the bigger picture. So you can have slices for:

  • Financial resources
  • Human resources (how many people and the quality of people working)
  • Legal restrictions
  • Market conditions
  • And… Culture Matters

The combined slices make up the whole pizza. And Culture Matters is definitely a part of it. What would you say if your next pizza was missing a slice? What if the response from the pizza maker was “That slice? That’s not a priority…“.

Don’t make the same mistake as this hotel chain did. DO pay attention to cultural differences. Remember, Culture Matters.

The article “9 signs you’re not getting it; it’s culture stupidcan be found here.

Read this article about 3 things to consider when working internationally.

To find out what a keynote speaker can do for you, go here.

A podcast interview with James Kennedy on Dutch culture can be found here.

If you have anything to add and/or want to comment on this article, please do so below. I will certainly comment on your comment.

Thank you.


Get a Taste of How Chris Presents, Watch his TEDx Talk



12 + 1 =

call culture mattersCall Direct: +32476524957


whatsapp culture matters directlyEuropean Office (Paris) Whatsapp: +32476524957


The Americas (USA; Atlanta, GA; también en Español):  +1 678 301 8369

Book Chris Smit as a Speaker

If you're looking for an Engaging, Exciting, and Interactive speaker on the subject of Intercultural Management & Awareness you came to the right place.

Chris has spoken at hundreds of events and to thousands of people on the subject of Cultural Diversity & Cultural Competence.

This is What Others Say About Chris:

  • “Very Interactive and Engaging”
  • “In little time he knew how to get the audience inspired and connected to his story”
  • His ability to make large groups of participants quickly and adequately aware of the huge impact of cultural differences is excellent”
  • Chris is a dedicated and inspirational professional”

In addition, his presentations can cover specific topics cultural topics, or generally on Cultural differences.

Presentations can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and are given World Wide.

Book Chris now by simply sending an email. Click here to do so.

Read more about what Chris can do for you.

  • Percentage of People Rating a Presentation as Excellent 86% 86%
  • Rating the Presentation as Practical 89% 89%
  • Applicability of Chris' presentation 90% 90%

About Peter van der Lende

Peter van der Lende International business development

Peter has joined forces with Culture Matters.

Because he has years and years of international business development experience joining forces therefore only seemed logical.

Being born and raised in the Netherlands, he has lived in more than 9 countries of which most were in Latin America.

He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) with his family.

You can find out more at

Or find out what Peter can do for you here.

Chris Smit
Latest posts by Chris Smit (see all)
We're looking for new Podcast Guests!

We're looking for new Podcast Guests!

If you think you or someone you know would make a good guest for our Culture Matters on International Business, drop us an email.

(make sure you or the person you know will be able to talk about International affairs!)

Thanks, we'll be back to you soon!