Good reading and listening on diversity, globalisation and Asia

It’s so important that we are constantly challenging ourselves in this space that we work.  The BI team are voracious readers and listeners and we frequently share favourites.  The conversations that ensue are always vibrant and we often disagree, and that’s the more interesting part!  So here’s what we’ve been into lately:

Monocle Magazine

We find Monocle Magazine fun and ridiculous in equal measure.  We love the focus on international affairs, politics and travel.  The articles about the best interior design of private fleet aircraft are a little out of our league in terms of potential benefit.  That said, magazines are escapism, right?  So, onto the private jet and off to have a chat to Kim Jong-Un about his basketball fetish and lavish collection of Nike trainers…One edition and series of articles worth a look is the March 2012 special on Australia.

The Social Animal, David Brooks

This book was our BI Christmas gift.  A controversial one as some of us loved it, and some of us hated it.  I liked the book for the perspective it provides regarding how people from diverse backgrounds often have insights others don’t have access to, and how important it is that we can tap into their perspectives.  It also explores power and how easy it is to surround yourself with people ‘like me’ and how dangerous this insulation is in terms of understanding the complex and diverse realities of the societies we live in.  That said, the method the book uses to explore these themes has a few drawbacks.  Here’s where we get to the hatred part – Brooks uses two fictitious characters as the narrative thread throughout the book.  These characters in the book are titled ‘Julia’ and ‘Rob’.  Among our BI team members,  Emma, Tom, (and Tom’s wife for that matter) found Brook’s characters immensely irritating.  Emma said she preferred watching Brooks on TED.  I saw him on TED and preferred his book!  Ramona on the other hand loved the storytelling style, saying she enjoyed how Brooks’ focused on the impact of early lessons and experiences influencing the people we become was fascinating.  We’d love to know what you thought if you read it?!

The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar

Ramona gave me this book for Christmas and it is great.  I prefer Iyengar when she delves into the depths of intercultural perception and attitudes toward choice, but much of her market share in the ‘business space’ I am sure is due to the value of her insights on consumer behaviour.  Iyengar is the source of the famous jam study – you remember the one where they tested purchasing behaviour when people had the option to taste and buy more than 30 flavours or just six?  Her results were so powerful, we see groupings of six or less in most consumer contexts to enable us to get our heads around the cognitive challenges of choice leading to action.  Iyengar has a compelling personal story.  She is the child of Indian Sikh migrants to the USA, and blind – a lifestory which causes her to reflect deeply on the cultural attitudes of her family and the navigation of choice in life. Well worth reading.

The Lady and the Peacock: The life of Aung San Suu Kyi, by Peter Popham

I loved this book.  What’s not to love?  A gripping story of an amazing woman, a very current and topical issue, and a focus on something we are all looking to learn more about.  These types of biographies have the potential to be a bit dry with endless historical recitations, but Peter Popham manages to tell the story of the person and her journey and keeps us interested at every turn.  Myanmar is rapidly changing and the removal of sanctions and ‘opening’ is creating a gold rush mentality in the business space.  At the Australia Thailand Business Council we’ve now appointed a ‘Regional Collaboration: Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia’ Committee Chair to keep us focused on this and the implications.  Christa Avery presented on the changes last week at our strategic business dialogue.  Christa lived in Myanmar in the 1990′s during the last ‘opening’ – we hope this round will be more long lasting.


Radio/Podcasting – Start the Week on BBC

Emma Kettle recommended this programme and what a discovery.  Start the week is hosted by Andrew Marr and features an extraordinary diversity of guests.  The episode last week on the science of creativity with neuroscientist Jonah Lehrer; author Joanna Kavenna; musician and sound artist Scanner; and chemist Rachel O’Reilly was one of Emma’s favourites.  I really liked the episodes on National Identity and China.  The Australian culture’ episode with Thomas Kenneally, Deborah Cheetham and Kate Grenville was a highlight for me.  It’s always refreshing and suprising to learn about your own culture as perceived by others.

Watch  this space – Our Business Book

I attended a Sydney Writers Centre workshop last week on ‘How to write a business book’.  Hopefully a BI book will eventuate.  Valerie Khoo, the presenter was very honest and I am back to the drawing board!  Watch this space…

About Tamerlaine Beasley
Beasley Intercultural is a consulting and training company focused on enabling success in globally connected and culturally diverse workplaces.

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