Osnat Lautman Mansoor joined Regional Host and Trusted Advisor of Coffee, Collaboration, and Enablement in Israel, Avner Baruch, to explore the importance of cross cultural communication and more.

There are so many great insights in this book, not just on Israeli culture but also on the importance of building a deep understanding of the other cultures you are working with, combined with an understanding of yourself, to better communicate and collaborate globally.

You may find value in Osnats’ book on Israeli Business Culture.

As always, keep listening and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

Avner Baruch
Hey everyone, today I invited a very special guest to talk about our best seller book, which deals with the importance of cross cultural communication. Personally, I got acquainted with this topic after spending quite some time traveling and working in 65 different countries. And I think, you know, I got a very clear idea very early in my career, how and when understanding others culture can either help you move forward or weigh you down. I came across a snots best seller as I was researching for articles on that topic. And not only that, as I was able to find that Noah is a very interesting resource of information, I also got a chance to close the loop with us, not who we happen to serve together in the Israeli Navy just a few years ago. So if you happen to work in a multicultural environment, I strongly recommend that you stick around and listen to what our very special guest has to share with us today. It’s not I’m very happy to have you here with us today. And perhaps you could start by telling us, you know more about yourself, your background, major milestones, and what eventually led you to focus your career on cross cultural communication.

Unknown Speaker
So, first of all, hi, of now, I’m very happy to be here with you. And meet again, as you said, you know, back 2025, God knows years ago, back in our service at the Navy. So a few words about myself. Well, I’m an organizational and cross cultural consultant. I have been working as an organizational consultant since 2007. And few years ago, my husband got a job offer from the global company used to work for, and we moved to live in Hoboken. In New Jersey. Have you been there?

Avner Baruch
I’ve been nearby. So I think that you were very fortunate to, you know, to find that spot.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, exactly. So it’s a wonderful place with an amazing view to the city of Manhattan. And actually, with all that beauty, I found it quite challenging living in the United States in Hoboken. We live there for four years, my husband, myself, our children, I worked back then in a global company, and American one, and I studied in NYU. And actually, it was quite difficult for me to understand why my direct manager at work, she didn’t really appreciate the way I think, behave. So you know, in one country, back in Israel, I used to teach other people how to give service how to sell. And then at the United States, they don’t really appreciate the way I work, not my multitasking, not my good ideas, and all that.

Unknown Speaker
So I decided to explore more these topic of this cross cultural communication. And in the last day, decade, actually, I have been interviewing hundreds of people, and asking, asking them to share their experience working with Israelis. So everything started back then about 10 years ago. And since then, I provide coaching workshop lectures to global companies around the globe, who want to know and learn how to collaborate better, and, you know, build their global mindset in a way

Avner Baruch
that that’s an amazing story that reminds me of a story, you know, I actually unexperienced reminds me of an experience I had to go through, around, you know, 16 1717 years ago, I got an offer to relocate as well to Pittsburgh, us. I was working for an Israeli company, and that company actually acquired an American startup, you know, usually it’s the other way around. So they offered me a job to relocate in order to, to build a training function from the ground up, you know, from the very, you know, early stages of, you know, putting together information, interviewing people, etc. And I still clearly remember one of the first, you know, strong memories I have, in my head is seen someone and then apparently, it was an Israeli scene, someone standing there and training everyone, what’s it, what it’s like to work with Israelis, and she was like, training everyone you know, about the culture about, you know, being direct, impatient, and, you know, going through all the values of the Israeli culture. So, yeah, that triggered the this vivid memory, I think we may want to pause here near for a while and perhaps explain to our listeners, what is culture and what is global mindset, and why is it so important for businesses will span across other branches and regions.

Unknown Speaker
So first of all culture, it’s kind of An umbrella term, it’s a combination of both of what you see above the surface, and what you cannot see what is below the surface. above the surface is what we wear, what we eat, our verbal and nonverbal communication, the way I speak English with my Israeli accent, all that is part of my culture, but what you cannot see, it’s much deeper, it’s my roots, my values, may believe what I was taught by my parents, what I was taught back in, in school, and all that is actually a culture. But when I speak about a global mindset, it’s actually the ability to recognize and adapt to cultural differences. It requires you to first know yourself as a said, values believes, and also your work, your work style, your leadership style, and then to learn about others. So for your question, why is it so important? Well, if you have a global mindset, and you behave with cultural intelligence, then you know how to bridge it about the cultural gap. And you’re able to adapt your style when working in diverse environment. And by doing so you will be able to build trust in diverse teams and also build successful global businesses.

Avner Baruch
That’s, that’s a beautiful story. I mean, that’s that sum is summarize it all. You know, I may actually want to pause here and maybe share one of my personal experiences, you know, which relate to understanding one’s culture. And, you know, the importance of bringing gap more than 20 years ago, when I finished my, you know, army duty, I decided, like every other Israeli to travel and to see the world. So for the first time, I, you know, took, you know, took the first flight, I could I could find and arrive to India for the first time without any plans or whatsoever. And I clearly remember one of those experiences where he, you know, you see that in a restaurant, like an improvised idea of a restaurant. And then I was traveling with a with a group of Israelis, young Israelis were all like, you know, 20 something years old. So all together, you know, you were waiting, like 1015 minutes, half an hour, an hour, nothing happened. And then, you know, this young guy came in and started to, like, you know, do whatever they did in the kitchen behind the scenes. And 15 minutes later, he came back with something that looked very similar to an omelet. It wasn’t actually an omelet that we know, what is I mean, according to our Israeli standards, or others. Yeah. In India, and Indian omelet. So, I mean, we were all happy with that, you know, it’s a new experience whatsoever. But one young lady didn’t actually like the outcome, you know, the, what she, what she saw on the plate. So without actually thinking about it, she stood up and walked in the kitchen and started yelling at the the young guy. And then you know, she took over and prepare the omelette, wash, it was doing that she was training the local guy how to prepare an omelet. I don’t know why, but I just remembered of that experience. I think that’s, that’s, that’s quite, you know, common working, when you have different cultures, and one is accepting other other’s culture and the other the other side doesn’t actually actually accept, you know, the I was the other one I

Unknown Speaker
met, I can imagine that 20 years ago, all the groups of young people together with yourself, you thought that it’s a wonderful story of a lady that actually stood up and you know, she taught him how to make an omelet. Today, after traveling same as you in India for more than a year, I look at it in a different perspective, I can I can understand the Indian employee in the kitchen and maybe that he was kind of losing she was losing his face in a way and it was a bit embarrassing of not providing her the right service or the best omelet. So today, when I look at it, I will think of more of an empathy and understanding of the other culture and not just standing up and in making you unbelief because my way is a better way, which is nice. It’s part of the Israeli culture but sometimes if you know if you’re in Rome, behave as as Romans and then and don’t stoop stood up and say, Well, my omelet is the best one. Definitely something that we can learn from. It’s a life story.

Avner Baruch
Definitely. I think that the bottom line the the main takeaway is in order to succeed, working in a multicultural environment One of the key ingredients is the ability to adjust to adapt to first of all, you know, be able to understand that you work in a multicultural environment, there are some differences. And in order to gain trust, and trust is the key word, you need to first identify differences or gaps, and you need that ability, agility to adopt. And that applies to every culture. But if we if we just go back and focus on you know, being an Israeli, what’s it like to be an Israeli? You know, from an Israel appointing you and for for others, no non Israelis working for it working with Israelis? What would you say are the core ingredients of the Israeli business culture? You know, what does a business person need to do in order to establish the right culture, for scaling their growth across multicultural businesses? What does it take?

Unknown Speaker
So as I said, at the beginning, when I arrived back, you know, 10 years ago to the United States, and have been interviewing hundreds of people, and asked them to share their experience working with Israelis, I came up with a kind of an acronym, by using the word Israeli in a way that each letter is the beginning of one of the main Israeli characteristics. All right, so if again, if we were the Israeli, though, it’s I informal, s straightforward. I’ll risk taking a ambitious, E, entrepreneurial, l loud. And the last eye is improvisational. So it’s a few words for each. So informal is actually not only in the way we dress, but also in the way we communicate with one another. Straight forward is, of course, the direct style of speech out for us a risk taking a ambitious and he entrepreneurial, actually, this, I see this three is one unit, because an entrepreneur is someone that will do everything in order to reach his or her goal with a lot of risk taking and ambitious. And then what it was that loud, loud is not only for our voices, but also for the intense life that we do have in Israel. And the eye for improvisational is of course, the way we think outside of the box including making an Indian or a better Indian omelet. And, and, you know, for your question about establishing the right culture. So there is no right culture, of course, right or wrong by the businessperson who works globally, need to work on his or her cultural agility, meaning that understanding again, your own culture and other country cultural position on each of these spectrums that actually explained the cultural gaps between the different people. So let me explain that, let’s say spectrum is is could be between using a direct style of speech to an indirect style of speech. So in one corner, we’re going to have the Israelis with this straightforward style of speaking on the extreme corner, exactly the extreme corner. On the other side, we’re going to have Chinese people, Indian people, where let’s say a manager going to ask them to do something and they don’t agree. Normally, it’s going to be only silence, that’s meaning, an indirect style of speech. In the middle, we’re going to have some other countries like people from the UK, from the US and many others. So let’s say someone from the UK say to you, that is a bit disappointed. What is the mean by being a bit disappointed by saying that he is a bit disappointed?

Avner Baruch
Well, from it well, if I hadn’t worked with British people, and that was, that would be my first experience with such a phrase, I would probably say, okay, it’s a bit disappointing, you know, may go on with my approach. You know, I’m gonna get over it.

Unknown Speaker
Meaning as an Israeli, if the British individual come to you and say, Well, I’m a bit disappointed for us as Israelis is not a big deal.

Avner Baruch
Right? Okay. We can live with that. But

Unknown Speaker
it’s true.

Unknown Speaker
Because the idea is not to translate the language but actually translate the culture and that’s the importance of understanding others when someone from the UK actually come to you and say I’m a bit disappointing. It’s meaning that is extremely upset.

Avner Baruch
Lost my trust

Unknown Speaker
otherwise is not going to say anything if it’s just a bit a bit disappointing. Disappointment is not going to say anything. Okay, so I’m British people, American people will do downgrades, meaning instead of saying This pointment are very disappointed, they would say a bit disappointed and the Israelis will go into us very much disappointed or totally disagreement, we will do the upgrade. Exactly. So the importance is understanding not the English as a language to translate the culture,

Avner Baruch
subliminal, subliminal context. And this is genius, the acronym, you know, what is really stands for? What does it mean? You know, that was one of the first things that’s actually you know, work, you know, clearly apparent when I read the book. And I really loved that idea, you know, what he’s really in what the letters stand for. And I totally connect with that message.

Unknown Speaker
You know, it was quite a long night, actually, to figure out the acronym I always cut, it’s came to me in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t sleep. until early in the morning, when the kingdom was fully organizing my understanding of the Israeli culture,

Avner Baruch
we were the same on that matter, because I think best when I sleep, that’s why I didn’t sleep on. I execute on my thoughts during daytime, and I do mainly the, you know, the main thinking part of, of life I do during night. So that explains why I’m yawning so much. I’m sharing too many secrets. By the way, going back to what you said before, you know, one thing that you know what the E stands for entrepreneurial skills. So I strongly recommend for everyone listens to that podcast to get that book and read, you know, the background, the background stories, and all the different drivers that, you know, make us what we are, from an Israeli point of view, you know, what, you know, what’s it, what it what does it feel like to grow in Israel, and to develop those skills that, you know, make us you know, the startup nation, they need to survive in a in a very intense environment and think out of the box, why creativity is extremely important. improvisations. And you put it all together, you summit very beautifully in that acronym. Israeli, what is our answer mean? So again, I strongly recommend for everyone who listens, that webcast, you know, to spend some time reading that book, especially when you’re, you know, doing business with Israelis, and even for Israelis that, you know, think that it’s important to look inside yourself and to, to get to know yourself better from a cultural point of view, when you do businesses with the business with others as well.

Unknown Speaker
You know, you mentioned at the beginning that we met years ago at the Navy, and you spoke about being a nation or startup nation, and actually the values of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces became the values of the civilians. Because the majority, it’s mandatory for Israelis to serve in the army, both for men and for women. So it’s happened that either the majority of us are still serving or served in the past. And the values of the IDF became, as I said, the values of the civilians. So if people or soldier use courage in the battle, later on, they will use similar Coleridge in our daily life and in business. In the army, we learn how to plan, we also learn that any plan can change at any moment, and we learn how to use improvisation in our life, and teamwork. We believe that it’s one fall and then all for one. And part of being an Israeli and south and kind of a startup nation, it’s part of it is the fact that we’re a survival nation, that will do everything in order to survive because of what happened in the in the diaspora and so on.

Avner Baruch
I totally agree. And one of the things that still echo in my head, you know, going back to my military service, our military service, is, you know, the, the importance of preparing a plan B, whatever, you do always have Plan B, always. And, and it’s not I mean, it’s important to have Plan B, what’s more important is to, you know, to be able to execute on that plan. So if you have a plan B, C, D, and E can execute on those plans, it doesn’t mean anything. And you have the ability to be able to adapt quickly. And to execute on you know, on Plan B or you know, change the course of direction on whatever you do very quickly and successfully. That’s extremely important. That’s what agility is all about. And We’ll learn that during our service, and some of us are, you know, still applying the same techniques in our job. And I think it helps everyone to, to to adapt to changes, especially, you know, during career crisis. By the way, yesterday I heard on the in the news that Israeli Israel i think is if I remember correctly, Israel is ranked as number one among the OECD and other countries as the country who were able to go through the Coronavirus crisis in the best way. Seriously, yeah. Thanks. Thanks to the high tech industry.

Unknown Speaker
Um, well, you know, they’re also disadvantage, I’m sorry for saying this disadvantage of seeing a rule only as the guy is a guideline, if I may say, and thinking out of the box, and if there are rules during COVID-19. And we don’t really follow the rules. It also sometimes disadvantages of the of the Israeli culture. But as I said, not everything is perfect. It’s good for the startup nation. I’m not sure that it’s so good against such a virus.

Avner Baruch
I totally agree. What’s not I’m sure that over the years of working overseas and helping many businesses to bridge cultural gaps, I’m assuming that you have gained some some mileage of great stories, funny stories, experiences, is there anything in particular that you might be able to share with us today?

Unknown Speaker
Okay, well, there are plenty of aha moments for me during the years that actually I remember speaking about COVID. So just before COVID start, a group of delegations, the CEO, from Belgium, arrived to Israel, they come to meet different startups, companies in Israel. And after a week of traveling and doing business in Israel, I met them for a lecture. And I started speaking about the term power distance, power distance is actually the respect that you give to someone that is older than you are a senior than you at work, and what are your story and she said that she provided a lecture in one of these really high tech company. And after the lecture, one of the girls from the company arrived to her, and she said that the lecture was amazing. And we must collaborate. And I said, Well, okay, that’s nice. And she said, What do you mean, I will never collaborate with her? And I said, Why? And she said, Well, who is she that she will tell me what to do? So if, you know, from time to time, I hear another story that actually teach me more and more to better understand the small latency of understanding what what does it mean, to respect one another, or working with higher cultural with hierarchy and para distance. And in another way, and again, we spoke about that of translating the culture. So instead of saying we must collaborate, maybe end the ending with a question mark will soften the message and saying, well, the lecture was amazing. What do you think maybe we could collaborate in the future, that that will be a softer and a message to a higher CEO, that actually will respect her. Another story which I can share in in it, of course, I have many, what another story will be something that actually happened to me when I traveled to San Jose, in California to provide a workshop over there. And one of the participants showed me that they actually purchased my book in Amazon. And unfortunately, he purchased the first edition and not the second edition. So I told him that and said, No worries, I’m going to give you you know, free, the second edition. And then I asked him the American guy, I asked him, What do you think? Do you think that I need to remove the first edition from Amazon? So he was looking at me? And he said, Well, I’m not sure. So at the moment, I realized that there is a way to work. So it said, what would you do? So he said, Well, if I were you, I will definitely remove remove this the first edition. So it’s again even after more than 10 years of working in in this arena of cross cultural communication, I keep on understanding the small details, the small cultural gaps. And over here, I asked him a question that actually led him to get into my personal space. And he’s not going to tell me what I need to do. But if I asked him, what would what you will what you will do? He said, Well, then he will have a statement of saying, Well definitely removed it.

Avner Baruch
Yep. And I can say

Unknown Speaker
interesting, different perspectives, and cultures,

Avner Baruch
and you share so many experiences like that in your book, like, you know, the differences and cutting in the language. You know, being direct and indirect, you may want to consider that where Israelis would say that doesn’t work, just change that. That I mean, it took me some time, from a personal point of view took me a lot of time to get to understand, you know, what are they? What do they mean, when they say you may want to do something, or you may want to reconsider? It took me a few years to understand what does it mean? Do I really need to reconsider my approach? Do I really need to, you know, rephrase what I said, or maybe it’s okay, they just suggest they just propose, they don’t really mean that they need to change something, it took me many years, actually, to understand that.

Unknown Speaker
And now, after working in global companies, for so many years, you do understand that it’s not a question or it’s just being polite, and telling you what you actually need to do.

Avner Baruch
I got it, because, you know, I was very fortunate to work, not just, you know, through through a few days of journey or visiting his, you know, remote side, but I actually, you know, relocated a few times and got to work with non Israeli so I do get it, I think I got, I can, I can understand, you know, those differences, but surprisingly, many, many others still don’t get it. And I and that creates a collision of friction. And you can see that on emails, the way people respond to emails, it works both ways. You know, some tend to be very precise, you know, keep it simple, whereas, you know, they randomly translate, you know, those simple short emails as, as chutzpah as being rude. I spent like 10 minutes writing that long summary, and then all you have to say is, I get it, I agree, thank you very much. We’ll take it from there. Some people might regard that as being rude. Some people might regard that oh, this guy really, you know, gave me back some time, I don’t have to re explain everything from scratch. So, I think it takes an effort on both sides to bridge those gaps

Unknown Speaker
mainly nowadays and we mentioned COVID already few times, but during the time of COVID-19 many people even inside Israel or inside different cultures, they work virtually and when you work virtually many of the email correspondence and the way you work are very much using a synchronous communication. And in such a style of communication, there is a need to be much more organized and and use as many details as as needed. And not just replying with one word saying yes or not. It’s not enough I

Avner Baruch
totally agree. And just before we conclude our session today, before we wrap it up, I just want to you know, share something I want to give away a want to share some tips sure that you will agree with these tips. I think that if you know managers and leaders are listening to us, whatever their industry is, whatever they do, I think it’s important to set the expectations with their employers and or customers in the very early stages of doing business together. I remember a few years ago when I started working for that specific business my manager you know very early like day one said be very short in your emails we don’t write long emails here. So he said the expectations up front he told me that you know, it comes all the way from from the from the CEO from executives, they want that message to resonate with everyone else on board. We don’t want you know, employees to waste on Bing and breathing reading emails, long emails, so keep your message short be precise. That’s the way we know we do we know we we execute on communication in the company so

Unknown Speaker
professional and get all the needed details.

Avner Baruch
Yep, exactly. Yep. So this has been real fun. I really enjoyed it, you know, catching up with you and thing, it’s not just you know, coincidence that We got to meet again. You know, I’d like to share with everyone listens and you know and use that podcast I want to share with everyone you know more details about the book. So I don’t know if they can actually see that let me just read just the the camera, okay? With this spiritual brick Rebecca and it’s a bit difficult so I’m going to share you know the details about the book How to purchase the book, sport of wrapping up this, this podcast. The book is called Israeli business culture I strongly recommend for everyone that knows doing business with Israelis, and vice versa, the purchase and read that in a book. And today again, we had the pleasure of hosting us not loud, not a true professional and a friend. And it’s been real fun again, I really enjoyed our conversation today it’s not and can’t wait for another opportunity to meet and discuss other topics.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you very much have now the pleasure was all mine. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *