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The Culture Code    by Clotaire Rapaille order for
Culture Code
by Clotaire Rapaille
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Clotaire Rapaille, author of The Culture Code, begins his book with this quote by Ruth Benedict: 'we still have the vaguest and most biased notions, not only of what makes Japan a nation of Japanese, but of what makes the United States a nation of Americans, France a nation of Frenchmen, and Russia a nation of Russians ... Lacking this knowledge, each country misunderstands each other.' From here the reader follows fascinating turns of logic and insight.

In The Culture Code, Rapaille, a cultural anthropologist sets out to determine the silent system of codes, or motives, that influence the decisions and behaviors in different countries around the world. He has used the codes to improve business practices and sales for many companies - from Nestlé to Honda to Kellogg, both at home and overseas. Rapaille uses target groups from different areas and narrows in on what people really think about everything from love, sex, food, and work, to politics. He uses a three part session with his groups, during the last part of which participants lie down and provide distant early memories, or imprints, of the subject. Throughout the book Rapaille sprinkles these first person narratives, which truly illustrate the code for that object. For example, in the United States food is tied into refueling our bodies, as we sit back from the table we declare we're full. While in France, they spend longer preparing the meal, present it in different courses, and sit back from the table declaring the meal delicious. These subtle differences offer insight into other cultures and provide marketing strategies for companies.

When first approaching this book, I was prepared for a rather dull, textbook style approach as to how nations differ from each other. What I read was nothing like what I anticipated. Rapaille has a fresh and interesting writing style. He offers us a new set of glasses through which to view the world and our motives for our actions. Anything that suggests a better understanding of ourselves and others is certainly worth a read.

Listen to a podcast interview with Clotaire Rapaille at

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