Americans thriving globally, one unwritten rule at a time

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The invisible hand of culture drives your behavior in ways you never imagined.

Living and working abroad develops an awareness of the smallness of your perspective and builds one of the most critical, yet underestimated talents you can acquire – intercultural soft skills for the transfer of hard knowledge – to thrive globally.

Whatever your reasons for moving abroad – to desenrascanço (Portuguese: to artfully disentangle oneself from a troublesome situation) or to find your sukha (Sanskrit: genuine lasting happiness independent of circumstances) – coping with culture shock and adapting to unfamiliar surroundings is never going to be easy.

Especially for Americans.

We often lack the necessary vacation time or budget for requisite experience abroad (although this is changing) that others seem to have. What’s more, once we “get there” we discover American attitudes, values, assumptions, and perceptions are very different compared with roughly 85% of the rest of the world. And that can make getting along (and getting what you want) hard. 

So I’ve developed this series 101.culture.hacks for Americans abroad based on over 20 years of global work-life experience to give you the support tools you’ll need in – before, during, or after the move.

Because a little local knowledge goes a long way. You’ll discover how the invisible hand of culture drives your behavior. One. Unwritten. Rule. At. A. Time. 

And when you need more support, go here.


Culture has been compared to the software of the mind. An invisible force that drives your behavior in ways you never imagined. Across cultures, there are unwritten rules for how people reason, regulate, and relate to each other that go undetected (or worse, dismissed). Like how we make decisions, process information, or view time. 

Culture is also a learned behavior so it can be unlearned, but this takes time. Even if English is the mutually spoken language, it’s likely you are dealing with someone who has been raised in ways utterly unlike your own. You’ll notice “a constant interplay between strongly held traditional values and yours.” This is the invisible hand of culture at work that accounts for culture clashes.


As an intercultural trainer with graduate work in cultural anthropology, I’ve coached and delivered hundreds of programs to expats around the world. I developed these 101.culture.hacks to help you make the best of your choice to live abroad. They’re a series of shortcuts based on my personal and professional experience living and working in Europe. They can help you cope with culture shock and adapt to unfamiliar surroundings. To gain insight about your own cultural self-awareness and empathy for what makes the other guy tick, one unwritten rule at a time.

Visit my website Expat Whisperer for expat coaching packs or listen to my original podcasts  on demand. You might also enjoy the always fascinating culture blog feed that deconstructs everyday life. Or, take one of my labs you won’t find anywhere else. I may be travelling somewhere in the world, but you can always find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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