Tom Verghese, Cultural Synergies – InnovaBuzz 176

Tom Verghese

Tom Verghese, Cultural Synergies

In this episode, I’m really excited to have on the InnovaBuzz podcast as my guest, Tom Verghese, an internationally renowned consultant, presenter, executive cultural coach, author and founder of Cultural Synergies. 

Tom has over two decades of experience working in the field of cultural intelligence, taking him to over 40 countries. Working with diverse business leaders around the world has provided Tom with an international perspective and experience as a specialist consultant who equips organisations and their teams with the skills to effectively work within and across cultures. His focus is cultural intelligence, inclusive and ethical leadership and the promotion of sustainable global leadership and high performing international teams.

In our discussion, Tom talked to me about

  • What it means to be culturally intelligent
  • Being culturally agile and building your repertoire of communication skills
  • Self awareness and knowing your own culture and cultural filters

Oscar Trimboli on episode 168 introduced us to Tom.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Culture is the lens through which you look out in the world.  @CltrlSynergist Tom Verghese on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Tom Verghese of Cultural Synergies

Key points and take-aways from this episode include:

  • The best way to learn everything is to teach.
  • Cultural intelligence is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. It is fundamentally developing the ability to be culturally agile.
  • The farther you are located away from your colleagues, the more difficult it is to work across borders and across time. As a leader of virtual teams, you have to be very conscious of looking at how to create activities that can help build relationships.
  • Get to know your people at the fullest level. Get to know them beyond their professional identity.
  • Before you can understand any culture, it is important to explore your own because everything is relative to you. 
  • Culture is subjective. We look at other cultures based on our own styles and our own value sets. It is all about understanding your own culture so you can understand the culture of others.
  • Culture is the lens through which you look out in the world. 
  • The four aspects of cultural intelligence:
    1. Drive – your level of motivation
    2. Self-efficacy – the ability to bounce back
    3. Knowledge – understanding the different aspects of any particular culture you are spending time in and having a different strategy in place for each of it.
    4. Execution – the action, how you are going to put it into play.
  • Develop a repertoire for giving different types of feedback.
    1. Direct feedback – going directly from point A to point B.
    2. Sandwich/hamburger model – saying something good and then giving the negative feedback, and finishing it off with something good.
    3. Open sandwich model – giving negative feedback and finishing it off with something good.
    4. Vegetarian model – no meat, telling a story and using examples of someone else.
  • The better you get to know people, the closer you will develop the relationship.
  • Affinity bias is our tendency to trust people who are similar to us. 
  • Cross-cultural experiences help develop a level of empathy.
The best way to learn everything is to teach. @CltrlSynergist Tom Verghese on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Tom’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Stop and allow time for reflection.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Reflection and meditation practice. Traveling. There is something that comes from just allowing the mind to explore new ideas.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Engaging with people. People are a great source of ideas.
  4. Keep project / client on track – Outsource to my assistant.
  5. Differentiate – Realise that as individuals, we are actually a brand. Know what you stand for. That requires a level of self-awareness. If you think of yourself as a brand and if you can list all the things you want to be known for, those things will become your differentiator.

To Be a Leader

Think about it as a long game – what you need to do to build your brand, your credibility, your body of work, and your network. It takes time.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Tom through his website.

Suggested Guest

Tom suggested I interview Duncan Smith, a highly experienced organisational consultant, working in the area of diversity and inclusion. So Duncan, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Tom Verghese.



Cool things about Tom

  • He was born to Indian parents and raised in Malaysia.
  • He speaks a number of Asian languages.
  • He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, Graduate Diploma and Masters in Education Training, and a Diploma in Management.
Cross-cultural experiences help develop a level of empathy. @CltrlSynergist Tom Verghese on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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