Information on Ranjini Manian’s new book.
Bangalore, Jan. 28, The Park Hotel, M.G. Road
Ranjini Manian’s new book “Upworldly Mobile” was released by Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Founder of Infosys, in partnership with The Park Hotel Bangalore, on a lovely Saturday evening.
A turnout of about 120 business, diplomatic and society leaders of Bangalore listened enthralled as Ranjini shared real-life anecdotes of her 16 years experience running Global Adjustments and interacting with clients from 75 different nationalities. In a humorous and lively way, Ranjini stressed the importance of Cultural Intelligence and adjustments in business life, using her business story with the visiting delegation from a major German automotive company as an example. Years back, she played a role in convincing the Chairman of the Board Dr. Norbert Reithofer about Chennai as the preferred location for their factory, by impressing him with small – but powerful – adjustments to the German culture, e.g. being punctual to the minute. From the same encounter she learned several lessons:
- As you advance in hierarchy ladder, people are simple at the top: For instance, Dr. Reithofer, instead of using the provided fleet of cars, asked for a bus for himself and his colleagues to see India first hand.
- You need to be careful with stereotypical assumptions: When Ranjini asked Dr. Reithofer why he didn’t bother about hierarchy, he said “Well, what is hierarchy, after you have read the book “Who am I” of Ramana Maharshi?” – the German understands Indian philosophy and it’s time for the Indian to speak up for himself.
- If you do something that resonates with someone’s culture, do not hesitate to point that out: When Ranjini dropped Dr. Reithofer back perfectly on “German” time – he noted this and Global Adjustments was soon chosen as the preferred vendor for moving their employees to India.
Mr. Murthy, Founder of Infosys – India’s first company listed on the NASDAQ, New York – and currently independent director of several corporate boards (e.g. HSBC, Unilever, NDTV), stressed the need for Cultural Intelligence in today’s India. In his opinion, there could have been no better time to release a book like “Upworldly Mobile”, as Indians have a lot to learn from other cultures and consequently have to make many adjustments. Ranjini’s book would therefore be very useful in getting to understand the nuances of other cultures, without losing our own cultural roots, he pointed out. Becoming Upworldly Mobile would bring more prosperity to all sections of society – including the less privileged ones, he added.
Mr. Murthy ended by sharing four cross-cultural tips for Indians with his audience, drawing from his experience in leading a 130,000 employee multinational company – Infosys:
- Become “thick skinned”
- Increase integrity
- Say “yes” only after considering consequences
- Stay friendly but don’t get intimate
Find out what he meant by watching the video below:
Craig Storti, world famous Guru in the field of intercultural communications and cross-cultural adaptation and the author of several standard works, including Culture Matters, a cross-cultural workbook used by the U.S. Government in over 90 countries, appreciates Ranjini’s work with the following email:
Just finished Upworldly Mobile. An excellent blend of very practical advice and yet touching on much bigger themes. I imagine that not just Indian readers but many others will find it very helpful. I was especially pleased to see you using “We And They.” It’s one of my favorite cross-cultural literary references, and I too used it as the frontispiece years ago for my book: The Art of Crossing Cultures.
I had forgotten that you were going to reference yours truly in this book and was delighted to see what good use you made of some of my thoughts.
All the best
Hwashin Automotive India, Chennai
Enjoy the speech of Ranjini Manian on her new book ‘Upworldly Mobile’ at Hwashin India. Hwashin is one of the leading Korean automobile parts manufacturers. Ranjini talks about the collective Indian culture and the typical Indian behavior before making decisions. The message of this video is to know yourself as an Indian and how to dialogue it to the others.
Watch, Share, Empower!
Hyderabad, December 13, The Facebook India Office
Ranjini Manian had an interesting and interactive bar stool chat with Kirthiga Reddy, Chief Executive Officer Facebook India and Abhishek Nag, Head of Platform Operations, Facebook India on various topics from her book Upworldly Mobile at Hyderabad
The talk shows how to tackle cultural assumptions when it leads to cultural pitfalls. Cultural assumptions can be wrong and quickly salvaged by adapting to it and accepting the remarks.
The forum discussed on how behavioural skills, understanding and respecting the culture of one another could help to overcome the challenge of reconciling values and accepting the differences and engaging with it. It also includes a sneak peak into the chapter ‘What’s in a name’ which talks about short names making a way for easy communication and building relationships.
Ranjini also discussed the importance of strengthening one’s knowledge about one’s own culture which could empower us to become successful global citizens. The guidelines to be a part of a cultural communion and tips to adopt to a cultural change was shared. The discussion was concluded with Ranjini interacting with the facebook team and giving tips to handle cultural issues.
Delhi, Dec. 2, The Park Hotel
In partnership with The Park Hotel, “Upworldly Mobile” was launched at New Delhi on a lovely Friday evening, at a landmark event graced by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, MP, and Mr. Andrew Levermore of Bharti Retail (Walmart), among others.
A select audience of about 150 leaders from the business, diplomat and society circles listened enthralled as Dr. Tharoor took them on a journey through modern Indian history. In a speech that was humorous and at the same time intellectual, the former Minister of State for External Affairs, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nation and prize-winning author of twelve books, stressed the need for Cultural Intelligence in today’s globalized India. Starting at India’s Independence in 1947, he talked of the decades when India stood outside the precincts of global economy, refusing to connect with the world, suspicious of every foreigner who set foot on its shores, and ended with the present scenario, where we are moving towards creating an India which is truly integrated to the global economy of the 21st century.
Emphasizing the important role the country plays in today’s world, he said a need for Cultural Intelligence has clearly emerged through the process, as Indians engage more and more with foreigners and foreign companies – with people who don’t look, dress, sound, speak, eat or behave like us, but with whom we have to get along.
“Ranjini Manian’s book Upworldly Mobile, is a self-improvement book, among the rare ones in India, where she shows the pitfalls of cultural misunderstanding and opportunities for cultural engagement; it is not just a useful book, but necessary” said Dr. Tharoor.
I was grateful for his encouragement and honoured by his words as I knew them to be sincere. I encourage you to watch his entire speech which was riveting. It runs for just 11 minutes.
We followed that with an engaging fireside chat with Mr. Andrew Levermore, COO Bharti Retail, (Walmart) who explained the significant steps he had to take to manage a team differently in India and understand the role that hierarchy and collectivism plays in this culture.
Chairperson Priya Paul of the Apeejay Group, Park Hotels, handpicked by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top Businesswomen of the year, graciously encouraged Upworldly Mobile and my work at Global Adjustments with her presence.
Send me your comments if you get a chance, and do spread the word on Upworldly Mobile!
Warm Regards Ranjini
The world at your feet!
Chennai, Oct. 20, Taj Coromandel:
The launch of Ranjini Manian’s latest book, Upworldly Mobile, in Chennai on October 20, was a grand success by every measure!
Attended by several global citizens – from Consul Generals to CEOs and top managements of trans-national companies, from celebrities to artists, it was indeed an evening of intellectual stimulation!
The conversation between Ms Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, US Consulate – Chennai, Dr. Sumatran, Executive Vice Chairman, Hinduja Automotive and Chairman of Nissan, Ashok Leyland Powertrain and Ranjini Manian, stressed on the importance of Cultural Intelligence and tools we have to understand people from different cultures.
Both shared small humorous anecdotes from their experience interacting with foreign cultures – e.g. when Dr. Sumantran’s dinner guests arrived even before the scheduled time in Sweden and were waiting outside the door, hesitating to use the bell.
The audience proved to be equally enthusiastic about the topic and several participants asked questions when the floor was opened to them! The evening came to a close with cocktails and conversations!
I am delighted to share with you, that we had a most cerebral launch of Upworldly Mobile in Chennai, with 150 leaders in attendance, at the event hosted by the elegant Taj Coromandel and my publishers Penguin. Dr. Sumantran, and Ms. Jennifer McIntyre so freely shared personal stories of how Culture Quotient building was a must.
I loved Sumantran’s summary of having a COO – Curiosity, Openmindednes, Observationpowers inorder to be interculturally successful. And Jennifer was so open about being asked at various posts where she represents American diplomacy, “are you married, and why not”? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, even if cultures change, similarity remains.
I invite you to read the press coverage of the fireside chat with these two leaders.
The Cultural Connect
There is a fine line between stereotyping people of different cultures and understanding the unique traits and practices every culture brings with it. Ranjini Manian’s book Upworldly Mobile offers an insight on cultural intelligence for Indian managers and expats.
At the book launch last week, the author discussed the relevance of cultural intelligence with Jennifer McIntyre, Consul-General of the U.S. Consulate, Chennai, and V. Sumantran, executive vice- chairman, Hinduja Automotive and chairman of Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain.
“There are over 3,000 foreign companies registered and operating in India and 1,00,000 MBAs from India are or will be filling up positions in those companies. But they seem to lack in cultural and behavioural aspects of management. I wrote this book for supplemental reading in B-schools,” said Ranjini Manian, CEO, Global Adjustments explaining her motivation to write the book.
It all started with a newspaper column. “I was doing training programmes with expats when I got a chance to write for Business Line. It soon became an interactive piece. The interactions encouraged me to write this book.”
Ranjini believes that the book would serve as a beginners’ guide to ironing out inter-cultural issues. “I always tried to map the training programmes so that participants are aware of the basic differences right at the beginning. The frequently-asked questions are included in the table of contents so that this book serves as a text which will take students from the campus to the corporate world equipped with the cultural intelligence tool.”
“We need to become a little more savvy about ourselves,” she added. “Confidence in explaining ourselves comes only when we know ourselves first.”
Earlier at the discussion, V. Sumantran, who lived in the U.S. for 21 years and in Europe for four, and now works with a Japanese partner, observed that cultural intelligence is about “curiosity, observation and having an open mind to let in new ideas.” Jennifer McIntyre added: “And sensitivity and ability to understand your own culture.”
Sumantran pointed out that western work structures are about systematic product development and discipline while Indian work cultures carry a lot of adaptability. “There is virtue in this ability to adapt,” he said, illustrating the difference in Western classical music’s discipline and Indian classical music’s improvisation. “We should be able to create a balance and get the best of both worlds to come up with a work culture that has discipline and adaptability. We need both.”
McIntyre said that she admired India’s multi-cultural society.
“The world would be boring if it was homogenous,” said Sumantran.
Meanwhile, Ranjini has already moved on to writing her third book.
“It’s called Why Do Indians Do That because that is the question I am always asked,” she concluded.
Helping bridge the cultural divide
The second article was published in City Express Chennai on 25th of October 2011.
by Prashanthi Ganesh
From working at the Taj, Mumbai, as a college student for pocket money to hosting the launch of her second book at Taj Coromandel, Chennai, Ranjini Manian has come a long way. After the success of her first book “Doing Business in India for Dummies“, the founder and CEO of Global Adjustments, one of the country’s first relocation, realty and cross-cultural services company, is back with Upworldly Mobile.
Like the tag line of the book reads, “Behaviour and business skills for the new Indian manager”, the book focuses on various issues pertaining to the global work environment and is meant to act as a cultural intelligence tool for young Indian and foreign managers.
Unlike the usual book launch where the guests on the dais grill the author with questions on the book and related experiences, this event saw Ranjini question Dr. Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive, and Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General of the US Consulate, Chennai.
It could be said that the session did fit the bill of the occasion, with the two guests sharing experiences and anecdotes from their experience from around the world.
“When my wife and I hosted a dinner party in Sweden, we heard the guests’ cars pull up at 7.25 and they waited till 7.30 to ring the doorbell,” said Sumantran, explaining the difference in the concept of keeping time with Indians and other cultures.
Ranjini’s book addresses the concept of cultural intelligence at the work place. She has drawn inspiration from her experiences of having worked with clients from 75 nationalities for over 16 years. “I read that there are 3.000 foreign companies operating in India. But there is a lack of cultural and behavioral aspects even in some of the top IIM’s and B-schools. So, the book will act as supplementary reading material,” explains Ranjini, as an answer to what motivated her to write the book.
The book also throws light on cultural intelligence as a way of showing behavioural differences in each culture and depicting the values from them, right from lessons in gestures, communication, etiquette, among other work place aspects. “My sense of space has gotten much smaller after all the travelling and I’m also more conscious of where my hand and feet are,” said Jennifer.
Ranjini also explained that she has had to make a lot of changes to fit in while dealing with the West. “I thought that to get on with the Western world, I had to look Western. So, I initially tried a lot of Western clothes and they made me very uncomfortable. I had to unlearn and be myself,” she says.
Over the years she has also learnt to speak slow, the art of being able to say no and being blunt, which are also some of the points that figure in her book. Effectively divided into six parts, the book has been published by the Penguin Group and is prices ad R.S. 250.
Being a global citizen, the Upworldly Mobile way
“Indian punctuality” is a term that pokes fun at Indians’ predilection to arrive unfailingly late for an event. But what do you say about their penchant to queue up two or three hours in advance outside the US consulate for a visa interview even though they need only be there 20 minutes ahead?
The audience bursts into laughter when Ranjini Manian, Founder and CEO of relocation and cross-cultural destination services company Global Adjustments, poses this question to Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, US Consulate, Chennai. The conversation is part of the launch of Upworldly Mobile: Behaviour and Business Skills for the New Indian Manager, Manian’s book, launched at Chennai on Thursday. Penguin is the publisher.
Discussing the differences between the Western world and India, Dr Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive, and Chairman, Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain, said there is a very strong element of structure in the West, the absence of which would fox them. In India, though, there is great emphasis on adapting. “I wouldn’t dismiss adaptability as a failure, it’s a virtue in an unpredictable world,” he said.
Among other Indian traits and differences was Indians’ inclination to be formal with seniors and authority. Dr Sumantran said he was “against an unnecessary use of power and seniority because it dampens frank communication.”
McIntyre assumed a more forgiving stance of common Indian foibles such as asking personal questions – her travels across the world had revealed that India was not alone when it came to such traits. For instance, she recalls being asked her age and her marital status by a taxi driver in Azerbaijan. She was put through a similar line of questioning in Turkey as well.
All in all, the consensus was that today’s world is far more accepting of multiculturalism and is not looking for one to reform.
The book aims to provide practical tips to enhance communication between Indian managers working with expatriates or in global workplace. Through anecdotes, it tells readers how to deal with real-life situations, running the gamut from dress sense and firm handshakes to meeting deadlines and expectations.
HR Leadership Congress India 2011
Mumbai, 27th of September: On invitation of Vikas Vij, CEO of The Ideas Exchange, Ranjini Manian handed over the first two copies of her new book “Upworldly Mobile” to Kate Sweetman, leadership guru and former editor of Harvard Business Review and Ed Cohen, Executive Vice President of Nelson Cohen Global Consulting. Ranjini explained the importance of cultural intelligence in today’s business world during a fireside-chat with Kate, through various practical and interactive examples – integrating the hand-picked audience of 70 senior HR managers.
Rotary Club Chennai Thiruvanmiyur
Chennai, 27th of September: On the same day, Ranjini was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Chennai Thiruvanmiyur meeting. The room was packed to hear what she had to say about equipping Indians to be Upworldly Mobile.
As she spoke, several seasoned Indian travelers weighed in with their own experiences and talked about the great need to understand the customs and communication styles of other cultures. Gerard Pushpanathan, President of RCCT, said “Ranjini’s topic was apt for most of us who do business across the country and across the globe”.
Ranjini also helped the Rotarians to be aware of their own culture – testing their knowledge of the different states of India, giving a succinct answer to the “whys” of Indian culture, and to have as much fervency in learning about India as learning about the West.
As we all know, India’s time to evolve into Super power status has already come, and leveraging our cultural aspects is going to really be the soft-power that endures.
I wanted to share three facts with you:
Number of foreign companies currently registered and operating in India: 3,138
Number of MBA graduates in India per year: 100,000
Scope for cultural misunderstandings due to a lack of a common norm of global behaviour: INFINITE
This is what made me write my newest book “Upworldly Mobile”.
In my first book “Doing Business in India for Dummies”, I had mainly addressed the challenges of working successfully with Indians from an expatriate perspective. But in Upworldly Mobile, both sides benefit.
What is unique about this book?
Because India is flush with B-Schools and technical centres which deal with the theory and principles of academics and management, a lot of intercultural behaviour area is left uncovered. Increasing our CQ or Cultural Quotient is the need of the hour and a common minimum platform of international behaviour is a must for Indian professionals to succeed.
I think what makes this book unique are the stories in it, which are drawn from real life experiences of these past 16 years at Global Adjustments, of interacting with business leaders from over 75 nationalities and globally-minded Indians. I have retold real-world scenarios in a simple, entertaining and easy-to-read format where you could pick any page and dip in and out of the book. Upworldly Mobile focuses on the practical, hands-on aspects of doing business with expatriates.
Who should read Upworldly Mobile?
Upworldly Mobile is intended for any Indian professional or budding professional, having to deal with expatriate colleagues virtually or in person – in India or abroad.
And expatriate managers would benefit from reading it too.
Because they are working equally hard to understand what makes Indians tick. By reading Upworldly Mobile, the expat gets an idea of what his Indian teams don’t know, and he begins to see things through different cultural lenses. For example, he understands that a limp handshake is not a sign of weakness in an Indian but a sign of respect for someone senior. These are written in the form of pull-outs, titled “Insight for Outsiders”.
What is the gist of the book?
There are 4 main themes spread over 6 parts in this book.
One is: Knowing yourself as an Indian, and being able to succinctly describe your own culture to a listener. For example what drives you as an Indian and the importance of family and the permanence of tradition in our lives, which places events connected with them ahead of even our work, at times.
A second is knowing what drives the expatriate – for example, the book deals with the correct procedures for meeting, greeting and negotiations with an American vis â vis say a German or Japanese.
A third aspect is to strengthen areas we need to build confidence in: Like the art of networking and small talk to build business relationships. Or even being able to say a solution-oriented ‘No’ when we can’t meet deadlines
And finally, various cultural intelligence tools which help us gauge the situation and adapt to it, knowing there are different backgrounds to behaviour which allow two sides to meet on middle ground.
Upworldly Mobile focuses on strengthening Indian roots and flying on global wings.
Success is being comfortable with who you are. My team at Global Adjustments and I are comfortable with any culture we do business with. If we can do this, then anyone can.
I want to leave you with a Sanskrit saying “paropakaraya punyaya” – making others comfortable gives instant success. I wish India all success as a global presence.
Thank you for reading my first blog entry on “Being Upworldly Mobile”. I would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences on the topics of this book.
CEO, Global Adjustments Pvt. Ltd.