Book Excerpt
The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do
by Clotaire Rapaille

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An excerpt from The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do by Clotaire Rapaille, published 2006 by Broadway Books.
Book excerpt reprinted with the permission of the publisher.
Copyright © 2006 Clotaire Rapaille

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BOOK EXCERPT

DNA makes a creature human, but what makes someone an American? Is there a "culture code" that programs us to become German, or Japanese, or French? Dr. Clotaire Rapaille believes there is such a code, a silent system of archetypes that we unconsciously acquire as we grow up within our culture. The codes vary around the world and invisibly shape how we behave in our personal lives and as consumers and as nations.

The German Code for Germany is perhaps best illustrated in a story.

Lego, the Danish toy company, found instant success with their interlocking blocks in the German market, while sales foundered in the U.S. Why?

The company's management believed that one of the primary reasons for their success was the quality of the instructions they provided inside each box that helped children build the specific item (a car, a spaceship) that a particular box of blocks was meant to build. The instructions were quite a breakthrough in the field: precise, colorful, and refreshingly self-explanatory. They made construction with Lego blocks not only simple, but in some ways magical. If one followed the path through the instructions, tiny plastic pieces methodically turned into something grander.

American children could not have cared less. They would tear into the boxes, glance fleetingly at the instructions (if they glanced at them at all), and immediately set to a construction project on their own. They seemed to be having a wonderful time, but they were as likely to build, say, a fort, as they were to build the automobile for which the blocks were intended. And when they were done, they would tear their fort apart and start over from scratch. Once purchased, to Lego's dismay, a single box of Lego could last for years.

In Germany, however, Lego's strategy worked exactly as intended. German children opened a box of Legos, sought out the instructions, read them carefully, and then sorted the pieces by color. They set to building, comparing their assembly progress to the crisp, helpful illustrations in the instruction booklet. When they were finished, they had an exact duplicate of the product shown on the cover of the box. They showed it to Mother who clapped approvingly and put the model on a shelf. Now the children needed another box.

Without even knowing it, Lego had tapped into the Culture Code for Germany itself: ORDER. Over many generations, Germans perfected bureaucracy in an effort to stave off the chaos that came to them in wave after wave, and Germans are imprinted early on with this most powerful of codes. It is that imprint which makes children reach dutifully for the instructions, and it is that code which prevents them from immediately destroying their neat construction in order to build it anew. Lego's elegant, full-color instructions had tapped into the German code in a way that assured repeat sales.

The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do by Clotaire Rapaille,
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BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER

Why are people around the world so very different? What makes us live, buy, even love as we do? The answers are in the codes.

In The Culture Code, internationally revered cultural anthropologist and marketing expert Clotaire Rapaille reveals for the first time the techniques he has used to improve profitability and practices for dozens of Fortune 100 companies. His groundbreaking revelations shed light not just on business but on the way every human being acts and lives around the world.

Rapaille's breakthrough notion is that we acquire a silent system of codes as we grow up within our culture. These codes-the Culture Code-are what make us American, or German, or French, and they invisibly shape how we behave in our personal lives, even when we are completely unaware of our motives. What's more, we can learn to crack the codes that guide our actions and achieve new understanding of why we do the things we do.

Rapaille has used the Culture Code to help Chrysler build the PT Cruiser-the most successful American car launch in recent memory. He has used it to help Procter & Gamble design its advertising campaign for Folger's coffee - one of the longest lasting and most successful campaigns in the annals of advertising. He has used it to help companies as diverse as GE, AT&T, Boeing, Honda, Kellogg, and L'Or‚al improve their bottom line at home and overseas. And now, in The Culture Code, he uses it to reveal why Americans act distinctly like Americans, and what makes us different from the world around us.

In The Culture Code, Dr. Rapaille decodes two dozen of our most fundamental archetypes-ranging from sex to money to health to America itself-to give us "a new set of glasses" with which to view our actions and motivations. Why are we so often disillusioned by love? Why is fat a solution rather than a problem? Why do we reject the notion of perfection? Why is fast food in our lives to stay? The answers are in the Codes.

Understanding the Codes gives us unprecedented freedom over our lives. It lets us do business in dramatically new ways. And it finally explains why people around the world really are different, and reveals the hidden clues to understanding us all.

The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do by Clotaire Rapaille,
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Clotaire Rapaille is the chairman of Archetype Discoveries Worldwide and has used this decoding approach for thirty years. He is the personal adviser to ten high-ranking CEOs and is kept on retainer by fifty Fortune 100 companies. He has been profiled in many national media outlets, including 60 Minutes II and on the front page of the New York Times Sunday Styles section. He lives in Tuxedo Park, New York.

The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do by Clotaire Rapaille,
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BOOK REVIEWS

"This book is just plain astonishing! Filled with profound insights and ideas that have enormous consequences for today's organizations. If you want to understand customers, Constituencies, and crowds, this book is required reading."

-- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader

The Culture Code : An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do by Clotaire Rapaille,
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We have reviewed this book.
Link to our book review.