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The best communication starts with you

Frank Garten (PhD)

travels from Netherlands

Intercultural communcation expert sharing valuable insights into cooperation between people from different cultures

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The keynote speaker Frank Garten is an expert on intercultural communication and management. As the author of several books and a popular speaker and trainer, he knows that the best communication starts with you.

Our speaker Frank Garten has worked in technical, commercial and general management positions in Philips and NXP, gaining practical insight into cooperation between people from different cultural backgrounds. He has traveled extensively in most business cultures of the world, and experienced what works and what doesn’t in phone conferences, meetings, change projects and negotiations.

Frank has been working for the last 8 years as an independent consultant, and gives lectures and workshops on topics such as cultural diversity, cross-cultural cooperation, communication & influencing and personal leadership. By combining his sound theoretical basis from his PhD with his own experience, Frank’s talks and lectures notably stand out for their focus on what to do practically. Should you copy your superiors on an email? Do you present conclusions first or last in a talk? Should you act confidently or with modesty in first interactions with colleagues, suppliers, clients and partners from across the world?

The distinguished speaker Frank Garten frequently speaks and runs seminars and workshops across the world. He has done intercultural training for companies such as NXP Semiconductors, Borealis, Flint, ABN-AMRO, Philips, KBC Bank, Schenker, TMC, Ernst & Young, Omron, Frames, Damco and many others. Frank is a lively speaker, and searches for interaction with his audience, not hesitating to let them look in the mirror and confront them with their own cultural preconceptions.

See keynotes with Frank Garten (PhD)
Keynote by speaker Frank Garten

"I'm very tolerant of differences" - A keynote on diversity and inclusion at work

We all say that we want a diverse culture. There is an underlying pattern: the majority arranging things to include the underrepresented minority – emphasizing that they are not included yet. However, this method does not work and will not change anything at the workplace. The common problem with this approach: we externalize the issue. It takes courage to look in the mirror and not expect someone else to act differently. The Harvard Business Review nailed it in 2017: “Leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity.”

In this fun and challenging keynote, speaker Frank Garten will:

  • Show you how the brain works and how this reduces our openness to differences and the 4 things you can do about it.
  • Tell you we fool ourselves with the data one-sided stories and confirmation bias make us see what we want to see.
  • Help you develop the courage to speak up and address the problem effectively.
Keynote by speaker Frank Garten

"I'm the rule, they are the exception" - A keynote on cross-cultural differences at work

These days, most businesses operate internationally. We all recognize statements like these: “The software team in India always tells us the project is on track. This is simply not true, there are delays. So they are not honest.” or ““Americans are so superficial. They ask me “How are you doing?” but don’t expect an answer. Everything they say is ‘over the top’ and ‘fake’.” The pattern is obvious here. However, if you don’t include yourself as the part of the system and describe ‘them’ as the problem, the situation is guaranteed to get worse over time.

In this thought-provoking and entertaining keynote, speaker Frank Gartner will:

  • Show you the cultural dimensions, the scores of the cultures you work with on the dimensions, and the consequences of this in the workplace.
  • Tell you how to build bridges between cultures and reach out to someone who pushes your defensive responses.
  • Teach you how to overcome thinking patterns such as ” I know better than you. So we should follow my way-of-working, not yours”


Keynote by speaker Frank Garten

"Yes, but... I'm right, not you" - A keynote on defensive responses at work

We always hope cross-cultural teams and management-employees to communicate and cooperate effectively. However, the reality is often different. The comfort zone of the silent minority is to listen and interpret, while the loud majority likes to speak and to assert. How to unite the two worlds to create a thriving team?

In this effective and enjoyable keynote, speaker Frank Gartner will:

  • Explain to you how our comfort zone works,and why it is safer for us to be less courageous and visible in the office.
  • Tell you how the brain works. A fascinating guide on defensive, neurochemical processes in our brain, and how to get them back under control.
  • Show you very practical tips for how we can ensure that we are not highjacked by our elementary brain, but that we keep discovering and creating opportunity.
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Interview with Frank Garten

Watch speaker Frank Garten in action

Frank Garten in action

See keynotes with Frank Garten (PhD)

Interview with Frank Garten

What types of results do clients experience after your programmes & keynotes?

There’s two types of results. First of all they have realised that working with other cultures is not about learning tips & tricks about another country. They have experienced it all starts with them: the effect of their own behaviour on others. A confronting insight for some. On top of that, people walk away with very practical tips, about how to write emails, host conference calls in an international environment etc.

What advice would you give to someone who has just started to work with/in another culture?

Listen with the aim to understand. Refrain from judgment, just listen and learn. More importantly though: behave like you would do in your own culture. But explain what you do, and show the other person you know you are culturally biased. “I’m Dutch, and in our culture we are quite direct and confrontational. In my culture, at this point I would just tell you your proposal will not work. You’re not meant to take this personal, but I want to be as clear as I can.

What are the most common barriers in intercultural interactions?

The assumption that my culture is better than yours. So when working with the back office in India, many of us work from the assumption that we know how to run projects, and that they are sloppy and chaotic. When you work from this assumption, you will only find evidence for other people being sloppy and chaotic. But who are we to tell 1.4 billion Indians they are wrong? Work from the assumption that you can learn from them. Then India is rich, fascinating and remarkably effective.

Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?

I always search for the possibility to confront people in the audience with their own behaviour. In my talk I will point out how the dominant culture in the audience comes across to someone from another culture. Those moments are funny, and insightful. When you explain the Swedes how relaxed they come across. When you explain the Americans how ‘simple’ and ‘superficial’ they may come across. When you explain the British how hard it is for others to see what they mean.

What skills are needed to be a good negotiator?

The intuitive answer would be that you need to be articulate, don’t be afraid to confront, and speak convincingly. But that’s just a small part of it. You need to be a very good listener. And we all think we are, but we are not. You need to be a very good observer as well. See and hear everything. And then interpret what you see and hear from their perspective. Why do they do what they do? Why do they say what they say? If you’re able to think from their perspective rather than from your own, you’re a good negotiator.

Who or what inspires you most?

The new generation that comes into the workforce now. I often see so much hidden and unexpressed potential in companies. New generations more show their skills, and have an inner confidence to do what they think needs to be done. I find this very inspiring, and learn from them as much as I can.

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Keynote topics with Frank Garten (PhD)