If you like something, you like it - but how many opportunities in life might we miss out on because we are not willing to give something new a try, often just because we don't like the sound of it?
For me, sharing food has been a great way to literally “sample" different cultures and to mingle with people with a relaxed, inquisitive and open mind - without the constraints of being in a formal meeting or negotiation.
So that brings me to A Taste of Harmony (celebrated the week of 16 March) – for which I am an ambassador.
When Peter Scanlon, Chair of the Scanlon Foundation came to talk to me and Mike Smith, our CEO (who has worked in even more countries than I have!) six years ago about the idea of having a week where our employees could celebrate cultural diversity, we were both hooked on the idea from the word go.
From small beginnings back then we are now at the point where every year more than 20,000 of our employees participate, from 11 of the countries in which we operate.
A Taste of Harmony encourages colleagues to share food and stories from different cultural backgrounds across the globe. Some people take the opportunity to make it very festive, dressing up in different national costumes, running a concurrent culture quiz and organising a potluck meal where each person brings in (or often cooks) a dish reflecting their background to share with their colleagues.
One of my fondest memories of A Taste of Harmony was at our office in New York City. Every single employee in this 100-strong office formed into teams of four and supplied food from Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, New York delis, Australia, Eastern Europe, France and many more.
I will never forget seeing a mature markets trader explain he had chosen his Hungarian grandmother's recipe for stuffed cabbages as it took him back to his childhood and he wanted to share that with his colleagues – not a dry eye in the house!
(And of course lots of empty plates afterwards.)
Food really does transcend all boundaries. It brings people together, it gives us something to share, it encourages conversation. And it reminds us even in diversity and variety we have much in common.