I spent last week in the south of France. Lucky me!

En route, I lamented to my partner the effects of globalization as we encountered countless McDonald’s, Starbuck’s and Brookstones on our three-leg European journey to Nice (We flew on points and thus took a roundabout route).

Once we arrived and drove deep into the countryside, my laments ceased. I was in France. I felt it. I heard it. I tasted it.

English vanished. Vineyards rolled on as far as the eye could see. Meals out took 3 hours with no pressure to turn a table from our waiters. Passersby gawked at me on my daily run (why run if no one’s chasing you?). Every morning started with a trip to the bakery for a fresh-baked loaf of bread.

Happily I discovered that the French are still French.

It reminded me of the power of heritage. When embraced, our founding stories and our deep-seeded narratives about who we are and why we do what we do create a tone, an ambiance, a sensation that can be felt viscerally by the people who experience those stories.

Try to be like everyone else and your message gets lost. Tap into the cultural forces that drive you to do be who you are and do what you do, and you’ll make a lasting impression.