The best books for global business leaders

Why am I passionate about this?

I love helping companies unlock global growth. As a child, I spent my free time writing letters to pen pals in countries around the world. That passion for communicating across borders, languages, and cultures never went away. I’ve spent most of my life working to overcome those barriers in business. I frequently write about international business for Harvard Business Review, and in my latest book, in which I share lessons learned as an operator and executive at HubSpot, where I led international strategy. Today, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at Zappi, a tech company with employees in 16 countries. 


I wrote...

Take Your Company Global: The New Rules of International Expansion

By Nataly Kelly,

Book cover of Take Your Company Global: The New Rules of International Expansion

What is my book about?

The way companies go global has changed. In the digital age, you can take your business global more quickly than ever before. Today, you’re technically global the moment you launch a website, publish an app on a global app store, or begin selling products in an international online marketplace. 

The pace of international expansion has changed, but that doesn’t mean it is simpler. Today, businesses need to employ a global mindset as early as day one to ensure that they can intensify their presence in new markets when they decide the time is right. This book also includes the MARACA framework, first published in Harvard Business Review, and explained in depth with examples and advice on how to implement it at any company.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do

Nataly Kelly Why did I love this book?

Consumer behavior is deeply rooted in culture. Where we live and grow up in the world shapes how we think and what we buy.

As a marketing executive, I loved learning from Rapaille’s examples, which are rooted in experience with some of the most successful product launches and advertising campaigns in history. He has used these principles to achieve international business success for some of the world’s most iconic brands. His theory helped Chrysler with the PT Cruiser launch. He also influenced the famous Procter & Gamble campaign for Folger’s Coffee, one of the most successful ad campaigns in history.

This is my top pick for international business professionals who want to learn how to build a successful global brand.

By Clotaire Rapaille,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Culture Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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.…


Book cover of Cultural Intelligence for Marketers: Building an Inclusive Marketing Strategy

Nataly Kelly Why did I love this book?

Inclusive marketing and culture to help companies create lasting business and social impact?

This book was written by a brand strategist and cultural theorist who works at Reddit, and it speaks straight to my heart as a marketing executive in technology. What I love most are the examples from leading brands, such as Microsoft, Unilever, Pinterest, Nike, and P&G. I also appreciated the examples from marketing leaders from Dentsu, Edelman, Digitas, WPP, and others.

What I really enjoy about this book is that it presents an entire system to help marketers understand how to embed cultural fluency into various aspects of their marketing strategies.

By Anastasia Karklina Gabriel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cultural Intelligence for Marketers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brands not only reflect culture but actively shape societal norms and values. Move beyond performative inclusive marketing and drive the cultural conversation. A brand today can build a marketing strategy that not only effectively resonates with audiences but also meaningfully impacts society at large. Learn how to produce inclusive marketing using an approach grounded in critical perspectives on society and the impact brands wield in shaping it. In this book, cultural theorist and strategist Anastasia Karklina Gabriel draws on social analysis, media theory, and semiotics to help marketers improve cultural fluency and future-proof brand strategy by embedding equity and inclusion…


Book cover of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere

Nataly Kelly Why did I love this book?

Global business and remote work often go hand in hand. Having worked in a large multinational business, I’ve seen how the issues Tsedal covers actually play out in practice. She talks extensively about two important goals for any remote global team: productivity and trust, and how to achieve both in cross-national remote work settings.

I’ve always found that creating a stable and repeatable operating cadence is critical for driving success with remote global teams. Remote workers crave predictability, and Tsedal talks about how important this is, based on her research and work as a professor at Harvard Business School.

I appreciate that she highlights the fact that preferences around synchronous and asynchronous communication can change depending on employees’ cultures and language competence levels. 

By Tsedal Neeley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Remote Work Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES & MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR

"I often talk about the importance of trust when it comes to work: the trust of your employees and building trust with your customers. This book provides a blueprint for how to build and maintain that trust and connection in a digital environment." -Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom

Harvard Business School professor and leading expert in virtual and global work Tsedal Neeley reveals how to thrive in remote and hybrid organizations.

Succeeding in a hybrid work environment comes with unique challenges. Managers must lead virtually…


Book cover of The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business

Nataly Kelly Why did I love this book?

So much of culture is unspoken and unseen. That’s why I love Erin Meyer’s classic book on doing business across borders.

As someone who oversees a global marketing team with people in various countries, I really relate to the compelling anecdotes she provides throughout. My favorite examples are ones where she showcases the misunderstandings that often go unseen and breaks down what is really happening behind the scenes when people from different cultures struggle to communicate in business settings.

Understanding high-context and low-context cultures is so important in global business. Having worked with employees in Japan, a high-context culture, I fully agree with her advice that global businesses should work toward making context more explicit so that all employees can thrive.

By Erin Meyer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Culture Map as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. Renowned expert Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain where people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together.When you have Americans who precede anything negative with three nice comments French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans who get straight to the point ( your presentation was simply awful") Latin Americans and Asians who are steeped in hierarchy Scandinavians who think the…


Book cover of The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World

Nataly Kelly Why did I love this book?

Geopolitics shape economies. Success in global business depends on understanding the economies in which you operate. That’s why I’m a major fan of this book by Tim Marshall. He’s a former diplomatic editor and foreign correspondent who uses his experiences and research in a really compelling way.

When I was leading international expansion and strategy for HubSpot, a large public software company, one of the factors I had to look at to choose our next office locations was the political and economic stability of the different countries we were evaluating.

For anyone working at a global company, it’s important to understand the relationships between nations that often underpin local economies and dictate their future. 

By Tim Marshall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Power of Geography as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*

'I can't imagine reading a better book this year' Daily Mirror

Tim Marshall's global bestseller Prisoners of Geography showed how every nation's choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Since then, the geography hasn't changed. But the world has.

In this revelatory new book, Marshall explores ten regions that are set to shape global politics in a new age of great-power rivalry: Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Greece, Turkey, the Sahel, Ethiopia, Spain and Space. Find out why Europe's next refugee crisis is closer than it thinks as trouble brews in the Sahel;…


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Book cover of Liddy-Jean Marketing Queen and the Matchmaking Scheme

Mari Sangiovanni

New book alert!

What is my book about?

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Liddy-Jean Carpenter has learning disabilities. But she also has a surprisingly genius plan.

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While compiling pages of bad behavior notes, she finds she…


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