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Transatlantic Business Insights: Bridging Markets, Cultures, and Opportunities

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

I often get asked what I actually do. As a result, I have decided to develop a series of articles with the heading Transatlantic Business Insights to shed some light about my work and the work of my firm AXEL. Here, I am starting with some background about me, some insights into how I see things a bit differently, how that affects the way I approach my work with clients, and how my perspective might be helpful to you and to your company.


A Bit About My Background

I was born and raised as an American in Denmark by an American father and a Danish mother. This meant raising the American flag on our flagpole on birthdays (nearly every single Danish home has a proper flagpole in the yard and they use them often!) which often lead to a neighbor calling the police, cooking turkey for Thanksgiving (not normally celebrated as a holiday in Denmark), attending the American Independence Day celebration in Rebild Bakker in Northern Jutland (the only official celebration of U.S. Independence Day outside the U.S. – celebrated since 1912), and celebrating Christmas on December 25th (although, much to the consternation of my childhood friends, we also celebrated Danish Juleaften on the evening of December 24th).

I spent most of my childhood and youth in Europe and have spent the majority of my adult life in the U.S. I have attended school in both countries, majoring in European Studies at the University of California Los Angeles, where I also studied business law at UCLA School of Law. I have been both an employee and an entrepreneur. I have started and led companies on both continents. This has provided me with a depth of understanding that I find quite useful for European companies who want to do business better in the U.S. now that my base is in Los Angeles. My transatlantic experience has shaped my view of the business world, enabling me to bridge cultural and commercial gaps effectively.

Paradoxically, I am now a Dane living and working in the US – go figure! I am often a go-to resource for Viking history (No, Viking helmets never had horns! No - never!), I am a renowned (at least in my own mind…) baker of proper Danish pastry (for a REAL Danish bakery in the Los Angeles area, please visit Copenhagen Pastry – owned and operated by Karen Hansen, who is originally from Næstved, near Copenhagen), and, not least, I lead an advisory firm - AXEL - focused on helping European companies solve the riddle of how to successfully navigate the U.S. market and achieve the success that seems ripe for the picking.


A Unique Transatlantic Perspective

My experiences living and doing business on both sides of the Atlantic have helped me develop a deep understanding of both sides as well as a unique perspective. One of the key learnings for me is how much language affects the difficulties companies face when tackling the U.S. market. I have seen how the use of different words to describe a company’s objective changes the outcome. For example, I always encourage executives to think more locally rather than asserting they are “focused on the U.S” which to me is the very definition of not focused. Often, I have heard executives in the U.K. speak of a “scheme” to become successful in the U.S. Unfortunately, in the U.S. the word scheme usually refers to nefarious plans. My unique perspective leads me to advising companies is to look very closely at where their first customer is located and to strive towards a deep understanding of that customer’s environment. It is usually much more impactful to leverage one customer in one location and build from that relationship. This has led me to change the wording I use away from go-to-market strategy to Market Engagement Strategy. Engaging deeply and building one personal connection is a good starting point. Start with something that doesn’t scale before trying to reach for the entire United States.

In my next article I am going to delve into what Market Engagement Strategy is, how it is different, and why I believe that is a better approach for European companies with ambitions of doing business in the U.S. successfully.


Does This Perspective Resonate with You?

Do you find yourself pondering how a different perspective, particularly one shaped by extensive experience in both Europe and the U.S., could benefit your business? What are the challenges and obstacles you're facing that a unique approach to Market Engagement might help resolve? If these thoughts strike a chord, I am keen to discuss how my experiences and insights could align with and enhance your U.S. Market Engagement Strategy. How can we together turn these challenges into opportunities for your business? I invite you to reach out and start a conversation about what this could mean for you.


I hope you will reach out to me. I enjoy hearing about how other people think about the U.S. market, what they have found challenging, and what they continue to find challenging.

You can schedule a meeting to discuss how I may be able to help your company through my website here, you can send me an email to tr@axel-us.com, or you can send me a personalized invitation to connect on LinkedIn.


Cheers,

Thomas


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