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Book Review: Grow Globally

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An increasingly common company announcement is plans to expand in another part of the world. There are a variety of reasons given, including diversification and the seeking of additional resources. The most common, though, are lower costs and faster growth markets. Major companies like General Electric and Coca Cola are prime examples of successful globalization endeavors.

Now that there are a higher number of companies for whom this is a new initiative, securities analysts and portfolio managers need to learn how to evaluate global expansion plans. With the help of Mona Pearl’s Grow Globally: Opportunities for Your Middle-Market Company Around the World, executives will be armed with the knowledge necessary to prosper in a global economy. As Grow Globally points out, global expansion is an endeavor with a high failure rate—less than 50% of middle-market US companies succeed.

Globalization is far more than expansion of existing product lines into new markets. The author, Mona Pearl, is a very qualified guide to success in international expansion. She is a multilingual global business development consultant who has founded and operated three successful businesses. Her book gives the reader a systematic, detailed "framework that enables you to see, identify, respond, plan, and operate."

In today's world, the main challenge is not getting information; on the contrary, there may be too much information to easily process. Grow Globally helps the reader ascertain key information, helping "you to identify what questions to ask." Armed with this book, analysts and investors can probe deeply, and increase their success rate in international investing.

In addition, Grow Globally can be a great resource to those who travel abroad to meet with company managements and bankers. We are trained, and live, on Excel spreadsheets and computer models. Our mind set is "time is money." As the book states, "Our low-context culture makes it difficult to understand high-context communication," which has left many unable to deal with cultures in Asia, Latin America, and even Europe.

Understanding how to develop relationships in these cultures can be the difference between success and failure. A key starting point is fluency in foreign languages. Pearl, who speaks six languages, can attest to the fact that proficiency in an additional language is a benefit with respect to global expansion.

Grow Globally's theme is a lot of upfront research is essential to being a winner in the globalization world. A new mind-set and skills are required. Mona Pearl starts us on the path to opportunity.

—Bill Hayes 

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