What Americans and Croatians Can Learn From Each Other in Business

Total Croatia News

September 3, 2020 – What can Americans and Croatians learn from each other in business? A dual citizen of both countries offers her thoughts.  

There’s no doubt America is a dominant player on the global business stage, but there are norms in Croatia that I believe outshine American practices when it comes to work. Both countries could learn from each other. Here’s my view how.

1. Outlook and perspective. Americans have this nailed and I think speaks to much of why US companies tend to be so overwhelmingly successful on a global scale. Fake it till you make it, nothing is impossible, the squeaky wheel gets the oil are all apt representations of American business people’s attitudes. We all know the US has its issues but the attitude that change can happen always prevails. It’s also not expected to happen overnight and the belief that even one person can effect change keeps Americans fighting the good fight.

2. Credentials, or in my American mind, schmedentials. In my business career in the US, the best and most talented people I worked with did not have PhDs or Ivy League college degrees (or if they did, they got them much later in their already successful careers). An American will hire you if you are hard-working, motivated and smart. Look outside the check box for talent and you will reap new perspectives, skills and ideas. This is more important than ever before with up-skilling and life-long learning being the new norm.

3. Swagger. Ever meet an unconfident American? And are they always qualified to be so confident? I’ll be nice and answer that for you – absolutely NOT. Scratch the surface a bit and that American is no smarter than the next gal or guy, but it doesn’t matter because this belief in themselves means they’re likely to achieve more. Why Croats aren’t more braggadocious is beyond me given their massive successes in innovation, technology medicine, sports, arts, the list goes on. 


Now on the other side of the ring, the fearless Croats and what they can teach us* Americans – bring it, Croats!

1. Ingenuity and resourcefulness. I grew up with a Croatian father in the US nicknamed “Croatian MacGyver” (dating myself, but for anyone under 40 MacGyver could prevent nuclear war with a banana and some strong glue). Croatians haven’t had a lot for a long time and have had to rely on creativity and innovation to thrive. What? Want to build an electric hypercar in Croatia, but parts are too expensive? Oh, we’ll just make it! There are many examples like this and because of this reality, Croats don’t take things for granted either.

2. There are no Starbucks. Before you go thinking how horrifying and completely anti-productive that is, let me tell you about coffee culture here. First know that cafes outnumber banks and grocery stores combined + maybe some other public services. And what happens at these numerous cafes sans any type of device (except a smartphone to show off pics of your dog or kids) is networking – pure and genuine relationship building that opens doors to new business, new ideas and connections. All for the price of Starbucks’ cheapest menu item.

3. Balance. This is a tough one as I do admit it’s hard to implement in the US even if you want to, but let me start with something that could be a first step. In Croatia, when you meet people it is extremely rare to ask them what they do for work, because work doesn’t define them. It’s work. Why is this good? Mental well-being, people. You are not your job and this leads to not feeling guilty or bad about yourself if you’re not always giving 100%. Freedom.

So yes, we can learn a lot from each other when it comes to business and life helping us be more balanced, healthier and more successful – and we’ll get the chance soon I hope given the new Croatian digital nomad visa. I’ll close with some advice to my American self: “ Take it easy sometimes!” and to my Croat-self: “You are far more qualified than you know!”


*Full Disclosure Everybody: Author is a dual citizen of the USA and Croatia.

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