The Water Cooler: If All Politics Is Local, Is the Same True for Business?

January 31, 2020

LinkedIn Water Cooler

American politician Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.”

Is the same true in the world of commerce? Is all business local?

Based on the results of the latest LinkedIn Water Cooler, in which we compared the 10 articles that received the most engagement in Latin America with those in North America, we can say that the answer is, Yes.

And, No.

Case in point: The article “20 Big Ideas That Will Change Your World in 2020.” This article appeared on both the North American and the Latin American lists, which suggests that all business is not local and that businesspeople are universally interested in the concepts transforming the future.

But for that article to appear on the Latin American list, it had to be translated — twice, into both Portuguese and Spanish — a fact that seems to indicate that business is local and should be transacted in the native tongue.

Ultimately, all 10 of the North American list are in English. Similarly, eight of the articles on the Latin American list are in either Spanish or Portuguese; just two are in English. One of the English articles, “5 Books to Enjoy This Winter,” by Bill Gates, appears on both the Latin American and North American list and suggests that the Microsoft co-founder is a rare person who has reach into both the southern and northern hemispheres.

North America: Articles Generating the Most Engagement on LinkedIn

  1. Goldman Sachs' CEO Takes the Subway, Gets His Own Coffee and Has a Side Hustle as a DJ By Jade Scipioni, CNBC
  2. NFL star Khalil Mack Pays Off All $80,000 Worth of Layaways at Hometown Walmart By Christopher Brito, CBS News
  3. The Possibility of Being Kind at Work By Karin Lindner
  4. 5 Books to Enjoy this Winter By Bill Gates
  5. Greta Thunberg Is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year By Charlotte Alter, Suyin Hayes and Justin Worland, Time
  6. Eddie Murphy Gives 'SNL' Its Best Ratings in Two Years By Lexy Perez, The Hollywood Reporter
  7. The 2019 Titleholders of Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss America Are All Women of Color By Darcy Schild, Business Insider
  8. 20 Big Ideas that Will Change Your World in 2020 By Isabelle Roughol
  9. Image of 15 Black Medical Students Posing at Louisiana Plantation Goes Viral By Morgan Gstalter, The Hill
  10. Dwyane Wade on Supporting his LGBTQ Child: ‘Nothing Changes with My Love’ By Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News

Latin America: Articles Generating the Most Engagement on LinkedIn

  1. As 20 Grandes Ideias que Mudarao o Mundo em 2020 By Rafael Kato
  2. Nubank Provoca Concorrência com Ursinhos de Pelúcia By Pedro Marques, Exame
  3. 20 Grandes Ideas Para 2020: Estas son las Tendencias que Definiran el Proximo Ano By Natalia Fabeni
  4. "Não é Questão de ser Fintech ou ser Banco, Todos Terão de ser Digitais", diz Presidente do BC By Daniela Frabisile, Negocios
  5. Nubank tem o Melhor Aplicativo Gratuito de Finanças em 2019, Aponta Apple By Diana Cheng, Money Times
  6. 5 Books to Enjoy this Winter By Bill Gates
  7. Italo Vence Final Histórica contra Medina e é Dampeão Mundial de Surfe
  8. to Open Distribution Center in Northeastern Brazil in 2020 By Gabriela Mello, Reuters
  9. Loggi Recruta brasileiros para 100 Vagas de Emprego em Portugal By Luisa Granato, Exame
  10. Home office, la Estrategia de Recursos Humanos ‘Más Inteligente del Mundo’

Lessons for Salespeople

The key insight from comparing the two lists is that some themes are universal, but it’s also best to take the extra step to localize the concept. While it’s true that Bill Gates’ “5 Books to Enjoy This Winter” appeared on both the Latin American and North American lists of most engaging articles, it’s an exception. Both lists were dominated by local languages and local concerns.

The sports articles that appeared on the two different lists illuminate the concept of “universal themes, localized.” Businesspeople are interested in lessons from the sports world, but they’re primarily interested in the sports they care about. On the North American list, for example, articles about football star Khalil Mack and basketball star Dwayne Wade made the top 10. In Latin America, the sports article in the  top 10 covered a Brazilian surfing champion.

The bottom line: All business is local, sometimes.  

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