How tech talks to the world

How tech talks to the world

Natalia Brzezinski (Founder and CEO at Absolute Strategies) is the former Global Business Development lead at Klarna, and the former CEO of Brilliant Minds Foundation – bringing together new disruptors and established business groups to explore the relationship between tech and humanity. 

She understands that communication is at the heart of the tech industry’s past success and future impact, and she approaches every challenge with a commitment to staying true to her own values. 

We asked Brzezinski for her perspective on the power of storytelling, and the evolution of communication in the tech industry. Here’s what she told us. 

You're a storyteller at heart. How important do you think it is for tech leaders to understand the art of storytelling? 

“I began my career with an education in journalism and international relations. I wanted to tell the stories of the world! As the child of immigrants from Eastern Europe but myself born in the United States, I learned from an early age to ‘translate’ and tell stories across cultures. 

“I found my way into tech and entrepreneurship in Stockholm, Sweden in the early 2010s. I was part of the U.S. Embassy in Sweden and quickly discovered the yet undiscovered story of Nordic entrepreneurs and the rising tech ecosystem in Europe. With no background in engineering or technology, I began to engage with Swedish founders and tell their story to America. 

“This is also when I discovered that most tech leaders focused on the algorithms and strategy, and not the story and the community. This is a space I enjoyed filling and which grew in importance as tech leaders need to tell their story effectively to so many stakeholders- consumers, employees, investors, government officials and regulators. 

“I also believe the best tech companies capture the hearts and cultural zeitgeist of the moment through storytelling. This separates the good from the great, and the ‘profitable’ from the iconic and world-shaping. 

“From there, every professional role I’ve held in tech (the CEO of Brilliant Minds, an early podcaster at Spotify, the U.S. Head of Strategy and later Global Head of Business Development at Klarna), has been rooted in sharing the values and narrative behind tech and tech leaders.”

How did you weave a sense of story into your business development strategy for Klarna?

“I have recently moved on from Klarna, but during my time there I focused on targeting women – both female consumers and female-run, female-founded businesses we worked with. I leaned on my personal story and values to connect with female executives in my business development strategies. 

“Although ‘vulnerability’ and ‘authenticity’ remain buzzwords in business leadership, most leaders do not truly lean in to these concepts as they lead. I built my career on being open, vulnerable, transparent, values-driven, and collaborative. I have always been successful with building partnerships when I showed up as my true self and aligned my values with company values. 

“One can of course use traditional marketing campaigns and tools to gear toward women, but I have always focused on building grassroots campaigns and movements with female entrepreneurs by using the ‘power to convene’. This is a term I learned from the U.S. State Department, and essentially means using one’s platform and vision to bring people together physically and digitally. In today’s social media era, we all have this power and I intend to continue to use mine to advance diverse entrepreneurs and innovative ideas that are underserved and out of the status quo.”

Speaking of Klarna – what do you love about the way the brand communicates with its customers? 

“Klarna has always successfully focused on connecting to the young generation. Millennials and Gen Z want honest, raw, quirky and engaging content. I always admired the bold way the company focused on their demographic whether it was through fun campaigns with Snoop Dogg or A$AP Rocky, or strategic partnerships with Angel City, the Los Angeles female soccer league. In my opinion, the way Klarna communicates has been key to the company winning the U.S. market and becoming part of the way American culture speaks, engages and finds joy.”

If you could go back to the beginning of your career and tell yourself one thing you wish you'd known then, what would it be? 

“There are so many things I would have advised myself to save a lot of stress and anxiety! 

  1. You are good enough. You don’t need to be someone else, have some higher education or expertise, just jump in, learn and enjoy!
  2. Know when to leave. And don’t be afraid to start from scratch with nothing.
  3. It’s great to listen to advice, but you don’t need to follow it. You need to follow your gut and your heart.
  4. Don’t seek mentors, seek champions.
  5. Help others before you ask for help.”  

“I had my daughter quite young and have been a mother throughout my entire career. I was eaten up with guilt so often when I had to travel for work and be away from my daughter, to the point where there were times I was boarding a long-haul flight and would experience panic attacks.

“Today, my daughter is so proud of me and wants to be a young mother and entrepreneur just like me. So I would tell myself: “Do not be guilty, it will all work out, and your daughter will grow up to be utterly amazing, wise and brilliant, because you worked and hustled, and she saw it all.”

What was your best experience at LEAP 2024? 

“I have been following the development and innovation in Saudi Arabia for the last five or six years, and have always wanted to visit the region. I returned from the trip full of spark and inspiration! 

“The intersection of culture and tradition with forward motion and innovation in Saudi Arabia is unparalleled in the world right now.

“One of my favorite fun moments was at Salwa Palace in Diriyah at an intimate dinner hosted by Leap and MCIT. The setting was magical and at one point I was pulled on stage to join the traditional dancers performing for us. Here I was engaging in an age old tradition in a room full of high level international leaders building the future. It was a perfect metaphor to me for LEAP.  

“I also met so many incredible female leaders – the first Saudi female astronaut, fund leaders at PIF, scientists at SDAIA, AI entrepreneurs, and all the young women working at the conference. There are so many incredible Saudi women leading change and it’s so exciting to watch them courageously take on the world and tell their story.” 

Thanks to Natalia Brzezinski. Want to immerse yourself in the LEAP experience? Pre-register now, and join us in Riyadh for LEAP 2025. 

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