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Follow me to the waterfalls

Activism.

“The use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one”

/Cambridge dictionary

Activism. Action-driven work (striving) to impact society, to do something and not just speak of it. 

We must reclaim the word and the way. Activists gave us (the majority) the right to work and vote, activists uncovered the dirty secrets of companies and forced them to change, activists stopped colonial slavery and apartheid. Activists are the creators of better futures. We give too much credit to the upholders of current systems when in fact society of today wouldn’t exist if we didn’t throw them over historically. To develop society we must always question it, that’s what we always did. The people we need most are those who always question what is in search of something better. Humankind always strived for utopia and we always got there, but then utopia of before becomes the new normal and we start working toward the next one. Activists always stand out, breaking systems is uncomfortable. You have to choose courage over comfort (and frankly, most people don’t). The opposite of activism is being passive, floating with the stream. Speak up, act out, be disruptive, demonstrate, question.

In what ways are you an activist?

Photo by Clem Onojeghu

Don’t wish me a happy day. Be my ally.

Men. We don’t need your greetings we need your contribution. Here’s a list of what you can do:
🔸Ask your female colleagues/classmates what it’s like being a woman in your company/school.
🔸When you see sexist ads/movies etc, email the company and complain.
🔸Talk to your brothers/buddies/sons/male colleagues about masculinity and feminism. Your words will reach people who simply don’t listen to us the same way. That’s why we need allies!
🔸When you see some guy giving a sleazy comment to a girl – speak up to them.
🔸Demand that your female colleagues and partners get the same salary as you. Use your privilege!
🔸Unless you know a woman/girl in person, don’t comment on her looks. It’s more often wrong than right (if you really want to compliment her, do it on her skills, humor, taste etc).
🔸Again and always: Speak up! The fact that you have the choice not to because it’s easier for you is what defines privilege.
🔸Lastly, but maybe most important: Listen. Ask for our stories and really listen. Respect that we have a perspective that you don’t and trust us when we share it.

🙏thank you
for every little thing you do and every time you try, for understanding and listening
I love you.
You are so fucking important.

A case for working from home

Science says working from home makes people healthier, more productive and more satisfied with their employer. Science also says that people who can work from home sleep better, tend to stay longer at the same job and get more done than colleagues who spend all their time in the office. Fact is, when we work for example in an open office space we tend to fool ourselves that we work more than we do. Not that we’re not trying, it’s just that we get disrupted and distracted way more. On the other hand, when we work from home, we focus on the output of what we’re working on. Work becomes about your delivery, what you actually create. Thereby we tend to be more productive and get more done when we work from home. It’s about the difference you make, not the time you spend.

It’s simply a win-win. And for your employer who’s paying for your time allowing people to work from home frequently should be a no-brainer.

But what about the short breaks we might take at home? To empty the dishwasher or fold some clean laundry or walk the dog or (like me) do a short yoga-session? Yeah, this is also a win-win. These short breaks help us focus and give us a pause so that we can think clearer and they keep our bodies healthier. If you happen to get rid off some stress over household duties as you go it is yet another win. As a society we get more and more stressed and people suffer from burnouts everywhere around me. I’m not surprised anymore, it’s so extremely common. Working from home at least now and then save time, give us a chance to take care of little things at home AND we do a better job. People who work from home have fewer days of sickleave For many people, commuting to work costs the similar level of energy as working due to the many impressions and the stressful environment. Meaning, the time you spend commuting is a waste of productive energy on something that most people would rather not do instead of using the energy for something we want to do. Thus, we come to work having already wasted 30 minutes or an hour or whatever of our productive time commuting. For our brains it’s just as tiring.

This is no surprise to me. What is a surprise to me is that I still have to work hard to convince most managers and employers about it.


I’m not saying that meeting your colleagues is not important, sitting together is on the contrary fundamental for team-work. At a new workplace it is important to spend time there to get to know people, social connections will leverage your job (or at least make it easier). And when you’ve been working somewhere for quite some time it is important to meet people in person to keep the team socially connected. But we don’t have to sit together 5 days a week to do that. We need to balance and prioritize how we do our work best. Some people need to spend more time at the office and some people less. But let that be up to us – up to them – not their manager or some old company norm that is no longer serving anybody. Given that trust people will also value to be at the office for meetings and social gatherings more, but put more effort into making it really worthwhile (unproductive and useless meetings are yet another phenomenon way to common).

A study done by Gallup (on the US) shows that employees working from home 3-4 days a week are more motivated and loyal (and I assume we all know how much difference that makes). They feel trusted and autonomous in doing their best. Motivation and engagement are probably the most valuable asset an organisation can have in it’s people, and it’s impossible to buy or take shortcuts to get too (not saying that there aren’t things you can buy that would contribute).

Personally, I prefer working from home 1-2 days a week. This takes away a lot of stress as I know that I will be in control of my time and get a lot of things done. It really is production time. And I also have the freedom to handle som little things at home and it saves the time I would spend on getting properly dressed, commute, pack stuff to prepare for activities after work and so on. An energy saver and a source of focus. Frankly, if you don’t allow your employees to work from home I take it you don’t trust them, and then you have bigger problems to handle than where they spend their days… But this is yet another topic.

Sources:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ntwe.12097/full
https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx
Own observations and interviews at workplaces

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EDIT: after writing this I found a video from Matt Mullenweg co-founder of the hugely succesful company Auttomatic (behind WordPress and more).

On the darkest day…

It’s the darkest day of the year. The days are short and the nights are long. Nature is resting in silence, spring is still far away and there’s nothing to do but rest. The winter solstice marks the deepest winter, the cradle of the dark season. Despite the stillness of the season it is a reminder of just that – the seasons. Change is the constant. We’re always moving and even when we rest it’s a preparation for the next move, stillness is a phase necessary for future action.

 

In Sweden where I lived for most my life, the difference between the seasons is huge. The summer days are long, in the north the sun never sets and even in the southern parts of Sweden we only get a few hours of darkness (but the light lingers on the horizon all night, as if the sun is just resting briefly before it returns in full power). Most people need less sleep, stay active until midnight, are very social and spend a lot of time outside. The winter is the opposite, it is dark and we are not as outgoing. Life slows down, people spend more time alone or with their closest family. But in the absence of light we spend more time looking inwards. We notice things we can not see in the light.

 

As you probably know, I am a questioner of norms and what we think is established truths. My quest is for freedom, and to be free is to do what I value also when it comes to what I celebrate and how. Lately, I’ve been questioning the traditions and holidays in my culture as to actively choose what and how I want to celebrate, and as I do I am learning where they come from and how the got to be what they are. Most traditions and holidays came with meanings that we’ve at least partly forgotten, and most are a mix of culture, religion and (sadly) market forces of today.

Nature is one truth, heritage is another. In my heritage lies the old culture of the north – the Aesir faith and the Nordic mythology – as well as the many years that christianity shaped it. Both are still affecting how we do things around here, and I am rediscovering all in today’s Sweden that is a heritage from before christianity.

 

The darkest day of the year has been celebrated in the Nordics for as long as we know. A big feast was held in the darkest of winter, a celebration of the new solar year and the return of the light. The Swedish word for Christmas (jul) stems from the old Germanic languages and despite the christianization of jul into what is now a christian tradition the word has lived on.

 

Looking inwards, I find the winter solstice and the return of the light a much more important event than Christmas. In my soul and body I feel more connected to nature and seasons than to the celebration of Jesus (especially in it’s materialist modern version, although I’m not blaming any religion for that). I still value what Christmas brings in the sense of time with family and a “holy break” for those who work regular jobs.

 

But today, on the darkest day of the year, I’m looking inwards. I’m grateful for the seasons in me and in nature. Nordic mythology speaks of this longest night of the year as a night full of supernatural powers, a night where magic is near. Maybe today spend some time reflecting on what in your life that you want to leave behind in the darkness and what you want to invite more of into the new cycle. Before I’m off to my hometown and the Christmas rush, I’m taking this day to appreciate the natural cycles that shape earth as well as our lives. The shifts, the sacredness of eternal change. And I wish you a beautiful winter solstice and happy holidays, spent in the way that serves you most.

 

Pitch your visions not your history

It’s been two weeks since I announced that I’m looking for new opportunities. Not specifically looking for a job, but a leap. A next level, a new step towards my dreams. And a job or a longer project seemed to be the best platform for the development I sought for (read more about that in My Manifesto). I played a wild card, announced high and low, to my extended network and everyone I know, that I was looking for something that wasn’t really in my previous field of expertis but that was my passion and craft.

 

And these two weeks have been transforming in a way. First of all, I am so grateful to everyone in my network who gave me their best tips, contacts, and wanted to meet up. Even so that on the day of sharing the post on social media I had an interview booked the same afternoon. I decided to say yes to most requests. Out of curiosity, to practice and gain insights – and for most of them out of genuine interest for that specific person and place. Plus I love meeting inspiring people and what a great opportunity to do so!

 

So I went out exploring in the wild wild we… job market. And for the first time in my career I talked almost only about my vision. The direction I am heading, the potential I have, the dreams I long to fulfil and the change I want to create in the world. I talked about my why, my values, where my motivation comes from. I was pretty relentless. I refused to adapt my presentation to what they needed (but I did of course go there because of a genuine interest in what they need), or guess what they where searching for and try to seem more like that kind of person. I described my strengths and my weaknesses and was totally honest about it. It’s pretty easy, because I’m completely certain that my strengths outshine my weaknesses a million times and the right place can see that without a doubt.

 

I want the best match I can find, a place that will be my symbiotic partner where my visions and theirs work together to enhance each other in reaching our goals. If I’m not all out me, how could that ever happen? So I was my fiercest, most fiery me. I’m gonna let my humanity shine through here and admit I was a little bit nervous about my haircut (silly, I know, but I was so much more polished in my previous corporate positions) but I decided to be bold and brave and if my sidecut makes me look to weird/edgy for a place that’s definitely not my place anyway. I decided that if I let them see the real me I would probably get to see the real them. And it really seems to work. I’ve had CEOs and founders expressing weaknesses and vulnerabilities as if we were already partners. If their worse and my worse are things that aren’t too bad and we’re completely fine working with those, how wrong could it get? Just like with people, a company’s drive, vision and passion are always worth a million times more than some small flaws here and there. So why do most people and companies hide them so stubbornly? Why not laugh at them, take them seriously but not too seriously and then move on to what really matters: where are we going, you, me and this team that we become if you hire me, and how are we going to get there?

 

And you know what – this approach changed everything! First of all, who wouldn’t feel awesome touring around pitching their dreams? I love job hunting in a way I never thought was possible, it all just works naturally. I said no to a few places in mutual respect and understanding that we weren’t a great fit. But it’s all good because both sides made interesting new contacts and left with ”maybe some other time”. I met amazing people, and I’m pretty sure I lit a few fires around important topics as I talked about them in such an engaged way. ”Wow, you’re really passionate about this” is something I’ve heard a couple of times now.

 

I am certain that vision and passion leads to a better job than history and experience. If comparing ”a burning desire for…” and ”have done it many times before” I believe the earlier to be much more important and trustworthy for an employer to go with than the latter. Authentic drive and passion is the one factor that can not be created from the outside (not ignoring the fact that leadership, culture and the right tools can help sustain it and make it grow). Hiring someone without the right drive is like buying an electrical car without a battery – useless. It has the right technical equipment, a lot of skills and experience put into its’ making, an appealing outside… and you’ll have to push it to go anywhere! Remember that it is where you are going not where you have been that matters.

 

I believe it is as important in recruiting and companionships as in entrepreneurship to ”start with why”, as Simon Sinek describes in his presentation How great leaders inspire action. So here’s my recommendation for recruiters and managers as well as job seekers and entrepreneurs: dare to pitch your vision without compromise! There will be a lot of temptations on the way, employers that aren’t really right for you but offers something hard to refuse, candidates that are amazing but might be a little too.. something to match. These mistakes are costly – don’t kill each others authentic passions by pretending to be perfect together just because you like or are impressed with one and other. As Jim Collins puts it: good is the enemy of great! 

 

Lastly, I want to clarify that this perspective is not the same as not compromising. In everything we do there are compromises. That makes it even more important to be open, to talk through the potential and the work it will take to reach goals and have fun on the way. Nothing is perfect, but a great match makes the compromises easy because you choose them to make more important things possible. And it won’t be that hard to compromise when you are in a team full of passion for reaching that vision and building that dream.

 

Cheering you on!

 

Hanna

My Manifesto

I studied technology, mathematics and natural sciences until I was 19. That’s when you graduate from high school in Sweden. I loved maths, problem solving, physics and chemistry. I loved building stuff and figuring out new computer programs. But I also loved art, languages, reading and leadership. The way I was introduced to it, the engineering programs I could move on to were filled with anti social guys without style. Those were the people who came over to our school talking about their study programs, those were the representants in IT and engineering I had seen at my summer job. I was a creative soul, loved traveling and creating art projects, writing poems and playing the guitar. And I got so much feedback for my good leadership and people-skills (I just started in my first management position at a restaurant back then). How could I ever fit in with those introverted guys? I wanted to work with people, not just screens or machines! And tech seemed so extremely anti-creative. As it turned out, I didn’t study anything technology-related at University back then. I could’ve been accepted to any program with my grades (and finished it too, considering my sense for that kind of thinking). But I was afraid to loose my wild creativity, my poetic and artsy self, my hunger for traveling and people. It took years until I saw the trap I stepped in clearly. I was just another girl who felt so strongly that she didn’t belong in the tech world, and despite being the perfect candidate (I mean, one of many) thus went on to do something else. Who wasn’t introduced to how amazingly creative programming and computer science can be, who never saw the artistic, colourful, well-traveled, humanistic people working in tech (PLEASE go out to high schools more, you peeps!). And it’s been a long journey of neglecting the feeling of wrong choices, trying to be satisfied in a different field, and finally daring to go for what was always right for me: a career in tech!

 

What I love to work with is UX and computer science. I’ve spent a whole lot of time outside regular jobs to study interaction design, game development and learning how to code. I still have a lot more learnings to do, of course, but who haven’t? I’ve been working with graphic design and web development for the last 1,5 years (check out some of my work here), and added some podcast production, social media management, video production and SEO to that portfolio as well. But now I’m moving over to the tech/UX side of things even more, and I want to do that by working in the industry with senior colleagues and in fascinating, innovative projects.

 

I know I’m using too many superlatives and swearwords here but I am SO SUPER-FUCKING-CRAZY-MOTIVATED to do this. Learn it all, build it all, give it my all. My drive, except for a huge load of curiosity and joy of learning, is to become whom I always wanted to be; a role model for young girls who want to make video games, build new machines, change industries, invent disruptive technical solutions, run companies, be respected for their all-out nerdiness and be all they can be. I don’t want another girl to step into my trap (yeah I do of course see my own role and responsibility here as well, but there are many reasons to why things go the way they do) – to feel like the tech world is a place where she doesn’t belong and take a huge detour because she got the wrong impression from stereotypes and norms.

 

Hence, this is my manifesto. I want to change industries and bend cultures, I want to eliminate old norms and illusions, I want to develop awesome products that supports awesome people of all kinds. I believe technology is a democratic cause. If just one group in society is building and understanding the technology that surrounds us, that an increasingly big share of our lives and our society is based on, it’s a structural and societal issue. We need diversity in technology as much as we do in politics, in classrooms and in management positions. Maybe even more. I’m going to be part of that movement.

Vanlife, 1st version: Subaru Outback in Australia (and a throwback)

Ever looked at everything hashtagged #vanlife on Instagram and dreamed of your future home on wheels?

 

The concept started tempting me when I lived in Australia last year. That’s when I bought my first car (yes, EVER) and used for about half a year while travelling around, it wasn’t a van or not even a big car but I used it to sleep in occasionally and it was my only home for a long time. An upgrade from the backpack I “lived” in before that. I had a tent and all the camping gear I needed to live in/from the car while traveling, and although the tent was way more comfy if finding a flat area to put it up on, I did sometimes “have to” sleep where camping wasn’t allowed and I used the fact that sleeping in a car is kind of a grey area in this sense. We (yeah sometimes it was a “we” because a friend came down to travel around with me, and sometimes only me) parked in all kinds of weird places when we for example arrived late at night and couldn’t find a good spot. In Tasmania, free camping was usually easy to find, but on mainland Australia it could be much harder and in some popular places they even have signs that forbid sleeping in cars (widely ignored).

 

But it was always temporary since I wasn’t settling down in Australia, and it felt like part of the trip to buy the car for traveling, for some reason it is a very different feeling buying a car at home and rebuilding it to use it as a camper compared to just getting it for traveling in for a limited time in a different country. Either way, Effie, my Australian car, was a great start off for trying the car-camping lifestyle. It’s a Subaru Outback, 4W-drive, with broken air conditioning (!). I drove her for many miles, on beaches, in deep sand, through storms and bumpy forest roads. A secret: I stole the “Subaru” tag from the car key as a souvenir when I sold the car to another traveler when leaving Australia and I’ll put it on the key of my next car to bring some outback Aussie-spirit to my journeys in Europe…

 

 

My Australian car was called Elphaba, “Effie”, from the witch in the musical Wicked because she is green and has a temper (the car – and the witch). A mechanic told me that this was the kind of car that sometimes shows a warning light for no reason, and I would have to live with that and only worry if it stayed for too long. Charming, in a way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, Effie wasn’t my first experience of roadtripping Australia. More than ten years ago I was in Australia visiting a friend who lived there for a year back when we were 19. He had a little Daihatsu Charade and we used it for a six week roadtrip on the east coast. While mainly sleeping in hostels, this little car was used as our home and we did save money by sleeping in it some nights. We lowered the seats and had an okey bed for some rest on the road. Fun looking back at how cool and free we felt for having a car at all back then, younglings on the big continent. Some times we drove in the most beautiful direction, not knowing and not really caring where we was… This was before we had internet on our phones, before GPS and google maps, and our road map book and an old Lonely Planet was our only guides. I don’t remember if the car had a name but I remember that we called the little teddy bear that was hanging in the rear-view mirror Barne because of a misspelling in a text message from Johans brother (who was gonna wright “barnen”, swedish for “the kids”).

 

 

Shout out to my friend for life: Johan Larsson who was the enduring driver (I had no drivers license back then) and who’s also the photographer of these last four photos. Many adventures begun back then!

 

This is so smart!

As I am running my business, I’m constantly keeping an eye open for great ideas, smart tricks and inspiration from other businesses. Today I signed up for a webinar, without realising that it was going to be 2,5 hrs long. Thus, I ended up not attending (going to attend later). This is the e-mail I got after the webinar was over, and I was immediately struck by how clever a move it is! An automated, seemingly personal e-mail from the host of the webinar (the “star”) to his assistant, who e-mailed me. Impressive way of working with automated e-mails to make them feel personal. Looking forward to attend the webinar, my curiosity is now even stronger. Seen some clever marketing going on out there in the digital world? I would love to hear about it.