I always loved public speaking. Even as a shy kid I grew when I was standing in front of an audience. In social gatherings I was quiet, but when I was on stage the control was mine and I loved holding presentations in school.
It took me some time to become at peace with my love for the spot light. My egos longing to be seen felt embarrassing, even ugly. Especially since I had no skills to talk about, I felt like it would be different if I was a musician, an acrobat or had some other talent to show off. I wasn’t even a specialist in a specific field of knowledge. Instead, I loved to speak, tell stories, entertain, educate and facilitate groups. I loved it as an activity and an art form. It felt like magic to make people laugh, learn and come to new realisations.
Throughout the years I learned to value this fascination and decided to make it my art (after all, it is pretty rare to love public speaking). I took every chance to practice. Some years ago I decided to hold a presentation in some shape or form every month for a year (I made it 10 out ot 12 months). Of course I felt like I made a fool out of myself on many occasions. Of course I felt embarrassed on stage when I lost track or did something clumsy (like taking a sip of water and coughing for a minute before I could speak again). And yes I am still nervous every time. But that’s how you grow and I decided long ago to choose courage over comfort.
I still feel a sting of ”who am I to do this? what if everyone think I’m a self-centered attention whore?” sometimes. But as with every art form one must put oneself out there without knowing the result beforehand, one must just continue practice and trust the journey. Greatness is not a constant or a personality trait, it is a state that we sometimes experience (usually based on hard work and a little bit of luck) if we keep on striving for it.
Recently, I’ve been practicing something that I fear. Joking. Being deliberately funny on stage is scary (especially when you had people explicitly telling you that you are fun but not funny…). What if nobody laughs? So far, neither the worse case nor the best case scenario occurred. So I keep practicing my jokes.
My goal from since I was a kid was to lead a life interesting enough so that I can live on traveling the world and share stories. Even if it goes zig zag sometimes, I’m constantly taking steps in that direction.
I believe manifesting your goals helps in achieving them, so this is another step forward.
Why? The impressions of this one day (yes 1 day!) were so profound and so rich that I didn’t want to write about it until I really had the time to give it what it deserved. Stupid thought, really. As with many things, the right time doesn’t show up unless you make it. One year later I’m taking the time, looking at the photos and bringing back memories.
This day in October began in Palm Springs. I came to California four days ago and had spent the first two in LA and thereafter went to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Park. That morning I had been couchsurfing with Mike, an incredible story in itself, and after having breakfast by the pool in his luxurious house he dropped me off at a rental car place. A sweaty lady handled the place, and although I pre-booked they didn’t have the car ready for me. In fact, they didn’t have a car for me at all. Instead I had to wait 1,5 hours to get a slightly fancier car that didn’t have the GPS I made sure to book. About to drive by myself in the Californian desert it felt like a necessity. Not much could be done, however, and eager to start the adventure I left Palm Springs, driving east.
I was about to spend a week surfing in Encinitas starting the next day, and I wanted to get away from the Californian coast to see something different. Hence, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree park. While researching, I stumbled on a blog post about Slab city. Talking with Mike, he warned me about the area with the words ”depending on what you’re after it is really fascinating but I wouldn’t call it nice. It depends on what kind of traveler you are”. Intrigued, I decided to rent a car and explore Slab city, Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain. An eccentric, messy, semi-abandoned area mostly populated by squatters.
When finally jumping into my car I was thinking to myself ” today – if I see a hitchhiker I will pick them up”. On my way out of neat Palm Springs, in a crossroads leading onto the highway, stood a young man and a dog. Sometimes it feels like the Universe conspires. Led by intuition I stopped, and into my car jumped Cora and her human Thomas. I didn’t know it by then, but I was about to receive a whole new perspective and a traveling companion of a kind I rarely meet.
Thomas calls himself a traveling kid. He’s hitchhiking and jumping freight trains through the country, sometimes taking odd jobs on the way. He has no birth certificate nor passport, but he is dreaming of one day leaving the US. He got Cora from a friend who couldn’t take care of her a couple of years ago. He said she changed his life, both making it harder and giving it purpose. He worked hard to cover her vet-costs, and his way of living must be more sustainable now having her to care for. He told me he prefers riding trains over hitchhiking, it takes them a longer distance and he doesn’t have to be nice to strangers all the time. But they do get thrown of the trains sometimes and they’ve been chased by the police.
Thomas wasn’t going to Slab city, he was on his way to Arizona to find a job. But when he heard where I was going he decided to come along, he’d been curious of the place for a long time. Apparently it was worth it being nice to another stranger.
On the way we drove by Salton Sea, a huge lake with an interesting history. It was created by an accidental flooding, became a popular tourist destination for a decade and then it basically died. The artificial lake didn’t function, it grew more and more salty, was polluted from nearby industries, and slowly dried out. The dry beddings creates a toxic dust that spreads with the wind and there is research showing that people in the area get more lung related diseases. These days it’s called a ”ecological night mare and disaster”. You can read more about it in this article in the Daily Mail. Despite looking beautiful from a distance, when coming closer we could see and feel the polluted dead shores. The area has a ghostly, spooky vibe that is hard to describe. Along the water stands abandoned yacht club houses and small hotels with empty piers. A fitting warm up before getting to Slab city.
Continuing our drive, we arrived at Salvation Mountain. Suddenly, in the midst of the desert, stands an extremely colorful concrete hill with a big cross on its top. An eccentric man believed that the interpretation of God and Jesus are wrong, and that they required something else from earth. Thus, he created Salvation Mountain, and it’s being painted and maintained continuously by followers and fans. It is indeed a weird experience. And in this case, pictures probably work better than words.
Thomas talked to some other traveling kids here, and just seeing how they connected and getting a glimpse of this community, this other layer of the world that I knew nothing about, was fascinating. He got some suggestions on jobs in Arizona, he learned where some other kids stayed, and then we went on to Slab city.
The name comes from the concrete slabs that were supposed to become holiday cabins in a new tourist resort but again – failed leaving only the slabs. People wanting to get off the grid and leave society behind started moving there. Although some other visitors like me came there (with an embarrassingly shiny car; I realized) it was not a touristic place, it’s odd vibe kept intact. Slab city holds a huge collection of junk art, questioning societal norms being a red thread. There’s also a library run by a brisk woman with dreadlocks and one metal leg, reminding me of a fairytale pirate (sorry for stereotyping). She sat behind a tall bar-looking desk in the scruffy construction full of old books when we came in. We were starting to get hungry and asked if food could be found anywhere. She and her friends were having a big bowl of fried fish, and she invited us to have some. For some money in the tip jar we got beers and were invited to eat with them. Dirty fingers reached for the oily fish, and although I’m normally a vegetarian this was the kind of experience that I couldn’t say no to (plus, there were no other way of getting food in Slab city). Sitting in the library/bar a man came in greeting everyone. Apparently a bit skeptical about some of the stories told, and questioning some people using too much drugs (yes, including there and then), he seemed like a slightly more responsible fathers figure who cared for his lost kids. We talked for a while, and he then invited me to practice shooting in the desert. ”Traveling solo in this country you have to know how to use a gun”, he said. I was indeed tempted, having never used a gun in my life. Plus it would make such a great story. But the sun had came a long way on it’s course and the shadows grown longer – and I had to get back to the coast for my surf training that same evening. Hence, I turned his offer down. He gave me a note with his number and some colorful bullet heads (!) as a reminder to come back. I still have that note and the bullet heads are standing on a shelf in my bedroom, so perhaps I will.
Thanking the library crew (not your typical kind) me, Thomas and Cora jumped back into the car. We drove back in the direction of San Diego as the sun slowly dropped towards the horizon. I was reminded of Mikes words of warning to not drive too much south here as to not get to close to some towns near the Mexican border with a high criminal rate. Instead I turned west. The desert shifted gradually and soon we were driving in a beautiful lush and hilly landscape. A two hours drive later l dropped off Thomas and Cora at a gas station, along the highway outside San Diego where they’d be able to get back on track with getting to Arizona. Myself I left the car at the office of the rental company and was picked up by one of the teachers at the surf camp I was going to next. Life in Encinitas was different in every way from the desert lands I just came from, and taking on my first surfing lessons proved to be extremely challenging. But that is a whole other story.
This to me was an exceptional day of surprises, learnings and experiences. The kind of traveling that I love the most.
“The use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Look! The book I’m co-writing about how to stop self-sabotaging and create your dream life is in the magazine 🌟 “Books that move you – hot titles this spring”. It’s written in Swedish (the magazine – and the book), sorry about that non-swedish speakers. But still worthy of a celebration!
Wanna read it? The book will be out in February but you can pre-order now and use the coupon preorder for a 25% discount. What a great Swedish practice for you all 😉