World citizen reflecting from inside the industry that unites our world´s markets, the core bloodstream of a global society… Always curious, open to learn & develop. With a heart beating for sustainable capitalism, diversity and entrepreneurship.
Listening to podcasts and reading news debating wrinkles, the amount of pressure on looks, and negative influence making great girls & women insecure.
I’ve had my lines for many years now. They become deeper, and more visible when I’m stressed out or tired. My boys call them ski tracks.
These tracks are the marks of a lot of hard work, uphill battle as change agent, engaged discussions, late nights, lots of laughs, responsibilities, worries, sorrow – and loads of joy.
They’re a part of me, just as stretch marks, cellulite, love handles and all the rest that we pick up through life. There will always be something we can be unsatisfied with, should we choose to care. Someone will always be prettier.
Some years ago I decided that if I ever become tempted to fix my body, I’ll rather donate that amount of money to a good cause related to health. It’s a paradox that we spend so much time and resources on small, unimportant things as our own looks, when we’re quite normal, and what really matters is our health.
How often do you actually look at another person, thinking; “my God, look at her/his angry frown line and that forehead”(?) After all, its the personality of people that matters, not their perfect appearance..
A Norwegian songwriter described it so well: “A drawing of laughter we shared. A drawing of autumn dark paths. A drawing of joy we were given. A drawing of places and roads we walked.“
End of August I went onboard an old vessel gathering a group of 100 engaged people from 42 countries in Svalbard, completely disconnected from WiFi and phones. The purpose of the expedition was to identify the key questions of our time. And back home, like a glass filled over, thoughts and words just flood out. So I wanted to share some general reflections as well as some personal stories today..
FutureTalks Arctic Expedition was a brave and different experiment initiated by Silje Vallestad and Camilla Sørli Hagen, gathering people across very different backgrounds, expertise and perspectives. And featuring a very different mindset; Most high-level initiatives like these generally include people in powerful positions, with some young people, yet lacking the intention of actually giving them an equal seat at the table.
On the ship was a mashup of global executives, former refugees, leaders students, tech stars, human rights and environmental activists, influencers, Young Global Leaders, scientists, investors, academics- and even an astrobiologist. All (or most) leaving titles, power, egos and achievements in Oslo, stripped of our normal kit, just being humans together in the same boat. Sharing and respecting each other’s perspectives and contributions on equal terms.
And so the key difference with FutureTalks is both the number of students and young minds, but also that they were joining as peers. And what could possibly be more crucial; the key problems are their future, so we basically need them joining to find new solutions. We can’t do it ourselves, neither can they.
Being used to filling the “young alibi” role in my own industry, I’m used to being called naive, less competent, not humble enough, being too passionate, talking too much, or in some settings simply feeling that I’m not fitting in. Or that my mindset, perspectives and ideas aren’t understood (which often triggers more senior people to disregard or belittle you, raising eyebrows, talking above your head, or making fun of you). As humans, we tend to reject what we don’t understand. It’s only natural.
But that’s exactly why it’s so important to bring generations together on equal terms, across borders, continents and backgrounds. My generation has some strengths, the younger ones have other – so does the more seasoned. To make things happen, whether global/societal changes or changes within a company, Davids and Goliats must collaborate and understand each other. If we see each other unconsciously as rivals, we won’t succeed. We need to work shoulder to shoulder, creating healthy group dynamics. And that requires openness, communication and trust. Bridging the people who are representing the different groups.
And this exactly was the most surprising part of my takeaway from Svalbard. Very often, I just wanna fix things quickly. I’m impatient (as we should be!), cause I see that we need to create environmental and societal change NOW!
I have been focused on working “against” conservatism, bureaucracy and established truths. Not realizing to the full extent how important it is to create trust and dialogue first. Because just like with Trump’s negotiation fundament, it seems that most of us for decades have been programmed to think that if you win, I loose. And vice versa.. My perspective has been that we can achieve so much more, better and quicker results together. But I haven’t used the empathy focus enough – often so focused on the goal that I can forget to build joint commitment (with those of the opposing view) based on these very basic yet difficult things; security, trust, openness, communication.
Now, let’s see how the FutureTalks Expedition insights and conversation will form my efforts and approach onwards – not to mention; how will we collaborate across fields and borders?
Easter of 2016 I rallied outside Trump Tower in support of diversity & women. November 2016 I was in Miami for a conference gathering female maritime leaders from 40 countries, and I still remember how people were in total shock the morning after the election of Trump, the feared impact on diversity and inclusiveness.
As I was selected for the #IVLP2018 leadership program, I actually doubted to make it through backup checks, due to my extensive SoMe criticism of the current administration.
We’re here for an amazing program on entrepreneurship and innovation, taking inspiration from a range of brilliant initiatives (also relating to female founders) – at the same time there’s a bittersweet flavor to our stay. We’ve been in DC the days leading up to the final decision on Kavanaugh. We’ve seen the protests in the streets, followed the media debates. And it makes me so shocked and sick to see how a brave woman is treated in the “land of the free, home of the brave”. Especially by the country’s leader.
Lack of consciousness and diversity is seen in many aspects & ways. In our program there are mainly male speakers. Our group count 16 men & 10 women, which is kinda balanced, but a decision on 50/50 would’ve been easy. Across the delegates, we’ve exchanged how much bias and bullshit we’ve all seen & experienced in our careers, and how frustrating, rewarding & IMPORTANT the work for diversity is. When Hillary Clinton is debated w locals, I keep hearing the same arguments not on her competence but her lack of warmth and charisma.
Back to Dr.Ford’s bravery, I’m shocked by Trump, Kavanaugh and the Senate. But all of this boils down to the key issue; as long as diversity isn’t implemented in our society structures and powerhouses, we will continue to witness surreal examples of how bias cause bad decision-making.
I hope the outcome of Dr. Blakey Ford’s story won’t be silenced victims, but instead fuel the movement across borders inspiring women & men standing up, mobilizing all good forces for diversity.
This will definitely be the most surreal post I’ll ever share. Pinching my arm, I don’t think that I’ll actually realize this until I leave the stage next Wednesday, during Oslo Innovation Week and Oslo Business Forum.
Exactly one year ago I was burned out flat, had social anxiety and panic attacks. I felt completely inadequate, useless and my self-confidence was non-existing… All I wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole and hide from the world. What a difference a year makes.. Not the year in itself; but a year of true friends offering support and openness, time in nature, my kids, silence, an amazing psychologist and her toolbox of mental exercises..🙏🏽
It’s when you hit the bottom that you see the true faces of people around you. Some are only there in fair winds and sunny weather. That can be pretty tough to realize when you feel completely skinless. But it’s a good and humbling lesson.
I’m forever grateful for those of you who were there for me in many different ways and forms. Who provided support, time and friendship through a really rough patch – instead of pulling the rug from under my feet.. Who shared your weaknesses and fears, so that I didn’t feel so alone in mine.
Sorry if this post come across a bit touchy-feely, but I don’t believe in just sharing the perfect facade – and the contrast of this date last year and this year feels so enormous. Somehow everything I went through last year was necessary, as it opened some new doors mentally as well as physically.
So I’m reflecting quite a bit over this, filled with an overwhelming gratitude for the genuine people that I’m so lucky to have in my life.
I really don’t take any of you for granted…
And if you don’t know me and read this, I hope that it can be a reminder that behind most of the people who appear strong and “successful” when you swipe through the feed, there’s usually also a lot of struggles, scars and hardship that we don’t talk about so much, and most often a lot of insecurities that we try to hide.
This one goes to all who dare to be open, also when things aren’t so good.. And to those who are in a struggle just now. Hang on, just breathe and keep hope.
Sharing is the best survival tool we’ve got❤️
PS; The Oslo Innovation Week Code of Conduct works pretty well across life in general .. It’s so basic and called by many names – Ubuntu, the Golden Rule, etc.. #BeNice
I will update some reflections after our Svalbard expedition, and also link this to what I saw in the Seychelles end of April. Two very different locations but both directly impacted by global warming and pollution. Both places acting as silent witnesses to what we are about to do to our planet, impacting life in and above sea level.
But until I have the time – take a look at these photos and realize what’s happening to our blue planet… 🌎 Should provide a sense of burning platform regardless of political point of view, society level and age. We can change this, if we commit to changing our behavior.
Entering this beautiful fjord, we realized that we were actually 3-4 km inside an area that used to be a glacier.. This was a huge impressive glacier only some years ago, and melts away so much quicker than I could ever imagine. Now it’s open sea..
The Arctic wonders collapse into the sea, every day, every year. Just as we were standing on deck of the ship, we witnessed several blocks of ice breaking free and falling with a big splash into the sea.
Invasive species arrive, while existing ones disappear forever. This is the picture of global warming – an eye opening experience. We need to act now!
My message to the audience gathered at the informal kick-off for our initiative to mobilize and grow the global leading capital for sustainability & tech-oriented entrepreneurs.
Oslo is the Nordics´ fastest growing entrepreneur hub, and Top 3 leading maritime capital, gateway to the most complete ocean industry cluster worldwide. There is a huge untapped potential in bridging these two ecosystems. While our parents and grandparents’ generations have extracted and exploited our shared natural resources – and created prosperity at the cost of our planet – it will be up to my generation and the following ones to build new and more sustainable business and societies. We cannot continue with “business as usual”.
It´s time to break silos. We want to build on the experiences and resources of Oslo´s startup community and the established ocean industries to create a globally leading ecosystem for bright minds across our planet. Engaged experts and entrepreneurs who wants to use their insights and drive to create new solutions for a world in great need of systemic change.
The world’s eyes are on Norway, sustainability and the oceans. We aim to spearhead a dedicated focus on sustainability-oriented ocean & tech entrepreneurs, working with or providing solutions that can be utilized to resolve key ocean related challenges – and deliver new business opportunities to strengthen the ocean industries as well as Norway´s function as inspirator and problem solver.
Our first delivery will be the creation of an Ocean Entrepreneurs Ecosystem Map for the Oslo Region. We seek to identify current gaps in the ecosystem, then mobilise and inspire the industry & stakeholders across society to work collaboratively to fill them. The Oslo startup ecosystem has actually previously been mapped, with around 300 resources identified.
But something was missing! The ocean industry was almost invisible – and it was time to do something about that. Our kick-ass ambition is to inspire, support and promote the ocean ecosystem of the Oslo region – with the humble vision of creating the world’s most attractive capital for ocean entrepreneurs with a passion for sustainability and tech.We want to build and strengthen the bridges between entrepreneurs and the established industry ecosystem, incl. R&D, the government and financial resources.
Here are our specific ambitions;
NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES: Promote key unresolved global ocean challenges & opportunities linked to the SDGs towards the next generation of sustainability oriented problem solvers.
BRAINPOWER: Utilize Oslo´s attractiveness to establish a natural gateway for ocean entrepreneurs worldwide, with Oslo as starting point but also positively impacting the other ocean clusters of Norway. Inspire young talents to choose a career path related to the ocean industries early on, through promoting unresolved problems and new opportunities across ocean, tech & sustainability
MAKING IT REAL: Bring stakeholders together to realize a floating entrepreneur co-working hub in Oslo – the OCEAN OPPORTUNITY LAB
Most innovation hubs and coworking spaces are placed in ordinary buildings. As we aim to explore the future of sustainable ocean industries, why stay onshore?
How do we create the optimal coworking space for ocean entrepreneurs from across the world, where entrepreneurs can live, co-create and test their ideas, meet the major players and experts?
How can we inspire our industries and societies to utilize and apply existing resources, ideas and technologies in radical and different ways – across silos and established structures?
How can we create a visible, accessible and physical floating pilot hub to explore new radical solutions linked to key global ocean challenges? Inspire our societies beyond the ocean industries to care about the ocean, realize new opportunities and serve society needs, but without negative impact on the ocean ecosystem? How can we build a hub showcasing off-the-grid solutions for floating energy production & storage, water desalination and waste management, ocean farming – and beyond? These are our initial thoughts – and we have invited our peers to share ideas and collaborate to remove some bottlenecks and make this happen.
When you come up with an idea, you have two options; either keep your idea to yourself until its fully developed – or open up and attract people who wants to get involved, and collaborate openly to improve and mature it, and consequently be part of something bigger and better. We believe in collaboration, crowdsourcing and creating bigger impact by pulling good forces together.Collaboration is what we must succeed with if we are to fix societal systems that are currently sub-optimal.
As we launched our initiative, we invited experts across ocean & tech sectors to join us for an interactive session, in the spirit of true entrepreneurship and crowdsourcing. We invited our participants to look at the following;
WHICH gaps are most critical?
HOW can we fill the gaps?
WHO should be involved?
WHAT can you contribute with?
Based on the input, we will complete the resource map for Ocean Entrepreneurs, which will be made public. We will share this publicly and encourage other Norwegian ocean hubs to do the same exercise. Imagine how cool it would be if we had a national resource map for ocean entrepreneurs!!
During the next year, we have already identified some key ocean events where we will be organising activities to further develop the Ocean Entrepreneur Capital initiative. These include, but are not limited to; Passion for Ocean last Saturday of August , EntrepreneurShip X Voyage 2-4 September, Oslo Innovation Week last week of September, and Nor-Shipping 3-7 June 2019. We welcome everyone to get involved in these.
This day six years ago was the day of my father’s funeral. He was an untraditional and playful man, with a Peter Pan mentality and child’s approach to life until the very end. I think one of the best things he taught me was to constantly challenge and walk outside the beaten path, be curious & open, and stay true to integrity and beliefs even when it’s difficult and your thoughts and ideas differ from what’s accepted and embraced by “everyone else”.
All through the years of our childhood and upbringing, our family was a bit different from my friends’ families. Dad wasn’t afraid to be seen as weird, and when stuck-up polished people raised their brows or became visibly awkward from things he said or did, he even enjoyed it quite a lot.. So it was only natural that his final journey reflected this. My childhood was full of his imagination and adventures. Here’s my story about our final adventure.. Our last journey.
February 2012: As we realized that dad’s cancer was terminal and his remaining time with us would be much shorter than we’d hoped, we talked about his thoughts and wishes for the funeral, and planned how everything would be structured. Dad wanted a celebration of life, bright colors, some favorite songs (like Art Garfunkel’s version of Bright Side of Life), and he wanted people to remember and enjoy the good memories, yet completely honesty and openness – not pretending that he was perfect. Those wishes were easy to fix.
But he also wished to be cremated, having his ashes spread some specific places close to our family cabin, which is part of the mountain farm that’s been in our family for centuries.
That gave me a bit of a headache.. Because according to Norwegian law, you have to file an application – which took more time than we had – and on top of that you can’t have an ordinary funeral ceremony beforehand. And while Denmark allow a mix of both spreading a part of the ashes plus burying part of it, here you’ll have to chose either or.. My mom is Christian, and for her it was important to have a “real” funeral, and a grave to visit.
So I planned a solution with a twist together with my father, to make everyone happy, and to end his life just as mischievous as he lived it. Our plan was simple; to get hold of the box of ashes before it was buried, remove some of the ashes, put it in another box, and drive up to Hallingdal.
Apparently, that plan wasn’t too realistic. We weren’t allowed to be alone with the box, and it was sealed. As we sat in the room of the crematorium, waiting for the graveyard guy to join us, we tried every trick to get it opened, but nothing worked.
Eventually we had to follow him down to the grave, with all of dad still inside that box.. Then we came up with another plan; we claimed that our older sister was on our way, and we didn’t want to bury dad without her being present.
Finally the guy had to attend to other commitments, and we were allowed to bury the box ourselves. But the graveyard was full of people, so still we couldn’t do anything out of the norm. Twisting my brain, I came up with another plan; which was a bit more complicated and totally illegal than dad and I had ever foreseen.
We buried the box, and came back the same evening, with new flowers to be planted. Then we dug out the box – emptied half of it into a new urn, and placed the box & ashes back. So that half of dad would be with our grandparents – and with mom. The most awkward moment, which totally triggered the dark humor our family is full of, was when we poured the ashes into the new urn, and some of it spilled on my sandal and foot(!!)
Then we drove for 3 hours up to our cabin, and were joined by my aunt and her family. We walked up to the nearest hill, and spread 1/3 there. We then went to the mountain pond where we swim in the summer, and us siblings swam out with another third, releasing it into the water, watching the gentle movements of the water cradling and embracing the ashes until it was dissolved.
And finally, we went back to our cabin, and let the wind spread the last third across the land where my dad spent over 100 days each year during his final years.
We had brought champagne, and toasted for a meaningful, warm and playful life. And for the best dad in the world… I really felt that he was there with us, and still is. It was amazing to be able to fulfill his last wish, and the not-so-straight-forward way perfectly represented him; facing a number of challenges, and having to adjust, change course, but always coming up with creative and untraditional ways to reach the goal.
“Life’s not for amateurs. Sometimes I feel like a bloody amateur.” (Quote, dad)
A paradox: This story is an example of stupid and useless practice and “rules” in our societies, where outdated thinking blocks change. It’s also an example of how being a bit stubborn and creative enables you to find solutions when you’re stuck. Not that I’d encourage anyone to committing crimes, but isn’t it slightly fascinating that you can throw waste in nature that damages it for many years, without being punished. You can get away with a lot when it comes to messing with nature. But under the current Norwegian law, the number of crimes I committed in the process of honoring dad’s last wish could potentially have been punished with up to 4 years in prison. More than most predators and rapists… Even though this is in fact a harmless and ecological way of ensuring that my father returned into the ecosystem – without the crappy plastic bag they wrap corpses in and which never dissolves. Ashes to ashes… What a paradox!
Our society is also filled with thousands of other outdated structures, laws and rules. I obey rules if they’re based on logic and ethics, but rules that go against logic, ethic and environment – let’s change those!
So finally we were able to reveal my new role and project this week, and I just have to thank everyone for such an amazing flood of warm and engaged feedback!
The idea of mobilizing all good forces to co-create the world’s best ecosystem for ocean entrepreneurs – with a special focus on impact/sustainability – has been a vision for 10 years. But now the role and timing was finally right.
I have missed my former life as entrepreneur, and within the Oslo Business Region sphere I feel that I can actually get to kick off an entrepreneurial project while being in a great organization. The best of two worlds…!
Just before we launched the news, I spotted a post by Richard Branson on Instagram, which I think really describes my past 6 months. It’s a great advise so I’ll share it with you:
I rested, and now I’m ready to kick ass with loads of engagement. We already received numerous enquiries from players who wants to team up and play a role in the ocean initiative- as well as some who wants to cooperate on sustainability across other sectors. I love the word of mouth effect, which will be extremely important in the collaborative work that lies ahead.
I also feel extremely grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received from the entire team of Oslo Business Region! I’ll share more in what we do and who’s who in the team later – but for now I can just say that it’s a really good group of nice, hard-working, down-to-earth guys who shares the same passion for entrepreneurship. Can’t wait to join properly!
Shipping media and social media has buzzed this week, and here’s some of the coverage. More than 30.000(!) read the press release on LinkedIn alone… And the coolest part – not a dime spent on PR agency..
Etter at jeg brente ut kruttet i fjor har jeg ikke stått på en scene. Jeg har blitt kvalm, stressa og fått pustevansker bare av tanken. Å snakke foran folk har stått for meg som et mareritt, fordi jeg hadde mistet selvtilliten helt og hadde kjørt meg helt tom.
I min nye rolle skal jeg stå masse på scener og profilere Oslo, Norge og de temaene jeg brenner mest for i hele verden! Og da var det på tide å ta tyren ved hornene, komme seg opp i salen igjen – bygge ny mestringsfølelse sakte men sikkert. Og jeg tror det beste man kan gjøre da er å være åpen om at man egentlig er litt redd, usikker og nervøs. Det er jo helt menneskelig. Og så må man bare prøve igjen da – opp igjen! – som vi sier til barna.
Da kunne jeg ikke tenke meg en bedre debut enn dagens foredragsfestival på Elvebakken VGS, i regi av heltene i Passion For Ocean! Fikk bare med meg en del av programmet, men det var råbra!!! Et utrolig viktig stykke arbeid for å engasjere ungdom og bygge kunnskap om miljø- og bærekraftsutfordringer knyttet til havet.
Jeg grugledet meg til å fortelle elevene om bærekraftig shipping, og hvilken rolle de kan spille i fremtiden. Og det gikk helt fint når jeg først sto der – jeg glemte selvbevissthet og husket at jeg bare er en budbringer – temaet jeg skulle snakke om er jo det som teller. Veldig godt å kjenne det gamle engasjementet boble ved å kunne dele tanker om hvilke utfordringer og muligheter bransjen har, og hvorfor vi trenger engasjerte flinke unge folk til å utforske uløste utfordringer og bygge fremtiden sammen med oss.
Nå gleder jeg meg til foredrag for PWC neste uke, Orkanger Oljeforum i mai, og turné til Canada, Buenos Aires og Rio i juni! Tusen takk til de fine folka på Elvebakken, for en god kur mot sceneskrekk og prestasjonsangst!
Jippi!! Og husk – save the date for årets Passion For Ocean-festival; siste helgen i august! Klikk på bildet for å komme til eventet på Facebook 🙂
I’m so excited!! Counting down towards starting an amazing new job, where I can use all of my passion for the ocean industries, tech, sustainability, entrepreneurs, diversity and continue mobilizing for change!
After a really tough 2017, I felt it was important with a fresh start. But it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Nor-Shipping. I felt extremely insecure on my own capabilities and perceived value with potential employers. But I also know that change is important for us as human beings, and especially that sometimes you have to let go and jump from the diving board, even though it feels scary and you don’t think you’re ready. And that’s when cool things happen!
Yet still, my self confidence was totally wrecked after hitting rock bottom. I was all too aware that I probably hadn’t been super strategic to both go public with #MeToo and being open about the fact that I was burnt out. A person told me directly that it was a really bad move career wise, and that she would never have advised me to blog about #MeToo..
But I have never made my decisions based on what might be strategic for me personally. Probably a bit naive, but I’ve always chosen to challenge, provoke and use my voice for things I believe in.
Initiating debates on key challenges and things that you think should and must change will never guarantee popularity. It will put you at risk some times. People will laugh at you, talk behind your back, try to stop you or in some cases even get angry. They will try to belittle you, especially when they don’t understand you. That has never stopped me, because those are the things worth working for, worth changing.
And I hope by God that I will never end up as one of those who primarily care about securing their position, earnings, power and title at all cost. Instead of focusing on how they can contribute towards change, common equality and keep their integrity…
But I know that business life can be tough on those who don’t try to fit in, and I know for sure that many leaders still keep old fashioned perceptions on mental health and what they perceive as “weaknesses”.
So I fully understood what I believe was meant as a genuine advice, in terms of putting my self at risk career wise by opening up on the whole burnout and MeToo shabang while I was still partially out of order..
After the press release on my departure from Nor-Shipping, I was both surprised and shocked to experience that so many of my former business partners and customers were interested in getting me onboard. That’s the ultimate compliment after having worked quite closely with several of them through a number of years.
As the release went public, I had actually decided what to do next, based on the alternatives I had on the table. But less than 3 hours later, I had received 3 new enquiries, and then a few more the following days.. Several were so exciting that I had to spend time exploring them before making the decision.
And finally, a few weeks postponed I’ve made it – and I’m so excited that I can hardly sit still..
Can’t wait to share the news after Easter… But a hint is that I will be able to contribute even better than ever before, using my voice and heart to work for something I truly believe in – and continue making a difference. Not to mention, get to work with a lot of the people & organizations that I’ve known for many years.
Happy Easter and egg hunting everyone!! Now I’m heading off to the Norwegian mountains with my two Easter bunnies🐣🐥🐇
The most down-to-earth approach to mindfullness, and an interview worth sharing below, with Dutch-Norwegian professor of vascular surgery – Andries Kroese…
Andries is one of my personal human heroes and child survivor of a WWII concentration camp in Japan. My father started meditating back in the early 90’s, and followed Andries’ practice long before mindfulness was all hyped up.
After first being very skeptical, I also started using his techniques and pragmatic approach to meditation (oppmerksomhetstrening) back in 2005 to get through a tough period. In February 2012 I joined my father on a weekend course with Andries as a really nice father-daughter activity while he was trying to survive cancer, and this toolbox has given me so much through the years.
However, for some stupid reason I’ve forgotten it for quite some time during the past 2 years (see where that brought me..) and was so happy to find out that his techniques are available on App Store – The Breathing Anchor.
A new year brings new opportunities, and rather than focusing on building the perfect #BeachBody2018, I will focus on tuning the brain🌱
Christmas is less than a month away, and maybe you already started the treasure hunting for gifts? Did you ever consider what happens when you push the “order” button on Amazon or eBay, or how your local stores get all the nice stuff produced abroad?
Through a global spiderweb of infrastructure ensuring that whatever from wherever can safely be supplied and delivered on time, regardless of where in the world the producer and buyer are based, you’re accessing products from the entire world from your PC or local shop. And you don’t even think about it.
But if one link in the chain is messed up, it affects the next link, and if the mess isn’t sorted out, ultimately it affects you on the other side of the world. The chain is also affected and impacted by a range of external factors, such as wars, changes in political leadership, regionalization, development, urbanization and protectionism. Not to mention climate change and migration.
Every day this remind me of how interconnected our world truly is, and how the patterns of our own small lives and local societies are very similar to this global infrastructure of freight. It reminds me that no company, no human being, city nor country can exist on its own. And how our actions impact others in a positive or negative way.
We may not always be aware of the ripple effects of our individual actions. Nor of how we as human beings are also affected by what happens thousands of miles from where we live. This makes us easily underestimate the potential damage each of us can cause through short-sighted prejudice, segregation and hatred in our daily lives. Would our world be a better place if we realized the interdependencies? And if we started focusing on how we each and every day can do something good – so that our year becomes more than a calendar; forming 365 steps for a better society.
I live by the philosophy of Ubuntu – sometimes translated as human kindness, easily explained as “I am who I am because of who we all are”. Our global community is interconnected for better and worse. We can see this as something limiting us; we are impacted by others and cannot take full control of our life, or get exactly what we want at all times, thus our actions don’t really count.
Or we can realize the opportunity; no one can survive and thrive all alone, and that’s why we interact and build communities. To utilize each other’s capabilities, ensure that the most important needs of as many as possible are covered.
Our individual efforts every day, is required to make our local society work. A higher number of well-functioning local societies makes countries work. A higher number of well-functioning countries makes a region work, and ultimately the world. This means that each and everyone of us create impact!
Likewise, if we don’t support other countries that’s messed up, and nobody else does, shit will ultimately hit our fan. No borders nor trade embargos change this fact, and if we try to stick our head in a hole to avoid it, it won’t help much..
Fascism and Nazism are some ugly outcomes of what happens when enough people stop believing in their own ability to create impact and fix broken societies. When we resign and start blaming “outsiders” for our own lack of abilities to find solutions to our problems. Instead of using our frustration as a power to re-mobilize through constructive collaboration and hard work, we channel it out passive-aggressively, blaiming others without taking a step back to consider our part of the mess we’re in. It’s more convenient and much easier to complaining, than it is to do something ourselves…
Then we start looking for someone with a “quick fix”. The problem is that every good solution requires hard work and joint efforts. It’s not easy, and everyone won’t get exactly everything they feel entitled to or wish for, it requires some sort of sacrifice by all of us.
But it’s better than giving up on our social and equal society project and handing the power over our lives and destinies to some guy with great skills for populistic marketing, building on people’s fear.
You and I play a role in creating the change that’s needed in the global community.
And nobody defines that role for you; Do you want your role to be that of sharing and spreading fear, walls and giving up when faced by a challenge? Or do you want to take the role of tackling those challenges by looking for opportunities…
As one of the 7,452 billion human drops in the ocean, what’s your contribution – what do you do in your worklife and personal life to create change?
As my new year’s resolution for 2016, I chose a mission a bit of from the typical self-absorbing ones; #beachbody2016 #structuredlife2016 #savingsproject2016 #overachiever2016 etc, – and turned my perspective to something outside my own inner circle…
My project for 2016 was inspired by the Norwegian Prime Minister’s New Year’s speech to the Norwegian people addressing our individual responsibility to create a warmer society – an “everyday-inclusion” approach. So as one of 4,9 million people – a small drop in the ocean – what can you do? Which difference can you make? What kind of impact can you cause as one single person? My resolution was to test this proactively throughout the year. To do something contributing towards a warmer and more sustainable community every day – regardless of how small or insignificant it might seem.
I hope this can inspire others (you!!) to think creatively on your opportunities to impact. So here is my Christmas list of society-warming actionsas, hoping to inspire you to share your actions… Enjoy!
Joining the Twitter debates – countering racism with facts
Joining society debates on topics that cause injustice
Inviting a refugee (family) over for dinner
Having a meal and a smoke with a homeless
Mentoring someone younger from a different cultural background
Discussing the principles of sharing with my kid
Donating speakers’ fees and board salary to a project in the Mediterranean
Utilizing an unused storage area through lending it out for free to Refugees Welcome
Helping people I don’t know who ask me for small favors or advise
Having the kids go through their toys and pick out nice items to the kids who had to leave theirs when fleeing from their homes
Talking to people on the bus, tram and other public places
Saying “thank you” more
Paying when the older woman in front of you in the store forgot her wallet
Supporting initiatives by young people wanting to do good
Taking my son along to the Turban Day
Implementing the SDGs in our work projects
Supporting causes I believe in
Volunteering at projects doing good
Promoting equality both at work and in private
Inviting friends and their friends to an open Global Jungle birthday party, encouraging all to bring someone who’s new to our country, either as a work migrant, refugee or love migrant, and inviting people from different levels and parts of society who might not normally meet
Fundraising for WomenForWomenInt
Picking trash from the beach with the kids, and having fun doing it also when we’re out walking – teaching the kids awareness of our environment
Smiling to strangers whenever making eye contact
Inviting a refugee family to join us for summer vacation, exploring that this gave us amazing new friends and cherished memories, both for me and the kids
Buying a an extra cup of coffee or something to eat when I see people begging outside on my way into a shop
Helping others who need it going on/off public transportation
Bringing the kids for playdate at the refugee center (3-y-o; “mom, why can’t we live like this with more people and kids at home. I want to stay here”)
Sharing more hugs
Spending some time every week to think through how I can support the SDGs
Collaborating with others rather than competing, always strive to support
Missing my bus to talk with a young drug-addict
Discussing religion with people of other faiths, in an open and respectful manner
Christmas present to family grown-ups – donation
Same for the friends
Opening up for accommodating refugees in our family home, which caused my mother to enjoy the company of an amazing and remarkable young girl from Syria
Giving the kids their own used and forgotten toys in their Christmas calendar – and for each day donate the gift amount to a good cause
I totally love Kareena Kapoor movies, and now I’m all crazy about Ki & Ka! A young couple switching the traditional roles upside-down. Kia is my fictive Indian clone – the story of my life…! You might not know, but based on seeing the achievements made by my amazing, tough and hard-working Indian female friends and their equals, I predict a power revolution in India the coming years.
This movie doesn’t pretend that walking down a new path is easy – and that’s just how I experience it as well- even living in Norway. Society have so many expectations and prejudice linked to our genders, and sometimes you feel that you’re in a limbo where nothing you do is really good enough. We hold expectations to women as parents, and turning the mirror society also judge men differently if they’re filling the male role in a way differing from general practice. We need to become more open for people to choose beyond existing patterns.
And I see movies such as this one as a sign of time – Bollywood entertainment culture filling its role as driving force for changing and revolutionizing societies! Bollywood challenging gender stereotypes is just amazing – perfectly blended with the bhangra sections that makes every fiber of your body wanna stand up in the middle of the plan and dance!
Mother India is moving – and Bollywood influences a smoothly rising wave of youngsters who will bring new ambitions and expectations for the freedom of choosing beyond outdated role models..
So if you’re slightly progressive and passionate for gender equality – or if you just love trains by the way (!!) – and will watch only one movie this month; get googling and find a streaming service that has Ki & Ka in its library. Yalla!!
I loved the latest Huffington Post piece by Lori Duron on Halloween Drag Queen outfit. And without ever having heard about the #RaisingARainbow concept before, I appear to share many of her views when it comes to raising what she calls gender creative kids.
I previously wrote about my frustration for the way small kids are put into girl/boy silo, and to me this has to do with our responsibility of fostering resilient and adaptive kids who hold the tools to thrive in a world of opportunities. In today’s world, the old gender stereotypes doesn’t work anymore. So raising boys in the old fashioned way, or in other ways raising kids to take on narrow minds and prejudice actually means adding huge hurdles on their path to grown-up-life.
Our world moves forward! As when little girls can have Superman undies, and little boys can dress up as girls for Halloween. Or all kids can pick all colors. At our house, the boys can wear and play with anything they like; whether it’s the super neat dollhouse from Finn.no, baby dolls and strawler from their older cousins, Frozen princesses – or cars, train sets, superhero accessories and anything that might function as a sword. Usually it’s a mix – such as pink Hello Kitty socks and red Superman t-shirt, or a fire truck transported alongside a baby doll in the strawler…
And fortunately kindergarten consciously focus on encouraging boys and girls, and kids of different age to play and hang out. Which means that when my oldest kid had his first sleepover, it was with his girl bestie. I’ve no idea how the mix of his friends will be in the future, but I hope it won’t become as gender divided as when we grew up.
In a world rapidly changing, where traditional role models and gender stereotypes also evolve and are challenged, I predict this might be a good platform for embracing the many facettes each of us are equipped with, dare to be ourselves and respect others’ capabilities and differences. As a mother of boys, it’s good to see that men don’t have to be tough all the time, that it’s good to talk about and express our emotions, and that they can be praised and encouraged for empathic skills and the soft sides, not only for achievements and the typical “male” capabilities.
With a 3-y-o I often have to answer for how everything in the world works. And we question and explore it together, thinking aloud, challenging both common routines as well as the fundamental and established truths of our society, all the why’s, how’s and what’s. Here are some examples from our chats;
Walking home from kindergarten; Mom, when I’m a big girl, can I get a dress like Mathilde’s? (Of course, if you want to)
Preparing for bedtime; Mom, why are some clothes just for girls? Why don’t they have pink and purple with superman? (Well, the store has separate sections, but boys and girls can choose what they want to wear)
Following a play date with friends from a refugee centre; Why can’t we have a house like Maryam & Omair, with so many many kids? Why do we live alone, only us? (Well, we could – after all it’s more boring not to share house with other families)
Going shopping; Can we go barefoot to the store? (Of course)
Meals; Can we have breakfast for dinner? (Yupp!) Can we have dinner under the table? (Why not) Can we eat outside? (In December, dark and snowy – well, sure)
Not all of these are about gender as you can see, but my point is that I try to apply an everyday approach, encouraging some outside-the-box thinking.
Opening up to a mindset of not accepting ordinary practice and “normals” without questioning it, and at the same time exposing the kids to different surroundings, other cultures, different views, new parts of your hometown, friends of various genders, backgrounds, age groups – widening their horizon from an early age.
We talk about how some families have to moms, two dads, or many parents. And about how we can fall in love with girls, boys or both and that’s fine.
The kids have also been helping out at home since 1,5y – setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, filling the washing machine, recycling and sorting garbage, making meals. Which I hope will make them both see it completely natural to take their share of chores when (if) they get a family of their own, and respect the efforts and value of what many still perceive as women’s tasks.
Whether my small nudges aiming to supply the boys with some basic idea that anything’s normal and okay will work, I’ve no idea – my kids have brains and souls of their own and will chose their own path. They’ll also get influenced by friends and various external influencers I won’t have any control of whatsoever. Maybe they act out exactly in the opposite direction as part of their process to become independent individuals. We’ll see. But at least I’ll have added some rainbow seeds into the mix…
Anyway, Halloween is just around the corner, and I’ll be on the lookout for Super girls, Drag queens (or just princess boys) and all other variations of kids enjoying the trick or treat outside the gender silos!