Are you funding Alt-Right? #digitalmarketing

Branding in accordance with corporate values? Where do your marketing budgets end up? We recently discussed the use of general Google ads and various options related to smart and AI-based targeted digital marketing.

While this is amazing technology, it obviously comes with some concerns. Just like bad loans during the financial crisis, our ad money is resold and packaged to get the most out of each penny; but too often we don’t actually know where our campaigns end up..

I visited a few alt-right websites today, to check out which local companies might have forgotten to specify which websites to stay clear of. And this is the outcome, based on my cookies and Google history…

I guess #HouseOfOslo #Trimtex #AutoElite #Citroen #RendalenHytter #Sticos dis not expect their ads to end up at Breitbart. 

And probably #SmartPhoto #Flisekompaniet #Vipps #KongsvingerRegnskap #BirgerHaug #Nissan #LifeSound didn’t expect people to see their logos and messaging on the Norwegian equivalent – (which has spread a lot of alternative Scandianavian news stories to their friends in the U.S. – including that of Sweden as rape capital of Europe last year…)

Ouccchh! Time to go trough how you and your agency/bureaus are actually placing your ads? No time to waste..
@slpng_giant_no #stopfundinghate

Wedding fair – probably not the exact site the organisers pictured their ad budget for…

Nothing says team spirit like Breitbart! Excellent channel for promoting your sportswear towards the upcoming race.. PS; make sure only to use Caucasian models, or they might reduce your visibility

Did this Citroen importer/deler know who their agency distributed their account budgets to?

Alt-right people also get their cabins fixed..

#TheResistance – ACT for humanity

Many of us wonder how we can contribute as individuals, to support the important work of building a resilient, safe and warm society for all. I hereby share some examples from the past year, hoping it can serve as inspiration. 

Remember that even though change, instability and key societal problems may seem too big to grasp and tackle, the world actually is built on the actions of each and every one of us. The individual actions count. You and I are the ones who must be the change we want to see in the world.

Europe turned colder last year, and now we are witnessing an American chill. Frozen from the top, but with a grass root movement demonstrating the exact same values and fundamental capabilities that we experienced in Norway following 22/7. That’s the heat required to create good change. 

Last year I responded to the sad development in Norway by making our Prime Minister’s new year’s message my own resolution; contributing in every-day inclusion.

I challenged myself to try and make every day count; do something each day that supported a warm, inclusive and dignified society. Each person must find their chosen path and actions, but I hereby challenge you to join in and contribute towards the same.

I started joining #SoMe discussions, fighting populism, harsh words and myths with facts and respectful language 

I invited an Afghan refugee family and some young Afghan men over for a family dinner. It was an evening I will never forget, and which gave me completely new insights – highly recommendable 

In March we demonstrated against Trump outside Trump Towers in N.Y.

We offered free housing for up to 2 refugee families with kids. Though the govt didn’t make use of it, Refugees Welcome eventually connected us to a wonderful Syrian girl, who now lives in our family home (where my mother lives alone) while studying medicine. I am certain she will be an amazing resource for society 

I organized a Global Jungle party for my birthday, encouraging the guests to donate for refugees instead of gifts, to bring someone with them from another country, and to bring a foreign dish they had good memories from. More than 20 countries from all corners of the world were represented 

I started mentoring a girl from Djibouti and a girl from Karachi, in addition to my ongoing relation to a remarkable Indian girl. All of them dedicated, hard working talents, who will be good for our society 

Every time I treated myself with something I didn’t absolutely need, I donated the same amount of money to a good cause 

We lent out 400 sqm storage space for free to Refugees Welcome for 6 months – for them to use as coordination centre to receive and distribute clothes and supplies gathered from locals

We invited a refugee family with 3 kids around the same age as my sons to spend a week of the summer vacation with us. Both families enjoyed it equally – it’s one of my best memories of that summer. My kids still talk about it..

Instead of gifts to the grownups in our family, they got a joint donation to Refugees Welcome. So did my friends.

And when I found out that a family I know was in scope for and forced to escape our country due to the Norwegian govt’s “Crystal Night” approach, resulting in them having to live on the street with small kids in a European city during the worse winter freeze, I am so happy that we managed to get in touch so that I could find a way to sponsor them with enough to get the basic food. 

We made new friends this year, who we would never know if it wasn’t for Prime Minister Solberg’s words. I feel humble and grateful, and will continue the same resolution this year. 

These are just some examples – what are your ones? How can you contribute?

Finally; If we come to know of refugees who risk being deported to somewhere where their life is threatened, we must do our part in protecting them. Even if it means taking a personal risk. Borders and fences are constructed, but as human beings we are all interconnected – mankind is only one specie. We must support each other.. We must stop to fail humanity.

In times where humanitarian and modern democracy values and principles are threatened, we must resist fear and hatred. We owe it to our shared world to make bold and value-based decisions as individuals. Our society is only as good as us – we are the ones creating it. 

//. Birgit

Dictator for Dummies checklist!

Post U.S. Election & inauguration tool;

You were promised a drained swamp, a greater than the greatest great country, with lots of opportunities for all those great people. A fairytale, with low taxes and jobs for all. A country rising from the ashes like a Phoenix (let’s pretend we didn’t know that the arrows on key society and financial parameters had already seen a nice curve for some years…). One man would fix the entire country, and he was the only one for the task. Like Superman! 

Perception trumphs boring reality. You might not have reflected upon the TV-shop parallels, like when you buy a gold doublet necklace and the thin layer starts vanishing quite quickly? Or that of the weight-loss program that promised the world, but in fact just made you gain some pounds, on top of the feeling of failure? Or the way tobacco brands for decades pretended to make you hot, tanned, fresh and with shiny white teeth – instead of bad-breathed with yellow teeth and a bad cough..? 

Those fair promises and grand words – commercial branding at its best/worse. How do you identify a saviour from an elephant in a glass house….

The Dictator for Dummies Checklist;

  1. Define one or more external enemy Gain control of the free press (can be accomplished through verbal threats, buying them, denying them access to interviews, slandering, censorship and/or new law amendments)
  2. Create a really bad perception of the press as the people’s enemy
  3. Censor and control all info shared by public employees and offices
  4. Limit all type of critical/negative input shared in society, and replace it with alternative facts. Don’t accept negative feedback  (Great tip; Has worked in North Korea for ages!!!)
  5. Gradually find ways to undermine or punish key troublesome groups (typically women, LGBT, minorities, refugees etc)
  6. Get women domesticated and back to where they belong. They get way to difficult and uncontrollable if they have their own income – very sad! There’s a reason why men should control the world
  7. Create your own personal Nathional Holiday, then follow up with a suitable raider (new anthem, a special recognizable hand greeting etc). Name buildings and perhaps an airport after yourself 
  8. Claim you were appointed by God (or someone similar)
  9. Make sure to use your role to line your own pockets and gain personal power rather than working your a** of for others
  10. Ensure impulsive decision-making, that will have everyone tip-towing…
  11. Threaten all parts that don’t listen, by 
  12. Harass other people’s opinions, and get others to do it too… If it doesn’t work you  can also threaten to sue
  13. Ensure you have a domesticated wife who matches your values – who can’t speak up against you, and ensure the prenup so she won’t be able to betray you later
  14. Get your friends onboard key positions- so much more fun
  15. Don’t pay taxes, just collect them 
  16. Never release personal details, but make sure to dig & hack to get other
  17. Get a private jet
  18. Reinstate nepotism – blood is thicker than anything and perfect for working around general shifts
  19. Give people what they want to hear
  20. Support other demagogs- you mever know when you’ll need then
  21. If everything else fails, start a war or something 
  22. To be continued… And feel free to add points under 

One Year: 365 steps towards a warmer society

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!

  1. Joining the Twitter debates – countering racism with facts
  2. Joining society debates on topics that cause injustice
  3. Inviting a refugee (family) over for dinner
  4. Having a meal and a smoke with a homeless
  5. Mentoring someone younger from a different cultural background
  6. Discussing the principles of sharing with my kid
  7. Donating speakers’ fees and board salary to a project in the Mediterranean
  8. Utilizing an unused storage area through lending it out for free to Refugees Welcome
  9. Helping people I don’t know who ask me for small favors or advise
  10. 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
  11. Talking to people on the bus, tram and other public places
  12. Saying “thank you” more 
  13. Paying when the older woman in front of you in the store forgot her wallet
  14. Supporting initiatives by young people wanting to do good
  15. Taking my son along to the Turban Day
  16. Implementing the SDGs in our work projects
  17. Supporting causes I believe in
  18. Volunteering at projects doing good
  19. Promoting equality both at work and in private
  20. 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
  21. Fundraising for WomenForWomenInt
  22. 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
  23. Smiling to strangers whenever making eye contact
  24. 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
  25. Buying a an extra cup of coffee or something to eat when I see people begging outside on my way into a shop
  26. Helping others who need it going on/off public transportation
  27. 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”)
  28. Sharing more hugs
  29. Spending some time every week to think through how I can support the SDGs 
  30. Collaborating with others rather than competing, always strive to support 
  31. Missing my bus to talk with a young drug-addict
  32. Discussing religion with people of other faiths, in an open and respectful manner
  33. Christmas present to family grown-ups – donation 
  34. Same for the friends
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. …. (To be continued)

Pay it forward!

Shipping and the Global Goals #SDG

We celebrate the eminent Annual Conference of Bergen Chamber, dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by releasing our first SDG challenge to our industry! We are one industry – serving one world. We can impact on all of the 17 SDG’s, and now it’s the time for all of us to start thinking about how we as individuals and corporations can contribute as problem-solvers for the world.

What can you do? What can we do?

The entire Nor-Shipping strategy is built on the SDG’s – and the coming months we invite you to explore our new initiatives under the umbrella “Crowdsourcing by Nor-Shipping”

Sustainable regards / Birgit

#CatalystForChange #DisruptiveSustainability #DiversityShip

LeaderShip #WISTA2016

WISTA slightly amended the IMO slogan for 2016; Shipping {women} – indispensable to the {maritime} world. Sporting a slightly different delegate profile than your everyday maritime conference, WISTA AGM & International Conference 2016 gathered 300 female leaders from 33 countries for a 4-day conference onboard Holland America Lines’ M/V Koningdam for its’ maiden voyage in the U.S.

Among the prominent speakers & participants were INTERTANKO boss – Katarina Stanzel; IMO Director of Legal and External Affairs – RADM Fred Kenney; Shipowner & Board Member of ICS – Karin Orsel; President, Holland America Cruise Lines – Orlando Ashford; President, Total Marine Solutions & WISTA USA – Alexandra Anagnostis-Irons; Executive Vice President Fleet Operations, Holland America Group – Keith A. Taylor; Chief Financial Officer, Heidmar – Kathleen Haines; President and Chief Executive Officer, CSL Group – Rod Jones; Executive Director, Investments & Finance Ltd – Katerina Stathopoulou, and so many other people to learn from and get inspired by…

Grateful! #IamWISTA

We need to talk about female seafarers #DiversityShip

For years I’ve been utterly curious about something; why don’t we succeed in recruiting and retaining more female seafarers onboard the world’s ships? 
At several seminars and conferences I’ve attended both in Europe, U.S. and Asia, I’ve listened to numerous discussions on how hard this is. And heard companies sharing their experiences and explaining how they’ve been trying so hard to recruit female cadets. But “it didn’t work, unfortunately”. And so I asked this stupid question; well, how long did you try? Well, for quite a few it appears they’d tried a couple of times, but it just didn’t work. So they’ve given up. To me, the obvious question is; well – did you really WANT to succeed? People said the same about women in business earlier, you know….! Now look at what’s going on in our industry – women in all functions, levels and segments.

The perceived difficulties and barriers of raising the ratio of female seafarers just doesn’t make sense in my mind. If you do it as due to the “CSR” and political correctness perspective, I can understand it. You can’t just half-heartedly try if you don’t really believe in it. But if you do it based on an understanding of seeing an untapped potential of valuable resources, I’d claim that the potential for success should be so much better with the latter view. 

I mean, when we found oil of the coast of Norway, we didn’t exactly have the solutions straight away. There was invested heaps of money, time, trying and failing, before it worked out, right? And when various nations wanted to plant a flag on the Moon; same story.. If you really want something, you invest in it. You try and fail, learn from experts or build expertise. You don’t just give up after a few setbacks, do you? 

So to the companies out there who wanted to hire female seafarers but failed; how about talking to other companies that succeeded in recruiting girls, and learn from them. Talk to seasoned male and female seafarers to tap into their insights. And the industry could easily join forces and come up with a best practice model – which we’re normally really good at – so that each company won’t have to make the same mistakes (like recruiting only 1 female seafarer per vessel). Right?

And we also need to start talking about a huge load of unconscious bias in our industry. As when we start finding generic reasons outside our own influence that “explains” the lack of female seafarers. 

I have a few examples; “The thing is that it’s also a huge investment training cadets, and you know, then the girls get pregnant and go back on shore anyway”. “You know what it’s like – they won’t spend time away from their family, so it’s just not possible for us, you know…”. 

Hmmmm, I thought – I know many girls who stay long periods away from home, especially from the Asian and Eastern European countries. Think about all the girls who work hard as aupairs in Western countries, the Middle East or Singapore , or in factories in Taiwan. With a much lower pay, often no rights and they maybe don’t get to see their kids more than once or twice per year. So I still don’t get this, that shouldn’t be hindering them…

“Well, but anyway”, some claim – “there’s just so much hard work onboard a ship, such as cleaning the hull tanks, and women simply can’t manage that. So you know, this makes it impossible.” Or “It’s just too dangerous for girls”, “Some jobs are just not meant for women”.

And there I sat, thinking to myself; one of my best friends just spent a year in Mali with the UN forces. I know women who has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, crossed the Antarctic, sailed across the Atlantic sea in the roughest weather, and worked on huge oil rigs in the harsh Northern sea. Tough, strong, dedicated, and solution oriented. Also, I’m thinking; normally if we really want to achieve something, we only see opportunities and resolve the practical hinders. Why is this so difficult – when it’s basically about the key basic focus of us needing to recruit and retain the best people to our industry to stay competitive? 

I just don’t get it… Maybe you could enlighten me, and explain what you think. Which are the key obstacles and opportunities- what can we do to help the industry solving this bottleneck that keeps 50% of the best talents away from going to sea? Let’s crush some silos and glass walls!

Cheers from me, onboard the M/V Koningdam between Fort Lauderdale and the Bahamas – with 300 female industry executives gathered for the WISTA International AGM.

Kareena Kapoor’s Gender Stereotype Rebellion

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!!


Girls & Boys; let’s have it all! #RaisingARainbow

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, 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!

Have fun!

Oslo Nights

The Oslo nights are starting to get cold, so it’s even more important to contribute to keep our city warm. 
Switching from train to tram on my way back from Copenhagen tonight, a young girl sat outside the station, begging. I rarely give money, but she was hungry and so was I, so I fetched a hotdog, coffee and chocolates and sat down joining her for a smoke outside Nationalteateret. 

Best chat of the week, and she stuck on my mind… Afterwards, as I walked past an old couple kissing passionately, I couldn’t help thinking how vulnerable we are, and how we all struggle to balance on a line that anyone of us can suddenly trip and fall from…

Good night, sweet dreams!

Mini-League meets Ivy’ League

Have you ever felt way out of your comfort zone? Did you ever try challenging or sharing your input with someone who completely outweigh your own experience and competence? Presenting something to them that they know 20 times better than you? That’s scary! A mini league player entering Ivy League.

Scary is good. Fear causes change. It’s good in the sense that it sharpens you, and makes you more humble. If you make a complete fool of yourself that’s also useful, both for your ego and for exploring how you could do better. 

It’s also important in the context of your own personal and professional development, stretching your limits while testing and training your ability to do things you didn’t really consider yourself competent for – or secure enough to approach.

Today, I gave a speech at the Höegh head office, where I felt way outside my comfort zone (which is, by the way, quite wide – as I don’t really take myself too seriously). I got a serious case of nerves!

In general I used to be quite insecure, and that’s also why I knew this was a good thing to expose myself towards – tackling fear by approaching what you fear is healthy!

My first and most scary experience on a stage was back in 2010, when I stood in front of 300 executives giving my first ever public speech; challenging some of shipping’s super stars on the image of shipping. 

I was a co-initiator of the Oslo Shipping Exchange, the first joint project YoungShip did with the senior organisations, and the other guys wanted someone young and/or a woman on the panel to even out the following diverse profile; Pareto’s Erik Helberg, Axel Eitzen, Peter Anker, Calle Steen, Rolf Wikborg, Jens Ismar. I was 27 and just a project coordinator… I contacted a female next gen shipowner, but she wanted more experience before sharing her industry perspectives. In fact, we didn’t succeed in finding any young females to challenge the industry (it wasn’t really that common yet). So, I the guys told me to do it myself….

Industry legends Westye Höegh and Fred. Olsen were on the front row, and I was just an incompetent, rookie without a clue of real business. I wished for a sinking hole to digest me… So I made the task easy; challenging a whole bunch of high-level people about the image and attractiveness of shipping… Had no idea if the reactions would be eggs and tomatoes, or just frowns.

And after my presentation, Peter Anker of Platou literaly chopped my head of in the bar – completely disagreeing with my thoughts and views. I probably would never again have entered a stage with a microphone hadn’t it been for the opposite feedback from Herman Billung of Golden Ocean, who was really enthusiastic. That one nudge was all I needed; what a feeling…!

Nowadays, while still nervous ahead, it rarely compares. But today I had a deja vu experience for a while;

I was invited to speak at the Family Business Network, about diversity in boards and perspectives on recruitment and evaluation of board members, during their seminar on ownership and board work in family owned companies. I thought it primarily consisting of young owners.

However; A span of really high level seniors weren among the participants. Leaders of excellent and big companies!

I’m nowhere near their competence on boardwork, but with an HR perspective and equipped with some board experience both as an outsider and family owners’ rep. I’ve spotted some challenge areas seeking to make people think outside the box to explore the new business opportunities..

Here are a few tidbits for you, as I’m just a tad engaged on diversity issues, and get truly concerned about the direction we steer towards when diversity is only about “white male50+white female 50+” and we don’t even achieve that span yet. Pardon my Norwegian, and note that the mobile print screen causes some hickups

We need diversity beyond genders; multiculturally, digitally!! Now board people – get to work!

// Birgit

#BoardDiversity #WhyWhatHowWho 

The United States of Reality?

Scrolling through Twitter ignite a strange mix of feeling quite humored and scared shitless at the same time, as the U.S. presidential election seems to turn into a surrealistic and populistic reality show 😖

The gap between frustrated voters and the establishment expanded and took a turn for the worse as we (too) slowly started realizing that Trump’s candidature was actually for real, not a joke. A guy with superb capabilities to “Woo” people through nailing viewers to the screen with hardcore statements that makes us laugh and feel somewhat ashamed of his bullying skills at the same  time.

What started out as a fun way to kill an hour or two in the couch, suddenly became serious as Trump took his egotrip to the next level; by the help of existing fans as well as spin-doctors he re-targeted his focus and ability to woo potential buyers from business clients and high-end markets over to a huge group of frustrated voters by using well proven mechanisms of creating external enemies to blaim and fight. Using the same logics that makes girls buy a Prada using MasterCard; the differentiation of “us” and “them”. The ultimate sales pitch; a world of change – fixing everything that’s wrong in the blink of an eye! 

Just overthrow the existing systems, and trust one man to be our savior. Never mind his aversion against a number of groups in the society, or the complete disregard of moral and legal practice conducting business. Trump is something different – and Americans tend to look for the opposite of the sitting president when placing their votes. This time, the contrast is extreme – perfectly illustrating the gap between real life and reality show.

Back home, this should serve as an important reminder of what can happen when society becomes fractionized due to huge differences between rich & poor, access to basic services and education, and when a growing part of the population don’t get to take part in the economical growth enjoyed by the fortunate ones. 

Chinese leaders understood decades ago that stability and control in a modern world hangs on a country’s government to create a certain belief among its inhabitants that things will gradually change for the better. Proving that through small symbolic actions and reforms that secure basic needs, remove big social problems (efforts on renewables ref to asthma and air quality as example), and by best possibly include as big a portion as possible of its population in its development. So maybe we have something to learn? 

It’s dangerous for a country when growing groups of its people feel cut off from prosperity and lose hope for a better future. We easily become more responsive and open for populistic messages that brings a promise for “easy” solutions and massive change.

A great salesman can sell sand in Sahara. But he might not be the right guy to lead an organization’s (nor country!) quest for transformative change. The specific sales “combat” strategy of securing quick deals by hiding drawbacks in very small writing, or utilizing your size & power benefit to screw over your counterpart, hardly builds trust in the long run. So while you can generate quick and solid earnings, your reputation someday catches up with you. Loss of reputation, trust or integrity is probably something Trump can live with as a businessman. But it’s not something the U.S. can live with as a country.

As individuals we don’t necessarily choose the products we buy based on their actual qualities and performance; but just as often for the perceived brand qualities, stories and emotional effect we relate them to. At least until we experience that the brand really deviates from its promise and that different wrapping often covers the same “shit”. 

And it seems this is the case with Trump. He has created such a brand name that we instantly associate him more to the storytelling than to the performance. It’s so tempting to believe that a world of problems can be solved by a miracle recipe rather than through loads of hard work and patience.

Should #TheApprentice win and screw up, however, the damage not only to the Americans, but to the global stability, seems fatal. History is full of examples of frustrated voters democratically electing leaders who later evolved into tyrants; Mugabe, Marcos and the extreme one; Hitler… 

Let’s hope sensibility will prevail so we don’t create another despot!

Whenever markets are bad… #shippingreaders

…relax with “The Shipping Man” by Matthew McCleary, and remember that it could always be worse!

Unless you’re a hedgefund guy who invested at the peak; but in that case, remember you should’ve read this book first 😉 

And no matter how high or deep market goes – it’s no wonder that we all love this industry. Global, always moving, always uncertain, people-based… It’s not a job, it’s a way of life!

Epic dialogue; 

“There are only three ways to get an advantage over your competitors in this business.”

“What are they?” Robert asked.

“Pay less for your ships, pay less to operate them or pay less for your capital.”

Borderless Business; Languages Decrypted

Looks as this awesome piece of tech could arrive just in time for @norshipping next year! Would make the week even more fun – tearing down the walls of different languages – within European languages firstly…💡🇫🇷🇩🇪🇮🇹🇪🇸🇵🇹 

Though I can make myself understood on “tourist” level in Russian, Spanish, Italian and squeeze out some phrases in German and Portuguese, I really miss having the time to learn more languages properly. My No.1 advise to young people eager to make smart choices for an exciting future as a global citizen would be; explore and learn as many languages as you can! Especially Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Spanish/Portuguese. Languages are a gateway, a key to understanding people and cultures, build relationships and enjoy international acquaintances in an entirely different way. 

Meanwhile, I recently joined the crowd-funding of a gadget I hope can help unlocking some of the cross-lingual opportunities; The Pilot! Maybe it won’t even work, but if it does I can’t wait to explore it next Nor-Shipping – enjoying far better conversations with industry colleagues and friends from a span of different countries😊

If it works, it will also be an amazing travel companion… Very excited! 

What’s your favorite gadget when exploring the world?

// Birgit

#FromProblemToProfit #borderlessbusiness #crowdfunding #ThePilot #shippingtechnerd 🙌🏽🌱@indiegogo

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