Behind the scene…

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❤️

Take care!

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

Will #PanamaPapers prepare the ground for #LevelPlayingField?

With global corporations and profiled executives across all industries and more than 200 countries exposed in a media case that makes WikiLeaks appear small, we can surely expect that as today’s insights causes earthquakes and crisis mode among governments and companies, many should probably prepare for tsunami conditions the coming weeks.

Business has already seen a high increase in costs and risks/impact related to both environmental and ethical performance the past decade. Failing to comply with these factors is something I think will hit many actors much harder in the years to come. International state leaders are already targeting the tax havens, pursuing their rightful share of taxable profits, and I assume the involvement of so many prominent leaders will only have to kick this focus further up on the agenda. 

Swizz banks had to adapt to a changing terrain some years ago, and the digital age of connectivity and social media basically means that we will need to behave better than before. What we do, google, say, transfer, exchange or buy, can under the right circumstances be exposed. So why not start being open and make sure that anything we do is fit for such a reality.

A Panama delegation I met last December in South Korea claimed that the “tax haven” days of Panama were about to end, as the U.S. trade agreement from 2,5 years ago requires more transparency. With the WikiLeaks, SwizzLeaks, Panama Papers as appetizers, leaders and businesses should make sure to realize that the main course will probably consist of a much bigger portion of the same. And that the 3-course dinners of tomorrow are composed under the themes “Transparency” and “Accountability”. 

Surely, this to some must feel like having a black swan gate-crashing their party. But in fact, this is definitely a black elephant – its been in the room for ages, and people should have known the risks by now, but somehow chose to keep their blinders on.

In a global world, we need to make sure that we somehow play by the same rulebook. Hopefully this major shocker can be positive in the long-term, motivating business to raise the standards and practice, and bringing us some good steps closer towards a level playing field.

2016 definitely has proven to be a year of shocking events so far. Will look forward to read and learn more about the next updates from the #PanamaPapers!

When a personal crisis hits you – how do you handle it as a leader?

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This is something I reflected a bit on earlier today, as I´ve experienced many different leaders throughout my 16 years of working in various fields and roles. The personal situation of a leader will affect the organisation and co-workers one way or the other, so what is the best approach?

The traditional way, of course, is to keep it together and pretend all is well. Separate business from your personal life. A leader is someone the others need to look up to, a person who has to be strong and able to handle anything – both personal or professional challenges. Also, it could create insecurity in the organisation, or even worse, someone could try to take advantage of the situation and jump for your position. So better keep your mouth shut and keep your personal challenges to yourself. Right?

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Well…. I don´t completelly agree (of course). My experience, both as a co-worker and a leader, is that openness is always the best approach. It might cost you a bit more, ´cause displaying your weaknesses or vulnerable situation can be tough. Ifyou see that you are put in a situation where you´re not likely to perform as usual, people tend to read some signals even if you don´t share. That´s what creates insecurity. Also, it might be that during a difficult period in your personal life, you might react quite differently than you normally would; with irritation, anger, sarcasm, lack of patience, sadness, silence, mood swings, etc. Those kind of reactions are much easier to deal with for those around you if they know and understand why. Opening up towards your co-workers also brings the potential for several positive benefits;

  1. Easier to delegate, share workload and reduce the pressure you´re facing
  2. Reduces the extra stress of having to wear a mask, trying to pretend all is fine
  3. Increases the co-workers trust and confidence in you, by showing that you´re human and that you trust them
  4. Provides extra opportunity of others getting to test & demonstrate their capabilities
  5. Strengthens the shared team feeling “Yes, we can!”
  6. Reduces the risk of negative impact for the organisation/corporation, as it´s less probable that your situation and eventual errors/uncompleted tasks will affect the everyday work. You are not, after all,irreplacable – others cancoveryour areas just as well
  7. Increases the probability that co-workers will feel confident enough to be open in return when they´re facing a challenging situation,which again will reduce risks ref. to deliverables & reaching targets
  8. Builds a better fundament for respect, openness and honesty – which in turn creates so much more loyalty than any salary increase or bonus scheme

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My message here is simple. I have a strong belief that we all perform best if we are trusted and treated with empathy. If we experience that our co-workers and leaders truly wants the best for us, want each other to prosper and grow, and that it´s not expected to be flawless or “perfect”, we don´t need to wear a mask at work. It´s so much easier to be ourselves, and so much better for creative processes and the ability to innovate and create change.

trust openness

This requires that you as a leader leads by example; displaying your own challenges, weaknesses and eventual limitations to expect ref. to availability and job performance – daring to share

who you really are as a person. And being generous – utilizing the situation to allow the people you´re working with to take on new tasks/responsibilities, test their limits, grow and develop to hopefully be even better at it than you. It requires that you know yourself well enough to dare let go of control (which is just an illusion anyway…), and it requires some level of confidence. Don´t be afraid to let others outshine yourself. A good leader has the talent of bringing out the best potentials in others – that is what defines you as a leader.

On my part, I am far from perfect. I can be impatient, too quick at concluding when I get a “great” idea, and I get really frustrated and annoyed if people don´t deliver what we have agreed (unless they are open and let me know in advance, so that we can actually re-plan and shift priorities). Also, for better and worse, I am really direct and can definitely step on people´s toes unintended. I expect a lot from my self, and almost as much from others. And I expect people I´m working with to be self-driven, meaning that once we´ve made plans and delegated responsibilites & tasks, I expect not having to be a baby-sitter. I can definitely be quite tough, and have been working a lot trying to adjust my style to various personality types. It´s a never-ending process, where you also learn a lot. We never know the perfect approach, but as long as we try our best and aim for an open and trust-ful environment, I still think miracles can happen… 😉

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Including personal example of my way of handling a difficult time 2 years ago; My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I was still Chairing the YoungShip Oslo branch (while being Secretary General of YS International). The timing was not the best, as it was in the final preparations for the general assembly, budgets and re-elections, with a lot of deadlines and deliverables. I knew my limitations, and understood that I had to delegate the work that I couldn´t handle on my own. The mail is in Norwegian, but basically explains the situation and how this effects me personally and professionally. I had talked to several before sending the mail, agreeing some new responsibility splits and identified the capacity of the others; so I also listed the key most important areas and tasks that had to be handled, and asked the great team of board members I was working with to let me know which areas they wanted to take over. It all went really well, thanks to their dedication and team-work, and I felt so relieved in letting go of the responsibility at that specific time, knowing it was all in the best hands possible.

SCREW Business as Usual!

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Just have to share my speakers´ gift with you, and a couple of pictures. Seems Lena & the organisers had been inspired by one of my previous presentations when chosing gifts for their World Maritime Day speakers 😉

The Swedish WISTA Leadership Award “Kompassrosen” was also published during the conference, and with great candidates short-listed, it was really fun to see a previous colleague from the Wilhelmsen group achieving it this year. Congratulations to Karolina Kjellgren of WWL!!

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Fierce Competition! Carl-Johan Hagman of Stena Bulk (previous CEO of Höegh) and the Swedish Transportation Minister were among the candidates..
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Some impressing and well-deserved words stated by the jury.
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YoungShip Board member Christoffer among the women behind the conference.

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