Finding Inspiration and Influence Outside Your Closest Circle

According to Shawn Achor, author of “The happiness advantage”, the happiest people are those that are part of something bigger than themselves and that contribute to the greater good. I believe in that.
Last week, I spent three days together with leaders from various industries in Norway, people whom I had never met before, and that I mostly had nothing in common with, until then. From this, I gained inspiration and personal growth way beyond what I signed up for.

The whole thing started with a crazy idea, was followed up by someone who believed in this crazy idea, and then came full circle when a group of people who wanted to make a difference spent their free time getting the most fantastic conference on the road. All because they wanted to achieve more, and to make a difference. And when people come together . . . magic happen.

What I learned on this trip was that, first of all, we all need continued learning to grow. Not only as individuals, but as leaders. No one is fully trained or educated – we can always learn more (growth mindset, they call it). It was great to hear from experts in important topics like leadership, diversity and inclusion. Second, it was good to hear from the “technology nerds” that they take responsibility for ethics, environment and safety when they innovate, and that more and more of new innovation is about making the world a better place. Having improvements made on education, learning and increasing the value of people’s lives, is of huge importance for the future. Third, learning about new technology is always both inspiring and fun. There is so much innovation going on, and hearing firsthand about Cloud, AI, Robotics, Cyber security, Design thinking, Machine learning and new technology was motivational and inspirational.

In addition, having the pleasure of listening to amazing women-founders! These women are founders and leaders of companies that they have built from the ground up based on ideas that they have had about issues that they really care about. These topics ranged from healthcare, to education, to feeling good about your hair.

Equally important was the time I got to spend with female leaders from industries other than my own. I am mostly used to meeting fellow tech company employees, and spending most of my time and focus in the IT-industry. It reminded me about how important it is to look outside your immediate circle to find inspiration and influence. I got to speak to many smart, fun and accomplished women – and I got inspired. From women that are like myself and that think the way I do, to women who are completely unlike myself and that have thoughts and ideas that are completely different to mine. I gained new perspectives on that trip thanks to the women I met & shared this experience with. 

One of the most significant thinks I learnt from this trip is that leadership is the most important thing in business and in life, and if you don’t take leadership of your own world, nobody will. Most people come to work every day wanting to do their very best, and it is our responsibility as leaders to make their work environment safe and secure and to get rid of the work-bias. To make every voice count, even if it is completely opposing than yours. That you need someone else to learn from, and if that person is unlike you in many areas, you can choose to learn a whole lot of new things that you might not have even thought about.

And lastly; no one can make success on their own. There is always a team behind you or with you. Even if they are not visible. We must take care of alle the people who make us better, that make us grow, and that make us shine.

Thank you for organizing this inspiring journey Benja Stig Fagerland, Camilla Bakjord, Inga Kleppe, Kimberly Lein-Mathisen, Kristine Hofer Næss and Siri Børsum. And thank you for a great time during the stay EVERYBODY – SHEconomy Summit 2018.


A leader’s need for learning is a never-ending journey.

I just spent the last 2,5 days in Silicon Valley together with 35 business executives from various industries in Norway. The aim of the trip was to visit some of the pioneers in technology, including large corporations like Microsoft, Google and Facebook, smaller startups, and Stanford University, to learn from what they are thinking about the future, especially the digital transformation that we are now a part of and see how it would apply to our businesses back home.

I have learned a lot on this trip, in terms of technology, leadership, business, knowledge transfer, diversity, and design thinking. But my most important lesson is how important it is for leaders to continue to learn and to have a growth mindset. If you think that because you have been a leader for many years, been part of prior transformations, have extensive experience, you know it all – you are outdated already. The yearn to explore new thing and listen to others, be humble to what other companies do and think, and open for possibilities of change, is the very essence of being a responsible leader. Being so arrogant that you think that you are finished learning, will put you out of business. Maybe not today or next month, but sooner than you think.

One of our speakers this week said it is important to let go of the tradition, because that might be the only thing that is holding you back from succeeding with the future. Letting go of the safe, what you know, your core –  to explore the future, is key to getting to the future in the first place. Because potential new customers don’t care about your tradition, they only care about finding the right solution for their problem. Now.

Taking the time out to learn new things should be on every leader’s agenda. Saying that you are so busy that you don’t have time to attend a training, a seminar or a conference, is like saying you don’t have time to stop to fill gas, because you have to get to your destination on time. Eventually you will run out of gas, and then you never made it to your destination anyway.

If you prioritize to learn – from others, from those who believe in other things than you do, from your competition, from those that are outside your industry, from those that have different experiences than you – will give you an advantage. The advantage of seeing the world from a new angle.

You don’t have to travel half way around the world to learn of course – taking a small timeout during the day is sometimes more than enough.

The point is: when you learn, you grow. And you have to continue to grow, for your own sake, and for the sake of your company.