Name: Per Frykman
Headquarters:
Stockholm, Sweden
Website:
perfrykman.com
Superpower:
Enhancing your reputation

 

Per Frykman is a Reputation Advisor who can analyze and strengthen your professional reputation as an individual. He and his colleagues are spread all over Scandinavia and in London. I talk to him about why and how he works from anywhere.


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Please note: there are some sound issues in the video version which was fixed in the podcast (Per’s volume is softer than mine), but it’s still a fabulous conversation!

 

Powerful quotes by Per Frykman

Reputation is the cornerstone of the collaboration economy. It is your most valuable asset and the highest valuable possession that you have. At the same time, it is your most unknown possession.

 

What appeals to me about remote working is the freedom and the feeling of being close to my clients wherever I am.

 

Working remotely or collaborating with people in different countries depends on three key factors: my reputation, what they can expect from me, and the trust that I’m building. Trust is knowing your reputation and living up to those expectations.

 

We are hired by our clients, by our employers, based on our strengths. But no one is actually aware of what their strengths look like. We are experts on our weaknesses for some strange reason.

 

I have a very good tool that I’ve been working with for 10 years, and that’s my stop-doing list. There is a myth that says that winners never quit. I say winners quit all the time, but they quit the right things at the right time. I have a lot of weak spots. But then I decide to put them on my stop-doing list and try to get rid of them over time. And that way, I pushed into the sector where my talents, my ambition, and my passion just joined forces to create great stuff.

 

Decide to do something and then respect for the time that it takes. It could take half a year. It could take a year. But once you make the decision, something interesting happens. We are so focused on our history, what we did two or three or four years ago. And actually, no one cares. What makes a client or employer choose you? It’s always the potential for the future, not your experience three, four or five years ago.

 

I spent four days working from cafes in Barcelona having breakfast, lunch, and dinner in different restaurants on the same square. I went down to the sea in the evenings and enjoyed life. But working in that way, with many people, listening to people, talking to people, and writing, I think it’s perfect because I get so many new ideas that way.

 

Sometimes it sounds like I’m working all the time, but actually I’m not because my work and life are integrated. I don’t know when I’m working and when I’m not working. And that’s perfect for me because I can choose just to close down my work for two or three days, or I can work intensively for many days because I just love what I’m doing.

 

Courage is something that I think is extremely important because when you are always exploring new ways, you shouldn’t listen too much what people are saying about you. When I tell people I’m going to do something and they say it won’t work, I know I’m on the right track.

 

When you start to feel  stagnation in your job, you’ve been there for too long. If you don’t enjoy it, then it’s time to quit.

 

Your creativity goes away sitting in an office. You have to get out of the office to meet other people because otherwise, you’ll be talking to the same people over and over again and finally, we start whining with those people instead of being creative.

 

Many career coaches tell you that you first have to decide what you want to do and then go after it, and then act. I’ve actually never seen that work because I think you have to do it the other way around: act first and then you will discover what you want.


Original transcript

Lisette: So welcome everybody. It’s not a Hangout on Air today. We have to go to a plan B, a technology plan B. But welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. And today, I’m speaking with Per Frykman. Did I say your name right? I didn’t even ask before we started.

Per: [inaudible – 00:00:22]

Lisette: Okay Per Frykman. I’ve got the American accent. I can’t lose it [laughs]. Welcome, Per. You are a reputation advisor. I’m excited to talk to you about that because I don’t know much about it. The thing that caught my eye when asking to interview you is that you’ve taken my work holiday concept to a whole new level, and I want to dive into that with you, and then also talk about your way of remote working with your colleagues. So let’s get started. We’ll start with an interview. Give us an introduction about who you are and what your world looks like.

Per: Well, I have a very mixed background, actually. I used to be a dentist about 25 years ago, but that was the wrong choice. So I quit that and jumped into marketing. And I’ve been a mental trainer for alpine skiers and the Swedish National Speed Skating team for the Olympics in [inaudible]. It’s way back. Then I started a company helping people find the next step in their professional lives. And the last 10 years, as you said, I’ve been working as a reputation advisor with analyzing, expanding and promoting your most valuable asset and the highest valuable possession that you have, your reputation – which is, at the same time, the most unknown possession, which is strange because reputation is the cornerstone of your economy, and actually the cornerstone of the collaboration economy together with the expectations that this creates and the trust that it builds. A couple of years ago, I saw an interview on television with Richard Branson. He talked about his reputation saying that this is all he got. And I always find it very strange that everyone that we ask agree upon the huge value of the reputation, yet nobody knows what it looks like or the opportunities that it creates. So in a way, the perspective what I’m working with is actually the things that your clients or your employer are buying – it’s your potential – and the expectation that goes hand in hand with it. And I think that the reason that so many people don’t use their full potential is that they are not aware of it, and that’s what we are helping people to be aware of their potential and to use it in the right way. Until now, we have worked with around 900 people, individuals, in five different countries and have built this method which is actually unique because we haven’t found anyone anywhere who do it in this way. We’re starting out. We are a network company representing, as you said in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the U.K. I have almost last 15 years working this remote way, connecting with my clients, with different partners around the world.

Lisette: So it’s interesting that you started as a dentist. So that’s something totally different than what you’re doing now.

Per: Yes, and it was the wrong decision to become a dentist. I used to say I was the worst dentist in Sweden.

Lisette: [laughs] I can’t imagine that’s true.

Per: So I had to quit. That was more than 25 years ago.

Lisette: Sure. But it’s an interesting concept. I work with that a lot because of Happy Melly. We encourage people to quit their jobs if they’re not happy. And I too started as a hydrologist, which was totally the wrong thing for me, completely. I don’t know what I was thinking. But how did you know? How did you know it was time to quit? Because I assume there’s a lot of work that goes into becoming a dentist, so it’s not an easy decision, I think.

Per: No, it’s not an easy decision, but when you really enjoy the patient who doesn’t show up, you’re already in the wrong job. I mean no passion, no ambition. And the interesting thing is that when I have seminars, I used to warn people and say that if you look at me with the traditional concept of my skills, I am totally unskilled doing what I’ve been doing the last 20 years because formally, I’m a dentist. In my CV, I’m a dentist. But after that, I’ve just been going after my passion and my ambition instead.

Lisette: And learning along the way.

Per: Yes.

Lisette: Interesting. So did you immediately go to working remotely after quitting being a dentist? Well, you had alpine training. That’s also something very unusual. You’re an alpine trainer [laughs].

Per: After dentist, I went into marketing for a couple of years, but after that, I’ve been working remotely all the time.

Lisette: Why? What was the decision that made you start working remotely? Because that’s pretty long time to be doing. You’re definitely one of the early adopters in that sense.

Per: Yes. I live up in north of Sweden and I work all over Sweden, so where should I put the office? And so it was a practical history from the start that I don’t know where my next assignment comes from. And then I discovered that I really enjoy working in this remote way. To me, it’s perfect. So it can take me to the places where I enjoy to be and working in creative places, like I just returned from Italy and Sicily and have been working down there for 10 days and focusing on my work and I was just being in Italy.

Lisette: Right. So when you say you get this big smile when you say I love this way of working, what is it that you love? Obviously, I read in your profile that you are a big fan of Italian cooking and wines and Italy. It sounds like you’re a big fan of Italy and the Mediterranean. Is that the main reason? Is it the freedom that it allows you? Or what is it that you love so much?

Per: Well, it’s the freedom and it’s the feeling of being close to my clients wherever I am because I started this working with Skype and worked in different countries, worked in Brazil, in India. And everywhere I work, I feel that I’m close to my clients due to sitting on Skype. I’m used to working on Skype. And of course, I love meeting people upfront, but Skype has become a very important tool to me.

Lisette: Right. It’s funny that you say that you like that you’re close to your clients wherever you are because most people feel distant. It’s remote. It’s in the name, remote working. And yes, you’re having the opposite experience, which I find very interesting.

Per: Yeah, I mean I feel close to you now. We are sitting just opposite to one another.

Lisette: Exactly.

Per: And this meeting couldn’t have happened in the other way. Of course, I could go down to you, but here we are. And I think people are getting used to this way of working now. And my clients have never objected to when I say let’s meet on Skype. They say yes, let’s do that.

Lisette: Interesting, so the time spent traveling for people is considerable. For you and I to have a conversation, I would either have to fly to remote Sweden or you would have to come to the Netherlands – which could be a full day of traveling if you count everything, and that’s just for a meeting.

Per: And it takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money. Actually, when I’m in Italy, I normally don’t tell my clients I’m working from Italy because I’m just sitting in another office, so to speak.

Lisette: Right. It simply doesn’t matter where you are.

Per: Doesn’t matter at all. So I normally don’t tell the people where I am.

Lisette: So we’ve talked about that you like the freedom and that you’re close to your clients wherever you are. It saves travel costs and time and energy. But what is it that you find challenging about how you work?

Per: It’s actually a couple of things. Working remotely or collaborating with people in different countries actually depends on those three key factors that I talked about: my reputation and what they can expect from me and the trust that I’m building all the time because without those three key factors, I couldn’t collaborate with my clients this way or with different companies. So I think that the greatest challenge for people working in this new way is knowing those three key factors, work with them, because if people know my reputation, if people know what they can expect from me, if people trust me, then I can connect with people in many parts of the worlds. So this is a great challenge.

Lisette: Indeed. I think trust comes up as the number one issue in remote working in every conversation that I have.

Per: Definitely. But people don’t actually know how to build trust. I think it’s about knowing your reputation and living up to those expectations that this creates. That’s the way to build trust in a great way.

Lisette: In a genuine way, it sounds like.

Per: That’s a better word, yes. And another challenge that I notice is that I have to overcome the customer expectations of having an office and having an office address because not having an office, sometimes you can be perceived, not to be perceived as a serious company. There’s also building the company reputation without having an address to be a trustworthy partner. [inaudible – 00:12:02] with my remote office. You should call it that.

Lisette: I know that this is, given that this is the cornerstone of your business. I know that there’s no simple answer to this question. I’ll say that in advance. But how does one manage those expectations and also build a reputation? Where would one start after contacting you? [laughs]

Per: The thing is that you have to start by knowing your reputation because in that is all your perceived strength. And I’m almost surprised because we are hired by our clients, by our employers, on our strengths. But no one is actually aware of what they look like. We are experts on our weaknesses for some strange reason.

Lisette: Weird, isn’t it? [laughs]

Per: And I haven’t met a single person yet who got successful on their weaknesses. We got successful on our strengths, but then we have to know them. We have to expand them, just working on our strength. And when we do that, then we are building our reputation in a good way. So it’s vital for me to know my reputation. I know the results for my 900 clients what happens when they know their reputation when they expand it and promote it in completely new ways.

Lisette: Interesting. So knowing what your strengths are and really promoting those strengths because that’s sort of what you’re doing anyway. It’s just people aren’t doing it so deliberately, maybe. And what if you have a bad reputation but you want to reform? You’re on your way to reform. That must be, well, not perfect. I for one am so grateful that social media did not exist during my teenage years. I’m so grateful that that was not recorded. It’s all hearsay [laughs]. But there are a lot of people that… You know, we’ve all made mistakes. How do we recover?

Per: Again, the focus is on your strengths. I have a very good tool that I’ve been working with for 10 years, and that’s my stop-doing list because everyone has a to-do list and I also have one to free my brain. But my greatest tool is my stop-doing list because there is a myth that says that winners never quit. I will say winners quit all the time, but they quit the right things at the right time. And three great American management gurus or marketing gurus, Tom Peters, Shep Gordon, and Jim Collins, had one thing in common. They say that the secret to success [inaudible – 00:15:07] is deciding what not to do. And when you decide, I mean I have a lot of weak spots. But then I decide to put them on my stop-doing list and try to get rid of them over time. And that way, I pushed into the sector where my talents, my ambition, and my passion just joined forces to create great stuff. I really enjoy that because I tried to get rid of all my weak spots and clients that I don’t enjoy and circumstances that I don’t want to be in. So why be there?

Lisette: Right. Given that we have a choice.

Per: Yes, definitely.

Lisette: Yeah, but somehow it’s hard. If it were easy, we’d all be doing it.

Per: It takes time to take decision. I want to get rid of these circumstances. Decide to do it and you have respect for the time that it takes. It could take half a year. It could take a year. But once you make the decision, something interesting happens.

Lisette: Right. Somehow the world conspires to go your way, somehow.

Per: Yes, and why do stuff that we don’t like?

Lisette: Right. So now you have colleagues that you said were spread all over Scandinavia and London. And I’m curious about how you guys work together. Give us some concrete examples. Do you have core hours? Are you always on Skype? What are some of the tools that you use to work together?

Per: Well, sometimes we meet, maybe once a month. We keep contact every week. We have Skype meetings talking about the next week, talking about the clients, talking about not actually problems but what we are doing next. I work a lot. My main tools are my mobile, my iPad, and a small MacBook Air because they are good for traveling.

Lisette: Yeah, they sure are. They’re very light, aren’t they?

Per: Yes, very light. And I work a lot in cafés and the iPad mini is a wonderful tool because I can bring it anywhere and nobody objects. Sometimes they object if you put up a big computer because then you will be sitting there for the next four hours.

Lisette: [laughs] right.

Per: And I also love emails. I’m aware of some people saying that emails might be dying out and will be replaced by social media platforms like Twitter. I use Twitter for quick communication with my colleagues and my clients also. Twitter is also my university because I learn a lot from people on Twitter by just following them and I also try to contribute.

Lisette: Indeed. You’re the first person that’s ever said I love email that I know of.

Per: I love emails and I think it’s a beautiful way of communicating because it’s writing a letter; you have to think a little bit. And you don’t send it immediately. I actually love emails. I don’t understand the people who hate emails.

Lisette: Well, you don’t get to choose which emails you get. That’s the downside. You get everything.

Per: It’s true, but you can sort them. To me, it’s no problem.

Lisette: Yeah, agreed.

Per: I have tried also webinar tools like MegaMeeting and GoToWebinar, but I actually don’t like them. I don’t know why. They are too complicated. I really enjoy spending time on Skype and we do that with my colleagues.

Lisette: Yeah, the tools can be heavy. It can just be really heavy, I’ve noticed. And there’s not one tool that does everything well. So then you end up using 10 tools.

Per: Yes. And I always try to make things simpler all the time, not to complicate them because what we are doing is actually extremely simple. Everyone has got a reputation. Nobody knows what it looks like and nobody works with it, but it’s really, really simple. It’s just knowing your reputation. You shouldn’t complicate a revenue, which many people do, actually.

Lisette: Yeah, we’re sort of built for it, it seems. We’re built for complication, yeah indeed. So now I’m curious about you say you mostly work in coffee shops. Now when I’ve done my work holidays, what I do is I go to a location for one or two weeks at a time, usually Switzerland. My boyfriend is a mountaineer, so we’re just always going to Switzerland. And I have a certain setup. I bring an external monitor that fits in my backpack. I don’t usually work in coffee shops. We usually either rent an Airbnb or find some sort of a place to work. But what does your anywhere office look like? When you travel, what do you need? Can you really do everything from the iPad mini?

Per: Well, as long as there’s a good Wi-Fi. Of course, it depends on the Wi-Fi. I always check if there’s a good Wi-Fi. I can give you an example because half a year ago, I went to Barcelona to spend four or five days working from there. And I found an old beautiful square. I discovered a breakfast restaurant with a very good Wi-Fi, so I had breakfast there. And then I discovered a lunch restaurant in the same square also having Wi-Fi. So I moved to the lunch restaurant at 2 o’clock. And then the dinner restaurant on the other side of the square also had a wonderful Wi-Fi. So I actually spent four days in that square having breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Lisette: Wow!

Per: Of course, I went down to the sea in the evenings and enjoyed life. But working in that way, and many people, listening to people, talking to people, and writing, I think it’s perfect because I get so many new ideas that way.

Lisette: Oh yeah, I can imagine. The traveling changes your perspective and gets you out of your rut a little bit.

Per: Oh yes. And I’m never disturbed by people sitting around me. I work at my best that way.

Lisette: Do these restaurants…clearly they don’t really have a problem with you being there for a couple of hours. And you’ve got either your mini or laptop or the Air, something lightweight in which to do work. Have there been issues like if you want to have a Skype call but you’re in a restaurant? Or do you just find the places that are appropriate?

Per: I’ve never had any problems, actually because I have to order four or five cups of coffee. So I keep them happy by ordering things. But I never had any problems. And it’s a good way to check out that the Wi-Fi is okay. So I always locate those places where I have a good Wi-Fi because I’m depending on it. What I can do also is get, in that case, a Spanish SIM card for my mobile. But so far, it’s been working very well.

Lisette: Interesting. So restaurant hopping as the work holiday and just getting your work done. Is there any particular tool that you use to check if the Wi-Fi is going to be good? Or do you just open the laptop and take a few programs that are Internet intensive and see?

Per: Actually, I do it that way because I try some tools for the iPhone to locate the Wi-Fi. But it never worked really well. So I go in and just check and, of course, ask them if I can use the Wi-Fi. And I think it’s important because often there’s a code to get into the Wi-Fi. But a couple of years ago, that was a bigger problem. Now I think everyone has Wi-Fi on many good restaurants.

Lisette: Yeah, I can imagine. When I went on these holidays, I wanted to work all day and it was important to be sociable with the people where I was working. So I rented a room in Airbnb. And it’s weird if you’re traveling if you’re staying in an Airbnb all day and you’re working. It’s weird for the host. So usually, I try to rent an apartment where nobody else is there. It’s just my own place. Remote working isn’t really new but it’s not that common yet. I find that people still think it’s a little bit weird. So do you get any people asking you about it or weird reactions or maybe some of the social tips that you use? You’ve said that you make sure you buy coffee. Are there other social tips that you have for when you’re working in this way?

Per: Actually, no because it’s so natural for me. I saw one person who put a little sign on his MacBook Air where it said office.

Lisette: Oh brilliant [laughs].

Per: He was working, so when he opened it up, you just saw the sign office, and that was it. But I think, at least in Sweden, it is becoming so common right now working in this way. Last summer, I made an international virtual business trip trying to connect with people all around the world. But at the same time, I love the Swedish summer. So I went on a steam ship that cruised between the islands, the Stockholm Archipelago and I there for 14 days working and connecting with different parts of the world. And it was just perfect: a lot of work and then this beautiful cruise in the archipelago, staying in different islands and working. And it sounds like I’m working all the time, but actually I’m not because my work and life also intervenes. I don’t know when I’m working and I don’t know when I’m not working. And that’s perfect for me because I can choose just to close down my work for two or three days doing different stuff, or I can work intensively for many days because I just love what I’m doing.

Lisette: Yeah, it’s funny. I hear this a lot that we’re moving from a model of work-life balance, which assumes that they can’t coexist. It’s the assumption there. But instead, it’s work-life fusion where the lines are just completely blurred together. And I think there are a lot of people that like the separation. But I would then argue, well, I love my job. I don’t want it to be separate from my life. I don’t want to go home at 5:00 p.m. and turn off. I love thinking about… When I go on walks, I’m always thinking about the talks that I’m going to give or the workshops. I just love it.

Per: Maybe people they envy me sometimes because they have to go back to the office. They have five weeks holidays and then they just discover that once a week I go down to do a little bit of work because it’s the same money that would pay for an office. I have tried to work in an office two or three years ago but I got fed up after a month.

Lisette: I saw that, actually, in the email. You said you were in an office for one month and it bored you to death. Tell me a little more about that. I would really like to hear about that.

Per: Actually, after a week, I felt almost like in a prison. I was sitting in these four walls, no one was around, so I actually went out from the office into the coffee shops and sat there working and paying for that office at the same time. So I said I have to quit and let go of the office.

Lisette: Yeah, it’s interesting. I also went back to the office last year just as a test to see what it was like because I haven’t worked in an office for over 10 years. And I felt the same. I felt like I was in kindergarten. We all had to show up at 9:00 and we had to eat lunch at noon all together. And I thought, “But what if I’m hungry at 10 o’clock?” I mean sometimes I’m just starving. But no, you have to wait until noon. And I just thought, “I’m a 40-year-old woman. I don’t want to be told when to eat lunch.”

Per: You can decide for yourself.

Lisette: Right, absolutely. And I think people are moving more and more to that business model. What I feel is that we’re all becoming a little more entrepreneurial. And that’s also where the reputation management, I bet, really comes in very important here.

Per: And mentioning reputation management, I mean that’s big usually in The States. But that only deals with your reputation online. And I actually think that you should start this whole process offline and build a strategy when you know your reputation, build a strategy how to put it online, how to put it on LinkedIn and so on. LinkedIn is another thing that I really, really love working with. I get 70 percent of my clients from LinkedIn nowadays.

Lisette: Oh, interesting. Yeah, it’s really become a good networking tool. It’s a brilliant networking tool, in fact.

Per: Definitely.

Lisette: Indeed.

Per: I use the updates very, very much. I write a small update, I think, once a day. It’s a great way to promote your reputation, but also a great way to sort out your ideas because I think it’s six lines or something that you can put in an update. You have to keep it short. I really enjoy that.

Lisette: Interesting. So the processing of ideas, I relate to that. When I am writing speeches, I enjoy the process because I feel like I’m taking all the knowledge that I have and organizing it into something that might make sense to somebody else, hopefully [laughs], interesting. So we’ve talked about benefits and challenges and the tools that you use. And I really like the tools that you’ve mentioned because what it brings to mind, to me, is that it doesn’t have to be a complicated, heavy-duty tool; it can just be your phone, an iPad Mini, and a good Wi-Fi connection.

Per: And what I really love is also Evernote. It’s so, so great. I reach Evernote on my iPhone or my laptop and my iPad, and I can just put all my notes in one place. When I see an interesting article, I clip the thing to Evernote and read it when I’m traveling or on the subway. And all my traveling tickets go into Evernote. I think my whole life had gone into Evernote.

Lisette: [laughs] That’s how they do it. They slowly suck you in [laughs].

Per: Yes. To me, that is the perfect tool. It’s so simple and it has a beautiful new design that I like. I think that’s important, simple and beautiful.

Lisette: Agreed. There’s an art about that that I think is also important. When something is beautiful and simple, it took a lot to get it that way, oddly enough. So let’s move on to the next topic. It’s personality traits. And I just like to bring this up because with remote working, we can do everything right. But if people don’t like each other, then it’s not going to work. And I notice that there are certain personalities that can’t do what you’re doing, this work holiday, travel experience. So what kind of personality traits do you think make it successful for you? Or do you think that’s needed? Or if you’re looking for team members, what are you looking for in a team member?

Per: Actually, going back to focusing on the strengths, that’s what I’m really interested in. So I’m always looking on what are their strong side? Are they aware of the strong sides? And especially what can they contribute to the future? Because we are so focused on our history, what we did two or three or four years ago. And actually, no one cares. I wrote a book in 2005 where I questioned the résumé, the CV, for the first time. And 10 years later, everyone is questioning the CV as a tool. And all the research points to the fact that it’s not your experience that makes a client choose you; it’s your potential for the future. What can you do for me the next year? So I always ask those people that I’m working with what are your plans for the next year. What can you contribute to me in the next year? I’m only interested in the future, not the past. And that’s what I think people should start thinking about instead of saying what they did three or four, or five years ago. There’s some great research by Stanford University and Harvard Business School about this. All they looked for is what makes a client and employer choose you? And the result is very simple. It’s always the potential for the future, not your experience three, four or five years ago. And they have a great story about this. Imagine that you are the manager of a soccer team and you have 50 million Swedish crowns or 5 million euros or whatever to buy a player. You can choose between two players: one of them is a player that scored 30 goals three years ago in the league, or the other player that you think, expect will score 30 goals in the next season. Which player do you choose? Of course, the one that you expect will score in the next season. And you just have to bring that into business. When you hire people, I don’t really care what you did three or four years ago; I want to know what you can do the next year. So that’s very important to have a mind shift from history to future, and I always look at that. The ability to build relationships online without [inaudible – 00:35:16] is very important to me. You should build those relationships over time. You should be curious about other people. That’s also something that’s very important to me. Also, courage is something that I think is extremely important because you are always exploring new ways and you shouldn’t listen too much what people are saying about you when you tell them I’m going to do this and this and people say no, that doesn’t work. If they say that, I know I’m on the right track.

Lisette: [laughs]

Per: People say I’m a fool. I also know I’m on the right track when I’m exploring new ways. So courage is something that’s very important to me, and to be persistent, to keep going. I’ve been on this exploration trip for 10 years now exploring the area of reputation, becoming a nerd in one area. And of course, it’s about being persistent.

Lisette: Right. And I think that’s part of the reason why it’s important to love your job because if you don’t love your job, the persistence is just not going to happen. It’s like if you’re trying a new habit and you don’t really want it, then you won’t persist in making it happen.

Per: That’s right.

Lisette: If you had to remain a dentist, it would’ve been very difficult to persist through – hoping that they won’t show up [laughs].

Per: That might have been a disaster.

Lisette: Same with me with watershed science or hydrology.

Per: When you start to feel this stagnation in your job, you’ve been there for too long, you don’t enjoy it, then it’s time to quit. I think it’s only a matter of getting the right tools before you need them to be ready to take the step where you feel that I’m not enjoying this anymore.

Lisette: It’s interesting. Clearly, you’re right. You’re 100 percent right there. And what I noticed is it’s scary to quit your job. I had this day job that I work, this office job that I worked. I was doing it as an experiment for myself, and I even had plenty of money in savings. So if I quit or something happened, it’d be no problem, but yet I was still scared to quit – and I noticed that – because I thought this is important because I’m telling people all over the world through Happy Melly to quit their jobs. But I think it’s important to take a step back and say it’s scary. And so you really need the courage to come into that.

Per: It’s scary. It’s also about security because you often put your security in a job when you should actually put the security within yourself, having the right tools to be ready to take the step whenever needed because someone could just tell you that you’re fired. But then you should be ready. But I think it’s more important to make those moves voluntarily because you always go for something better.

Lisette: Right, the drive, the innovation, the enthusiasm, and the curiosity. And I think that’s one of the things that comes up for Happy Melly all the time, the experimentation, the constant trying of new things. Jürgen came up with the Merit Money System that we use. It’s sort of a 360-degree team feedback system in which everybody at the end of the month evaluates each other. We experimented, I think for four to six months with a number of different models before we finally found something that worked for our team. And even then, it changed even after that. So I think you’re right. That quality in people is really important for remote working. A lot of these things that we’re talking about, it seems like it would apply not just for remote working but in somebody’s office as well. You would want these qualities in your colleagues in your office anyway.

Per: Definitely. But I think sitting in an office, your creativity is going away because I think you have to get out of the office to meet other people because otherwise, you’ll be talking to the same people over and over again and finally, we start whining with those people instead of being creative.

Lisette: Right, you fall into a rut somehow. Everybody has got their routine and we stick with it. That’s certainly what happened to me.

Per: And to me.

Lisette: And I think to many of us. We’re nearing the top of the hour here, so I want to be conscious of that. If you were going to do something differently, or if you had advice for other people who want to start this, what would you do differently and what would you advise people? How do you advise people to start?

Per: I never actually [inaudible – 00:40:48] things because I don’t think it’s taking me anywhere. But one thing I would do is I would have started this much earlier in my life than I did. But I came into this reputation business by coincidence one day 10 years ago. It was pure coincidence. And I wouldn’t try so many tools. I would stick with the simple ones. And actually, one thing more that I would earlier have strived for this simplicity much earlier and questioned over the myths that has become truths. I love the [inaudible – 00:41:43] saying that if you are sitting on a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. I think there are many dead horses out there right now. The thing that I can advise people is that many career coaches tell you that you first have to decide what you want to do and then go after it, and then act. I’ve actually never seen that work because I think you have to do it the other way around: act first and you will discover what you want. I think that’s a more effective way of working because I don’t think you can sit down and discover what you want. You can discover probably what you are suited for doing but not what you want. But if you start by acting, start meeting people, start new ways of looking at things, read new newspapers, you will discover, “Ah, that’s really interesting. I want to do that.” And you just stumble into it like I stumbled into this area of reputation. And I think that’s a very good way of trying. And as someone said, Steve Jobs had a wonderful speech at Berkeley University where he said to the students, “Go find your passion.” Well, Steve Jobs didn’t do that. He didn’t act that way. He did it a different way. He got into a small area that interested him, that he knew could add value. And after a while, he found his passion there. So I never give people the advice to find your passion because it’s not that simple. It’s simple to say but it’s not that simple to do. To go into a small area, being really good in that area, and suddenly you just find your passion there.

Lisette: It’s interesting. I think you’re absolutely right. In fact, I was thinking yesterday as I was setting up all these things for this podcast. It’s all a new thing. I was thinking, “Wow! What an interesting journey it’s been.” And I think of it as like chipping an ice block. You’re just constantly chipping away and you’re constantly seeing…

 

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