Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's a happy new year?!

Many years ago I read a fascinating book about "Near Death Experiences" written by a doctor who originally wasn't religious, but who, as time went by, became convinced that his dying patients all had the same basic experience. He went about doing research and a lot of interesting facts and similarities surfaced.

I found the most intriguing part of his research the observing of survivors. Every one of them was left with two core values and characteristics during the remainder of their lives. Regardless of who they were before the near death experience - following their unique experience - they would always display:
  1. a dramatic increase in love and care for others
  2. an eager drive to learn and acquire knowledge
If we were to live as if today was the last day of our lives, I believe loving and learning would certainly be at the center of our attention. If there's anything that outlasts our short lives, I guess it would be these two. May we keep that in mind as we enter and live 2009.

Dear friends and readers, I wish all of you a happy new year! ...and I believe it will be happy IF we focus our strength on "loving and learning".

Friday, December 26, 2008

Robert Cialdini on Influence

Ever since I read his book on "Influence" while getting my Masters degree in Influence Management, I've recommended Robert Cialdini as part of a basic curriculum for anyone wanting to understand how persuasion works. I just stumbled upon a YouTube video where Robert Cialdini explains seven of his most famous principles of persuasion. Even though it's in no way the ultimate resource, I find most people benefit greatly from picking up the "Cialdini basics". As he again points out while promoting "The YES Project", making small significant changes will often result in very big differences while maintaining your integrity.

Better invest a minute or two by looking into this, regardless of what your role is!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Elite Sales Professionals

In June this year we began organizing what is now known as a worldwide group of Elite Sales Professionals. Today we are more than 1.000 high performers and a powerful group of competent people. LinkedIn serves as the initial connection and meeting point, but it will soon be complimented by smart online solutions. These solutions will allow members three basic privileges:
  • An evolutionary collaboration model for tipping-point results
  • A network of quality people to visualize business opportunities
  • An online framework to innovate new money generation activities
The current group definition reads: "High performing sales people with experience in strategy and positioning, network and relations as well as pure skills and customer centric concepts such as innovation and product development. Trustworthy and competent professionals able to create value balancing people with business and money."

Once we've reached critical mass and the beta versions of the online solutions are in place, the Expert Panel behind this group will introduce a second round of qualification. This is when we'll experience the long planned "explosion" of the quality network we're only witnessing the small beginnings of today. Let me assure you; the Expert Panel is not without ambition regarding this worldwide undertaking! (And yes, the Expert Panel is yet to be formally introduced.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adventure Factory

Today the kids and I visited a local amusement park called Eventyrfabrikken, i.e. "The Adventure Factory". Having been there once before, today I skipped my morning work out and decided to make the outing today's exercise. Boy! was I right! I was able to keep up with my kids, but even though I had the right clothing, I was completely exhausted afterwards. Time to get a shower ;-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Google AdWords

Thomas Øverbø in eZ Systems and I are heading up a Google AdWords group. Together with a few others in the Sales and Marketing forum of ICT Grenland we're working on mastering this amazing tool. Once a month we meet at Klosterøya to share the tips and tricks of the "online visibility game".

Google AdWords has given our company website a lot of high quality traffic! Especially my 3E blog has had loads of visitors by applying just a few search phrases in a simple campaign. Most importantly, only a few days after signing up, requests for training were coming in like never before. So far, my return on investment has been 900 %.

If you haven't tested Google AdWords, you're simply losing out BIGTIME! I'll gladly help you learn more ;-)

p.s. Here's the Google AdWords forum in Norwegian.

Friday, December 19, 2008

eZ Systems Japan

eZ Systems opened a new office in Japan and today MITSUE-LINKS, one of eZ's Japanese partners, published a video interview with Aleksander Farstad. I like the video - how it's human and down to earth - although it takes ages to load. (They probably should do something about that.)



Watching the video made me want to quickly check for more stuff at YouTube, and found an eZ PublishYouTube channel, which I thought was kind of cool. Especially the video presentation about eZ Flow with Shezmeen Hudani as voice is "great stuff"! I'm now a subscriber, curious as to whether or not updates will come soon.

Aleksander Farstad and the eZ Crew are located at Klosterøya in Skien. Although I'm no longer part of the eZ Crew I still meet with many of them on a regular basis. For instance, just recently we signed up another local partner called Digiflex. They're already doing good business with eZ.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blue Ocean Strategy

I've spoken with quite a few people who want me to teach them about "Blue Ocean Strategy" - the kind of innovation that's really needed in the 21st century?!

So what's Blue Ocean Strategy about? Short version; it's about value innovation! Research clearly indicates that companies have a strong tendency to not listen to the market place. Yes, you read it right, if not addressed any company will soon assume that they know what their customers want, but they don't!

Any wonder, then, that sales people frequently grow frustrated with colleagues who will not listen when they communicate what is truly important to the clients they speak with face-to-face?

In stead of being in a red ocean where there's bloody competition, it's smarter to move into blue oceans where competition becomes irrellevant. Blue Ocean Strategy provides clear guidance to how this can be done:
  • by saving money and unnecessary cost invested in what the market does not request
  • by discovering new ways to deliver what the market is ready to receive
Wait! both save money AND innovate, you say?! Yes, both. We'd be fools not to explore and do it! Today I attended another meeting with the Norwegian Blue Ocean Strategy team - I'm part of it. Our website will soon be up and running ;-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Pepperkaker" in English..?

Today our family maintained the yearly tradition of making Ginger Thins together. But how exciting it was to find the English translation for "cookies":

If I turn to the dictionary, the closest I came to Norwegian "pepperkake" was "gingersnap". However, the dictionary does not always translate words and terms the idiomatic way we expect it to...

For this, we have a wonderful tool to help us out; the search engine. Doing a quick picture search for Gingersnaps immediately made it clear the dictionary was indeed missing a nuance. A Scandinavian "Gingersnap" is NOT the same as a "Pepperkake". Next I turned to Wikepedia and looked up Gingersnaps. There was the answer. A correct - more idiomatic - translation of "pepperkaker" seems to be "Ginger Thins".

I guess that's it. Or am I mistaken? You tell me, if you have more input on this trivial, yet important matter to our family. Without them, we would've lost a major part of our Christmas tradition! Here's the recipee for Scandinavian Ginger Thins - in Norwegian ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The eZ Awards

I was just browsing some of the pages at the eZ Systems website when I came across this videoclip from the eZ Awards 2007 (scroll down to the bottom of the page). What great fun this conference was - most of all the Awards show!

The project team involved close to 100 people. We had limousins, red carpet and press coverage (TV, newspapers and magazines) - celebrities, investors and VIP's coming to the cocktail reception preceding the show - and the main event was an Oscar's show like you've probably never seen before. I also invited the Norwegian Minister of Government Administration and Reform. She both spoke at the reception and was one of our prize presenters. With our own little twist, the entire event was held at Ibsenhuset in Skien. The place was packed with 800 people, among those local politicians and leaders.

The after party was held at Klosterøya, where - at the time - eZ planned to move their offices. Today this has become a reality. Below is a picture of the building as it is today - nice, huh!? (Slightly different from the old factory it used to be.)

But, look, you gotta watch the eZ Awards video to catch some of the atmosphere!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

100% Google

The past 6 months we've taken proactive steps to move our entire business online. But not only business, everything else, too. Had it not been for Google, this would simply have been impossible. Why did we decide to switch from desktop to web? Four good reasons - at least:
  • no more loss of data (backups unnecessary)
  • access data anywhere, any time, any device (for real!)
  • less trouble with firewalls and similar restrictions
  • integration of data
During business trips, strictly speaking, I don't need to bring my laptop anymore. I can work just as well from any computer. That's powerful! The feeling of freedom is fantastic. A lot of online solutions are great, but in my opinion nobody beats Google. In short, I'm a big fan of Google.

Sales Success Stories on web

I just posted a quick poll with new LinkedIn functionality . Wow! what an amazing tool - so simple - so quick - so fast. And most importantly, reaching so many relevant people. I've had a question I wanted to ask a lot of people, and with this tool it became an obvious opportunity I had to take. It's only one question with three alternative replies. Will you too tell me what you think?

Friday, December 12, 2008

eZ Systems worlwide

I'm so excited about the most recent development of eZ Systems, my former colleagues and friends. This YouTube video shows you how well they're doing. eZ leads the world into Enterprise CMS Open Source software. You gotta see this eZ video!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I love Ireland

I just spent another three days in Ireland doing training and coaching for Oracle in Dublin. Our family used to live there for two years. We have so many good friends there. Every time I go over I thrive in the presence of hospitable people - eager to carry a conversation, thrilled to be of help when asked and unafraid to challenge an open discussion.

If you ever had a spirited dialog with an Irish person, you'll find a lot of them have that particular type of humour - slightly sarchastic, an odd bit of "black stuff" - but mostly hilarious.

Ireland has a special place in my heart. Did you ever find that once you've stayed in another country for a longer period of time, there's always something you'll forever miss, unless you have the opportunity to return. In a way it becomes part of you!

Long live Ireland!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sinterklaas

Having Dutch parents growing up in Norway made my childhood - I feel - rather unique. I guess everybody gets a sense of being "different" at times. One of the ways in which I felt privileged was the blessing of the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition. The big day is the 5th of December.

Both my parents are highly creative, and when it comes to family celebrations this was no exception. We had so much fun - Sinterklaas is clearly among my fondest memories. Naturally, we want the same for our own kids, so today we had a major party and loads of fun together. This is the one day when there are no restrictions to the intake of sweets. We toss it in the air, and the kids go crazy. We play games, have treasure hunts in the house, get all close relatives together, eat good food and pass along presents. The entire style of the celebration is different from all else. It's hard to explain. Maybe you should ask me about it some time. I'll gladly share the details and convey the deeper feelings associated with the 5th of December.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

7 Habits certified

The first time I was introduced to Stephen Covey and "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" was in 1994. At the same time I also read "Ten Natural Laws of Time and Life Management" from the Franklin Quest company. A few years later these companies merged. For 14 years I've wanted to get certified, and today... Today I got my certification!

To get certified you need to go through a 4 day "train-the-trainer" workshop. In addition you need to do your own workshop, supervised by a certified coach. (That's the short version ;-)

In Norwegian "The 7 Habits" is called "De 7 Gode Vaner". If you're wondering what these habits are I've included a picture of the model below (click on the model to get more info). Believe me, this is fantastic stuff. Maybe the best you ever saw, i.e. if you choose to apply it!



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Straight A's

There's no one I'd rather pay a public compliment to than my wife and best friend, Lillian! She just finished part time studies while also working part time as a State Enrolled Nurse. Lillian is my hero - I adore her. Not only is she the driving force of our family of seven, but she also has a lot of friends, does a lot of community and church service and everything she does has a touch of "gold". Although anxious about her exams, she was the only one to receive straight A's 100%. Wow! what an amazing eternal partner to have ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Best time of the day

After a hectic and long working day, maybe a lot of traveling and a bunch of hours of business, it's so great to come home to six hugs - one from each family member! When I'm traveling or leave for work in the early morning hours, before anyone else is awake; those can be days when I don't get to see the family much. Today was one of those days. I only got to put the kids to bed. However, the final hours of the day can be the best time to be with them.

I love telling stories or just listening to what they have to share, to give them a back rub or simply talk about what happened during the day. I always try to let the kids be in charge. It almost becomes a magic moment when they tend to open up and share things they otherwise would never tell.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blessing and curse of a network

Of course, it's great to have loads of friends, family, business contacts and associates!! I wouldn't want it any other way. Like today, for instance; the 1st of December is my birthday. The phone has been ringing all day, SMS'es have been rolling in. E-mails are piling up. This is a blessing only! Yes, I love it.

However, sometimes, a network
can at times be quite demanding to maintain. Networking is simply an ongoing thing - it never stops. I can see how not everyone appreciates the workload that comes with keeping in touch with hundreds of people. I love it, but that's because I love people for what people are - each one of us is 100% unique! Isn't it amazing?!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Advantages of a treadmill

A treadmill has been on my wish list for a long time. When Lillian began speaking about how much she wanted an elliptical machine (is that what it's called?) for her birthday, we suddenly just decided to buy them both. What a great investment.

Maybe you're like me; when you buy something a little more expensive than what's "normal" you start making a mental list of good reasons to justify why you spent all that money. Well, that's what I did. So far, here are my explicit needs for spending a fair amount of money on a treadmill (BTW, the picture displays exactly the one we bought):
  • We're spending quality time together getting exercise
  • Freedom to also doing other things, like watching TV, listening to talks, music or just socialize with the kids in the family room
  • Having the option to quit any time (it actually motivates me)
  • Help to maintain steady pace when tempted to slow down
  • Easily keep track of progress (time, distance, pulse)
  • Weather becomes irrelevant (rain, snow, ice...)
  • It allows me to look after the kids when Lillian is out, and still get my exercise
Maybe the list will grow as I think of other good reasons why a treadmill is smart..?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Launch of IKT Grenland site

I want to pay a public compliment to everybody involved in ICT Grenland with the successful launch of the new website.

www.iktgrenland.no is the fruit of long and hard labour by many good people. I'll say! this is so much deserved. Congratulations on finally getting a site that will help this network move forward to new heights!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ICT Grenland monthly meeting

ICT Grenland gets together the last Thursday night of every month. Tonight we had a visit from Svein Torgeir Dale (author of the book "Humor and Psychiatry"). The program was packed with stuff for every type of role within a company.

One of the participants said: "Tonight I had to choose between ICT Grenland and a Christmas table with good friends. The choice was easy. I had to come here. Better yet, I don't regret it!"

Way to go, folks. We had a great evening. Not only did we a) have fun, but we also b) learnt a lot and c) made new business connections! View this 30 second video to check out the atmosphere for yourself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I love Telemark

Today I did a 2 hour public speaking session for Telemarkreiser at Norsjø Hotell. What a fantastic group of people! But then again, what would you expect (slightly biased ;-)

I love Telemark is now a group at Facebook. I joined it a few weeks ago. Why don't you, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tribute to Jan Moen

This evening I received a personal visit from Jan Moen. Boy! how he impresses me. He has practically lived martial arts all his life. He's not just anyone, but the President of The Nanbudo Worldwide Federation. With the exeption of the Doshu himself, there's nobody that holds a higher Dan. His formal Nanbudo rank is "Renshi". But... titles can mean so little. What really matters is the type of person he is, which in turn should be a reflection of the title that's been placed on him.

Jan relates to everyone, he seems to attract positive people (all the other people associated with him here in the Skien Nanbudo club are simply fantastic, too!). Most of all I appreciate how Jan focuses on the new guys. And he's so right! If you take care of the newcomers then the rest will take care of themselves - almost ;-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

BI at LinkedIn counting 1000

On June 3rd this summer I did a lot of work to get the alumni group for BI running at LinkedIn. It had a slow start, and it took a lot of effort, but now former students and faculty are signing up regularly.

The power of linking up like this is phenomenal. One thing is to keep track of where everybody is. It's quite another to tap into a network of people you don't know, but with whom you share a mutual education and student experience. Personally, I tap into this human network quite frequently. I know some others do to, but mostly people still need to discover the opportunities that it offers. The BI LinkedIn "community" is also about to become a place where relevant or interesting news is shared, although it's a slow start.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Log Your Run

Last weekend I found an excellent website that allows us to keep track of the exercise we're getting. I've seen others, but this one is exceptionally good, I think. It not only focuses on a few types of activities, but several. It also calculates "stuff" and allows us to compare progress. Funny! it even keeps tracks of shoes and much more, if you want it. If you're a Facebook friend you can track my exercise here. Not too much to brag about, but it's fun ;-)

p.s. Soon I'll be doing a blog post about "energizing activities", of which exercise is definitely one of them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Franklin Covey Norway

Today I met with Franklin Covey Norway (or "Nordic Approach", which is the proper naming). Ever since 1994 I've been excited about this company and the values and philosophy it represents.

Funny thing is, I was introduced to both Franklin Quest and Covey Leadership Center appx the same time - before these two companies merged. The merger was in 1997, but the company only had formal representation in the UK at the time. In 2001 I met with Carsten Lindgaard who brought Franklin Covey to Scandinavia. A year after this I was actually asked to do a workshop presentation for Junior Chamber in behalf of Franklin Covey (FC). This was when I first met with Sissel Storesund, a really professional lady who knows what she's doing.

Needless to say, Sissel Storesund has been a good friend all along. She recently brought FC to Norway together with Georg Muri. That gets me so excited! I'll do my best to help them succeed. They're both fantastic people!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BI better than NHH

This blogpost is written with a lot of "unrighteous pride" ;-)

In Norway there are two major players when it comes to a business education (some would say there are several others, I know). These two are, addressed by their Norwegian names, Norges Handelshøyskole (NHH) and Handelshøyskolen BI. I myself have my Bachelors and Masters degree from the latter - of course!!

A recent study finally provides solid empirical data to support the long established rumour that BI is better than NHH. I'm glad we finally got that settled ;-)

p.s. Click the logo and find BI Alumni at LinkedIn - a huge group of quality people.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cultural intro to Grenland

Today I had a business meeting with a wonderful lady. Marit Lindvig Stampe has a great number of talents, one of which is singing. She recently released an excellent CD with a variety of songs. I got myself one of those CD's today.

Marit makes me proud to be from Grenland. I've seen her perform songs in front of a great audience. Combined with pictures and information about Grenland, her unique type of entertainment is a brilliant way to help brand this part of the world.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Norseman Extreme Triathlon

Yesterday I told about the committee behind the "Sales and Marketing Forum". These are great friends of mine. One of them, Hårek Stranheim, is actually among the toughest guys I know. He not only does thriathlons, but he's the man behind the most demanding and longest triathlon in the entire world!!! It's the NORSEMAN EXTREME TRIATHLON.

Here's a clip when Hårek Stranheim was on National TV in Norway some years ago. Sorry, Hårek, but you'll never get me to participate. Just watching this exhausts me. I did however, buy myself a treadmill last week. That'll keep me running frequently ;-)

The Norseman challenge ends at Gaustatoppen in Telemark. My son and I spent an entire day just climbing its final stages. In the Triathlon this is just the last "30 seconds" of the distance. Imagine that!

The view is just amazing up there. Simply something that needs to be experienced.

Our company at the ICTG site

Today One-on-One AS was officially published on the ICT Grenland website. No too bad, I'd say!

p.s. The ICT Grenland site is all Norwegian, so if you don't read or speak the language, you'll just have to trust me ;-) Alternatively click the picture and find the home page of One-on-One.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sales and Marketing Forum

About a year ago we started the Sales and Marketing Forum in Grenland. We thought marketers and sales people might want to get together *** BOY! were we right *** In total we're now more than a hundred people. It has become a fantastic place to find like-minded and eager networkers. Everybody meets together the last Thursday of every month 8pm at Klosterøya.

Over time a standard pattern has surfaced. We always:
  • host experts to do "dialog based lectures"
  • invite a big company willing to be sold to (that's a lot of fun!)
  • do some speed dating to meet new people
  • eat some good food
Who's running this thing..? Reidar Stavseth, Pål Hårek Stranheim, Maria Furuholmen and then there's me. I love these guys!

Why don't you pop by and check it out? ;-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Skien Fritidspark for the family

Almost every Friday or Saturday our family goes swimming in the brand new Skien Fritidspark. The place is just huge and the kids love swimming and diving in all the different pools. Eivind and I both broke a new record in the water slide. Did you ever go faster than 12.14 secs? I challenge you to beat me ;-)

Best thing of all; they offer an annual ticket for the entire family (NOK 2,500). With five kids jumping around every week, that's a VERY good offer for such amazing facilities!!

First Lego League to Skien

Last week I attended "First Lego League" (FLL) with my family. Wow! I'd never heard of this before, until appx 4 months ago. These kids were so excited. Check out the international website of FLL.

FLL runs all over the world at the same time, eventually bringing winners to a world final. We were at one of the locations in Scandinavia, i.e. Kongsberg, Norway. Even though winning was clearly important, the dominant ambition was to succeed with whatever they had planned and worked on weeks ahead.

It just about broke my heart to see one particular young man of about 14 years old crying because he'd been preparing so hard to make that lego robot perform. Although disappointed about the outcome, I believe it prepared him for greater "battles" ahead. How the world needs people who give it their all!

p.s. We're now preparing to bring this event to Grenland next year. Want to get involved..? ;-)


video

One of many teams during a technical presentation. Listen carefully and you'll hear the crowds outside cheering each other on as they compete "next door". More pictures from this event.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ICT Grenland sound and intro

We asked Fredrik Farstad to produce an intro and "sound logo" in behalf of the new ICT Grenland website that's soon to be officially launched.

We've uploaded it to a separate ICT Grenland YouTube channel. Take a look!

p.s. I like the personal touch Fredrik gave this. What do you think?

Team of open people

If you want to collaborate openly with great people in the ICT sector in Norway, here's the team behind ICT Grenland.

The cluster consists of appx 70 companies in the Grenland region. We meet at Klosterøya, Skien the last Thursday of every month 19:00 - 21:00 CET.

Come visit to meet great people and eat pizza!