Get Inspired – Interview: Fredrik Härén

Cyriel-FredrikBegin September, I’ve spend two weeks in Singapore to build up a business network in that area and had the pleasure to stay at the apartment of Fredrik and his family. I already had the honor to spend a week on his Ideas Island in Sweden to establish the basis of my book ‘Less is Beautiful’ and now I could stay a while in his home in Singapore. And we had a very nice dinner with Chilli Crab. During the dinner, I took the chance to ask Fredrik some questions about his speaking career and will share his answers here. Enjoy it.

Some facts and figures about Fredrik’s speaking career:

+ Fredrik started his speaking career in Sweden in 1995 and become a ‘full-time’ speaker in 2000.
+ He has spoken in more than 50 countries and just in the last 12 months he was nvited to speak in 30 different (!) countries on 5 continents.
+ Fredrik has delivered more than 1500 keynote speeches and has been on stage in front of a group of 5000 people. His smallest group consisted of a group of 3 people in a Swedish business school.
+ Fredrik had 3 ideas islands (the one in the Philippines got destroyed in Nov 2013) but every year around 15 individuals or small groups get the chance to get  inspired on his ideas islands (your own private island for a week to work on a creative idea)

fredrikharenYou‘ve traveled to many countries. Which one was the most surprising country?

North Korea. Why? Because going to a country of which many people have a very negative idea about is a healthy idea. I learned that most North Koreans are very nice people. Or as my English guide -who had been going to that country for 15 years- told me: “North Korea is just like any other country: 80% of the people are nice, friendly people who want the best for themselves and veryone else – and 20% are assholes…” Unfortunately, the people running North Korea are not part of the 80% …

I also learned about “juche idea” which is the North Korean “ideology” about “creativity and human mastery” in which North Koreans actually look at themselves as being creative (!).

Have you ever been to a new country without a concrete lead for a speaking engagement?

Yes, I moved to China in 2005 to build up a market in Asia without any lead and moved again to Singapore. I had no leads there and had to start from scratch to build up my market.

What’s a country that you would love to visit (& speak)?

I want to do some things in South America but I’m not doing a lot of efforts to get assignments there. What I’ll do is ‘laying down the net’ by telling some people what I want to achieve and most of the time, life will bring it to me when time is right.

What do you like about speaking?

A few reasons:
1. I like to influence the life of a person in one hour
2. I want to share the inspiration that I get by working with some many great people in many different countries
3. The payment is also not bad 😉

Can you share 3 tips for beginning speakers?

Tip 1: Speak
Tip 2: Speak
Tip 3: Speak

Get on stage and speak because there are the new assignments coming from. I have calculated that 77 of my 80 speeches from 2013 came via people who came to me after a presentation and wanted to hire me.

Ideas-islandCan you share one of your nearlings? (a nearling is a positive worked for something that you did with the right intention but which hasn’t led to the right result)

I’ve invested a lot of time and money (at least 3 years) to build the Ideas Island in the Philippines but it was destroyed mid November 2013 by a super-typhoon. Everything was gone (house, two boats, infrastructure). The only thing left was a toilet. You could say that the ideas island in the Philippines failed but that doesn’t feel right. It was of course a big shock when we heard the news but I realized quickly that the joy of giving birth to ideas is greater than the sorrow of seeing ideas die. We did it – we’ve build this great ideas island and that’s great. You can’t fail if you learn from it and be proud of yourself that you try new things.

How did you start as a speaker?

I wrote a book in 1995 about the internet and marketing. It was a huge success and I was an instant guru in Sweden and everybody asked me as a speaker. In 2000 I decided that I didn’t want to be a Swedish speaker but a (global) speaker and moved to China. My theme shifted from internet to Creativity and the last years I’m focusing on the theme ‘how organisation can become a global company’.

What did you want to become as a child?

I have zero child memories so I don’t have a clue what I wanted to be as a child. In high school I wanted to do something with advertising but that dream wasn’t a big success because I couldn’t draw, I was a bad organizer and I couldn’t spell so I also didn’t have a career as a copywriter. But I was good in generating ideas.

What dream is still on your bucket list?

+ To translate my (Swedish) novel in English
+ And maybe have another ideas island. I believe in the fact that you should buy what you love most. A lot of people save money or buy gold but I believe that it’s better to buy immediately what you want – for me that’s an island and enjoy it now instead of saving money for later.

If you want to know more about Fredrik, check out his website, follow him on twitter, read one of his books or explore some extra inspiration about the ideas islands.