I’ll wrap up 2011 by handing over the word to one of the visionaries of our time, Umair Haque. Here’s a series of tweets from @umairh for us all to reflect on going into 2012. I for one am optimistic (crikey, I might even be upbeat) about creating a better and meaningful world without the meaningless industrial age growth of the past 30-40 years. If you haven’t already picked it up, grab Umair’s recent book Betterness. It’ll make you angry – but the good way.

I wish you all a happy and meaningful New Year :)

Steve Jobs was my number one hero and with him the world has lost one of its greatest inspiring minds.

To me Steve was all about passion, creativity and a burning desire to challenge the conventions – and no challenge was too tough to take on. Just think about the music industry, the phone and personal computing. I, like millions of other people around the world, love his innovations, not just because they’re great. They are. They’re truly great. But on a fundamental level because they inspire us and make us feel we are part of something great. That we’re part of challenging the status quo and thinking differently.

I dare say we have a love relationship with what Steve created. Last week I gave a talk to a high school class and asked them how many of them owned an Apple product. Fifteen of them, almost all, did. Then I offered them to swap their product with a similar non-Apple product that was more expensive and had more features. Be it an MP3 player, a computer or a mobile phone. Out of those 15 students only one was willing to make the swap. The rest were so emotionally attached to their Apple products that they would not part with them. No way. And they couldn’t really explain why. Which, of course, is obvious: How can you even consider giving away your loved one.

This video ad from 1997 never aired with Steve’s voice (Richard Dreyfuss did the final version), but here’s the original Steve Jobs version. Everything that’s being said, could be said about Steve. Think Different.

Last night I finally had the opportunity to ask Alfred Josefsen, supermarket retailer Irma’s charismatic CEO, the one question I had been wanting to for a long time: “Why would your organization be missed if it ceased to exist?”. Well, it’s not the sort of question you just walk up to someone and ask. Sounds a bit morbid, perhaps. But the context was this. At an executive briefing attended by both of us we were all challenged with this one question to ask one other person in the room during the coffee break. The question is part of Jacob Bøtter’s NQ series and is also known as the obituary test.

Anyway, I (the naive, tree-hugging, time-warp hippie) was very pleased with Alfred’s answer. The world would miss a supermarket that wants to make a difference. That doesn’t go for the lowest (price) denominator and that wants to create experiences for their employees and customers alike (Irma always comes in among the top of the Best Places To Work list – and won it back in 2008). Alfred pointed to their exceptional culture and their passion to work with what they believe in. Decisions are made locally and employees have the freedom – and the obligation – to make decisions for themselves.

Hey, that answer was good enough for me.

Six months ago we sold our car and decided to go all in. We had already been cycling a lot, but the car was becoming an inconvenient convenience, mainly being used for ridiculous little trips like dropping off our youngest at kindergarten or going grocery shopping.

The inspiration to make the bold move came from people like Mikael Colville-Andersen and his copenhagencyclechic.com blog and his copenhagenize.com movement – and Clarence Eckerson Jr. and his Streetfilms documentaries on livable cities. I was particularly inspired by his 2010 documentary Cycling Copenhagen Through North American Eyes. And hold on – not least because of all the initiatives provided by Copenhagen City Council, such as more and wider bicycle paths, green waves for cyclists in the mornings and afternoons – and just the kick you get out of being part of something great.

So what’s my verdict after 6 months of full time cycling everywhere? I’ll probably never go back! And, mind you, that’s my verdict after having been through one of the toughest, coldest, longest and snowiest Danish winters in recorded history. These are some pictures from my iPhone representing some of the ambiance of Copenhagen winter cycling. (I know, these are no match for the photos over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic).

Let me say, I have challenged a lot of conventional wisdom over these last 6 months: I have cycled to meetings over 15 km away wearing a suit (top left, biked parked in front of my customer’s HQ). I bring my bicycle on trains all the time to bullet through town into the suburbs and continue for another 3 or 4 km by bike. I have plowed 3 km through 20 cm of snow with Halley (our youngest) on the back seat. I have managed more meetings in one day than I would have been able to driving a car (that’s a die hard myth).

After I recently met up with Christian Birk, one of the founders of Endomondo, I decided to give it a try logging my cycling, and what a great motivator it is. I know exactly how many kilometers I have cycled, the average speed (not that it really matters), how many calories I have burned (ehem, not that it matters either), but it does tell me how many trips to the moon I’ve done. Alas, since I started on March 1st I have only made it 0.001 times to the moon, but I’ll let you know when I get there.

All I really miss, gadget-wise, is a good sturdy, weather-proof iPhone mount, when I try to navigate using Google Maps, which, ironically, still doesn’t give me a cycling option in Copenhagen (only car, public transport and by foot).

Let me round off by encouraging you die hard motorists out there. There is another way :)

PS. Mikael from Copenhagenize did this cool blog post on me back in December: Ole’s ‘Old’ Autocar. Thanks Mikael.

Just got this email from LinkedIn founder and CEO Reid Hoffman. Cool! Nice gesture, Reid :)

A plea from a friend in Egypt

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Reform
Tags: , , , ,

The recent and current events in the Middle East are both deeply disturbing (in the cases of government brutality and uncertain futures) and at the same time providing the whole region with new-found hope of democracy and freedom. The events in Egypt have especially moved me, since I have many friends and ex-colleagues in and around Cairo. I’m proud of what the citizens of Egypt have accomplished so far and I stand firmly behind initiatives to stabilize and reform the country.

Today I received this email from my friend Rami Ayad, who is a very skilled IT professional having just started his own company:

Dear Ole,

Thanks again for your support

As you know, Egyptians are coming together to face the current challenges of revolution impacts; that is not clear for public until this moment; however the Intellectuals can see it according to the current indicators

some of this coming challenges is IT employment, for that professionals are going to lose their jobs soon;since there is a lot of IT professionals have been engaged on the Egyptian electronic government projects and others, but unfortunately the most of that projects will be suspended soon
In order that i am trying to help on solving that coming issue via my new software company to gain some opportunities could be helpful at the soon challenges

I am not claiming long history or good experience as company ; however my only objective is finding new job opportunities for good IT professionals, that can safe them suitable income ; so that i am asking your help if you are care and can support.

lastly, please let me say that all Egypt are working now, not to gain profit but to survive; so that we all glad to do our best with no profit.

Awaiting your relay

Rami Ayad

His words made a great impression on me. In fact, the way I see it, this is our opportunity to show solidarity with our Egyptian and Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in a very real way. Therefore, if you have any IT-related jobs within any of the major programming languages, please do consider Rami and his company. You’ll find details on his LinkedIn profile.

Rami – and the rest of you guys – good luck!

I just retweeted a tweet by Rob Markey passed on by my colleague Jacob Bøtter that said “If every company built its discipline on the Net Promoter Score, the world would be a better place” – Graham Button #nps2011“.

Without going into the ins and outs of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) it’s a unique way to measure, not customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty. It starts with one simple question: “On a scale from 0-10 how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or a colleague?”. People answering 9 and 10 are promoters, 7 and 8 are passives and 6 and below are detractors. The stats prove it. Promoters are your ambassadors and allies; they actively and joyfully promote your company to friends, colleagues and family. Passives do none of all that and detractors actively engage in slandering your company.

We’ve used it for a while at Wemind and more than anything else it’s one of the best ways to engage everybody in dazzling our customers. It really changes behavior – and it starts with the employees. Said John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market: “Business is simple. Management’s job is to take care of employees, The employees’ job is to take care of the customers. Happy customers take care of the shareholders. It’s a virtuous [not a vicious] circle.”

Being involved in impressing customers and exceeding their expectations is such a rewarding activity that it has the potential to inspire and motivate us to whole news levels. Knowing that the customer will feel the same, will indeed make the world a better place.