Startup Grind: Scandinavian Leadership with Per-Erik Persson

The latest addition of the Google financed global community for entrepreneurs, Startup Grind, took place on the 20th of February in Skopje. The event took place at InnoFeit, with Vrootok as the event organizers.
The guest of the event was Per-Erik Persson, a renowned business trainer from Sweden. But, he wasn’t in Macedonia for sight-seeing. No, Per-Erik was here to teach us about Scandinavian Leadership – the Key to Start-Up Success (which was the name of the event.)
Without further ado, here’s how this great experience took place!

Brutally Honest Feedback

First, the introductions – Meet Per-Erik Persson!

Per-Erik Persson at the Startup Grind Event

Per-Erik isn’t a stranger to Vrootok. In fact, he’s one of our best clients up to date.
But, for those who don’t know him, he’s a very successful entrepreneur. Perhaps the most interesting note about Per-Erik is that he’s an expert business coach and trainer, with many professional collaborations with huge companies under his belt. And we aren’t overselling his expertise – he has been a coach for big brands like IKEA and Volvo!
The panel discussion leader was our very own Teodora Nikolovska.

Prior to the introduction of the guest, the panel leader asked the crowd no matter what happens, they should be brutally honest with their feedback.
Side note: Brutally Honest was the name of the last StartUp Grind event helmed by Vrootok.

With that out of the way, here’s a sum-up of the Fireside chat with Per-Erik Persson!

What Can You Tell Us about Yourself?

Erik: I’m Swedish – I have a very Swedish name... Some people call it’s a very strange name.
My mother is Columbian, I think that’s one of my main advantages… because even though Sweden is a great country in many ways… [I] think having the combination of Colombian entrepreneurship has really helped me to find new ways and new solutions.

Why Do You think Stockholm Is so Successful In the World of Start-Ups?

Erik: I think Sweden has a long history of creating international companies… [The] new generation of companies has benefited from having that experience… [Sweden] flourished after the Second World War, when our industry was intact. [This] has helped our service oriented companies.
…[N]obody knows that [IKEA] is Swedish… Neither Skype nor Spotify would have existed if IKEA didn’t exist because what IKEA does is they are trying to solve a problem for many persons… like affordable furniture… and they sold that to people.
I remember when Spotify came… I was reluctant at the beginning… took me many years before… I paid for the premium membership.

How Difficult Was It for You to Have a Start-Up in Sweden

Erik: In Europe, Estonia is probably the easiest company to found a company because they have this E-Citizenship. The only difficult thing is to choose the name of the company.

The Follow Up: How Did You Come-Up With the Name?

Erik: Which one? (laughs) Motive Management is my own start-up.. behind [it] is my company called Human Intelligence. In the day when everybody is talking about artificial intelligence, I’m more focused on human intelligence. I think this is a skill we’re losing more and more.
The only fuss about creating a new company is the name in Sweden. Everything else is super easy.

What Do You Think is the Most Important Thing to Become a Unicorn Start-Up

Erik: Don’t take pride and think too highly of your idea. There are some exceptions here, I think Elon Musk is someone worth to mention.
Fall in love with your target group and the problem you’re trying to solve and you go for it and you never give up.

What’s the Swedish Start-Up that Inspired You the Most

Erik: I can’t come up with a name, but [it’s] the idea of scaling things... I have a passion for what I do – it’s leadership training. But, if I think about only that… I would convert my artistry into a company but that won’t scale because I can’t duplicate myself. So what I think I learned the most from studying other start-ups is the idea of being able to scale. Is it a scalable idea; is it something that exists outside of you, or is it you selling your time. You need to find that other thing outside yourself, otherwise you have no exit. You just have a very complicated job situation.

A shot of the fully invested visitors of the Startup Grind event.

What Do You think Is the Most Important Thing For Building a Successful Team?

Erik: It should be someone who can give you honest feedback. I recently became a co-founder of a solar power start-up… They had lots of [financial] support.. but still they got stuck… I assessed them… and gave them honest feedback. They were quite good, they knew everything about the product. But, they forgot totally about the client. They had so far one sale.
I told them ‘Martin,… let’s ask the client what do you think? What are your worries? What’s stopping you now from fulfilling your dreams?
They forgot all about the target group. It was with good intentions, but they lost the other person.
It’s like when you go on a date and you talk about yourself (laughs).

How Do You Solve Conflicts when You Work on a Project?

Erik: I think what we’re seeing right now in leadership is about freeing the capacity of the other person. Leadership used to be about steering the helm. Now it’s more like creating a space the other person to feel comfortable, to feel safe and to give their honest opinion.
So, the person is acting in a way that’s you think is illogical or even wrong. Let’s start from the angle of curiosity: Say, why are you thinking the way you’re doing?
Ask an honest question and be interested in the answer. This will get you very far, instead of shouting and yelling… [But] in the end, you need to be quite harsh with people though.

Do You think the Salary Is a Big Factor In a Person Being Hard Working?

Erik: I don’t think so… there’s no science backing motivation connected with money. You can see big financial companies, they would make so many mistakes, they are not better than anyone else.
With money you can only reach a certain level… where you could cover your cost and it should be fair. But, apart from that, you should be looking more on passion and dedication.

Do Start-Up Entrepreneurs Are Taking the Money For Granted?

Erik: There’s so much money out there, in Sweden [taking money for granted] happened because there were so many unicorn companies. Even