At our meetups and events we regularly chat to corporates and entrepreneurs seeking answers to age old questions:
“Is there more to life than working hard for your boss?”
“Is it really possible to manage a profitable business and have time to do the things that matter most, like spending time with family?”
“What resources are out there for me to start living the balanced life I want?”
We’ve seen a real need for people to unplug and reconnect. To find answers to these questions, whilst meeting people in the same position to help each other form actionable plans and start living the life they want. That’s partly why we escape to the countryside for our annual Happy Startup Summercamp, to claim back our creativity and get inspired.
One man we were delighted to have joining us at camp was author and startup enthusiast Martin Bjergegaard…
He looks a little crazy in this photo, but I assure you, meet him and be prepared to learn powerful ways you can change your work and life balance.
Having written a hugely successful book Winning Without Losing which encompasses how to succeed in business without compromising on lifestyle, and leading several entrepreneur-focused startups (PineTribe, Rainmaking, Startupbootcamp & Better Now), Martin is inspiring a new wave of entrepreneurship, and he had A LOT of solid advice to share with campers around the bonfire…
Tell us a bit about you and your enthusiasm for startups, where did it all start and what’s your ethos?
I really can’t take credit for it. My dad was an entrepreneur, so I grew up with it. From a very young age I helped him in his company, and at 18 I started my own business. Today, I am spoiled, and I don’t think I will ever take a job again. I really love the startup phase. When everything is new, and full of energy and naivety. Everything seems possible because we don’t know what the hell we are doing. It’s a leap of faith and it’s very exciting.
Chances of success would probably be better if I had the patience to learn a trade, before setting up shop. But I have always been too impatient for that. I get an idea, and then I go for it. That’s both my strength and my weakness. These days I am beginning to think, that I am a lot less intelligent than I used to give myself credit for. Luckily, I am also a lot more forgiving nowadays, so I don’t beat myself up as much as I used to.
My business ethos is the same as my life ethos: it’s all about happiness. Not as an abstract concept, but as the feeling inside we all recognize. I start companies because it’s one of the best ways I know to be happy. I always have a good work/life balance. I can only be the best version of my self if I am well rested, have worked out, spent time with my loved ones, and am feeling great.
You’re a corporate escapee and can fully appreciate the challenges people are up against in corporate life. What advice would you give to people looking for more meaning in their work?
If you are happy at your corporate job, stay put – and exercise your ability to enjoy it. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and it can be scary if you like predictability and financial safety. If you are miserable, quit… as soon as possible. I quit McKinsey without having anything else lined up. That was scary at the time, but with hindsight it was the right thing to do. As soon as the resignation was handed in, I started being creative, resourceful and happy again. In that state it didn’t take me long to find a new and much better job. One that led me to start a successful business just 18 months later.
With regards to meaning; work to unveil what “meaning” really is to you. Don’t adopt stereotype definitions that you read or hear about from others. For a while I did, and it led me to start a school in India. I love the school, the village and the kids there, but I haven’t scaled that engagement a lot, because I found out that the business format suits me a lot better than the charity format. So now I am working for a better world, but via a business vehicle. That makes a lot of sense to me, while it might be different for someone else. We will only truly be happy if we figure out our own definition of the word “meaning”.
What will you be sharing in your talk at camp this year?
For Winning Without Losing we interviewed and researched 25 role models from all over the world. What the role models had in common was that they had found a way to build immensely successful businesses while living a whole, happy and balanced life. At camp in 2014, I shared the most important lessons we learned from the role models, as well as insights from my own life. The ultimate goal was to give all participants at least one thing to remember, that can make them a bit more happy and successful in the future.
Tell us a crazy fact about you :)
I hate that question. It always gives me headache. I am afraid there’s really nothing unusual about me, and it makes me feel insignificant. OK, as a young salesperson I once spilled a full cup of coffee directly down the female buyer’s full handbag. She didn’t buy anything.