Author: Fredrik Haren

Svanholmen Island, Sweden.

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Why do people with “normal jobs” read books when they are on vacation?

Because they want to get a break! Because they want to clear their minds and get away from the day-to-day grind of work.

So what should an author do on his vacation?

Answer: Work.

At least that is what I will argue in this post.

I have spent the last few weeks doing a lot of manual labour: planting, gardening, rowing, etc.

I do not have to do these things.

Some people have a hard time understanding (the very Swedish) hobby of spending your vacation time working on your vacation house. But for me, it’s a no-brainer: I will have no brain left if I didn’t do this.  🙂

Doing manual labour works totally different parts of my brain than those I am normally using.

There are some who think that the only way to become an expert at something is to do it day-and-night. To eat it, sleep it, and never take a break from it.

I belong to another school of thought.

I look at my working-year more like teachers do: two intense periods (semesters) of work, and then longer periods of breaks.

Both my parents were teachers and I grew up seeing the dedication they put into their “teaching semesters”, and the need they had for those long summer vacations. Funny enough, the Swedish word for “vacation” is “semester”.

So from September to November, and February to June, I have my “speaking months” where I travel, speak, do interviews, read, learn and get inspired. But in the summers, I try to get away from all of that for weeks and weeks.

True, having long stints of “off-time” makes me less productive than if I would be working all the time. In my 20 years as an author  I have published just 9 books. But it gives me sanity.

Being an author and a speaker is perhaps the best job in the world if you want to keep an active brain – you are basically paid to think about things that interest you!

But it can easily become addictive: you want to keep thinking of things to write or speak about all the time.

Just like you need to train different muscle groups to get a healthy, all-around, fit body, you also need to “exercise” different parts of your brain, and that includes those parts of your brain which have nothing to do with what you speak about.

In my case, that would be gardening. I normally talk about having a global mindset, about innovation and creativity and things like that. Gardening keeps me grounded, focused on the very local and on just doing what needs to be done.

Lesson: Do your brain a favour and give it something to think about that has nothing to do with what it normally thinks about. It will thank you by making you feel much happier and fulfilled. And you will actually come up with better ideas when you go back into “work mode”.

Almost anyone who has had a proper vacation knows that this is true – but an alarming number of professionals that I work with seem to have forgotten this truth and instead, spend way too much time working.

 

Svanholmen Island, Sweden.

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As you might have noticed, it has been almost a full month since my last post.

The reason for my silence is that I have been very busy doing nothing.

Doing nothing work-related that is.

I have been very busy playing and enjoying life with my family on our island.

As a global speaker, I try to travel a lot around the world. Just last month before my 6+ weeks summer vacation, I was in Singapore, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, USA (twice), Canada, China and Germany.

But a lot of people get the impression that I work all the time. That is not true. Not at all.

I actually do less than half the number of speeches I used to do when I was a “local” speaker in Sweden.

My “record” was 199 speeches in one year, including one day when I did 4 speeches for 4 different clients in one day: 1 breakfast speech, one lunch speech, one afternoon speech and one evening speech.

Nowadays I will do between 60-80 keynote speeches per year.

Do not get me wrong. Going through that phase of delivering hundreds of speeches per year was great. I got those hundreds of speeches under my belt and got to learn how to deal with different audiences, different situations and different kinds of events.

But I am very happy I stopped speaking so much.

Not only is my private life 100 times more harmonious and relaxed, I also think that the quality of my speeches improved.

I became a better speaker because I wasn’t constantly speaking.

A good sign that you are doing too many speeches is that you are getting tired of hearing your own voice when you speak.

That is a sign that you are just doing the speech because someone booked you – not because you have a message that you want to get out.

If that happens to you: STOP! Take a break. Go on a vacation. Clear your calendar.

By making fewer speeches, I look forward to everyone of them. I feel grateful for the privilege to be paid to spread a message you believe in.

And a funny side effect is that I make more money now than when I did 199 speeches in one year.

Lesson: Getting your speaking career off the ground is very much like getting a plane to take off.

In the beginning, you have to increase the thrust but once you reach cruising altitude, it helps to pull back a little.

In other words, it helps to do as many speeches as possible for a few years to work yourself up to become a global speaker, but once you are there, it helps to reduce the number of speeches so that you can focus on getting the speeches that you really want to have. That will give you many years of high quality speeches to come.

I guess it is but fitting to describe the journey of a global speaker using the metaphor of a plane.

 

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I have met many speakers who are very successful locally (i.e. in the country they live in), but who would like to become global speakers (i.e. be invited to speak all over the world).

They sometimes ask me how I managed to become a global speaker. There are many answers to that question, but the most important answer is mindset.

By that, I mean that you have to have the mindset of wanting to become a global speaker, and also the mindset of thinking like a global speaker.

And to do that, you need a global mindset. (Granted, not all speakers want to be global speakers, this post is for those speakers who do.)

You have to stop defining yourself as an “American Speaker” or a “German Speaker”, and instead look at yourself as just “a speaker”. (I have given two talks on the subject of becoming a global speaker that you can watch HERE if you want to find out more.)

In today’s post, I want to share an example of what it means to have a global mindset, and I will exemplify it with how I work with suppliers.

Today, I have not been traveling. I have been working from my home office in Singapore, but it has still been a very international day.

Just today, I have sent separate emails to people in: Ukraine, the Philippines, Sweden, Croatia, Australia, Switzerland, China, Malaysia, Dubai, Hong Kong and South Africa.(And received emails from more countries than that.)

Now, you could argue that this is because I already have a very global speaking business, and that is of course true. But thinking with a global perspective is something I do very actively. Like with how I work with some of my suppliers. I live in Singapore and could arguably find suppliers for everything I need right here in Singapore. But instead, I have opted for having suppliers based all around the world.

Here are some examples of some of the suppliers I am using right now:

My assistant lives in the Philippines
My 3D-designer lives in Australia
My iPhone developer lives in Pakistan
My Android developer lives in Holland
My book designer lives in Sweden
My corporate identity designer lives in France
My IT-support guys live in India
My WordPress consultant lives in Ukraine
My accountants live in Singapore
My printers are in Sweden, Bulgaria, the USA and Singapore.
I work with speaker agencies all over the world.

And so on.

So what is the advantage of this? Well, you get perspectives from many parts of the world – which makes you look at your speaking business with a broader perspective.

I also get news, insights, and information from my contacts (like hearing of the start-up culture for IT companies in Pakistan, or about how people in Ukraine look at the increasing tension between Russia and Europe and so on) which gives me a better understanding of what is happening in the world. And an understanding of what is happening in the world is something that people who book global speakers expect those speakers to have.

But it is more important than that.

By working with people from all over the world, you change both your perspective of the world, and also the perspective of where you live.

In a sense, getting a global mindset is transformational in a similar way to when Copernicus got us to understand that the sun doesn’t orbit around the earth. In both instances, we, as humans, realise that the world doesn’t evolve around us. And that is a both liberating and humbling insight.

If you are not as global as a speaker as you would like to be, ask yourself this question: Could it be because your speaking business is built too much around a very tight circle around where you live?

Is there a bigger chance that you would be speaking globally if you started to do business from a global perspective?

I think the answer is pretty obvious. Or it could of course be just a big coincidence that I have built my speaking business with a global mindset in mind – and that I, at the same time, am one of the world’s most globally booked speakers.