Svanholmen Island, Sweden.

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As you can see by my latest two posts, I am on “vacation mode” and this post will be on the same theme.

I hear many entrepreneurs who justify their crazy work loads with the argument: “I am going to work like a maniac for XX years so that I can sell my company and never will have to work again in my life.”

For me that is as clever as saying: “I am going to starve myself for XX days so that I can go crazy on the all-you-can-eat-buffet-dinner.”

I strongly believe that a much better strategy for how much you work – and how much you eat! – is to spread it out and not overdo it.

Being a speaker is a dream job in many aspects, but perhaps the biggest perk of all is that you can look at it as a job that is done by many semi-retired people.

Personally, I will have 5 months off this year to be with my kids.

At the same time, I am one of the world’s most globally booked speakers.

And I do not intend to retire (I do not even own a retirement account!) because as a speaker, you can literally do your job until the day you die. Not very many jobs let you do that. Edward de Bono, for example, is 82-years-old and is still giving keynote speeches.

Because as stupid as I think it is to work too much, I equally think it is stupid to totally stop working at a certain age and spend the rest of your life “in retirement”.

Now, I think everyone who works 8 hours per day 5 days per week until they retire should change that to 6 hours per day, 4 days per week until they are so old they can not work anymore.

I think that would create happier families, workers and societies. At the same time, I think it would probably produce more productivity counted over the lifetime of a person.

Now, do not get me wrong. I love entrepreneurs — people who have an idea that they strongly believe in and that they want to see come true. But I have met so many entrepreneurs who say “I love my job, but I hate my life.”

When I sold my company in 1999 (after working way too much for a few years), I pledged to myself that I should be a “Lifetrepreneur”.

The definition of an “Entrepreneur” is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses”.

The definition of a “Lifetrepreneur” is “a person who organises and operates his or her life in the best possible manner.”

Lesson: Being a speaker is the perfect job if you want to achieve high “life-work balance”. The fact that most people call it “work-life balance” just shows how many people have forgotten which of the two should come first.

Question: Are you spending as much time as you would like on work, or are you spending too much? If too much, then what can you do to create the right “life-work balance” in your life?


Svanholmen Island, Sweden.


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.


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.