Christian Stadil, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA

Closed door equals open door

We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected. The manner in which we, as individuals and corporations interact with one another and ultimately with the world around us is such that we are, on the whole, closer and more transparent. Whilst this does increase the volume of information being processed and debated, creating more pressure, friction and ultimately, clashes of interest, there are also numerous positives to behold.

Meet Christian Stadil – one of Denmark’s foremost entrepreneurs that many will recognise from his ownership of sports brand hummel or his appearances on the jury in DR’s “Løvernes Hule” (The Danish version of Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank) – a show that features up and coming entrepreneurs pitching new business ideas, in the hope of captivating the jury and gaining that all important starting capital.

Christian Stadil is the owner and CEO of the Thornico conglomerate, consisting of around 120 operational companies within food, technology, real estate, packaging, financing, sport and fashion, the latter being in the form of hummel. Christian Stadil took over the hummel brand in 1999, which back then was in a poor condition, transforming it into one of the world’s leading fashion and sports brands, finding a unique position in a very competitive market up against giants.

Besides being a business owner, founder and investor (most recently in numerous tech-based upstart companies), he is an author, active lecturer and adjunct professor in creative leadership at the Centre for Business Development and Management at Copenhagen Business School.

Christian’s corporate success is underpinned by a devotion to company karma – “A kind of CSR version 3.0 where we try to, where possible, think more holistically, in a “4x win” where our companies, customers, partners and a cause (in which we believe and find important), all benefit – especially in terms of the climate and the local environment,” he remarks.

And whilst he is not afraid to admit that combining the varied interests of stakeholders is by no means easy, Christian is adamant that one can indeed capitalise on synergies and create win-win situations to everyone’s mutual benefit. Known for doing things differently, Christian Stadil is an impassioned entrepreneur with a particular way of doing things that we all could learn a thing or two from.

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Eske Willerslev, TEDxKEA

Original article co-written with Anton Tarabykin for TEDxKEA, available here

Forming the future by studying the past

Constant discoveries that prompt revisions of what we previously knew to be true are at the very core of our evolution. The merits of science in forming the present and ultimately the future cannot be overstated. Just as important, however, is understanding our past. Studying how problems developed, how our ancestors approached them, and ultimately where they have failed or succeeded, is crucial to understanding who we are today, and what we will be in the future. Lessons harnessed from the past can and should influence social, political and environmental decisions that we make today, and help us build a better future.

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Eske Willerslev is an evolutionary biologist known worldwide for his pioneering work with ancient DNA. He is renowned for several groundbreaking expeditions in Siberia along with his twin brother, anthropologist Rane, during which they gathered ethnographic material and Megafauna remains (Megafauna is a zoological term for large animals).

Eske’s discoveries have in fact re-interpreted much of mankind’s history. His studies on Aboriginal migration patterns proved that the indigenous people of Australia migrated to the continent at least 24,000 years earlier than it had previously been argued. Similarly, Eske’s studies have shown human presence in North America more than 14,000 years ago, which is a thousand years earlier than previous assumptions. Based on samples from the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian boy, Eske’s team discovered a genetic link between Eurasians and Native Americans, which at the time was a major surprise.

Among other Indiana Jones-esque feats, Eske has become an adopted member of the Crow Tribe of Indians in Montana, United States. Of all the lessons learned from such epic voyages, Eske believes that his research on ancient human migration patterns ultimately shows how the spread of people advances innovation and, ultimately, our evolution: “If you look at the past, you will see that the societies that survived were the ones that changed, not the ones that remained conservative and closed in around themselves. The ones that do well are those that constantly learn from others and take in new impressions, while the ones that stay in isolation, like the Paleo-Eskimos, die out in the end”, he points out.

Jan Gehl, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Cities That Move 5 km/h and not 60 km/h

Mankind is evolving and so too is the manner in which we interact with our surroundings. From traditional hunter-gatherer groupings to industrial age production, to modern day office environments, the progress of our civilisation ultimately changes our lifestyles. This progress represents societies that are more efficient, where the obstacles of physical distances are minimised and less and less movement is demanded from the individual. This, however, creates new challenges for mankind. As our need to move diminishes, so does our health, with obesity, diabetes and heart diseases on the rise. So now that fewer jobs are demanding it, how do we get moving again?

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Meet the legendary architect behind Copenhagen’s Strøget – no less than the world’s longest pedestrian street. Jan Gehl’s studies in the early 60’s played a significant role when Strøget was rid of vehicles, in a ground-breaking move that formed the core of many green urban initiatives that have catalysed Copenhagen’s development ever since. Since then, large cities around the world, such as New York, Moscow and Sao Paolo, to name a few, have been inspired by Copenhagen, and have called on Jan Gehl to help them pedestrianise.

Dubbed “the last living worldwide renowned guru in urbanism”, Jan Gehl has raked in innumerable accolades for his approach to urban design, winning everything from The International Union of Architects prize for exemplary contributions to Town Planning and Territorial Development to a Prince Eugen Medal for outstanding artistic achievement in architecture.

An honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and a fellow of the Design Futures Council, Gehl is of the conviction that “we need cities that move at 5 km/h and not at 60 km/h.” His approach to making cities liveable stems from a collaboration with his wife, psychologist Ingrid Mundt, together with whom he began to study how people interact with their environments. Gehl believes that we need to approach architecture in a human manner – it should and always be about people first and foremost. “Studying people rather than bricks” helps us build cities for people, encourage healthier lifestyles and invite people to use the urban space for physical activities.

Simon Prahm, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

Making a Difference For The Youth

A lack of physical activity is one of the major problems in our society. Recent EU figures indicate that 6 in every 10 people above 15 years of age never or seldom exercise or play a sport, whilst more than half never or seldom engage in other kinds of physical activity. Children in particular are affected by this trait, with many exercising less than the WHO recommendations. Poor health and quality of life are but a few of the implications of these figures. Our societies are burdened by an overall lack of physical activity. There are however, many individuals involved in the bid to ensure that people exercise more. One of them is Simon Prahm.

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Simon is the managing director of GAME Denmark, an NGO that reaches out to underprivileged youth by focusing on creating self-esteem, combatting marginalisation and creating self-empowerment for its members. Run by over 70 coaches and an excess of 100 volunteers, GAME was founded by Simon and two other partners in 2002, and is currently on the Global Top 500 NGOs list. The organisation also operates in Lebanon and is currently in the pipeline phase of expanding its operations to 10 other countries over the next few years.

A Henley Business School MBA holder and a bachelor in sports studies from the University of Copenhagen, Simon is also the chairman of the national platform for street sports, and has held positions as a guest lecturer at The University of Copenhagen as well as board positions on various think tanks, boards and steering groups. Formerly a chairman of The Falcon basketball club, Simon Prahm has spent many years disrupting the traditional association-based approach to sport in Denmark with an aim of getting the youth to be more active. For Simon “the youth are the future of societies and the right to sport is a human right that everybody should have access to.” As it stands, even in Denmark, this is not the case. There is a need for evolution in this aspect as far as Simon is concerned.

Anja Cetti Andersen, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

The universe and how we got here

Of the many mysteries of life, none can compare to the quintessential question: where do we come from and what are we doing here? For hundreds of years, science, culture and religion have put forth contesting arguments to try to put an end to our existential doubts. Meanwhile, as the list of Kepler planets found in “Habitable Zones” that exist in earth-like conditions grows, questions of whether or not we have the luxury of the universe exclusively for ourselves must arise.

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Anja C. Andersen is as outstanding an astrophysicist as they come. Currently an associate professor at The Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute, her career spans many years of research in the field, for which the list of accolades she has won is almost as endless as the universe itself. Anja’s interest in the mysteries of the stars began as a teenager in Saudi Arabia, where her father worked at the time. “One of the few things that girls could do was to study, so I sat and looked at the stars through a telescope”, Anja remarks.

Whilst Anja doesn’t claim to have all the answers to the tirade of questions that keep many of us up at night, she is of the opinion that an evaluation of the manner in which we approach existentialist mysteries is necessary. “When can one be sure that something exists, even if one cannot see it?” Anja asks. We are certain, for example, that black holes do exist in the universe, but we have yet to see one with our own eyes.

The mysteries of life are endless and the approaches to solving them equally so. “Physics is a dynamic study, and its approaches and premises are changing constantly – they are constantly evolving.” Prepare to be enlightened.

 

Vigga Svensson, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Sustainability 2.0 – sustainable consumption without compromise

A central theme within TEDxKEA Evolve is that of continuous improvement. We live in a dynamic world that is constantly shifting. One of the recent shifts in consumption patterns has been the idea of circular economy – a trend that has been cashed in by both consumers and innovative businesses alike. However, it is one thing to have an intention to be sustainable and another to actually pull it off. We need to re-think what it means to be sustainable and re-think again just in case.

If Vigga Svensson sounds familiar to you, she probably is. Formerly a radio and TV host at P1 and DR2, respectively, Vigga has been the voice of TV2 Zulu since the turn of the century, for which she still finds 15 minutes for in her busy schedule every week. But her real passions are entrepreneurship and sustainable consumption, to which she has dedicated the last 12 years of her life.

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Having previously founded the world famous baby clothing company Katvig, Vigga’s latest venture is Vigga.us – a firm that rents out baby clothes for a small subscription fee, saving parents vast amounts of money whilst providing a sustainable solution in a clothing industry otherwise notorious for its wasteful production practices. The first-ever brand to combine baby fashion with ideals of the circular economy, Vigga.us has been nominated for and awarded a long list of sustainability awards, and currently features in Sustainia’s top 10 sustainability innovations of 2015. Most importantly, it is an idea that makes no compromises, unlike many other sustainable solutions – prices are in fact lower, the quality is good and the product is accessible: “It is sustainability 2.0 – a better, more clever way of thinking sustainability,“ contends Vigga.

But it hasn’t always been this easy. If Vigga’s ideas of combining sustainability and a profitable business model seem well thought through, it is because they have undergone many years of review, refinement and ultimately, evolution. “The way people used our products in the past went against our ideas of sustainability. There was no recycling. We didn’t create a whole new way of thinking,” says Vigga. By comparison, the current business model in practice is one where sustainability is the main driver in the process as opposed to being an annoying add-on. It is time to show consumers that sustainability no longer has to entail compromises, a message that Vigga is eager to spread around the world.

Rob Scotland, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

The new wave of entrepreneurial creativity and the growing power of the audience

On all levels, certainly in the portrayal given by much of modern media, the world is a grim and unbecoming place. Seek and you shall find however; there are innumerable positives to behold. Whilst there are many who are plagued by concerns over ISIS or Greek financials and long-winded statements by the media, others, choose to see things in a different light.

Meet Rob Scotland – a man with a sense of humour that extends well beyond his positive mind-set towards the world of today and the society of tomorrow. In the midst of all the crises fed to us on TV, Rob stresses the importance of stopping for a second to appreciate the talent and adaptability of our generation. “Five years ago there was no iPad, 10 years ago there was no iPhone and in the last hundred years we’ve had more innovation than in the last 1000.”  “The next generation is probably going to be the greatest we’ve ever had!”

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Rob has spent the last 10 years working in advertising with a client portfolio that includes the likes of Nike, Carlsberg, Telia and Procter & Gamble, where he has ”argued passionately under the guise of creative strategy to turn anthropological understandings of audiences into commercial returns.” For Rob, radical changes in the manner in which audiences think and feel have brought about a paradigm shift that requires more value-based products, services and ultimately advertising. A graduate of illustration, Rob wanted to be an artist for Marvel comics. However, as is the case “with most of our generation”, necessity shifted him into other fields – namely magazine sales and later advertising. In this capacity, Rob founded the much revered ad agency, Bandit, in Copenhagen 8 years ago and advised big brands on how best to target their audiences.

Dubbed a ‘modern cultural anthropologist’, Rob has been championing the understanding of modern culture in marketing communications over the past ten years. Our generation often gets a bad rap in the media, but from Rob’s perspective “Far from being lazy, Generation Next’s unprecedented surge of entrepreneurial creativity is what will solve many of the challenges facing this world”.

Mathias Lundoe, TEDxKEA

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here.

Monetising Big Data

Big data is the word on everyone’s lips. The exponential growth and availability of data has come to play a pivotal role in the manner in which individuals, companies and society at large operate. So what is big data and how exactly is it a game-changer for consumers and businesses alike?

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Mathias Lundø Nielsen, a 26-year old serial entrepreneur with a devastatingly effective track record within international e-commerce, might just have the answer. The youngest-ever Scandinavian to be accepted in to Henley’s MBA programme, Mathias’ latest venture is Nustay.com, a tech startup that has received one of the highest-ever valuations of any Danish tech company prior to launch, based on the sole idea of its business model. Making a serious case for disrupting the hotel industry, Nustay epitomises what monetising big data is in practice through matching guests with hotels by ranking them using information such as profiles, interests and past consumption patterns. Advanced algorithms work on producing a match between guests and hotels, creating an experience that is both exceptionally customised and that saves both time and money for customers and hotels alike.

In a world that is replete with data and information overloads, Mathias is determined to demonstrate how and why it makes sense to see big data as a new raw material – a commodity that can and needs to be processed in a way that adds value to our societies. However, in order to derive advantages from big data, we need to know what we are looking for, Mathias points out: “If you’re drilling for oil, you need to know exactly what you are looking for before you begin.” As is the case with oil, big data becomes a commodity only when you know what you will use it for: “You also need to know exactly what your end consumer wants, you should have a very sound knowledge of what your end product is.”

So the question we need to ask ourselves is how do we use what we know more effectively? How do we utilise the endless data at our disposal in a way that meets global and individual needs in a more cost-effective and less time-consuming manner? Let’s talk big data.

Khaterah Parwani

Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

A Lifetime Battle to Fight for The Right to Freedom and Independence

Violence against women is a major hindrance to the development of our societies. Whilst measures and organisations are in place to attempt to overcome this problem, many focus on helping the victims and not on nipping the problem at the bud; namely men who indulge in acts of violence against their spouses. Add context to this within the frame of the society in which we live in, here in Denmark, and you will find that violence against women of ethnicities other than Danish tends to be both more common and harder to uproot.

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Khaterah Parwani is the vice-chair, legal adviser and ambassador of the Exit Circle, an organisation that engages victims of physical violence, social control, bullying and radicalism in a dialogue. A victim of violence herself, both in childhood and adulthood, Parwani has spent the last few years channelling all her time and energy into helping those deprived of the rights to freedom and independence, using her background in law and a deep-seeded passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

Parwani’s work also focuses on the brothers and fathers involved in the circle of violence and social control. Understanding the underlying social circumstances that explain why, for example, the percentage of uneducated or unemployed men with Muslim backgrounds is as high as it is represents a key point of focus for Parwani: “It is harder to become integrated or accepted in Denmark when you are a brown man with a Muslim name than when you are a woman. A lot of these men feel marginalised.” Similarly, over and above violence and the need to understand why it happens, Parwani is of the opinion that it is more important to comprehend and work at disrupting mechanisms of social control and cultural radicalisation amongst minority societies.

An ardent debater and orator, Parwani has represented her views across numerous media such as The BBC, Der Spiegel, TV2 news, DR1 and Radio 24/7.

Final Speaker Announcement: Manou Messman

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Original article written for TEDxKEA, available here

TEDx KEA has spoken of numerous ideas, which embrace an ethos that wishes to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity to a higher level. The final speaker that we are thrilled to announce is an incredible woman who, like many of the other distinguished speakers, has fought tooth and nail to end up where she is today. Similarly, a significant part of her beliefs is challenging the established notions by which we currently live.

For as long as she can remember, Manou has had an unshakeable fascination with fashion; specifically in how and with what intent people dress the way that we do. Despite a dominance of the fashion industry, dictating the social narrative, Manou has witnessed that many of those working within it are shockingly unaware of the needs of their consumers.

“Outfits are first and foremost a means of expressing oneself. There is an underlying psychology of complex individual needs at play that is not being addressed by those with the power of controlling the fashion industry,” Manou says.

Seeking a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanics of getting dressed in the morning, Manou excelled in a Masters of Communication and Psychology from Roskilde University, specialising in fashion psychology.

Bitten by the fires of the entrepreneurial drive, Manou is leaving the safety net of her job at the Ministry of Finance, pursuing her dream of building a business that educates the fashion industry to the true needs of this generation.

“There is a difference between what is produced by the fashion industry and the needs of individual consumers within it”.

A large part of this is due to the industry itself, so intent on pushing boundaries; with new lines and new styles coming out faster than we can try them on. This innovation for the sake of it leaves little time to acquire the capacity to understand the fundamental needs of the people that they serve.

“Many of them […] lack a broader understanding of the complex psychological demands that their customers have, and are unaware of how to address them.”

What follows is, in many cases, production simply for the sake of it, with very little long term vision. For this reason, many associate fashion with allegories of unsustainable practice and a lack for concern for the broader problems of mankind. Things need to change.

Revolutionising the fashion industry in this manner is no small task. But Manou doesn’t buckle under the pressure of facing the impossible.

A loving mother to Nomi and Alba, children born under exceptionally difficult circumstances due to pregnancy complications, Manou has overcome many a struggle to get to where she is. Coldly informed by doctors that she could not bear children, Manou refused the words “it’s not possible”. She laboured through several long, hard months and successfully conceived two healthy children, a boy and a girl. With her family happily settled in a small town not too far from Roskilde, Manou is now ready for the next big challenge of her life.

It is time to re-think the fashion industry, and the time to redefine what is normal. It is time for a new generation to emerge.

See you on December 11th.