“We won’t kill you, but we will disrupt you”

October 14, 2014

Read time 3 min

These are my highlights from the talks at Nordic Business Forum 2014. In addition to the talks I highly value the discussions I had and the people I met during the conference. Thank you!


Jim Collins, the author of From Good to Great and many others, talked for 2 hours straight, but his charisma and content carried it. According to Collins we shouldn’t be so worried about our careers, companies or roles, and instead focus on the people around us. “Life is people”, he repeated over and over. Collins called for humility, which the next level from leadership, and discipline, which creates consistency and a sustainable pace for the business. Another interesting thought was how Collins’ research suggests successful companies are not luckier than others, but simply have better ROL, Return on Luck. Successful companies are better at seeking opportunities and ceasing them.

A panel consisting of young, up and coming stars were asked how afraid the older generation should be. Vladimir Funtikov, the CEO of a gaming company responded: “We won’t kill you, but we will disrupt you”. Linda Liukas, the author of upcoming book Hello Ruby, pointed out that the costs of starting a something new are close to zero. Technology and crowdfunding opens up a world of possibilities. All of the panelists had dropped out of school at some point and Liukas said the most important thing she got from university was the people she met.

Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his five rules for success: find a vision, think big, ignore nay-sayers, work your ass off, give back. Don’t have enough time? “Sleep faster”, Arnold advised. After his talked I had the chance to meet Arnold and pose in a photo with him.

Sami Honkonen and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Dambisa Moyo, a macroeconomist, warned us of a an upcoming global recession driven by technology, quality & quantity of labour, natural resources and income inequality. I learned that this year China has become the world’s largest economy, surpassing the US. After her talk I bought her book Winner Take All on Kindle since I felt I need to know more.

Despite an audience of more than 5000, Tony Fernandes was so relaxed it felt like he was talking to a couple of friends. He told his amazing story on how he bought AirAsia with 25 pennies and took on 10 million in debt. He managed to turn the company into a very successful low-cost carrier. He talked about how every employee has his phone number and how he makes himself approachable by dressing casually. Even though he’s the CEO and a multimillionaire, Fernandes said he works frequently as cabin crew, check in counter, and baggage handler to understand his company better.


During questions a mother told Fernandes about her daughter who wants to be a pilot. Out of the blue, Fernandes offered to pay for their trip to Malaysia to visit the AirAsia pilot training center. The mother went up on stage and hugged Fernandes. It was a pretty unforgettable moment.

Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on how schools kill creativity has 29 million views, the highest of all TED talks. His talk was stand-up comedy and great content in the same package. To me, probably thanks to confirmation bias, it seemed like most of the talk was on systems thinking. He explained how businesses are not mechanistic and instead more like organisms. He emphasized the importance of an environment that fosters creativity. Creativity, Robinson said, is not a characteristic that some are born with and others aren’t. We all have imagination and creativity is simply the act of putting that imagination to work towards an end result.

Speakers for next year were already announced. I’m most interested in hearing the stories of Arianna Huffington and Garry Kasparov.

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