Why I do what I do – my personal story

Hey there,

Glad to have you here behind the scenes with me. I’m basically a happy guy with a lot of energy who looks at life in a positive way. I’m very curious so I love to develop and test new things. And I have done many different things in life and I’ve learned new things from a lot of different sources. I’ve tested things, failed and gotten a lot of bruises. I’ve had many bumps in life but also many victories.

I’m a serial entrepreneur and I have started 7 different businesses (besides 10 years of career climbling in the corporate world). I’ve had my current business with my colleague and wife Anette since 2001.The reason I changed career was simply because it was time!

But let’s back up a minute and I’ll share my story. The good. The bad. And the ugly.

My career in speaking and as a workshop leader actually started in the morning rush hour when I was going from the suburb where we lived into the city where I worked. And one morning it dawned on me: I’ve had 8 different bosses in two years! I was just on my way to a meeting with my new boss (number 8) and I was thinking about what was going to happen.

For different reasons the company had been going through some tough times. And during the last two years I had reported to eight different people. During all of this I had the same title: Marketing Manager.

But my job was, to say the least, varied because all eight bosses had a different view on what I was supposed to do. One of them thought that the Marketing Manager was an important person so I ended up in the Management Team and was responsible for all revenues from ads, online activities and subscriptions. It was fun and exciting. I felt valued, important and needed.

But when the next boss showed up I could quickly end up in a completely different position. This boss wanted all responsibility for himself. And I ended up in the basement where I counted subscription coupons.

This was a little less exciting and fun. For some reason, I felt not so appreciated, important or needed anymore. After that came the next boss and I was again given new duties and responsibilities. Now I was on my way to meet boss number eight and I was hoping that I would come up from the basement and get a little more challenging tasks.

It was morning rush hour and all the cars were, as usual, completely still. So I had lots of time to think. It would be interesting to meet my new boss. Where would I end up this time? Would I be in the management team or would I stay in the basement counting coupons? How did my life get this way in the first place?

My career had been pretty straightforward. But now it had taken a sudden turn for the worse. First a new CEO and then half of the company was sold. This had started the carousel. Instead of a bombproof career I was thrown about like a tiny boat on a stormy sea. Here I was sitting in queues every morning, on my way to a job that was no longer fun.

Also, I had been in these queues for several years and it was getting a bit boring. My thougths were scattered. I felt that I had been taugth to think like everybody else by well meaning teachers, parents and friends. But the way I was thinking was almost guaranteed not to take me where I wanted to go. Plus, it was my own fault because I never questioned whether this type of thinking was right or wrong.

Just to make something clear: The life I had created was not entirely wrong. I had worked long and hard to create the life I had. The only problem was that it was not right!

I had chosen to go to the University and then make a classic career for my self. All my life everybody said that it was important to get a good education and a safe and secure job. And now I had it.

I had a good job in a medium sized company where I could stay for many years. I had a family and large overheads. I had a job with just enough challenge. I had bought a house in a quiet residential suburb, and during the days I spent time with driven people in their careers. Life was very pleasant.


I had done everything "right."

I studied so that my grades would be good enough to get into the University to study engineering. People around me said this was a good choice to because the education was quite broad so I could become anyhting! It actually was an amazing education. There was only one problem. I had no interest in engineering! I wanted to sell and do business. So the first job I applied to was not an engineering job. It was a sales job where I could meet a lot of nice people, solve their problems and make money. But the only person who thought that I was good att selling was me. No one wanted to hire me. After a lot of job applications I finally found someone who believed enough in me to offer me a job.

My first real job was as a fire extinghuisher sales man, knocking door to door. Far from the strength calculations I did in the University. Here I learned new things like getting in the door. You can’t sell fire extinghuishers outside peoples homes. You have to get inside the house and demonstrate to sell.

I also learned things like needs analysis, how to handle the most difficult objections before they reach the surface and closing the deal. It as simply a great course in the noble art of selling. I got a new view of myself and how people makes decisions. In a couple of months I reached really good sales levels.

This made me feel like a king in the sales area. And I got a lot of new ideas about how I could use selling in my life. This led me to my first entreprenurial adventure. I started a company with my friend Robert. We called it Flex Trading. We had the ingenious idea that we would buy things cheaply from abroad and sell the same things in Sweden for a higher price. Pretty soon we discovered three things:

  1. There were others who had this idea before us, and …
  2. It was easier to buy expensive and to sell cheap then the other way around.
  3. It is difficult to make money by buying things and stock them in a warehouse because it will cost you even more money.

Plus, as inexperienced business men we got into a lot of strange business deals. For example: One time Robban managed to get an order for 1 000 basket balls from the Polish basketball team who needed new training equipment. A great deal! After some research we found cheap basket balls in China. Then the problems showed up.

The Poles wanted to pay in Zlotys after they got the shipment of basket balls. And the Chinese wanted to be paid in advance. Plus, they insisted that the 1 000 balls would be pumped up before they shipped them. In hindsight, we were probably lucky that we never managed to complete the transaction.

Risks, failures, but most of all fun!

We made no money but we learned new things and developed our business understanding at lightning speed. We took the risk, we failed, but most of all we had fun! And it was among the best lessons I’ve received in terms of sales and business acumen.

After a number of business adventures, I concluded that it probably wouldn’t hurt with a little formal education, so I applied to the University to study for an MBA. After a slow start (because of all student parties) I took my diploma with specialization in marketing and graduated straight into unemployment. People had told me that with a good education you will never be unemployed. But when I graduated there was a recession and nobody was interested in a rookie Marketing Specialist.

Then one day when I sat in my student and thinking about what people would pay me money for. It struck me that I was pretty good with computers. Now at this time computers wasn’t as ordinary as they are today. In fact, I was the first person who bought a computer in my class and I had taken 10 points of ADB (automatic data processing). My idea was this: Since there were a recession there would be a lot of unemployed people who needed education. And computers seemed to be the wave of the future. If I could convince the unemployment agency that people could get jobs more easily if they knew how to handle a computer then I could make a lot of money. So I started my second business. I called it Mac Learn and we offered courses on how to work with a computer and ADB.


My first course almost turned into disaster!

This still sends chills down my spine …

When I held my first course I had totally miscalculated how long my material would take to teach. So after the first half of the day I didn’t have anything more to teach my students. When they went out to lunch I almost panicked. I had four hours left with zero training material. Good luck Ola! But I snapped together new training material and excersises in a blink of an eye and the students actually liked the afternoon even better. I earned some money now, learned a lot and above all I hade fun!

Okay – let’s take a breather from basketballs, higher education an my business adventures. When I was sitting in my car that morning thinking about my meeting with my new boss (number eight) I was happy in my personal life. I had just met my soon to be wife Anette. I closed the business and moved to Stockholm. I had a new, very nice job at a bigger company. I worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder pretty fast. We had a nice house in one of the suburbs of Stockholm. I thought that the future was bright. The only thing I needed to do was to work hard and stay loyal to the company I work for and everything would turn out nice. In short: I was living a good and comfortable life.

But it wasn’t fun. Why didn’t I feel successful?

I had done all the "right" things, but suddenly I found myself in a situation that I didn’t like. I was sitting in traffic jams on the way into a job that I didn’t like so much anymore, but I stayed because we had loans and mortages to pay every month. And I hadn’t figured out a way to take care of my family any other way. I had just married Anette, the love of my life and we had two small boys. We had lots of fun together and our life was filled with short and long trips and so many adventures that young children allows. So on the private side, I was more than satisfied and felt very successful. But I felt very unsuccessful in my career.

Easy for you to say!

So I sat in my car thinking about what I should do with my life. I had the CD player on. I turned it of. I had been listening to an inspirational CD that I bought since I was dissatisfied with my work and my career. It was an American success guru who spoke on the CD:s. I wanted to see if he could fire me up. He was a true success guru who had done the most amazing things. I liked the CD:s, but now I sat in my car muttering, "That’s easy for you to say. But what should I do?”. I am not a former European champion in golf, I have never had an eating disorder, I have never sailed across the Atlantic by myself or had a serious illness. I was born with both arms and legs in an upper middle class home in Gothenburg. I’m just a regular guy with a dream to have a bit more fun in life. And I have realized that life is too short to spend in traffic jams. And I have a burgeoning ambition to do something about it.

A strange thought entered my mind ...

What if I started studying success? What if I started reading all the books I could find, go to lectures, courses and workshops? What if I discovered what successful people really did – what would I learn then?

This was a swindling idea to me. I wanted to find out all the things nobody told me in school. I wanted to know the things my mom and dad never really got to know (probably because their parents didn’t know). And I wanted to know what the student counsler definetely did not know. I wanted to find out what success really is. I wanted insights and wisdom that would make me happy and satisfied with life.

On one track on the CD the American guru said that the key is to find what I’m passionate about doing and then life would always be fun. Aha – I thougth! What if it is that simple? Find something that feels challenging and fun again. I liked that image in my head. It felt good. And I thougth life really is about having fun.

I started to study success. Hard. Every minute I had left after work and family time was spent on books, courses, workshops and lectures. Soon I started to see results in my own life and started to help other business become more successful, easier, faster while having more fun.

Today I have worked with over 900 CEO:s and thousands upon thousands of employees as a speaker and as a workshop leader.

Here are a few comments from my customers:

For me this course has been a game changer. I feel more relaxed. More joyful. And everything from my personal life to my business life has become easier and less stressful. You get a different attitude about yourself, your problems and your opportunities when you go through this course. You also get a more relaxed relationship with your coworkers, your friends and your family.
Alex Stendahl, CEO, Infosolutions AB

I really enjoyed this course, like all the courses that I’ve taken with Ola. This course was different though since it gave me just 3 simple tools that I can use in my everyday life to make better decisions, be more creative and react to stuff that happens without getting stressed out. My biggest take aways are that I feel a lot more confident and strong now. Not in a cocky way, but in a relaxed and joyful way. Now most things don’t feel that serious. I have another attitude towards life and business. It feels even more fun, more adventurous and easier in every way.
Knut Ander, CEO, Elite AB

This is the first time that I went home from a leadership training feeling that I don’t have more to do. I can do less and still succeed. What I like most about Ola’s speeches and workshops is that it is straight to the point without a lot of fluff. They have made my life easier in a lot of different ways. For example, I feel less stressed, I am able to focus more easily, I have gotten more energy for other things than work, I have a new, more relaxed attitude towards life and it has taught me to trust my self. My favorite part is that they don’t contain a "method”, "techniques”, "models” or other stuff that doesn’t really work in real life. Now I focus on what I can do, what I can influence and it has made my life a lot easier.
Roine Aronsson, CEO, Gundes Färg

But starting in this profession wasn’t easy.

In fact, I almost gave up my first month in business.

I started my business two days after 9/11. And business was slow. Really slow.

I made the classic mistake of thinking that customers would be knocking on my door as soon as I was open for business. But the telephone wasn’t ringing. So now I was in a situation were money was going out and no money coming in. Not good. So I did what I recommend all my clients.

I became proactive. I started calling clients and setting up meetings. It started pretty good. But in November of 2002 I was broke. No money for christmas presents. No money for the bills. But there were light in the end of the tunnel because in January I had a lot business and a lot of money coming in. I just had to survive for six more weeks.


And then disaster struck …

All of my workshop and speeches were cancelled by my clients. All of them. All money that was suppose to come in was gone. All gone.

I just sat at home shaking. I didn’t dare to do anything. My confidence hit rock bottom. The only thing I had left was one business meeting. So I said to myself, "You have to get business out of that meeting. Otherwise you will not be able to provide for your family”.

The meeting was at 11 o’clock. On the way there I thougth, "I hope they don’t like me and I hope they don’t want to go to lunch because I only have 200 kr left and I have to put gas in the tank”. I enter the elevator and press floor 4. And now I panicked. I had promised my wife to pick up the kids. In my minds eye I could see them crying in front of the kindergarten. I started to sweat. The CEO came to greet me when the elevator door opened. And then it hits me like a brick. Just focus on the customer. Don’t think about anything else. Make this into a really good meeting. And it was. The customer didn’t buy anything though. But that didn’t matter.

Because I learned something important. I learnad not being afraid anymore. Not being afraid of being broke. Not being afraid of being a failure. And it changed everything for me. I stopped being afraid.

So I started thinking about how I could fix this situation. Where is the fastest and easiest way to the money? It was of course all the companies that had cancelled my workshop and speechees. So I called them up and asked, "Does your situation get better because you are not hiring me?”.

All of them say no. So we booked new meetings and most of them found solutions so that they could hire me. I got my customers back! And now I was on a roll. In april 2001 we had our best month ever. Things can change fast …

But it is crazy to be afraid. You lock yourself in the basement. Don’t do that. Face your challenges with grace and dignity. All of us have so called problems. They are nothing to be afraid of.

After that experience my business went up, up and up.

But last year I decided to give myself a new challenge.

So I took a step back. Was what I was doing true? Was it right?

I dropped everything to be true to myself and to be true to our clients.

I discovered that most of what we were doing were true and right. But som small things needed to change so that we could help our clients even better. That’s when I discovered the 3 insights. You can read more about them here. The 3 insights have had a big impact on me and on my clients. And I’m very happy that I discovered them. Now I’d like to share them with you. They have changed my life, my clients life and they will change yours.

We are specialised in helping good managers and entrepreneurs become exceptional leaders.

Okay – so now do you know a little bit more about me.

But what exactly am I helping people with?

In my speeches I am showing people how they can simplify their thinking with the three insights that I mentioned earlier. This makes both their personal and professional life much easier. And reaching your goals becomes a breeze instead of a struggle.

During the last 5 years I have also been conducting a six month course for people who want to start their own businesses. Right now around 250 people have been attending this course. I love running this course! There is nothing like hanging around motivated people who want to make things happen.

Also, my customers say that I am an expert in helping individuals and companies to find meaningful goals and reach them. This actually started when I was responsible for a training called, ”Business development for small and medium size businesses”. When I was running this course I discovered that most CEO:s don’t set goals. They just add forecasts based on what they have done earlier instead of going for what they really want. So one time I started barking at them. I said, ”Everything you think you know about setting goals is wrong!”. And to which they replied, ”Well, If you are so god dam good at setting goals why don’t you teach us that?” That’s when I started conducting lectures, workshops and trainings in the art of setting goals and how to reach them. I also created a lot of training materials that simplify the whole process of setting meaningful goals. This has been a fantastic journey for a lot of people. Here’s a few comments …

I set the goal when I met you the first time. I will reach it, but in a different way and a little later than I intended. But 400% better result is not so bad even if you have to wait two months longer than planned.
Kind regards, Leif Österberg

I just want to thank you, because you have, in a very short time , actually with only a few words, made ​​me think in a completely different way . I already know that I will be a winner because I have made the decision that I will be. The interesting thing is that this will come true much faster with your help. Life is short and we need to act NOW ! Not later ! Do it and do it now ! It will be very interesting to see what will happen next. Thanks Ola !
Sincerely, Ola Fabiansson

I want to thank you for your coaching and the important lessons that you shared with me in your courses. It has been a big reason why everything went so well . Just making the decision to invest my own money on a self development course is a big and important step . And what I learned is still with me. I changed my attitude and approach to life and how to handle adversity. This is the best investment I have ever made!Thank you !
Best Regards Marcus Svinhufvud

I got such a nice energy boost by your training! I looked at my goals, adjusted them so that they felt new and attractive. And as it looks right now I am going to reach my goals of 2014. What became clear to me was that you should really think through what you want and be careful with what you write as your goals.I think everyone should go to this training, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons. Everyone should work more with themselves! The content is easy to understand and it is simple to get going. Everyone who goes to this training will get something out of it. Everyone will grow. And everyone will think new thougths that will give them curage to take new steps regardless of which staircase they choose. Thank you so much Ola!
Sincerely Sandra Dahlgren, Lycksele

The online course made ​​me realize that I haven’t set goals before. I just made ​​a forecast, a survival prognosis. When I realized that I started to set real goals, higher goals. This made me get out of my comfort zone quite a bit, but I have achieved much higher goals than ever before!To invest in yourself and gain more knowledge is the best investment you can make to get better results and develop yourself. The program is easy to understand and takes you step by step forward by making you concious about what is important to do and how you change your attitude. You will also become realize that you are in control and that you can do it if you want to and that you should do it now!
Thanks for the insights! Susanne Brandin

I worked for a number of years on only helping people setting goals and reaching them. But after a while i realized that setting goals is only a small part of what is important when it comes to having fun and perform better. We all need a broader perspective and new insights into how our minds work if we want to have more fun and a more meaningful life. If we get clear on what we want then we will naturally relax more. And when we relax more we get more creative. And this makes us perform much better than if we are stressed out all the time. Even if we run into bad circumstances we can keep calm and still be productive, happy and relaxed. I call this new way of seeing the world the 3 insights.

Here’s a quick description of the insights:

1. The Objective

When I talk to people during my speeches, workshops and lectures I’ve noticed that people in general do not set goals. What people do is that they hope that this year will be better than last year. At least it won’t be as bad as last year, they seem to think, because that would be boring. So they hope, but the do not take time to really figure out what they really want and they never think about how fun it would be to reach their goals. I think setting goals is important. But many people have bad feelings about setting goals and that has to do with a misunderstanding. Because if we back up a bit, the reason for setting goals, for most people, is to feel that you have accomplished something, that you have grown as a person. That you know feel happier and more joyful. Happy because you have accomplished something, or gained something or managed to do something that they didn’t think they could do.

The problem people who set goals experience is that they focus so much on the goal that they forget to be happy now. They just work towards the goal. What if the trick is to go the other way around? Be happy now instead of later, because if you are you will gain access to much more of your potential and you will get much better results in everything you do. Plus, you will have more fun! I think we can all do that by having meaningful personal goals. By that I mean that you set your own personal goals that actually is something that you want to do. Not that you take orders from someone else about what you ”should” do.

2. The elevator

As we move towards our personal and meaningful goal it is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult. Do you sometimes feel different when you wake up in the morning? Most of the time everything is actually the same as before, but it feels different. So some days you just want to take the whole world in your arms. You know that it will be a really good day and it feels like everyone wants you well. And other days you wake up with a bad feeling in your stomach. Everything feels heavy and it doesn’t matter what you do because everything is going to hell anyway. The interesting thing is that we can feel different although nothing has changed.

We can have the same job, the same boss, the same colleagues, the same work, the same wife or husband, the same children - yes, even the weather can be the same. But it feels different some days! The only thing that has changed is our thoughts! Our thoughts about the circumstances right now. Here’s how I see it. It is the circumstances that is our life. Things happen all the time. Everybody has their own circumstances (that aren’t like anyone elses). And another thing is that these circumstances are nor good nor bad. They just are. It is the way you think about and value your circumstances that makes you experience them as good or bad.

This is like being in an elevator. When you feel good you are at the top floor. You have a vision for your life, you see clear alternatives, you feel calm and that you can handle anything that happens. And sometimes the elevator is going down. Then you are stuck in the basement. The only thing you see i darkness. No options and no improvement whatsoever. I have a picture in my head how all this hangs together.

I think our natural approach to life is to feel good, joyful and happy. Just look at a small child. They are just happy, with or without a reason. They see life as an adventure and they feel happy to participate and discover things. We also have this ability and when we use it, we are in the zone. This is where you have access to all the good things in life. When you are in the zone you feel prosperous, successful, energized, happy and loving. This is the place where you are both effective and creative and everything feels effortless. At this place you are relaxed and you get your best ideas without any effort. You know how you can solve things and you have clarity in everything you do. This is you at your best. Everything goes your way easily. We all have access to this state. It is a default setting in us all and it is free for everyone to use.

But sometimes we don’t see this. Dark thougths enter our minds. You get frustrated, you find excuses, you get anxious, stressed out, fearful, angry, envious, etc. All these bad feelings lead to bad results. The trick is to know where in the elevator you are. Are you on the way up or on the way down? When you get concious of this you can start to control your state and soon your are more in the zone and spend less time in the dark basement

3. The truth

What is the truth? Is there really one truth? I don’t think there is an absolute truth. I think it is our thoughts that creates our truth. Here’s an example. Let’s say that the CEO of a company brings all employees together in a room because he wants to give everybody the same information. And let’s say that he announces that the company has been sold. This information will create different feelings and thoughts in different people.

Some will think, ”At last! Finally there will be some order here!”. And someone else might think, ”Oh my god. What on earth will happen now? Am I going to be fired? Probably. The new owners won’t like me. Damn it! I need my job!”. And someone else might think, ”This is great news. Now I have a chance to get the corner office with the big windows”.

Same information, but it is interpreted in different ways depending on how we think.

There may not be any real truth. All we have are our thoughts. And the ability to ride the elevator. For me, there are some fundamental truths and one of them is that you do not need to change anything. You were born perfect and you are still perfect with an enormous ability and potential. All you have to do is to get a little bit better at riding the elevator. And in all my speeches, workshops and lectures I teach you how you can become a master at riding your elevator.

So, that was a short introduction to the 3 insights.

I am also an author of two books and co-author of another three books. My own books are ”Aha – it’s simple” and ”The Success Laws” My books are currently only available in Swedish but they are currently being translated into english.

Last but not least I am also a co-founder of ”The National Speakers Association Sweden” where I am currently on the board.

Thank you for reading my story. If you have any questions about my speeches and workshops please contact Anette Wallstrom.