100 Lessons from Billionaires, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Authors, Philosophers… (and 2 years of podcasting)

lessons ludvig sunström

In the last 2 years, my podcast “25 Minuter” with Mikael Sydinglessons ludvig sunström has got +280 reviews and +2M downloads.

This article will explain all my personal insights from doing the podcast, and the +100 lessons I learned from the 20 high-profile guests we’ve interviewed.

No fluff, just the good stuff.

Below: My personal lessons from podcasting for +2 years

Or skip to the +100 guest lessons: >>Here 1



Me and Mikael created a new niche in the Swedish podcast market when we started our podcast “25 Minuter“.

There have since been a number of other Swedish “practical self-development and career” podcasts. It’s a good formula.

Note: We have stopped doing the Swedish 25 Minuter Podcast. For new, English episodes, check out Future Skills,  devoted to preparing you for a future of accelerating change:

Subscribe on: iTunes | Android

Personal lessons from podcasting:

I am a better writer than podcast talker (most popular podcasts are run by comedians and entertainers). Then why have I done so many podcasts? Because it’s fun and you learn a lot. For example:

  • You learn a lot about yourself–and other people. You learn about defective mannerisms and speech tics, you learn to be a better conversationalist 2, you learn to be more interested in other people, and you learn to ask more targeted questions. You also become better at noticing different types of personality types by their communication styles. These are transferable skills that you can use in many other areas of your life and career.
  • There’s something about preparing an episode and then listening to it before publication. Most people say they hate listening to the sound of their own voice, but I don’t. Maybe I’m just narcissistic.
  • It’s fun to experiment with different formulas and ideas that can only be done in spoken format. For not being a professional speaker, I’ve still done many speeches for someone my age. My experience is that podcasting is different from public speaking. They’re related, but I can’t quite put my finger on how they overlap. Podcasting is definitely an acquired skill, you start out stiff as a stick. Public speaking is as well, but in another way. I have naturally good body language from 10 years of martial arts, and since most communication is non-verbal, that helps. But you can’t use body language when you do podcasts. This places more emphasis on tonality, rhythm, and shifting between jokes, storytelling, practical advice, and such things.

lessons ludvig sunström

On the professional aspects of podcasting:

  • The learning curve for podcasting is initially slow (first 10 episodes), but then you learn a lot—and fast. The most dramatic development for me was during episodes 40-80. At 120 episodes, we are still experiencing improvement and paying attention to new things.
  • Sound quality and social dynamics are much better if you record IRL (in the same room) than over the Internet. But I haven’t noticed any significant difference in download numbers. The saying goes, “Content is king” and everything else you do is less important. I believe this. It could also mean that the number of “audiophiles” in the population is negligible (5-10% max).
  • Guest episodes get a LOT more downloads, but sometimes that means nothing. Vanity metrics. How many of those listeners will listen to another episode? How many will be converted into a new subscriber? How many will take action and improve their lives? If you only do guest episodes, you will end up with a fickle fan base.

Would I recommend podcasting for others? 

No, not everyone.

But it’s a golden opportunity to combine your interests with meeting cool people and building an audience.

Are you considering podcasting as a marketing tool for your company?

Then do it in a planned way (like the Kindlepreneur Book Marketing Show). Don’t do a never-ending talk show (as is standard). It’s a waste of time and money. It doesn’t work for companies; only individuals.

Now for my best lessons learned from the guests….

The +100 Lessons I Learned from Billionaires, Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Philosophers


Here they are:

Martin Sandquist – The Truth-Seeker
Ola Ahlvarsson – The Master of Synergy
Martin Berkhan – The Fitness Contrarian
Alexander Bard: The Future-Philosopher
Christer Sturmark – The Rationalist
Martin Borgs – Communications Expert
Edmund Lowman – Rock Star Entrepreneur
Robin Askelöf – Marketing and Branding Expert
Anders Hansen – Physician and Health Author
Börspodden – Sweden’s #1 Finance Podcast
Daniel Richter – Online Fitness Entrepreneur
Per Håkan Börjesson – The Swedish Warren Buffett
Pontus Mähler – Esports Pro
Nicholas Sundén-Cullberg – Financial Innovator
Mai Tai and Nanna Stranne – Fintech Entrepreneurs
Anna Svahn – The Ambitious Networker
Rickard Lagerqvist – The Doctor-Founder
Micael Dahlen – The Crazy Professor
Jonas Tellander – Founder Storytel 


To get you started, here are 3 generally useful lessons:

  • (1) To find new, lucrative niches, take out a pen and paper, draw a straight line and put an existing industry on each end. What would an intersection between the two be? Now imagine this being amplified by technology or the Internet.

Social media ———————– X ——————— Insurance

  • (2) You will live 5-7 years shorter if you don’t exercise each week.
  • (3) Focus more on the relationship than the transaction. The big results come over the long-term, largely from your business partners, collaborators, and extended network. So make an effort to meet high-quality people.

With more than 20 interviews, I had to narrow it down. Still, I tried to go the extra mile by adding interesting (translated) excerpts, as you have been deprived of these episodes and their context (due to Swedish language)….

I’m good at reading books and analyzing stuff, and I used to believe that anything worth learning, I could figure out for myself, but there’s something about Learning from Masters–that you can only do in person.

Let’s get started…..

Martin Sandquist – The Truth-Seeker

Martin Sandquist is the founder of Lynx Asset Management. Lynx is one of the most successful hedge funds in Europe. They’re classified as a CTA and have 70 employees. This has made him a billionaire. Martin is an elusive character, and the first interview he ever did was granted to us.

lessons ludvig sunström

“My main thing is truth-seeking. I’m always looking for what’s true in everything. I think this is very interesting. What is true? There’s so much that people believe is true, that isn’t true. There’s a lack of truth-seeking in our society.” ~Martin Sandquist

Martin is not only an entrepreneur, but also amongst the world elite when it comes to trading. His style is well-rounded, but grounded in a statistical approach. To be honest, I don’t fully understand it. Here’s how he describes it:

I have a library of patterns that I’ve accumulated over the last 30 years of doing this finance stuff. You guys call it commonplacing; to have a place where you record these things. I’ve been using my special patterns since before–and during–my Lynx-time to build systematic [trading] models from.

How to get good at trading and finance?

Start from the outside in and then narrow it down, by experimenting:

…and then, you have 1000 different indicators, 1000 ideas…. Usually, you start out in the “fundamental side” [of finance], as I did, and you read company reports and stuff like that. Then I got into the technical side of it, I’m more visually oriented, so it was more natural for me. I struggled to understand company reports.

Then you start filtering it down to the things that seem to work and provide some type of predictive value. This is when the pruning process begins. You start to remove everything that doesn’t add anything. This is difficult, but you gotta be able to throw out the things that don’t add value to the prediction. A lot of people are using a bunch of stuff that doesn’t have any predictive value. But they’re still using it because it’s convention, or maybe someone else told them it was good, but they never tested it themselves to see if it’s actually good.

Then you need to find your own edge; something that’s uniquely based on your talents and knowledge. Martin said:

Right now, I have 6 portfolios: 3 stock-based and 3 futures-based. These all have very low correlation. That’s how you create a good risk-adjusted yield.

For example, how many people could keep 6 portfolios simultaneously? In addition to that, Martin usually keeps between 50-100 positions at any time. Most people cannot keep track of more than 10. I could never do that.

Now, let’s look at the 5 criteria of Martin’s trading system:

When I started my trading, my goal was (1) to have high absolute return, (2) high Sharpe Ratio, (3) the concept had to scalable, meaning that if I find that it works, I have to be able to double down on it, and (4) it had to have a low correlation with other CTAs. My fifth criteria in doing this was to have FUN! I don’t want to follow every beat of the market. I like to think, do research, and read.

On achieving Expert Pattern Recognition for trading:

“Looking at a graph for 5-10 seconds is enough time for me to know whether to go long or short, because I’ve done this stuff so much that it’s become completely intuitive.”

To learn more about how Martin thinks…

Read my bigger blog post here: Interview with Martin Sandquist, Billionaire Lynx-Founder and Finance Innovator. (Contains: Martin’s 15 recommended books, falsifying hypotheses, views on the economy, global warming, 4th Turning Generational Cycles, and much more…)

Ola Ahlvarsson – The Master of Synergy

Ola Ahlvarsson is a serial entrepreneur (Epicenter, Star Stable, SellBranch), investor, and World Champion in several martial arts. He’s been made a Global Leader of Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum in Davos and has worked with many of the world’s biggest brand companies (Google, IBM, McDonalds, Twitter, Yahoo). He’s one of the best-connected people in Sweden and he also co-owns a Castle.

lessons ludvig sunström“I have built myself up to the point where ideas come to me.”

~Ola Ahlvarsson

Here are my top lessons from Ola:

  • You don’t need an original idea to become a successful entrepreneur. (“I met Bertil Hult from EF at a dinner. He said he hadn’t had a single unique idea in his life. But, he’s the best at copying and escalating–and that’s another sort of entrepreneurship.”)
  • However, if you want to become a serial entrepreneur, you should master skills such as: sales, branding, management, and value chain analysis.
  • Choose a scalable business model based on technology. This is where the money is. (Ola is heavily into tech businesses, and Epicenter is a beehive for successful online scale-ups.) The opposite of a scalable business model is a driving school.
  • Future-proof skillset: The new type of leadership. (“It used to be that the business leader or manager was like the conductor of an orchestra; now it’s more like a jam session, where you gotta get people to identify a shared vision.”)

My favorite thing from Ola’s book “Mission Possible”

New opportunities are created through:

–New technology [Block-chain]

–New communication [Social media]

–New customers [3 billion people going to use the Internet]

–New markets [countries/demography]

–New networks [Sime, Epicenter]

–New chaos [current world order]

For more, read the full blog post here: Ola Ahlvarsson: Master of Synergy. And learn about Ola’s 2 books, the hype curve, conspiracy theories, etc.

Martin Berkhan – The Fitness Contrarian

Martin Berkhan is the Originator of Intermittent Fasting – the 16/8 method (see Leangains.com). He can deadlift more than 310 kg–and that’s without straps. As you know, I am a huge proponent of fasting. My body transformation (getting ripped in 2 years) was modeled mainly on Berkhan’s fitness approach, with a slight psychological twist.

It’s not easy to achieve perfect aesthetics (5-8% body fat) and elite lifts and then to maintain it, but it is easy to stay in good shape all-year long. This can be done with Martin’s approach.

If your fitness fundamentals aren’t already dialed in, take 1-2 hours to really read (and take notes) on Martin’s masterpiece article “Fuckarounditis“. It’s so good that I credited it in BOOH.

Some lessons from Martin Berkhan:

  • Martin has one of the best physiques on the planet. He structures his workouts around a protocol he calls Reverse Pyramid Training. In his own words: RPT is the reverse, starting heavy and finishing high, which makes a hell of a lot more sense. Why engage the heaviest loads, using compromised technique and underperforming because you’re fatigued from previous sets? Sounds like a recipe for injury and shitty results.. –I have used this for my workouts the last 4 years. To learn more, you can read his comprehensive guide.
  • As a man, the best way to “toughen up” (and build self-esteem) is to master a craft. Then you will be automatically incentivized to discipline yourself. It is psychologically demoralizing to be a dilettante.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you can get drunk and go to the gym. It’s not optimal, but it’s still better than nothing. As per Martin’s second most famous article, if you plan on getting drunk, keep fat intake to a minimum that day. (Inversely: When you get drunk, never eat junk food.)
  • If you’re a consultant or personal coach, screen clients beforehand. It’s impossible to motivate some people. Understand that people who achieve results (at anything) will already be motivated. All you can do, is draw out their best.
  • Don’t confuse popularity or fame with real skill and knowledge (domain expertise). A lot of people who are seen and talked about are mainly talented at self-promotion and social media. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the paradigm we’re in. But don’t confuse the two.

You can also read my article about Originators & Distributors, which was inspired by Berkhan.

Alexander Bard: The Future-Philosopher

Alexander Bard is a philosopher, most famous inside Sweden for having been the host of Swedish Idol. He got his business degree from Stockholm School of Economics, then he became a music star, founding popular groups (Army of Lovers, Alcazar, Bodies Without Organs). He has written several books (Netocracy=my favorite). It’s easy to be opinionated about Bard, but his knowledge should not be disputed. He is also a fun guy to talk to, and good at making you THINK.

lessons ludvig sunström

I recently talked to a former mentor, and he said, “ask Bard what new Future Trends he has seen”.

Future-lessons by Alexander Bard:

  • Your network is the most important asset you have.
  • Politicians are increasingly losing power to netocrats and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
  • The benefit of social media is that it has led to more targeted content by matching talent to audience. This makes a media platform grow. When talent becomes outcrowded by idiots, the platform loses value. (Ex: Instagram is now quickly turning into what MySpace was before it collapsed–overpopulated by shit content from attention-seeking people.)
  • Now find growth industries: The new fastest growing companies have been intersecting middle-points of two established industries. (Hotels | AirBNB | Hostels)
  • Future trends: We’ll see more migration/mobility, less ownership (of apartments and cars), less long-term contracts, higher rents, more short-term structures, and business models.
  • 3 Future industries Bard believes will sprout up in the next 10 years: (1) “Therapeutic Retreats” = a combination of hotels, gyms, spas, cloisters, with specific coaches. (2) “Curators”: People who have industry knowledge (birds’ eye perspective) and can pick and choose what’s useful for others to know, and then distribute that info. He says: The value paid for is changed from production to (relevant) distribution. (3) “Experience Design”, being able to create very specific experiences for people who can—and will—pay up big bucks. The most normal example would be to create cooler offices, where people enjoy working, that increase productivity or serendipitous encounters.

Note on experience design:

I have big ideas on this area. I can make cool offices because I understand the human brain (however, I do not know design principles or architecture).

But first I must get a castle and/or construct my own Homeostasis Breaking House. The HB-house will make the act of living a challenge. To get to my office, you will be forced to walk on tight ropes, do Tarzan Swings, climb walls, and get through a maze of traps (which will be programmed for randomness, each day). This will force me to BOOH before beginning a day’s work.

Christer Sturmark – The Rationalist

Christer founded a number of companies during the 90s Internet era, the biggest one being Cell Network, which he sold for a hefty profit. He has since become a book publisher (Fri Tanke Förlag) for scientific and philosophic books (they publish Nick Boström’s books). He’s in charge of The Humanists (a movement for rational thinking; as opposed to organized religion). He’s also friends with many of the top scientific thinkers, such as Richard Dawkins.

lessons ludvig sunström

Some lessons from Christer:

  • Today’s programmers and IT entrepreneurs are in for a treat. They have low-hanging fruits to pick all day long. (“We had to create all these modules ourselves from scratch, now you can use APIs and what have you…”) This is an area where synthesis pays.
  • Recommended book: “Eternal Golden Braid” (Gödel Escher Bach). This book made Christer think “this is for me – I’m gonna study computers and programming!”  Then he became good at the programming language LISP. (“It’s incredibly beautiful if you’re into mathematically elegant formulas…. You build recursive functions—like adding lego blocks.”) Then he became one of the first Swedish IT entrepreneurs.
  • From Christer’s experience as Head of the Humanists: people need to be more rational, but this is difficult to ask of people. Quite the opposite. We are seeing the rise of far more religions and extremist ideologies….. than scientific belief. (“We’re living in an era where opinions are “OK”… a post-modern truth-relativistic time…. where it’s about what feels true, rather than what is proven to be true..”)

Interview excerpt:


Christer: We are ruining a generation of young people with this indoctrination.

Ludvig: Is it hard to go against this type of political correctness?

Christer:  Yes, it can be. And when it has to do with the school system, it’s extra sensitive when it comes to certain areas, like religion and the evolutionary theory. And, as it seems now, when Sweden is getting more immigrants, we are getting more people who believe in “Creationism”. Large parts of the Muslim world are creationist. They don’t believe in evolution. The same goes for the devout Christians. This makes for a sensitive situation for teachers [in school]….  Here we have two hypotheses for how reality works, but they are not equivalent. One has more proof. But many teachers don’t dare to say this. So many teachers say ‘here are two ways to look at the world and you can choose whichever one you want to believe in’. If you have this type of view about science, we might as well shut down the school system.

Ludvig:  Hm, yeah. I think it is a big problem in Swedish culture that people are afraid to say something wrong, to avoid offending people, even in situations where it’s actually important to be right.


Martin Borgs – Communications Expert

Martin Borgs is in charge of the Moderates’ (Swedish Political Party) digital national election campaign. He has worked as a communications consultant, doing bespoke assignments. He has written the book “365 ways to waste your tax paying money” and also made a popular documentary about it (“Someone Else’s Money”). He has also created a Shame Museum for the worst wasters of tax payer money. This is great.

lessons ludvig sunström

Communication lessons from Martin:

  • WWJBHD? “What would Josiah Bartlett have done?” This is the question Martin asks himself many times each week while leading the election.
  • Light vs dark side: Based on a person’s characteristics and the situation they’re in, they can be seen from a good side or a bad side. Here are some archetypical examples Martin gave:

1) Göran Persson (famous PM) was extrovert and dominant. This is a LION. But the shadow side of that, is the BUFFALO. In his best moments, he was a lion alpha male, and in his worst moments he came across as a buffalo bully.

2) If you are a dominant introvert, then you are a DOLPHIN. You can be seen as a fun leader who makes others feel appreciated. But the shadow side of that is that you can also be seen as a clown MONKEY.

3) If submissive and introvert, then you can be seen as a trustworthy WORKING ANT. The shadow side of that is to be a scared MOUSE.

  • Book recommendation: Made to Stick – the framework SUCCES works for crafting all sorts of messages (speeches, writing, even social media): Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Story.
  • One of Martin’s job responsibilities is to evaluate the people in the Moderate Party and see where they have an advantage in communication, and then help them double down on that. Could be: Person-to-person, social media, writing, drawing etc.

Ludvig insight: Think the opposite. For example, people who are ugly probably won’t be successful making YouTube videos or using Snapchat. But if they have good ideas, they can use another medium.

Interview excerpt:


Martin: There is what we see, and what we don’t see….as Bastiat says. In this case, we see the interview, but we don’t see what would’ve happened if the person had given [an even worse] answer to the question.

Ludvig: I really like that Bastiat reference, about the candle-maker…!

Mikael: Yes, we mentioned this before as one of our weekly resources. The Bastiat Essay about What is Seen vs Not Seen.

Martin: That’s what I referenced to earlier about the tax payer thing we discussed!! What would’ve happened wth that money, if it had stayed with the people?

Ludvig: Right. That’s alternative cost.

Martin: Indeed.

Ludvig: And the problem is that people think don’t think about these things in a higher order feedback loop sense. To begin with, they probably don’t think about it as alternative cost… at all. So that’s a goner. Then you have, maybe, 5% of the population that considers the alternative cost. Then you have maybe 0,1% that thinks about how that money might have been invested long-term, with some smart person.

Martin: Then I feel privileged to sit next to the two people who belong in the 0,1%.


Edmund Lowman – Rock Star Entrepreneur

Edmund is a serial entrepreneur, former rock star (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) and the worst party animal I have met. He owns the largest hostel chain in Thailand, Slumberparty Hostel. He also runs IFG, a fashion company, and Kekai Express, an international product sourcing company.

lessons ludvig sunström

Edmund has a genius for differentiation. If you ever do business consulting with him, I’d get his advice on that.

He also knows a thing or two about online business, and here’s something he said about making money on the Internet:

There’s so many people on the Internet these days who’re like, ‘ hey you’re gonna sit on the beach and drink Martinis and have passive income and work from your computer’ — and — no, you fucking can’t. So, whoever’s listening to this and thinks that’s what you’re going to do, you’re not. That’s not how it works. What happens is, you fuckin’ kill yourself for 3 or 4 years, maybe 10 years, and THEN you can do that shit, and hopefully you make money still. And that’s the reality.

Entrepreneur lessons from Edmund:

  • #1 simple entrepreneur advice: Build a business targeting people like yourself (could be a younger you). This takes all the guess-work out of your marketing. Edmund has partied and travelled more—way more—than most people… so, Slumberparty hostel was a no-brainer for him.
  • For entrepreneurs with small, but fast-growing businesses: (“This is important: before your business has 20 employees, you’ll go through 3 phases, where each one is a power-struggle. If the company survives these 3 phases, the work dynamic will become more stable, and you—as the owner—can relax more.”)
  • Advice: Go travel the world. Acquire cultural capital. Know different cultures, it will supercharge your social skills and make you comfortable in most environments. It will also enable you to be less biased about where you live.
  • Edmund’s biggest mistake in business: He bought a factory in China, and it turned out to have a bunch of production issues! He should’ve done some serious due diligence (and asked people who know how factory production is done) but he did not. He loved the idea so much that he rationalized it, and thought everything would be OK.

For more, listen to the interview. This is our only English episode on 25 Minuter. We talk about his life as a rockstar, becoming an entrepreneur, how Edmund makes money off of partying people, and what makes for a fun night club.

Robin Askelöf – Marketing and Branding Expert

Robin Askelöf has a long career in marketing, branding and communication. He’s worked at JKL (same marketing firm as Göran Persson), been a branding consultant, and more. He is now head of marketing for Hypergene, and part of the executive group, one of Sweden’s fastest growing IT companies.

lessons ludvig sunström

Robin dropped a ton of great advice for managers, marketers, consultants, and IT-workers; from succeeding as a graduate to making it to executive top level. Here’s some food for thought:

  • Use your university experience to experiment with many things, and find something that comes to you easily. This may be your strength.
  • When you get your first job, say ”YES” to everything the first few months. This will cement a positive first impression with colleagues, and that will do you a lot of good.
  • Understand who the core customers are. For Robin & Hypergene, this means: “We’re going to pursue the economy bosses of organizations with 200+ employees”. That’s a targeted approach.
  • A lot of the time, when it comes to a big company, YOU HAVE INDIRECT COMPETITIORS. So consider them. And consider this freak example, Mont Blanc; the big pencil company. They thought their main competitor was other pencil companies, but they were wrong. It was luxury items.
  • Two recommended books for those interested in PR and branding: (1) “Start with why” by Simon Sinek – Why are you doing this? Then answer other questions. (2) “Speed of trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey – show people you care and build trust faster.

Anders Hansen – Physician and Health Author

Anders is a senior physician (medical doctor) and psychiatrist. He has talked to many of the top people in medical sciences and written three Swedish books on health: “Hälsa på Recept”, “Hjärnstark” and “Fördel ADHD” and is a regular speaker on health issues. He also has a popular Swedish podcast, Psykiatrikerna.

lessons ludvig sunström

Anders talks about many of the same things I address in BOOH, but his focus is more oriented towards areas of general physical and mental health… whereas my book is hyper-individual and elitistic.

Health lessons from Anders:

  • You will live 5-7 years shorter if you don’t regularly exercise.
  • The most time-effective exercise for busy people who want to improve their brain is interval training. Anders trains for 30 minutes per workout, 3 times per week.
  • Conditioning (running, swimming, team sports) is good for boosting your brain’s associative memory and creativity. Anders recommends almost everyone to have one conditioning workout per week.
  • According to brain research, there’s no significant evidence to prove that “brain apps” are helpful for the brain.
  • Recommended book: Angels of Our Better Nature by Stephen Pinker.
  • We should consider “personality disorders” from a spectrum: A grey scale. Not black, not white. We all have some degree of ADHD, Bipolarity, Autism. Some are further along these spectrums than others. Also: we, as a society, ought not to label these people unfit and put them on medications (for not wanting to fit into the mainstream, or disliking the school system), but rather take it as a constructive critique that “modern” society needs to be updated.
  • Two evolutionary mismatches that Anders reminds himself of, to avoid being tricked by, are (1) not to sit still or lie down for long enough to get stuck in homeostasis and then not wanting to move or work, and (2) that he is more likely to die driving his car or riding his bike than he is from a terrorist attack at an airport.

Anders predicts that when more work roles become automatized, it may lead to a spike in depression and new psychological disorders. I believe this too: Read BOOH, “My Dark Prediction of the Future”.

Börspodden – Sweden’s #1 Finance Podcast

Börspodden is Sweden’s largest financial podcast. It is run by Johan Isaksson and John Skogman. They are two former financial pros turned traders.

lessons ludvig sunström

Finance lessons from them:

  • Don’t trust your emotions when it comes to the stock market. For example, when you lose money trading some asset, avoid trying to gain it back the same way. And vice versa: if you own good-performing stocks/assets, keep them. Don’t sell them! As lots of people do, because they want to “lock in” their profits, afraid they may lose them if they don’t sell. Instead, you should sell your worst assets, ASAP.
  • To make money on the stock market, you must know your strength [“Gain an edge”–see Martin Sandquist on top]. Following conventional advice or copying people mindlessly will most likely lose you money.
  • We are living in one of the most hubristic ages. Some people make money trading at an earlier age, and they receive great attention, but they are not time-tested. The best traders are likely to make their run when they are older than 30.
  • Twitter is a popular news medium for traders. Johan & John don’t use it. It’s shallow and not subject to deep analysis. And, unfortunately, it’s fun too, so it’s easy to waste time on it. That’s alternative cost.

Daniel Richter – Online Fitness Entrepreneur

Daniel is the creator of Sweden’s biggest fitness blog, Styrkelabbet and a trained engineer. He is also known as an all-round nice guy.

lessons ludvig sunström

A few lessons from Daniel on online entrepreneurship:

  • On building a big website: It took years. Daniel worked as a fire engineer before quitting. Online entrepreneurship should not be looked upon as different as other businesses, but many people do have some bias for it, not thinking it’s real business.
  • His 2 biggest mistakes: Not putting up an email list when he started and being slow to sell his first product. Both were mistakes of omission. (“I should’ve done it sooner!”)
  • Daniel likes to structure his work by processes, rather than goals. This means to do a few, small things (based on his business) every day.  (this is also how he goes about his readings: consistently 20 pages per day.)
  • Advice to knowledge workers: See if you can manage a stand-up office, even for one or two hours per day.

Per Håkan Börjesson – The Swedish Warren Buffett

Per Håkan Börjesson is the founder of Spiltan Invest. Big businessman and author of two bestselling books on finance. He is often referred to as “the Swedish Warren Buffett”, due to Spiltans’ buy-and-hold strategy in family-owned entrepreneurial companies.

lessons ludvig sunström

Lessons from Per:

  • In our career and when it comes to investing, we overestimate what we can do in a month or one year, but we underestimate the scale effects of a decade’s consistent effort. It’s very hard to mentally project yourself 10 years forward. But do it anyway!
  • Falling in love at first sight while drunk in a bar is foolish nonsense! The best marriages are planned. Like Disraeli and his wife.
  • Per’s Alumni Network has helped him a lot (since 40 years ago when he graduated). He thinks there should be an improved version for ordering, presenting, and organizing of Alumni services by universities, as it is their top sellable service.
  • Favorite book: “Makings of an American Capitalist – Roger Lowestein. Buffett’s bio.
  • People are too hurried. This new generation is seduced by social media. We must not lose the value investor approach; to put money into the pockets of real entrepreneurs, long-term builders, as opposed to get-rich-quick schemers.

Pontus Mähler – Esports Pro

Pontus is a professional gamer (HON) and smart guy. His nickname is: BZlapped.  By age 22 he achieved 10M views from live-streaming at Twitch, 100k subs (18M views) on Youtube, and was involved in 3 gaming businesses. He lives in Bangkok.

lessons ludvig sunström

Lessons from Pontus, all of which I think are generally useful:

  • Position yourself opposite to others within your career niche, and/or in combination with new trends. This is especially important in fast-moving areas like gaming. Create contrast.
  • As a follow-up: Start your streaming channel 5 minutes after some other big person (in the same area) finishes, and then see if some of those viewers will move right on over to your stream.
  • The main reason Pontus went from merely a “good gamer” to Pro-level, is mindset. He paid to go to events, took the initiative to talk to big shots, and told them why they should work with him. (E.g: At Dreamhack, he went straight up to the CEO of Twitch and told him “……… and this is why you need to feature me on your front page and make me a partner!” –and it happened.
  • Networking is important. Really think about whom to know—and then figure out how to meet them. Pontus observes, this is extra powerful in gaming, as most gamers have bad social skills.
  • If you want to work in the gaming industry, know this: it can be as simple as emailing a company and giving them feedback, then continuing the dialog. “Informal hires” are very common. It’s about intiative and caring.

Nicholas Sundén-Cullberg – Financial Innovator

Nicholas is the CEO of Lendify, a new peer-to-peer lending platform. They are perhaps Sweden’s fastest growing Fintech company right now. Nicholas used to work at Morgan Stanley. I only met him once, but got the impression he was clever.

lessons ludvig sunström

If you’re into finance, this will be a treat:

  • Nicholas recommends working at a big company (like Morgan Stanley) the first few years of your career. This will give you a solid foundation of work habits, teach you how to communicate properly via email and phone, and also to manage large projects and deals.
  • 4 Underlying factors of Lendify’s growth (and why Sweden has been a good market for peer-to-peer lending): (1) Transparent taxation system allows for good data—all free to collect. They use this info for their credit model. (2) Banks were neglecting a large segment of credit-worthy consumers. (3) Sweden has “Bank-ID”–which allows for easy integration. (4) Low entry barriers to start. compared to other countries. If we take Britain, for example, they have been doing “peer-to-peer lending” for ~12 years. Entry barriers too high there.
  • Their biggest challenge: To lobby a legal reform (that required more than 200 signings from other financial businesses and institutions) where they were the only driving party. After they managed this, the rest has been less hard.
  • These departments make up their company: (1) Credit function (ensuring their users are screened by their unique credit model and are safe) (2) financing (accounting, factoring, costs/income) (3) Legal (deals and repo). And then the interplay between each apartment.

Mai Tai and Nanna Stranne – Fintech Entrepreneurs

Mai & Nanna started from Chalmer’s Engineer School. They were getting along well, so they did their master’s assignment together. During this time they got the idea for their fintech business—SigmaStocks—and got some big investors, like Lena Apler to invest in it. Their business model is subscription-based. Now they’ve built a team of 15. Nanna is also the female skating champion of Sweden.

lessons ludvig sunström

Lessons to someone wanting to start a fintech company:

  • Does your idea have merit? 3 points of product validation, in terms of potency: (1) People are interested (will click at a website you are advertising), (2) You have proven positive results for your customers. (3) You have paying customers and recurring cash flow. The first can get you an investor if there are enough people interested and you don’t suck at presenting. Paying customers is all the argument you need.
  • Avoiding churn: If you have an online subscription service, customer support is important. Sanna & Mai recommend: (1) What do customers like about it? (2) What makes them stay? (3) What makes someone quit?
  • If you want to apply for financing, be preemptive. Make a fat list of different institutions you can apply and which dates they open up. There are general lists you can easily Google for, but you should put together your own.
  • On investors: This can take a long time, so try to meet them–and build a relationship–before you need them. And, when you do get a deal, it will take longer than expected to get the deal through (you may need to budget ahead).

Anna Svahn – The Ambitious Networker

Anna became the #1 ranked person on the public trading platform Shareville in 2017, then her career took off. She started working with many of the big companies in the Swedish financial industry. She will soon head an investment fund and write a book on networking. (She also took the picture I use on my Twitter & Instagram.)

Lessons from Anna; all about combining:

  • Build networking and meeting new people into your normal routine. (For example: Anna holds a weekly breakfast with exclusive invites.)
  • Strive to combine work with play. Find a way to make your hobbies pay. Start by thinking about how you can make your current project align with one of your long-term goals.
  • Social life doesn’t need to be “unproductive”. When hanging out with friends, get together and try a new activity.
  • Recommended book: Tao te Ching – for becoming more centered.

Rickard Lagerqvist – The Doctor-Founder

Richard is a medical doctor and a serial entrepreneur. Before becoming a doctor, Richard was a “Ski-Bum”, worked at a night club, and owned a restaurant. His biggest business is Wer Labs, which helps people do diagnostic tests without a doctor’s appointment. I use them for my health tests in Sweden. My main concern is that they don’t allow men to do estrogen/estradiol tests.

lessons ludvig sunström

(Speaking of testosterone, I scored 958 ng/dl on my last test 1 month ago. That’s a great score, for your information. Normal range is like 400-1000.)

Lessons from Richard:

  • Career tip to a 20 year old: Don’t choose your education or line of work based on what is expected of you. Do what you want to do and trust that you will figure it out. Especially if you live in Scandinavia, where there are no crazy tuition fees.
  • The most future-proof profession is sales. Human relations will never go out of date. Programmers can make a lot of money early in their career too (age 23-30).
  • Doctors don’t take kindly to patients trying to diagnose themselves. It is an insult to their ego. Due to their  long medical training, they want to believe they know best. Therefore, if you have some health issue, and your doctor insists there is nothing wrong with you, your best bet is to change to another doctor who is more open-minded about alternative treatments. 3
  • How often should you do health tests? Once every 3 years is enough for most people.

If you want to get in touch with Rickard or have him on your company board, the best way to contact him is his Linkedin.

Micael Dahlen – The Crazy Professor

Micael a teaching professor at Stockholm Business School. He has written several books. He became the youngest professor ever in Sweden, at age 32. Then he felt he didn’t have too much to prove, and has been doing crazy stuff ever since. See his Instagram.

A variety of lessons:

  • Prelude to becoming the youngest professor in Sweden: Working almost double time. After doing that for the first few years (after graduating) he figured out the dynamics of what makes for a popular research paper. It goes back to that saying about spending most of the time sharpening the saw, and less time cutting the tree.
  • Mental habit: Think again. When you feel like you’ve had a great idea, let it rest a day or two, think another round and see if you can’t come up with another idea. Many of Micael’s best ideas came up this way.
  • An observation after finishing his killers-book (and interviewing Charles Manson): Killers have a higher baseline for happiness, entitlement, and fame. They were normal people (in terms of accomplishments) who felt they ought to be worshipped, but weren’t. They couldn’t live like that for an extended period of time.
  • Great happiness tip: No sensation will last longer than 3 months. Usually much shorter. The way to feel engaged is to do new things, meet new people, and figure out how to get faster feedback (while doing worthwhile things). 4

That happiness advice is important. Here are some implications:

  • Don’t believe in “enlightenment” or “eternal bliss” or such nonsense.
  • Have a new project planned to replace your current one, or you will feel bored and empty.
  • If you’re 10/10 happy, don’t be upset if you go down to 7 or 8.

Jonas Tellander – Founder Storytel: Sweden’s 4th Fastest-Growing Company

Jonas is CEO & founder of Storytel (“the Swedish Audible”). They had around 360k subs at the time of our interview, now more than 500k. If you want a case study in building wealth fast via e-subscriptions… look no further. This is the definition of a scalable business model (as per Ola’s advice). Note: Jonas is extremely tall (197cm).

lessons ludvig sunström

“Starting a big business is no dance on roses. There will be near-death experiences, and it will be fucking sad in the beginning when no one gets your product. That’s when you have to be so damn driven that you know there is no alternative. This has to happen.” ~Jonas Tellander

Jonas bet it all on one big idea: that the audio book would become as popular as the written book… but Jonas was ahead of his time in predicting this trend (as is often the case for forward-thinking people)…and it took another 5 years…. But, they survived that lag-time…. and now see the results.

Before starting Storytel, he had some clear criteria in his head. The company had to be a technology-based consumer product, and it had to be NEW. So he could be a pioneer.

When we asked how they grew so fast, he said these factors were the growth-drivers:

  1. Based on technology—scalable.
  2. The megatrend with more and more people owning smartphones.
  3. They were first, and had no competition early on.
  4. Strategic acquisitions of competitors and book labels (for their titles).
  5. A simple (international) name. ”Storytel”.

On the importance of exclusive content: Observing the success Netflix had had with their in-house produced series House of Cards, Jonas & his team asked themselves, “How can we do something similar?” This led them to gain exclusive rights to producing the audio version of Legend of the Ice People (a 47-volume fantasy story). This series has become their by-far most popular content, with millions of downloads.

On the importance of having a concept: Storytel Original. They will do one-off 1-hour recordings (audio productions) that only they have. Exclusive rights. Then they use this as a first experiment:

  • Is this a book/story fit for audio recording?
    • If so, is this reader the right person for this story?
      • Does it get a lot of listens/downloads?
        • Let’s make this entire book.

Jonas’s advice to an 18-year old who wants to become an entrepreneur:

Begin with a simple buy-and-sell business that you can do online. Could be Fiverr, dropshipping, eBay, Amazon, or your own brand label. This is the fastest way to learn the ropes. Then keep improving.

I have stopped doing the Swedish 25 Minuter Podcast. For new, English episodes, check out Future Skills, where we give you all the skills needed to thrive in an uncertain future fueled by accelerating change.

Subscribe on: iTunes | Android

For more helpful article, check out my Start Here Page.


I have read all the reviews of Breaking out of Homeostasis, and this is my favorite one, from Amazon UK. It encapsulates just what I was going for:

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  1. This has something for everyone. My advice is: Skim it over fast (5 min) then read the powerful stuff.

  2. something prized in the 1800s, but less so in this day and age.

  3. That would’ve been helpful for me to know when I was 16-21 and had candida.

  4. See my 4 pillars of wakefulness in BOOH


  1. I am curious:

    since you interviewed a lot of very smart and way above-average successful people – most also looking to be in good shape:

    how many of these people have kids or want kids in their lives?

    I mean if the future is going to be so great and they have the money and life figured out – what would prevent them from having a good old family with 2 kids?

    that would be a great question to all your interview guests imho.

    • Hey Boris,

      More than half have children (two of which got it recently).

      How many of the rest want children? Don’t know. But yes, good question. Quite polarizing.

      Also: Where did you pick up the notion that “the future is going to be so great?” I’m pretty pessimistic.

  2. Very nice, I put this in my review file

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