Interview: Fredrik Härén for Asia on the Edge 2012

Who are some people you look up to?
I am the kind of person who has great respect for my child’s kindergarten teacher, the Bangladeshi construction worker and the photographer who last took a picture of me. I am an identical twin, which means I’ve become pretty good at looking and reflecting on what another person is doing.
What are the five tools essential to having a healthy bank of ideas?
Take a lot of time off to give your brain time to think, isolate yourself so your brain can think up its own ideas, play with your kids to remind your brain to be curious about everyday things, change your environment so you are always reminded that there are many ways to do something, and avoid getting stuck in email and admin work each day. I just came back from a six-week island vacation in Sweden with my family and my brain is just boiling over with ideas.
Describe the most inspiring moment you’ve had in the past year.
The day I finished the construction of my new house on my island in Sweden. It’s now the most inspirational place I have to sit and write my books. It’s a crazy house that looks like a bird’s nest!
What do you do with your ideas when they enter your head?
I write them down in The Idea Book so that I don’t forget them! I dreamt a great idea last night and didn’t find a pen and forgot it when i woke up. Still annoyed about that!
Has anyone you’ve ever spoken to in an audience made an impact on you?
I’ve spoken to over 1,500 different audiences but if I had to pick just one person, it’d have to be a 16-year-old girl I met in Sweden. She was so depressed she skipped school for six weeks and laid in bed the whole time. One day, her friend came over and showed her one of my speeches on YouTube. After that, she got up, went to the school principal and scolded him for not caring enough about depressed students. She also pushed the government to start a project for depressed young women—she succeeded. After, she set up a record company, went on tour with a Swedish rock star and had famous American songwriters mentor her. Talk about a speech changing a person’s life.

What makes a city a great launchpad for startups?
My latest book One World. One Company talks about looking at your company as a global company—startup companies should follow that lead. A great launchpad city is one that makes its entrepreneurs think more globally. And this is the reason why I live in Singapore, though the startup scene here is still in its infancy.  

How has the publication of The Idea Book changed your life?
It has taken me around the world. Thanks to the book, I have been invited to speak in more than 45 countries from Iran to Iceland, and that has made me think about the world as one, instead of in terms of countries.

Asia on the Edge—who should be there?
People who want to know what’s going on.
Asia on the Edge – Creative Mapping of Asia is happening September 7-9, 9am at The Arts House. See video below for an idea of what Fredrik Härén’s speeches are like.