Per Ohstrom – What makes us different makes us better.

Per Ohstrom
Explore how Per Ohstrom, an Arctic Army Officer turned into a global marketing expert, navigates the world of business. Learn his valuable lessons revolving around positivity, determination, and embracing diversity in our latest episode of "10 Lessons Learned". Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee

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About Per Ohstrom

Per Ohstrom, is a Marketing and Strategy Consultant with Chief Outsiders, working with small and mid-market private companies. After undergrad studies in Sweden and a career in the Army reserve, he came to the US for MBA studies.

Per is an experienced marketing leader and corporate executive working with private and Private Equity-owned industrial and B2B service companies. As a fractional CMO he builds and executes strategies for profitable growth.

Get his free eBook “Selecting a Strategy for Market Leadership” here

Per has 30 years of international commercial marketing and P&L leadership in $1-2 Billion blue-chip and private industrial companies. He supports CEO’s making their companies more market-focused and builds cross-functional teams that consistently perform. With a track record in manufacturing, construction equipment, equipment rental, MRO distribution, supply chain, specialty chemicals and other industries, he brings advanced marketing experience.

Per is a creative problem solver and respectful collaborator. He likes to tackle complex business issues and drives for practical results -he learned this as Commanding Officer of an Arctic infantry unit.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: “Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it.” 05:14
Lesson 2: Manage by objectives, delegate, and decentralize. 08:24
Lesson 3: Officers eat last -turn the org chart upside down and be a servant leader. 11:12
Lesson 4: Shut up and listen, really listen. 13:39
Lesson 5: Be positive, deal swiftly with issues. 16:03
Lesson 6: What makes us different makes us better. 20:15
Lesson 7: Work smart, use technology. 24:36
Lesson 8: Get elected to something. 28:20
Lesson 9: Into the woods -the power of peace, quiet and man’s best friend. 33:23
Lesson 10: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. 37:35

Per Ohstrom – What makes us different makes us better

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to businesspeople, journalists, artists, authors, attorneys, professors, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon state, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Per Ohstrom Per is a global marketing expert, I would like to say a marketing guru, working for a company named Chief Outsiders. Based in Tennessee, Per applies his 30 years of international commercial marketing profit and profit and loss leadership experience into working as a so called fractional chief marketing officer with private and privately held private equity owned industrial and business to business service companies.
[00:01:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: Born and raised in Sweden. Per came to the United States years ago to get his MBA degree. He likes to tackle complex business issues as he drives for practical results. By the way, that’s something he learned while he served in the Swedish Army as commanding officer of an Arctic infantry unit. Thank you for your service.
[00:01:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Per Ohstrom is also the author of a book named Selecting a Strategy for Market Leadership. You can learn more about Per Ohstrom on our website. 10lessonslearned. com. Hello, Per. How are you? Nice. Thank you for joining us.
[00:01:43] Per Ohstrom: Oh, good. Good, Siebe. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, it’s wonderful. I look forward to our conversation about your 10 lessons.
[00:01:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was also curious and, and perhaps, it’s something that is relatively new. You work as a fractional chief marketing officer. That’s kind of a new concept. What does that mean?
[00:02:05] Per Ohstrom: it’s a lot easier than, it sounds. I work as a CMO part time for several companies at any one time.
[00:02:13] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s a nice way for smaller and growing companies to get access to a lot of experience and knowledge without having to pay, you know, a full-time salary and benefits.
[00:02:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. And it’s, it’s a relatively new concept. Now, when I think of marketing with all due respect. What is, in your definition, the purpose of marketing?
[00:02:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Is it more than just trying to convince people to buy products and services? I’m sure it is, but how would you define the purpose of marketing?
[00:02:41] Per Ohstrom: I define marketing pretty broadly. To me, marketing is understanding what people need and then develop and sell them. what they need at the right price. And if you do it that way, then you will not end up in a situation where you try to convince people to buy something, but you come up with something that they really want and they really need.
[00:03:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: The research part, understanding what people need or are looking for and, well, that in itself obviously is quite a discussion with new technologies that apply to so many people and sometimes people are not even aware of what’s available and, we have seen that and I’m sure we will continue to see that.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But, uh, that’s an interesting element, I think, of, of marketing. Now, In, the lessons that, you’re going to share with us, there’s a lot of wisdom in there, but I also like to ask you, is there perhaps a lesson in your life or in your career, that you would like to teach yourself if you were 30 years old today?
[00:03:44] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, there is actually. when I went to college, I opted for a business degree and part of it had to do with my interest in, in marketing and selling. and my family, since the 1700s are every other generation merchants or schoolteachers. So, I think we have it in our DNA. And yeah. And a market marketer is obviously a combination of the two, right?
[00:04:09] Per Ohstrom: But all joking aside, had I known then what I know now, I would have gone for an engineering degree rather than a degree in business or the humanities. Just because the, the engineer’s way of approaching problems and looking at the world is so applicable to any type of job, any type of situation.
[00:04:30] Per Ohstrom: But it seemed to me like, like a lot of studying and a lot of math, you know, so, so that was a big, big reason I, I went for business instead.
[00:04:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I’m, I’m thinking about the fact that, quite a few people have. As I would say, multiple careers. I started out in international banking, ended up for the last more than 20 years involved with coaching and executive search.
[00:04:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: my banking experience has been very helpful still today. Absolutely. so, I realize what you’re saying. And on the other hand, maybe it was very beneficial, right? To start in one area and, and over time gain more knowledge about the engineering part. but, yeah, that makes sense. Makes sense. Good lesson to share.

[00:05:14] Lesson 1: “Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it.”

[00:05:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: I appreciate it. let’s take a look, if you’re ready, to look at your 10 lessons. All right, we’ll start with lesson number one, and it’s a quote. Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it. What are your thoughts about that?
[00:05:29] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it’s a quote actually from Booker T. Washington, a historical figure in the U. S. that I admire very much. Born a slave, he ended up educating himself and becoming an advisor to presidents, a man of immense integrity and immense wisdom. And I, I think what speaks to me directly is the second part of that, really take what you have and do the best with it because it is a rough world out there, right?
[00:06:01] Per Ohstrom: And if you have a career in business, you really have to look after yourself. Nobody is going to help you and push you forward. Yes, you will have mentors, you will have bosses, you will have colleagues that are going to be helpful and, and nice, but you really have to kind of drive your own destiny.
[00:06:21] Per Ohstrom: and This is probably not clearer anywhere than in the US, right, which is part of the reason why I came here. you know, having grown up in Sweden, which is a little bit of a nanny state, it’s getting better, but, but it was a little bit of, of that cradle to grave mentality. Whereas here in the US, you worked you really could, if you worked hard and set your mind to it you really could improve your situation. And yes, there, there are many social issues and political problems in the US, but I think the fundamental, still there that you can still improve your situation by taking what you have and do the very best with it. And that’s always going to work better than sitting around and blaming someone else or circumstances or bad luck.
[00:07:01] Per Ohstrom: If you want to be successful, it’s better to go to school and study and get a job, any job and do your very best. It’s a lot better than buying a lottery ticket every week and waiting for that, you know, million-dollar prize.
[00:07:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wow, you’re raising so many topics in my mind Per. First of all, Booker T.
[00:07:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: Washington, indeed, highly impressive and, quite amazing what he did in his life. The fact that You and I are both from Europe, countries that were, taking care of people. you know, we have this phrase in the United States, it takes a village, you have to help each other. And at the same time, there are certain limitations when, when you live in those societies.
[00:07:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: United States, the land of opportunity. You got to do it. You got to make it. As an individual. And at the same time, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that, but when the political climate gets a little heated, I think many foreign-born individuals in this country say this is a great country, this has incredible opportunities, and we’re grateful to be here and to be part of it.
[00:08:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: the opportunities to do that and going back again to the quote that you’re using from Booker T. Washington, I think it’s a, that’s a very powerful start. Very, very, very interesting.

[00:08:24] Lesson 2: Manage by objectives, delegate, and decentralize.

[00:08:24] Per Ohstrom: Lesson number two, manage by objectives, delegate, decentralize. And I thought the boss was always right.
[00:08:32] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. Well, maybe that’s the way. People thought in the 1950s. No, and, and curiously enough, this leadership philosophy is something I learned and got to practice when I was in the Swedish army.
[00:08:44] Per Ohstrom: you know, it, it’s an army of conscripts, right? So, it’s citizen soldiers, everyone, gets called up. They, they get a gun and, and they, they do their year of military service. And in order for this to work, because you have the car dealer, and you have the alcoholic, and you have the schoolteacher, they all have to go, right?
[00:09:02] Per Ohstrom: And we all have to do it. So, in order for this to work, you have to have a management system, a leadership system that, that really motivates people, right? And brings out the best in people and lets people use their skills. so, they, they use this approach they call Auftragstaktik in German, right?
[00:09:19] Per Ohstrom: There really is no good English word for it, mission control or mission command, maybe, but, but it’s very similar to management by objectives in business. So, rather than giving people detailed information, detailed instructions, this is how you do it. You let people know what the objectives are, what the desired outcome is, and then you give people freedom to use their own education, their own skills, in order to get the job done.
[00:09:45] Per Ohstrom: And as, as long as things are progressing in the right direction, you really don’t meddle and interfere a whole lot. You ask for some reports, so you know what’s going on, but you really don’t breathe down people’s necks or look over their shoulder, right? Of course, unless something starts, you know, driving into the ditch or going off the rails, then you might have to help somebody and coach them a little bit, bring them back on track.
[00:10:07] Per Ohstrom: But it’s so much better than having, you know, a hierarchy of bosses barking orders and telling everyone what to do. There’s a live example right now in the war Ukrainians use much more of a management by objectives approach and the Russians are very. Very hierarchical and very order down, very order giving.
[00:10:30] Per Ohstrom: And I mean, we can just see who’s routing who on the battlefield. And it’s not, it’s the same thing in business. It really is.
[00:10:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Of course, it’s difficult sometimes to change systems and cultures because it is part of the culture. Right. But I think it’s a, it’s an important point to, to raise that there is an alternative and indeed, managed by objectives.
[00:10:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: Also in the United States, of course, can make a lot of sense. And I feel very comfortable with what you’re saying because indeed, again, coming from Europe, that’s, that’s typically how we, we, we look at it, but, very interesting. Now, indeed, you served in the Swedish army,

[00:11:12] Lesson 3: Officers eat last -turn the org chart upside down and be a servant leader.

[00:11:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number three, officers eat last.
[00:11:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Turn the org chart, upside down and be a servant leader. Wow. you already mentioned your background serving in the army. Is that something that Has it been with you, stuck with you your whole life?
[00:11:27] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it has. It definitely has. It’s, a lot of the things you learn at the Officers Academy has to do with scouting around, observing what’s going on around you, take that information.
[00:11:39] Per Ohstrom: Process it and use it to make decisions that help you meet your goals, solve your, your mission, right? And a military mission in that perspective is just the same as, as a goal in business, right? if you run a small business unit and you need to grow it from 1 million to 2 million in sales, you need to look at the competitors, you need to look at the, the economy, you need to look at potential customers.
[00:12:02] Per Ohstrom: And then, kind of evaluate all of this and roll it into an action plan, and make things happen in order to, to get to that. And, and by far the best way to do it, like I just mentioned, is management by objectives. You get everyone on the bus and everyone pointing in the same direction, everyone pulling in the same direction, and you will be able to do it.
[00:12:22] Per Ohstrom: And in order for your, organization to perform at its best. They have to be well fed and well rested. You know, that’s true for soldiers and it’s true for people, in an organization. I mean, even Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach, right?
[00:12:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, true. however, I recognize a difference serving in the army where There is danger, there is, you know, violence, whether you are on offense or defense, and in a business society, business community, that level of pressure, of course, is different.
[00:12:58] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, of course. Yeah, absolutely. But I think the underlying philosophy really is the same, or at least very, very similar, that a good boss takes care of his people, makes sure that they have the equipment, the training, the software that they need, that they have the health insurance, they don’t have to worry about getting sick or breaking an arm, they get enough vacation, you know, so people can function and they can work at their optimal level.
[00:13:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, and the way you put it, officers eat last. I think that says, that says it all, right? That’s exactly, they don’t put themselves up front, they are behind the people that serve and look out for them.

[00:13:39] Lesson 4: Shut up and listen, really listen.

[00:13:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number four. Shut up and listen, really listen. Okay, Pear, I’ll be quiet.
[00:13:46] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it’s, this is an insight that somebody taught me many years ago that physiologically, we are not designed to talk and listen at the same time. So, when you’re talking, you really can’t listen. So, in order to hear what’s going on, you know, in a staff meeting, in a presentation, in a job situation, where there’s people sitting around the table or standing around in the hallway, you have to sometimes be quiet.
[00:14:18] Per Ohstrom: And listen, and really try to listen kind of past the words. What’s the tone of voice? What’s the underlying themes here? Because in any organization, there is a conversation going on, but there’s also a, a behind the scenes conversation, and those two better be the same. Otherwise, you’re in trouble.
[00:14:38] Per Ohstrom: Because if you have one conversation around company goals and we’re going to get this done, and in reality, people are already resigned or they’re gossiping or they’re talking bad about each other or bad about you or, or the competitors, that’s not a good and healthy organization. So, a great deal of, of the time when you have the opportunity to speak, you should take the opportunity not to, and instead listen, let others do the talking.
[00:15:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Again, I think it’s a very important, something that, that I have used and had to use many times if I have a tendency to talk too much. this is something that I apply also when I coach people sometimes, not everybody that needs this, but to be aware. Sometimes I compare it to a traffic light.
[00:15:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: When you’re driving your car and the light is green, you keep going and listen to music or talk to people in your car. If the light turns to yellow and red, you know, you got to stop, right? Your brain has been trained and it is definitely possible for people to teach themselves to listen more. And talk less.
[00:15:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: And the value is immense by just listening to people. And it’s, it’s a very good exercise to apply, I want to say, for all of us. yeah, I like it. Shut up and listen. Really listen. That’s a good one.

[00:16:03] Lesson 5: Be positive, deal swiftly with issues.

[00:16:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number five. Be positive. Deal swiftly with issues. Please explain.
[00:16:09] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, when dealing with people, almost in any kind of situation, in a club where you might be a member or at the, you know, on the golf course, or if you manage people at work, or if you lead, a youth group in church or, or something.
[00:16:25] Per Ohstrom: The fundamental impulse of people is to do good, is to be effective and be nice with others and get things done, right? And a manager’s role or a leader’s role is to allow people to do. What they want to do and to do what needs to be done. And then once in a blue moon, there will be a bad egg.
[00:16:46] Per Ohstrom: Somebody that that’s miscast in the role. Maybe it’s a salesperson that got promoted to sales leader. And he, he really doesn’t have the skill set to manage others. He’s really good at managing customers, but he’s not good at managing other salespeople and situations like that can happen. And then, then you have to deal with it quickly, because if you step back and you kind of think that this is going to take care of itself, or it really isn’t that bad.
[00:17:16] Per Ohstrom: And, you know, I don’t have anyone else to do the job. Now you start to make excuses for not acting. And. If you’re a leader, you have to interfere when something goes off the, off the rails. and that action has to be swift, and it has to be decisive. So, if somebody is acting up or somebody is underperforming, deal with it right away.
[00:17:36] Per Ohstrom: Talk to them, coach them, you know, send them to a training program if that’s what’s needed. Give them less to do or different things to do. move them to a different department and if people are absolutely toxic, and I mean, we see this happen sometimes in organizations, then it’s better to, to let them go, to, to let them find some other place to work where they might, you know, fit in better and be happier.
[00:18:01] Per Ohstrom: Unfortunately, you got to try and fix it, but if you can’t, you got to, you got to replace the person.
[00:18:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I can see from a management perspective. at the same time, sometimes people deal with issues, maybe not even directly related to their jobs, but it affects them. And as a manager, again, you have to show the empathy and understand, right.
[00:18:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, in some cases, even if you have a positive mind, sometimes you have to make Harsh decisions, different than what you were saying about management. If I think about people that are in the process of looking for a job and they go through that process and well, maybe it is hard to find the right job.
[00:18:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: maybe they go through an interview and the outcome is negative. it’s sometimes hard to deal with that. And yet I would say. If you are dealing with people in a tough situation, to encourage them and in a positive way, obviously, to say, hey, you didn’t get this job, but there’s another job out there.
[00:19:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: No doubt you’ll find it and you’ll land it. so that, that positive aspect, sometimes it’s, it’s tough, sometimes it’s tough for individuals, especially, but what I like in what you’re saying, if I, if I understand it correctly, from a management point of view, managing people, managing organizations, to stay positive.
[00:19:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: And you also indicate, deal swiftly with issues. So don’t let it linger and say, well, we’ll come back to it. No. It’s a problem. It’s got to be taken care of. yeah, I like that. Thank you for that one.

[00:19:32] Affiliate Break


[00:19:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: we’re talking today with Per Ohstrom and Per is a highly successful global marketing expert with an experience, fractional chief marketing officer experience.
[00:19:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Sharing his 10 lessons learned. I want to thank our affiliate partner Audible. Audible is an amazing tool to experience our program. 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place. You can start your free 30-day trial by going to audible trial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that’s audible trial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase to get your free. 30-day subscription.

[00:20:15] Lesson 6: What makes us different makes us better.

[00:20:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right, moving all along. Lesson number six, what makes us different makes us better. I like that. Please go ahead.
[00:20:24] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. again, from a work perspective, if you’re in a situation where you can influence Who gets hired?
[00:20:31] Per Ohstrom: Maybe you participate in interview processes. Maybe you’re a hiring manager. Maybe you work in HR. Maybe you have, you know, other ways of influencing. One of the hallmarks of strong and effective organizations is that they are very diverse. If you go to Google headquarters in California and you look at the people there, it’s going to look like a rainbow.
[00:20:53] Per Ohstrom: It really will, right? All ages, all ethnicities, all national backgrounds, you’ll hear different languages spoken. And that same, that same positive effect is true in smaller organizations. So, like now when I work as a fractional CMO, if I come into a company, that’s one of the first things I look for. Are all of the people, white middle-aged men or is there, you know, are there women there?
[00:21:20] Per Ohstrom: Are there minorities there? Are there young people and older people and how do they interact with each other? Because just the fact that you have people of different background working on the same team, jointly collaborating, solving problems makes the quality of the, of the problem solving so much better.
[00:21:41] Per Ohstrom: And it’s also more fun because you get exposure to completely different ways of looking at things and, and, you know, different ways of analyzing problems, even different ways of shaping or formulating the, the issues that are to be solved.
[00:21:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Per, I have to ask you, how many countries have you visited?
[00:21:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: Do you know?
[00:21:59] Per Ohstrom: Oh, goodness.
[00:22:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: There’s the answer.
[00:22:03] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. No, I, I think I have, I have visited and or worked in 45 countries, something like that.
[00:22:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: 45. So my next question is that, does that mean, you know, all the cultures and behaviors in 45 countries?
[00:22:18] Per Ohstrom: No, I mean, obviously cultures, national cultures are very different, but on some basic level, we’re all the same.
[00:22:26] Per Ohstrom: Right. We all get up in the morning and we all go to work, and we want to do our best. We want to learn. We want to be effective. And if you start at that very, very basic micro level, then you can usually get along with people. And then, of course, you have to understand. The finer points, right? And even from very similar countries, it can be very different.
[00:22:46] Per Ohstrom: You go to France, and it’s very hierarchical, right? And the bosses, even if you have an open conversation around the table, at the end of it, the boss has to kind of sum it all up and say, okay, this is how we do it. Sweden, everyone sits around the table and talks and talks and talks forever until there’s consensus.
[00:23:04] Per Ohstrom: But then you don’t have to do anything else because everyone is already on board. And in, you come to the US where there’s, there’s a, a great informality. You use the first names and you’re, you’re, you say hi in the, in the corridor, and you might sit next to the CEO and eat lunch. Right? But at the same time, there is a high, a hierarchy in the decision making.
[00:23:25] Per Ohstrom: So, so it is different in, in every place, and you have to kind of feel your way around a little bit. But at the end of the day, everyone goes home again, and they have a family, and they watch television. So it is, and it is the same.
[00:23:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe on purpose, you left out the Netherlands, but in the Netherlands, if you have two Dutch people in one room, you get at least three opinions.
[00:23:45] Per Ohstrom: Oh, okay.
[00:23:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I think in that, and you know, 45 countries, that’s More than what I have visited. And well, I’ve lived in four countries, but I look at it also, Per, and I’m curious how you look at it. The more you learn, the more you see and experience, the more you realize how little you know. There’s so much more to learn and explore.
[00:24:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and well, unfortunately, you know, our life is not unlimited, but keep an open mind. And when I think about what makes us different, makes us better, there is so much to explore that we don’t know. We’re learning about it. So, yeah, I think what makes us different makes us better in different concepts, I think is very, very helpful.
[00:24:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m glad you shared that lesson.

[00:24:36] Lesson 7: Work smart, use technology.

[00:24:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving along, lesson number seven, work smart, use technology. I’m already getting a smirk on my face because I, I look forward to our conversation, but work smart, use technology. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:24:48] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, Western countries, or I should say industrial countries, have progressed very fast in 250 years because of technology, right?
[00:24:59] Per Ohstrom: So once the steam engine was invented, we could build factories, and once we had factories, we could mass produce things. So now, you know, you or I could afford to buy a car, right? Instead of just 16 rich people in Holland, right? So, technology is kind of what, carries society forward in many ways.
[00:25:19] Per Ohstrom: And then it’s up to us, of course, to build a, ideological superstructure on top of the economy, right. To make sure that it’s a, just and, and fair society. Yeah. But, in order to, to get all the good things done that we want to do. We would be silly not to use technology and not to use the progress with technology.
[00:25:40] Per Ohstrom: Let me use an example. only maybe 10 years ago, I, I was involved a lot in selling construction equipment. So, you would call on construction sites, you know, these would be fenced in areas. You walk through the gate and there is a, an office trailer there, right? You knock on the door. And here’s the, the supervisor or the foreman working that construction site.
[00:26:01] Per Ohstrom: He would sit there next to his computer on a desk, you know, you bring a box of donuts, you sit down, and you talk to them. How’s everything? You know, and oh, by the way, if you need to rent an excavator, you know, we have them. So just, give me a call and we’ll have it here in two hours. Now, it’s his son, working the same job, and he still has the office there, but he’s never there.
[00:26:21] Per Ohstrom: He’s got his office in his pocket. He’s got a smartphone. And he will look at the smartphone at your app, and he would place the order for the excavator on your app, right? And then you deliver it two hours later. If you try and come look for him with donuts, you’re not going to find him and they’re probably not going to let you through the gate even, because of security concerns and other things that have changed in 10 years. So, if you want to rent out your, your excavator, you better have a really good presence on, on the internet, right? And you need to have a really, really good website and an app that’s easy to use that where somebody can just do this, you know, and order whatever they need.
[00:27:02] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s a different world altogether. and I mean, think of video conferencing, right? What, what happened during the pandemic? People started talking like we do now. We would sit and talk to each other on, on a computer. And of course, it’s not as good as, or as nice or enjoyable as sitting face to face across from a, from a table.
[00:27:20] Per Ohstrom: Right? But you’re in Arizona. I’m in Tennessee and it’s working fine.
[00:27:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: And here we are.
[00:27:25] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, right. I, I take a lot of notes in my job, right? Because my job, a great part of my job is to learn new things and to quickly internalize new things and analyze them. So, I used to take notes on yellow legal pads, right?
[00:27:38] Per Ohstrom: And then I come back to the hotel room at night, and I type them all because I want to keep them on my computer. Well, now I have an iPad and I have an app on my iPad that, that understands my handwriting and turns it into typing. So, when I take notes, I just write on my iPad and then I spend, you know, a few minutes at night, kind of correcting spelling and things like that.
[00:27:59] Per Ohstrom: And I can save, I can file and save my document. So, so I have everything at my fingertips. I have it on my phone. I have it on my iPad. And when I’m at my desk, I have it on my computer and it just makes life so much easier. And I am so much more productive now than I am even 5 years ago because of technology.
[00:28:17] Per Ohstrom: it’s a great point again. And I, I appreciate you.

[00:28:20] Lesson 8: Get elected to something.

[00:28:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: You raised that in your lessons and moving along to lesson number eight.
[00:28:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m curious about that. Get elected to something. What do you mean?
[00:28:29] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. I think at some point in somebody’s life, you should run for office. You know, it can be something small, it can be like be the chairman of a committee in your church or, or synagogue, right? Or it could be to be on the board of your homeowner’s association.
[00:28:48] Per Ohstrom: it could be something more ambitious like run for school board or something like that. because you, it’s an opportunity to do something for others, truly do something for others, not, not just for yourself. And it’s an opportunity for you to channel. You know, the will of other people and be their representative in the purest sense of the word, right?
[00:29:10] Per Ohstrom: But it also works the other way. So, if you’re on a school board, and I happen to have served on a couple of school boards in Sweden before I came here, but sometimes you end up with a situation like a budget situation or, you Here’s a school building that’s dilapidated, and it’ll just cost so much to repair it.
[00:29:27] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s cheaper to tear it down and build a new one. And oh, by the way, when we build a new one, we should build it where the kids live now, not where they lived 50 years ago when the whole building was done. So, you have to bring this message back to parents that they can be furious. No, that school is not going to be torn down because I went there and my grandma before me.
[00:29:46] Per Ohstrom: You know, and you get this emotional investment of people and everything. So, so that’s really interesting. And, and it helps you grow to have to deal with those kinds of issues. And it’s also an opportunity to do something without getting paid for it. Right. So, so this is something you do out of interest.
[00:30:04] Per Ohstrom: For others, and, but there, there are things in it for you. You learn to negotiate a lot, right? You learn to compromise and skills like that are useful at work. They’re useful, in your family. They’re useful in whatever social circles where, where you are, but running for office or, or some, you know, getting elected to something I, I think is, it’s, it’s very, very enriching.
[00:30:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: I, I’m very interested in what you’re saying because I have served in the army. The Dutch army was mandatory. I have served in different capacities. And yes, I like it. I believe in it. And there’s no, necessarily no money to be made. But when I think of, I don’t want to say the reality in which we live, many people that I can think of no matter their age or, where they are in their lives.
[00:30:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to spend time. I don’t make money doing that. let someone else do it. And then I can criticize that person. Right. so, what will motivate people other than listening to your lesson and say, get elected to something, what would motivate people to say, I need that.
[00:31:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: I need to learn that skill, and I’m going to serve in a public role. without making money, let’s say, because I will learn something. How would you convince people to do that when they’re completely not motivated?
[00:31:25] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, I would try and teach them lesson number one, take what you have to do the best with it, right?
[00:31:30] Per Ohstrom: Because you, you have, you have innately Abilities that you haven’t developed, right? And, and getting elected to something, you know, having to campaign and debate and, and all of that stuff, thinking on your feet, all of those things they, they help round you out. They help fill you, fill you in as a person.
[00:31:54] Per Ohstrom: And you don’t know it until you tried it, right? And, and you might end up, which happens half of the time, right? If you’re debating against somebody else on the average, you lose the debate half the time, right? Right. So, you, you come home at night, and you have a, a black eye, and a blooded nose, figuratively, right?
[00:32:13] Per Ohstrom: And, and you have to think about, okay, what did I do wrong? And, and how can I do better next time? So, you, you do help, and you do improve yourself by helping others and paying it forward does feel kind of nice as well. You know, if you help someone, if you mentor someone, or if you represent someone that can’t represent themselves, it actually is kind of a nice feeling too.
[00:32:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to use what you just said in a way, you don’t know it until you know it, right? Yeah. it’s, it’s perhaps difficult to explain to people and say, oh, if you do that, that’s going to work for you. Well, maybe yes, maybe no, but people who have done it, who have experienced, they look back at what they did and there are certain elements that they say, look what I was able to do, how I was able to contribute.
[00:33:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And you’re not saying, hey, everybody has to give me credit for that. Again, servant leadership, but it is contributing to society, to the community, without holding your hand out. And it makes you feel good. And that’s, that’s the value of that lesson, right?
[00:33:20] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, yeah,
[00:33:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, very interesting.

[00:33:23] Lesson 9: Into the woods -the power of peace, quiet and man’s best friend.

[00:33:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m looking at lesson number nine. Into the woods, the power of peace, quiet, And man’s best friend. Please explain.
[00:33:32] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, let me step, take half a step back and give some context. You know, I grew up in Sweden, but not just anywhere in Sweden, but in Lapland. So, all the way up north, right? Small town, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
[00:33:47] Per Ohstrom: So short summer, long winter. Midnight sun in the summer, right? Arctic night in the winter. So, we never see the sun. but wilderness as long as you can see, right? So, there was forest and there were mountains not far from where I used to live. And because this was so far north, there will be a tree line, right?
[00:34:11] Per Ohstrom: So, the trees will only grow up to a certain. height on the mountain. And once you’re above there, you’re up on the Bald Mountain, right? And you have an endless view. So, so there was a mountain right nearby, where I lived, you could easily hike that and from the peak of that mountain, you could see, maybe a 10th of the surface of Sweden.
[00:34:33] Per Ohstrom: And Sweden is not small. It’s the size of California. You know, the surface, it’s not a, it’s not a small country. Geographically. so anyway, so I used to enjoy, really enjoy hiking in the mountains and I still do. I live right next to the Smoky Mountains here, but there’s no tree line here. So, there is no, there is no gorgeous view, not in the same way.
[00:34:52] Per Ohstrom: But just the act of walking in the woods, you know, walking along a trail. Being quiet, listen to the sounds of nature, smell what’s going on, right? Stop, look at the water, feel the water, take your boots off for a little bit, soak your feet. Things like that instantly kind of revives you and,
[00:35:12] Per Ohstrom: puts you back in touch with not just nature, but back in touch with yourself. And I think, especially for me, who grew up in an environment like that, I mean, in the winter, we go skiing every night, every weekend, right? In the summer, we’ll go riding our bikes out in the woods and go fishing every night, because it never got dark, right?
[00:35:30] Per Ohstrom: So, nature was I grew up so close to nature, so nature to me really is the pharmacy, right?
[00:35:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, well, it’s so fascinating, Per, what you’re saying, and as you know, growing up in the Netherlands, there are no mountains in the Netherlands, so skiing in the Netherlands doesn’t get you anywhere, because…
[00:35:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: There’s no way to go. Plus, we don’t get a lot of snow. Yeah. But bicycling, for example. That’s big. I look at it Yes. Into the woods and the way you describe it, I, I think that’s, it makes a lot of sense. But to be out of where you are right now, to take a break, right? Whatever it is, indeed, the mountains, hiking, the ocean, the beach, whatever it is, it’s so important for us human beings to allow yourself to take a break.
[00:36:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it does miracles, right? We all know that. I’m curious, by the way, you talk about man’s best friend. Yeah. What comes to mind?
[00:36:30] Per Ohstrom: Dogs, of course, I was growing up, we did not have dogs in my family for, for some reason, I’m not quite sure. When I met my wife to be. She had a dog and I’ve been hooked ever since.
[00:36:43] Per Ohstrom: There’s, there really is nothing better than walking your dog. It’s nice to walk around the block where you live, but it’s even nicer to be out in nature and go on long hikes, because you, develop this, this communication between you and this other. Animal, right? That’s beyond words and, and beyond just giving orders or telling the poor dog what to do, right?
[00:37:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: I had to check because I had a dear friend. he used to work for the zoo, and he had at his home a collection of rattlesnakes. And he was very concerned about the rattlesnakes living here in the Arizona desert. So, when you describe man’s best friend, let’s make sure, okay, dogs could be something else, but no, that that’s good to know.
[00:37:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and again, into the woods, take a break important for all of us.

[00:37:35] Lesson 10: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.


[00:37:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m moving along to. Lesson number 10. Per, we are at lesson number 10. And it’s another quote, if I understand it correctly if you’re going through hell, keep going.
[00:37:46] Per Ohstrom: Winston Churchill said this. He said, he said and done a lot of really interesting and amazing things.
[00:37:53] Per Ohstrom: And it speaks to me because at some point in your life, things are going to look dark, right? And it’s not going to look great. and chances are that you get all gloomy and that, that you really feel that, you know, I can’t go on, you know, um why am I doing this? This makes no sense. You know, I’m in the wrong career or, something else is really eating you and not working out.
[00:38:19] Per Ohstrom: And that’s when it’s really important to keep going. So, there’s nothing wrong with, asking for help. there’s nothing wrong with, being stubborn and not giving up. And there’s nothing wrong with staying focused because there is light at the end of the tunnel. There always is, right?
[00:38:37] Per Ohstrom: Doesn’t matter how dark things look, but they will get better. But in order to facilitate that, you have to keep moving. You have to keep moving. So, you know, if you’re in a job situation, talk to your boss, you know, see if you, if they can give you less to do or, extend that deadline, you know, if that’s something that contributes. if you are just being, you know, sad and, and tired and all, there’s nothing wrong with, with, asking for professional help and companies have those kinds of, of facilities these days and just having friends, talking to friends and people you trust, people you can talk to. And then of course having a dog, you know, they never question you or snake or disappointed in you.
[00:39:19] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. They always love you and you can come home at 3:00 AM after being out, drinking all night long and they love, love you just as much.
[00:39:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Have you had, one or more people in your life that you would describe as… A coach, someone that looked out for you?
[00:39:34] Per Ohstrom: yeah, a couple of people that I, that I would describe as a coach and also, I, I’ve had several people that I kind of admire and try to emulate.
[00:39:42] Per Ohstrom: And, and I think that that’s, that’s a really good way of improving your outlook, is to think, you know, what would Pippi Longstocking do? You know, what would Siebe Van Der Zee do? And then try to do that. Right? Because that allows you to step out of your own, you know, if your own thought process has ground to a halt, you can pretend to be somebody else.
[00:40:07] Per Ohstrom: And how would that person do this?
[00:40:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it applies, of course, to people that are early in their career to seek advice and guidance. If you are in the middle of your career, even when you are towards the end of your career, to Get guidance from trusted sources and hopefully people that simply want to look out for you, right?
[00:40:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: They don’t have an interest in your next step and say, okay, right. But simply looking out. And, at least in my experience, you have to be somewhat lucky to find those people, or at least to encounter. You don’t find them. They, it happens. And it can happen. Of course, you have moved around quite a bit also within the United States.
[00:40:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: when you move around or get a new job, sometimes your network changes. But, to seek guidance, I think, is, it’s very, very important, especially when, according to the quote, if you’re going through hell, that’s, that’s when it matters. If things are going well, yeah, it’s nice to get advice and etc.
[00:41:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: But when it’s difficult Yeah, it’s, it’s one of those, one of those lessons that I think, we easily forget about,
[00:41:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But, yeah, at this point, I’m curious, covering 10 Lessons, I’m going to ask you, is there perhaps a lesson in your life that you have unlearned, that things that you have done for whatever, a while, and then you said, I got to do it differently?
[00:41:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anything that comes to mind?
[00:41:40] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, I’m going to contradict myself a little bit now. We were talking about education earlier. And when I was young, I used to think that education was so important for your career progression. And it is, it is in a couple of ways. You, that’s when you learn your basic skills, right?
[00:41:59] Per Ohstrom: So, you have a skill that you can apply, you know, you, you know how to do marketing, or you know how to do accounting, or you know how to, how to do finance if you work in a bank, right? Yes. But, really what you, what you need to know in order to progress your career, you learn on the job. You learn by doing.
[00:42:20] Per Ohstrom: So, the further along you are in your working life, the less valuable formal instruction, formal training, classroom training becomes. So, if you really want to have a good career progression and advance in your company and be promoted, rather than going to classes or taking courses, you should ask for new assignments.
[00:42:44] Per Ohstrom: If you’re in marketing, you should ask for a finance assignment. If you’re in finance, you should ask if you can work in R& D. You know, within reason, right? Because if you learn about an organization, you learn about an industry and how it works, how things are made, how, how they’re developed, how the plant works, you know, what’s important in the factory, what’s not.
[00:43:06] Per Ohstrom: Rotate into HR, take an HR job, rotate into sales, take a sales job. That’s really how you learn. Really, truly learn how business works, and then, of course, it does help to read a book and it does help to, to go to the occasional conference and, you know, maybe even to a one-week executive education class in AI or something specific.
[00:43:27] Per Ohstrom: Right? But, really you, you learn by doing and you don’t get good at something until you do it. And not once or twice, but 100 times.
[00:43:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, I’ve read books from management experts and one of the themes that always comes out and you reflect on that very much in what you just said, energy, energy, especially in a management position, you have to show initiatives, you have to explore, it’s not just going to happen.
[00:43:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: of course, as a manager, it’s not just to have the energy, but to be able to energize the people that work with you, as you have discussed already. So, those are, very important points. I, I, I really think, Per, that you have, taught me and our audience, a lot of wisdom.
[00:44:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I, I want to thank you for that and, for sharing your wisdom with our audience. It’s much appreciated.
[00:44:17] Per Ohstrom: Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to chat. I think this has been really, really instructive and interesting, and I wish we could go for another two hours.
[00:44:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, I’ll check with our producer, but no, listen, this was great.
[00:44:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’ll make a few closing comments. You have been listening to our international program 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, and as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum. Our guest today is Per Ohstrom, a highly successful global marketing expert and an experienced fractional Chief Marketing Officer sharing his 10 lessons learned and to our audience.
[00:44:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@tenlessonslearned.com. I hope you will subscribe. You don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson.
[00:45:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you. And stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

Per Ohstrom

Per Ohstrom – What makes us different makes us better.

Explore how Per Ohstrom, an Arctic Army Officer turned into a global marketing expert, navigates the world of business. Learn his valuable lessons revolving around positivity, determination, and embracing diversity in our latest episode of "10 Lessons Learned". Hosted by Siebe Van Der Zee

About Per Ohstrom

Per Ohstrom, is a Marketing and Strategy Consultant with Chief Outsiders, working with small and mid-market private companies. After undergrad studies in Sweden and a career in the Army reserve, he came to the US for MBA studies.

Per is an experienced marketing leader and corporate executive working with private and Private Equity-owned industrial and B2B service companies. As a fractional CMO he builds and executes strategies for profitable growth.

Get his free eBook “Selecting a Strategy for Market Leadership” here

Per has 30 years of international commercial marketing and P&L leadership in $1-2 Billion blue-chip and private industrial companies. He supports CEO’s making their companies more market-focused and builds cross-functional teams that consistently perform. With a track record in manufacturing, construction equipment, equipment rental, MRO distribution, supply chain, specialty chemicals and other industries, he brings advanced marketing experience.

Per is a creative problem solver and respectful collaborator. He likes to tackle complex business issues and drives for practical results -he learned this as Commanding Officer of an Arctic infantry unit.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: “Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it.” 05:14
Lesson 2: Manage by objectives, delegate, and decentralize. 08:24
Lesson 3: Officers eat last -turn the org chart upside down and be a servant leader. 11:12
Lesson 4: Shut up and listen, really listen. 13:39
Lesson 5: Be positive, deal swiftly with issues. 16:03
Lesson 6: What makes us different makes us better. 20:15
Lesson 7: Work smart, use technology. 24:36
Lesson 8: Get elected to something. 28:20
Lesson 9: Into the woods -the power of peace, quiet and man’s best friend. 33:23
Lesson 10: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. 37:35

Per Ohstrom – What makes us different makes us better

[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to businesspeople, journalists, artists, authors, attorneys, professors, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m based in Phoenix, Arizona, in the beautiful Grand Canyon state, where I’m also known as the Dutchman in the desert.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Per Ohstrom Per is a global marketing expert, I would like to say a marketing guru, working for a company named Chief Outsiders. Based in Tennessee, Per applies his 30 years of international commercial marketing profit and profit and loss leadership experience into working as a so called fractional chief marketing officer with private and privately held private equity owned industrial and business to business service companies.
[00:01:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: Born and raised in Sweden. Per came to the United States years ago to get his MBA degree. He likes to tackle complex business issues as he drives for practical results. By the way, that’s something he learned while he served in the Swedish Army as commanding officer of an Arctic infantry unit. Thank you for your service.
[00:01:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Per Ohstrom is also the author of a book named Selecting a Strategy for Market Leadership. You can learn more about Per Ohstrom on our website. 10lessonslearned. com. Hello, Per. How are you? Nice. Thank you for joining us.
[00:01:43] Per Ohstrom: Oh, good. Good, Siebe. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:46] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, it’s wonderful. I look forward to our conversation about your 10 lessons.
[00:01:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: I was also curious and, and perhaps, it’s something that is relatively new. You work as a fractional chief marketing officer. That’s kind of a new concept. What does that mean?
[00:02:05] Per Ohstrom: it’s a lot easier than, it sounds. I work as a CMO part time for several companies at any one time.
[00:02:13] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s a nice way for smaller and growing companies to get access to a lot of experience and knowledge without having to pay, you know, a full-time salary and benefits.
[00:02:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. And it’s, it’s a relatively new concept. Now, when I think of marketing with all due respect. What is, in your definition, the purpose of marketing?
[00:02:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Is it more than just trying to convince people to buy products and services? I’m sure it is, but how would you define the purpose of marketing?
[00:02:41] Per Ohstrom: I define marketing pretty broadly. To me, marketing is understanding what people need and then develop and sell them. what they need at the right price. And if you do it that way, then you will not end up in a situation where you try to convince people to buy something, but you come up with something that they really want and they really need.
[00:03:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: The research part, understanding what people need or are looking for and, well, that in itself obviously is quite a discussion with new technologies that apply to so many people and sometimes people are not even aware of what’s available and, we have seen that and I’m sure we will continue to see that.
[00:03:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But, uh, that’s an interesting element, I think, of, of marketing. Now, In, the lessons that, you’re going to share with us, there’s a lot of wisdom in there, but I also like to ask you, is there perhaps a lesson in your life or in your career, that you would like to teach yourself if you were 30 years old today?
[00:03:44] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, there is actually. when I went to college, I opted for a business degree and part of it had to do with my interest in, in marketing and selling. and my family, since the 1700s are every other generation merchants or schoolteachers. So, I think we have it in our DNA. And yeah. And a market marketer is obviously a combination of the two, right?
[00:04:09] Per Ohstrom: But all joking aside, had I known then what I know now, I would have gone for an engineering degree rather than a degree in business or the humanities. Just because the, the engineer’s way of approaching problems and looking at the world is so applicable to any type of job, any type of situation.
[00:04:30] Per Ohstrom: But it seemed to me like, like a lot of studying and a lot of math, you know, so, so that was a big, big reason I, I went for business instead.
[00:04:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, no, I’m, I’m thinking about the fact that, quite a few people have. As I would say, multiple careers. I started out in international banking, ended up for the last more than 20 years involved with coaching and executive search.
[00:04:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: my banking experience has been very helpful still today. Absolutely. so, I realize what you’re saying. And on the other hand, maybe it was very beneficial, right? To start in one area and, and over time gain more knowledge about the engineering part. but, yeah, that makes sense. Makes sense. Good lesson to share.

[00:05:14] Lesson 1: “Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it.”

[00:05:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: I appreciate it. let’s take a look, if you’re ready, to look at your 10 lessons. All right, we’ll start with lesson number one, and it’s a quote. Cast down your bucket where you are. Take what you have and do the best with it. What are your thoughts about that?
[00:05:29] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it’s a quote actually from Booker T. Washington, a historical figure in the U. S. that I admire very much. Born a slave, he ended up educating himself and becoming an advisor to presidents, a man of immense integrity and immense wisdom. And I, I think what speaks to me directly is the second part of that, really take what you have and do the best with it because it is a rough world out there, right?
[00:06:01] Per Ohstrom: And if you have a career in business, you really have to look after yourself. Nobody is going to help you and push you forward. Yes, you will have mentors, you will have bosses, you will have colleagues that are going to be helpful and, and nice, but you really have to kind of drive your own destiny.
[00:06:21] Per Ohstrom: and This is probably not clearer anywhere than in the US, right, which is part of the reason why I came here. you know, having grown up in Sweden, which is a little bit of a nanny state, it’s getting better, but, but it was a little bit of, of that cradle to grave mentality. Whereas here in the US, you worked you really could, if you worked hard and set your mind to it you really could improve your situation. And yes, there, there are many social issues and political problems in the US, but I think the fundamental, still there that you can still improve your situation by taking what you have and do the very best with it. And that’s always going to work better than sitting around and blaming someone else or circumstances or bad luck.
[00:07:01] Per Ohstrom: If you want to be successful, it’s better to go to school and study and get a job, any job and do your very best. It’s a lot better than buying a lottery ticket every week and waiting for that, you know, million-dollar prize.
[00:07:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Wow, you’re raising so many topics in my mind Per. First of all, Booker T.
[00:07:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: Washington, indeed, highly impressive and, quite amazing what he did in his life. The fact that You and I are both from Europe, countries that were, taking care of people. you know, we have this phrase in the United States, it takes a village, you have to help each other. And at the same time, there are certain limitations when, when you live in those societies.
[00:07:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: United States, the land of opportunity. You got to do it. You got to make it. As an individual. And at the same time, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that, but when the political climate gets a little heated, I think many foreign-born individuals in this country say this is a great country, this has incredible opportunities, and we’re grateful to be here and to be part of it.
[00:08:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: the opportunities to do that and going back again to the quote that you’re using from Booker T. Washington, I think it’s a, that’s a very powerful start. Very, very, very interesting.

[00:08:24] Lesson 2: Manage by objectives, delegate, and decentralize.

[00:08:24] Per Ohstrom: Lesson number two, manage by objectives, delegate, decentralize. And I thought the boss was always right.
[00:08:32] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. Well, maybe that’s the way. People thought in the 1950s. No, and, and curiously enough, this leadership philosophy is something I learned and got to practice when I was in the Swedish army.
[00:08:44] Per Ohstrom: you know, it, it’s an army of conscripts, right? So, it’s citizen soldiers, everyone, gets called up. They, they get a gun and, and they, they do their year of military service. And in order for this to work, because you have the car dealer, and you have the alcoholic, and you have the schoolteacher, they all have to go, right?
[00:09:02] Per Ohstrom: And we all have to do it. So, in order for this to work, you have to have a management system, a leadership system that, that really motivates people, right? And brings out the best in people and lets people use their skills. so, they, they use this approach they call Auftragstaktik in German, right?
[00:09:19] Per Ohstrom: There really is no good English word for it, mission control or mission command, maybe, but, but it’s very similar to management by objectives in business. So, rather than giving people detailed information, detailed instructions, this is how you do it. You let people know what the objectives are, what the desired outcome is, and then you give people freedom to use their own education, their own skills, in order to get the job done.
[00:09:45] Per Ohstrom: And as, as long as things are progressing in the right direction, you really don’t meddle and interfere a whole lot. You ask for some reports, so you know what’s going on, but you really don’t breathe down people’s necks or look over their shoulder, right? Of course, unless something starts, you know, driving into the ditch or going off the rails, then you might have to help somebody and coach them a little bit, bring them back on track.
[00:10:07] Per Ohstrom: But it’s so much better than having, you know, a hierarchy of bosses barking orders and telling everyone what to do. There’s a live example right now in the war Ukrainians use much more of a management by objectives approach and the Russians are very. Very hierarchical and very order down, very order giving.
[00:10:30] Per Ohstrom: And I mean, we can just see who’s routing who on the battlefield. And it’s not, it’s the same thing in business. It really is.
[00:10:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. Of course, it’s difficult sometimes to change systems and cultures because it is part of the culture. Right. But I think it’s a, it’s an important point to, to raise that there is an alternative and indeed, managed by objectives.
[00:10:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: Also in the United States, of course, can make a lot of sense. And I feel very comfortable with what you’re saying because indeed, again, coming from Europe, that’s, that’s typically how we, we, we look at it, but, very interesting. Now, indeed, you served in the Swedish army,

[00:11:12] Lesson 3: Officers eat last -turn the org chart upside down and be a servant leader.

[00:11:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: lesson number three, officers eat last.
[00:11:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: Turn the org chart, upside down and be a servant leader. Wow. you already mentioned your background serving in the army. Is that something that Has it been with you, stuck with you your whole life?
[00:11:27] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it has. It definitely has. It’s, a lot of the things you learn at the Officers Academy has to do with scouting around, observing what’s going on around you, take that information.
[00:11:39] Per Ohstrom: Process it and use it to make decisions that help you meet your goals, solve your, your mission, right? And a military mission in that perspective is just the same as, as a goal in business, right? if you run a small business unit and you need to grow it from 1 million to 2 million in sales, you need to look at the competitors, you need to look at the, the economy, you need to look at potential customers.
[00:12:02] Per Ohstrom: And then, kind of evaluate all of this and roll it into an action plan, and make things happen in order to, to get to that. And, and by far the best way to do it, like I just mentioned, is management by objectives. You get everyone on the bus and everyone pointing in the same direction, everyone pulling in the same direction, and you will be able to do it.
[00:12:22] Per Ohstrom: And in order for your, organization to perform at its best. They have to be well fed and well rested. You know, that’s true for soldiers and it’s true for people, in an organization. I mean, even Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach, right?
[00:12:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, true. however, I recognize a difference serving in the army where There is danger, there is, you know, violence, whether you are on offense or defense, and in a business society, business community, that level of pressure, of course, is different.
[00:12:58] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, of course. Yeah, absolutely. But I think the underlying philosophy really is the same, or at least very, very similar, that a good boss takes care of his people, makes sure that they have the equipment, the training, the software that they need, that they have the health insurance, they don’t have to worry about getting sick or breaking an arm, they get enough vacation, you know, so people can function and they can work at their optimal level.
[00:13:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, and the way you put it, officers eat last. I think that says, that says it all, right? That’s exactly, they don’t put themselves up front, they are behind the people that serve and look out for them.

[00:13:39] Lesson 4: Shut up and listen, really listen.

[00:13:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number four. Shut up and listen, really listen. Okay, Pear, I’ll be quiet.
[00:13:46] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, it’s, this is an insight that somebody taught me many years ago that physiologically, we are not designed to talk and listen at the same time. So, when you’re talking, you really can’t listen. So, in order to hear what’s going on, you know, in a staff meeting, in a presentation, in a job situation, where there’s people sitting around the table or standing around in the hallway, you have to sometimes be quiet.
[00:14:18] Per Ohstrom: And listen, and really try to listen kind of past the words. What’s the tone of voice? What’s the underlying themes here? Because in any organization, there is a conversation going on, but there’s also a, a behind the scenes conversation, and those two better be the same. Otherwise, you’re in trouble.
[00:14:38] Per Ohstrom: Because if you have one conversation around company goals and we’re going to get this done, and in reality, people are already resigned or they’re gossiping or they’re talking bad about each other or bad about you or, or the competitors, that’s not a good and healthy organization. So, a great deal of, of the time when you have the opportunity to speak, you should take the opportunity not to, and instead listen, let others do the talking.
[00:15:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: Again, I think it’s a very important, something that, that I have used and had to use many times if I have a tendency to talk too much. this is something that I apply also when I coach people sometimes, not everybody that needs this, but to be aware. Sometimes I compare it to a traffic light.
[00:15:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: When you’re driving your car and the light is green, you keep going and listen to music or talk to people in your car. If the light turns to yellow and red, you know, you got to stop, right? Your brain has been trained and it is definitely possible for people to teach themselves to listen more. And talk less.
[00:15:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: And the value is immense by just listening to people. And it’s, it’s a very good exercise to apply, I want to say, for all of us. yeah, I like it. Shut up and listen. Really listen. That’s a good one.

[00:16:03] Lesson 5: Be positive, deal swiftly with issues.

[00:16:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number five. Be positive. Deal swiftly with issues. Please explain.
[00:16:09] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, when dealing with people, almost in any kind of situation, in a club where you might be a member or at the, you know, on the golf course, or if you manage people at work, or if you lead, a youth group in church or, or something.
[00:16:25] Per Ohstrom: The fundamental impulse of people is to do good, is to be effective and be nice with others and get things done, right? And a manager’s role or a leader’s role is to allow people to do. What they want to do and to do what needs to be done. And then once in a blue moon, there will be a bad egg.
[00:16:46] Per Ohstrom: Somebody that that’s miscast in the role. Maybe it’s a salesperson that got promoted to sales leader. And he, he really doesn’t have the skill set to manage others. He’s really good at managing customers, but he’s not good at managing other salespeople and situations like that can happen. And then, then you have to deal with it quickly, because if you step back and you kind of think that this is going to take care of itself, or it really isn’t that bad.
[00:17:16] Per Ohstrom: And, you know, I don’t have anyone else to do the job. Now you start to make excuses for not acting. And. If you’re a leader, you have to interfere when something goes off the, off the rails. and that action has to be swift, and it has to be decisive. So, if somebody is acting up or somebody is underperforming, deal with it right away.
[00:17:36] Per Ohstrom: Talk to them, coach them, you know, send them to a training program if that’s what’s needed. Give them less to do or different things to do. move them to a different department and if people are absolutely toxic, and I mean, we see this happen sometimes in organizations, then it’s better to, to let them go, to, to let them find some other place to work where they might, you know, fit in better and be happier.
[00:18:01] Per Ohstrom: Unfortunately, you got to try and fix it, but if you can’t, you got to, you got to replace the person.
[00:18:07] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, I can see from a management perspective. at the same time, sometimes people deal with issues, maybe not even directly related to their jobs, but it affects them. And as a manager, again, you have to show the empathy and understand, right.
[00:18:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, in some cases, even if you have a positive mind, sometimes you have to make Harsh decisions, different than what you were saying about management. If I think about people that are in the process of looking for a job and they go through that process and well, maybe it is hard to find the right job.
[00:18:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: maybe they go through an interview and the outcome is negative. it’s sometimes hard to deal with that. And yet I would say. If you are dealing with people in a tough situation, to encourage them and in a positive way, obviously, to say, hey, you didn’t get this job, but there’s another job out there.
[00:19:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: No doubt you’ll find it and you’ll land it. so that, that positive aspect, sometimes it’s, it’s tough, sometimes it’s tough for individuals, especially, but what I like in what you’re saying, if I, if I understand it correctly, from a management point of view, managing people, managing organizations, to stay positive.
[00:19:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: And you also indicate, deal swiftly with issues. So don’t let it linger and say, well, we’ll come back to it. No. It’s a problem. It’s got to be taken care of. yeah, I like that. Thank you for that one.

[00:19:32] Affiliate Break


[00:19:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: we’re talking today with Per Ohstrom and Per is a highly successful global marketing expert with an experience, fractional chief marketing officer experience.
[00:19:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: Sharing his 10 lessons learned. I want to thank our affiliate partner Audible. Audible is an amazing tool to experience our program. 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place. You can start your free 30-day trial by going to audible trial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, that’s audible trial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase to get your free. 30-day subscription.

[00:20:15] Lesson 6: What makes us different makes us better.

[00:20:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: All right, moving all along. Lesson number six, what makes us different makes us better. I like that. Please go ahead.
[00:20:24] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. again, from a work perspective, if you’re in a situation where you can influence Who gets hired?
[00:20:31] Per Ohstrom: Maybe you participate in interview processes. Maybe you’re a hiring manager. Maybe you work in HR. Maybe you have, you know, other ways of influencing. One of the hallmarks of strong and effective organizations is that they are very diverse. If you go to Google headquarters in California and you look at the people there, it’s going to look like a rainbow.
[00:20:53] Per Ohstrom: It really will, right? All ages, all ethnicities, all national backgrounds, you’ll hear different languages spoken. And that same, that same positive effect is true in smaller organizations. So, like now when I work as a fractional CMO, if I come into a company, that’s one of the first things I look for. Are all of the people, white middle-aged men or is there, you know, are there women there?
[00:21:20] Per Ohstrom: Are there minorities there? Are there young people and older people and how do they interact with each other? Because just the fact that you have people of different background working on the same team, jointly collaborating, solving problems makes the quality of the, of the problem solving so much better.
[00:21:41] Per Ohstrom: And it’s also more fun because you get exposure to completely different ways of looking at things and, and, you know, different ways of analyzing problems, even different ways of shaping or formulating the, the issues that are to be solved.
[00:21:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Per, I have to ask you, how many countries have you visited?
[00:21:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: Do you know?
[00:21:59] Per Ohstrom: Oh, goodness.
[00:22:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: There’s the answer.
[00:22:03] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. No, I, I think I have, I have visited and or worked in 45 countries, something like that.
[00:22:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: 45. So my next question is that, does that mean, you know, all the cultures and behaviors in 45 countries?
[00:22:18] Per Ohstrom: No, I mean, obviously cultures, national cultures are very different, but on some basic level, we’re all the same.
[00:22:26] Per Ohstrom: Right. We all get up in the morning and we all go to work, and we want to do our best. We want to learn. We want to be effective. And if you start at that very, very basic micro level, then you can usually get along with people. And then, of course, you have to understand. The finer points, right? And even from very similar countries, it can be very different.
[00:22:46] Per Ohstrom: You go to France, and it’s very hierarchical, right? And the bosses, even if you have an open conversation around the table, at the end of it, the boss has to kind of sum it all up and say, okay, this is how we do it. Sweden, everyone sits around the table and talks and talks and talks forever until there’s consensus.
[00:23:04] Per Ohstrom: But then you don’t have to do anything else because everyone is already on board. And in, you come to the US where there’s, there’s a, a great informality. You use the first names and you’re, you’re, you say hi in the, in the corridor, and you might sit next to the CEO and eat lunch. Right? But at the same time, there is a high, a hierarchy in the decision making.
[00:23:25] Per Ohstrom: So, so it is different in, in every place, and you have to kind of feel your way around a little bit. But at the end of the day, everyone goes home again, and they have a family, and they watch television. So it is, and it is the same.
[00:23:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe on purpose, you left out the Netherlands, but in the Netherlands, if you have two Dutch people in one room, you get at least three opinions.
[00:23:45] Per Ohstrom: Oh, okay.
[00:23:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: But I think in that, and you know, 45 countries, that’s More than what I have visited. And well, I’ve lived in four countries, but I look at it also, Per, and I’m curious how you look at it. The more you learn, the more you see and experience, the more you realize how little you know. There’s so much more to learn and explore.
[00:24:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and well, unfortunately, you know, our life is not unlimited, but keep an open mind. And when I think about what makes us different, makes us better, there is so much to explore that we don’t know. We’re learning about it. So, yeah, I think what makes us different makes us better in different concepts, I think is very, very helpful.
[00:24:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m glad you shared that lesson.

[00:24:36] Lesson 7: Work smart, use technology.

[00:24:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Moving along, lesson number seven, work smart, use technology. I’m already getting a smirk on my face because I, I look forward to our conversation, but work smart, use technology. What are your thoughts on that?
[00:24:48] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, Western countries, or I should say industrial countries, have progressed very fast in 250 years because of technology, right?
[00:24:59] Per Ohstrom: So once the steam engine was invented, we could build factories, and once we had factories, we could mass produce things. So now, you know, you or I could afford to buy a car, right? Instead of just 16 rich people in Holland, right? So, technology is kind of what, carries society forward in many ways.
[00:25:19] Per Ohstrom: And then it’s up to us, of course, to build a, ideological superstructure on top of the economy, right. To make sure that it’s a, just and, and fair society. Yeah. But, in order to, to get all the good things done that we want to do. We would be silly not to use technology and not to use the progress with technology.
[00:25:40] Per Ohstrom: Let me use an example. only maybe 10 years ago, I, I was involved a lot in selling construction equipment. So, you would call on construction sites, you know, these would be fenced in areas. You walk through the gate and there is a, an office trailer there, right? You knock on the door. And here’s the, the supervisor or the foreman working that construction site.
[00:26:01] Per Ohstrom: He would sit there next to his computer on a desk, you know, you bring a box of donuts, you sit down, and you talk to them. How’s everything? You know, and oh, by the way, if you need to rent an excavator, you know, we have them. So just, give me a call and we’ll have it here in two hours. Now, it’s his son, working the same job, and he still has the office there, but he’s never there.
[00:26:21] Per Ohstrom: He’s got his office in his pocket. He’s got a smartphone. And he will look at the smartphone at your app, and he would place the order for the excavator on your app, right? And then you deliver it two hours later. If you try and come look for him with donuts, you’re not going to find him and they’re probably not going to let you through the gate even, because of security concerns and other things that have changed in 10 years. So, if you want to rent out your, your excavator, you better have a really good presence on, on the internet, right? And you need to have a really, really good website and an app that’s easy to use that where somebody can just do this, you know, and order whatever they need.
[00:27:02] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s a different world altogether. and I mean, think of video conferencing, right? What, what happened during the pandemic? People started talking like we do now. We would sit and talk to each other on, on a computer. And of course, it’s not as good as, or as nice or enjoyable as sitting face to face across from a, from a table.
[00:27:20] Per Ohstrom: Right? But you’re in Arizona. I’m in Tennessee and it’s working fine.
[00:27:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: And here we are.
[00:27:25] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, right. I, I take a lot of notes in my job, right? Because my job, a great part of my job is to learn new things and to quickly internalize new things and analyze them. So, I used to take notes on yellow legal pads, right?
[00:27:38] Per Ohstrom: And then I come back to the hotel room at night, and I type them all because I want to keep them on my computer. Well, now I have an iPad and I have an app on my iPad that, that understands my handwriting and turns it into typing. So, when I take notes, I just write on my iPad and then I spend, you know, a few minutes at night, kind of correcting spelling and things like that.
[00:27:59] Per Ohstrom: And I can save, I can file and save my document. So, so I have everything at my fingertips. I have it on my phone. I have it on my iPad. And when I’m at my desk, I have it on my computer and it just makes life so much easier. And I am so much more productive now than I am even 5 years ago because of technology.
[00:28:17] Per Ohstrom: it’s a great point again. And I, I appreciate you.

[00:28:20] Lesson 8: Get elected to something.

[00:28:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: You raised that in your lessons and moving along to lesson number eight.
[00:28:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m curious about that. Get elected to something. What do you mean?
[00:28:29] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. I think at some point in somebody’s life, you should run for office. You know, it can be something small, it can be like be the chairman of a committee in your church or, or synagogue, right? Or it could be to be on the board of your homeowner’s association.
[00:28:48] Per Ohstrom: it could be something more ambitious like run for school board or something like that. because you, it’s an opportunity to do something for others, truly do something for others, not, not just for yourself. And it’s an opportunity for you to channel. You know, the will of other people and be their representative in the purest sense of the word, right?
[00:29:10] Per Ohstrom: But it also works the other way. So, if you’re on a school board, and I happen to have served on a couple of school boards in Sweden before I came here, but sometimes you end up with a situation like a budget situation or, you Here’s a school building that’s dilapidated, and it’ll just cost so much to repair it.
[00:29:27] Per Ohstrom: So, it’s cheaper to tear it down and build a new one. And oh, by the way, when we build a new one, we should build it where the kids live now, not where they lived 50 years ago when the whole building was done. So, you have to bring this message back to parents that they can be furious. No, that school is not going to be torn down because I went there and my grandma before me.
[00:29:46] Per Ohstrom: You know, and you get this emotional investment of people and everything. So, so that’s really interesting. And, and it helps you grow to have to deal with those kinds of issues. And it’s also an opportunity to do something without getting paid for it. Right. So, so this is something you do out of interest.
[00:30:04] Per Ohstrom: For others, and, but there, there are things in it for you. You learn to negotiate a lot, right? You learn to compromise and skills like that are useful at work. They’re useful, in your family. They’re useful in whatever social circles where, where you are, but running for office or, or some, you know, getting elected to something I, I think is, it’s, it’s very, very enriching.
[00:30:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: I, I’m very interested in what you’re saying because I have served in the army. The Dutch army was mandatory. I have served in different capacities. And yes, I like it. I believe in it. And there’s no, necessarily no money to be made. But when I think of, I don’t want to say the reality in which we live, many people that I can think of no matter their age or, where they are in their lives.
[00:30:53] Siebe Van Der Zee: I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to spend time. I don’t make money doing that. let someone else do it. And then I can criticize that person. Right. so, what will motivate people other than listening to your lesson and say, get elected to something, what would motivate people to say, I need that.
[00:31:12] Siebe Van Der Zee: I need to learn that skill, and I’m going to serve in a public role. without making money, let’s say, because I will learn something. How would you convince people to do that when they’re completely not motivated?
[00:31:25] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, I would try and teach them lesson number one, take what you have to do the best with it, right?
[00:31:30] Per Ohstrom: Because you, you have, you have innately Abilities that you haven’t developed, right? And, and getting elected to something, you know, having to campaign and debate and, and all of that stuff, thinking on your feet, all of those things they, they help round you out. They help fill you, fill you in as a person.
[00:31:54] Per Ohstrom: And you don’t know it until you tried it, right? And, and you might end up, which happens half of the time, right? If you’re debating against somebody else on the average, you lose the debate half the time, right? Right. So, you, you come home at night, and you have a, a black eye, and a blooded nose, figuratively, right?
[00:32:13] Per Ohstrom: And, and you have to think about, okay, what did I do wrong? And, and how can I do better next time? So, you, you do help, and you do improve yourself by helping others and paying it forward does feel kind of nice as well. You know, if you help someone, if you mentor someone, or if you represent someone that can’t represent themselves, it actually is kind of a nice feeling too.
[00:32:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: I want to use what you just said in a way, you don’t know it until you know it, right? Yeah. it’s, it’s perhaps difficult to explain to people and say, oh, if you do that, that’s going to work for you. Well, maybe yes, maybe no, but people who have done it, who have experienced, they look back at what they did and there are certain elements that they say, look what I was able to do, how I was able to contribute.
[00:33:03] Siebe Van Der Zee: And you’re not saying, hey, everybody has to give me credit for that. Again, servant leadership, but it is contributing to society, to the community, without holding your hand out. And it makes you feel good. And that’s, that’s the value of that lesson, right?
[00:33:20] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, yeah,
[00:33:22] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, very interesting.

[00:33:23] Lesson 9: Into the woods -the power of peace, quiet and man’s best friend.

[00:33:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m looking at lesson number nine. Into the woods, the power of peace, quiet, And man’s best friend. Please explain.
[00:33:32] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, let me step, take half a step back and give some context. You know, I grew up in Sweden, but not just anywhere in Sweden, but in Lapland. So, all the way up north, right? Small town, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
[00:33:47] Per Ohstrom: So short summer, long winter. Midnight sun in the summer, right? Arctic night in the winter. So, we never see the sun. but wilderness as long as you can see, right? So, there was forest and there were mountains not far from where I used to live. And because this was so far north, there will be a tree line, right?
[00:34:11] Per Ohstrom: So, the trees will only grow up to a certain. height on the mountain. And once you’re above there, you’re up on the Bald Mountain, right? And you have an endless view. So, so there was a mountain right nearby, where I lived, you could easily hike that and from the peak of that mountain, you could see, maybe a 10th of the surface of Sweden.
[00:34:33] Per Ohstrom: And Sweden is not small. It’s the size of California. You know, the surface, it’s not a, it’s not a small country. Geographically. so anyway, so I used to enjoy, really enjoy hiking in the mountains and I still do. I live right next to the Smoky Mountains here, but there’s no tree line here. So, there is no, there is no gorgeous view, not in the same way.
[00:34:52] Per Ohstrom: But just the act of walking in the woods, you know, walking along a trail. Being quiet, listen to the sounds of nature, smell what’s going on, right? Stop, look at the water, feel the water, take your boots off for a little bit, soak your feet. Things like that instantly kind of revives you and,
[00:35:12] Per Ohstrom: puts you back in touch with not just nature, but back in touch with yourself. And I think, especially for me, who grew up in an environment like that, I mean, in the winter, we go skiing every night, every weekend, right? In the summer, we’ll go riding our bikes out in the woods and go fishing every night, because it never got dark, right?
[00:35:30] Per Ohstrom: So, nature was I grew up so close to nature, so nature to me really is the pharmacy, right?
[00:35:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, well, it’s so fascinating, Per, what you’re saying, and as you know, growing up in the Netherlands, there are no mountains in the Netherlands, so skiing in the Netherlands doesn’t get you anywhere, because…
[00:35:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: There’s no way to go. Plus, we don’t get a lot of snow. Yeah. But bicycling, for example. That’s big. I look at it Yes. Into the woods and the way you describe it, I, I think that’s, it makes a lot of sense. But to be out of where you are right now, to take a break, right? Whatever it is, indeed, the mountains, hiking, the ocean, the beach, whatever it is, it’s so important for us human beings to allow yourself to take a break.
[00:36:20] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it does miracles, right? We all know that. I’m curious, by the way, you talk about man’s best friend. Yeah. What comes to mind?
[00:36:30] Per Ohstrom: Dogs, of course, I was growing up, we did not have dogs in my family for, for some reason, I’m not quite sure. When I met my wife to be. She had a dog and I’ve been hooked ever since.
[00:36:43] Per Ohstrom: There’s, there really is nothing better than walking your dog. It’s nice to walk around the block where you live, but it’s even nicer to be out in nature and go on long hikes, because you, develop this, this communication between you and this other. Animal, right? That’s beyond words and, and beyond just giving orders or telling the poor dog what to do, right?
[00:37:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: I had to check because I had a dear friend. he used to work for the zoo, and he had at his home a collection of rattlesnakes. And he was very concerned about the rattlesnakes living here in the Arizona desert. So, when you describe man’s best friend, let’s make sure, okay, dogs could be something else, but no, that that’s good to know.
[00:37:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and again, into the woods, take a break important for all of us.

[00:37:35] Lesson 10: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.


[00:37:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m moving along to. Lesson number 10. Per, we are at lesson number 10. And it’s another quote, if I understand it correctly if you’re going through hell, keep going.
[00:37:46] Per Ohstrom: Winston Churchill said this. He said, he said and done a lot of really interesting and amazing things.
[00:37:53] Per Ohstrom: And it speaks to me because at some point in your life, things are going to look dark, right? And it’s not going to look great. and chances are that you get all gloomy and that, that you really feel that, you know, I can’t go on, you know, um why am I doing this? This makes no sense. You know, I’m in the wrong career or, something else is really eating you and not working out.
[00:38:19] Per Ohstrom: And that’s when it’s really important to keep going. So, there’s nothing wrong with, asking for help. there’s nothing wrong with, being stubborn and not giving up. And there’s nothing wrong with staying focused because there is light at the end of the tunnel. There always is, right?
[00:38:37] Per Ohstrom: Doesn’t matter how dark things look, but they will get better. But in order to facilitate that, you have to keep moving. You have to keep moving. So, you know, if you’re in a job situation, talk to your boss, you know, see if you, if they can give you less to do or, extend that deadline, you know, if that’s something that contributes. if you are just being, you know, sad and, and tired and all, there’s nothing wrong with, with, asking for professional help and companies have those kinds of, of facilities these days and just having friends, talking to friends and people you trust, people you can talk to. And then of course having a dog, you know, they never question you or snake or disappointed in you.
[00:39:19] Per Ohstrom: Yeah. They always love you and you can come home at 3:00 AM after being out, drinking all night long and they love, love you just as much.
[00:39:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Have you had, one or more people in your life that you would describe as… A coach, someone that looked out for you?
[00:39:34] Per Ohstrom: yeah, a couple of people that I, that I would describe as a coach and also, I, I’ve had several people that I kind of admire and try to emulate.
[00:39:42] Per Ohstrom: And, and I think that that’s, that’s a really good way of improving your outlook, is to think, you know, what would Pippi Longstocking do? You know, what would Siebe Van Der Zee do? And then try to do that. Right? Because that allows you to step out of your own, you know, if your own thought process has ground to a halt, you can pretend to be somebody else.
[00:40:07] Per Ohstrom: And how would that person do this?
[00:40:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: And it applies, of course, to people that are early in their career to seek advice and guidance. If you are in the middle of your career, even when you are towards the end of your career, to Get guidance from trusted sources and hopefully people that simply want to look out for you, right?
[00:40:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: They don’t have an interest in your next step and say, okay, right. But simply looking out. And, at least in my experience, you have to be somewhat lucky to find those people, or at least to encounter. You don’t find them. They, it happens. And it can happen. Of course, you have moved around quite a bit also within the United States.
[00:40:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: when you move around or get a new job, sometimes your network changes. But, to seek guidance, I think, is, it’s very, very important, especially when, according to the quote, if you’re going through hell, that’s, that’s when it matters. If things are going well, yeah, it’s nice to get advice and etc.
[00:41:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: But when it’s difficult Yeah, it’s, it’s one of those, one of those lessons that I think, we easily forget about,
[00:41:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: But, yeah, at this point, I’m curious, covering 10 Lessons, I’m going to ask you, is there perhaps a lesson in your life that you have unlearned, that things that you have done for whatever, a while, and then you said, I got to do it differently?
[00:41:38] Siebe Van Der Zee: Anything that comes to mind?
[00:41:40] Per Ohstrom: Yeah, I’m going to contradict myself a little bit now. We were talking about education earlier. And when I was young, I used to think that education was so important for your career progression. And it is, it is in a couple of ways. You, that’s when you learn your basic skills, right?
[00:41:59] Per Ohstrom: So, you have a skill that you can apply, you know, you, you know how to do marketing, or you know how to do accounting, or you know how to, how to do finance if you work in a bank, right? Yes. But, really what you, what you need to know in order to progress your career, you learn on the job. You learn by doing.
[00:42:20] Per Ohstrom: So, the further along you are in your working life, the less valuable formal instruction, formal training, classroom training becomes. So, if you really want to have a good career progression and advance in your company and be promoted, rather than going to classes or taking courses, you should ask for new assignments.
[00:42:44] Per Ohstrom: If you’re in marketing, you should ask for a finance assignment. If you’re in finance, you should ask if you can work in R& D. You know, within reason, right? Because if you learn about an organization, you learn about an industry and how it works, how things are made, how, how they’re developed, how the plant works, you know, what’s important in the factory, what’s not.
[00:43:06] Per Ohstrom: Rotate into HR, take an HR job, rotate into sales, take a sales job. That’s really how you learn. Really, truly learn how business works, and then, of course, it does help to read a book and it does help to, to go to the occasional conference and, you know, maybe even to a one-week executive education class in AI or something specific.
[00:43:27] Per Ohstrom: Right? But, really you, you learn by doing and you don’t get good at something until you do it. And not once or twice, but 100 times.
[00:43:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes, I’ve read books from management experts and one of the themes that always comes out and you reflect on that very much in what you just said, energy, energy, especially in a management position, you have to show initiatives, you have to explore, it’s not just going to happen.
[00:43:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: of course, as a manager, it’s not just to have the energy, but to be able to energize the people that work with you, as you have discussed already. So, those are, very important points. I, I, I really think, Per, that you have, taught me and our audience, a lot of wisdom.
[00:44:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I, I want to thank you for that and, for sharing your wisdom with our audience. It’s much appreciated.
[00:44:17] Per Ohstrom: Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to chat. I think this has been really, really instructive and interesting, and I wish we could go for another two hours.
[00:44:26] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, I’ll check with our producer, but no, listen, this was great.
[00:44:32] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’ll make a few closing comments. You have been listening to our international program 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, and as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum. Our guest today is Per Ohstrom, a highly successful global marketing expert and an experienced fractional Chief Marketing Officer sharing his 10 lessons learned and to our audience.
[00:44:56] Siebe Van Der Zee: don’t forget to leave us a review or a comment. You can also email us at podcast@tenlessonslearned.com. I hope you will subscribe. You don’t miss any future episodes. And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson.
[00:45:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Thank you. And stay safe.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

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