15 years ago, I started working with Scandinavian leadership and Nordic workplace culture. I interviewed people in Scandinavian organisations, gave talks about leadership, management, and Nordic values – and wrote a book about it.
During the years I also started getting questions from international colleagues who would ask me curious questions about Nordic values and workplace cultures which seemed quite different form the ones they were familiar with, and to my surprise I realised that the much acclaimed lifestyle and the Scandinavian way of doing things sometimes could be difficult to decode for people coming from other cultures. And sometimes even stand out as a mystery, as an international colleague told me.
This is why I wrote Living with Vikings – How to Live and Work in the Nordic Countries.
I owe my deepest thanks to the many expats, living in the Nordic countries, who with goodwill, curiosity and insight shared their experiences of living and working in the North with me in the book. It has been a true eye-opener, and occasionally slightly embarrassing for me as a native Northerner to realise how rarely we welcome new colleagues into our lives outside work. And how we stubbornly insist that the Nordic solution beats all others.
I have laughed at the various misunderstandings that can arise when you are not totally aware of the values by which others are navigating. And winced at Nordic narrowmindedness and the lack of understanding of how hard it can be to keep in step from the moment you set foot in “the happiest countries.
in the world”. Or when you are met by closed expressions and rough Nordic laughter.
However, most of all, I have enjoyed spending time in the company of knowledgeable, clever, internationally oriented, bright, insightful, and amusing people who have made me much wiser about the written and especially unwritten Nordic rules, values, and habits. Not least my own.