To me, getting stuff done is important. Moving things forward. Making a difference for somebody. It matters. I can some times get in the zone. I have some ideas on how I get there. I get stuff done. But there is definitely still room for improvement.


The bright-eyed people: What are their secrets? How do they do it?

You know them. I know them. We all know them. These bright-eyed people. They always know where they are going. What to do. Never seem to lose faith. Are passionate. Strong. Full of energy. Inspires others.

This year, as a hit-the-New-year-running gift to myself and you, I have decide to explore this further.

My personal dream team

To do this, I have selected my personal dream team of people I know. 12 highly motivated individuals who get exceptional stuff done.

I asked them: How do you envision, define and work with goals? What motivates you? And what gives meaning to your work?

I am so happy that these special people have decided to contribute to this piece. I sincerely hope that this post and the advises in it, will give you a great start to 2014.

Tobias Schelle, Founder of

How do you work with goals and how does it help your motivation?


Goals can be dangerous and brilliant. They are dangereous if you have the expectation that your life will become better when you get there. It won’t. They are a brilliant tool to accomplish great things in life. They force you to think about the bigger picture and they can help you become your best self.

Goals work well for me because one of my core values are development. I’m motivated by progress. For the same reason, goals work really well for me because goals are all about progress

One of the ways that I take advantage of goals is through setting the bar really high. An example: I want to grow my company. As long as I see progress I’m pretty happy. But how would it change my thinking if I could double the revenue in 1 year? That gets me excited! So I might set a goal to double the revenue in 6 months. That completely changes my thinking into what I need to do NOW to make that happen. Even if I only grow 50%, it’s a much better result than what would have happened if the goal was just to ‘grow’. The point is that thoughts and actions are highly dependent on goals and dreams.

Goals, if used correctly, can help your motivation, self-improvement, and overrall happiness, in my opinion.

But it is though really important to accept that things and priorities will change. Be ready to make changes to your goals. And accept that 70% is as good as 100%. It’s about progress.

What gives meaning to your work?

Progress. I feel my job is meaningful when I can see the impact my work has on a) customers b) employees or c) myself.

A couple of years ago I didn’t know this. I thought the meaning to my work was to have a great lifestyle. Rather than really improving the business I focused on creating a company that wasn’t dependent on me. It sounds good, but you have to define how you want to spend your time. While I enjoy travelling the world, surfing and drinking mango juices, they are not not meaningful for me as a lifestyle. I need progress.

Erling Løken Andersen, Founder of & Head of Coworking at

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


Goals are tough. They’re like a small dot on the horizon – and sometimes they turn out to be something completely different than you thought, when you eventually reach them. Therefore you have to have a very pragmatic approach to them. I set quantifiable goals for myself and then work meticulously in small increments to reach them.

For example, I co-founded a company called which was eventually sold for a large amount of money to Egmont and TV2 in 2008. When we started the company, we had a very clear goal: We wanted to earn 5.000 NOK per day, because then everybody (me and my two co-founders) would have our wages covered. We ended up earning a lot more than that, but in the process, we discovered something far more important. We discovered that we never really worked for the money; we worked for the freedom. Freedom to sleep in late, freedom to set our own wages, freedom to order pizza when we were working late and freedom to work with the people we wanted. That was an important lesson and it taught me that goals are dynamic; they change with you.

In my daily life, I’m addicted to to-do lists – and I base all my work on my to do list and my calendar. Therefore I tend to break down goals in lots of smaller to do points that I work on. It helps me stay organized and sane.

What motivates you? 

I’m very competitive and I like feeling good at what I do. So success is an important motivator; the hunt for success makes me push myself harder, work later and think smarter. That’s both a curse and a blessing; because it makes work fun and rewarding, but it also makes entrepreneurs like myself prioritize the wrong stuff sometimes. Such as prioritizing late night coding sessions over dinner with my girlfriend, mom or friends. I’m trying to improve though.

And what gives meaning to your work?

Working with digital products, the best feeling in the world is seeing the product grow and develop a life of its own. And seeing your initial idea succeed; seeing that your initial gut feeling was right – that there was a market for this idea and that you executed it correctly. That’s a good feeling and gives meaning to the work I do. Some people jump out of airplanes in search of their kick; I get mine from trying to do digital stuff right.

Nikolaj Astrup Madsen, Co-Founder of

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


I like to work with well-defined projects. I’m not that clever, so for me it works great having defined what I want to achieve. Actually, that’s the hard thing about being an entrepreneur – When you start something, you often have a period where you try a lot of different things, to find something that works – Also known as the struggle – And that period can be really frustrating because it’s hard to define goals.

So, I always try to set goals that are very well-defined and can be achieved in the very near future. That ensures moments of success and makes it possible to get through “the struggle” and other hard periods. That’s also why I like sports so much – It’s so easy to comprehend compared to building a company. If you work hard, clever and repeat, you will get better – It’s not always like that in business.

What motivates you? 

Actually this is something I have been in doubt of myself. When I look back though, I can see a clear pattern. I’m really motivated when I’m building something. I’m motivated if the work I do today is part of a bigger plan and if I feel that i’m a bit closer to the goal. That is way more motivating for me than a big car, getting a big salary (or salary at all).

I have always been motivated by doing something slightly different from people around me. I never been the best in school, so I think that motivated me to do something different and go my own way and get recognition that way.

And what gives meaning to your work?

I think this is the same answer as above: to build something – and that something can both be something small like an newsletter list, something bigger like a company or training towards sports goal.

I’m like most others here. I like doing something that others like – There is nothing better than selling a product that people like, making a blogpost with good response or something else that people response well to.

Ronald van den Hoff, Founder of 


Work for me involves inspiring other people to move away from their comfort zone.

I try to enable others to self-manage on the road to fundamental changes in thinking about society and the organization of it.

Work, or value creation, starts for me with an awareness of the position of yourself and/or the organization in the living and working environment of stakeholders. This “eye for the own environment” is the sum of financial returns, social renewal, and an ecological awareness.

The goal of work should increase one of these elements and should always contribute to a “special” user experience.

Work however, as a tool to create value, is changing rapidly.

The office, as we know it, is gone. The traditional school, library, and meeting centers will follow. We need new physical locations, located at new geographical spots, where people can meet, work, exchange information, and more.

Organizations today have to rely on powerful, and above all, inspirational encounters around the workspace. This needs to occur not only with colleagues, but with everybody who is connected with the organization, itself. These encounters help us to create a sustainable value network around the organization, and that is what makes the new Organization future proof.

Hundreds of millions of people in the world move around without restraints, literally unbounded, across borders all over the planet. These people of the world are no longer bound to old organizations. They have organized themselves in virtual social networks. They have started to create value in a different way. They do not work according to a formal organizational structure. They guide themselves. They are themselves. Their social connections show great creative vitality and unleash an enormous amount of energy. From within their self-awareness they respect the individuality of anybody. People of the world are not after personal enrichment at the expense of others. They share, and they are prepared to do a lot for someone else, without expecting a monetary reward.

Work, private life and value creation are blurring, as we start to realize that value is more than money. The new citizens of Society30 (Also my books title) understand that concept. I think it is both exciting and fun to be such a person, a knowmad of the world of Society30.

Halfdan Timm, Founder of 

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


I only have one big goal, really: To create something bigger than myself.

That’s about it. I don’t do alot when it comes to defining and envisioning goals. I have my idols – those who put everything on the board, dedicate them to a project and create something a lot bigger than themselves.

I want to be a part of that group – and that’s the goal. I don’t know when I’ve achieved that. There’s no number to reach really. I’ll know when I get there.

What motivates you? 

Now, this is more interesting. I do 3 things to motivate myself:

nissan-skyline-2fast2furious2 (1)

  • I have a poster of a Nissan Skyline GTR-34 (the Paul Walker one from 2fast 2furious). I’ve watched that movie one too many times. So I’ve decided that I want that car. It’s not very economic, doesn’t come with a lot of space, but it’s one of those childhood dreams. Buying that car would mean I had done something right.
  • I also have a poster of my main competitor. There’s no chance I’m going to let him win. :-)
  • Refering to the first question, I want to create something bigger than myself.

I like to read books. Some of my favorit authors include Seth Godin, Tim Ferris and Robert Kiyosaki. I’d like to recommend the book “The Dip” by Seth Godin.

In this he talks about quitting projects. You have to quit early and quit often. Untill you find that one project that works and has potential. I’m confident that is that project for me. So I’ve decided to keep on working on it untill it’s a succes (when? I don’t know till I’m there).

And I tell the whole world about it. The whole world knows about my goal and it would be a failure to not succeed. I’ve decided that this HAS to become a success and that the ingredient is WORKING on it. That keeps me motivated.

Knowing that, motivating myself to stay until the job is done every single day is not a problem. This is what I WANT and I know what has to be done in order to get it. Work.

And what gives meaning to your work?

Knowing that I’m on the right path. Progress. Because, when I can see I’m on the right path (more leads coming in, more partners using my service, more people visiting the site) I know that I just need to do what I do even more to become bigger.

Seeing grow a little by every month is incredibly motivating. Every month, we reach a new milestone. And every month, I do everything it takes in order to reach another one.

When this works, it gives meaning. When it doesn’t, I work even harder for it to give meaning the next month. I can’t code, design or do anything else spectacular, so I’ll have to put in a lot of work in order for it to be a succes – and that’s what I’ll do.

Per Jonsson, Co-Founder of 

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


For me, goal setting starts with knowing what I want. When I know what I want I can put myself and the world around me in work to make it happen. If the goal relates to a specific project it usually comes from understanding what makes that project successful. Is it number of active users? Sold products? People’s lives you have improved? The challenge is making the goal meaningful in the long-term. I might set a goal for my net income this year since it feels meaningful to me today, but will it feel as meaningful to me tomorrow?

I use small, tangible goals on a daily basis to be able to feel satisfied by my achievements at the end of the day. I use BHAG goals to motivate myself and visualise the potential of an idea or project. And somewhere in between I use strategic goals to make sure I’m on the right track and sticking to my promises.

What motivates you?

Big, bold and brave ideas motivate me. People who are fed up and want to make a change. I’m especially motivated by ideas that have a direct impact on other people.

And what gives meaning to your work?

My work receives meaning through the people I am able to impact. I reap the reward every time I see a sign of gratitude, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a friendly note.

Tine Thygesen, Co-Founder of

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


We work with goals in a constant but flexible way. We’re result oriented so we break all our work into smaller pieces which has deadlines and goals. We go through all of them on a weekly basis.

What motivates you?

The people I work with, and the fact that I am always working on something new or challenging. It’s impossible not to be motivated when you do what I do, I am surrounded by clever, passionate people and working in mobile – an industry which is going through the roof right now.

And what gives meaning to your work?

Making a difference. I want to create products and services which genuinely enrich or make people’s life easier, so it gives my work meaning when I see that the things I am involved with make a difference for people and they let us know via all the positive feedback. It’s also an amazing feeling just seeing how people use our apps all over the world.

Mike Hohnen, Founder of Grow


“Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment.” – Anthony Robbins.

This quote  from Tony Robins has been on my pin board for years. It  was also the first thing I glanced up at when thinking about these questions.

How do you envision, define and work with goals? 

I have never been a fan of very specific numerical goals. For me goals are signposts in the future and as such they provide direction to what I do.  So I tend to define my long term directional goals for a 3 or 5 year period. “This is where I would like to go for the next period of time”. In that respect I like to create a very clear picture in my mind of what my preferred future will look like. In most cases I will spend some time to write it down. After that I tend to forget about it until at some point down the line  I suddenly realize that I am well on my way towards exactly that or maybe even there. My goals also tend to be more process oriented. They are about how I would like to be or live, not about what I would like to have.

What motivates you? 

The creative process, in the broadest sense of the term. My key question in any tough  situation is to switch from problem solving mode to creation mode – I asks myself: What would I like to create? That is the key driver for me.

And what gives meaning to your work?

In one word: Purpose. When I can see that what I am doing makes a difference. That it is useful to others or a larger cause. My overall focus and purpose for years now has been to assist individuals, teams and organizations become the best possible version of themselves – and every time I see progress in an individual or team, at any level, it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.

Laila Pawlak and Kris Østergaard, Founders of DARE2mansion

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


Well, actually in DARE2 we work with aspirations rather than goals. Goals can be great, but the problem with them is that very often you tend to only reach them rather than surpass them. With aspirations the sky has a higher limit. Another description of “aspirations” could be, what we would really love to get up in the morning for. Every day. Even in the long, cold, bitter Danish winter mornings.

Rather than just talk about our aspirations and write up long rows of KPIs in Excel, we always identify our aspirations by using the awesome method LEGO ® Serious Play ®. We literally build our 1000 day aspirations. It is a fantastic method to ensure that you create a common understanding and language of where you want to go with your company.

By building in LEGOs, you activate 70-80% more neurons in your brain than just by talking. So it actually makes you smarter and thus helps create a much stronger strategy. We swear by the method and have our current 1000 day aspiration sitting in our office where it inspires us every day to aim for the Stratosphere.

What motivates you and what gives meaning to your work?

For us the two questions go together. We cannot have one without the other.

Our biggest motivation, which is also what gives meaning to every single day of our lives, is to have POSITIVE IMPACT with, for, and on other people, businesses and organizations.

Through a lot of the research we have done in our company over the years, we have identified four key motivations that help us all have positive impact. We call those BE, DO, FEEL and LOOK better. We are currently finishing a book where the model, which we call The Fundamental 4s, is at the centre. BE better is about honouring inner values, DO better is about increasing skills and competencies, FEEL better is about improving your emotional state and LOOK better is about enhancing social status or capital. If you as a person or business can honour one or preferably all of these four motivations you have positive impact.

Everything we do, whether it is doing research, strategy, or workshops for our clients or running the entrepreneurial hub DARE2mansion, is based on honouring The Fundamental 4s – having positive impact by making people BE, DO, FEEL and LOOK better.

Having positive impact is not to be confused with a 70s-hippie-let’s-all-sit-by-the-camp-fire-smoke-weed-and-sing-peace-songs kind of view of the world. For us, either/or is sooo last century. We are much stronger believers in both/and. This means that our aim is to create both purpose AND profit. Purpose, because it provides meaning to what we do. Profit, because it allows us to do more of what we love. We truly believe that by doing what really gives meaning to your life your motivation comes naturally – our research shows that most entrepreneurs feel that way. Just look at their amazing sick day statistics, which would make any corporate HR director green with envy.

Finally, there is a reason that we call DARE2mansion for The Professional Playground, because “Work IS Play”. Or at least it should be. It may not always be easy. It’s an ideal. But if we can make every work day into a play day, then life becomes sweet, aspirations becomes much easier to achieve and we have fun while doing it. To us, that sure is meaningful!

Tor Grønsund, Founder of

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


My father once told me something along the lines of “It’s a lot harder to hit a moving target than a target that sits still.”

What he meant is that if you don’t have a clear vision, it is hard to reach that vision.I try to navigate accordingly. The path to that vision, however, is most likely to vary. Especially when dealing with new, non-existing stuff to which the answer is not yet known. I’m not a GTD type of person. I rarely set goals for myself. Rather, I believe in identifying a purpose – the why – and try to learn how to get there one step at the time. When it’s hard to stay motivated, I find it meaningful having a purpose.

What motivates you?

Entrepreneurs. Those who stand tall and are willing to fight for what they believe in. Those who challenge the status quo and walk that extra mile to right a wrong. Those who dare to lead, not follow.

Currently I’m writing the Startup Vikings ( book to collect the stories of Nordic tech entrepreneurs. Through interviews with successful entrepreneurs about their lessons learned and approaches to leadership and building startups, I hope the stories will help aspiring entrepreneurs find motivation and inspiration in role models.

What gives meaning to your work?

I believe in the power of continuous learning to solve problems. Paul Arden said “90% of advertising inspiration comes from other advertising”, pointing to why most advertising is boring. I see a similar pattern on the tech startup scene. Too many companies look to tech blogs, competitors, and current trends when coming up with yet another app idea. Instead, I believe in moving beyond existing knowledge and comfort zones to find solutions to problems.

For instance, picking up a DJ controller and start mixing house music recently taught me a thing about innovation. Unlike the music industry in general, which is pretty much locked in on copyright, I learned that the indie house music scene is open. Indie DJs design their tracks with an intro and an outro. This way they make it easy for other artists to adopt, remix, and refer their work. It’s a win-win situation, and the genre is moving fast forward onto the billboard.

James Pember, Founder of

How do you envision, define and work with goals?


Here’s the thing, setting goals is super easy –  ”I want to lose 5 kg’s”, “I want to hire our first employee next month” or even “I want to own a Ferrari by 30″. See? They’re easy to throw out, but without a structure, they don’t really mean anything.

Whilst it’s hardly revolutionary, I do think that visualising goals and progress is super critical, and it’s something I do myself. If it’s about losing weight, tracking your weight loss will drive you to work harder to get there quicker. If it’s business related, make sure that your to-do/goal list is the first thing you see when you open your computer. By constantly reminding yourself of the goal, and your progress – there will be less chance of forgetting them.

One of the tricks I’ve learned more recently about goal setting is to make them public. By doing so, it makes them more real and it gives me a sense of responsibility, in that I don’t want to look like I failed at achieving my goals. When I say public, it can be anything from posting it on Facebook, to telling your girlfriend. It’s the mental part that matters here.

What motivates you? 

I’m 100% motivated by the goal of putting myself in a position where I can work exclusively on things that I want to work on, for 100% of my time. That’s really the dream isn’t it?

And what gives meaning to your work? 

Well, as you know I’ve recently started up a new company called Sparta – and we build tools for sales managers to increase motivation, productivity and results on the sales floor. So, in one sense it’s kind of a big goal – “increase productivity for sales teams”, and I love working towards that goal every day. If we can achieve that goal, we can really make an impact for our customers and that feels pretty awesome.


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