Welcome to the blog of Swedish entrepreneur and freelancer Filip Svensson, in constant pursuit of productivity, happiness and life.
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Blog #15 – I Met The Ninja of Unicornsulting / A Sit-Down With Karl-Magnus Möller – Part 2
June 18, 2017.A Sunday.
This is part 2 of my interview with the innovation consultant and Bujinkan black belt Karl-Magnus Möller. To find part 1 just click the URL right here: Part 1, or head over to the blog archive and poke around.
– As you just mentioned Kalle, you have your ninja-training to thank for a lot of things. Would you like to elaborate on that?
– “Yes! For instance, a concept that have influenced how I run my business is ‘Banpen Fugyō – ten thousand changes, no surprise,’ which the grand master Hatsumi Sensei describes in the following way:
“[…] The universe is shared by all things and every moment is a state of spontaneous calamity, thus is always in the process of change. Any occurrence can happen at any time. This is truly spontaneous change. Therefore, I never go against nature. I am in favor of the quiet mind that is never surprised, and remains free from conflict. Simply put, there is nothing you desire.”
– Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi
– “I view Unicornsulting (Karl-Magnus’ company) as a prototype. If I think that I know exactly what the business is, I am certain that I am wrong, and I view Banpen Fugyō as a way of running (it) with the flow of nature, as opposed to fighting against it.”
With the basics of marketing in mind (such as the more diversity in the products, the harder it is to make people remember what you do), I ask Kalle if it is difficult to market something that is in constant change?
– “For me it actually makes it easier, as it conveys the message that I am living by the values that are important when it comes to work in innovation and change leadership, such as transparency, curiosity and being prone to change in general. But in the end, what I’m really marketing is myself: my experience, my mindset and how that can be applied to solve a problem with a far less than obvious solution.”
I am impressed by Kalle’s way of turning a marketing nightmare into a real life case of working change to your advantage – which also appears to be the product.
At least for now.
And although the part about “desiring nothing” in Banpen Fugyō feels a bit too depressing for my part, the philosophy of embracing change as a constant rings very true.
And to not spend your energy going against nature is very close to this quote by Tim Ferriss, which I happen to have taken to heart:
“It’s far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor ”
– Tim Ferriss
When thinking about it, it seems that business, and life, are much about how you manage the ever changing flow of energy.
Which in turn reminds me of the wonderful movie The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki I saw the other day, where this young boy dreams about becoming an airplane engineer, in a setting where the wind serves as a metaphor for life (at least in my interpretation).
In other words, the boy’s quest to build an airplane is about finding a way of using the wind to make him fly.
Making it a movie about mastering the nature of life to make you feel alive.
Which in some intuitive way feels very close to not trying to change nature, and to “keep a quite mind,” that in expecting nothing is prepared for anything.
– “… And when it comes to strategy, I have learned and implemented so many things. Like changing approach if something doesn’t work. For instance, if you were to meet force with force, you can create an opening by removing yours.”
But to remove your force, in a sense, is to yield to the circumstances. And that takes courage, because yielding also means embracing your own vulnerability:
“… In order to stop operating from a ‘safe’ position and start exploring the unknown, you need to embrace your vulnerability as opposed to fearing it. And you also need to help others do the same” Kalle tells me; “This is true whether I help the kids that I train to start focusing on their own effort instead of what the others are doing, or in management groups where there is a lot of prestige attached to making a ‘wrong move,’ and you are nervous about what others may think. The times when I have made the biggest leaps of progress, as a budo practitioner as well as an innovation leader, have been when I have truly embraced my own vulnerability.”
Speaking from own experience, this really is a tricky subject. Because there are so many aspects of being an entrepreneur that hinges on you not taking a “no” for an answer; not acknowledging shortcomings and just keeping on pressing on.
In fact, it’s the whole believe you can do it-thing that in many cases enables you to do them in the first place.
But perhaps it is more about finding energy efficient ways of making progress, and that progress sometimes mean realizing that the most efficient way may lie in the opposite direction.
And perhaps that’s where the innovation comes in.
Like when you turn your marketing nightmare into your greatest selling point.
“Without vulnerability, there is no courage. Without courage, there is no innovation”
– Karl-Magnus Möller
Being in touch with your vulnerability is also to face your fear of failure, says Kalle; “Fear is a survival mechanism that is crucial in the situations where it is needed. However, it is also triggered in situations where it becomes counter productive. To be able to befriend your fear and not let it control you is tremendously valuable. It doesn’t mean that everything always turnout the way you want, but it’s good to be aware of it.”
But vulnerability is also closely connected to your ability to love, argues Kalle, and continues by telling me that this is what has had by far the biggest impact on his life: “Without Bujinkan, I wouldn’t be together with my partner. And without her I wouldn’t have started Unicornsulting, gone to Burning Man, and grown from being scared of children to training children groups – and being the father of a three months old little baby.”
So, in a sense, one man’s bearded journey to become a ninja has lead to another (beardless) life being born.
The wind rises.
Are you feeling it?
Thank you for reading!/Filip