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Creating an active vision


ISSN 1651-966-

No. 09 May 2012


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ECO tOurism dEstinatiOn Of thE yEar It is clearly something positive that a destination like Gothenburg can be recognised for its environmental resources. Fresh air, clean water, unspoilt islands and large forests bring benefits not just for our visitors but of course for us who live here. All this in combination with Scandinavia’s largest all-under-one-roof eco-friendly conventions venue sharpens our competitive edge as a meeting destination. This award is proof of our work and an inspiration for us to develop our responsibility for the future. Now let us enlighten you.

a nEW mEEtinG EXPEriEnCE The key to ensure a successful meeting is providing what’s needed, and

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community and the universities dramatically simplifies organisation and

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venue, and marketing etc., the meeting earns an environmental certification

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and reliable public transportation it is also easy to get around. The closeness to the sea and archipelago adds another dimension, tranquillity. That, together with an abundance of restaurants, culture and Göteborg & Co. Gothenburg Convention Bureau | T: +46 (0)31-368 4000 | E: |



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7 3

global vision award


meetings international

No. 09 

May 2012 Vitamins For Your Mind


The Meetings Revolution Day Atti Soenarso says it’s high time for a meetings revolution

LE GA LLY R E SPONSIB LE ED I TO R I N C H I EF Atti Soenarso  PU B LISHE R Roger Kellerman



Efva Lilja

Create a more active vision

W R ITE R S Tomas Dalström, Hans Gordon,

Roger Kellerman, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso. 



PH OTOGR A PH E R Sara Appelgren (including cover) 

Hans Gordon asks: Do we really understand reality?

TR A NSL ATION Dennis Brice  E DITOR  Pravasan Pillay  A RT D I REC TO R  E DITOR IA L R AYS OF SUNS H I NE  John Venkiah Trio +


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The emotional brain and decision-making

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Achieving Longevity (and Greatness in Business) Personal practices for sustainability


Meetings Industry Week 2013 Planning is well underway

photo: nicho södling

something’s cooking in the capital of scandinavia. if you thought that swedish cuisine consisted solely of meatballs and pickled herring, well, you may want to think again. Because the evidence is crystal clear: Europe’s culinary center of gravity is steadily moving northwards.

photo: jEns Assur

No, not all Stockholmers catch their dinner with a rod and reel. But the fact is that the water is so clean that even fish landed in downtown Stockholm is perfectly edible. Maybe you should try a few casts?

As with most trends, it’s difficult to pinpoint when the popularity of the swedish cuisine really took off. some say it started with the phenomenal success of stieg larsson’s Millennium trilogy, while others cite the fact that most scandinavian foods are fresh tasting and tie in with the current trend towards low carb, high protein diets favored by today’s health-conscious. Be that as it may, the fact is that Swedish food is selling like hot cakes [no pun intended]. Take the UK for example, where Swedish food sales have risen by almost 30% in the past five years and only last January, food trends agency the Food People tipped Scandinavian

food as the “hottest UK culinary trend of 2011”.1 the rise of the swedish chef Spurred on by their growing international popularity, Swedish chefs have claimed medal after medal in the most prestigious culinary events during recent years. In fact, the Swedish National Team has won medals in all international competitions since 1996, winning two Culinary Olympics gold medals and two World Championships in the process. More than 1500 restaurants, and climbing Stockholm rivals Paris in restaurants per capita. Six of them boast Michelin

stars, but perhaps more importantly: the average standard is very high with several hundred that serve food well up to, and exceeding international demands. Let’s put it like this: finding a nice restaurant is the least of your worries when visiting Stockholm. Swedes in general, and Stockholmers in particular, are very trend sensitive and eager to try the latest “thing” (which is why many multinational companies use Stockholm as their test market). This insatiable need for innovation impacts the restaurant business as well. If a restaurant doesn’t keep up with the times, regarding service and flavors, its days are numbered. On the flip side, you’ll be able to find some

Great food, but hard to get a reservation. After the yearly Nobel Prize awards ceremony, a banquet is held at the Stockholm City Hall, where some 1,300 guests enjoy a three-course dinner of Swedish specialties.

pretty Avant-garde eateries if that’s what your pallet desires. Another unique and inherently Swedish tradition is that most restaurants serve what’s called “lunch of the day”; a well cooked, substantial meal for about SEK 90-100 (appr. 10-11 Euro) including coffee!

For more information, send us an e-mail or give us a call! stockholm Visitors Board stockholm convention Bureau phone: +46 8 508 28 500

Would you like to sample the very essence of the Swedish culinary tradition? Look no further than Östermalmshallen, Stockholm’s spectacular food hall where every conceivable type of food is readily available.

photo: stAFFAn EliAsson

We are here for you Stockholm Convention Bureau is here to make things easier for organizers. As a part of Stockholm Visitors Board, we provide a free-of-charge service offering all the support you need to plan a successful meeting. If you want to know more about what we offer and why companies and organizations keep coming back to Stockholm, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

photo: FrEdriKA BErghult

different flavors for different seasons Swedish food is sometimes categorized as comfort food, and currently many restaurants are returning to their roots and bringing back slow-cooked traditional dishes made from locally produced, ecological ingredients. Another trend is that chefs are rediscovering Sweden’s vast reserves of seasonal ingredients and cross-pollinating them with new influences and cooking innovations, creating an amazing variety of modern and exciting dishes that vary with the seasons. A reason as good as any to return to Stockholm during different periods of the year.

Bocuse d’Or Europe in Stockholm 2014 perhaps the best known culinary championships in the world, the Bocuse d’or, is coming to stockholm in 2014 when the European round of the competition will be held as a part of the major gastronord food fair. the choice of stockholm as the venue should come as no surprise, since swedish chefs have taken silver medals in the last two world finals. out of the last six medals awarded, scandinavian chefs have taken home an astonishing five! 1

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INTRO | 15


If British chef Jamie Oliver can start a worldwide campaign for better food for children then we can start a meetings revolution day in Sweden to produce better meetings. Why are so many people content to attend jalopy meetings when there are Ferrari meetings? The drivers may well need a fuel injection, but if more people were to sit in the driver’s seat then things might progress much quicker. There are safe and secure Volvo meetings. Not that revolutionary, perhaps, but which nevertheless boast 324 innovations from the first generation to the latest. There are low-flying BMW meetings and SAAB meetings that are on their way out of production but which still have a few years left in them. There are efficient, polished chrome Mercedes meetings that risk leaving delegates behind. There are Citroen meetings with technological innovations that sometimes work, and Japanese Toyota and South Korean Hyundai meetings that are likely to be more efficient than good. Whichever way we look at it, progress and renewal are key words in the car industry. Why doesn’t the meetings industry and meetings content undergo modernisation at the same pace as cars? When will the International Association of Facilitators (IAF ) create special courses for developing

corporate meetings together with universities? When will we see a professor raise his hand and say: “At our university we’ve created an environment that provides our students with a strategic toolbox for producing innovative and fruitful meetings when they enter working life.” Every graduate should have an entry on their leaving certificate saying that they can produce good meetings. They should have enough know-how and practical experience to implement a whole range of meetings – a strategic development tool in its own right. It is high time for the Meetings Revolution Day. A whole day together with the IAF and universities and colleges that know something has to be done. It will cover everything from simple Open Space exercises to Strategic Visioning and World Café. From putting on Edward de Bono thinking hats to other approaches that improve the way in which meetings are planned, implemented, evaluated and followed up. The first Meetings Revolution Day will be implemented at the Meeting Industry Week in Gothenburg, Sweden, next year. A warm welcome is extended.

Swedish-Indonesian Atti Soenarso has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. She has worked for Scandinavia’s largest daily newspaper, was TV4’s first travel editor, has written for many Swedish travel magazines and has had several international clients. She has travelled the length and breadth of the world and written about destinations, people and meetings.







Tomas Dalström PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren





She didn’t stop until everything was perfect, and she persuaded the Bilbao local authority to darken an entire town district to ensure optimum lighting for a performance outside the Guggenheim Museum in 2001.

“I probably make rather tough demands but I really try to keep my eyes open for what is a reasonable counterperformance from the other artists. I’ve learnt to be explicit in not expecting others to work as hard as I do. It took a good many years for me to realise that. I didn’t even consider that my way of pursuing my art could in any way be experienced as difficult by those who couldn’t keep up with the pace. I’ve learnt a lot from everybody I’ve worked with.” Efva Lilja is a professor of choreography and Head of the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm. She has worked as a choreographer since the early 1980s. Her work has been performed in a variety of settings: site-specific, videos, films and TV in over thirty countries. She has also published several noteworthy

dance books and has won many prizes and awards for her work. In 2003 she was made a professor of choreography and in 2006 became Head of the University of Dance and Circus. “The Guggenheim Museum was planning to stage a show outside the museum and asked me and three other artists around the world to come with suggestions. I didn’t need any second bidding. I travelled down in winter and sat outside the museum for a week taking in the architecture, the surroundings and the people. A concept took shape that I called The Illuminated Dream Aflame, and they accepted it! I was very proud and the first Scandinavian artist to do anything like it. Receiving such international acclaim set my heart racing. There was certainly a lot of work to do for just one performance. A 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“Event has become the name for a more commercialised sector where you work on demand”

hundred and twelve people were involved in the production. There were twelve Swedes made up of six dancers, lighting designers, composers and photographers. Thirty four dancers, a sixteen strong male choir and a large team of technicians came from Spain. “We got three thousand people in but there was such a demand for tickets that Spanish television broadcast it live on giant screens allowing almost four thousand people to see it in a massive car park. “I worked mainly on the exterior: the meeting between the titanium sheeting, the steel, the concrete, the glass, the water and mankind. The theme was the contribution of mankind. The dancers were in the air and in the water. At that time I worked a lot at high heights so we had dancers who had trained in mountain climbing techniques and were used to harnesses and ropes. Because they flew through the air we changed the perspective so that the wall became the floor. I worked with an MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

amazing set designer who built all the constructions around the water, including waterfalls. We set things alight. It was a lot of work but great fun.” Spatial awareness is vital for Efva Lilja. She strives to find the right forum for what she wishes to convey. “It’s where the conditions are shaped for the meeting between the audience and the work. I have a deep respect for the audience. They sometimes prefer to sit in the dark auditorium, other times to come and go as they please. This helps in their meeting with the work.” She has even stolen shows without having to put on a performance. By choreographing settings she controls people’s actions. Delegates at one conference got to choose between sitting high or low, rocking gently or sitting still. She lit the setting in different ways to create varying conditions for participation. “They could either sit looking at each other or they could sit by themselves. This was a conference






“If a person is under the table while we’re speaking, what happens then?”

with 300 delegates that received good feedback. It’s not as though the people taking part are fully aware of what’s taking place. For them it’s just a positive experience. “I’ve also added unexpected elements in architectural settings, like sand in a room, for instance. What happens when you go barefoot into a meeting room and begin talking about the company’s development strategy?” Efva Lilja worked for a Stockholm company where she was given free rein to stage settings that stimulate greater creativity. She worked a lot with lighting, colours and different types of material. “People usually hold their gaze at one level. I focused on getting them to release it and notice things on the ceiling or on the floor, thus creating a more active vision. That’s what art does. A performance up on a bookshelf or the conference table. What happens with the gaze and what happens with the people experiencing it? If a person is under the table

while we’re speaking, what happens then? There are a lot of things in our daily lives that we take for granted. When we are called into question by an unexpected presence we have to take an active stance. This activation of the senses is key in what I do.” When asked to describe herself Efva Lilja says she has a genuine interest in people and the communication that takes place in interpersonal relationships. “It’s been my way of embracing the notion of one language. Not only that which we define as language, which we speak and write, but the understanding of non-verbal communication – and we communicate a great deal, a lot more than we know. At first sight we form immediate opinions of a person. Most of what we convey is non-verbal. Our bodies and movements disclose our background, personality and identity. This is what I focus on. “Scientific research and art have a great deal in common. A good many performing artists collaborate with 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“Leadership is at the core of artistic activities”

scientists. It’s an attempt to make the world more comprehensible. For me, art in this way becomes a real meeting place where things collide and crash, but also progress and propel.” Efva Lilja has taken part in several research projects herself. In one project she lived in the Antarctic for two months to study how the climate influences our movements. “I called the project The Art of Dance in a Frozen Landscape and focused on the things that affect us most in Nordic cultures. We move in different ways to people in hot climate cultures. We gesticulate differently and have another way of speaking. The Inuits, for example, speak from further down in the mouth so as not to open it too much and let out their body heat. In the Nordics we hold our arms next to our bodies. This is seen in folk dancing with arms folded, which reflects the tight movement pattern. In hotclimate cultures, on the other hand, arms are lifted like in flamenco to let out the heat.” MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

Efva Lilja feels that the meetings industry could learn from dance and other artistic activities. She says that a great deal hinges on interpersonal relationships. How we meet, why we meet, what we are prepared to give and what we see in a meeting. “I’m surprised at the number of tedious conferences and meetings that are held. In my experience organisers are terribly conventional in their approaches to forming meetings. They work against the grain by not utilising the know-how that exists. It doesn’t cost any more to set the right colour lighting or to rearrange the furniture to improve the dialogue. “The settings at many meetings are very plain. A lot more could be achieved by using a choreographer. Choreographers are well versed in movement, time and space, as well as things like lighting, colour, design and material that are significative in portraying movement. We use these parameters to form a certain type of expression and it’s fully possible to use them to give expression to a

situation or setting. Of course, a lot depends on whether or not the customer is willing to take the chance.” Efva Lilja sets clear borders for the type of work she will accept. She emphasises emphatically that she is not just light entertainment at the dinner table. “That doesn’t work. I need all attention and focus on the moment, on the meeting between the art and the onlookers. The word event has become synonymous for a more commercialised sector where you work on demand. I’ve never entered that sector. Problems arise when you have to tailor something to suit an event. I’ve even been asked if the dancers could serve food, preferably lightly clad. “Being the artist that I am, I find it difficult to adapt to that kind of commercialisation. I accept a lot of commissions, but usually for local councils and art institutions who want me to stage something in relation to a setting or a building, something far removed from

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“Who are you to tell me that I can’t live my dream or that it’s impossible to fulfil?”

conventional performances. This interests me immensely. I’ve got nothing against the private sector helping to fund artistic events. It’s a positive gesture and there are some good examples. Finnish Siemens once funded a film, an interesting artistic production, with a real budget and it turned out as good a film as it could be with no demands on exposure for the company’s product. Another example is when ITT Flygt funded a production of mine for the Wasa Museum. It had nothing at all to do with their products, they just wanted to support innovative events for their staff to go and see. Their logo had a discrete placement in the programme sheet. This type of collaboration and the fusion of meetings with art are crucial.” Efva Lilja says that private sector sponsorship is difficult to get. “I still find that sponsorship is, on the main, directed at very conventional and tradition-bound productions, while it’s difficult to interest sponsors in something that

breaks new ground. Also, philanthropic support is still very much the norm within the performing arts.” For Efva Lilja, creativity and artistic expression is about having the courage to question, to view events through the eyes of ‘why’ and ‘how’ in order to be able to do something differently. “I feel that as an artist, and to a certain extent as head of a university, I’m basically changing the prevailing order into what I want it to be. I have to create the images I want to see and the conditions that don’t already exist.” Her identity is deeply etched in being a choreographer and choreographers are always a driving force within their spheres. She takes her artistic leadership skills with her into her work as Head of the University of Dance and Circus. “I’ve built up an organisation surrounding my performing art that involves a great many people. I’ve had my own team producing my work all over the world for twenty years.

Leadership is at the core of artistic activities. It requires a great deal of administration as well as organisational and management skills. How do you get people to utilise their abilities and get it all to interplay with the drive we all have in us at different levels? I do that when I work as a choreographer with dancers, composers, graphic artists, philosophers, etcetera. A lot of it is similar to my work here. The university is a very dynamic place. I want to be part of building an organisation that in many ways resembles the one I was part of building up previously. Also, as an organisation the university comes under a strict set of rules, and being a public body is no easy thing. It’s important for me to find the structures that promote the democratic process that makes the students active. There’s a lot of choreography involved in this too. “As a choreographer I feel entrepreneurial. You have to think outside the box in relation to entrepreneurship. I’m tired of hearing that all the 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“I have to create the images I want to see and the conditions that don’t already exist”

things I want to do are impossible. I notice this with our students; young people who come with visions and dreams who are soon influenced by the ‘impossible’ self-fulfilling prophesy. Who says I can’t do this? Who are you to tell me that I can’t live my dream or that it’s impossible to fulfil? You have to work out how to make the impossible possible. “We do this by looking into ourselves. The only thing stopping us from fulfilling our dreams is ourselves. ‘I’ll never manage this, I’m not capable, I can’t …’ Well, how can I learn? Are there others I could learn from? You have to keep seeking out the windows of opportunity. “When speaking to students I usually ask them who they want to be seen as. This is a personal question. How do I get the surrounding world to see what I want it to see; my concept, my thoughts, my visions or me as a person? I think I have that in common with a lot of artists, and it’s the performance not the person that is of primary importance. Also, MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

we live in a capitalist society that is extremely focused on the individual. You learn to handle it and create techniques that empower you to step forward as the person you are and with what you produce. “As a leader you must always dare to step forward. It’s crucial. It’s also important not to step forward using outdated leadership models and to have the courage to ask: Who and how do I want to be as a leader? Which structure or organisation will underpin this? I know that I have plenty with me from my art that enables me to tackle problems in other ways. For example, I quite often come up with fresh ideas, for which I get a positive response, both internally and externally.” It was a discotheque that changed Efva Lilja’s life. She grew up in a small Swedish community with a homogenous culture that she found difficult to adapt to and was a very quiet girl. “In my early teens I danced a lot at the local disco. In the darkened room with the pulsating music I felt






“… it’s difficult to interest sponsors in something that breaks new ground”

like I could do exactly what I wanted. And I did; the anonymity in the dark became my free zone. I soon realised that I was good at dancing. I came into contact with some other girls and we formed small dance groups. It gave me the self-esteem that I’d been lacking and a self-assurance that I took with me when I left home at fifteen. I hitchhiked south and dance was my only secure base during the first confusing years. Dance made me feel like I was somebody and this enabled me to build up my self-confidence and a language that went parallel with my spoken language. It’s the communicative power of dance that is genuinely interesting.” Efva Lilja says that the view of dance has changed dramatically in the years that she has been active. When she began professionally in the late 1970s, dance as an art form was an extremely small sphere. “We were fewer than ten choreographers. It has grown beyond recognition. Today we work in a global environment in giant networks

that create new forms of cooperation and artistic expression. Young people involved in dance and circus today are much more politically and socially active than ten years ago and there are many more forms of collaboration and innovative approaches. Instead of doing individual performances on what they see and think they go in and work together. At the same time, the spearheads who work in a narrow field and don’t function in a broad commercial sense get in the front line and a public meeting arises. I think it’s because we work more internationally. “The reason I’m sitting here today is that I want to play a part in influencing developments. I want the young generation to have better conditions than I had. As an artist I want to be part of turning the university into a resource for professional artists as well, which would bring artistic research closer to the education and the profession.” Efva Lilja would welcome more collaboration between the private

sector and people with an artistic background. “If we’re talking about the professional sector then there is a market. Our students’ job market is quite broad. Meetings between our various knowledge bases are always good. We need to question what we’re doing by accepting other approaches, and that’s mutual. Much of what I’ve benefited from in developing my art has been triggered by meetings in completely unexpected forms that have forced me to take a new view. What am I looking for? Why am I doing this? Why do they take for granted that it has to be in a certain way just because it’s been that way before? I believe we have a lot to give each other, but we have to pluck up courage to put things to the test and take the plunge.”




© Strozier


Hans Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Authorised Psychologist, specialised in Aviation Psychology. Authorised psychotherapist, since 1987 running Gordon Consulting. Has for decades been engaged by airline companies, among them SAS and Thai Airways International.


DO I REALLY UNDERSTAND REALITY? Dr. Frankenstein lives. In his laboratory he has removed a human brain from its cranium and placed it in a vessel filled with a special liquid containing all the nutrients that it needs to stay alive. The brain’s neurons that normally communicate with the rest of the decapitated body have been connected to a supercomputer. At lightning speed the computer supplies the brain with information telling it that everything is under control. It feeds the brain with a variety of outdoor images: streets, buildings, cars, people, a cloudy sky, etcetera. The brain ‘sees’ all these things but they are actually only electrical impulses. Of course, it is not your brain swimming around in a vessel of water. You are relaxing on a sofa or in a chair reading an article, aren’t you? Or … How can you be sure? Perhaps you are just being fed what you think is a sofa or a chair in a room. Or …? The Truman Show, a movie starring Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, was released in 1998. As a baby Truman was chosen to live in a

completely artificial environment, a giant studio with hidden cameras everywhere. Everybody would be able to follow Truman’s life down to the finest details in real time on TV without Truman being aware that he was a test subject in a massive soap opera. All the people around him were film extras, even his wife. One day a giant spotlight fell down from the artificial sky right next to Truman. Have you noticed the giant spotlights glaring down on you? Have you seen the hidden cameras? How do you know you are not part of a soap opera? The science fiction movie The Matrix is about what people believed the world was like in 1999 when in actual fact they were victims of a computer-simulated, artificial indoctrination. The internationally renowned Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom, who is Swedish-born, claims that the movie is not pure fiction at all. We live, he says, de facto in a world that is, to a great extent, built upon computer simulation.



“Nick Bostrom … claims that the movie is not pure fiction at all. We live, he says, de facto in a world that is, to a great extent, built upon computer simulation”

What then is reality? Does it exist? Existential issues of this nature have always interested philosophers as well as natural scientists. In his work The Republic, Plato (427–354 BC) argued that the things people think they experience only comprise of depictions and a shadow play of an underlying reality. The French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) studied the difficulties in differentiating between dreams and other experiences. How do we know that what we perceive really exists, he asked. How do I know I exist? And he gave the answer: Cogito, ergo sum – ‘I think, therefore I am.’ Descartes thus laid the foundation for scepticism. We should never be content with taking something for granted just because somebody else thinks it is the truth. Thinking, and the possibilities afforded by the general intellect, forced open doors and more people became schooled in a new form of analysis and with it a new form of independence. A great deal happened during the 17th century. The Age of Enlightenment began and people shrugged off their solemn allegiance to regents and churches MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

and proclaimed their right to think for themselves. From this rose the modern revolutionary theories that brought about the historically groundbreaking French Revolution (1789–1799), which gave rise to new ideologies. But did this bring us closer to reality? Just what do we mean by reality? The astronomers and cosmologists of today are struggling to put the final pieces of the universe puzzle in place. Does the universe have borders? Why does matter still accelerate outwards from our supposedly enclosed entity that nearly 14 billion years ago exploded in a fraction of a second and began to form everything that exists? Moreover, are there any parallel universes? More and more seriousminded cosmologists are beginning to think so. Meanwhile, in their laboratories, the particle physicists of today continue to search for the smallest building blocks of matter. Do these consist of strings of beads that skip and dart in what appears to be at random? Is that what we are all built from? Increasingly complex information is flowing over us. Diverse technological aids, computers, smart

phones and the like, have given us a ‘wide-angle lens’ to view exceedingly larger expanses. But we people have a problem, and it grows with the more information we receive. The problem is the brain’s limitations. We cannot handle just any amount of information. We cannot analyse the large quantities of data sequences that constantly pour over us. It is like confronting an inexhaustible tidal wave that just keeps gushing in. We become flooded in information. What do we do then? Build barricades? Yes, that is exactly what we do. That is to say, we do the best we can. We close our eyes and drive on oblivious to the changes going on around us. We have managed to adapt to driving in intensive city traffic (managed and managed … not everybody, seemingly) and have thus succeeded in transporting ourselves out of the Neolithic period, but we cannot handle the modern environment with its rapid changes without closing our eyes and turning a deaf ear to it now and then. Parts of the barricade are made up of regressions. Regression means backward movement. Regression in this case means that we, at least partly, abandon all


“As we do not know the real truth about anything, we should direct our critical attention at those who dogmatically state that it is this way or that”

we have learnt to enter the world of illusion. Thus, some people deviate from the philosophical point of departure that uses scepticism as an intellectual tool. If sufficient numbers follow suit then critical thinking will subside along with independence. We return to the solemn allegiance stage. The Church may experience a slight upswing, but new groups and born again groups are formed that attract those who can no longer cope with seeking what could be referred to as ‘the true reality’ but instead prefer the Preacher with a capital P to tell them how things stand. Among the born again groups, by way of example, are the heathens. These people have adopted the ancient Asatru religion that worships gods such as Woden, Thor and Freya with the same fiery passion as the original heathens once did. The increased interest in all manner of spiritual activities could also be put down to regressive tendencies. The world is literally swarming with mediums and seers who claim to be able to talk to the dead and, through their alleged contacts with the spiritual world, make money on people’s

despair over losing a loved one. Then there are the animal communicators who claim to interpret the emotional and intellectual life of dogs, horses, cats and other animals. Even within the domain of applied psychology there are those who waver from critical thinking. This concerns the clinical sector in particular, where many psychologists, and even their more prominent federations, are attempting to travel down the wellbeaten track of the medical sector. Giving patients static diagnoses has become the ‘in thing.’ They refer to illnesses they assume have to do with genetic defects or other clinical pictures. Mental conditions are classified in the large medical bibles. If you have a set of symptoms then you are diagnosed and forced into journalised treatment. Is that such a bad thing? No, not really, but only with the greatest scepticism should the science of psychology be placed side-by-side with the chemical substances in the medicine cabinet. That people distort their sensory impressions and transform them into something other than that which originally manifested itself was a known fact in the witness psychology

that emerged during the 1940s and 50s. In judicial contexts, not least serious crime cases, it is common for witnesses to claim having seen and heard things that are completely contradictory to what others have witnessed. Who is right and who is wrong, and who is partly right and wrong? Such things can be investigated on condition that we use a sound investigative model that emanates from critical thinking. When people meet in congress halls, at seminars and similar venues, where the purpose is to share knowledge and experience, a high tolerance level is always sure to bring out the best critical reflections. As we do not know the real truth about anything, we should direct our critical attention at those who dogmatically state that it is this way or that. These people are only living their illusions. We can listen and we can create our own ideas around what we hear, but we would be wise not to discontinue our scrutinising.


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Quincy Jones

GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE YSTAD SWEDEN JAZZ FESTIVAL The fact that Quincy Jones, one of the world’s greatest musicians of all time, has discovered the jazz festival in Ystad is amazing. The fact that he is appearing in it is absolutely fantastic. Ystad is a small coastal town in the far south of Sweden with a population of roughly 17,000. The festival has 29 concerts from the world elite of jazz and everybody who is anybody wants to participate. World-renowned Swedish jazz pianist, Jan Lundgren, is Art Director for the festival and he has brought together world artists and young Swedish talent with a great career ahead of them. Count on plenty of groundbreaking musical meetings across the generations. The jazz festival concludes with a tribute to Quincy Jones by the Swedish jazz elite with a concert ‘A Quincy Jones Celebration’ on Sunday, 5 August at 10pm. We can’t wait!

© Nsea








Atti so oenar



Sara gren Appel





Avinash Chandarana, the Group Learning and Development Director of MCI Group, started at MCI in 2003 having been part of a merger with GIC Management, Europe’s leading Association Management Company at that time. Formally the Director of Talent and Development at MCI Brussels, he moved into the role of Group Learning and Development Director in late 2007.

Born in Uganda and raised and educated in the UK, Avinash Chandarana has worked and lived in the USA, Norway and now resides in Brussels with his Spanish wife and four year old son, Santiago. The road to his current professional and personal life has been unconventional and characterised by reinvention. “It started with an upbringing in two very distinct cultures – Indian and British; a meeting of East and West. It was winter 1972 and we had just landed in England. Along with thousands of Indian families, we had just become refugees having been ousted from Uganda, East Africa by the ruthless dictator, Idi Amin. We arrived in the UK with nothing but our clothes and had to rebuild our lives from the ground up. “Growing up in the UK as a minority in the 1970s was daunting but pushed me to learn how to adapt,

develop and survive in a culture fundamentally different from my own. Lessons from such a life changing experience have remained deeply rooted and are a permanent reminder of how one cannot take for granted what one has in life.” Having graduated in business studies, he started out in a marketing post for a large multinational in London and soon moved into the non-profit sector working with an experiential global leadership education programme for most of the 1990s. “The purpose was to nurture young global leaders by teaching leadership skills, conflict management and resolution, cross-cultural communication skills, social and civic responsibility through participation in community projects, and a range of core business skills through internships – all while travelling from country to country, continent to continent.”



“If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people”

One of the community projects Chandarana was involved in left a lasting memory. “It was an inner-city project in the gang infested south central districts of Compton and Watts in Los Angeles soon after the LA riots in 1992. The three week long ‘Project Pride’ programme focused on instilling pride in junior high school students suffering from low self-esteem and fear having grown up in communities riddled with gang violence, drugs and little hope of a better future. We worked with selected senior high school students, developed a mentorship programme and through a series of workshops, connected them with the junior students to build strong relationships through positive role modeling. A project which left a legacy.” Project Pride was one of over 80 different community projects that he experienced. “Another equally powerful experience that shaped me was the opportunity to live with over 170 host MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

families in 17 countries as part of the programme. From the luxurious mansion home of a wealthy US diplomat to living with a poor Estonian family in Tallinn, this remains simply the single most eye opening and powerful educational experience into the diversity and nature of the lifestyles, habits and values of the family system. “These deeply moving and life changing experiences during the early stages of youth combined with experiential education has fundamentally influenced my core values, behaviours and attitude towards life. I often rely on these assets to drive my way of thinking and doing what I do.” Chandarana says that making a difference in his professional life has always been one of his core motivations. “There is nothing better than knowing that the results of what you do can in some small way impact the success and future aspirations of others.” Combining his passion for delivering and facilitating training over







“If you were to take a children’s story book and convert it into a bullet list in PowerPoint will they be absorbed, fascinated and excited to listen to you? Not on Goldilock’s life!”

many years in an international setting, he embarked on a journey to integrate Learning and Development as part of MCI’s overall business strategy. “The vehicle to deliver this strategy? MCI Institute – our learning centre of excellence.” He says that launching the Institute four years ago was, in effect, like launching a new product. “The focus was a balance between designing our first learning programme series and building awareness within the company. Just as important was developing the infrastructure, setting up procedures, processes, and identifying internal SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to run our first series of workshops. In the early days, the majority of the workshops were delivered face to face in the European region. “Four years on, we have added several levels to the foundation. New ‘Institute’ products such as Academies, which take place in all regions of the world, were launched.

Delivering live online learning – over 100 sessions delivered in 2011 – has also created a sea change in how we deliver content and ensures global outreach across all MCI offices. New partnerships and alliances continue to form with industry associations such as MPI to offer their GCMBE certificate programmes in-house and outside the industry such as with Harvard to offer online management development workshops.” MCI’s prominence in the meetings industry is evident in every market. Chandarana delves into some of the reasons for this success. “We recognise that it is not just about the markets we operate in or our services, our infrastructure, strategy or technology which are the most important assets, but in the human capital and the ‘know-how’ that resides in the minds of our talent. “To that extent, as a global business with operations in 23 countries and partnerships which extend into 100 destinations, our goal is to ensure that we have up to the minute 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“There is nothing better than knowing that the results of what you do can in some small way impact the success and future aspirations of others”

know-how and capabilities to deliver professional solutions at the highest quality levels. Whether it is a client in China working with the MCI Chinese staff for a local meeting, or a global account which works with multiple MCI offices for Strategic Meetings Management to execute their global strategy, clients must feel reassured that working with MCI means the same level of quality, professionalism and attention to detail irrespective of location or the team they work with. “Skills in SMM, Account Management, Cross Cultural Communication, implementation of standard operating procedures, use of the latest online technologies to market the events to name a few learning programmes ensure our staff have the competencies, behaviours and attitude to deliver the ‘One MCI’ experience, locally, regionally and globally.” Chandarana outlines how he plans to drive the strategy of MCI Institute. “The Institute has a fundamental role to play to drive the long term MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

success of MCI. The vision is to help the organisation remain healthy and competitive for the future by facilitating responses to key questions, including where is our organisation and industry heading not only now but in the next five to ten years? What are our key strategies, goals, and objectives in order to then identify the capabilities we will need to achieve them. With such responses we can design and deploy relevant learning programmes which go beyond ‘nice to have’ training and are business essential programmes that impact the health and wealth of the organisation.” He says that beyond content, they will continue to shift old paradigms in how education is viewed within the organisation. “To begin with, learning is not a process or an event – it’s a journey. We must not restrict our thinking that because people do not have ‘training’ they are not learning. Training is merely a component of the learning process.






“Technology has the advantage to extend the lifecycle of content”

“Traditional perspectives of training with passive learners digesting vast amounts of content in a classroom will steadily make way for informal channels to transfer knowledge through coaching, mentoring, multimedia, social learning, game-based simulations and experiential education techniques – all powerful methods to aid the learning process. With only ten percent of an adult’s competencies derived from ‘formal classroom’ education, we will endeavour to seek ways in which to create frameworks which leverage the ninety percent informal methods of learning on the job combined with learning from others. Such a strategy also supports effective global outreach – regionalizing and localizing opportunities for staff to connect and remain up to date not just through face to face workshops but through an increased number of informal channels delivering just in time, anywhere, any pace learning. “The long term vision will be about building a culture which sustains a

learning environment. Creating the space – physically, virtually, emotionally, socially – for learning to thrive. Einstein said he doesn’t teach his pupils anything but provides them with the conditions in which they can learn. I firmly believe we must provide such environments – empowering staff to continuously learn in ways in which they want to learn and by connecting them with content and experts through all channels possible. “Give people the means and the resources and let them grow. Don’t force them – but allow them to understand the value of what the power of learning can bring to their life – professionally and personally.” Chandarana says that the core objective is to build a learning culture to support the development of staff. “By analyzing key business objectives and strategy, we design a portfolio of learning programmes which aim to improve the performance of our staff. “Focusing on increasing their performance through development 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL




“For those seeking to pursue an international strategy, learning the fundamentals of a target culture … is of paramount importance” ensures that we support our staff to realize their professional potential – a key motivating and engagement factor. In turn, this translates into higher levels of service for our clients and growth for our organisation. “Beyond offering a wide portfolio of programmes online and face to face to develop competencies across our range of business solutions – leadership and management skills, functional skills training, focus on Health and Safety and Sustainable Event Management and use of technology are all subject areas included in Institute programming. “Offering Professional Certifications and Certificate programmes such as CMP, CMM, CAE, DMCP and MPI’s Global Certificate in Meetings and Business Events also ensure our staff are accredited with industry recognised standards.” Chandarana points out that overseeing a global strategy brings with it a series of challenges. He’s says that adapting, designing and deploying learning programmes which match the needs of multiple levels of staff across various business solutions is just the tip of the iceberg. “Cultural and regional adaptation and creating a sustainable global strategy which delivers learning and

development consistently and effectively in 47 offices in 23 countries – and growing – will always keep me on my toes. “Being on the lookout to balance resources and find the most effective and creative means to support the future success and business impact of Learning and Development at MCI is something that often keeps me up at night! “From an external perspective, it can be draining to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the marketplace. With all the energy, time and investments establishing a learning and development infrastructure, what is relevant today could very quickly become yesterday’s news. Remaining agile and nimble to match the speed of change will be key.” Chandarana believes that cutting back on education and training during economically difficult times is a knee jerk reaction. “I see education as a long term investment in people which influences not just the present success of a company but secures its health for the future. Cutting back on training leaves a company dehydrated and with no ability to grow – no way to give the company nutrients. And if a learning culture has successfully been

built over the years, a short term gain in cutbacks will only lead to significantly higher costs in the long run to rebuild what once existed.” He adds that intangible benefits must also be considered. “Usually this takes the shape of employee engagement. Development is often cited as a major player in the motivational and engagement stakes – boosting performance and productivity. Cutting back on education is a slippery slope to go down in tough times especially if you want your talent to continue developing their skills and know-how to stay relevant, sharp and able to meet clients needs. The more a company maintains its budgets in Learning and Development – even in times of crisis, the more likely it is to retain a highly engaged workforce which will be ready to tackle whatever comes their way when markets recover. “This Chinese proverb could not say it better: If you want one year of prosperity, plant seeds. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.” Chandarana elaborates on the major challenge facing education in the future.



“It is predicted that 65 percent of current preschoolers would eventually work in jobs and careers that do not currently exist. And, in any degree programme based on science, because knowledge is evolving so fast, it is estimated that half of what somebody learns in the first half of the degree programme will be obsolete or revised by the time they graduate. Rapidly changing economic climates

workforce – dealing with effective design and delivery of education that remains relevant to four generations in the workplace, across geographies and cultures in order to keep organisations and global economies thriving. “Business leaders and educators must work together to ensure that the education system will produce candidates that are capable of performing the jobs of the future.

“We must never be complacent with our level of knowledge”

and globalisation are fueling the creation and accelerating the extinction of the types of jobs available to graduates.” He says that challenge will be for educational institutions to monitor these evolving trends, new innovations and technological advancements, and to realign subject matter and introduce courses that prepare the current student population for the jobs of the future instead of using outdated curriculum. “This cannot be done in isolation. Support at grass roots level in educational institutions is not merely the role of government but will require partnerships with business in order to keep curriculums fresh and up to date by providing the right skills that match the needs of an ever changing business and economic climate. “Businesses too face challenges on multiple levels and dimensions when it comes to educating their internal MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

Business are a strong voice and can provide resources and programmes to educational institutions through internships and partnerships. To that end we continue to select various universities to provide internship opportunities for students and often have MCI speakers serve as guest lecturers as part of the curriculum.” Eyes still on the future, Chandarana envisages the coming five to ten years for the industry. “Reflecting on the speed of change and the barrage of innovative ideas that are being nurtured in multiple industries and sectors especially healthcare, knowledge transfer and education will continue to be of paramount importance. Face to face meetings with the opportunity to provide valuable human connections and networking opportunities, allowing for peer to peer exchange, brainstorming, sharing of ideas and fostering relationships will hold

strong especially for target groups such as sales teams and management who require high touch engagement and knowledge transfer opportunities.” He believes that meeting design will continue to evolve with a shift from top-down content overload to creating powerful learning experiences for delegates. “With the integration of game-based theory, simulations, experiential learning techniques and use of interactive technologies, attendees will be far more empowered to interact with their peers and enabled to connect with speakers through micro-sharing sites to enrich the conversation. Fundamentally the speakers’ competence will also evolve from being a ‘talking head’ to that of knowledge facilitator and conversation catalyst. “Taking a chapter from the learning and development profession, which embraced online knowledge transfer and education using e-learning and learning management systems as early as the mid-nineties, we now see the meetings industry regularly integrating virtual technologies to create either stand-alone meetings or in combination for hybrid meetings which will include use of telepresence and holography. No doubt virtual and hybrid meetings will continue to evolve and possibly attract an even greater following for the next generation of tech savvy attendees. Technology has the advantage to extend the lifecycle of content and makes it accessible to a wider audience globally which just ten years ago, we could never have imagined. “For meeting professionals it will be about broadening their knowledge and skill base beyond providing excellent logistics and support services for the physical environment and learning how to integrate the

You will love the combination The question is what will delight and inspire you the most. One of the largest exhibition and congress centers in Europe, meeting you with advanced flexibility and technology? The prospects of an international marketplace at the heart of the Baltic Sea region? Or Stockholm – the capital of Scandinavia, world-known for being innovative, considerate and trendy? Our bet is that you will love the combination – the meeting point for great events, great people and great ideas. Love to meet you!




“The meetings industry is already redesigning, reshaping and repackaging meetings to attract and engage an increasingly larger population” latest technologies into the meeting infrastructure. By mastering these techniques, planners will become equipped with the know-how to meet increasing attendee hunger for sharing and absorbing content before, during and post event.” Chandarana also expands on the future role and influence of the younger generation on the meetings industry. “With every new generation of graduates we see fresh thinking and new ideas. The characteristics of this generation have already influenced and will continue to influence how we shape the industry to tune into what’s important for them and their motivations. “Being the tech savvy generation and more eager to make a difference in society than generations past, we can already see the signs of change. The meetings industry is already redesigning, reshaping and repackaging meetings to attract and engage an increasingly larger population. There will be several areas to focus on: ƒƒ Integration of social and digital media and mobile technology to entice and actively engage Generation Y in the meetings experience; ƒƒ With their shorter attention spans and need to be part of the conversation – if not creating it – there will be less patience for lengthy PowerPoint content-heavy presentations and a greater need for

peer to peer sharing and exchange. If it’s information they want, give them your slides with notes pages and don’t bore them. If you want them to learn – engage them in an experience. The use of powerful visuals, stories, sounds all stimulate the senses which will create powerful ‘anchors’ to retain and apply knowledge gained; ƒƒ Speakers and presenters will need to evolve their capabilities to keep such an audience engaged. No longer is it about respectfully asking attendees to switch off their mobile phones and tablets but embracing the change and encouraging them to enrich content through micro-sharing and blogging and extending the conversation beyond the confines of the venue to a wider online audience; ƒƒ Crowdsourcing content ahead of time and being flexible with the format to allow for unconference formats into the programme will enable participants to be part of shaping the agenda with topics of relevance to them; ƒƒ Issues such as being green, volunteerism and making a difference are just some of the other values connected with Generation Y. The wave to create sustainable events and green meetings, which not only minimise the carbon footprint on the environment but make a positive social impact, will continue to gain momentum.”

Chandarana believes that there are a host of cultural insights, competencies and capabilities required to successfully manage cross-cultural business interactions and that there are not nearly as many associations and companies that are adept at these interactions as there should be. “As argued in Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, we are now more interconnected than at any other time in history. Globalisation has indeed created a world which provides access to goods and services at a scale unparalleled. Today, we can easily enjoy eating a Big Mac in Russia, have a Starbucks skinny double latte in Beijing, listen to Lady Gaga over Spotify and buy Abercrombie and Fitch in Brussels while using English as the lingua franca to communicate. But the danger is to lead us into a false sense of security and belief that our counterparts not only now dress, speak and eat like we do, they also behave, act, think and do business as we do. We tend to view the world through our own glasses and see it according to our paradigms. This would be like a Parisian going to Seoul and trying to navigate the city using a map of Paris in his head as a reference. He will get lost very quickly. “One culture and therefore its people are neither right nor wrong than any other but just different in how they think, feel and act.” He says that this permeates into differences of communication style, 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“We tend to view the world through our own glasses and see it according to our paradigms”

etiquette, concepts of space and time and aspects of how business is conducted ranging from differing negotiation techniques to meeting etiquette. “Keeping to a linear agenda list as is often the case in the UK, US, Germany, The Netherlands could not be further away from the Mediterranean, Latin American or many of the Middle and Far East cultures who place greater value not on time but on building relationships. Trust in many Western countries especially those mentioned earlier is derived from a company’s credibility, reputation and competency. For many countries in the East, trust is more likely to be associated with who you know rather than what you know as is the case in countries such as India and China. The power of personal connections through family, friends and college buddies to secure business remains strong today in those cultures as it has for several generations. “Want a contract to be signed and sealed in China the way we do it in the West? Think again. Go for a letter of intent to enter into an agreement which reflects the trust you have in building a long term mutually beneficial relationship with your client. It will take more time than desired and be ready to make certain concessions along the way if a long term relationship is sought after.


“For those seeking to pursue an international strategy, learning the fundamentals of a target culture – not just business etiquette but underlying value systems, history, educational systems and core beliefs – is of paramount importance to effectively do business in the global marketplace.” Chandarana advises that one should learn to play the game according to the rules of one’s target markets. Similarly, hiring new staff within the country requires a thorough understanding of what motivates and drives them to be successful based on cultural influences. “What makes them tick? In most Asian cultures, for example, continuing education and training represents a significant benefit which directly impacts recruitment, engagement and overall staff retention. And if transplanting any staff from HQ to lead a local team in another part of the world, ensure that they go through cultural immersion training and have them develop their CQ (Cultural Quotient). At best spend time in the target country for several weeks/months prior to any foreign posting before taking the plunge. “When it comes to associations, don’t assume that what works in terms of member services, benefits and overall stakeholder needs in your country and region will automatically translate to other cultures. Learn which values, traditions, and social norms drive behaviour amongst

stakeholders in your target regions of the world. Understand and adapt strategy based on what members and prospects want from the organisation by conducting thorough qualitative and quantitative research with key stakeholders before embarking on a global campaign. Even better is to work closely with a local partner who with local staff and market expertise can provide deeper and more accurate intelligence to define the best strategy customised for the target market.” Neuroscience and how the brain functions has always been an area of fascination for Chandarana. “Combined with research into Neuro Linguistic Programming (preferences of learning styles which lean toward Auditory, Visual or Kinaesthetic mediums) and the work of Malcolm Knowles in the field of Andragogy (adult learning) it’s crucial to leverage such knowledge when designing and delivering ‘content.’ “We know the basics of how the left and right brain differ. The left brain tends to focus more on facts, data and the thinking functions. The right brain is linked to creativity, emotion and intuition.” He points out that these insights are already integrated into the design of the Institute’s learning programmes. “Whether face to face or live online synchronous sessions, our internal MCI Institute training faculty goes



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through the basic principles of adult learning and brain-based learning. This enables them to design and deliver sessions which: ƒƒ ‘chunks’ content into digestible bites of useful information instead of delivering long winded content heavy presentations which overload the brain (knowing that the average attention span of an adult drops within six to eight minutes);

and presenters were familiar with decades ago until the advent of the dreaded PowerPoint. Chandarana says that he fetches inspiration from all sources that provide access to fresh new ideas, ways of thinking, challenging paradigms and insights into future trends. “I navigate various futurist trend watcher blogs and scan relevant association publications in the meetings

“… adults learn best when they are focused on issues that are ‘relevant’ to them, which can be resolved and have immediate impact on their day to day work”

ƒƒ engages participants in one to one and group exercises that are ‘problem centric’ rather than ‘content centric’ as adults learn best when they are focused on issues that are ‘relevant’ to them, which can be resolved and have immediate impact on their day to day work; ƒƒ simplifies content and use powerful visuals which stimulate the right brain. If you were to take a children’s story book and convert it into a bullet list in PowerPoint will they be absorbed, fascinated and excited to listen to you? Not on Goldilock’s life! Similarly adults enjoy and engage with powerful stories. Stories if told well elicit emotions and feelings and bring a sense of reality to dry information often engaging the heart more than just the mind. Injecting ‘story-telling’ techniques is coming back into fashion; something trainers

and association sector to keep up to date on what’s going on, what’s hot, not and will be trending in the future. Participation at industry association and trade events also serves as on-going sources of the latest news and market data. “I am also actively engaged with online social media forums and associations representing the learning and development profession, to learn from and participate in the conversation – exchanging, sharing and learning to broaden my mindset. “From a people point of view, connecting with MCI staff across the world during my business travels represents a tremendous source of ideas and often clients will also make suggestions during informative feedback sessions. Beyond job and industry specific sources, I am a regular TED follower having also attended my first live TED conference last year. TED talks cover a wealth of mind-blowing

ideas – even the most far-fetched contain nuggets of learning that can be inspirational and thought provoking. “Other publications that I tend to review include the regular business, economic and educational press such as Fast Company, The Economist and Harvard Business Review and reading books from cutting edge authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Marcus Buckingham, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki to name but a few. Chandarana concludes with the following thought: “We cannot effectively grow and broaden our mindset – our views on business, our industry or even our world if we do so in isolation. “By exploring, engaging and sharing what we know and learn from others – experiences, knowledge, thoughts and perspectives – we not only challenge our own paradigms, we empower ourselves to think differently. We must never be complacent with our level of knowledge and realize that we can never stop learning.”







Tomas Dalström PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren





Katarina Gospic, 27, has written a dissertation in neuroeconomics on what happens in the brain when we make decisions and how we control our emotions. The link between decision-making and emotion-control is that our emotions influence our decisions. If we can control our emotions we can also regulate our decisions. Katarina Gospic is a trained teacher, has a master’s in physiology and has worked at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm for ten years. In January she started her own company, Brainbow Labs, with the aim of spreading knowledge about the brain to people big and small. Early next year her first interactive children’s book about the brain is due to be published. Let’s say that I’m a publisher and we’re meeting to talk about your interactive book. What happens in your brain at that moment?

“I absorb everything I can. The first thing I see is your appearance. Do you seem confidence-inspiring and do I feel that I can trust you? I register your body language, your facial expressions, your voice, etcetera.” At lightning speed, I assume?

“First impressions are crucial. Expressions that are significative to me – you look angry perhaps – are

processed very quickly. A signal in the brain always sets the process in motion and emotions are crucial for us people. When you say something it activates the part of the brain that deals with that. I consider long as well as short-term goals, and emotions come into this as well. If you seem disagreeable or the head office in London is incompetent there is a risk that my emotions get the upper hand. Then my cognitive part, the smart part, gets pushed to one side. “My emotional system is involved in the entire process and instructs me as and when to make decisions. If I give myself a little time I’ll think about what you’ve said and determine as to whether it tallies with my intentions. I also consider what your offer is worth to me. My brain attempts to calculate how easy it’ll be to implement and the effort required. People don’t like the effort being greater than the final reward.” When do we begin consciously negotiating?

“Consciousness is a difficult question but I would think we begin consciously negotiating with our surrounding world when we’re about four years of age. I then begin to see you as a different person with your own thoughts and that we differ. Prior to this I mostly express my will power. People have to mature before we have the capacity for this. “There’s a classic experiment where children watch a film of a child putting a bar of chocolate into a tin before leaving the room. The mother enters the same room, opens the tin, removes the bar of chocolate and puts it somewhere else. She leaves the room and the child re-enters. The question put to the child watching the film is ‘Where do you think the child in the film thinks the bar of chocolate is?’ If the child understands that the child in the film has no idea that the mother has moved the bar of chocolate then the correct answer would be that the child in the film thinks that the bar of chocolate 2012 No. 09 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


“My philosophy is that you can’t progress if you stay in the same environment”

is still in the tin. This means that the child understands the workings of the other person’s mind. The child has developed a sense of its surroundings and begins to understand how other people think and that you cannot know things that have not been shown to you.” What triggered your interest in the brain?

“One of my first recollections was wondering how, when I closed my eyes and thought of a strawberry, I could make one appear. It just pops up. I thought that was amazing. When I read Lucky Luke, who draws his gun faster than his shadow, I thought that if I threw in the strawberry I could maybe see what happens. But I didn’t. I’ve probably always been curious about most things. When I began school I found biology easy and thought it was the most exciting subject on earth. “I began school a year early and came from a non-academic background, so it’s been a real voyage of discovery. I took part in science days and attended science schools. To begin researching was my main goal and when I was seventeen in upper MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 09 2012

secondary school I did a project at Karolinska Institutet. I began working here and after several projects I wanted to work with the brain and people at a serious level. My professor Martin Ingvar agreed and I began in this lab. “Ten years have passed since I first set foot here; leaving would be like leaving home. My philosophy is that you can’t progress if you stay in the same environment. I would consider returning to research, but there is so much else to discover in the world and I want to experience as much as I can. It’s amazing to think that I have a thought and it’s only the distance from my brain down to my hand that separates that thought from action. The power of action.” Tell us about your research.

“The old neuroscience and decision research chiefly embraced the limbic system of which the amygdala structure is a part. The limbic system is sometimes called the emotional brain. Amygdala is a primitive structure that we share with reptiles, sometimes called the reptilian brain. Birds, rodents and reptiles have similar structures. It all depends on

where the borders go, of course, but all animals have a spot that signals danger. “Scientists have studied how we behave when confronted by a situation where we gamble for money and have the choice between a safe and a risky strategy. There’s a classic experiment that uses four decks of playing cards. Two of them are prepared for low risk, meaning you win less money but you also lose less. The other two decks constitute a high risk, that is to say you win more but also lose more. The game is designed to pay out more if you play only on the low risk decks. It emerges that people with an amygdala, which signals danger, avoid the high risk decks. Risk is unpleasant and when we sense unpleasantness we tend to avoid it. Certain physical responses were also noticeable. The subjects began to sweat when they felt danger. The emotional responses also took place before the people had made their choice. “People lacking amygdala are few and far between but those without showed none of these emotional responses at all. They chose the high risk decks to a greater extent than




people with amygdala. People without amygdala understood intellectually that it was a high risk but they couldn’t control their choice.” Could people working with hedge funds and other risky financial instruments belong to this group?

“That could well be the case. If we emanate from a normal distribution among the population in the strength of the amygdala response to different situations then we could well see people with low amygdala activity choosing a high risk job, the same as people who lack amygdala. ”In the 1990s we began looking in the brain with the help of cameras, a sort of modern brain imaging technique, you could say. Many of these imaging studies showed that the cortical system was also involved in decision making.” The cortical system?

“Also called the cerebrum. The cortical system surrounds the central core of the brain, while that which is further in, the primitive system, you share with other animals. The frontal lobe or front part of the brain is unique for us people. Brain volume in relation to body size is greater the more advanced you are as an animal. “The Pacman game is an amusing scientific experiment that shows the connection between the cortical system and the amygdala. Studies have been conducted into what happens in the brain when we play the game. When the monster is far away we use the cortical system to calculate and plan. As the monster gets closer and closer the amygdala is activated and we attempt to flee. “The previous research conducted a vital experiment called the framing game. You get 500 kronor and I tell you that you are allowed to keep 300 if you don’t play. When I say ‘keep’ it tells you that this is a gain for you. At the same time I show you a pie chart

that shows the chances of winning or losing everything. When an offer is wedged in to a winning situation people tend to choose the safe alternative. If instead I offer a loss by saying that you are guaranteed to lose 200 kronor, you choose to play despite your gain still only being 300 kronor.”

offer you 20 while keeping 80 myself. You can say yes or no. If you say yes then we both get money but if you say no then none of us will get any money. In this case I’m making you an unfair offer. When making the offer I study how you process the injustice in your brain. If you decline the offer then it’s about social punishment. In half

“ ‘Always’ is a word that we scientists avoid”

So when people are given the choice of taking the safe alternative or playing, they take the safe alternative in a winning situation but tend to play in a losing situation, despite the conditions being exactly the same and they get to keep 300 kronor in both cases?

“From a rational point of view people ought to choose the risky alternative as often as they choose the safe alternative because the gain is the same. When different situations influence our choices in this way it’s called the framing effect. Scientists realised that the amygdala was responsible for the framing effect. “In my dissertation I investigated as to whether the amygdala also plays a part in the processing of social injustice and punishment. Previous studies in the field pointed to the participation of the cortical parts only.” Social injustice, could you expand on that?

“We used the ultimatum game to study what happens in the brain when we’re subjected to injustice and social punishment. I have 100 kronor and

of the cases people say no despite it costing them 20 kronor to implement justice. We saw that the amygdala takes part in the processing of injustice and saying no to such offers.” What significance does that have?

“I would go as far as to say that the feeling of injustice is built in to one of our most primitive brain structures. When the amygdala was most activated people said no. The significance of this is that we have a built-in system in our brains that combats injustice.” What happens when we accept unfair offers?

“That’s a good question. In one of the studies we gave the subjects antianxiety drugs. The amygdala activity was deadened or reduced and people accepted injustice to a much greater degree. “The amygdala is behind rapid decisions. Dangerous or harmless, good or bad followed by output. The decision is not based on any great detail; it’s either black or white. The cortical system gives a much broader picture that can be integrated with



previous experiences and future consequences. The cortical process takes much longer. It makes fewer mistakes in the sense that you process the information in the best way you can before reaching a decision while the amygdala can easily lead you to making wrong decisions.

A negotiation or the result of a decision meeting is influenced by right and wrong and a reward, which is associated with trust and a return. What does the research have to say about that?

“Looking generally at how we make decisions, we always strive to

“I know a great deal and keeping it all to myself just seems absurd. I would like everybody to know the things that I know”

“For example, you are in the woods and see a crooked stick but your brain tells you it’s a snake. This is how the amygdala works. You took care and the amygdala protected you. This time it protected you once too often. But from an evolutionary viewpoint, once too often is better than too few times because if you miss the snake it could be fatal. You probably recognise it from other situations where you’ve thought ‘Whoops, that decision was too quick.’ When the cortical system is in action you stand looking at the crooked stick in the woods and can see it’s not a snake because it has no x here or y there, but that takes longer.”

survive and the things we do are in contrast to reward contra unpleasantness. When we interact there are feelings involved that control us and influence our decisions. This is why feelings are so important. Right or wrong is a subjective assessment and depends on the situation. Anything neutral has no value for us. “Trust is all about reducing the risk. If you look at a picture and think that the person does not look trustworthy then your amygdala is activated. It is the amygdala that signals untrustworthiness. If you think the person looks trustworthy then there is less amygdala activity.”

How long?

When we negotiate, surely our various goals influence how we communicate and act?

“The amygdala takes roughly 40 milliseconds to activate if you see a scary picture, for example, but it takes 70 milliseconds for you to perceive it. So processes are required in these structures before you perceive the face or the situation. With the cortical system we’re talking about seconds.”


“That depends on the entry point. I think that the best entry point for a negotiation lies in finding a level of trust. If I don’t trust you, more often than not it’s because you constitute a threat. I could be afraid that you will take most of the gain or honour. Everything stems from the amygdala,

there’s always a signal to the brain that triggers the process. “If I offer you a drink then your amygdala activity reduces and your trust in me increases. We can create trust in different ways. I greet you when we meet. We shake hands or touch when we get to know each other better. Swoosh, a simple handshake triggers a positive reaction and we feel less threatened. We try to converse as a way of relaxing each other, social interaction in other words. As soon as we feel relaxed and secure we feel less threatened and are more responsive to thinking rational thoughts.” Your family come from Croatia, France and Sweden. Our brains work in the same way when making decisions, but what role does culture play?

“As far as I know, no differences have been noticed between western cultures. In the ultimatum game those living in western societies tend to give fifty percent of their money and their opponents accept fifty percent. This could be transferred to other situations.” The differences in meeting culture could make it difficult to assess others.

“This is where the research comes in handy. The most beneficial way is to create a win-win situation. I think such solutions are often easy to find. Not finding out the other person’s intentions could pose a problem. You might want to make money while I want to do some good. This can be combined, but conflicts often arise when we are not talking about the same thing, you haven’t understood my intentions. If instead we both want to make money and you want to keep ninety percent then we find ourselves in an unfair situation. You activate my emotional system and I think you are being stupid.


Everything we’ve built up around trust falls apart and the threat increases.” Is it always possible to find a win-win situation?

“‘Always’ is a word that we scientists avoid. In my opinion, it’s more possible than we think. It’s about finding the right level where things are fair and we both feel trust.” But it can’t always be fair.

“That’s true, but then we should ask ourselves whether or not we are happy with what we get.” Have you improved your negotiation skills since you began studying this?

“I think about how both I and others behave. I think a lot about my reactions and where they come from. Right now I’m very limbic, for example. It feels good to be able to do that.” Are there any techniques we could learn?

”The general answer to that is if you know how something works then you can try to steer it in the direction you want it to go. If you know what happens when you come to somebody who looks unresponsive then it’s naturally an advantage. The input my brain receives from you influences the decision I make. If you look dangerous then the amygdala is already active when it’s time to make the decision. “If you’re aware of it happening and you know where it’s coming from

you’ll stay calmer. There is research that shows that you’ll be calmer if you put a label on it. Other tricks include being open, kind and to win people’s trust. If you let them talk then you raise their status and they feel more at ease.”

very low. Indian children are just as receptive as any other children. It’s all about spreading knowledge. I know a great deal and keeping it all to myself just seems absurd. I would like everybody to know the things that I know, both in Sweden and other countries.”

Are there any differences between the sexes?

Do you do everything yourself?

“In our studies we’ve seen differences every time we’ve used both women and men. In the ultimatum game we noticed that men reacted more with their amygdala, it literally shone through compared to the women. However, we saw no behavioural change, which is difficult to interpret. It could be because men have learnt to adjust downwards.” What significance does age and experience have?

“The older we are, the more well-considered decisions we usually make. We’re usually more cortical than when we’re younger and generally more limbic.” What made you begin writing an interactive children’s book about the body?

“I write everything and am responsible for the content. My partner, a game developer and programmer, does the animations and icons that you click on. I would love to avoid the paper version, but that’s where I’m starting.” How is the book laid out?

“Instead of the character running through the woods it’s running up to the brain. The character moves to different places that are named correctly. Instead of describing the woods, like in Little Red Riding Hood, I describe the brain. I don’t just cough up a lot of knowledge. The reader follows the character while the plot describes how the various parts work. This is implicit, tacit learning.”

“Several reasons. Looking back on my childhood I didn’t think many of the books had a lot to offer in the way of knowledge, apart from the reading itself. It’s a need that popped up a few years ago. A trip to India also made me realise the importance of a good education. The quality is sometimes

Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. He’s the author of the book Bäst i text · Läseboken/ Skrivboken (Best in Text · The Reading Book/The Writing Book) which is about how to write texts that communicate on the terms and conditions of the brain. He runs the websites and




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In a survey of 22,000 business people ranking top leadership gurus, Robin Sharma was #2, with Jack Welch. Sharma’s books have sold millions of copies in over 60 countries. His new book is “The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life” (Simon & Schuster). Robin Sharma’s blog is at

ACHIEVING LONGEVITY  and Greatness in Business In my leadership development work with companies like IBM, FedEx and Nike and as an executive coach to many of the superstars in business, I have been blessed to have been able to closely observe the traits that the best use to get better – and achieve longevity within their careers and within themselves. Here are some of their personal practices for sustainability:


They have a lust for learning. There is a cure for anti-aging that actually works – it’s called lifelong learning. To ABL (Always Be Learning) is to stay young forever. The best in business have boundless curiosity and open minds. And this allows them to work and live with a childlike sense of wonder as well as access the world-class levels of creativity that fuels their professional success. They read constantly. They listen to books on CD. And they understand that everyone they meet knows at least one thing that they don’t. So they ask good questions

(like any good leader). In this world of dazzling change and stunning opportunity, ideas are the commodity of success. And a passion for learning makes you a human idea factory.


They devote to NSI. A mantra of many world-class businesspeople is Never Stop Improving. As I’ve written in my book The Greatness Guide, nothing fails like success. Success is seductive. It can make one complacent and inefficient and stale. Too often, once a person (as well as an organisation) becomes successful, the very things that created that success get neglected. The best businesspeople have a hunger to make their todays better than their yesterdays. They have a staggeringly large appetite for pushing the envelope. They stretch their personal frontiers by taking risks and by running to their fears and by improving every area of their lives. Relentlessly. And this serves to keep them young at heart. And at the cutting edge for years.



“Health is the crown on the well man’s head that only the ill man can see”


They know that health is wealth. At a leadership seminar I delivered in Delhi to executives, a participant handed me a piece of paper that said: “Health is the crown on the well man’s head that only the ill man can see.” Big idea. We take our health for granted until we lose it. And if we do, we spend 24/7 trying to get it back. It’s fascinating to me how, while we are young, we are willing to sacrifice our health for wealth and yet, when we grow old, we become willing to give up all of our accumulated wealth for one day of good health. Getting into work-class physical condition will make you more creative, energetic, focused and happy. Make that leap today.



They find a Cause. In The Greatness Guide, I write that the real secret to immortality and longevity is to find a cause that’s larger than yourself and then have the courage to donate your life to it. That cause might be being an extraordinary leader who creates an extraordinary organisation that creates extraordinary value for it’s customers. That cause might be to be a person devoted to leaving everyone you meet better than you found them. That cause might mean being a manager that develops the highest potential of his people and evokes their greatness. My Dad shared an Indian saying with me as I grew up that still lives within my imagination: “When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cried while you rejoice.”

meet. understand. network. experience. contribute. excite. convene. present. motivate. interact. participate. exhibit. create. inspire. connect. exchange. select. succeed. meet in Vienna.


Roger Kellerman is a publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. He has more than 25 years’ experience of the global meeting industry.



The planning for the 2013 Meetings Industry Week in Gothenburg, Sweden is underway. Congresses and corporate events will form the basis of the continued development work with the week. Next year we are also adding several Swedish meetings and events courses to help develop the Future Leaders Forum (FLF ). One person who has already accepted is Avinash Chandarana, one of the meetings industry’s most sought after speakers and an advocate of young talent. He is the longstanding Learning and Development Director for the MCI Group and has many thought-provoking perspectives and approaches to learning and development. We invite people who want to be part of creating the world’s best Future Leaders Forum. We are opening up to broader collaboration and advanced approaches, but the most important thing is to give room for more students to take part. We have come up to a hundred places at next year’s event. The preparations for FLF Day have become much more focused and collaboration with our international partners IMEX, MPI and the MCI Group has intensified. Once you step over the threshold into the international FLF it opens the door to a greater appreciation of the global meetings industry and the opportunities afforded. The development of our Political Forum, which we are implementing in collaboration with IMEX MPI Europe,

is also well underway. We will be revealing the speakers in August, but we are talking world-class Key Note Speakers. We are seeking a broader dialogue with several heavyweight politicians, at national level and in the Swedish Government. Many more of them have noticed that the growth factor in several large meetings falls nicely into line with the Research and Innovation Bill and that several international and national congresses generate new ideas, thoughts, collaborations and challenges. We are also seeking much broader collaboration with the Mötesakademin (Meetings Academy) organisation, with which 33 of Sweden’s universities and colleges collaborate. They have the keys for increasing growth through meetings and thus getting the spotlight they deserve. People who have been with us in the field during the past six years helping to develop our concept include: Martin Sirk, Paul Flackett, Patrick Delaney, Tom Hulton, Christian Mutschlechner, Sebastien Tondeur, Rohit Talwar, Eric Rozenberg, Didier Scailett, Guy Bigwood, Michael Luehrs, David Hornby, Barbara Jamison, Elling Hamso, Rod Cameron, Tom McDonald, James Latham, Ole Sorang, Greta Kotler, Paul Bridle, Krzysztof Celuch, Layth Bunni and Jan Sturesson.

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Meetings International #09, May 2012 (English)  

Meetings International #09, May 2012 (English)  

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