When good karma equals good business Peter Stanners
Christian Stadil's commitment to 'karma' and 'slow thinking' makes him an unusual business guru. But with a successful portfolio of 120 companies under his belt, his ideas might be worth listening to
Christian Stadil, photographed in the Thornico offices in Hellerup.
IT TOOK A MINUTE to get used to the fact that the muscular and tattooed man in front of me, dressed in a casual cotton suit and black sneakers, was one of Denmark's most iconic businessmen. Christian Nicholas Stadil is the founder and owner of the Thornico Group, which has a controlling stake in around 120 companies that span sports fashion, real estate, shipping, food production, and technology. But Stadil is more than a business guru. He is a mountaineer, sergeant, author, environmental activist, entrepreneur, and tattoo enthusiast. He is charming, slightly erratic, and eccentric. Who else do you know that has built a business empire on the principles of good karma and creativity? "I have a special mind, maybe a bit of Asperger's mixed with some OCD. And that special mind-set – thinking, thinking, thinking, all the time, kind of obsessed in many ways – is really irritating." He tells me this at the Thornico headquarters in Hellerup, a few weeks after we first met at a nearby bookshop called Books and Company. He was invited to talk about his new book, In the Shower with Picasso, which explores how individuals and companies can promote creative thinking and innovation. At ease in the limelight, he is a confident and eloquent public speaker, weaving witty anecdotes and colourful personal stories into his narrative. Stadil believes in the power of creative thinking, and talks about it as a state of mind, something that can be accessed by entering a relaxed state and allowing the subconscious mind to take over. He calls this "taking a creative break" – letting the conscious and rational mind taper off, and letting "slow thinking" dominate. "You need to work hard, but then stop and take the creative break, trusting that the subconscious will keep on marinating. Then, if it's important to you, the ideas will bubble up."