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Interview with Emilia van Hauen

Trend advisor, culture sociologist and marketing expert Emilia van Hauen is one of Scandinavia’s most sought-after commentators on cultural trends and changes. In this interview, she reveals where she finds her inspiration, and shares her advice for how to escape the “success tyranny” of our time.

Who or what inspires you most?

Stories about people. About how we choose to live our lives and which relationships we have and nurture. I am especially interested in the conflicts and longings that we experience in our lifetime. On one hand it depends on what is in focus in a specific day and age, and on the other hand it is completely universal across time, lifestyle and nationality. Most people “just” want to be loved and have close relationships – and the opportunity to contribute with something meaningful to their communities.


What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your career as a culture sociologist?

The opportunity to share my thoughts with others through my keynotes. It is a special gift to see the lights be turned on in someone’s eyes while you are speaking, starting a dialogue – and then seeing them go home and change something in their life to the better. Or find peace where they already are.


How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

I meditate – usually in the bathroom to have a moment alone before speaking (!) – and gather my energy before I go on stage. And before that, I always tailor my presentations to fit the audience that I am speaking to. And before that, I continuously develop my existing keynotes and create new ones that fit the challenges of the time. I stay informed on many, many platforms and gather everything that catches my attention in my books and my keynotes.


What particular strengths do you think women in leadership roles can contribute with?

For thousands of generations, women have been trained to be what you can call the social gender, and the ability to bind together a group of people, include everyone, and create committed communities is something that we need now more than ever. We are seeing more and more companies scrap performance testing and change their hierachies, and that is necessary if they want to keep women while at the same time attracting younger generations of men.


What is the main message that you hope audiences take away from your talks on modern day “success tyranny”?

That all research (and experience!) shows that there are only two things that result in good, happy lives: 1. Having good and close relationships and 2. Contributing to the communities that we are a part of. And finally, we need to understand in our hearts that success and failure are just data to help us understand what works and what doesn’t – they are NOT identities to take on.


What are your three best tips for women in business?

1) Know your value – and ask to be payed for what you are really contributing with.
2) Be honest with yourself – and stand up for yourself, your values and your format – this makes you more original and creative, which means that you are contributing your best.
3) Be aware that we are people first, not a gender – so don’t limit yourself because of stereotypical ideas about how women should behave, look, act or earn things.


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