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Martina Lofqvist

Martina Lofqvist

Hi, I am Martina, A Swedish and American, currently residing in Switzerland

A Swedish and American, currently residing in Switzerland. I grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm, surrounded by forests, lakes, and sea in one of the world’s largest archipelagos. These surroundings have had a huge influence on my appreciation for nature and outdoor activities on land and sea. I’m grateful to now be living in a place where I get to experience vast mountains. Although, I will always have a special connection to the Swedish nature, especially in the summer season.

Sweden is a country filled with traditions; from midsummers to waffle day. Most Swedes take these large and small traditions very seriously. I believe that in the dark and long winters of the North, commitment to these cultural events help brighten our days by bringing people together over shared customs.

These traditions have played a significant part of my life and helped shape me into who I am. And today I’ve created some of my own traditions with friends, such as a yearly kayak trip in the summers and a unique experience on my birthdays. For example, one week ago, I celebrated my birthday with 10 friends in the alps over a 3-day trip.

I organize these get-togethers because I strongly believe that the best way to get to know a person is through experiences and living together. Everyone can be at their best when they’re at a networking event or over a dinner, but there’s a beauty in getting to know a person in their day-to-day lives and understand how they act in different environments. In our digital age filled with endless opportunities and options to meet new people, this becomes particularly important. Essentially, to establish deep connections with people and appreciate all of their sides, good and bad.

My passion in life is to contribute to a sustainable and well-connected future. I do this by supporting the development of disruptive technologies and innovation. Both in my work at a promising DeepTech startup, and on the side where I advise a few startups on strategy and communication.

I got involved with entrepreneurship as a young teenager and have spent the past decade building companies, two of which were my own. Throughout the years, I’ve learned the hard way the importance of surrounding myself with the right people. I’ve many times let others break down my enthusiasm, confidence, and self-worth. Even my own co-founder some years ago! But what’s helped me overcome these times is by tuning into myself and realizing that not everyone’s opinions of me are valid. I’ve spent a significant time working on myself to better control my emotions and understand my Ikigai.

I began my personal development journey when I was 17. At that time, I mainly relied on my partner and books to understand my inner world better. In recent years, I’ve enrolled in programs and put myself through countless exercises to take this personal development journey to the next level. It’s a shame we don’t learn about this in school! Although I’m lucky to have some wonderful mentors and coaches by my side today. I wouldn’t be who I am without them!

One of my biggest realizations has been that positivity and curiosity are significant parts of my core identity. This is why I enjoy traveling and appreciate unique experiences so much. And why I’m involved with entrepreneurship and innovation, where there’s always new things to learn in a fast-paced environment. This is also why I seek out deep conversations with others and can sometimes have a hard time with small-talk. Even with people I’ve only just met, I have a strong desire to connect and exchange ideas on a deeper level. Eleanor Roosevelt said it well: “Small minds discuss people; Average minds discuss events; and Great minds discuss ideas”.

I strongly believe that we need to encourage more people to value deep conversations filled with compassion and adopt creative mindsets in order to improve our world. I would love for more people to become founders or intrapreneurs, and believe there is a lot of untapped potential around us. That’s why I’ve been heavily involved with community-building, to foster interactions between people and help inspire each other.

I’m currently working on establishing a founders community in Switzerland. It’s proving to be a bit more challenging than the one I helped start in Stockholm, but I believe there’s a strong need for this. When entrepreneurs rub shoulders with other entrepreneurs, great things can emerge!

Our Blog Date:

Manoj and I met for a conversation in a Swiss alp village. Our meeting lasted for five engaging hours as we explored topics such as impact, community, trust, and entrepreneurship.

Our society is currently going through a lot of changes, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay up to date with the latest developments in tech, politics, economics, and social norms, to name a few. We are experiencing an overflow of information and navigating through the noise can become overwhelming.

On top of this, we’re also grappling with one of the greatest challenges that comes with this digital age: mental health. We learned how to make new connections, but forgot how to build relationships. Loneliness is a growing concern in our modern age, and it has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a global public health priority [source].

For these reasons, Manoj and I dove into the topic of community building, which both of us have been involved with for a long time and believe is a way to combat loneliness as well as to drive social change. We shared our experiences of what worked and what didn’t, and landed on a few conclusions;

Communities come in many different shapes and forms, but what distinguishes a strong community from a weak one is the commitment of its members. Strong communities are based on trust, where its members feel a deep sense of belonging and connection to one another.

We can belong to several communities simultaneously; family, friend groups, sports, clubs, volunteer groups, neighborhoods, and at work.

What I’ve come to realize over the years is that these groups play a tremendous role in our lives. It literally influences our physical health and longevity [source]. And not to mention the impact it has on our mental well-being, providing us with a sense of purpose in this world.

Beyond the individual health benefits, communities also have the power to change the world from social movements to sparking innovation.

I love this quote: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter”

I helped build a community of founders in Stockholm that now consists of over 300 members. These are current and aspiring entrepreneurs who support each other and help build healthy habits. This community has already proven to make a positive impact by inspiring the curious to become founders, scale existing startups through advice and connections, and bring new technologies and innovation to the world. I’m now doing the same in Lausanne, and growing our existing membership base of 40.

So, what’s the secret sauce to building a successful community? Manoj and I discussed the following key ingredients:

  • Purpose: It starts with a strong WHY. Something that unites all members. This might seem obvious, but I’ve come to realize that a lot of communities lack a clear purpose (I’ve experienced the disappointment of this first-hand). Failing to define a purpose, vision, and goals can easily lead to confusion and disengagement among members. And it might also fail to attract the right audience.
  • Leadership: these are the core members of the community who will drive the engagement and facilitate the discussions. The leader or leadership team bears a lot of responsibility in ensuring the success of its community, and it’s especially needed in the early days of a community to retain members.
  • Engagement Opportunities: the activities, events, and meet-ups that engage the members. The goal is to facilitate engaging discussions and create a memorable experience, and the atmosphere has a big influence on this. Cozy environments help remove the stiffness and tension that often appear in very formal settings. Physical activities are also helpful. In the Stockholm and Lausanne Founders Clubs, what worked well was to organize casual meet-ups, such as going for brunches, runs, game nights, and longer trips (such as skiing and kayaking). This way, people feel more relaxed and tend to be more themselves (which I believe has to do with the frequency levels, i.e. Alpha waves).

Manoj and I went on to discuss how Switzerland can improve its startup vibe. Specifically, how we can create more spaces where entrepreneurs can rub shoulders with other entrepreneurs to create amazing things. As well as for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs, as Manoj calls them “Wannapreneurs” to get inspired and take the next step into their entrepreneurial journey.

We realized that the calm mountain atmosphere and backdrop of the alps during our meeting helped with the flow of our conversation. What if we could transform these beautiful locations into places for innovation and collaboration?

This would, for example, be interesting for ski resorts since many are struggling with shorter seasons now that the snow is melting away each year. This creates an opportunity for them to rethink ways of attracting new visitors and gain recognition as a place for innovation (like Davos already is with the World Economic Forum).

In summary, we’re all seeking to belong. And we’re seeing a new wave of community-building focused on meaningful connections. I see that many are longing to break out of the post-pandemic digitalization to build meaningful relationships. Whether it’s companies with their customers, investors with founders, or individuals with their communities, there’s a renewed emphasis on genuine human interaction and collaboration.

Enjoyed my Blog Date with Manoj Thacker, Let’s continue our conversation, connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martinalofqvist/

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Manoj Thacker

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