I spent most of this week in Oslo, Norway, preparing for, and speaking at, re:think.
The conference, imagined and led by Arnt Eriksen, is the only of its kind in Norway and to say they were extremely grateful and accommodating to have speakers from North America is an understatement.
Arnt is an advertising professional. He’s worked in the business for the past 20 years and has worked with some pretty big companies. He related a story to me about how difficult it is to do advertising in Norway for big brands because the strategy is typically set in the United States before it gets to them.
We also discussed the industry in Norway (oil), how small the country is (five million people), agriculture (subsidized by the government), how everyone speaks English (they begin learning it in fourth grade), and where they are with social media (about three years behind us).
re:think was born when Arnt discovered his native country’s severe lacking in the use of social media for business growth and began to look to North America to see if he could bring experts in to help fill the void.
This conference was the country’s second and included Valeria Maltoni, Maggie Fox, Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, and me. And they hosted nearly 300 people who were dying for validation of their own work, but also asked a lot of the same questions we all hear. Things such as: How do I convince my boss we need to do this? Why won’t my company make the shift? We don’t need to grow, so why should we care?
To say I was impressed with Arnt, his vision, and his work is putting it mildly. We also met his fiancé, and partner in crime, Andrea (aka Jinx…because she’s broken 16 bones in her lifetime) Essenwanger, who managed all of the logistics of the speaker’s travel plans, pulling together sponsors, and making sure everyone was fed.
Particularly in the U.S., we tend to be so arrogant we forget there is an entire world out there and it was really nice to spend time with a couple who are strong together both professionally and personally and so committed to changing their little part of the world.
They’re going to do it. Mark my words.