There is a mantra that has accompanied me for the better part of my adult life. A mantra that has provided me with a constant stream of questions that have kept me on my toes and have seen me improve and move forward in my very own life-path. That mantra is:
You do not know what is best for you.
The “you” in this sentence refers to myself, my person, but it could be referring to any other individual too, including yourself. I do not know what is best for me, so how do I know what I am doing to myself and for myself is the right thing to do?
The mantra contains two split learnings. First, the things I think are best for me, perhaps are not so much so. Second, the things I do not do, because I think they are bad for me, may actually be good instead.
Think about it, because if we meet I will most likely ask you. “Do you know what is best for you?” How would you justify your answer? How can you be certain? What would you say to prove me wrong? The fact of the matter is that I would love to be proven wrong, but it is not often the case. It is easy to get comfortable in everyday life. If you consider your daily actions, what is best for you? What are the values, virtues and circumstances you have put your trust in, to keep this “best” in place?
This continuous stream of curiosity, pursuit of knowledge regarding who I really am, could be considered my life-long devotion. By staying true to this mantra I naturally question both the things I do and the things I keep myself from doing. Despite the sound of this as philosophical, it is what I have found necessary to keep me on my toes and steer free of complacency. It is often what you trust the most that can be deceitful. Summed up when it comes to how I live my life, it is in expectancy that the best is yet to come.
Born Between Philosophies
I was raised by a Thai mother and a Danish father. My parents, at their core, were always driven by powerful values that were shared despite coming from completely different backgrounds. It was always about long term commitment, building robust foundations and stress-testing all assumptions.
On top of this shared layer, my mother, raised on the Eastern tradition, has at her core values of balance and stability while my father, on the other hand, as a Nordic individual, was raised with ideas of conquest and criticism and to be whatever he pursued as meaningful.
These almost opposite character traits collide in my persona, making it sometimes hard for me to rest or to stop once I start going. I constantly seek opportunities and alternatives, yes, but I also try to find opportunities that I can control and that can be tamed.
One thing that will always prevail for me is the certainty I have for my family.
A Snow Globe Childhood
I grew up in a small suburb, west of Copenhagen. A tiny shelter away from the reality of the world, akin to a snow globe. If there were minuscule creatures living inside a snow globe, they probably would not be aware reality is quite different from where they are. And so was my childhood, with a few shakes, just like any other, but quickly eased and definitely not a reflection of common worries of the world “outside”.
In a snow globe environment it is hard to find cracks, to find alternative ways of living, to be different. So it was my task from an early age to create these cracks myself by devoting my thoughts and actions to what could be seen as a nerdy or quirky call.
I was doing my best in school and I had lots of friends, people who grew liking me probably because of my nerdy outlook on things and overall friendliness. At the time I was probably naïve, thinking making my surroundings like me would bring me to like myself too. To be content with who I was. But this whole situation taught me how to deal with people and have them understand and accept you, despite your weirdness.
I was only twelve years old when I started my first online endeavour. A bit of a dip into something similar to e-commerce. I ordered what was considered “gangster bling” watches from China and sold them to the tough local guys down the schoolyard. A fairly profitable side hustle that got stopped as I learned that I was too young to start my own company (age has since changed and children can start businesses with their parents). This was my first connection outside of the snow globe, even if it was from the comfort of my room and my computer.
As I made it through high school, I would learn about the possibility to deal with alternative assets as another means of entrepreneurship. There was money to be made even in games such as Magic The Gathering, the trading card game that my partners and co-CEOs Marc Roca and Vedast Sanxis played.
I was really invested in everything that was trending, like selling virtual assets from video games such as Diablo II and Ultima Online in the local Internet cafe. Where other kids found interest in playing outdoor games, I learned to connect in the online world.
I was not competing internationally like they were, but I was successful at understanding the value behind the collecting side of Magic. Because of this passion of mine, I tried hard and finally succeeded at purchasing a Black Lotus, perhaps the most popular card in the game, for $400. It was a huge investment for a kid, but I felt there was a lot of value in acquiring it.
I was going to be proven right 20 years later when, right after meeting Vedast, I managed to sell the same card for $10,000, 25 times what I had paid for. It’s delightful to see that it’s not only luxury items or stocks that can have a place in an investor’s portfolio.
A Taste of Cryptocurrency
I stumbled upon cryptocurrencies around 2013. I was embarked on a discovery trip on the depths of the Internet, when I came upon a discussion about alternatives to FIAT currencies that could be used to redistribute wealth in the world and wouldn’t be regulated by governments. This was the time when Mt. Gox, a bitcoin exchange based in Japan, was the most prominent one, handling over 70% of all bitcoin transactions worldwide.
bitcoin was a very complex element to explain -it still is, after all- but it seemed so intriguing that I decided to test the waters and acquired my first bitcoins at the price of $75 a piece. The waters were too cold for me and when Mt. Gox had to close down after being hacked, I lost interest in something that seemed to be a fad.
I cashed out and moved on, but I remained vigilant and I’ve kept on trying to understand bitcoin’s complex underlying patterns. Today there is a slight regret for not continuing investing, but at least this helped me learn that alternative assets and the quirkiness of items cannot stand alone, that you need to have people behind your endeavours.
The Business of People, an Artform
It was then that service and its pursuit became a passion of mine. I was good with people, but I wanted to go further and master the craft of elegance. With the help of this ability of mine, I could connect with people and have them understand my reasonings better, to buy into the same things I was passionate about.
I executed on this in my early twenties, making money by building experiences for high net-worth individuals as a concierge. I was doing tremendously well partnering with the most prominent exclusivity partners in Copenhagen, and I was leveraging the fact that I had finally experienced another culture with an exchange to the United States. I was embracing the cross-cultural preferences of people from all over the world.
As I built up experience, I decided it was a good time to resume my studies. My early years in high school have not been the best in academic terms, but I had mastered so much practical experience that service management studies came natural to me. I started a bachelor degree in Business Administration & Service Management in the Copenhagen Business School.
My plan was to build credibility in my strategies and theories, an essential part of good businesses in the service field. What I didn’t expect through my bachelor studies was to come to a new realization, that the 21st century service world is not only a people game, but also, quite naturally, a technology game. Consumer technology is what lays the foundation of human to human connection when physical presence is out of touch.
There is a reason behind this: when people buy something that is not tangible, they are buying the transformation that this is going to cause in their personas and their lives. And because of this, when you provide a service of such kind, you have to always make sure you design a transformational journey for the individuals you are serving.
This is why technology plays such a great role nowadays. Technology helps extend that experience. Where earlier you could only place things on paper using the written word, now you can immerse yourself or your customer in a completely new dimension of experience.
Masters Degree and Disruption Theory
Right after I finished my Bachelor’s Thesis, I joined a M.Sc. in Management of Innovation & Business Development with a Minor in Neuroscience. I wanted to learn more and was curious about venturing into domains where I felt I had stalled before. I had again in mind the mantra, “You do not know what is best for you.”
The reason I chose to minor in neuroscience was that we don’t really know how the brain works, right? But it’s really an essential part of business, no matter the field, to work with the “brains” of the companies.
The human brain remains the most complex technology in our known universe, and I feel it is a shame to take it for granted. My passion in neuroscience is grounded in neuro-economics and working with psychotherapeutic thinking. Everybody thinks differently. It amuses me when I hear people say we all think alike. I think that’s a very limiting approach.
I realised my ability to work with people has increasingly little to do with me, nor with the person I am dealing with, but the space between us. Have you ever been able to enjoy time spent with another person while nothing was said and done? Human to human connection is a practice of patience and timing. You can only force people to understand with a gun to their head so many times. As I finished my masters I wanted to explore this area further and drove my passion for complex themes to understand and communicate disruption theory in a managerial setting, which back in 2015 was at its peak in the world. I ventured in disruption consulting, helping countless companies scale and innovate by using emergent technologies and turning the unknown into opportunity.
This was a hectic and vivid time of my life. I would travel all around the world and in less than two years I had spoken in over 100 keynotes to people with the most diverse backgrounds. Conducting strategic advisory and building mental model frameworks for people of all classes, from executive directors to blue collar workers, school children, even politicians. I am still to this day a critical futurist, knowing that you should always expect the best, but prepare for the worst. As a mindset, you can make even the most difficult of times an opportunity for growth.
Decluttering by Becoming a Monk
Still, there are limits to the spoken word, to the motivation of a young adult venturing out to save the world. Add on to this a mind that never stops thinking, and you got yourself a cocktail for depression, anxiety and stress. I found my limits a few times in my life, and I hope to say that I have lived my worst moments, however, there are depths to oneself which are bottomless.
As I finished my Master’s degree, I took a full stop. To some degree there might have been parts of me that lived in a manner that I thought was best for the world, but perhaps not best for me. When you push the stop button on a machine it stops, but when you push a stop button on a human they start. I flew to Thailand with a clear objective: to become a buddhist monk.
Everybody can become a buddhist monk, but the real question is why would you want to become one yourself? What is it that you seek in it? You are about to enroll in a never ending pursuit, the pursuit of inner peace and happiness that doesn’t come from a static environment, you will have to become peace yourself. Thus being truthful to yourself about what you want is essential.
Several months of preparation and devotion to the buddhist scriptures. Several months of opening up from the inside and trying to understand myself. And you realize that what you are looking for is not in the temple.
So, when I left the temple and ventured back to Denmark, I felt like I was still missing the key to life and enlightening. I guess this makes sense, since it seems that those who think they are enlightened, are just blinded by a fake light.
The Year of Opportunities
The year 2018 presented itself with a paradigm shift for me. I was based in London and I was running my own consultancy there, but I realised London was not the right place for me.
I started travelling while still doing my consulting work. I would live for a bit in Israel and Palestine, but I ended up moving back to Copenhagen. I was trying to find the inspiration, the spark necessary to envision my next steps.
Thanks to my consulting work I got in touch with a Filipino-based conglomerate. I did a two-day workshop for 40 executives based on 21st century leadership. My plan in this workshop was to look inwards instead of forward. Leadership management begins within and what you believe you can contribute to the world.
On the last day of the workshop the CEO asked me to stay over the weekend in the Philippines and meet him on Monday. I was dressed quite nicely because that is what you do when you are a consultant, and when the CEO asked me about my attire I told him I wanted to look sharp on my last day there.
He then responded by telling me he was hoping for this to be my first day and offered me the opportunity to become the head of the innovation department of the company, a department that was basically non-existent at the time. It was up to me to decide what I could contribute with.
I digitized their workforce and ran 26 different separate projects with 23 businesses. It became apparent that progress was going to be slow and difficult and I realized this task was going to take longer than I was willing to commit to. I respect people who seek these corporate opportunities, but I wanted to follow my own pursuit.
Alpha Rock Capital
I was excited but little did I know that the Philippines had much more opportunity to present to me than just purely business development in a company. After a period of time setting up several projects I stumbled upon the Alpha Rock Capital idea and this idea became something I couldn’t let go off out of mere curiosity.
This is an alternative experience, with alternative assets but also alternative in the shape of the experience of investing here. There is the ability to profit from investing in Alpha Rock Capital, but also to become knowledgeable in an area that up until very recently was inaccessible to regular people.
So, as I have always done with all my endeavours, I devoted myself fully and became one of the first investors and advisors of the company. Soon thereafter I would also become one of the founders along with Marc Roca, Vedast Sanxis and David Abusiewiez, as the Chief Relations Officer. Alpha Rock Capital is today my brain child, a child that me and my three co-founders are raising and I consider it perhaps the biggest enigma, but also the biggest opportunity in an unknown market space.
Finally it looks like I know what is best for me, and I’m confident it will be best for you too. So reach out to us on our contact section and join Alpha Rock Capital.