Category Archives: Life online

The Web I Want

The Web is a world on its own – big, wide and scary. The Web is not fair, equal and there are many injustices taking place online all the time, plus that the web is putting children and vulnerable people at risk.

Last week I went to a talk at the Web We Want weekend at the Southbank centre in London. This inspired me to write down what I would like to the web to look like. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Access to the internet should be affordable and accessible for everyone. In 2013 40% of the worlds populations had access to the Web. It should be a human right to have access to information online.
  • Online bullying should be banned, and there should be ways to punish people doing it.
  • Freedom of expression must be better understood by more people. It’s never right to threat to murder, rape or maltreat someone, in the real world or online.
  • There should be no harassment against girls and women sharing their opinions online. Right now there are millions of women who are choosing not to express their opinions just because they are afraid of being trolled.
  • Privacy matters for everyone. No government should be able to spy on what all of us do online. The mass surveillance that going in at the moment is not right.
  • Medical information on the Web should be verified by an expert in the topic.
  • Our medical record should be safe and not be shared without our prior consent.
  • Better customer support from the major social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google. It’s shocking that they still hide behind a wall when you report issues such as scam, threats and online trolling. They should have proper customer service centres where you can report issues and get advice by talking to a person and a personal email conversation.
  • Websites with poor userability should be rebuilt. Great information layout that’s easy for humans to understands should be compulsory for new websites.
  • When you search for something the search engines should understand what you actually mean, and not show up too many spammy results.
  • The porn industry should not be online in the extent it’s now. Did you know many boys start to watch porn at the early age of seven. Awful, this must stop now.
  • There should be no way to hide child pornography online.
  • And illegal drugs and substances should not be traded online.

These are some of my thoughts today. We all play a part in defining the future of the Web. You do. I do.

What does the Web look like that you want? Write it down and share it with me.

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Dear mini-trolls, please stop snotting in my social media networks

I spend a lot of time online in my social media networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook – and especially the groups. Sometimes I get to know people in a way that is disturbing our ’in real life’ (IRL) relationship.

You see, I have to read snotty comments made by mini-trolls to follow what’s happening in the groups… and as you know when nobody stops a mini-troll from writing snotty comments they continue and their snot is suddenly all over us. Here I am not talking about internet trolls hiding behind a fake identity. No, I’m talking about people who use their real identify and I now call them mini-trolls.

If we were having the same conversation IRL someone would have told them to go and blow their nose somewhere else. And in the UK you would have said: ‘I beg you pardon, the toilet is over there…’

These people are clearly suffering from snotty comments syndrome. It’s as if they can’t help but share their snot publicly on posts in social media. Their comments can be sarcastic, painful to read, cynical or it might take the message in the post out of context.

This kind of mini-hate can be both hurtful and harmful, and I’ve seen people who are acquaintances, friends of friends and people outside my networks doing it many times. It seems to be a pretty big problem online.

When someone says something nice and kind we tend to forget it, it doesn’t really stick for long, but snotty comments we remember forever and there is no way to delete them from our memory, even if the comment itself is deleted online. Okay, if you make one rude comment, as we have all done, you are forgiven. But when you have made a few we put you in the category of “annoying mini-trolls”.

The experts’ view

I asked Mihaela Stroe, PhD in nonverbal communication, for her view and she said:

‘Even though we communicate more online now, the basic rules of human communication apply there too. In real life you will meet people who make rude comments and you have several ways to stay away from them. Online you have the same right, you can use your personal power to disconnect with online rudeness. My tip is to stick with people (and comments) that make you grow, not with those who make you feel low. And remember: online communication is still the same as real life: – you have the power to be a great communicator, or to be a lousy one‘.

…online communication is still the same as real life: – you have the power to be a great communicator, or to be a lousy one‘.

I also had the chance to speak to celebrity psychotherapist Marisa Peer about why people make rude comments online and she says:

‘It’s all about power, all relationships in life are about power and if you feel as if you have no power you think you can get some and embellish yourself by diminishing other people. People who are happy and at peace with themselves would never behave like that.’

…all relationships in life are about power…

5 snotty comments protection tips:

To give mini-trolls a package of tissues might not be enough to get them stop blowing their nose online, but I can share some tips with those of you who are exposed to their snot.

1) Mini-trolls have issues with themselves, they are not happy. Their aim is to gain a higher status by making other people feel low. When you read a snotty comment just keep calm and remember that it says more about them than about you.

2) If you read a rude comment added late at night the mini-troll who wrote it might have been drunk and not entirely sure of what they wrote – when you are drunk you don’t have a “safety filter” in your head, or at least not the same kind of filter as when you are sober.

3) We all have different boundaries. I was once very active in a group on LinkedIn in which a male member felt compelled to make a snotty comment about almost everyone’s posts. Maybe he thought he could change people’s view of a subject by doing this. What happened in this case is that I blocked him on LinkedIn. We used to be connected, but why should we be when we have very little in common? If we were hanging out IRL I would have left the conversation or asked him to shut up – so I brought the rules of normal life online.

4) You can try to be sarcastic and just say that you totally agree with a snotty comment (most people will understand that you are being sarcastic), or say that that is a smart point of view, or just say “WOW!!!”.

5) You can also choose to be silent. This is a powerful way to show that you are above these kinds of comments and won’t stoop to the same low level of communication.

Karma and snot

One last point: if you “like” someone’s snotty comment, that person’s karma and snot is reflected onto you and who you are. So liking and agreeing with snotty comments might be as hurtful as making them.

Be nice. Be kind. Be helpful. In that way we can create an online world we will all want to be a part of.

Thank you, Sofie


Download 13 tips how to protect yourself from internet trolls and other nasty people online. 

Sofie Sandell

Photographer Katja Rangstam


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Religion and social media

I recently attended a conference in Birmingham that combined the topics of religion and the challenges of living in a digital age. It was the 34th World Congress with The International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and the theme was ‘Challenges for Religious Freedom in the Digital Age’.

We live in a world that is interconnected in more ways than ever before – both economically and digitally. One of the main messages at the conference was: In order to live together we must foster communication and understanding.

Karen Armstrong

The keynote speaker was Karen Armstrong, a celebrated author and religious commentator. It was great to hear her speak live. Previously, I’d seen her online when she won the 2008 TED Prize for the creation of the Charter for Compassion.

Two of the thoughts she shared on stage were: ‘Compassion is in all religion’ and ‘don’t impose on others what you don’t want imposed on yourself’.

With our ability to share content and thoughts online comes personal responsibility. What you do online can have a huge impact on other people’s thoughts and feelings both in a positive way and in a negative way. To create and develop a world that we would all like to live in we need to use our intellect, morality and personal discipline to take action. Talking alone will not make compassion work.

Peace and diversity

Conflict has always existed yet one of the keynote speakers at the conference, Kathy Matsui, a Professor at Seisen University, asserted that: ‘Human beings are not on earth to compete for dominance.’

Our ability to connect electronically has meant a lot to us and the development of the world. It’s natural for humans to connect and seek contact. Several speakers at the conference touched on the topic of diversity. One asked: ‘Why did a wise God create such diversity?’

Diversity makes us stronger and helps us to see a problem from new perspectives. We must always learn from each other. Other people can help us to grow.

When I train people in social media one of my messages is: ‘Adults learn best by discussing a topic they are passionate about with other people who are experts in the topic.’ So, in the complex world of social media and communication, by talking to other wise people we can quickly develop our own minds.

Language and numbers

There is a lot of knowledge in this world and we cannot keep it all in our minds. In the past we had books and libraries. Now we have the ability to share our knowledge with a larger audience and we do this in a way that enables people to easily find information, that is, through the use of good web-design, categories and keywords.

One of the speakers, Roby Kannanchira, a Carmelite priest, said: ‘To keep knowledge in a digital format is a way of acquiring new knowledge. To discuss the new knowledge is a way of developing your wisdom.’

Our language is a gift and thanks to language we can communicate our knowledge and share it further. In some parts of the world internet penetration is almost zero, in the Western world it’s close to 90% and for the future we should hope for a more equal way to connect.

Digital technology is about numbers. It’s about ‘1’ and ‘0’ – one and zero are the two magic numbers that are needed to digitise everything online. Without numbers we would not be able to send an email or check out a website. We need numbers to form a new concept online. We explain our world using numbers, we call each other using a phone number, and in the digital world we use numbers all the time without even thinking about it.

One of the Muslim speakers, Aladdine Touhami, compared one and zero to masculinity and femininity. You need a balance of both to get anything to work.

Morality and technology

Technology does not have a natural moral centre and we must embrace responsible online behaviour. Your words can reach far and you must choose them wisely.

Bishop Angaelos, a very active Twitter user was one of the speakers. He said that social media should not be seen as either a villain or saviour.

For me, it feels as if we have lost our privacy online. Of course, we can choose what to share, but a lot of data is collected about us by big corporations and that’s a bit creepy. What do Facebook and Google actually know about us? Probably far too much!

Internet censorship and surveillance is a reality in over 40 countries at the moment. What kind of impact does this have? Where do you draw the line concerning what people can control?

The meaning of ‘guru’ in Sikhism

During the conference I also visited two Sikh gurdwaras. I had never been to a gurdwara before and I found it very exciting. We were told the meaning if the word ‘guru’.

In my job working with social media I often hear the expression ‘social media guru’ and it sometimes has negative connotations. I have been called a social media guru in some interviews and I am absolutely fine with that.

One of the people who welcomed us to the gurdwara said that guru means spiritual enlightenment and a guru takes you from darkness to light. I think that sounds beautiful.

The interfaith tour

I also had the opportunity to listen to two young Frenchmen who, with five other men from five different religions, had travelled the world exploring religion and promoting interfaith activities. You should check out some of their videos and posts on social media and their website.

Our ability to use digital tools will help us to develop a more human world. The question is what can you do to help?

As humans we can connect on many levels, we can meet up, play sport, go for a coffee, chat online, share a moment on Snapchat, share our holiday pics on Facebook, we can send a text message, we can fly all around the world, jump on a train and so on. We will always connect and be connected – today there are just so many more opportunities to do so.

The final words I would like to share with you are: All human beings have one thing in common and that is that we can all become better communicators.

All the best and thank you for reading,

Sofie Sandell

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Don’t try to sell to me on LinkedIn if you don’t know me

It’s happened to me again: someone on LinkedIn that I have never heard of has sent me a short impersonal email suggesting we do business together.

I get these kind of unwanted emails in my LinkedIn inbox almost every day. Most days I just ignore them, but today I replied back saying that I wouldn’t interact and do business with someone I had just accepted as a connection on LinkedIn and I also suggested that they should work on their online relationship building skills.

I then got a reply saying that my response was too direct and the person in question got so offended that he blocked me from his LinkedIn account.

Yes, it was a direct message but it is hard not to be direct when you have received a very direct sales message yourself from someone you do not know and have no previous relationship or history with.

If I agree to connect with a new person online I don’t then want them to try and sell me something the following day. If a person I don’t know sends me a friendly message that’s absolutely fine. I would really appreciate that. If you send me a direct sales message (which can also be called anti-social spam) and I send a direct reply please don’t tell me that I’m too direct – I am probably only saying what everyone else is thinking.

During my time as a digital marketer at a large publisher I attended hours of legal training by our in-house lawyers and digital marketing law experts. Sending a direct sales message to someone you have no previous relationship with is illegal. You may have heard that you can’t add someone’s email address to your email newsletter system without their consent.

For me the unwelcome sales messages I get on LinkedIn all feel and smell the same. I am not a lawyer but I am sure a lawyer with a background in communications could give a full explanation of this situation. If you are such a lawyer please share your thoughts.

If you want to sell to people on LinkedIn why not share a nice, friendly message in your updates on a regular basis and ask for people to contact you if they are interested? Another way to connect via email on LinkedIn is to suggest collaborating or by sharing that you have something in common with the person you are contacting.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I love LinkedIn more and more, especially now that I’ve cleaned out my connections and removed all of the connections that had only a company name, no profile picture and no description. But this sales thing is really annoying me. We should use LinkedIn in a soft way, not for the hard sell.


Don't try to sell to me on LinkedIn

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Social Media Con-flunce – interview for a master thesis

The other day I was interviewed by Peter Norris from Brunel University. He studies innovation as his Master, and social media is a big part of innovation today.

The name of the project is Social Media Con-flunce (Con as in concert) the audience he has in mind are teenagers and he is asking questions about about the emotional part of being active on social media. Do you believe big part of our emotional language has moved online?

Here is the interview. It was recorded and part of the interview was transcribed.

Peter Norris: What is in your opinion the importance of emotional connections in social media?

Sofie Sandell: We all come to this world as emotional beings, so of course our emotions online matter. As humans we can show empathy, and that is one thing that we can do online. All brands that do marketing we like are connecting with our emotions. Smart brands that want their followers to share their message are making sure their audience is involved emotionally. And that is also what we are doing with our friends online, we show that we care and that we want to stay connected.

Peter Norris: Where do you think teenagers would prefer to share their emotional content? Private vs public social media.

Sofie Sandell: Now everyone is much more aware about social media compared with just a few years ago. And more parents are also more aware about the risks. I’ve interviewed some teenagers and they all preferred their private networks where they could be real, have fun and make jokes that everyone in the group understood. Most of them used text messaging groups such as WhatsApps and iMessage.  Many teens are also connecting with their network by playing social games online.

Peter Norris: In the era of internet, digital communication, technology and distance connections, how do you perceive the current evolution of social media? Are they in step with the time or are they lacking proper innovation and exploitation of the technologies and opportunities currently available?

Sofie Sandell: We are going towards more mobile solutions, what’s stopping us fully is bad hardware and bad battery time. New Apps will be developed.

We are connected through airports, we have train systems, here in London we love the tube when it’s working. When any of these networks that are connecting us are not working it drives us crazy. It’s the same with social media, a network that work well need to be maintained by it’s owner and it’s users – they must work together. It’s a very natural thing to do for to connect, that’s what has been driving change in the world.

How we love and value our social media networks will depend on the connections you have. Companies online that give their audience a bad experience are loosing out. To navigate and find information you must have a great information architecture that helps your clients. Not stopping them.

Peter Norris: Does the digitalization of emotions and connections represent an opportunity or a threat in your opinion?

Sofie Sandell: I think it’s both good and bad. You can deepen many relationships by using technology. One threat is that your ability to write ‘properly’ might be lost. Depending on who you are communicating with you need to change your language and expressions. Many people also use emojis very well and that helps when you are communicating emotions online.

Most people have between 5-10 good friends and they will use all possible ways to connect with them, chat, text, Facebook, email, phone and meet up in real life. Then we might have a large group of people around us who are important for us, but we are not seeking contact that often. Participating in social media with them will make it easier to connect next time you meet.

Peter Norris: Social media is a channel for cyber-bullying — what’s your thoughts?

Sofie Sandell: The social media platforms can set up better system to track harassment in their network, it should be easier to report any issue to them and they should do more about it. By being active on only private closed network it helps to prevent horrible comments and content in some sense.

In Sweden there was a TV programme called Troll Hunters and they were tracking down some of the worst cyber bullies and confronted them – so it’s possible to do that. Also we must change the law around the internet, I believe all countries laws are too far behind here. Sometimes it feels like the internet is a country itself, maybe we should have global rules?

Peter Norris: What emerging technologies could represent a key factor in social media innovation?

Sofie Sandell: I think a lot will happen, we are just in the beginning of the social media era. The way we are exchanging information will change a lot in the future. I believe it will be more important to make social media feel easy and accessible, some networks tend to look messier and messier – I think we are trying to get away from that.

All wearable technology such as Google Glasses will change how we behave online. And more people will probably film and share what they see live with their friends.

Sofie Sandel interview with Peter Norris

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How adults best learn online

At university I studied pedagogy and how adults learn. These days, with the extensive learning resources available online and sites such as Wikipedia, we are now acquiring knowledge, skills and new abilities in new ways. Do you agree? I am convinced that I, myself, am not learning much by heart any longer and am not retaining much information and that I am very dependent on finding information online. With new technology come new challenges, both for individuals and organisations.

Many of people use the power of the World Wide Web to share their knowledge. I’ve been interested in how adults learn for years and I recently read a book entitled Teaching and Learning Online: New Models of Learning for a Connected World by Brian Sutton and Anthony Basiel. As the title suggests, this book is about online learning and I would like to share some of the points made by Sutton and Basiel.

One thing that I know by just looking at the world around me is that online learning is set to grow a lot. The industry is worth billions.

One of the issues with online learning

Over the last two years I’ve meet many people who have told me that they signed up to a course online but never finished it. They do look a bit guilty when they tell me that!

As teachers seeking to share our wisdom, we know that it is when people stay with us and commit to the entire learning journey that they benefit the most. Completing only half of an educational programme will not contribute much to your knowledge and skills base. 

I have thought a lot about this and about how teachers can prepare a course that people will sign up to, learn from and finish. We want our students to make it to the end so that we can give them a certificate and say a big ‘congratulations, you’ve made it, well done’.

Learning through action

On a basic level we are happy to learn by just reading a book and listening to a teacher. Say, for instance, that you take a basic online cooking course for a healthier life. After you have completed the course you feel that you can cook a healthy meal and that this will lead to a healthier life.

That’s great. You’ve made it from being a total beginner to being an advanced beginner. At this level the learner will find it easier to pick up new knowledge and can start being more creative.

For deeper knowledge you need to learn from a peer group and through interaction. This may be online in a forum or through real life meetings. You can reach a certain level of comprehension by learning by yourself online, but deeper knowledge will result when you discuss the topic with other people who are at an advanced level or at least a higher level than you are.

When you are an expert on something you need to be able to collaborate with other experts. Last year I went on a digital marketing conference where I met randomly with other experts. It was well worth spending the entire day there just for these meetings.

This is why a membership club, a conference or other meet ups where you connect with others work so well. This interaction energises us and we learn best this way when we have reached an expert level of knowledge.

When you sell educational products online you must establish expectations and help the people completing your course to understand where they are. Are they beginners, advanced learners or experts?

You can help them by asking questions that define the gap they need to fill to reach a certain level. When you start out this way you are more likely to keep your learners interested for longer. They are entering the process on the right level.

Use more metaphors

Learning new things can be complex for any student no matter the topic. You as a teacher can use everyday metaphors to describe a new concept. We love it when someone does this. Great teachers are “fluent” in creating metaphors that their students understand. 

As students we stop engaging when we feel that something is being explained abstractly. Metaphors are there to help you explain abstract and complex information in a concise and memorable way.

Metaphors can include all kinds of everyday activities: gardening, flying, preparation for a hiking trip, cooking food or peeling an onion. When you explain your idea by illustrating it with help of an everyday activity, people feel connected. 

An example could be: “You have to keep peeling the onion in order to reach the core of the problem”. Or: “When preparing for a hiking trip you always make sure you have all the equipment you need in your rucksack before you leave the house”. Or: “It’s crucial for a pilot to be calm before take-off and landing; during the flight he will just adjust his course”. These metaphors can be used to describe several business situations.

We all have our own favourite metaphors and you as a teacher should use several of them to explain your ideas and concepts. We can digest a lot of information with the help of metaphors, so use more of them. Some of the best non-fiction books I’ve read and the best online courses I’ve taken are packed with metaphors and everyday stories.

Use objects as support items

When you watch the news and the journalist is explaining a complex story, they use a graphic or video to make the subject easier to understand. Take advantage of this when you explain your subjects and metaphors.

We love it when a good metaphor is connected to an object. Your students will be used to this as they have grown up watching TV. The combination of a complex topic, a metaphor and a graphic might be all that is needed to get your students to reach that ‘eureka’ moment.

All great TV producers are aware of the power of this combination. That’s why we are gripped by a well-produced documentary; we just want to learn more.

Think about the outcome

When we sign up to an online course that we thoroughly enjoy we don’t care that much about the technology used or in what way our learning is delivered. It may be via email, a membership website or a package sent home to us.

What really matters is how much thought the teacher has put into the course. How did they define the outcome of the course and are you enjoying the journey of learning about the topic?

The power of formulating new thoughts

As adults we learn best when we can talk and discuss a topic, so anyone who is keen to learn about something in your area of expertise will appreciate having conversations and meetings with you and a group of peers. We like to learn from listening to experts and people who are at a more advanced level. Maybe this can be part of your new product. A monthly Q&A? Real life meetings?

My last important point is that if we are keen to explore a new area then we are happy to learn using almost any kind of resource. We are happy to sit down, listen and concentrate if we have the inner drive to learn. But, if that inner drive is lacking, it will be hard for us to finish any course, be it online or offline.

As a keen learner and explorer I hope you have found these points interesting. And you learn something new by just leaving your house and meeting people, learning takes place everywhere.

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Who are you and how do you describe it? The art of being authentic in your personal branding

Who are you and how do you describe it? This is a question that can be hard to answer. In this interview Sofie Sandell talks to Solveig Malvik about how we describe ourselves online and to the world. What shall we say and how shall we say it.

Is it ok to talk about your journey and the stories that shaped you as a person? What shall you say?

Personal branding and what we say and how we say it is more important than ever when we all Google and search information about people online.

Solveig Malvik is  a speaker, writer and coach, she helps private clients and professionals all over the world connect better in person and online through one-on-one coaching, online courses and workshops. When you are better at creating a connection with people you stand out and more people want to work with you.

Solveig is the 2010 European Public Speaking Champion, a Future Shaper, Freeman of the City of London and in 2012 received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service while National President of JCI UK, a global voluntary membership organisation for young active citizens. Solveig has lived and worked globally, from managing rock musicians in the Middle East, publishing a Russian newspaper to being Head of Marketing at one of the largest education companies in the UK.

You can read more about Solveig Malvik on her website.

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How often shall we have a digital sabbatical? Arianna Huffington sharing her thoughts in London

On Friday this week I was lucky to listen to Arianna Huffington at BAFTA in London. BAFTA is one of my favourite venues, I’ve had many creative meetings there.

Arianna Huffington is sharing her messages from her book Thrive (I’ve not read it yet) and it’s about how to find balance in life. Many people act as if it’s cool and high status to be too busy and never sleep. Of course this leads to all kind of burn outs, and burned out people will not become great at anything.

Arianna shared a story about a man that she had dinner with who proudly told her that he only slept four hours last night. She thought for herself that the conversations they had would have been more interesting if he had slept a few more hours. The thing that happens when you are super tired is that you become a bit boring, and you are not that open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.

One aspect of digital life is that we need to rest and have a break from our digital devices. How do you manage this? Do you have days when you disconnect? One thing that made me smile was when Arianna said ‘God took a day off, do you?’ Yes, I do quite often. I often take two days off to recharge my batteries. I am not disconnecting totally, but I am not creating anything new, my creative muscles in my brain goes on holiday.

To write a new keynote speech and perform it on stage can be pretty tiring, and sometimes, if you are unlucky, you have someone in the audience who sucks your energy out of you. Maybe this just happens to me, but I’ve had a few people I’ve spoken in front of who made me totally exhausted…   Why is a bit of a mystery… one man I particularly remember hurt me deeply and told me that he understood all Swedish people’s accent, but not mine. Great to hear when you a speaker… A wise friend told me that it was probably the message I shared that he didn’t get. I was exhausted for a few days and avoided starting any new creative projects. I have communicated with and spoken in front of thousands of people, so I know that most of them get what I am saying. Maybe he was a  bully? I don’t know. I don’t regard him highly.

Bad email management

Businesses that expects people to be on their emails late in the evening are not helping their business to create engaged employees. When I meet and speak to businesses email management seem to be a huge problem. I wrote an article about it a while ago, check it out here.

It’s mostly about how we are using the digital tools that defines how efficient they are. You can use Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp to deepen your relationships. If you would send a message to 20 people who have been important for you in your life telling them so on a regular basis I can promise you that the digital tools will work for you.

I often ask myself big questions such as: Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life? Why am I important? And I get different answers quite often. We are all going to die one day, and the way we connect and collaborate will play big part of how satisfied we feel and are.

One of my future book ideas are ‘Social Media and Spirituality. I don’t think that the connections that we are making online are random and without purpose. I believe that many of the connections we make online have a higher purpose, then it’s up to us to learn and explore them. If we feel stressed out and not grounded in ourselves we are most likely not going to make the most of them.

Here are some of the pictures from the Arianna Huffington talk at BAFTA in London. 

Arianna Huffington at BAFTA in London

Arianna Huffington at BAFTA in London - I have a singed book! Arianna Huffington at BAFTA in London - we all have her book, yay! Arianna Huffington at BAFTA in London - Nicci Roscoe and Sofie Sandell


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Don’t Hold Back, Stand Out!

On International Women’s Day I attended a talk by Malala Yousafzai who was then interviewed by JudeMalala article Kelly, organiser of the Women in the World festival at the Southbank centre. 

Malala is a young woman from Pakistan who started to fight for women’s right to an education when she was very young, only 11 years old. Among other things, she did this by expressing her opinion online in a blog.

What she did online gained her a lot of attention and there was even a documentary made about her life. In October 2012 she boarded her school bus and a gunman came onboard and asked everyone ‘Who is Malala’. Then, he shot her in her head. Critically injured, she was sent to Birmingham, UK, for treatment.

She’s now 15 years old and lives in the UK with her family and goes to school. She is one of the most famous teenagers in the world and she’s still continuing the fight for women’s equality and their right to an education.


During her talk she spoke about equality and education and she made some great points that I would like to share with you.

The contrast between Pakistan and the UK is vast – there is a big difference between how people live their lives in the two countries.

Malala said she was shocked to see that there is still so much inequality between the sexes in the UK. In her view life looked so good in Europe. Everybody has the right to an education, and women are allowed to do many things that they would never be allowed to do in Pakistan.

But there are still some fundamental problems in the UK. There is hidden inequality in the so-called egalitarian Western world, and Malala brought this up on stage at the Southbank Centre in front of 2,500 people.

Sometimes when I debate about equality problems I hear comments such as ‘At least you are far better off in the UK compared with other countries in the developing world.’ Which is true, but that doesn’t stop us from creating a better society. The issues in the Western world are just more well hidden and embedded in our culture.


One thing Malala said was that women are discriminated against because they are powerful. I agree with this. As soon as a woman displays her power someone wants to label her as bossy or stubborn. This perception is still around, and as long as women are insulted for simply having an opinion we will not be living in an equal society.

For me as a businesswomen I have been discriminated against based on my gender several times, and I think all women have faced sexism, whether they choose to see it or not.

I use social media and my talks to highlight problems such as gender inequality. I do believe that we would live in a better world if there was less discrimination.

Businesses would make more profit and would be able to invest more fully in business and society if this issue was properly addressed. Half of the population is holding back because women are called names for having an opinion. Being labeled bossy is something most women dislike.

For over 20 years I’ve read and studied theories about equality that state that more gender equality in business will lead to higher profit, but not that much has changed. Google ‘equality leads to growth’ and you will find several studies that support this statement. But still we stagnate. There is not much being done to challenge gender inequality issues in business.

Digital Support and Leadership 

Today we have the option to start to educate our young citizens early. We can highlight this issue in school, and we can share our thoughts about gender issues using social media.

Malala encouraged everyone to not only share photos on social media networks to get more likes and attention, but also to actually share a message that will inspire and empower people to take action.

Words in all formats matter. We are also a generation that understands things visually. We are stronger together. If anyone you know shares a message that encourages political action online, pay attention to it. Don’t just ignore it. Like it. Share it.

The internet is democratic in the sense that anyone who has access to it can start sharing their thoughts online. There are many opportunities around for us to do this, and your thoughts might just be the thoughts that will inspire people and appeal directly to people’s hearts and minds.

It all starts with education. We must train our children to think about equality and we must raise awareness and promote the idea that we are all responsible for creating a more equal society.

When we think collectively we can create change that will last. No one single solution will solve the problem but hundreds of small actions will create a better society. We can’t wait for other people to do things for us.

We must all do something, whether we are young, old, male or female. And if anyone you know is taking action you must say to them the most important words in the world: ‘I support you’. These words make a huge difference to people who are creating change and enlightening the collective mind. Malala said that we are not using these words enough. We must use them more often.

Together we are strong. Together we are better. Together we can build up a momentum that will make a difference. When someone sticks their head out and wants to take action, say the magic words: ‘I support you’.

Thank you to Jude Kelly for inviting Malala Yousafzai to speak. To watch the full interview you can go to the Southbank Centre’s YouTube channel.

The article was first published in London Business Journal May 2014

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Social Media in Kuwait

I’ve just arrived in Kuwait and I will spend the week here. I am running a workshop about digital campaigns and social media and I am speaking at the Arabian Social Media Forum about digital leadership, social media and business values. I am looking forward to learn more about how business work here and what their challenges are.

So far everyone have been really nice and helpful and I will read a book about Kuwait’s history before I go to bed. I’ve never been in the Middle East before so I have a lot learn about life and culture here.

Follow me on Twitter @Soffi_Propp, I am sure there will be lots going on there!

Social Media Event in Kuwait

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Social Media Q&A

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