Category Archives: Leadership

Digital transformation, what does it really mean?

Last week I commented on a LinkedIn update. The poster had asked how people define digital transformation. My comment was:

“Making many things in life better, simpler and easier for as many people as possible by using new technology in a smarter way. #DigitalLeadership”

There were many suggestions about what digital transformation means, and I think it’s crucial that you allow discussion and ask questions about what something means to you, your organisation, your customers and the world before you define an expression. Terminology can easily become buzz words that mean nothing. When things mean nothing to us we don’t take action and it interrupts the decision-making process.

This week I had a new digital experience which involved transforming a service. I went to the doctor in Sweden using an app on my iPad. I felt a bit unwell last week, and then I got two big cold sores which were very painful. I desperately wanted anti-viral tablets to help me get better quicker. I called my local doctor, but had no luck. They suggested that I should try to get an emergency appointment, which can mean hours of waiting. Instead, I downloaded an app called Kry, and ten minutes later I had spoken to a medical doctor and they had prescribed me the medication I needed.

This made my life better and easier, saving me lots of time and energy, and is a great example of digital transformation.

I’ve learnt that there are similar health apps for people on ships out at sea and people living in rural areas. Now they’re available to everyone in Sweden as well.

Digital transformation is nothing new. It started to explode when more and more people gained access to the web, which happened after 1995, and we got new services such as Amazon, Windows 95 and

We got better at using databases and storing information, and thanks to the World Wide Web we could hyperlink content.

New digital solutions have and will have a huge impact on people and our society. It is challenging our work structures, how we communicate, how we exchange knowledge, how we make our daily errands, it changes entertainment and transport. It affects everything.

In 2005 the web started to be social and it was during this time that the masses joined social media. Where I worked back then we went from information on printed paper to information presented on the web.

Now in 2016 we talk about digital transformation all the time, and what it means to you depends on the business you are in.

Though the new ways of providing a service has a lot in common, we now have high expectations of the time it take. Back in 2005 people may have been happy to wait for a week for a delivery; now that is too slow. When we are ordering a new product we want to be able to do that using the web or over the phone. To get on top of how you serve your customers you must offer them several ways to connect with you. In Western Europe for instance there are still many people who don’t have access to the internet, and you should include them as well.

Another big topic in digital transformation is how we handle privacy and information. With new regulations coming into place in May 2018 that will help you protect your personal data, organisations need to take action and review how they handle data.

Digitalisation is in many ways a driving force of change and development. To drive any change we need good leadership, and organisations that are going through the turmoil of changing too much all at once may burn out their workforce.

I once worked with an organisation that always looked for new digital solutions, but they were ignoring all their leadership problems. Many of the people who worked there arrived full of enthusiasm and believing in the brand. When they had been there for a while they realised that the problems were building up and nobody was happy to get their hands dirty and solve the real problem. If you looked at the technology they used they were amazing, but the way they handled problems it seems they were following the route to disaster.

To be a sustainable leader today you need to embrace and learn to adopt new practices. This means that you need to review traditions and habits and repeatedly ask yourself why you do what you do.

Traditions are beliefs and habits that are passed on to us by the people who have been working in an organisation before us. Some of these people may not be there any longer, but the behaviour they encouraged may still be there.

How do you make sure that you review your work processes, learning activities, the way you run meetings and knowledge sharing and connect with customers? Are you following others, or do you dare to act first and just give it a try?

How do you describe digital transformation? Have you had any transformational experiences? Tell me about them: send me an email hello@sofiesandell dot com or share a comment on my Facebook page Digital Leadership.

Thank you for reading, Sofie

Leave a Comment

Tony Robbins: I’m not your guru – review and thoughts

I watched the documentary Tony Robbins: I’m not your guru yesterday. For those of you who’ve not heard of Tony Robbins before, he is a self-help guru who has hosted personal development seminars around the world for about 25 years. Thousands of people attend his events every year, and he’s probably the most famous motivational speaker in the world.

I’ve never attended any of his seminars and I’m not planning to, but it was good to get some insight into what they are like. My only previous experience has been watching some of Robbins’ talks online.

To set the scene: imagine a huge stage, a hyped-up speaker who jumps on a trampoline before going on stage, loud music and thousands of people looking for healing from the pain that life brings.

In the film we follow Robbins, his team and some participants during a six-day-long seminar called ‘Date with Destiny’. The seminar promises to change your life. As Robbins explains: ‘this is for the hungry and people who want more from life’. The event takes place in Florida, US, and costs US $4,995 to attend.

Tony Robbins I'm not your guru

During the event people from the audience stand up and share their innermost secrets and deepest thoughts with thousands of strangers. In the moment it looks amazing, but I can’t help thinking about what happens in the future. Being cheered on by thousands of people is a boost for anyone, but what happens when the feelings of loneliness and meaninglessness come back?

I’ve been to some events in London where people stand up and share their issues with the rest of the room. What you get when you do this is a quick-fix analysis of your life, your issues and what you need to do to fix them, the same happens in this movie. Robbins calls himself a practical psychologist, and I think he has a big heart, but his methods scare me.

In the film Robbins gets a woman to call her boyfriend and break up with him live in front of 2,500 people. She calls him using the speaker on her phone and pushes the mic next to it. I think the boyfriend hung up on her after a minute. At the end of the movie, the epilogue tells you that the couple stayed together after having some deep conversations.

Another woman, who grew up in a sect in which certain members sexually abused other members from the age of six, stands up and asks for healing, she says she wants to kill herself. At the end of her public healing session she had picked three men from the audience to act as her uncles, and they will be there for her and show support without asking for sexual favours. It’s painful to hear her story, and after the movie you learn that she is starting up a support network for people who’ve had similar experiences.

An acquaintance who’s been to a handful of Robbins’ events around the world told me in confidence that they got addicted to the seminars, but made no real changes in their lives. Why? I’m not sure, but I think life can be a painful mess, and there are not many quick-fix solutions that sticks.

People learn from experience and going to an event like this may change your life and you may make many new friends. But, I would find it hard to see people standing up talking about their suicidal thoughts and why they are not worthy in this polished mega-rock-concert way.

I’ve met people who are part of the tribe around Tony Robbins, and there is little room to discuss and talk about the after-effects of his seminars, and if they really work. It is as if his methods are unquestionable, and when you are sharing your thoughts you hear that you are not open to receive, and as in any evangelic congregation, you are just wrong if you don’t agree with the leaders.

Tony Robbins I'm not your guru

The makers of Tony Robbins: I’m not your guru have staged a perfect film featuring deep and sensitive issues. Tony Robbins is the superhero and the seminar attendees are his disciples. Everyone who was featured in the film was positive and adored Tony Robbins. It would have been better if they also showed some people who were more skeptical about the ‘Tony cult’. Both perspectives would have made the film richer. In the end, Tony Robbins tries to suggest that nobody would be interested in a movie about him, maybe it’s a way to make him look humble? (Which he is not.)

A small warning, if you been to any seminars with Robbins you know what to expect, but if you are new to this world of personal development you may be terrified.

When Joe Berlinger, the director, attended his first Tony Robbins event in 2012 he wanted to leave immediately. He was then persuaded by his wife to stay and deeply enjoyed it. He decided he would shoot the documentary to make a feel-good film after watching too many depressing documentaries.

If you would like a peek behind the scenes of the Tony Robbins factory, log in to Netflix.

Final reflection
Life is not easy and it’s hard to find meaning. It’s through connection with others that life becomes bearable. There are many positive messages shared in the film, and we are reminded that we can change our lives even if we have reached rock bottom. It’s good to remind yourself that change is possible and that we are all loveable and able to show love.


Leave a Comment

What about the telecom company Ericsson and digital leadership?

Ericsson, the Swedish telecom company, has sacked their CEO Hans Vestberg. I feel quite close to Ericsson as a brand and I’ve been following them from a distance for years. In 2008 a friend of mine took voluntary redundancy from Ericsson, which the company allowed everyone over 35 to do. She got something like two years pay to leave and saw it as a way to leap into a new career. At the point, Ericsson had focused too much on recruiting the same kind of people and needed to diversify their workforce.

Since then I’ve repeatedly heard that Ericsson plans to restructure and downsize their workforce. Now threats about redundancies are all over media again. Would you do your best and give all your talent to an organisation that is continually talking about potentially sacking you?

I’ve been made redundant and that period was stressful. Your mind is full of thoughts that have nothing to do with your job. If Ericsson has spent the last ten years sharing a corporate story that you may lose your job soon I can see why they are not on the top of their game.

All these digital tools like social media, smartphones, snaps, the cloud, data, analytics and the Internet of Things are confusing and difficult. To ‘get it’ you need to be able to use your whole mind, not just a part of it. One reason that Ericsson has problems may very well be that they have stressed their workforce with the constant threat that they will lose their income.

I did a quick search on Facebook for Hans Vestberg. I couldn’t find him. He may use another name, that’s possible. Maybe he has hundreds of friends? Or maybe he can’t be bothered to use social media. I found him on Twitter. Of course, as an influencer, he should be there, but it’s Facebook that has connected the world not Twitter or any other social media network.

A technical company like Ericsson needs to know how their customers use social media and how they explore the Internet of Things. Digital leaders are curious and they are interested in how others use digital tools as well.

Social media is shaking up how we share knowledge and information. When you hang out online you find out what’s going on in the real world and what problems your customers are facing.

If you are creating too much space for worry and insecurity you are preparing for a future of limited imagination. As a leader you need to create hope and give your colleagues the feeling that you are going in the right direction, even if it’s a complex journey.

From my blog the other week:

The bumpy journey of digital leadership

Questions all leaders need to ask themselves as the unknown may replace your business in the future:

1) Do you know much about the tools, devices, social connectivity, clouds and apps that other businesses use when they focus on digital leadership?

2) How do you create space for creativity, innovation and improvisation in your business? How are you welcoming new ideas and initiatives?

Ericsson’s mobilephone history


Leave a Comment

The EU and its branding problem

Last week on Friday I was in Sweden to celebrate Midsummer, one of the most important events in the Swedish calendar. I woke up early to check the referendum result. I almost fainted because of the pain I felt when I read the outcome.

The EU is not perfect. It has many problems and it’s hard to fully articulate its pros and cons.

The EU has a branding problem because it’s hard to say what it does. When people who were supporting Brexit asked me what the EU is good for I found it hard to give them just three strong arguments.

Last year I was at a large party and I spoke to a Swedish politician who was working on EU relationships. According to him the EU is about peace and helping create better living standards in the countries that are members. Hmm, has he ever visited a deprived area where people feel little hope for the future? How is the EU helping them?

There is a lot of tension around European borders and why they are there. It’s borders that create suffering and people die to get into Europe.

All countries that are members of the EU have national political problems and they’re not the EU’s fault. They are caused by other factors and if we are going to blame someone it has to be the local and national politicians who are not making big and brave plans for the future.

All countries need to look at:

  • Do people have somewhere to live? In Sweden and the UK there are not enough cheap housing options.
  • The school system: are we educating our children so they are prepared for the world we live in? Well, there is a lot to be done here isn’t there?
  • Social care and helping people who, for whatever reason, are outside ‘normal’ society. There will always be people who for different reasons can’t support themselves. How the country you live in looks after them and makes life bearable for them is crucial. Does your country do a good job here?
  • Infrastructure: how is your country investing in infrastructure and things like faster broadband?
  • Security: do the police help you feel safe? There are improvements to be made here in most countries I believe.
  • The healthcare system needs to be better managed everywhere, and we need to strive for a society of health habits. To stop the food industry making money on selling crap sugary food would be a good start.

All governments ask their citizens to pay taxes to support the country and its systems. Who are the big villains here, and who is not paying taxes? It seems a bit strange to me that large corporations are allowed to avoid paying any taxes at all when they have a huge presence in a country. By making it harder for them to slip through the system you can get a lot of money you can invest into the society.

There are lots more things that our national politicians are working on and looking at for their country, these are just a few issues. That a country has problems like these above has nothing to do with the EU.

I think it’s going to be hard for the politicians who support Brexit to make the UK leave the EU. When I counted last week 479 members of the parliament out of 650 were against leaving the EU.

The world is global. We move and work wherever we can. The internet is a blessing for business and connectivity.

If we are going to look for a scapegoat to blame it can’t be the EU. The UK’s problems are local and national, they were not created by the EU.

The branding problem is that the EU needs to look at what they do and whether it is in line with their purpose. And I have an important question to the EU:

Is there anywhere you can go to read a simple account of what the EU has achieved and is working on? I need to sharpen my three arguments for why the EU should exist.

Thank you. Tack. Merci. Vielen Dank!

Leave a Comment

The bumpy journey of digital leadership

We are at the beginning, not the end, of digital transformation. Still, I meet leaders who live under a stone—in denial—not thinking much about things like big data, the cloud, social media, apps and digital strategies.

In 1995 when the internet started to grow into what it is today, nobody could imagine the opportunities that are now available. Digital leadership is needed everywhere in society, and when it’s hard to find an answer that makes sense as to what the future will look like, many avoid asking the question.

All organisations, industries and companies are under threat—none are excluded from the digital turmoil meltdown. There may be a competitor working on a new, smart cloud-based mobile app that will take your market away from you.

To be an entrepreneur is high status. People whose biggest dream 20 years ago was to become a leader in a large corporation are now spending their spare time trying out new business ideas. Lots of new technology is under development, many of which we are not even sure how we will use.

Digital transformation is a painful process; it’s not smooth, but brutal and full of trial and error. In this learning process, we are going to find new ways to deal with all things digital, and the new technology will ultimately work better and be safer.

Social media can give you access to knowledge in seconds. If an organisation uses an internal social media network, then they are creating a hub of expertise. Informal networking online connects people’s minds.

Branding is a complex area with customers taking over control of the brands they use. Who has booked a hotel without reading any customer reviews beforehand?

With small computers in our pockets, we are flexible and quick to do what we need to do on the Internet.

In the next few years, we are going to add many more digital devices into the cloud. Creative inventors will come up with new ways for the Internet of Things to come into our lives. We are going to connect in new ways, and our personal data will be sent around in the air between devices and receivers. The risk for data loss and privacy is always there in the background.

Questions all leaders need to ask themselves

The unknown may replace your business in the future.

1) Do you know much about the tools, devices, social connectivity, clouds and apps that other businesses use when they are focusing on digital leadership?

2) How are you creating space for creativity, innovation and improvisation in your business? How are you welcoming new ideas and initiatives?

In the future, we are going to care more about our community, and the organisations that do this well will be the winners. Your customers can be involved developing your products already; the next step is to bring them even closer with social media and new ways to communicate.

Social media is shaking up knowledge exchange internally and externally. It is also affecting your brand, customer service, and how you see yourselves. Social media is where you will discover problems with your products and where your future employees will hear about you for the first time.

There are thousands of ways you can use big data and information to benefit your business. Most organisations only use a handful of them.

All these SMACI (Social media, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Things) technologies embedded and used together are part of what is called digital disruption. Although we are only at the beginning of digital disruption and it may be a buzzword, for leaders who are hiding under a stone, the awakening is going to be painful.

Share this post with people you know who might find it useful.


What’s your thoughts about the digital future? Please share a comment.

Thank you, Sofie

You can check out my book ‘Digital Leadership’ on Amazon.

And if you wish to subscribe to my newsletters go here:

Leave a Comment

5 tips for better membership strategy and engagement

A membership based organisation that’s lacking members is soon going to go bust if they don’t do anything about it. People need to put in their time and energy into the organisation to make it stay active. There are many other things that your members can spend their time on. Here are some tips to make them stay.

  1. You need leaders and members who want to recruit others to join. People who are enthusiastic and great at explaining why it gives social meaning to do anything without getting paid for it. In a society where we are self-focused many are only looking for things that are good for themselves, leaving out the idea that together-ism and social action can create deeper satisfaction.
  2. Always review how society is changing and how technology is supporting these changes. Open up and have a discussion with your members about how these changes are affecting them.
  3. If an organisation’s head office is bad at communicating and is not aligning their activities with the mission of the organisation the members will become suspicious. There is a risk that they think the head office is doing things to drive their own agenda. To share your intentions and ‘whys’ in a professional way helps to engage the whole membership. If it looks as if a leader is making decisions to support his/her personal career it makes the members doubt their leadership, and in the long term it hurts the organisation.
  4. Have zero tolerance to destructive behaviour among your members and leadership team. Discuss what kind of behaviour that is appreciated, and what that looks like. Far too often one person’s poor behaviour is badly influencing the atmosphere of the organisation. The result is that people may leave and put their energy into something else.
  5. It’s by being involved in projects that your members get the most out of their membership. Make sure you are offering an enjoyable experience for your members and share how their contributions made a difference. If you look at the western world’s population, there are not many who are willing to give up their time to be active in a volunteer network, let the individuals who do bring great memories with them.

Check out my online course about membership engagement.

Strategies for membership based organisations

Logo strategies for membership organisation .001

Leave a Comment

The myth about the ‘France email ban 2016’

In the last week, I’ve read articles about the new law in France that forbids employers to email their employees after 18.00. Google ‘France email ban 2016’ and you will find that lots of newspapers write about it.

It’s not true, and it’s a new modern myth to add to future books about modern fables.

I asked a friend who lives in Paris about the new email law, and she had never even heard about it.

She searched on Google in French and said that French media mentioned that an English-speaking man stressed in front of computerjournalist got it wrong, and then it spread all over the world.

What is more correct is that there are people in certain jobs, that are extremely busy, that will be able to set up a communication policy in which you set expectations when and how late you are allowed to communicate. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Many organisations are made up of people with strange expectations about when emails should be read, actioned and replied to. A friend of mine used to wake up to 15 emails that her boss had sent her in the middle of the night. Her boss suffered from insomnia and could never sleep and was emailing all night instead. For my friend, this was stressful and she could never start a day with her own to-do-list, instead, it was made up of her boss ideas. This story is an example of crossing the digital communication boundary in a bad way.

There are smart communication tools that help you send emails later. I’ve used Boomerang a tool that helps you to send emails later. l. They have plugins for both Gmail and  Outlook.

One thing that is necessary is that we need to talk much more about boundaries and expectations when it comes to digital communication.

Thank you, France for opening up the discussion about how and when we should communicate online.

The habit of always being connected is not good for our creativity and our brains.



If you are interested in exploring and thinking differently about your
digital tools I’ve created a 30-day challenge30-day challenge prevent digital stress and organisational mess with Sofie Sandell

There is a lot of pressure on us to connect every moment we are awake.

In this 30-day challenge, the goal is to become more aware of what you do online and how you spend your time. We are also going to look at boundaries and the steps you can take to set up healthy boundaries around all digital alerts.

The course starts on Sunday the week you subscribed. Keep your eye out for an email from In total, you’ll get 5 emails with new weekly challenges.

Read more here.


Photo above from

Leave a Comment

Ageism, leadership and wisdom

Last week I was at an event in London and spoke to the event manager. He was British and told me he was 26 years old.

He said:
‘I’m very happy to be born in the generation I’m in, you know there are a lot of people who are like 35 and older who don’t even know how to use Word and PowerPoint.’

‘Ehhh, I know plenty of 70 yrs old and over, who are pretty savvy with Word, social media, and computer stuff.’

I never thought I would hear that kind of comment, and on my Facebook, I wrote ‘As you say in Swedish: You’ll hear a lot before your ears fall off.’

Making assumptions about other people based on their age is discrimination, ageism. Both when we judge young, middle-aged or senior citizens.

One thing that we all have in common is that we need to collaborate and work together to make our complex society work. We can’t exclude groups because of their age.

I hate when older people look down on young people, as well as I felt upset when this man told me that people only ten years older than him can’t use Word.

There is a lot of non-conscious ageism in the workplace, and it tends to be mostly negative. When someone is not taking you seriously because of you gender, age or background, we feel it on many levels, and it’s not effective, productive or kind.

To have a conversation with someone from another age group can be fulfilling in many ways, and you may even learn something new! I know, can you believe it 🙂

I’ve also noticed that some people who lived for a while are developing wise thoughts. Not that they are always right, but there is a lot to be learned from speaking to people who have been around for a while. Why not chat with someone about how it was to work 25 years ago when there was no Internet, it could turn into a good history lesson.

old chair in pub





Leave a Comment

CrossFit and leadership

I have a friend who is active in a CrossFit club. He showed me their Facebook group, and there was a post reminding everyone to be open and welcoming to new members. I asked ‘Does it work in real life too?’

‘Yes, definitely, we all say hello and introduce ourselves to all new people. A handshake, and sharing a sentence or two about who you are and how you started with Cross fit.’ To know people’s name is important, it makes people join and get active.

Do you make people feel welcome where you work or in your volunteer organisation?



Leave a Comment

Addiction, leadership, and chaos – the ‘truth’ behind the BHS scandal

In the last few weeks a new business award in the UK emerged, it’s all about achieving best results in the following categories: 1) Inhuman barbarian, 2) Vulgar braggart, and 3) Narcissistic fool. The competition continues, and there may be more categories to compete in as the contest opens up.

One of the biggest media news has been about BHS going bust, and I’m sure many of the people involved will win an award or two.


BHS is a British department store chain with 11,000 employees, and the brand stands for next to nothing. Their high street competitors have a much clearer brand message. The only time I ever entered a BHS store was when it was heavy rain, and I was desperate to buy an umbrella.

In the last week, I answered a question about if you can be addicted to social media in my Q&A, which I think you can. A friend then sent me a video about how our brain is pushing us to make certain decisions, and how an addicted brain is totally out of control.

It made me reflect on leadership and the leadership team who managed to ruin BHS. Where they actually having addiction problems? Hm…. where to start?

They were addicted to:

  • being right, most of them have enormous egos that you need silk-gloves to handle.
  • attention and prestige.
  • and some of them definitely were addicted to large boats and super yachts.


It was not only Philip Green (previous owner) and Dominic Chappell (the owner who screwed up even more), who messed up the BHS, but also lawyers, solicitors and accountants, and a bunch of other consultants. None of them mentioned that the way they were running the business was unethical or wrong. You can’t milk a business of all its money without your accountant noticing that money is transferred in and out in suspicious ways.

Many of the people in these groups were addicted to not speaking up. ‘Why would I do that, then I may lose out of my next bonus?’

In the case of BHS, thousands are risking losing their jobs. Plus that BHS has done some fishy business with the pension funds, so the employees will lose out of that if the government is not stepping in shipping money into BHS’s empty bank accounts.

Did the owners and leadership team get this dysfunctional because of addiction to prestige and super yachts? None of them consciously thought about that all employees will have to deal with a dark future.

Leadership and entrepreneurship are both about creating growth; it’s about creating a company that will last for a long time.

You can’t spend your time looking at your fat ego in the mirror admiring your self-reflection. No, you need to move your bum out of the office and show professionalism and behave like a decent human being. You need to inspire and motivate others.

Depleting the bank accounts is not leadership in 2016, and by doing this, you are all officially nominated for the new prestigious business award. Let’s see who will do best in the categories:

  1. Inhuman barbarian
  2. Vulgar braggart
  3. Narcissistic fool.


Thank you for reading. If you think your network would like to read the article please share it.

I read every email, comment, and tweet that you send me, so please do reach out. To tweet me connect on @Soffi_Propp.

And sign up to my Digital Leadership Inspiration newsletter here.

Leave a Comment

Social Media Q&A

Do you have any questions about life in relation to social media?

Send an email with your question to Sofie Sandell for a chance to get it published here.

Blog Archive

All blog categories

1) Branding
2) Conferences
3) Creativity
4) Feminine Leadership
5) Google Hangouts
6) Leadership
7) Life online
8) Personal
9) Podcasts
10) Public speaking
11) Press and media mentions
12) Social media
13) Social Media Q&A

14) Trendspotting

Enjoy my blog. If you have any feedback please let me know!


12 practical tips for how to use social media to build your reputation and share your key messages

To download click here, or the image below.

You don't have to give me your email address, but if you like to subscribe to my Digital Leadership Inspiration newsletter you can do that here.











Digital Leadership with Sofie Sandell