Category Archives: Personal

A personal story about crying, sadness and healing music

Sofie Sandell

Photographer Asya Barskaya.

In the latest episode of Kropp och Själ (it means body and soul), a Swedish radio programme, they share one of my stories in the end. They were discussing the power of crying, and I shared a story with them over email, which they read out. Here it is in English.

Years back I had a huge need to cry. I had gone through a horrible experience. I felt empty inside and wanted a cry, a good cry, a healing cry, but it was hard to let the tears come.

During this period I was invited to a spring concert to see my friend’s daughter’s choir.

I’ve never been a big crier. Some of my friends cry all the time, and I envy them. I cry when I watch a sad movie or when someone I know has died. Now I was in need of healing tears, tears that would help me to be able to move on.

I sat down in the church and thought to myself that I should get a napkin just in case. I didn’t know anyone except my friend and her daughter. I sat down, and said hi to the person in front of me. I had no idea what to expect.

The sermon started and the minister of the church spoke, and soon it was time for the choir to perform.

They started singing. My whole body resonated with the melody, rhythm and words. They had picked songs about purpose and the complexity that life brings with it. I started to cry and it was as if my tears would never end. All the pain that was inside came spilling out. It was a silent cry.

Then, the regular church service continued and I stopped crying. I listened to the messages from the minister and they shared some inspiring stories.

Next, it was time for a second performance. As soon as the choir started singing the tears were rolling down my cheeks. I could have stayed there for a good hour just listening, crying and healing.

The minster of the church had seen that I was sad, and when the service finished he asked if I wanted to talk to him. I declined and found it hard to find words, I could only shake my head.

Just after the sermon my friend, who was the choir conductor, came to see me. She gently touched my shoulder but said nothing. No explanation was needed.

I will always remember this gesture, and I appreciate that I didn’t have to clarify and justify my tears. They were just there, and they needed to find a way out.

Thanks to this experience I found a new way to clear my emotions, and I started to go along to my local church to listen to live music. Sometimes there were tears to be released, sometimes I just felt peaceful as I sat there soaking up the music.

I’ve been to many concerts, and live music touches you in a magic way ❤️

A few years ago I went along to a Unitarian church in Notting Hill in London, an open-minded spiritual community that welcomes all faiths, agnostics and atheists. They employ professional musicians, and when you go there on Sundays you are lucky enough to listen to beautiful live music. The acoustics make you feel the music in your bones.

To listen check for the programme SR P1 Kropp och Själ18th Oct.

Photographer Asya Barskaya.


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Tattoos, life and our love for quotes

I find it fascinating that people are tattooing important messages on their bodies. I don’t have any tattoos myself, but who knows, one day I may.

Cv Pillay has a tattoo on his arm saying: ‘Our paths crossing was no mistake.’ Powerful. Imagine having a coffee with someone and then they show you a similar tattoo, would it make you smile, or would you find it scary?

CV Pillay tattoo our path crossing was no mistake

Life is partly about self-leadership and pushing ourselves out of the ‘comfort sofa’. If people stayed away from the sofa just a bit more what would happen to the world then?

Good question. I let you answer it.

Many of my friends wear bracelets with inspiring messages and reminders. Not as cool as a real tattoo, but it has a similar function. Not permanent, but still important reminders.

Some of my earrings bring a secret message with them. Only for me though. People who see them often make a comment about them, and maybe that means that they see that they are special to me?

To print your own reminders and make your own products check out Cafe Press. It’s fantastic that you can create your own design, perfect for good reminders.

Here are some people who took it further and have permanent reminders on their body 🙂

Have a lovely day!

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Are you some kind of guru? Yes, I am.

Last year I was at an innovation seminar with my friend Joe. I had the unfortunate experience of being stuck on the tube for over 30 minutes in rush hour. It was one of those hot days when, no matter what you did, there would be condensation on the windows inside the tube carriages.

Luckily, I was on time to the seminar and got a good seat.

During one of the coffee breaks I spoke to a man who I would guess was the same age as me. He told me he works in PR and then he asked me:
’What do you do?’

‘Over the last few years I’ve been speaking professionally about social media and leadership and I write about the topic as well.’

‘So you are one of these social media gurus?’ he said with a sarcastic tone.

‘Yes,’ I said without hesitation.

Gosh, his reaction was hilarious and he gave me a disgusted look.

I then tried to defend myself and said that it, of course, depends on how you define ‘guru’.

Our conversation didn’t really go any further. He thought I was a fool for not denying my expertise in how the online world works.

Maybe he despises all women who say they know something? Or maybe he asks everyone who works in social media if they are a guru? What do I know?

One of the things that made me say ‘yes, I am a social media guru’ is that I had recently attended a lecture about the religion Sikhism and the lecturer talked about what guru means in Sikhism.

It means: one who brings light into the darkness.

When I look at myself as a teacher I often have that kind of metaphor in my mind, a dark, foggy picture that gets clearer when you bring light and creativity to it.

After the Sikhism lecture I thought to myself ‘if I was reborn, Sikhism would be a good religion to follow’.

Isn’t it funny how we value knowledge but guru in combination with social media has a negative undertone? That it somehow feels as if there is something wrong about being into a specific topic? In my day-to-day life I would never walk around and call myself a guru. The world I live in has kindly told me off not to do that, it can be called social control as well.

All cultures seem to have developed ways to hold people down and not let them blossom. In Scandinavia you talk about the ‘Law of Jante‘ and I know that most countries have similar ‘laws’. In short the Law of Jante is defined: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.

Humanity, knowledge and expressing that you know more than average about a topic, without being a professor with a double Ph.D., can be a sensitive issue. How did I dare say that I was a guru, ha, ha, ha!

What are your thoughts?

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Can you micro-manage women’s shoes? Yes, PwC did that 2015

Yesterday I signed the petition supporting Nicola Sian Thorp‎. In December 2015 she wrote this on her Facebook:

Nicola Sian Thorp Facebook status








Isn’t it weird that we still micro-manage people’s looks in 2015? You don’t even have to have a corporate guideline to do this. Social norms are as strong.

When I was in my early twenties I had a very bad infection in my right foot. It was so bad so the doctor wanted to amputate it. Since then I’m ‘shoe-cautious’ and would obviously never have been employed by PwC since I would not adjust my feet to fit their shoe-rules.

#Discrimination #EveryDaySexism

Sign the petition you too:

Nicola Metro newspaper


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I love stationery

The other day I confessed that I love stationery on my Facebook, and I quickly got lots of likes and many friends were feeling the same way.

How funny, you learn something new every day about your Facebook friends 🙂

I’ve loved pens, pencils, thick pens, colourful pens, papers in different sizes and thickness for years, and when I got myself a new pen it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

For some fun stationery inspiration, go to Selfridges website.


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My creative selfie project


I decided to get more creative with my selfies and downloaded lots of apps to help me.

Here are some of the results that I shared on my Instagram so far.

#artyselfie #creativeselfie #selfieart

Hello! #photo #portrait #artyselfie

A photo posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

New creative multi image selfie. #selfie #artyselfie

A photo posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

One more creative selfie with my art in one of the layers. #artyselfie #selfie #creativeselfie

A photo posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

New creative selfie. #selfie #artyselfie #creativeselfie #selfieart

A photo posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

What do you think? Do I look like myself? Trying out new #artyselfie #selfieart new #portrait #art

A video posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

One more creative selfie. Don’t wait with something important for too long. #selfie #art #artyselfie

A video posted by Sofie Sandell (@sofiesandell) on

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My 2015 Christmas Poem

With this poem I wish you a good
Christmas break with lots of joy

Sofie’s 2015 Christmas poem

Is Christmas a season or a feeling?
Or is it time for deeper healing?

The most precious gifts are time and friendship
To give these away is always worth every trip

Christmas is about opening your heart
And to do that is a piece of art

Be a good example to every child you meet
Whether that is at home or in the street

Respect yourself and forgive your enemy
That’s the best overall remedy

With these words I wish you a Merry Christmas.


With my very best wishes,

Sofie Sofie Sandells Xmas Greetings 2015.001 copy

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What about modern values. Where do they come from?

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about values, what I stand for and where my values come from.

The world has changed even more in the last week with more terror attacks and the US Supreme Court finally ruling that same-sex marriage is a legal right nationwide.

We live in a global world.

We are all in this together.

What do values mean in a global world? Are they connected to a nation, religious beliefs, a strong leader? Or are they connected to something else?

I think they are connected to our times. Modern times. An era of new ideas and shared global values.

Modern values include people’s right to live together in a society that accepts everyone for who they are, and where you’re free to be who you are unless you are physically or mentally hurting someone else.

I’ve chosen to work as an international speaker and when I made that choice I threw myself into a journey of learning. It would be very difficult to be an international speaker if I had a narrow mindset full of prejudice towards people who are not like me, who don’t think like I do or have a similar background to me.

I’m lucky that I’ve been able to practise opening my mind by living in London, the most international city in the world. In my work I collaborate with people based all over the world.

I was born in Sweden and my parents are open-minded and they both taught me a lot about accepting people for who they are, our global world, being thoughtful and caring for other people.

A modern world with modern values involves many things. Here are some thoughts about what a modern world means to me right now:

  • Freedom of thought and expression
  • A right to education for everyone
  • Acceptance between people, cultures and lifestyles
  • Being reliable and saying what you mean
  • Caring for nature
  • Being authentic and standing up for your values
  • Everyone having the right to a safe and secure life
  • Modern values also welcome innovation, creativity and new thinking

What I would like to represent as a speaker, educator and entertainer is a modern world in modern times – a world full of acceptance, tolerance and freedom.

I’m very happy I live at a time when change for the better is possible, when many of my friends on Facebook share their rainbow flag profile pictures.

Equality and freedom movements are strong and I hope many more people will put in the energy, time and resources we need to continue to live together in a better way.

Thank you for reading my post.

Sofie Sandell


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Sofie Sandell

Photographer Asya Barskaya

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My big spring book clean – with a touch of Japanese philosophy

I feel lighter, happier and refreshed, almost as if I’m starting a new era of my life. I did something brave this week and got rid of more than 250 books. Over my last eight years in London I’ve met hundreds of people and done so many interesting things and the after-effect is that I’ve collected a few hundreds books through my journey.

The number of books I had got out of control and I caught myself hiding books behind the other books on my bookshelves and I also put away three large shopping bags of books in my wardrobe. There were just too many and I had zero space for new books, which I’m sure will continue coming my way.

My new guru Marie Kondo

Last week I randomly found an article about Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning and tidying expert and I fell for her charm and simple view of what you should keep in your life. I researched her method and watched some videos and also read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.

On Monday evening I started to mentally prepare myself for getting rid of bags of books and yesterday, on Thursday afternoon, I drove to the second-hand bookshop in West London feeling like an excited child.

The whole process of letting go is deep in many ways. The books are all part of my history and came into my life for different reasons. During my year as Junior Chamber International President in London, I read on average one new book per week. These were a mix of leadership books, general business books and fiction.

Then I went through a steep and painful learning curve in 2009 when I became the first social media manager of a large publisher in London. I had to sharpen my argument as to why social media matters and of course read lots of books to help me do that. I’ve kept some of the books from that time and they are standing neatly on a special bookshelf.

Which book should I give away and which should I keep?

The way I dealt with my books and how I let them go was pretty straightforward. Early Wednesday morning I got all my books off my bookshelves, and out of all the other places they were hiding, and put them on the floor. I then picked them up one by one and asked the magic question Marie Kondo tells you to ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If the book didn’t give me any kind of excitement I put it in a bag and let it go. I also said thank you for what it gave to me, taught me and showed me.

I have done many different research projects and I’m interested in just about anything so the subject range of my books is pretty wide. I’ve read quite a few of them, but there were some that I’d never even started to read.

The method that works for me to actually get me reading a book is to start reading it as soon as I get it. I may just read a few pages, but if I leave it for a while the chance that I will pick it up and start reading is zero. I have to form an emotional connection with the book as soon as I get it, then I will finish it even if takes a while.

Books written by friends 

I also know a lot of amazing people who have written books and I’ve kept most of these in my collection. I have a special bookshelf for them now, which looks great, and I think having these books there will get me to visit that part of my house more often.

There are a few reasons why I have a lot of books: I am a keen learner, people give me books to read and Amazon is an addictive online shop that’s just too easy to buy stuff from. The only time I’ve felt fed up with books was a few months after I published my first book Digital Leadership. My recovery took about four months and then I felt the desire to read more books again.

Information and taking action

During 2008, my most intense year of leadership, I read a lot of books and it changed me as a person, my beliefs and how I coach people. This happened because of the mix of new impressions, challenges and opportunities I was presented to. All the stories I read supported my actions and decisions and reading led to many great outcomes.

There is a limit to how much information a human brain can process and use. So many people suffer from information overload and mental fatigue.

If I process the information in a book, take action and feel that I’ve achieved what I wanted to, then I’m done. It’s not likely that I’ll need that book again.

The end result

I now have three organised bookshelves. One is for the books I use in my speaking and teaching, one for books written by friends and one for other books that give me a spark and joy.

Books are wonderful creatures, and I’m still waiting for someone to invent the never-ending bookshelf. And, no, eBooks are not the same as ‘real’ books.

If you would like to get some second-hand books at a bargain price, take the tube to Turnham Green in London, go out of the station, turn left and walk 100 meters. Here you’ll find a great shop and it now has 250 pretty cool new books. I wish all the books and their new owners a great and inspiring future.

Thank you for reading. Please share your thoughts about books and life.

Here I’m in the secondhand bookshop, looking very happy. The woman next to me is going through some of my books and I shared some of the stories behind why I got them.


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My visit to death cafe in London

In December I did something that I never thought I would do. I went along to one of London’s Death Cafés. A friend of mine went to one in May last year and in November I felt an urge to check it out myself before the end of the year. We met in Putney at a brassiere and the event was organised by Suzanne Michal.

There were about 15 people around the table and it was the first time to a Death Café for everyone. Suzanne told us the rules of the evening: – This is a place to talk about death, and it’s good if you start all conversations why you are here. Tonight is a place for dialogues and you aren’t here to vent your opinions and tear other’s beliefs about death apart. With this in mind I felt much better and I had three 30 minute chats with different small groups.

What really surprised me was that I felt so alive when I left. My mind was sharp as a chef’s knife and I felt so courageous. Talking about death is not something I do that often with my friends and family. In our culture we are very open about death in art, film, music and on the Web, but if we want to talk about it over lunch someone will quickly change the topic.

What made a huge difference for me after the event was that I dared to talk more openly about death with my parents and some of my friends who have been very ill in the last year. It gave me power to talk about what really matter: life choices and relationships. I also found a TV series about death that I watched over Christmas, something that I think I would have avoided before. I’ve followed several blogs by people who only have a limited time left to live.

The most viral blog post 2014 on Huffington Post was written by Charlotte Kitley. In it she shared her thoughts about her bowel cancer and her feelings about it until she passed away in September 2014. So we are very open to read about death, but avoid talking about it.

The first Death Café was held in London 2011 and Jon Underwood the organiser invited people to his house and his mother who is a phycotherapist facilitated the evening. He was inspired by ‘Kaféer mortels’ in France and the Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz.

The Death Café is a growing movement and there are new groups meeting every day around the world. Check out the website: and the Facebook page:

Emelie Krugly Hill a Swedish journalist were at the same Death cafe and she wrote an article about it in a Swedish magazine. Please read below and you can download the article as PDF here.

Sofie Sandell visits death cafe death_cafe_london_11

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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.

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