Develop your entrepreneur peer network with Nick Jonsson

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Guest

Nick Jonsson

Co-Founder & Managing Director
EGN Singapore

Executives Global Network creates confidential peer groups for founders and high-powered executives to learn, share, and grow with each other.

Sean has founded multiple companies and done multiple 8 figures worth of business.

He’s currently advising, consulting, and investing in business just like yours.

He knows where you’ve been, and he knows where you’re going.

Book a call with him today to see how he can help you get there smarter, faster, and in a way that aligns with your life goals.

Timestamps

00:00 – Introduction
06:39 – Peer groups you should avoid
08:07 – Difference between EGN and other groups
11:33 – Pros of having a good network
16:40 – The business model of EGN
19:51 – Having cross country connections
21:44 – Topics on EGN’s circle
26:10 – Competing in Ironman
29:15 – Learn to have fun
32:16 – Building a structured schedule
34:05 – Combating mental health issues

Transcript

Read the transcript
Sean Weisbrot:
Welcome back to another episode of the Live to Build podcast. I’m here today with Nick, but before we get into who he is and what we’re going to be talking about, I just want to say that we missed a month of publishing episodes for two very simple reasons. The first one is I had to let go of the video editor during that time. We actually recorded 109 to 112, and this episode is 113. And after I let him go, I got COVID. So, I wasn’t able to look for a new video editor, and I didn’t have the energy to do any of the editing myself. But now we’re back on track 109 and 110, 111, 112 we’re also released, so we’re back on track. So, you’re not here for me, though. You’re here for Nick. So, let’s talk about him.

Nick Jonsson is the co-founder and managing director of Executives’ Global Network in Singapore, which creates confidential peer groups for founders and high-powered executives to learn, share and grow with each other. He’s also the cofounder and CEO of EGN Indonesia, and they are in the process of opening up the Malaysian market as of this recording. Nick is also a keynote speaker, a writer, a certified professional executive coach. He’s completed the ironman. He’s supporting the Suicide Prevention Hotline in Singapore as a fundraiser and volunteer. And if I keep going, you’re going to stop believing me that Nick is real. So, let’s get into the episode. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Nick. I appreciate it. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit more about EGN and then we’ll go from there.

Nick Jonsson:
Fantastic. Sean, thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here in We Live to Build. So yeah, Executives’ Global Network, what do we do there? It’s a confidential peer group. And some people might even ask, what is this? Well, if you’re an executive, you probably heard the saying that it can be lonely at the top. And many times, as a senior executive, perhaps you don’t have someone to discuss your work-related challenges with. Someone might sign up for a coach or a mentor and working with them, but many times it’s good to hear it also for someone else like yourself who is in a senior role, perhaps at the same level. So that’s what we do. We create these confidential peer groups. Or you can almost say that it’s a bit like a mastermind group. And our job then at EGN is to do all the administration facilitation and moderation. So, we provide certified facilitators for these discussions and the members then bring in the work-related challenges, and we make sure that they leave with some solutions.

Sean Weisbrot:
All right, great. Thank you very much for that. As you were saying that, I was nodding along and you could probably see just how important something like this is. I can’t tell you how many times in the last four and a half years since I started my tech company that I sometimes feel like I just wish there was someone who could just listen to my problems that’s not a therapist. Because I have tried talking with the therapist, and they’re at such a different level that they just think, how are you alive? How are you possibly able to handle all of the crap that you’re telling me about? And it’s almost like we blow their minds away with how many problems we’re juggling. And I’m glad that you said it’s like a Mastermind, because I was going to ask, what’s the difference? So, what made you want to get involved with something like this?

Nick Jonsson:
You know, there’s so many mastermind groups happening, but what happens? They tend to be on an ad hoc basis that someone is excited, they get together a few people, and they have a great first session. Then the next session comes along, and then only half show up, and then it never happens again. So, the whole thing here is that it’s about making it happen. And in order to do that, you need a team. You need a structure in place, and it needs CRM system. You need a mobile app, in this case, where members can sign up and they can post queries to each other between sessions. There’s follow-ups. There’s people who are responsible because we’re talking here about senior executives or we have groups for business owners and founders, and everyone is too busy. Someone needs to be in charge of this and making sure that it’s an ongoing program. And that’s why there’s a place for someone like us to do that. And there’s many more organizations out there now, and peer groups is becoming sort of a new way to network, because I’m sure, Sean, you’ve been to some, like, chamber of Commerce events, other networking events, and what is happening there is that you have all these salespeople, instead, you have the insurance salespeople, even recruiters running around trying to sell the services. And people get so turned off by this.

So, in EGN and then here in this peer group, it’s all about knowledge exchange. Everyone has to sign a nondisclosure agreement so that it’s confidential. You have no competitors in your group, and there’s a strict policy that you’re not allowed to sell to each other. So, this turns away all the people who are coming there with an initiative of just selling. And instead, here, we create a culture of helping each other.

Sean Weisbrot:
I love those base rules. I think that’s really good. And I did try to organize two masterminds in the past. One in China and one online. One in China was in 2014 among friends. And that failed pretty fast because I found that the other people that I was with, they were like me we were all aspiring to start our own company, but I was the only one actually making progress week after week. And so, I said, well, you know, they’re not putting in the effort, so forget it. And the other one, I felt like the people I was with, they had done seven figure businesses before, and they were kind of like they had put them down, and they wanted to start something new, and we all kind of wanted to get into coaching, but I found that I was was more helpful to them than they were to me. And then one of the guys dropped off, and yeah, it fell apart within three weeks. So, I have tried multiple times to put together Masterminds, and even after spending a lot of time trying to study how they work, they’re not easy to put together and to keep together. So, the fact that you’ve been able to have 800 people in Singapore alone?

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, almost 800 in Singapore now. And we launched Indonesia early this year. We have close to 50 there, and Malaysia is just being rolled out now, and we hope to have 30, 50, something like that, by end of the year. So indeed, people are moving to it’s about quality these days. Quality relationship. It’s about really feeling that you have this trusted space, you have a trusted network with people who actually are meaningful and can help you. Again, rather than selling to you.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, I want to go back to that selling point. It’s extremely important. I did Chamber of Commerce meetings in Florida when I went back to visit my family once, and I felt like it wasn’t business owners, it was, like, their sales people. And when I was in China, I would go to the American chamber. The Canadian chamber? The British French chamber. I went to all the chambers, and mostly it was like, oh, yeah, we’re going to sell wine. Do you want to buy? They were business owners, but they were there for a purpose, and that was to promote their business. It wasn’t about building friendships. But then again, China is very transaction oriented as a society. So, I didn’t mind that because I was there to network. I was trying to find guests for my events, that I was having these offline speech events, things like that. So, I was there for a purpose as well. But I wasn’t selling them something for money. I was trying to get their attention, to do something for me, or to see if there was something I could do to connect them to other people in my network to help them sell things like that.

But, yeah, after a while, I felt like these people were looking, they were positioning themselves probably a bit higher than they were. And so, I felt like going there and talking to them was a waste of time as well. Yeah, having that kind of environment where it’s not about the sale, but about the support is really good. And I’ve talked to someone. Vladimir Gendelman. I did an episode with him, and he’s a member of EO. I know you, and I talked about EO offline.

Sean Weisbrot:
What’s the biggest difference between EGN and EO? Other than the fact that you also have executives? Because I know they’re just founders.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, that’s right, the EO is for the founders. And our core market is really all the executives. But also, EO has some quite challenging barriers, including the revenue of the company and so on. And we are also for new founders. So, if you’re just starting up a business, we also have models for Solopreneurs, we have a group here in Singapore now for them. Who do you ask them what’s your network, even if you perhaps is a founder and you get some money into your bank account, but then you have a board that’s putting on pressure on you to deliver, who do you then talk to get that support? And we are there for those as well. And they have been very lonely, especially during the pandemic.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yes, I also work with Solopreneurs, and there’s definitely a massive need. A lot of them feel like they’re really burnt out or their maxed out. They’re not really able to do much more than they are right now. So, having this kind of a peer network for them is extremely important. You’ve hit on something very important there. So, because these executives and these founders are so busy, how do you get them to commit? Besides obviously having a yearly fee, they’re going to take it more seriously. But how do you get them to actually commit? And how much time do they usually have to commit to in a given week?

Nick Jonsson:
It’s a yearly membership. And it’s six sessions in a year for 4 hours. So that’s half a day. And we block this in the calendar one year in advance. So, the key here is that it’s booked in a year in advance and shared with everyone, so you can block it in advance. And if you think about it, three full days a year. And these are very important sessions, and we always ask them, is this a membership that you sponsor yourself with, your company sponsoring it? If you’re paying for it by yourself, then make sure that you take annual leaves so that no one touched this. It’s your product because you want to have this for yourself, to grow your network, to grow yourself. If the company have asked you if your boss have asked you to join here, then it should be easier to manage it because then just make sure you block the slots and tell your boss that you’re going there to these sessions. And make sure that you’re really protected in the calendar. That’s the first thing to do. And then we send out invitation for each session six weeks before. And it’s normally some pre readings and some engagement leading up to the session. And we always try to have also one member every time in what we call a hot seat or to get use of the advisory board, where you really lay out an issue that is happening in your business, something that’s happening. It could even be if you’re in a founder’s group, perhaps you present your exit plan or exit strategy and then the rest of the group can ask questions and give you feedback and input.

So, in that sense, people should feel excited about it, engaged, leading up to it, but also that it’s protected in the calendar. And by doing that, we have good attendance numbers.

Sean Weisbrot:
You said it was six sessions in the year.

Nick Jonsson:
Six half day sessions in the year, face to face. Yes.

Sean Weisbrot:
Is that enough to really, it feels like it’s, maybe I’m wrong, I’m just curious here because the masterminds that I’ve tried to arrange or try to be a part of, they’re more like once a week or once every other week. Why does that work? Less sessions being better, do you think?

Nick Jonsson:
Well, if we’re talking about the senior executives, they’re so busy, it’s quite a big commitment already for them to spend three days of a year in this. But most of the communication is in between the meetings the whole time, also online on the members app. If they’re sitting at the desk right now and they need to recruit the new staff in Jakarta, they might ask, okay, who’s worked with the recruitment agency? We can recommend it here. The next question might be, we’re now working on our expansion to Vietnam. Who knows something about an employee manually in Vietnam. And by the way, I need to know about transfer pricing between Singapore and Vietnam. Who can link me with someone who knows about that? So, it’s communication the whole time, and it’s when they get together, then six times is the peer group meeting. There’s also social gatherings, coffee mornings. And this week we had a networking evening also. So, there’s all kinds of events around the social things happening as well.

Sean Weisbrot:
Okay, now that makes a lot more sense because, like, so, for the coaching that I do, my concept is, okay, you’ll get a call once a week, but then you can also send me messages, like if it’s urgent, like all you’ve got some fire that you don’t know how to handle. So having that ability for the, the entrepreneurs in these executives to be able to communicate with each other outside of those messages or outside of those meetings, that makes a lot more sense because that networking aspect is really important.

I know for a fact, because I’m in multiple entrepreneurial communities, one I paid for, one I didn’t pay for. And pretty much all day it’s like, hey, does anyone know anything about Facebook ads? I need to hire a manager to do my ads for this business. Or does anyone know about selling a SaaS business? I need to sell my business. Those are, I think, extremely, extremely valuable is that networking, that ability to network daily? For sure. What told you that that was something important? What gave you that idea to do that part? That additional part?

Nick Jonsson:
It’s our partners at EGN in Europe who developed an app over many years. And they done it by questioning and asking the members what is it that they want to communicate about? And we create also a lot of subgroups inside here we have, for example, for the ones who are interested in ESD environment, we have diversity and inclusion groups. We have a lot of social groups, food lovers, wine lovers where they can have wine tastings, we have a cycling group, we have a running group and so on. And we’re going to run Singapore marathon together. And what is happening then, Sean, is while we have 20 peer groups in Singapore now, a lot of this is also cross group activities because it doesn’t have to be a confidential event when you go around a marathon. So, we can mix and the group come together and you meet from other networks as well. So that’s a beautiful part of this.

Sean Weisbrot:
That’s really cool because when I was talking with Vladimir, he was saying that EO has similar things, but they don’t have a structure to actually manage it. And so, I love how they figured out how to do that. So, you said that EGN has created its own app for all of this?

Nick Jonsson:
Yes. It’s called Members Universe. And we have almost 15,000 members now globally, about 800 in Singapore. So, you can also connect with other members. If you have a business trip to Hong Kong or you’re going to Germany, then you can go and see who are the members there and connect with them. And what we have learnt is that people really have this mindset of trying to help each other and being of service to each other. So, in that sense, it’s quite valuable.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, absolutely. I love it. This sounds really cool if I was in Asia would probably be a member. This is something because when I was in China, when I was in Vietnam, especially in Vietnam, I felt very lonely in terms of the fact that there weren’t many entrepreneurs in Saigon. Maybe there were more in Hanoi. I don’t really know. But my experience was I was pretty much alone in Saigon for four years. And it sucked because I wanted to be involved in the local kind of entrepreneurship community. But there was a disconnect between the Vietnamese and the expats in terms of entrepreneurship, where the expats were thinking at a regional or a global level, and the locals were thinking at a local level, and a lot of the locals couldn’t speak English. So, there was really no way to get this kind of cross pollination of ideas and friendships going. I think having something like that would have made it a lot better.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, I completely agree with you. I lived in Vietnam a few years myself, so I agree with you, Sean. It was not easy there, the integration there and interaction. But we have seen in Singapore is different, of course. All the locals also speak good English, at least in the business world. And actually, half of our members now that are joining us, all local, so that have all changed in the last five to six years.

Sean Weisbrot:
You mentioned to me that you bought into this business model, right, for Southeast Asia. Are you able to talk about the process at all of buying into it and kind of what made you specifically like this idea, this business and all of that and what it’s like to run the business here?

Nick Jonsson:
Yeah, sure. So, I joined actually almost seven years ago, but I started in business development and sales, forcing upward and selling memberships for the peer groups and so on. And I was actually doing it remotely from the beginning, from Vietnam into Singapore. Then the opportunity came up to relocate Singapore. And I had already fallen in love with a business model. So it was in sales, business development at start and then down the line, I also had a chance to take over the operation. And then during the pandemic, the chance came that the business model then evolved and they wanted to have a franchise owner in Southeast Asia. So, I was quick to raise my hand to then acquired the franchise rights for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. So, Singapore was already existing and new markets rolled out now than Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sean Weisbrot:
Because you have experience with Vietnam, you thought about expanding it into Vietnam as well.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, we are talking about that. And it might come 2024.

Sean Weisbrot:
Many businesses operate in a single market, or they operate in a way that it’s global. The fact that you have presence in three countries that are fair enough. They’re, like, really easy to get between. You know, you can fly from Singapore to KL in like 30 minutes, and I assume to Jakarta and like, 70, or less. What’s it like running a business across three countries, and do you travel between them, or how does that work?

Nick Jonsson:
A lot of the foundation work is done online these days. But I do travel at least once a month is my plan to travel to each market and join some key events. I will go to KL this month for an info event for potential members who are interested in joining, and also press conference. We will have the official press conference in KL by end of this month, so I would be there for that and media interviews and so on. So, it is possible these days with a bit of a hybrid world for myself in running the business and also for the members. The value for the members is, of course, increasing when we add in more countries, because not only do we have the, the local chapters meeting and the local members meeting cross groups, but also cross countries. So, we have now regional meetings and events. And one core product that we have is called developing markets, where we are looking at one country every quarter, how to set up a business there. And what I know you did in Vietnam also there, where you were supporting founders and so on. So, that is the role we’re trying to play in the region as well.

Sean Weisbrot:
That’s really interesting. Yes. I love the idea of connecting the entrepreneurs between the countries. So, for example, if I were a member of Singapore and I was going to Kale, I could just say, hey, Nick, or whoever is in charge of the Singapore chapter, hey, I’m going to be going to Kale. Can you connect me with the people there? And if there is a local meeting, they could go to that meeting.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, we have that capability as well. Indeed, we had members actually coming in from Malaysia, for example, here for the event we had on Wednesday night here at Continental. We had over 100 members in total meeting up for that networking evening.

Sean Weisbrot:
Cool. I really love this. When I was doing my offline events in China, I had an idea to build an app and have the people be across the country. Because we actually had fans all over China. But we only have the capacity to serve Shenzhen in terms of offline events, even though we had offers from private companies and government officials of other provinces to come and organize, we’re just like we just don’t have the means to do it. We don’t have a dean; we don’t have enough revenue. Like, there was just no way to do it. But this seems like a really interesting business model. I think connecting people. There’s two things that really make up my personality, my identity. One is being an educator and the other is being a connector. I think those two things are really important because everyone wants to learn and everyone wants to connect.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, absolutely. I agree with you. And again, it’s about building those relationships and maintain them. And always looking at how can you be a service and not just what you can get out of it? It’s quite a lot of people approach networking. We’d always say, okay, I pay for this membership, and then I just sit back and see what it gives you. That’s not how it works. It’s all about coming in and being of service and supporting each other.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, can you speak to some of the things that, I know that everyone signs NDAs, but are there any trends or things that you’re hearing people talking about within your community that are interesting at a geopolitical level or in some way? So, I know people are talking about recessions and depressions in the west, right? But is there this concept in Asia right now? Are they thinking about recession and depression? What kind of things are they talking about?

Nick Jonsson:
Well, I’m saying clearly the biggest challenge is the talent, hiring the right talent, and even if you find them to getting the right work permits, not only in Singapore, but in all the countries around it, it’s obviously protecting the local talent. So, it’s quite challenging to hire the talent you want and perhaps import them. Can you get the work permits and passes for them and so on? So that’s a challenge. And getting the talent locally at the skills level you wanted, that’s a big challenge. So, it’s a lot of recruitment and placing people all over the world, scattered all over the world, people are working online. That is the new world we are seeing. We know that, for example, areas like Bali and Piquette are booming now. Many people are relocating there if they can, because it’s cheaper rent, it’s easier perhaps to set up a company. Bali has launched a five-year working visa for people that can easily get a work permit and visa to live there.

We’re here for countries like Estonia where you’re not going to live anywhere in the world and become a resident in Estonia anyway and pay tax there. That’s the new world we’re seeing in a lot of communication and talks all around that. We hear companies now who say that, well, we still have our office in Singapore, but if someone resigns, we’re not going to replace them there. We replace this person working remotely in a country where it’s cheaper for us to station this person. So, it’s a lot of talk around that. And this is changing the world, I think, as we’re know it’s forever, Sean.

Sean Weisbrot:
Before the pandemic, Singapore, the people I talked to in Singapore were very adamant about having physical offices and having their employees in those offices in Singapore or in Malaysia or in Vietnam, because I was also involved companies in all of the countries in Southeast Asia there. I’m glad that they’re starting to get the hint that things need to change. My tech company is incorporated in Singapore, actually, and we don’t have an office, and none of our employees are Singaporean. And so, for us, not having an office anywhere in the world, if we replace someone, we don’t really care where they are. They just conform to Singapore time.

Nick Jonsson:
You hear more about this the whole time. And this is the founders, always looking at where can we cut costs? And if you’re starting up small and you have X amount of money, you can get ten staff in Indonesia or two, three sitting in Singapore. That’s a big difference.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, I know we had this issue because if you hire a Singaporean, you have to pay, like, social tax, and you have to give them like, a 13th month right, for a bonus. And you have to give them specific holidays. And we’re like, we don’t want to do any of that. That’s a hassle. So, we’re just going to not hire Singaporeans, even though we’re a Singaporean company.

But to be fair, that also backfired because the government was offering support, financial support. So first they offer grants, and they were offering support for salaries during the Pandemic. But we couldn’t get any of it because we didn’t have an office, we didn’t have Singaporeans. And as a non-Singaporean, we need to have, 30% of the equity has to be held by a Singaporean, which we didn’t have that we had a lot of the benefits of Singapore law and structure, but none of the benefits, right?

Nick Jonsson:
Yeah, that you need to be on the ground and having the locals. That’s what it is. And that’s what I mean. The whole world is getting more trying to protect what we have and protect our own, but at the same time, it’s getting more global and people working from home, and therefore it doesn’t really matter where they work, because you connect on Zoom or on teams or whatever, you work anyway. So, I think it’s a losing battle for countries trying to protect it when you can just pay them anywhere anyway.

Sean Weisbrot:
Tell me about Ironman. You did that last year, right?

Nick Jonsson:
I did one actually in August also this year, a full distance this year. This particular one this year was postponed twice. I signed up for this race in 2019. I trained for it a year until 2020. Due to COVID, it was postponed to 2021. I trained another year and then it got postponed again. So, no excuse not to be fit. Now, having trained, I think I calculated I trained 1090 days for this race I did last week.

Sean Weisbrot:
What did you learn about yourself training up to the day of the race?

Nick Jonsson:
Well, it’s about self-discipline, right? It’s about to see if you can hold things together for so long. In this case, over 1000 days and getting up early. And I’m trying always to do as little impact on family, friends, and my wife especially. So, what I do, I train in the morning, and I trained about 20 hours a week. So that’s 3 hours a day on average. That means I’m up 04:00 a.m, train, four to 07:00 a.m., normally, typically. And that means I then shower, have a breakfast, and I’m ready for the day. And then I’m feeling great about myself. I feel I’ve done something. I had my own time. I’ve been having sort of my meditation, my quiet time for myself. And, yeah, it’s been a great way to keep fit and also kept my focus during the Pandemic. I really, really didn’t think much about Pandemic. I didn’t get too frustrated with it. I was just training and moving on with life as it was.

Sean Weisbrot:
What did you expect about the race that you had totally wrong that you discovered on the day of?

Nick Jonsson:
I done some raises in the past years, and I learned a lot from those failures. And one failure in the past was that I didn’t have a coach. We get coaches in business. We get coaches when we need something. I also realized I need a coach here, and I hired a coach for this particular race to train me since January. So, I had, for the first time in my life, this last week, done my perfect race. It was just wonderful. He trained me so well, and otherwise I would have had so much stumble, so much fall, finally, the perfect day. So, they say that an Ironman event, it’s such a full race. They take 16 plus hours for many people. I had my personal best before was 12:28. I now did it in 10 hours and 41 minutes. So that’s for me, it’s a perfect race.

Sean Weisbrot:
Wow. So, what was the hardest thing about the race?

Nick Jonsson:
The hardest thing was obviously the training leading up to the nerves before, worrying about the weather. It looked like the forecast that it’s going to be cold and rainy, and I’m living in Singapore. The race was in Europe in North Europe in Sweden. So, I was worried it was going to get cold. And if it’s raining and you’re out on a bike cycle in 10-15 deg, I was worried I was going to get cold. But then in the end, it was a sunny day and everything, as I said, was beautiful.

Sean Weisbrot:
What did you learn about yourself after completing the race?

Nick Jonsson:
I learned that don’t try to do things alone, and in this case, I had a coach. That’s why it felt so great. And once I was racing, I was quite relaxed this day. And I enjoyed, the slogan for the race was raised with a smile on. And I really did that. I really smile and remind myself of smiling and enjoying myself. I’d worked hard for it, so I deserve to have a great day. So, I think one key learning here is that tried to have more fun in what we do. Many times, also at work, we’re too serious. Perhaps we take ourselves too serious. We should stop and see if we can have more fun in our day as well.

Sean Weisbrot:
I definitely fall prey to that sometimes, for sure. I try to arrange, like, fun time. So, for example, before our interview today, I watched Me Time on Netflix. It’s a recent movie that came out with Kevin Hart. Now, I’m going to spend the rest of the day working because I had my fun already.

Nick Jonsson:
I’m the same. I tend to work too much also. I guess that’s the thing, right? Being a high achiever. We want to deliver. And we are the best cheerleader, but we’re also the best person, perhaps to complain and say, you can do better. Come on, you have to do it. So, I have to remind myself also to let go sometimes. And I need to take some mini breaks. Even if it’s not going on holiday. I need to block sometimes and just go out for a walk or go for a foot massage or do something. Just to break up the pattern.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yes, I did that yesterday. I was having a lot of anxiety, so I decided I’m just not going to work the rest of the day. This was like, it’s like noon. I was like, screw it. I can’t. Like, today is just not a day I’m not going to work. And I ended in, I heard about this place in Lisbon where there’s a bridge and there’s two ways to get up the bridge. One is to pay, like, €20 and wait for an hour for all the other people to get up the elevator. The other is to go through a church that’s behind the street that tourists don’t know about. And I went up there and it was, like, really beautiful. But I didn’t want to go home. I had nothing else to do. I was looking out from the bridge and I saw this rooftop cafe that I had never seen before. And I was like, oh, that looks great. And I just walked over there. And I literally just sat there for like, 2 or 3 hours. Just sitting there looking out from the rooftop bar. It was like a beautiful day, quite nice. And the weather was beautiful. =It’s important to kind of go off script and not have a plan sometimes. Oh, that sounds great. Let’s do that. That’s interesting. What’s going on over there?

As I was walking to the church to get up to the bridge, this group of tourists were like, hey, can you take a picture of us? And I was like, okay, sure. And I took a picture and they’re like, oh my God, that’s like such an amazing picture. It got the bridge from below. The randomness of life can be really fun and interesting.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, absolutely. I mean also for me, I had so structured with the training, the work, everything is there. You fall into the routines to break. That is fantastic as well. I agree.

Sean Weisbrot:
I’ve been working on trying to be more structured in my days because in the past I might work on things that are, they feel good that they’re getting done, but maybe they’re not the highest importance of things that need to get done, right. This difference of working in the business versus working on the business. And so, I’ve been trying to structure my days that the first few hours of actual work is where I’m thinking about how to further the business. And then after that it’s like, okay, what can I do to learn something? So, I might read for an hour and then, okay, what are some things that will further work inside of the business? So that way like, it’s like, you train in the morning in order to make sure that you keep your body in shape for the next race or whatever you do. I’ve been trying to create this structure, and it seems to be really, really helpful, actually.

Do you have a structure for your work day outside of the training?

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, I’m very structured as well, Sean. And I read a book called Eat at Frog with Brian Tracy. I’m not sure if you heard about it. And there’s a children’s version of it as well, which I gave to my son. And it’s really good. It’s about making that list and making it quite clear and really start your day with that task, which you want to procrastinate about the thing that you don’t want to do. Get it done first. And they say for children, for example, if you can get the children start making the bed in the morning, then they done the first thing. Then the rest of the day hopefully also fall into place if you just did the first thing that you almost wanted to procrastinate.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, do you make your bed every day?

Nick Jonsson:
I do. Unless my wife does it. Yeah. I don’t like to leave a mess around me, ideally.

Sean Weisbrot:
I’ve had this idea for a long time. It’s like, why should I make my bed? Because I’m just going to get back into it. I’m just going to mess it up again.

Nick Jonsson:
Yeah. Hopefully you don’t have too many visitors then.

Sean Weisbrot:
Is there anything that we didn’t really touch upon that is important to you that you would love to talk about?

Nick Jonsson:
Well, I thin outside of EGN, and as you mentioned before, I’m a fundraiser and volunteer for Suicide Prevention Agency. So, what I do quite a lot outside of my work is that I try to put back some time into the society and the community. There’s been a lot of people going through a difficult time during the pandemic. I had a good time for the pandemic, but I also went through a crisis a few years before that when I went through a divorce. I resigned from a job, I moved country, and I found myself in a quite lonely place. I got depressed. I started to consume a little bit too much alcohol for my own good during this time, and it became an issue. I came out of this and I kept it secret for quite some time. But then down the line, I look back at this and I realized this could have gone pretty bad. And just when I was reflecting on this, a friend of mine died of suicide. And that’s when I decided to speak up about this. And it’s now three years I’ve done that. So, I keep supporting the community and trying to be of service to people who are going through challenging times. Can be from burnout, loneliness, or people, naturally who’s going through divorces for example, if they need someone to talk to. I’m trying to beat there.

Sean Weisbrot:
That’s pretty heavy. And I’m sorry that you had to experience all of that on your side and from your friend. I know someone close to me killed themselves in June. And that was a massive shock because there was just no sign at all. And it’s really destroyed his family. And that’s been very difficult to watch because they’re very sweet people and very loving.

So, if someone were to feel this way, what’s something that they can do, assuming they’re not in Singapore and have access to this agency? Like, what’s something that they could do to try to alleviate those symptoms, those feelings?

Nick Jonsson:
There’s so many beautiful anonymous and volunteer organizations there. There’s always a hotline for everything. It doesn’t matter what challenge or issue there is. And there’s so many community services, so many wonderful charities and organizations that are there to help each other. So, my first message is that if someone feeling not right, first think of is there someone in my family, a friend, a colleague I can share this with? Otherwise, just go into Google and look up. There will be in every country, every community, something someone would be there. Or find a coach, find a mentor, or find a therapist. The worst thing is to go to bed at night with that feeling of not feeling well and not sharing it with someone. What I found through my whole journey here is that basically the problem is half once you share it with someone and it doesn’t matter normally who it is, it’s just by the fact you vocalize it to another human being.

Sean Weisbrot:
Do you guys talk about this at EGN? Do you feel like any of the executives or founders might have this kind of pressure?

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, we do, being vulnerable as a leader is something that I’m speaking a lot about. And we’re encouraging the members to be vulnerable with each other. The period meeting in itself is not specifically about the mental health side of it, but we do cover it and we do encourage them to speak up if they have a challenge. And also, the fact that I’m the founder and the leader of this organization. Everyone in EGN knows that I had my journey. In fact, I put it in a book. So, it’s a little bit difficult for me to remove it. It’s called Executive loneliness. It’s on Amazon. It’s an audible. And I’m not here to promote my book, but I put down my story here. I put my challenges I went through and my friend’s suicide, his stories in here. And I want to just spread it to the world because I don’t want other people to go through what I went through, or even worse, what my friend and his family went through. We can stop this if we just talk to each other.

Sean Weisbrot:
I agree. The world is a very lonely place these days. I think social media made it worse. I think COVID made it obvious. And now, it’s time we figure out how to actually deal with it instead of sweeping it under the rug. Especially in Asia. Especially in Asia. I discovered people are really afraid to be vulnerable and talk about what they’re truly feeling.

Nick Jonsson:
Absolutely. Sean, you’re right there? I mean, I see now, in all the grassroots organizations where I’m a volunteer, the locals are not coming back into the rooms yet. Doesn’t mean that they don’t have issues. It means that they’re still not coming back out and joining, still this fear that a pandemic there. And sadly, this is giving people the perfect excuse to isolate themselves. So, I hope soon that this is over and everyone will come out and gather together and talking to each other, rather than sitting home being sad, depressed and isolated.

Sean Weisbrot:
Well, thank you for sharing your story, Nick. I appreciate it. If you want to know more about his story, you can check out his book. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Don’t forget that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so take care of yourself every day. And if you want to do an actual race, then you need to practice every day. And if you want to run a company, you need to practice every day. I find so many parallels to business and training or business and training or pretty much everything. Business is everything, pretty much. If there’s a lesson in business, there’s a lesson in life, and they’re intertwined very deeply. So, thank you very much, Nick.

Nick Jonsson:
Yes, and thank you so much, Sean, for having me on the show and for talking about these topics, which full of bit of stigma, and many people are avoiding them. So, hats off and credit to you for covering this.

Sean Weisbrot:
The podcast, for me has always been about psychology and entrepreneurship, where there’s a lot of things that go on that people don’t talk about. But those are the realities of entrepreneurship. And if we don’t talk about those things, which are based on psychology, then we will not become better entrepreneurs, which means we will not become better leaders, which means we will not become better people, which means we will not build a better society. So, for me, psychology and entrepreneurship are deeply intertwined, and people need to be able to be vulnerable in order to unlock the best parts of themselves.