Thank you and merry christmas!

A big thank you to all of you who have bought my books as christmas gifts. I am so happy my books can be found under several christmas trees this holiday season :).

Are you not one of those who bought one of my books this christmas? Don´t worry, I can assure you they will be just as readable and "giveable" in 2018. :)

God Jul, Merry X-mas, Prettige Kerst, Joyeux Noel and Feliz Navidad!


About a christmas pudding

I continue with the tradition of sharing a poem for christmas.

This year I share the poem Sam´s christmas pudding by Marriot Edgar.

I choose this poem since one of my sons is named Sam, since I have lived in Spain and since the poem is a story - and you all know I like stories.

It was Christmas Day in the trenches
In Spain in Penninsular War,
And Sam Small were cleaning his musket
A thing as he'd ne're done before.

They'd had 'em inspected that morning
And Sam had got into disgrace,
For when sergeant had looked down the barrel
A sparrow flew out in his face.

The sergeant reported the matter
To Lieutenant Bird then and there.
Said Lieutenant 'How very disgusting'
The Duke must be told of this 'ere.'

The Duke were upset when he heard
He said, 'I'm astonished, I am.
I must make a most drastic example
There'll be no Christmas pudding for Sam.'

When Sam were informed of his sentence
Surprise, rooted him to the spot.
'Twas much worse than he had expected,
He though as he'd only be shot.

And so he sat cleaning his musket
And polishing barrel and butt.
While the pudding his mother had sent him,
Lay there in the mud at his foot.

Now the centre that Sam's lot were holding
Ran around a place called Badajoz.
Where the Spaniards had put up a bastion
And ooh...! what a bastion it was.

They pounded away all the morning
With canister, grape shot and ball.
But the face of the bastion defied them,
They made no impression at all.

They started again after dinner
Bombarding as hard as they could.
And the Duke brought his own private cannon
But that weren't a ha'pence o' good.

The Duke said, 'Sam, put down thy musket
And help me lay this gun true.'
Sam answered, 'You'd best ask your favours
From them as you give pudding to.'

The Duke looked at Sam so reproachful
'And don't take it that way,' said he.
'Us Generals have got to be ruthless
It hurts me more than it did thee.'

Sam sniffed at these words kind of sceptic,
Then looked down the Duke's private gun.
And said 'We'd best put in two charges,
We'll never bust bastion with one.'

He tipped cannon ball out of muzzle
He took out the wadding and all.
He filled barrel chock full of powder,
Then picked up and replaced the ball.

He took a good aim at the bastion
Then said 'Right-o, Duke, let her fly.'
The cannon nigh jumped off her trunnions,
And up went the bastion, sky high.

The Duke, he weren't 'alf elated
He danced around trench full of glee.
And said, 'Sam, for this gallant action.
You can hot up your pudding for tea.'

Sam looked 'round to pick up his pudding
But it wasn't there, nowhere about.
In the place where he thought he had left it,
Lay the cannon ball he'd just tipped out.

Sam saw in a flash what 'ad happened:
By an unprecedented mishap.
The pudding his mother had sent him,
Had blown Badajoz off map.

That's why fuisilliers wear to this moment
A badge which they think's a grenade.
But they're wrong... it's a brass reproduction,
Of the pudding Sam's mother once made.


You need to dare more Annika

My friend and colleague Lisbeth and I were going for lunch. When going out of our office building she asked me why I didn't display my books at the entrance of the building. I answered that I didn't think that was allowed.
"Sometimes you need to dare a bit more Annika"

Ok, since I just challenged myself to sell 90 books in 90 days  (you can find the previous posts about this here: Join my journeyAnnika are you never satisfied?, Rapid Planning Method)
I understood what she was saying. To achieve my goal, I need to dare more.

So one evening after working late and being more or less alone in the office, I put up the books at the cafeteria, along with information about how to contact me (and how great the books are of course...).

I kept repeating to myself:

"It is better to ask for forgiveness afterwards than for permission in advance"

However, since I work with some persons who are responsible for the facilities, I didn't just want to ignore the rules I understand are there. So half a day after putting up the books I sent a mail to my colleague.  I told him I had put up the books and I asked if they could be there the rest of the week. I knew he receives a lot of mail so I did not expect an imminent answer. Meaning, I knew I was buying myself some time.

Once the books had been there for a day and half I got the answer that unfortunately it is not allowed.

The reasons for this rule are completely valid so I removed the books the same day, thinking to myself:

"Well, at least I went out of my comfort zone. I dared a little. Maybe it will pay off some day."

I did not know then, that "some day" would be the same day. :)

In the afternoon I met a woman who attended one of my lectures a few years ago and was kind enough to let me know that she appreciated it and we have been saying hello to each other ever since.

When we met today she gestured to the place where my books had been displayed and said: Have you written books? Can I buy one?

So, my small step outside of the comfort zone paid off immediately!

Thank you Lisbeth, for pushing me :).

Do you get outside of your comfort zone to achieve your goals?
Do you surround yourself with people willing to push you outside of it and supporting you there?

If you do you will achieve your goals faster.
I hope you are joining my challenge with a challenge of your own!


90 books in 90 days -Rapid Planning Method, RPM

Welcome to my 90 books in 90 days challenge!
Here are the links to the previous posts:

Join my journey
Annika are you never satisfied?

So, I want to sell 90 books in 90 days. Where to start?

I am a certified Project Management Professional. I have worked with projects in the corporate world for more than 20 years. I know how to plan, I know how to set and work with goals.

However, I didn't want to apply the standard SMART goals for this.
(As I wrote in a previous blog post, I am not that fond of the A and the R in the SMART goals anyway).

So I decided to use what Tony Robbins called Rapid Planning Method, where you define Results, Purpose and Massive actions.

What is the Result I want?

90 sold books in 90 days. This means 90 books sold by the end of February 2018.

What is my Purpose for this? 

  • I want to share my treasure - the stories in the books - with more people. I have readers who say my books have changed the way they look at life, I have readers who long for my next book because they enjoy reading my stories. I want to give this to more people! And - as silly as it may sound - I want to give my characters, who I know and care for - more readers.
  • I want to increase my impact. More readers - more impact.
  • I want to increase my business skills so I will not only be a Storyteller, but a business savvy storyteller.

What Massive Action will I take?

With the Result and Purpose defined, determining the needed Massive Action is pretty straight forward. I will tell you more about it in the next blog post.

Do you have something in your life you want to achieve but you don´t really know where to start?
Try the method above for your goal and we can work towards our goals together :).


90 books in 90 days - Are you never satisfied Annika?

Welcome to my 90 books in 90 days challenge!

You can find the starting post of this challenge here.

"Blir du aldrig nöjd någon gång Annika?"
Marie - my friend and then colleague - asked me the above question, which translates to "Are you never satisfied Annika?"

We were talking about my first book Jenny, Jenny and I mentioned that both my publisher and I had hoped to sell more books than we had at that time.

Marie then looked at me and said:
"Annika, there are so many people who want to write a book - and they never even get started. Some start but don´t finish. Then a few people conclude the writing but never get published. And here you are, with a published book and you are dissatisfied because it hasn't sold more. Are you never satisifed?"
Her comment made me think of an interview with Madonna, early in her career. The interviewer listed all her accomplishments so far and then asked:  What else can you possibly want?

Madonna answered (as you can see in this short video): 
I want MORE!

Here I am, seven years after my conversation with Marie. I have written four published novels and I have many satisified readers. But since I - like Madonna - want MORE, I have now decided to challenge myself and sell more of my books.

What about you? Are you satisfied? Or do you want more?

Actually I hope your answer is different. I hope you say:

I am satisfied AND I want MORE!

I hope you want to join me and maybe start or continue a challenge for yourself!


90 books in 90 days - join my journey!

No, I am not talking about speed reading - I am talking about a challenge to myself:

Sell 90 of my books in 90 days.

In a series of posts I will share my successes and failures towards my goal - and I am looking forward  to your advice and support along the way.  Maybe you want to take the opportunity to challenge yourself at the same time? Then we can follow if not the same road, interesting roads at the same time.

Hopefully this will be interesting both for me and you and I hope we will all learn a lot on the way.

Let's get started!


Do you set goals within the comfort zone - or where they make a difference?

I am sure you have heard about the SMART goal setting. Everyone in the corporate world  - and many outside of it - have learned that goals should be:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-related

I gave this up long ago. Why? Because the A and the R make the goals so booooring.

Perhaps you have, like myself, goals in your organization that are something like:
  • Decrease the number of errors reported by customers by 10%
  • Increase profitability by 15% in two years
  • Increase the amount of women in leadership positions to 23%

Oh, sorry, did I hear a snore? If you fell asleep I understand you fully. SMART goals may be easy to define and measure, but they are rarely fun and inspiring.

Goals are meant to lift us high, so we can fly above the hurdles without even noticing them. Or, as Henry Ford put it:

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal"

To keep your eyes on the goal, the goal needs to be inspiring, scary and exciting. Not realistic and achievable. Not something we can measure and tick of as either achieved or failed. SMART goals will always be within, or possibly on the edge of your comfort zone. While we all know the magic happens outside of it.

Woman standing on red rocks celebrating success. Stokpic.com

Are you afraid of setting the crazy goals? For yourself or maybe for your employees?
If you are, consider the outcome of the study conducted by Leadership IQ.

The study concluded that employees who said their boss pushed them harder than they would push themselves, were more likely to consider themselves to be high performers. Since their boss thought they could go far - they thought so themselves.

Afraid of failing if you set the bar too high? Consider what Winston Churchill said:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Forget the SMART goals - go for the FUN ones. And create magic.

More info on this subject:
Why you want to be stretched outside your comfort zone

Failure is the key to success


Make the most of your stories and traditions

Today it is pakjesavond here in the Netherlands. The day when Dutch children receive gifts from Sinterklaas and his servants de Zwarte Pieten.  

I find it interesting that a saint who was born year 270  still impacts so many  people. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra, a patron saint for children. Actually, the legend of Sinterklaas is the origin of the more known Santa Claus. This saint has influenced the lives of children ever since.

How can someone who lived so long ago inspire a tradition that - almost 2000 years later -  is still celebrated?

One reason is that legends impact us. Since stories can be powerful influencers, they are sometimes used to manipulate people.

Sinterklaas is far from the only figure who has been used to teach children the importance of being kind (then you will get presents) and that bad things will happen to you if you are naughty (then Zwarte Piet will put you in a bag and take you to Spain). Similar stories are used in many other legends and not just for children. I believe most of you have heard the story of the importance of being a good person (then you get to heaven) and that bad things will happen to you if you are evil (then you will end up in hell).

The story of Sinterklaas has evolved and changed throughout the years. Today Sinterklaas comes by steam boat to the Netherlands from Spain and the once scary Zwarte Pieten are spending more time having fun with the children than scaring them. Parents may still use the legend to manipulate their kids, but more often than not the tradition is used for having a great time together as a family. Kids put their shoes in front of the chimney, sing for Sinterklaas, leave a carrot for the horse and the day after they are rewarded with a gift in the shoe.

Celebrating Sinterklaas 2013

What about your own stories?  Beliefs you have about yourself. That you are stupid / smart, ugly / gorgeous, kind/mean, clumsy / handy....

The story of Sinterklaas has survived for almost 2000 years. Your stories about yourself and people around you may very well last your whole life time. It is up to you to ensure the stories are enjoyable and good for you.  Just like a well-celebrated pakjesavond.


Do you know why you have wings?

"Oh that can´t possibly be true",
I thought, when I read an interview with a man who said that tornseglare (common swift in English) stay in the air for two to three years after leaving the nest. Two to three years without landing! They even sleep (or at least "half-sleep") mid-air. As unbelievable as it seems, it is apparently true.

Flock of Birds Flying Above the Mountain during Sunset, Pixabay

I thought about this when my coach asked me why I -  who have written four published novels - am still reluctant to call myself an author. After some thinking, and some talking to my always supporting husband, I realized one of the reasons:
Writing is too easy for me to feel like an author. 
The stories just come in to my head and I write them down. That's kind of it. No struggle, no writer's block. No years of writing school. I just write. Sure, I spend a lot of time editing, doing research for my books, improving my story and my text and so on, but all of that is fun

To me that doesn't sound like being an author. It sounds like playing around. Or maybe like flying for several years without needing to land if you are a swift...

As INXS sang in Never tear us apart:

I told you
That we could fly
'Cause we all have wings
But some of us don't know why

Do you know why you have wings? Do you even know you have wings?

You have wings. We all do.

Why? Not to show off, not to make others who have a different set of wings feel small. To inspire. To make this world a better place.

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, What if I fall?
Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

Erin Hanson


Warmth first, competence second

Jane, the CEO of the company, saw the two men outside of her office. They were anxiously waiting for her to let them in. Let them in and let them know what she thought about their first day at work. They knew she had had them observed.  Of course, they had done their best to give a good first impression. What did she think of their first day?

Suddenly Jane stood up - she was a tall, slim woman -  and beckoned for them to come in to her office.

When they sat down in front of her desk she asked how they had found their first day. James talked about what he had done, what he had said and what he was looking forward to doing within the company. Jane nodded and turned to the smiling John. That smile reminded her of her father's old labrador, a dog with a continuously wagging tale. John told her about the persons he had met and what he had learned from them. 

Jane leaned back in her leather chair. 

"In one year, you will be a respected leader in this company John. James, you will contribute in a good way, but you will not be a leader unless you change your ways."

James' mouth fell open. "But, but why?"

"Because people won't trust you. "

James spread his arms to the sides.

"But, why? I am honest, I am trustworthy, I..."

Jane interrupted him.

"I know. I wouldn't have employed you if you weren't. "

James' arms dropped to his sides, his mouth still open. The whole day James had taken every opportunity to show his expertise. He had let his future colleagues know what he knew, what he could bring to the table. He had been convinced people would love to have him on the team. And now Jane told him they would not trust him.

Jane leaned forward, comforted him with a soft look in her brown eyes.

"People are not as rational as we think. We act instinctively. And the first thing we want to know when we meet someone new is if the person is dangerous or not. Is he a friend or a foe? You have done what most of us do. Telling people how good you are, proving how smart you are. People don't care. Not until they trust you."

Jane turned to John.

"You have talked to a lot of people today. Not about you, you have talked about them. You have made jokes, you have listened more than you have talked. You have not said much about what you are able to do, about your expertise. Still, those I have talked to would all like to work with you. And they are convinced you will contribute well."

James looked at his hands when listening to what Jane told John. He was a grown man, but he felt like a small boy in the principal's office. He startled when he suddenly felt Jane's hand on his back. 

"Don't worry James. I hired you because I believe in you. You will be able to make others believe in you too. If you remember that we are here to make a positive impact. Not to prove to others how smart we are."

How do you behave at work? Do you remember to build trust first and show off your competence second? If you don't, start doing so now. You will be surprised about how it can affect your career.

For more on this subject, read THE KEY TRAIT SUCCESSFUL LEADERS HAVE, AND HOW TO GET IT by Heidi Grant Halvorson


The Beauty of Art part 13- The answers

Most of you did not know the artist this time, but those of you who will come to Fredsrosor - the book release for Primam lapidem mittat - will not only know who the artist is, you will also be able to meet her :).

The artist is Hanna Herngren, the painting is Rosenkvitten.

Hanna is from Sjövik, Lerums kommun Sweden. She lives with her family at the lake Mjörn outside of Gråbo.

Hanna finds inspiration, serenity and happiness in nature and in her garden. Through her reflections on nature she wants to provide those very feelings: serenity, happiness and hope. 

Hanna would like the observer to stop and see the beauty in the small, simple things in everyday life.

Light is central in her paintings. It can symbolize the light in the darkness, or an attempt to provide the feeling of hope and warmth we feel when the rays of the spring sun shines through the branches.

The light in the painting above, is also what some of you liked - one of you even found the light "Rembrandt-like".  

This is another one of her paintings: Christmas fairytale, with a more dramatic choice of colors:

Since I, like Hanna, really enjoy nature and all its living creatures, I enjoy her paintings. I am looking forward to seeing the originals!

On Fredsrosor, Hanna will let us all know how she finds inspiration to her paintings. You can read more about her in Akleja Art.


The Beauty of Art part 13

Hello all,

It is time for another Beauty of Art quiz.

Please let me know:
how the painting makes you feel - and if you know / want to guess -  the name of the painting and of the artist.

As usual the answers will come in a future blog post, including information about your comments about how the painting makes you feel.


The importance of pruning your (issue) tree

We have several fruit trees in our garden. From the kitchen window I can see two of them; an apple tree and a pear tree.

The apple tree gives us beautiful flowers, fruits and shade. It has also been a great climbing tree for our cats and kids, not to mention a great place to put a swing on. The tree has given us more than we have given the tree, and now is it leaning considerably.

Maybe if we would have done a better job pruning it, it would still stand straight.

Apple trees are not the only trees that need pruning. Issue trees do too.

In the course Driving Strategic Impact, an issue tree is described as a problem solving tool that breaks a problem down into MECE pieces. MECE is short for Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive.

Let's try this tool on the problem we used as an example in The power of a simple problem statement:

How can I use each week the way I want to?

This question, the problem statement, is the root of the tree. The branches are the breakdown of the problem into more manageable pieces. To use the week the way we want to, we can do less of the things we don't want to do and more of the things we want to do. Let's add them as branches to the tree:

These branches are MECE - there is no overlap and they collectively answer the question at the root.

The next step is to break down even more, adding branches until the questions become easy to answer. By answering each question the root problem will eventually get solved as well. I hope the below issue tree makes it easy to solve the root problem.

As I said in the beginning, there is also a pear tree in our garden. When we moved into our more than 100 year old house, we thought the old tree would die within a year or two.

We have now lived in our house for 20 years and the tree is still standing there. It has, however, stopped giving us pears. Maybe it is time to listen to what Lotta, an aboriginist told me some years ago:

"Annika, trees don't live forever. Maybe you should plant a new one."

Whenever we do plant a new tree, we will make sure we prune it regularly so it can be of great use. Just like a well-pruned issue tree.


The cover!

"I want you to use the picture of this rose, add a skyline for a city and a skyline with mountains. And then I want it to still look similar to the cover of the previous book."
Those were my instructions to the graphical designer at the publisher. And, just as with the other books, it surprises me how my ideas can be turned into a great cover. :)

Those of you who have read Qui sine peccato est probably understand that the city skyline represents Ingelrike, while the mountains are from Arniak. The rose, the symbol I use for the coming book release Fredsrosor, connects them.

So, here it is, the cover of Primam lapidem mittat:

I like it. I hope you do too.


Yes, of course it hurts

Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking.
Why else would the springtime falter?
Why would all our ardent longing
bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor?
After all, the bud was covered all the winter.
What new thing is it that bursts and wears?
Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking,
hurts for that which grows
and that which bars.

If you are Swedish, the above text may be very familiar, yet sound strange. 
It is an English translation by David McDuff of the first part of the poem "Visst gör det ont" by Karin Boye. 

Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister.
Varför skulle annars våren tveka?
Varför skulle all vår heta längtan
bindas i det frusna bitterbleka?
Höljet var ju knoppen hela vintern.
Vad är det för nytt, som tär och spränger?
Ja visst gör det ont när knoppar brister,
ont för det som växer
och det som stänger.

At the moment there are no buds breaking here in Sweden, instead the leaves are showing off beautiful colours just before they fall to the ground.

Autumn is beautiful in September and October while November is a month that can be hard to enjoy in Sweden. I am happy that I, together with the artist Hanna Herngren and the ballad singers Hillo, will make November a bit brighter with the book release of Primam Lapidem Mittat.

Hillo will mix songs and poems. If you like Karin Boye´s poems, I recommend you come!


The blurb for Primam Lapidem Mittat is ready!

A blurb. I still think it is a strange, funny-sounding word. If you are wondering what blurb means and what the history of blurbs is, you can read about it in Qui sine peccato est - the blurb .

Here is it, the blurb for Primam lapidem mittat. I hope it makes you (those of you who can read Swedish) want to read it!

 Hon räckte honom papperet.  
”Det är på arniakska. Varför skulle någon ge mig ett brev på arniakska?” 

Så du orsakar hellre oskyldiga människors liv än du berättar för världen vad Kendu har gjort? Tro inte att du kommer undan. Snart kommer världen att veta. Det finns ingen återvändo Leyah Londo. Du är förlorad. 

Silaz såg upp med hopdragna ögon. 
Leyah”, sa han långsamt. ”Vad har du gjort?”  

Romanen tar oss tillbaka till Ingelrike och Arniak; två länder med ett problematiskt förflutet och en komplicerad nutid. Gisslandramat som riskerade journalisten Leyah Londos liv och förändrade allt hon trodde på är över. Men faran för hennes liv är kvar.  Kommer hotet från Ingelrike eller Arniak? Eller kanske från henne själv? 
Primam Lapidem Mittat är uppföljaren till Qui sine peccato est. Det är ännu en av Annika Rosendahls kärleksfyllda äventyrsromaner om livets viktiga frågor.


Working for money - or fun?

If you had all the money you wanted, would you still work?
Most people say no. For many, the main reason for working is to earn money. To put food on the table and pay for different activities for the kids and themselves.

A lot of people assume work is by definition different from fun. Just listen to these words and notice what you associate with them.

Work week vs Weekend

I hate Mondays vs Thank God it's Friday!

 Not to mention the expression work-life balance.  As if they are two different things on each side of a scale. While in reality they are connected. (Everything is.)

Picture: dimitrisvetsikas1969 on Pixabay

We can take a lesson from bears. They fish to get food, to survive. Just like we work to get food, to survive. But they also have fun and they for sure do not think about fishing as something separate from life. 

Picture: Skeeze on Pixabay

If you  - like most people - work for the money:  Make sure it is not only for the money. 
Have fun. 
 Be a bear.


The power of a simple problem statement

Do you ever tell people that you cannot do something because "you don't have time?"
Do you ever choose to not do what you really want, for the same reason?
People often ask me how I find the time to have a full time interesting and demanding job, be a mother of three lovely kids and write novels. Partly it is because I do not see lack of time as a given, but as problem that can be solved. After reading this post, I hope you will do the same!

am currently participating in an on-line course from Institute for Personal Leadership (IPL) about Driving Strategic Impact. To drive strategic impact, it is important to have a structured problem solving process. Some of the tools we learn are useful also in our everday life, like the simple yet powerful  problem statement. There are three guidelines to follow when formulating a problem statement. In this post I will apply these guidelines to the common "I don't have time" problem.

Photo: Tero Vesalainen, Pixabay

Guideline 1: 
Phrase the problem as a question (despite that it is commonly referred to as a statement).
How can I find more time?
That is a good start isn't it? Suddenly our minds start looking for a solution since we are not just stating a fact, we are asking ourselves a question.

Guideline 2: 
Phrase the question so it guides action.

Our first version of the question does not give much guidance. (Unless you believe in finding that 8th day in the week.) A question that gives guidance can be: 
How can I use the time I have the way I want?
Guideline 3: 
Use the right granularity.

If we look into using the time the way we want to, we should specify a level of detail that will be helpful. Are we looking at our entire lifespan? This year? The vacation or the work week?

Most people will have an increased satisfaction in life if they use the time the way they want every regular week. My suggestion is therefore to phrase the problem as follows:
How can I use each week the way I want to?
I can guarantee you will have a bigger chance of doing what you want with your time if you use this problem statement, rather than the standard "I don´t have time" statement.

Let's take another,  more business like, example.  The perceived problem can be that we do not sell enough. To create a good problem statement, we will first turn it into a question.
How can we sell more?
This formulation does not give us much guidance. We can increase sales in different ways. Do we want to focus on developing new products to increase our sales, or should we stick to the products we have, but increase our marketing and sales efforts? There are many different alternatives to choose from. Let's select one approach and state the problem statement in a way that provides guidance:
How can we increase sales based on our current product portfolio?
To support us even more, we can increase the level of detail:
How can we increase sales this year in our main markets, based on our current product portfolio?

Now we have two problem statements that fulfill the 3 guidelines taught in the course Driving Strategic Impact. I hope you see that these statements trigger thoughts about how solve the problems.

A correctly formulated problem statement is useful, but the real gain is when you formulate it together with others, ensuring you have a common understanding of what you want to achieve. 

Then this simple tool becomes very powerful.

Good luck!