Millennials going global. Reflections from Shanghai

In one of my previous articles I talked about the Millenials and how I find inspirations in their thinking and professional choices. I am very happy to have Nicolai, my oldest son, and his girlfriend, Jinyu, as my guests.

Nicolai and Jinyu met in the small University city of Utah, Cedar City, USA, and graduated in May 2013. This last year they spent in Norway and now in Shanghai to learn each others cultures and languages.


Jinyu in Europe and Norway for the first time ever. Here celebrating the Norwegian Constitution day on May 17, 2013 with Nicolai.


– We are both very international and love traveling, meeting new people and explore different cultures. Exploring each others cultures and languages has been a natural and exciting milestone after graduation.

Jinyu just started in an interesting Management trainee position at Abercrombie&Fitch.

– I will be trained for HR, visual merchandising, diversity and some other crucial perspectives of fashion and retail industry. We just opened the very first flagship store for China here in Shanghai. It was very busy and successful! And I learned a lot.


Abercrombie&Fitch first flagship store for China just opened in Shanghai


People waiting for the new Abercrombie&Fitch flagship store opening in Shanghai


– Nicolai, what was the biggest change for you moving from Norway to Shanghai?

– It was a big step for me to live with Jinyus parents as they don’t know a word of english. This became the excellent opportunity for me to practice my Chinese. I am now a lot more comfortable communicating in Chinese and I have also adapted the big differences of the culture. Regular daily activities such as going to the grocery store, taking public transportation and eating in restaurants are challenges and make me adapt the culture and language.

Nicolai just came back from a Business trip to Thailand where he was presenting a new Athletic concept for Business Leaders. Time will show if his sales pitch was convincing enough to expand the concept he is working on. He just ran his first race in Shanghai, and next is marathon in Singapore in the end of May.

Nicolai running his first race in Shanghai.

Nicolai running his first race in Shanghai.


– Jinyu, are there changes you have noticed in Shanghai since you came back from your studies in the US?

– Shanghai is changing every single day! It grows so fast that locals can’t even keep on track. This is a radiant and young city that has so much to offer. The one thing that I have realized is that before foreigners were here just for leisure, but now more and more of them are coming for job opportunities. According to the latest population report, there are over 300,000 expats living here as residents, most of them come from Southern Europe like France, Italy and Spain.







.. said the man when meeting the cashier to pay his groceries.

“NO – I do not want a printed receipt!”

“NO – I do not want a shoppingbag!”

“NO – I do not want your loyalty card offer!”

This was my sons funny observation when he was doing his grocery shopping the other day.

Outperforming companies do not ask the same questions to their customers over and over again – just to irritate. In this case the cashier did not even have to ask the questions – the customer knew the questions that were coming long before he entered the store.

Outperforming companies gather customer preferences and wishes, equip their service personnel with insight and tailor the dialogues with the individual customer through their preferred channels. They delight and surprise!

The consumers are “connected” as ever before, and if you are not already discussing the strategic implications and opportunities in detail it is time to get started. Take a minute and reflect on your own shopping experiences and how your company/ brand is doing. Where are the major areas for improvements?


This is the start of my new series of Guests to talk about their Business Leadership and Life.

My first guest is Ivar A Myklebust – my dear father and great role model. He has taught me a lot in Business and Life. How he has handled and made some big decisions in the roller coaster of Business and Life is admirable. He is very intelligent, deep and passionate in many subjects. Most of the time he is in a great mood and makes us all happy.


Ivar has build and led the profitable business Inger Sørensen A/S or Ingers – a fresh seafood company in Oslo, Norway – for 40 years. His father and my grandfather bought the company in 1951 and Ivar took fully over in 1961. Ingers was established by Inger Sørensen in 1870. Inger was a special, strong and successful business woman.


–          Ivar, looking back – what do you see as highlights in your Business Life?

–          I see the 1960’ies turnaround operation of a red numbers company to a well organized and profitable company. Early use of data and tools to develop a customer centric company with predictable logistics and deliveries was a big leap. The change from a one man show to a bigger organization with great teamwork. And finally, the implementation of positive synergies when merging with other companies.

–          If you could do it again, would you do anything different?

–          Looking back, I could perhaps have reduced my risk willingness. Downturns are today only spices in conversations.. Beyond that, I do not think hypothetical considerations are so interesting.

–          What is your most important life learning points?

–          Insight into the value of harmonic relationships – family and professionally. Birth, health, life and death.. Euphoria and reality.. What does sorrow do to you? Reminders to live your talents while you can and have the skills. No nonsense attitude in important questions.. The importance of humor and self-irony.. Growing understanding of what a good education means. Better insight often comes in steps, sometimes as an aha experience. For instance I had a 2 weeks trip to the USA in 1971 with a hectic and steep learning curve. Great!

Seafood Lesson from one generation to another

Seafood Lesson from one generation to another

Ivar and his 3 children Johan, Oda and Inger

Ivar and his 3 children Johan, Oda and Inger

–          What is your top advice to younger people?

–          Even if you are talented, don’t forget that hard work, in general, is the key to success. And another advice, and I quote Ben Hogan, the golf legend:

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round”.

My father and my sons

Ivar and his grandchildren Nicolai and Joakim playing golf in Spain

–          Do you have a favorite quote or philosophical viewpoint to share?

–          Such questions take much of my time and will be too much to explore here.. Due to my life in the trade of seafood: “Ikke ta alt for god fisk” (sorry, this is only possible to say in Norwegian). Healthy sceptisism and more knowledge will lead to a better world, the way I see it.

Business Executives in Retail and Consumer Goods industries discussing Innovation and the Future

I am facilitating networks and roundtables for Business Executives in non-competing consumer companies. Our Innovation network members meet about 4 times a year to share and discuss complex problem solving and business developments to get closer to the customers.

This is a picture from our kick-off in 2008.

Grims Grenka 1