3 brains – 6 questions

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest ideas, what media to follow, and where to find inspiration to achieve even more? We asked three exciting people with very different backgrounds questions about their careers to explore the sources of their professional success.

Interview with:

Camilla Hessellund Lastein
CEO and Founder of Lix Technologies

Chono Hegelund
Principal Consultant, Enterprise Web

Lau Bech Lauritzen
CEO & Co-founder IOLA

Camilla Hessellund Lastein

CEO and founder at Lix Technologies

Name: Camilla Hessellund Lastein
Age: 22
Background: Dropped out of a business administration programme to devote herself to Lix Technologies.
Title: CEO and Founder of Lix Technologies (formerly UniPegma).

What are you interested in right now?

Product development, which I’m responsible for at Lix Technologies. I work with developers and designers every day to evaluate design and test for bugs.
I’m also always at least partly focussed on investment, whether or not we’re fundraising.

Who inspires you right now?

The founder of Telsa, Elon Musk, who is focussed on higher aims than just finances. For example, Tesla has opened up all of their patents – an action that says more than many words.

Peter Theil, who was one of the founders of PayPal, among other things. He also does things in his own way and is motivated by visions.

What are you reading?

waitbutwhy.com – a really cool blog that deals with a lot of issues from a humorous angle.

The book Zero to One by Peter Theil, which is about startups and business in general, and I’m currently reading Power of Habits, which is about cognitive behaviour – how your brain works and how it processes marketing, for example.

How do you motivate yourself?

By learning new things. All kinds of tech, from wearables to the Internet of Things and drones. According to the book The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, if f you want to be creative, you have to make connections between different things That’s how he created a magnetic adapter for the Mac. It might be a course in painting together with a talk on machine learning, because the more input, the more neural connections. That approach contributes to my creative moments.

What media do you follow?

Medium, Tech Crunch, Twitter. I follow the stuff that’s exciting. I’ve set up Facebook so that I primarily see posts from podcasts and magazines from the startup world instead of my friends’ posts.

What conferences do you participate in?

Web Summit, the biggest tech conference in the world, because the content is exciting, but just as much because of networking with the right people. I get my biggest breakthroughs that way: offbeat perspectives and unexpected opportunities, and I’ve found everyone who’s on my team through my network.

What do you do to relax?

I’m learning how to meditate. When I’m constantly behind on my work, there’s no room to be creative. After I’ve meditated – just ten minutes in the morning – I have a totally different perspective and can approach my work in the right mindset.

How do you challenge yourself?

I throw myself into things where I don’t feel safe. I’m regularly asked to give talks, and just thinking about it makes me so nervous I get butterflies in my stomach, but I do it to get outside my comfort zone.
How do you get into flow?

When I get to sit somewhere by myself, for example on a terrace with a good view and music – preferably in pajamas – and really concentrate on something, so that I forget about time and place. It also happens at the office when I can sense that things are working and that people are taking responsibility: when the team is performing, they also expect me to. That gives me more motivation to kick down some doors to keep moving forward.
What will 2016 look like for you?

It’ll probably be yet another hectic year. We just made a deal with a major international publisher, in mid-December we’re going to go all in on marketing, and we’ll be launching big time when the semester starts in January. They say that it typically takes six months of full-time work to close a venture capital investment deal, so I also expect I’ll be in San Francisco a fair amount next year to meet with investors.

What trends in your field do you predict will dominate this year?

My industry is weird: the publishers think that development ends with the digitization of books, so we have to drive the trends ourselves. But customer care is one major focus. Generation Y, one of our main target groups, is disloyal to brands compared to previous generations. They have to have a good reason to buy our product and stay on as customers, because they have so many alternative ways to find books – not digitally, but in lots of other ways.

Lix Technologies
A company that offers a subscription service for textbooks.

Chono Hegelund

Principal Consultant, Enterprise Web

Age: 40
Background: Web and product development since 1995
Works with: IoT, ECM, ERP, CRM, B2B, B2C and BI

Who inspires you?

My friends and co-workers, who are all entrepreneurs and software/web developers – or both. That means that I spend a lot of my time at the intersection of knowledge exchange and the latest trends, where new products, services and technologies meet, are developed, challenged and contextualized.

What are you interested in right now?

The development of distributed products and services, including UX and operational semantics in the interplay between data, application logic and business logic in the context of commercialization, target groups and tendencies.

What motivates you?

Building products and services that combine innovation and business orientation – and preferably in contexts with short deadlines and many facets in relation to challenges in my specific field and real-world challenges.

What media do you follow?

My daily sources for news about trends and technology are typically Facebook, Twitter and different Slack channels and communities, for example Product Manager HQ. I also usually spend ten minutes every morning skimming a couple of more general media like politiken.dk, borsen.dk, kopenhagen.dk and nytimes.com.

What conferences do you attend?

I rarely attend conferences, but I find keynote speeches on video afterwards. For networking, product-specific and topic-specific workshops and talks, I use meetup.com, the world’s largest network of local groups/networks.
How do you challenge yourself?

One way in which I challenge myself is to build prototypes of business models, logics and technologies that I haven’t used before and challenge them by applying scalable principles and variable factors.

What will 2016 look like for you?

It depends on what technologies and tendencies get introduced. My field of interest is commercial apps, interfaces, platforms and services for mass markets, including IoT, ECM, ERP, CRM, B2B, B2C and BI.

What trends in your areas of interest do you think will dominate next year?
I think that service-oriented architecture and big data will become more general standards. This has been underway for a number of years, but particularly over the past year, as infrastructures and platforms like AWS, MS Azure, Google Cloud, Digital Ocean and Heroku have become much more mature and accessible – both in relation to usability and financing. The tendency to think in terms of scalability and to use external services to handle tasks in distributed systems has really accelerated.

Big data and what it can be used for are particularly interesting: knowledge in a relevant context. As enterprise infrastructures and databases become more widely accessible, products and services will gain a supplementary dimension/value centered on ‘knowledge about’ in addition to their own intrinsic value.

Lau Bech Lauritzen

CEO & co-founder IOLA

Age: 33
Background: Degree in computer science from Aalborg University, 2006
Works with: IoT, ECM, ERP, CRM, B2B, B2C and BI

What are you interested in right now?

JavaScript. Most of the code we produce today is JavaScript – regardless of whether it’s for mobile development, backend code or big one-page apps. And so the big deal right now is JavaScript frameworks, which help structure the big frontend applications. The challenge is to find the framework that’s the best fit for your needs and that best suits your tastes. I’m playing around with Vue.js, which is a simple but strong tool that doesn’t lock the user into a particular paradigm because it solves a specific aspect of frontend development. The focus with Vue.js is on pure web development, so it doesn’t have the ambition to revolutionize other platforms, for example like React does.

Another major interest is my Tesla, my computer on wheels, and what kinds of cool applications I can build for it with Vue.js. For example, I have a web application in the browser in my car that can control different parts of the car through the server. The main component is a big map that shows me speed traps, good restaurants on the way through Germany, Tesla charging stations, or I can use Wikipedia to find out what attractions are close to my route.

Information about local weather conditions is also important for an electric car: using a little calculator app, I can see what the optimal driving speed is between supercharger stations. Event sourcing. Normally, you only store the current state of the application. But sometimes you’re interested in being able to go back in the history to see what’s happened or to calculate new information based on historical data. Event sourcing solves this challenge by collecting all events in the database, and the current state of the application can be calculated on the basis of these events – which makes the history accessible. We haven’t used it in projects in its purest form at IOLA, but we’re talking about rewriting a piece of software for the offshore industry which requires a total history.

Who inspires you?

Paul Irish, Chrome Developer Advocate, because he’s a big evangelist for new tools and new ways of doing things in web development.

John Cleese and his approach to creativity, where you start by accumulating knowledge about a topic and then plan a place and time to be creative. John Cleese also thinks that coffee is antithetical to creativity, because it increases your ability to concentrate – which kills creativity.

Aaron Levie, co-founder of Box, who tweets about entrepreneurship and has a lot of reflections about the industry.

My office mates at LYNfabrikken, where I have my desk in Aarhus: when I talk about my work to people who aren’t technically minded, I find out what they find exciting. That gives me an idea about what to emphasize when I’m dealing with clients.

What reading material do you find interesting?

The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco Partners. According to him, the concepts ‘work’ and ‘time off’ no longer have meaning, because people are always online. For example, you should be able to work on a Sunday when the weather’s bad and go to the beach on Monday morning, when the sun is shining. The employees organize their workdays themselves, and at Semco, it’s often people on the shop floor who come up with ideas for new products, because they’re in contact with customers. Inspired by Semler’s ideas, IOLA is starting a tech consortium in Aalborg.Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, a collection of essays about creating a healthy work environment when managing software development projects.
How do you motivate yourself?

The experiences and needs of users are my greatest motivation. After I’ve thought long enough, I build a simple solution that meets their need, looks good and works super well. I like spending a lot of time figuring out what it should look like, feel like, and be used. I envision a solution, and that motivates me to use new tools to bring the vision to life for the specific project.

What media do you follow?

Version2, Computerworld and TechCrunch to stay up-to-date on the most general level.

Twitter, because this is where you gain knowledge today by following the right people. I find people whose approach is compatible with mine and get a condensed version of what they’re following – which is cool when I’m busy.

What conferences do you participate in?

I haven’t been to South by Southwest in the States, but I watch videos from it, because there are fantastic people sharing their take on the World Tech Open Air in Berlin. Relaxed, industrial setting, where all of the most dominant IT companies participate.

Nordic.js, a JavaScript conference – everyone in the company attends this, because we all use JavaScript.

What motivates you?

My passion is building something that helps the client. Being good at code isn’t enough for me – I also want to be good at communicating, understanding and applying ideas, so that I can challenge the clients who don’t have all the answers. And this means that the relationship becomes a feedback loop: When we present ideas that are very different than what the client expected, they also get new ideas and can challenge us to deliver an even better solution. In a very short time, we arrive at a design or specification for a product that neither of us could have invented alone.

What trends in your field do you predict will dominate in 2016?

JavaScript, because everything’s moving in a web direction, where JS is central. The democratization of technology will play a larger role, because now designers can program using JS, which is an easy language to learn. AI is getting closer, because computer intelligence can help us find our way around big data, and there will be more and more specialized apps that are easy to use and better at solving problems.