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Self-evident, a not-so-simple word

December 10, 2018

You might think the word ”self-evident” is an easy word. Actually, our understanding is all backwards which leads us down the path of confusion. Here is a word to fix it.

Many years ago, my close friend Niklas Ljungkvist asked me if I understood the word self-evident (Swedish: ”självklart”). ”Of course”, I retorted. ”It’s easy, something that we all understand.” He looked at me with those querying eyes and offered his definition:

”Self-evident means ’evident to myself – and absolutely no one else’”

This insight struck me deep. I realised why my ”self-evident” words of wisdom didn’t seem to work for others. It explained why they kept on doing ”the wrong thing” despite my insights. Of course, my thinking was likely flawed. My insights probably lacked bearing on the other person’s life. However, they didn’t have to agree with my advice, but was I getting across? In hindsight, I have to say no.

New meaning, a new word

The fix is not too tricky; We need to remember this gap between ourselves and everyone else. A simple remedy is to invent a new word. I propose ”us-evident” (Swedish: ”ossklart”).

”Us-evident as in ’evident to all of us’”

Whenever you try to convey something to another person, remember that it have to be us-evident to be of value. Otherwise, it will be a waste of your breath and a wear and tear on your audience’s ears. All parties need to grasp what you want to convey – there is no ”self” in that notion.

But, how can I know if I bridged the gap?

Good question; When are we us-evident? You could have the other person repeat what you said, but chances are you will come across as a stern school teacher. Your kids might put up with you, but your wife will not.

Try and phrase your feedback check differently:

  • What part of my advice made sense to you?
  • What alternatives do you see?
  • What do you want to try out first?

In my examples above there are two principles. First, try and be specific in your follow-up question. A yes/no question will not offer any deeper insight to what they grasped. A general question is likely to get a general reply. People will offer a ”good” or similar response since they don’t want to be rude. They might shy away from admitting what they really understood of your litany. Secondly, listen to their reply. Yeah, that last one is difficult, so I should probably finish this blog and let you go us-evident. Good luck!

What – two years already!

November 30, 2016

It’s been busy as of late. And as usual, time flies. I notice that I haven’t written anything here for two years!
That’s the sound life makes when it passes you by. Remember to wave. 🙂

I could blame a host of things; I’m not.
My writing urge has been piling up over these years. Also, a friend of mine – Marcus Degerman ( – has released a brilliant book “Solve problems together” and that inspired me to do the same.

First step: I hereby declare to continue getting my thoughts and beliefs into this blog. Hopefully, there’s a book waiting at the far end.

I’d love to get your feedback as I go forward.


Speaking at Øredev with my Sis!

September 19, 2014

Fire meets IT. Or in other words, two nerds meet.

I’ll be giving a talk on a slightly different topic than usual – “How to Predict a Serial Arsonist”. This time it’s together with my sister Eva Ljungkvist. Who’s an accomplished fire engineer with lots of action based experience, like    …putting out fire and stuff 🙂

Here’s the talk on the X-Track at Øredev, see here.

It’s great fun working together in what turned out to be very cross discipline. I gain insight every time we meet into an area I knew next to nothing about. Using surprisingly simple “computer science” techniques goes a long way to dissect information about arson. Some notes can be found here (in Swedish).

Oh, I’m also doing the intros to keynotes this year. Me happy. It’s an impressive list!
Chris Noessel, Dan North, Keavy McMinn, Nile Rodgers, Brian Christian, Gary Bernhardt

See you at Øredev!


Ingrid, goodbye!

October 26, 2011

Mother-in-laws. Is there a word more loaded with assumptions? Still, some 26 years ago when I met the mother of my wife to be, little did I know how she would affect me. Little did I realize how I would wish to be like her.

Ingrid Regnér-Danielsson was born in 1923 in north-west of Skåne (south of Sweden). She quickly grew past her friends into a beautiful and tall women. Given time the class mates would grow to match her height.

In her late teens she would watch the swedish soldiers “protect” the German convoys of soldiers during WWII and be ashamed of it to this day. During these years she met her husband to be, Vidar. He was later posted on the front protecting Sweden. She was always eager to know everything – politics, the world, well most things except technical. Who can blame her on that last bit? 🙂

Despite having time we never caught up to her wits, her passion and her wish to know more.

Ingrid leaves behind four children; Lena, Bibi, Claes and Lotta my wife – four grandchildren; Daniel, Max, Felix and Bix and loads of memories. Many years ago I realized that I wanted to be like her – a lively spirit in touch with reality way up in her years. Will I ever be like that? Will I be able to keep an interest and an enthusiasm for things and most importantly for people like she did? I hope so, but I have my doubts.

After a long struggle she passed away last week. It probably was a relief for her and it shouldn’t be a surprise to us. But still.
That lively spirit is not among us anymore. Her enthusiasm is no longer here.

However, our memory of her lingers and the example she set for me personally.
Thank you Ingrid! Thanks for everything!


Goodbye and see you soon!

October 22, 2011

Jayway – it lasted more than a decade. All the colleagues, all the fun, all the experiences. It just had to end.

We started in 2k and we just didn’t get it. The world of IT was about to change. All pretty much went downhill after the glorious, but delirious, nineties. It was four of us trapped in an attic with only a sliver of the sky to see – if we jumped really high.

I had signed on with a clause in my contract – I couldn’t be a manager. This suited me fine. I was a coder acutely aware of my flaws as a person. And I knew I tended to forget them (and still do). I knew one other thing. The choice for me was to go at it alone or to team up. The latter seemed so much more promising. Having colleagues seemed better. The sheer speed of a group on the go was way better if I wanted to learn faster.

It was to be – despite the first interviews, which were unbelievable bad. In this process my nephew (here’s looking at you Niklas) did two things right. One; He pointed me to a sentence in the national rag Computer Sweden talking about a company focused solely on Java programming. Two; He argued if they’re that immature, imagine how much you can affect! I hope I did.

To this day I can’t pass the café without thinking about two of the founding members of Jayway I met there. High on caffeine I talked a couple of holes in their brains. The third founder was still on vacation when I signed the agreement which was high risk. But then again I never was the one for safety. Never has been.

That first year was one big struggle to make ends meet. It was a close call, but somehow we managed to survive. To this day I don’t truly know how. What we did get right though, was the team thing and two words – fun and competence. In the first year we got those right and kept on going.

Fast forward
11 years later, some 1300 hours of internal exchange of knowledge – above beyond the call of duty – we were touching 150 colleagues. Sure there were days where it rained and the smiles hardened by work. Who hasn’t been there? But there were so many hours and days of sheer joy. In short, it was great.

But, despite of all of those moments, all of those faces, I realized I needed to take the next step. For me it was to work with a team towards a common goal. Maybe dispersed geographically, but still hooked up mentally trying to live a common dream – a team. So there had to be an end. I resigned.

The people
It felt truly odd. I was going to be ex Jayway.
The next step was a total surprise to me – loads of heart and best wishes. I guess I just hadn’t given it much thought, but it hit my heart deep. A week later I still struggle to get my head around it.

Jaywayers! Thank you for all the years of fun and great work!


Hello world!

December 2, 2009

I started this blog    …because I just had to.

It will be a mix of Swedish and English. And probably rather haphazard in both time and subject. I can only hope that some of it makes for a worthwhile read for someone somewhere.