Magnús Scheving at WOBI Leadership Barcelona
Last week was the WOBI World Leadership Forum in Barcelona and Aurum Speakers Bureau was invited to attend the second day of the event, on Friday.
After Juan Pablo Neira‘s great speech on how to be more creative and find new ways to innovate and Sarah Lewis speech on how failure allows learning which can be turned with grit into innovation, it was the turn of Magnús Scheving, the creator, director, and star of the popular children’s television show LazyTown to come onstage to be the closing speaker of the event.
Magnús is certainly living proof that grit and perseverance can lead to innovation and success. He took advantage of his contagious creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to turn an idea to promote nutrition and child health into a global brand. The result? The show aired in 180 countries, has won multiple awards, and Sportacus – the main character in the series played by Magnús – has even appeared in a TV ad with former US First Lady, Michelle Obama, in a campaign to promote exercise and healthy food for kids.
Magnús started his keynote with his definition of lazy: “to be lazy is to stop caring”, he said, and that is noticeable by others around you. In his company, he once saw a used glass of water forgotten in the toilet. He decided to turn it into an experiment: will the next employee who enters the toilet see it, and throw it to the trash bin? If he doesn’t, he might have not noticed it. But if by the end of the day the glass is still there, after many employees went several times to the toilet, it’s time to fire someone as clearly they don’t care about others’ mistakes. And in your company, you want the type of people who not only care about themselves, but are also not lazy to help and assist the others.
Magnús advocates for leaning forward all the time: prepare your body in a way that makes you automatically go into the direction you want. Don’t lean back and find excuses for everything around you. Don’t stay in the center, passively, without taking action. Take risks by leaning forward all the time and that will propel you into your goals. And if you fail, it doesn’t matter – it only matters if you stop trying and stop practicing.
The world is changing massively according to Magnús because of the easy access to information we all have available 24/7. Companies are now selling behaviors, by previously analyzing all the information they have collected about you. We need to be careful and not believe everything we read online as well, as often reviews and opinions of others are created to manipulate our thoughts. And more importantly, we should pay more attention to our physical lives. With a very simple trick he made all the audience realize it: are you willing to lend your phone to a stranger next to you? No, because you think all your life is in that device. Interestingly enough, we’re OK to leave our kids at the kindergarten for the whole day.
Magnús formula to succeed in business is simple, yet very difficult to achieve: he says your company must be top 3 in its niche. His show was not only top 3, but actually the best in the world. Why? It was the only show targeting kids to become more healthy by eating better and exercising. If your company is not top 3, perhaps you haven’t found your niche, or you should find a niche within the niche. If you’re not top 3 – he continued – it’s very difficult to gain visibility in this world with consumers having so many options at their will.
You should also distinguish your company from the rest. The logo, the shape, and even the movements or sounds your company makes are important. If we ask “what’s the sound of coca-cola”? Everyone knows which one it is, it’s the sound of the bubbles escaping the bottle when we open the cap. That level of branding is what we should aim for. If you stripe your company from its logo, and its name, will clients still be able to recognize it? You need to apply your brand values to everything you do, so that clients can easily recognize it in every interaction they have with it.
Magnús also wanted to talk about education and the lack of confidence that our current education system creates in children. Why do we have such high rates of school failure? Because schools are still based on industrial models that wanted people to work on factories for 8 hours straight without thinking. They kill creativity when they only hope kids memorize textbooks to then pass an exam. If you ask a kid, before school, how many ways there are to go to the moon, he will come up with a 100 ideas. After learning in school about the moon landing, he will tell you there’s only one or two. It’s also funny that you are not allowed to talk or copy from others in exams, but yet when you graduate and start working you’re expected to collaborate with other employees and be a team-player. Yet all your life you were taught not to.
If schools kill creativity, we’re stagnating innovation. And it becomes harder to come up with great ideas. Magnús also defined what a great idea is in his mind: a way for everyone to win. If you find such idea, you have a gold mind in front of you. His idea was simple: health. Every human cares about it as it’s the most important thing. Now came the hard part: how could he turn health into a business? A lot of trial and error, and a 10 years of insatiable work ended up in the creation of LazyTown. LazyTown is a win for everyone: he created a successful business that lowered child’s obesity around the world while promoting more healthy lifestyles.