Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Johan Ernst Nilson/Environmental Explorer-Activist/Motivational Speaker

Midtown, NYC

Image from www.pole2pole.net

We meet a lot of extreme outdoor types---including holders of records for stuff we get are huge personal accomplishments---but personally for us, elicits a typical Gallic shrug (alors là)...finding more impressive individuals like a 70 years old guy who embarks solo on the AT trail...not the young and supported 'athletes' who speed hike the same route---just to set a record.

ANYWAY...point being, we didn't know what to expect when meeting the heavily booked with speaking engagements, interviews etc...Swedish explorer/activist Johan Ernst Nilson.

Our talk began at the-con on the blink, searing hot midtown Swedish coffee shop FIKA,  where we nevertheless settled in to a lengthy chat---

Like most Swedes we have met-Nilson's command of the English language is wwwaaaayyyy better than ours.


Having summit-ted many challenging and more accessible mountains, multiple times over the years, ("leaving nothing but footprints')---

---including the iconic "Seven"--- (and published a tome documenting the peaks: Seven Summits-The Photobook)--- and having trekked around the globe by various means including skis, kites, bikes sleds...

We got that clearly, he had a fun, physically challenging life...

Our discussion began with explaining why he was in the Big Apple now-as his year-long, pole to pole trek marking the anniversary of American Explorer Robert E. Peary's expedition to the North Pole... a jaunt being documented "so that people understand the importance"- and coined the Climate Neutral/Pole2Pole project ---was (sadly) re-routed in Greenland due to melting glaciers___

What's impressive is Nilson's dedication to environmental and children's causes... taking active roles beyond fund-raising...not just paying lip-service to events by 'lending' his name...but ensuring that the organization uses the $s pro-actively and "not for bribes." Groups such as Operation Smile...that gives impoverished kids with clef palates, face-altering operations for free-thereby "changing whole lives."


With the belief that "strangers are friends you don't know"---Nilson has a gift, no doubt- for approaching and treating all people with dignity-and truly believes in the "Butterfly Effect"---a domino system that enables like minded types to share and work together, constructively...whether it be on climate change issues...or with UNICEF and its global relief efforts.

The motivational speaker side "can do" spirit ---started back when Nilson was 15 years old and inspired by Elton John to become a concert pianist---something he told us he achieved a few years later. Then the explorer part got kicked up after a wager with a pal resulted in a bike trip form Stockholm to Morocco in 52 days.

Therefore, a lifelong MO ensued---and for the past few years, Nilson has been an in-demand lecturer/speaker/adventurer...sharing his take on how one lives life---how dreams, one's personal Mt. Everest so-to-speak ("is a luxury" of middle-class/wealthy societies)--- changes with the "passage of time...and is one thing that binds us...a common thread."

Nilson even took our notepad/pen and drew out a diagram of the four pillars of life---personal, family, friends, and job---and how important to find a balance "that works for you." He also tipped us off on his view of "Dream vs Goal"..and how important it is to date the goal---setting personal benchmarks. realistic dreams of course-but not limiting ones.

"It is important to understand who you are in life-what it is exactly  what you want to achieve in life...not to just wait around."

He added..."I believe you come to a moment where everything is just changing." Yup.

Interesting for us also was discussing the importance of living life outside you comfort zone, finding one's bliss, as the expression goes. We admired how when asked---Nilson- acknowledged that his outside comfort zone parameters is "love and marriage" and how important it is to be honest and vulnerable. And after many years "living in a tent" in 28 countries--we kinda get that too.