Learning to Dance - Corporate Style with Frank Olsson

Learning to Dance - Corporate Style with Frank Olsson

21 May 2015

Frank Olsson, Claire Conza, Michelle Euinton

Our very own vice president, Frank Olsson (Swedish Honorary Consul) has just released a new book "Learning to Dance - Corporate Style, how to humanise business and get more out of life". Anyone who has witnessed Frank's contagious joy and energy knows that he lives his life like a dance and we are in full support of promoting his approach to life and business. The design of the book was directed by our other vice president - Claire Conza's agency Future Village, and illustrated by her sister/designer Michelle Euinton. The small first run is selling fast so if you'd like a copy for $20, or a few for your staff, get in touch with Frank at frank@olsson.co.nz.


There is a better way to manage people. How do I know? Firstly, having been a manager of people in different parts of the world has enabled me to apply a better management system, always with success. Secondly, no current practice is so good that it cannot be improved upon over time. This is not only one of life’s rules, it is one of its purposes.

Most rational people know that in an environment free from fear, and full of joy and shared achievement, everybody wins. This is almost axiomatic, particularly among harmonious, enlightened people. If nearly all people understand that this is the way to create a winning climate, why does such an environment remain the exception rather than the rule?

The reason is that there is too much influence of convention and a gap between what is being done and best practice. Many management practices seem to have continued for over a century without much revision. Now it is high time to change all this and humanise business, so that it capitalises on the collective intelligence, energy and creativity of all its staff and employees.

I am fortunate in having been exposed to different leadership roles in several countries. I like to see things getting done without time wastage. I like to act as a catalyst for achieving results and taking the ‘game’ to a new level. With a little ingenuity and panache, much can be achieved in a step-by-step approach, while at the same time keeping exhaustion and monotony at bay. If we make our endeavours a dance rather than a slog, great results can be obtained, while simultaneously retaining a healthy amount of joy and energy for our own pleasure. 

While holding different jobs I have been set to lead teams of Swedes, Kenyans, Singaporeans, British, New Zealanders and Japanese, and while doing so have discovered how much unites people rather than divides them. There is much talk about people’s cultural differences, but on a human level we are ninety-nine per cent the same. Accordingly, I have found that the same principles are effective in all constituencies. This seems to hold true whether people are civilian or military, or in the public or private sector, and regardless of the gender divide.

In order to advance my thinking on these matters I am a keen reader. Reading the thoughts of others tests your own ideas and gives you new ones too, occasionally. I view reading as a dialogue: you read of an idea, then you contemplate its value. You may agree with it or reject it, or use it as a seed to grow something different based on the idea. And being out there as a practitioner rather than an academic, assigned the task of motivating and achieving, there have been ample opportunities for me to try out new ideas. Mine has been an ongoing, recurring search to discover a better way. This is beneficial:  when we like what we are doing and truly believe in the merits of our activity, time and effort converts obligation and strain into pleasurable opportunity, adding to our sense of purpose and well-being. Designing work to create personal pleasure and fulfilment for each and every team member moves us towards the state of dance rather than a slog.

Through the following fifty-two separate chapters my intention is to provide enough of a mosaic so that anyone can fill in the blank spots and turn it into an enduring, well-designed piece of art that will be able to stand the test of time. The mosaic also allows re-arranging and re-sorting, thus adjusting to different settings and changing conditions. 

What does not change is the need to define and align goals, so that we combine personal aspirations with the benefits which derive from other, external interests.

Although I strongly promote a sense of doing the right thing and bringing business into line with natural and admirable personal goals, I am unequivocally convinced that this is a win-win formula. What serves the happiness of the individual is also what serves the best long-term interests of his or her organisation. 

Reviewing my writing, I conclude that all of it isn’t strictly corporate-focused. I don’t think this matters, because so much of our success and well-being is also related to our ability to see what is happening in the world around us. And how we feel about all manner of things will also inevitably influence our mood, conduct and leadership.  

Art & Design

I wanted this book to be a nice experience even before and aside from reading it. I have come to be a great believer in design and appealing to the many senses rather than to only one. Messages usually benefit from being communicated on many levels and it is no use saying you are excited if you don’t look like and exude excitement. My friend Claire Conza of Future Village and her sister/designer Michelle Euinton have helped me make the book one of a kind, one that just won’t disappear in the book shelf. Every page reminds the reader that the aim of the book is to get the reader dancing. I am very grateful and happy for the art work and images they have brought to the book putting the serious messages into the context of art and joy.  


I wish I had read Learning to Dance twenty years ago!
Don Brash, ex-Governor of the Reserve bank, New Zealand

Learning to Dance is a gem of a book, chock-a-block with pearls of wisdom. For a "how to manage" book, uncommonly it is full of common-sense!
Executive Managing Director and Chief Economist, Standard and Poor’s, New York.

Dance has provided me with joy everyday – and that’s what I love about Learning to Dance – it has helped me find joy in everyday management by encouraging me to bring to light all those things that make a great dance – energy, collaboration, dedication and just allowing ourselves to communicate over the footlights.   
Amanda Skoog MNZM, Managing Director Royal New Zealand ballet. 

It is often thought that a good human being cannot succeed in the corporate world. Learning to Dance debunks that myth and in fact establishes the opposite. I hope that its lessons will be reflected in the evolving corporate culture so that business and humanity can thrive together. 
Co-Chairman of CNBC Arabia John Watson, London

Learning to Dance - read, enjoy and follow the conclusions in this wonderful book written by a globe-trotting practitioner, and we will all live in more friendly, and amazingly, a more efficient, world".
Christer Ragnar, Ex Managing Director, Nordbanken, Sweden

Learning to Dance is a book full of practical wisdom gleaned by the author over many years in banking. What they don't teach you at banking college! A light and enjoyable read!
Rio Fiocco, OBE, Lawyer, Port Moresby, PNG

Learning to Dance is a wonderful, easy to read book about how we can improve working life by a new approach.
Dr. Babette Kaiserkern, Berlin

Learning to Dance contains a lot of wisdom and is full of good ideas! Fun to read and it makes you think about it.
Meishi Sonobe, Tokyo, Former VP of ExxonMobil Japan.

Learning to Dance is a book that written in simple language, condensing an outstanding leader’s life wisdom; it represents a new perspective of business management emphasizing the human factor. This book has important guiding significance for all including Chinese enterprises.
Sarah Li, MA, MBA, Director and Entrepreneur, I-BOUND, Beijing, China

Learning to Dance, by Frank Olson, is difficult to put down. I read in in one sweep. All chapters speak to emotions and feelings which drives so much of our lives, corporate and private. The message of this book is be happy and make others happy and your journey will be successful.
EBO Worldwide Chairman, Renato Pacheco Neto, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Learning to Dance is a wonderful example of what plain simple communication, respect for others and teamwork can potentially achieve as opposed to the cut-throat perception we so often get of a corporate life. The author makes the point based on personal experience that a gentler more human approach can work in all cultures and settings. 
Rajiv Dhawan, Director –Magotteaux Industries, New Delhi, India 

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