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If people aren't nice, it doesn't matter how smart they are.

This interview with Patrik Hellstrand, CEO at by CHLOE + Founder & Author at thrivewired + Advisor at KingsCrowd, is part of Inspirations, a regular series from Helen Lao and ClearPath that asks extraordinary founders, executives, and rising stars in the growth-oriented food industry about their why. (Article from LinkedIn.)

Who or what inspires you and why?

Entrepreneurs inspire me for two reasons:

- Their self-motivation and ability to push themselves to learn and evolve, often without any incentive or anyone else pushing them;

- Their resilient mindset of dealing with failure, realizing that it's not final, nor fatal.

What types of people do you work best with and why?

I work best, and only, with nice people. If people aren't nice it doesn't matter how smart they are; they won't get hired by me. Besides, life is too short to spend time with people who drag you down. Nice people also make for better teams and in turn better businesses; because they often give unconditionally, which makes others feel good and thus earns them more influence; more influential people means more informal leaders and stronger teams.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far and why?

When I started my own business, I had to let go of my ego entirely to succeed. I'd gotten somewhat spoiled by being a senior leader in corporate environments, and it was humbling to start from zero and not being able to afford anyone to help with anything. Learning to 'figure it out' and finding success in new and different ways without any resources was one of the hardest things I've done, and, also one of the most rewarding and valuable things I've done.

What’s something you’ve worked on that you’re proud of and why?

My first start-up project, the Queen Mary 2, which at the time was the largest and most expensive ship ever built, sits very close to my heart. I'm proud of it because it was an extraordinary flattering example of our human ability to cooperate irrespective of experiences, differences, and backgrounds. Our onboard team was comprised of more than 60 different nationalities, all working towards the same goals as one team.

What’s been one of your greatest rewards in business and why?

My greatest reward has been meeting so many incredible people whom I've learned so much from, and have helped me grow. Equally rewarding, I've been able to help others learn in new ways and develop their careers and lives. I've met all these people because I made an early bet to move across industry verticals to learn as much as possible. It's forced me to not get lazy or comfortable and to seek new ways to learn from people who have achieved success in ways that I yet haven't; often in unfamiliar and initially uncomfortable settings.

Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self and why?

To my younger self, I say this: Try your best to figure things out on your own and trust that the dots will connect. Know that most things will not play out the way you want or imagine, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Take risks and pursue things that excite you, so you can figure out what it is that you love doing. Do everything with purpose and with the intent of living a life where you never feel the need to look back and say "I wish I would have done that".

What's the one word that describes you and why?

Curious. I don't know why I am, but I do know what it does. It helps me solve unpredictable and complex problems in new and different ways. It fuels my passion for figuring stuff out.

What’s one company, brand, or individual that you admire and why?

I admire every company I've worked with, for some reason or another. Largely, it comes down to that each of the businesses I've worked with performs some things phenomenally well. They also each benefit from having some incredible people that have all taught me something important. I generally admire people who selflessly work to help others.

What is one thing you’d like to accomplish this year and why?

As with any business that's being prepared for exponential growth, there a lot of foundational work that needs to get done that involves finding more great people, implementing systems and processes, and adjusting the operating model to become more flexible. This type of work is a bit like rebuilding a plane mid-flight, and I'd like to complete it without crashing so that we can focus on scaling by CHLOE nationally next year.

What is one book that you think everyone should read and why?

21 Lessons for the 21st Century. In a world full of noise and uncertainty, clarity is power. I found that the book cuts through some of this noise and confronts some of the most urgent questions on today’s global agenda. It untangles political, technological, social and existential questions, and highlights how they impact our everyday lives.

Spread kindness. Choose KAE.

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