Drinking in your underpants
The American ethos is misunderstood. By entirely focusing on the materialism of American society, many fail to capture the importance of liberty and a deeply rooted entrepreneurial spirit afforded by that God-given liberty.
Having spent a fair amount of my professional life working with and for Nordic companies (Telenor, Telia, i3 Micro/Tilgin, Kreatel, and Nokia, to name a few) and being fascinated by the history of the region, I made a determined effort to get to know my Nordic colleagues. What began as compulsory interactions quickly became voluntary with many turning into friendships--some enduring to this day, despite time, distance and career changes.
We discussed many topics both related to and unrelated to work. They were as fascinated with my perspective as an American as I was of theirs. I want to think we learned from each other--I certainly learned a great deal from them. Without exception I found them to be warm, friendly, competent and even a bit shy.
Even back in the early days of my professional career, the news was replete with stories about the high levels of individual happiness and unparalleled quality of life in these countries. And many of my colleagues seemed quite happy and, more importantly, satisfied with work, family, and life.
That narrative continues to this day, with Nordic countries trading spots at the top of almost every international survey or poll. You can read the archives of one such survey, The World Happiness Report to see for yourself.