Micael Widell's blog

Micael Widell

Hello! I am Micael Widell, based in Stockholm. I am CTO and co-founder of Fyndiq, Swedish one stop bargain shop on the web. This blog is mainly about entrepreneurship and my life in general.

Other places where you can find me: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, Facebook and Readmill.

The things not taught in school

It is funny that most of the knowledge I need in my daily life as an entrepreneur is stuff that I had to learn myself because it was never taught or even mentioned in school. Not only did I have to learn this stuff myself – before that I first had to learn that this stuff actually is important.

  • Salesmanship
  • Networking with people
  • Programming
  • Negotiations
  • Marketing
  • Stepping outside your comfort zone
  • Making a living without a "job"

I totally understand that things like learning languages, math and history are immensely important and should be prioritized. But so are the things above. If anything, knowing the importance of these things is important.

People are told all through their upbringing by parents and school that the only possible path in life is to get a good education and then a good job in order to get a good life. One of the main reasons so few people are inclined to think of trying entrepreneurship as a possible way of life, is because they do not see it as a possible way of life.

What if we created a new subject in school called entrepreneurship?

Orient kids about it, so that they know that "yes, some people do this, it is a great way of life, and I can do it too". Not all of the kids would become entrepreneurs, but that is fine. These skills are useful no matter what you do. And even if you are not using sales or marketing tactics yourself, it is quite useful to know when somebody else is using them against you.

I think this new subject would benefit the society of today greatly.

The story of Fyndiq's API

I did a talk the other day at Internetdagarna, on the Nordic APIs track. I talk a little about Fyndiq's API, how it has evolved and what we have learned from building our B2B API.

The Flinch

Today I read the short and free e-book The Flinch by Julien Smith, which I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago.

The book describes a very important concept when it comes to self improvement. I would say that making a habit out of going against the flinch is one of the deepest and most important habit changes you can make.

So what is the flinch? To me it is that little threshold of resistance that you feel right before you are to do something that you know that you should do, but don't feel comfortable doing. That bump of resistance you feel when you are about to go outside your comfort zone.

It could be going out for a run. The flinch tells you to stay inside and maybe plan to go for a run tomorrow instead. It could be quitting your job to fulfill you dream to start a business. Many people have this dream but they let themselves be stopped by the flinch. It could be striking up a conversation with a stranger on a five hour bus ride – you know that the ride will be very boring if you don't, but the flinch holds you back. It could be saying yes to holding a speech in front of a group of people, even though you know you will be very nervous.

I have fought the flinch for several years. In the beginning it was not very often I would win. But after years of gradual habit change I can now frequently use it to my advantage the way the book suggests. As soon as I feel the flinch I use that energy inside me to go against it. Developing this habit – to feel encouragement and excitement about going slightly outside my comfort zone every day has changed my life so incredibly much, and I am very thankful for that. Just knowing that "this is just the flinch, I will feel fantastic when I walk right through it" makes it so much easier.

This is still something I need to continue working on. Today I win over the flinch in maybe 60% of the cases. I want to get nearer 100%. But I am very happy that I have not only learned about its importance myself, I have now also found a good text on it by somebody else who discovered it.

Read the e-book (PDF here) and try for yourself.

Life is all about killing the magic

What is your meaning of life? Do you have one?

Mine is to kill all the magic and mystery. I want to lie on my deathbed totally bored with everything that exists in this world. I want to have tried everything that ever intrigued me. I want to have read all the books I wanted to read. I want to have gotten to know all kinds of people who are a mystery to me today. I want to have experienced enough to have killed all the curiosity that was ever in me.

When you are a kid, many things in this world consist of magic and mysteries. When I was a kid, the most magical things out there were computers. Over the years I killed that magic by learning everything about them. From the circuit board to the software that runs on the operating system. Today there is nothing magical or intriguing with computers to me.

Another magical thing that intrigued me in my early twenties was this society we live in. This society with power structures, political games, money, advertising, products, consumerism, law, psychology, behaviours. I have been trying to understand all these mysteries by being involved in them as much as possible. I have already killed quite a lot of the magic in this realm by starting to understand aspects of it. Some magic is still left.

When I visit new places in the world that seem magical to me, the magic gradually disappears as I get accustomed to the place, the people, the smells and the sights. Some places I need to be in for a long time before the magic starts to disappear. Some places which I have been in several times are still magical to me. I need to go back.

I still have a lot of magical things to destroy, but an important insight for me is that that is my goal in life! What is yours?

How much to read as an entrepreneur

I often think about how I have changed as a person from going through the adventure of quitting my job, starting a company, and then growing it to 50 employees. One of the most profound and unexpected things that have changed in me is my attitude towards knowledge and reading.

Before starting Fyndiq, I was a very knowledge oriented person. I read lots of books, I hung out on Hacker News every day, I read articles about how to do this and that when starting a startup. I thought all this reading was important to succeed as an entrepreneur, and also I was extremely fascinated by the startup world. I still read from time to time, but the greatest change in me is the realization that book based knowledge is not that important for starting or growing a company.

The knowledge you need to have for your startup to succeed is in general not written in books or articles. The knowledge you need will be so specific to your particular company, with your particular employees, in your particular industry, in this particular time, with your particular product, with your particular goal and vision – that you need to generate that knowledge yourself by trying stuff out and iterating.

I don't regret reading all these books and Paul Graham essays etc. They were useful because they are inspiring and because they contain important reference points. I think it might be good to start your entrepreneurial journey by reading a lot, to get a grip on what general mindset and attitude you need to have to succeed as an entrepreneur. Also, having read a lot of other startup stories, you gather reference points of milestones that they have reached that you will also reach. These milestones will be important for reassuring you that you are on the right track. It is an awesome feeling every time you experience something that you remember some role model founder of yours has written about as an important milestone!

So nowadays I don't read books and articles about entrepreneurship because I think I need the knowledge to succeed, but merely for inspiration or because I sometimes feel curious about some company or person.