Johan Staël von Holstein - Interview 

Johan Staël von Holstein, host

Johan Staël von Holstein is a renown IT entrepreneur, book author, and media personality.  He has a background in information technology and marketing management.

A vocal advocate of technological change, he has been an active part of Swedish society establishing an optimistic dialogue on the impacts associated with new and emerging technologies and the Internet to help design a positive future.

Johan will host TEDxGöteborg 2017, because who else is better suited when it becomes to promoting positive ideas for a bright future and a brave new world?

Find out more about Johan in the interview below.

You are a quite a renowned entrepreneur within the IT sector in Sweden. How would you describe yourself to the younger generations who might not know you?

A: I am an internet evangelist and serial entrepreneur. I was a visionary describing where the internet was going from 1995 onwards and my company was one of the creators of what it became. When I started working with internet related technologies in the mid-nineties, the world wide web was what really changed the internet and made it really accessible and understandable by non-tech savvy individuals. The impact and changes have been absolutely tremendous. 

Right now, there is a new phase of the internet which is based on blockchain technology, which I think will become even more disruptive and even more revolutionary than the world wide web was. My job is to help to facilitate the knowledge of our technological advancements and that means facilitating people’s understanding and knowledge of what it is and how it can be used. I believe that in the next few years it will be incredibly interesting to see what will actually come out of it. 

One word that has been associated with you and that has been used in describing you is "iconoclast." How do you feel about that? 

A: Yes, that is a good description. I am disruptive in my approach to everything I do. I think change is good for the sake of change - everything becomes better through change. I have a very different point of view of things. I am a contrarian, so to speak, to many things and to the way we live. I think it is very easy to fall into old patterns and do things just because it has always been that way, whereas in my opinion processes and patterns needs to be questioned and disrupted.

Why are people afraid of change?

A: I would look at it historically. Change has never been negative. Humanity has, ever since, constantly been part of a series change and development. But the fear of change had never any relevance because the consequences always meant improvements. Of course, there will be a lot of risks involved. I can foresee revolutions, but we will learn to adjust and get the good things out of technological advancements for the sake of building a better society.

What are you up to these days, anything exciting going on?

A: Yes, a number of things. I run a small venture company called Speed Ventures, which is at an early founding stage. I lecture a lot because I really enjoy it, and then I run a charity project where I gather with people from all sorts of backgrounds and discuss different topics. The ambition is to be really positive about technological advancements and changes in general in order to break any negative sentiments within our society about where we are going and what is happening. Currently, I also try to be the best in gaining an understanding of what blockchain will mean for the future.

At TEDxGöteborg, we are all about spreading great and innovative ideas. What do you think about ideas in general - does a good idea need help or is it able to promote itself?

A: I think good ideas need to be spread so they will survive and come through. I think a positive attitude and inspiration is needed and that is why it is important that good ideas need to be promoted. It is crucial that people are engaged and are positive towards spreading positive ideas. Right now, a lot of negative ideas are spread because a lot of people are afraid of what change causes. The older we get, the more afraid we become of changes, and that applies to everyone.

From time to time when a generation of very creative people and opinion leaders within the tech sector get old, society tends to hang on to them instead of moving on to the next generation. This is precisely what we should do, we shouldn’t listen to Bill Gates anymore, it is very dangerous to listen to frightened people that lack the ability and creativity to adjust to technological advancement, we should listen to the young and creatives. It is important to be optimistic and go with the flow and adjust to change.