Torbjorn Zetterlund

Fri 03 2021

23360 days old and counting

by bernt & torsten

I achieved 64 years (23360 days) this week. Here are some brilliant reflections: what is life about? I think a balance between knowledge building and connections.

I did not know what I wanted to do in my life before I was introduced to software development. Before that, I worked in construction, as a delivery truck driver and in the post office sorting mailbags.

I believe anyone can do almost anything if they want it and are motivated enough.

I got into software development by getting bored driving a truck, so I applied to a 1-year long college course in Administrative Data Processing and learned computer programming.

I have worked with software development for 41 years (14,965 days) and counting this week. I got started as a 23-year-old in 1980.

I have lived in 4 countries Sweden (Stockholm), United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Canada (Toronto) and The Netherlands (Amsterdam).

As the demand for Computer Programmers was high in 1980, I could choose which company to work for, so I joined WM-Data Consulting in Stockholm, Sweden.

My one and only client working for WM-Data from 1981 to 1987 were Philips Telecommunication in Sweden. That was when my Dutch connection started.

I joined Philips Telecommunication in 1987 in the Dubai office, working as a self-service banking product specialist delivering self-service banking projects in the Middle East.

I moved to Canada in 1994 from Dubai and joined Oasis Technology, a startup company in electronic payment software solutions for banks and retailers.

In 2011 I moved to The Netherlands and continued developing software and big data solutions.

I have spent 78,720 hours over 41 years with software solutions. I have based that number on working 1,920 hours in a year on a typical 40-hour workweek multiplied by 48 working weeks in a year, as I always ensured that I had four weeks of vacation. It is probably much more hours spent working, I settle with this.

I was part of the electronic payment industry that enabled the global reach of debit and credit cards to all, so we could travel and use bankcards worldwide. I have visited 75 countries primarily for work.

I learned that there are the poor, the middle class, and the wealthy in this world. The wealthy belong to an exclusive club of “movers” and “shakers.” But for the poor and middle class, their battles and accomplishments forge and shape their identities

I learned humans are predictable creatures of habit and habits and can be transformed in an instant, in fact, faster and more potent than an instant cup of coffee.

I learnt that management and leadership are two different things and that we mix them up. Management is focused on bottom-line outcomes, measurement and efficiencies, which are often losing fit for purpose. Most new managers think that becoming a manager is a “graduation.” The truth is, it’s the reverse.

I learnt that as a manager, to be a good communicator, you need to be a good listener. As a manager, you have to allow time for others to speak. as a manager, you need to clearly understand the organization’s vision and share it with the team in a way that motivates them. The manager keeps the team up-to-date on what’s happening in the organization.

I learnt that the best managers in software technology are the ones who have high technical skills, you definitely shouldn’t be the best technical person in the team, you should be the one facilitating the growth of that technical talent.

A leader works for their employees and has to understand what the employees want at a deep level. A leader has to constantly adapt to employees’ needs and what they want from the organization.

I learned that employee evaluations are a waste of time. An executive, a manager, and a team leader should know their people well and manage them as a sports team. Knowing the strength and weaknesses of each individual and training each employee in the area of their weakness to make a cohesive team.

Being a team lead, manager, executive, or business owner does not make you more critical. Everyone is equally important, and the important thing is recognizing the people around you and making them feel good.

I leant that most managers are not well suited to managing people, look at yourself only because you are slick in your communication and managing internal politics to position yourself does not mean you will be a good manager.

When managing employees, I learnt that I should surround myself with ambitious and more skilled individuals than myself, given a more effective delivery of projects and work. It took me a long time to get there, as I often got into different roles over my career. I was not always skilled or suited for the roles I was bestowed, so I had to learn on the job. I discovered the best way to learn on the job is to have stronger people around you.

I learnt that we bestow leadership onto the great because we know they are capable and can be trusted to act on behalf of the group, however, we’re often tricked by those who only seek leadership to gain the power to improve their situation.

I learnt that employees only care about 3 things even if surveys may say something else: 1) being able to pay the bills and have some money left over, 2) having time to spend with family and friends, and 3) having a job that doesn’t screw over people. Some people care about one extra thing, which is 4) moving ahead of the other employees.

I learnt that you should be careful in promoting your best employees. You may weekend the team you have by promotion, and there are other ways to recognize your best employees, so they stay motivated.

I learnt that too much organizational process stifles innovation. Even if you are the tax authorities, you need to allow employees to improve ways of working by allowing for innovation, even tweaking a process.

I have more hair in my ears and nose, so my ears and the inside of my nose will be warmer this winter.

I know more and more people but recall fewer names. I’m not too fond of introductions.

I think that everyone on the planet can do anything as long as they want to do it.

I am wiser but keep forgetting it.

I’m the most valuable employee I’ll ever be, yet less motivated than ever.

I learnt that we are all the same regardless of where we are born.

We have all the exact needs, the essentials being shelter and food

I learnt that humans are very self-centric and think about themself and their families and very little about others, with some exceptions. This view will not help us in the future in adjusting ourselves to climate change. There will be an abrupt realization in the future with conflicts.

I learnt that we live in social bubbles like family, friends, work and fun, and we need to burst these bubbles to get more out of life.

I learnt that in Europe, where I have lived most of my life, we are very spoiled by having more money than we need, even the poor in the west are very well off compared with people in poorer countries, so we spend it on all unnecessary things for our enjoyment.

I started to compile a list of food recipes on a website I set up named dadshomecooked. The site is set up in honour of all the moms, grandmothers, and dads, grandfathers who pass on recipes to the next generation.

I’m worried about the future of this beautiful planet of ours.

I learned to enjoy life fully and not hang up on pettiness.

I have no trust in elected politicians guiding us through climate change’s biggest threat to our planet. And that politicians worldwide will take the right actions to change our societies to a more sustainable future.

About My Generation

My Generation will never return when we are gone, we lived in the best time that earth had to offer mankind.

A generation walked to school, no one was driven to school.

A generation did their homework independently to get out on the street to play as soon as possible.

A generation that spent all its free time on the street with its friends.

A generation played hide and seek in the dark.

A generation that collected sports cards.

A generation that bought vinyl albums to play on record players.

A generation that collected photos and albums from their childhood life experiences.

A generation that played board games and played cards on rainy days.

A generation with only two TV channels and 2 hours of TV for the age groups.

I loved growing up during this time, we had so much freedom to do what we wanted, and my generation had the best times.

I am from a generation that is passing and unfortunately, it will never return!!..