“There has to be room for a little madness in your life…”

This month, Christian Stadil reveals what it takes to be a multitasking Scandinavian business superman – and oddly, the secret to getting loads done doesn’t involve turning yourself into a machine.

Is there such a thing as being too much of a Renaissance man? If so, Christian Stadil is definitely guilty. And yet, the owner of sports fashion brand Hummel, who moonlights as chairman of Danish conglomerate Thornico, TV personality, and author of books on management, somehow seems to keep all the plates spinning. Not only that: the 43-year-old has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, mastered several martial arts and is a committed Buddhist, as well as a family man. It just goes to show how good he is at multitasking that he found time to teach us the hard-earned lessons he’s picked up along the way…

Know your limits “Having ambition is a very good thing, but you need to also appreciate just what you’re taking on. With Hummel, we tried to launch into the American market and made a big mistake. We had thought of it as one big territory and tried to attack it all at the same time; however, our marketing eff orts and sales fell short. We should have actually focused on individual regions. The best way of eating an elephant is doing it one piece at a time.”

Communicate effectively “My favourite country in the world is Japan, but it’s a place where you can easily do the wrong thing at the wrong time. I regularly hire a translator over there, but even they can let you down. I would go and visit clients where I would go into the inspiration behind our designs – talking at length about the mountains and wildlife and whatever – and the translator would just point and say one or two words. It turned out that while I was doing all the singing and dancing, he would just say ‘jacket’ or ‘T-shirt’ or ‘hoodie’.”

Stay focused “I turned 43 this year and what I’ve learned in over 20 years in business is that if you try to chase two rabbits, you don’t catch any. It gets to the stage that you have to prioritise things. I’m involved in so many projects, but I’m also a husband and father, and that forces me to choose how I spend my time.”

I believe in company karma… “It’s good to earn money, but things become interesting when you choose to do good with it. It’s why we stepped in to finance the Afghan Women’s National Football team, and arranged a match between them and the women of ISAF [International Security Assistance Force]. We had death threats and the security services advised us not to do it, but we persevered. We believe we can change the world through sport.”

Think laterally “Talking of Afghanistan, we also actually sponsor the national football federation over there. We can’t sponsor any teams that play in the World Cup, because it’s too expensive for us, but the flipside is that the big brands can’t support the Afghanistan team because for them it’s too politically sensitive. As a smaller brand, we’re able to be more agile and can think a little differently.”

Lead, don’t manage “If you’re not passionate about what you do, your staff won’t be convinced either. I have many managers working for me and many are better at management than I am – I like to think that my job is to add a bit of spice or a bit of vision to the company. I am involved with so many organisations, but I make time to regularly turn up to all of them.”

The way you dress can be deceptive, so make the most of it “I was 30 when I bought Hummel, and I had what I guess you could call an individual fashion sense, with very avant-garde clothes. I would go and see our big, key accounts and they would very often talk to me as if I was a company designer or just some strange guy. It gave me an undercover opportunity to find out how things work.”

Be human “It’s common for busy execs to focus just on work or working out, but there also has to be room for a little madness in your life, so I recommend following your inner moonlight a little. We are all different and we should embrace our individuality. Plus, we have to create teams that comprise young and old, gay and straight. We have to balance on the edge of the box a little.”

Provide a decent workplace “It’s easy to cut the cost in almost every part of the working environment, but it’s a very counterproductive thing to do. We invest in things like Roskilde [world’s second biggest music festival], and while it’s primarily a commercial venture, many of our staff like to get involved and enjoy the atmosphere. And they also think it’s a pretty cool thing to do. We’ve had company days and given out prizes for costumes, and I think it makes us all a little more human.”

Fitness matters “I used to be a fitness instructor in the armed forces, and I’m a black belt in taekwondo. That positive attitude towards physical fitness has never left me. In fact, for me, a sound mind is very much the product of a sound body. Can you perform to your best abilities if you’re not in great shape?”

One step at a time “A few years ago, I climbed Mount Aconcagua, which is almost 7,000m, making it the tallest mountain on the American continent. It was useful for me to be mindful and present on the journey itself, rather than the destination. Had I focused on the peak, I would have missed the entire experience. Walking is one of the greatest catalysts for creativity.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: https://ink-global.com/our-clients/portfolio/easyjet-traveller/