“Stop working and start living”


Peter “Peppe” Ekmark

From a shy guy with poor self-confidence to a successful leader with fantastic results and nominations as “Manager of the Year”. We have interviewed the inspirer and the author of the top-selling book “Sälja bra eller sälja bäst “, Peter “Peppe” Ekmark. To HR2 Mentor he talks about leadership and how he managed to turn red numbers into green ones.

Tell us about yourself!
– I started working as a salesman when I was very young, thought that sales was a lot of fun. And when you think something is fun, you often get good at it! After x number of years, I got a top job in sales and worked at TV3 and MTV. This was a great time in my life. The job went well and I had the privilege of meeting some incredibly exciting people. A dinner with Laura Pausini – just being one of those! There was a lot going around me at that point and it looked like I had the most amazing job. In the middle of my career, when I made good money and everything should have been at its peak, I hit rock-bottom. I ended up in a life-crisis and went through a divorce. It’s then I decided to take a course and that course changed my whole life.

Peppe says that, before he got the outlook on life that the course gave him, he was a shy, trapped and jealous person. A person who, from time to time, was so down and unhappy that there have been thoughts of suicide. He explains that the life he lived was the life he believed others expected him to live.

What kind of course was it?
– The course was called sex, intimacy and desire. Maybe not what you expect, but it was about getting in touch with yourself and your feelings as well as how we treat people. We humans work in a way so that we judge others based on our own experiences. There and then I realised something very valuable, namely that all people are amazing! What if you can learn more about those you do not connect with? Learn from their mind-set. This was really a course for myself, but it also proved to be the world’s best leadership course. Because if I can lead myself on the right path, I will also be able to lead others. And in order to do that, we need to understand how we humans work.

What did you learn?
– What I realised was twofold. Number one was that my philosophy before was that I thought I was the only one in the world who felt bad – what I learned was that every person has things in their luggage. For me it could be that when I was not invited to a party I thought nobody wanted me and that I was ugly and fat. Those are worthless thoughts. Number two: when I realised that others also felt like this, I found the amazing desire to get to know others on a deeper level. I’m just saying this: get out there and show people who you are!

What happened after the course?
– I was better but eventually I ended up in a group where they worked a lot with management by fear. It was not good for the department I started to work with and I refused to use management by fear. I was thinking a lot about what I could do and went back to what I had learned on the course. It was about being open and daring to be vulnerable to each other, to create trust. I tested it in my leadership and the results were magical.

Can you give an example?
– Yes, my experience with poor self-confidence, suicidal thoughts and feeling confinement has made me good at connecting with people with poor self-esteem. I had an employee with whom I worked with. He was a wonderful person in every way but he had such poor self-esteem. Every night for a year I talked to him one hour on the phone and coached him. Eventually, my wife asked me: How can you spend so much time on him? Of course, my answer was: Don’t you understand? He is what makes me successful! That is exactly what you got to have – get all employees to be seen, heard and appreciated. This is also why I think so much about HR2 Mentor!

How has your leadership been received?
– I have had to fight hard to get people to understand the importance of building their leadership on relationships. I have even been mockingly called “velvetpeppe” – because they think this is too soft. What you miss is, however, that it is about mass courage to dare to go and think in new ways. A wise woman once told me: remember one thing, the more successful you become the more enemies you will get. I thought a lot about it when I faced opposition because at the same time no one wanted me to stop working the way I did because it gave such great results. Today, almost 20 years later, I still get happy emails from old employees from that time in my life. I also know that you continue to work along a nicer leadership that is based on trust and trust in the organizations I have been in.

Have you always known that happy employees give good results?
– It has always been with me somehow. I don’t know exactly when it started but it became so incredibly clear when I really dared to be a kind man. I think everyone is honestly and what I did was that I dared to be myself.

What do you recommend other managers do more of?
– All individuals must be seen and heard – one cannot lead an individual from a group.We people have similar needs but in different degrees. When we get these needs satisfied 100%, we all want to participate and contribute. Do you dare tell me what you are really afraid of in life? The more you dare to share, the more you will get back. It is the only way to achieve success for real and get really committed employees.

You have named your new book “Sluta jobba, börja leva”. What does it mean?
– Don’t stop working – start enjoying more. We should not go to work and be afraid, we should go to the job that we want. To perform and be involved in that job!


We know that you want to be a committed workplace. But there is a difference between wanting and doing. Mentor fits all kind of industries and helps you simplify your processes so that you can succeed with your strategies.