A Beer With A Complete Stranger Shaped Enuda’s Foundation

June 23, 2021

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Jan Madsen

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 It’s no surprise: starting and developing a business as Enuda involves many decisions. 

I frequently get questions like: “How did you decide on the strategy?” 

The honest answer is… I didn’t.

The word “strategy” is up there with the other super scary concepts like The Boogeyman. As a starting entrepreneur, you will hear people tell you “you need a strategy”. The fascinating thing is that most of that sort of advice comes from people and organisations who have never in their entire life started anything. 

In this blog post, as well as the next 2 of this series, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of running a business like Enuda – the good and the bad, the everyday stuff, and my secrets to a successful business.

What is strategy anyway?

To this very day, I still struggle to provide clear and concise definitions of core concepts like strategy, tactics, vision, and mission. So, instead of wasting a lot of time and energy on these issues, I focus on decisions.

I use a mental model to divide decisions into two very different categories: irreversible decisions and two-way door decisions. And I have learned that the latter category is by far the most dominant. 

Irreversible decisions are like crossroads – either you turn left or you turn right, and there is no option to reverse. 

Two-way door decisions are different – decide and test something, and if it doesn’t work, go back to where you started. 

The difference is noticeable, and in reality, the two-way door decisions by far outnumber the irreversible ones. But because we often fear making the wrong decision, we hold back, wait for more information, or seek more knowledge.

Inaction might give you hope for something better, but more often than not, it only leads to wasted time. Sure, think it through as much as you can, but don’t go down a useless rabbit hole of overthinking. Make the move, see what happens, and go from there. 

The business is the sum of irreversible decisions

Using this mental model of dividing decisions into these two distinct categories has been pivotal for the development of Enuda. 

The irreversible decisions design the company’s core – these are things that are (hopefully) well thought through and define the business.

One example of an irreversible decision from the very beginning is this: most business is personal. That was proven to me decades ago, and I immediately realised that it was a transformational moment. 

The DeConynck test – can we have a beer?

Many years back, I learned that “organisations do not cooperate – people do.” 

And like in all other walks of life, not all people are friendly. Some are just plain assholes, and I want to waste neither my time nor the business activities on those folks.

Roughly 20 years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about this simple fact. 

I worked as an International Project Manager for a huge consulting company and I was responsible for staffing some significant projects. They recommended a person from Belgium to me for an assignment, so I contacted him and offered him a freelance contract for some months. 

His reply surprised me… to say the least. 

The gentleman, Henry DeConynck, was very polite and said something like this to me: 

“Jan, you pay the airfare, the hotel, and the beer and then I will come to Copenhagen tomorrow to meet you for a couple of beers.”

It goes without saying, we had a great evening together and worked on several projects after that. 

His approach was equally simple and effective: only work together with people when you are happy to have a few beers with them. 

The lesson has stayed with me to this very day, and those working closely with me know that today I call it my “Deconynck test”. 

Unfortunately, some people act more like the Dementors from Harry Potter than human beings and can make any form of business cooperation miserable. So far, the “Deconynck test” and this simple approach have resulted in us saying “thanks, but no thanks” twice to potential clients.

Life is short. Why fill it with human encounters that drain the energy out of you? 

This decision has a profound impact and is at the core of what it means to do business with Enuda. 

In Enuda, business is personal

We are not saints or infallible humans. We err and make mistakes every single day. 

But we act like human beings. And yes, we accept that sometimes there is a cost to such a profound irreversible decision. 

I made this decision and I stand by it because this super simple approach also means that all our client relationships are human relationships with mutual respect and decency. We don’t have any assholes on our client list!

“The world does not necessarily need more great artists. It needs more decent human beings.”

Austin Kleon

Written by Jan Madsen,
founder of Enuda

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