Lotte Littau CEO of Creativ Company

Lotte Littau - CEO of Creativ Company

Wednesday  9. of march, Lotte Littau the CEO of the successful Danish company: Creativ Company visited me in the Though-Leader Series. Creativ Company is a 125 employee’s large company producing and selling hobby items for use in public institutions, as well as private companies with focus on creativity. Creativ Company has been rewarded the honour of being the second best place to work in Denmark, and on a European scale the 9th best place to work. These rewards are what define Creativ Company as an organization.

Creativ Company was founded out of a failed fusion from a former partnership, and the motive for establishing the company was pure revenge. As Lotte said, there are a lot of great different motives for starting a company, but one of the greatest is revenge. Usually revenge is considered an evil thing, but what revenge did for Creativ Company was to give the necessary drive to keep working hard for achieving the goal.

The first step of the start-up was a trip to the USA, attending trade-fairs to find interesting product and solutions for the foundation of the company. Lotte Littau’s husband is a farmer and one of the barns was cleaned out to make room for the first stock of Creativ Company. It took one month from idea to reality and in year 2000 the company was in business.  Since then the Company has grown out of the barn and is today in 6,500 m2 large building located in Holstebro.

One of the first success stories Lotte Littau remembers from being an entrepreneur was a record sale of DKK 6,500 on one single day. DKK 6,500 does might not seem like a lot of money, and Lotte could also admit that 6,500 is not quite enough for running the business today; however the experience had made an impact on her.

Since 2000 the company has grown to a 125 employee’s large body and the values of being a start-up has developed into organizational values. This is a challenge for every growing organization, but Creativ Company has done quite well due to great focus on the work environment. One of the reasons why Creativ Company has been rewarded honourable prices for their work environment is due to Creativ Company’s effort in creating a diverse work environment with employees of many different qualifications. At Creativ Company they have created a workshop, where 15 employees that would usually not be able to carry out a job are being helped to have a meaningful work day, while they create value for the company. Because as Lotte Littau believes; it is every company’s duty to take responsibility in the local community.

Lotto Littau presented and interesting aspect on the perception of rules: “If a rule is stupid, break it”. This statement seems to be quite representative for the way Creativ Company is doing business. The company is focused on doing things as smooth as possible and the organizational structure is very flat. The way Lotte is managing the company is with care but with demands. She expects each of her employees to take responsibility in the common wellbeing of the company. And only if the company is doing well Lotte has the opportunity to pay back the employees with social benefits. “It is short term thinking not investing socially in the employees,” that might be the greatest definition of the organizational believe that is held by Creativ Company. Not just is Lotte and Creativ Company challenging the statuesque, they do also do what others say cannot be done, and is criticised for being an unhealthy way of doing business. However Creativ Company has been steady growing since it foundation back in 2000 and is not ready to change, but ready to do better.

The students have given a lot of positive feedback on the presentation carried out by Lotte Littau, and even though Lotte explained that she is not the usual public speaker of the company, she did a very inspiring job. As Creativ Company is growing they will experience challenges, and one of them is how to remain and spread the organizational values of the company to new departments at new locations.

Lotte Littau CEO of Creativ Company and Alexander Hold
Lotte Littau CEO of Creativ Company and Alexander Hold

What Network gives you!

Alexander Hold in workshop situation

This article is a front runner for an article about my visit to Vilnius, Lithuania, that I will publish during one of the next days. So stay tuned!

I have a motto sounding: “Network is Power” and have you followed me on the web, you will probably have noticed the phrase used a couple of times. I strongly believe that this sentence is true, and here follows a definition as well as an explanation.

For clarity of the subject we need to define Network, and there are among expert in the field of networking discussions about whether or not network is an actual action or a lifestyle. Both definitions seem reasonable as in corporation they harmonize and either of them can be excluded. Living networking, you need to take certain actions to fulfill the lifestyle, and if you take actions on networking it seems reasonable to say that you already are living the lifestyle.

Networking requires two basic skills which is the ability to listen and the ability to contribute to a discussion. When you possess these skills you can take action and you can start live you active lifestyle as a strong networker. Various authors have written interesting books on the matter on becoming a good networker, but the aspect that I have chosen to focus on in this article is what actions on creating a great network can give you.

What network gives you?

There are many opportunities for creating network both actively and also more randomly. Randomly is more connected to a lifestyle point of view, where general arrangement in listening carefully and communicate with the people around you. More actively you can join various networks and seek networking with likeminded people as yourself.

Personally I joined the Danish Young Enterprise Alumni Organization (YEAD) back in 2008 and I became a member of strong Danish network with entrepreneurial minded people like myself. My membership was an active action on creating a network and today I am thankful for what the network has given me. Through YEAD I was quickly introduced to the European Junior Achievement / Young Enterprise Alumni Network which opened a door to a European network with connections all over Europe.

What this network have given me is unbelievable, and not just can I claim that I have contacts and friends all over Europe. I have also traveled around to various locations and attended exclusive events and been educated by some of Europe’s most successful business- men and women. Since I joined YEAD as my first real network I have experienced more than I could ever have thought possible and I have made friends with some of the most inspiring people I have ever meet.

So why join a network!

My best argument for why you should join a network of any kind that interest you, is that you get on the mailing list and you start receiving exclusive opportunities that you would not have gotten elsewhere. As soon as you are in the inner circle a whole new world will open for you and things that you thought impossible or unbelievable suddenly seems possible and believable.

Network is a future investment!

I started out with “Network is Power” and I will end with “Network is Power”. Because on a future perspective your created network will might be good for other things than great experiences.You never know if the friend or connection you make today will end up being the CEO of a successful company that you will do business with in the future. Having established that relation will give you a head start in a future business situation and Network suddenly becomes a very powerful tool.

Network is Power but do not forget the basic skills of networking. You need to be able to contribute as well as receive.

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(09-10-2010) The article about my trip to Vilnius is now online and can be found right here an Alumni fairy-tale

Jan A. Nielsen Scan-Speak

Today Jan A. Nielsen the CEO of Scan-Speak visited Aarhus University Institute of Business and Technology. Scan-Speak were for many of the participating students a well-kept secret, and when Jan asked all who knew what Scan-Speak were manufacturing to raise their hand, only two did.

Jan A. Nielsen used to be like many students are today, confused about what to do with his life, which resulted in that he became a state authorized accountant. It however clear that he had no interest in working as an accountant and instead he were hired as financial director in Vifa, which today is known as Scan-Speak.

From here Jan’s story just took off, and became much more exciting. A company that no one in the audience really knew of, turned out to have a turbulent story with economic problems and shifting ownerships. But as all good stories should end, the story of Scan-Speak also turned out to have a happy ending when Jan bought the company in 2009.

Jan A. Nielsen was full of experiences that he wanted to share with the students, and a thing he had learned from his carrier was “never to stay too long in the same company. “ If you want to develop as a person, you need to seek challenges. Some companies are really good at challenging their employees, but sadly there are also a lot of companies that do not. Too many employees develop habits in their current position, and when that happens, it is a good indicator for seeking new challenges. Jan took on his own challenge, when he decided to move him and his family to USA, for a year.

Jan mentioned Nike’s slogan “just do it” as one of his personal lessons. It was matched with his hope of everyone being passionate about what they do. Not just in their spare time but everywhere and with everything they do.  His last personal lesson was to acquire a wide range of knowledge while studying, simply because of his belief that the final specialization happens in the company. A recommendation was to find a mentor that could help you see your weaknesses, so you knew where to do better.

It was a huge pleasure to have Jan as guest at the University, and hopefully we will be able to bring him back at some other time, to tell another exciting real life story.

Next Thought-Leader Seminar is Wednesday 5th of May 2010 – at 14:45 to 16:00 in Unimerco Auditorium – Aarhus University Institute of Business and Technology.

Alexander Hold with Jan A. Nielsen CEO of Scan-Speak
Alexander Hold with Jan A. Nielsen CEO of Scan-Speak