40 is the new 39/Teachers, leave those kids alone

Today I am 40. Halfway dead. And halfway dead should lead to some reflection. No, I’m not getting the red cabriolet. I said reflection, not desperation.

November 22, 2017

Share this article

When reflecting I see my life in four distinct phases

0-10 years: From baby to kid to young adult. Constantly learning and exploring the world with a healthy dose of naivety and stupidity. Nothing to lose, and nothing to win = super happy.

10-20 years: School takes over as the primary source of influence, and even though I was quite good at “school-stuff”, I did not feel most of what I learned was relevant or interesting, and this was not a very happy phase. Everything to lose, and nothing to win = unhappy.

20-30 years: Out of the first phase of school I start to find my place in the world, moved to the capital, and started to work. First as a head buyer for a record store chain, then, after some years at Copenhagen Business School, I fell backwards into tech as head buyer at a mobile content company. Nothing to lose, and everything to win = happy.

30-40 years: Within the same company I moved from mobile content to music streaming in WiMP - later rebranded to TIDAL. Jay Z acquired TIDAL as Thomas (which I met at Copenhagen Business School) and I founded Unacast. A decade of constant ups and downs as I take on new challenges, but where each down is less down than the previous down and each up is more up than the previous up. Everything to lose, and everything to win = super happy.

Happy Graphday

Happiness level

When I, in a very unscientific way, try to plot my happiness levels per these major phases I get something like this.

The first ten years just exploding in happiness as the world was discovered, and plummets as the school bell rings, and slowly picking up to pre-school levels through ups and downs through the following phases as described above.

Learning level

When I, in a still very unscientific way, to try to plot my (relevant) learning levels per these major phases I get something like this.

The first ten years just exploding in learning as the world was discovered, and plummets as the school bell rings, and slowly and steadily picking up to pre-school levels as I constantly learn more about the world, myself, and how those two are connected (and often not connected at all).

Let’s combine Happiness and Learning

The correlation and conclusion is obvious. 

Now, let's make a wish - or rather two of them.

My two birthday wishes

Today I am 40. Halfway dead. And fully alive. I have only two wishes for my birthday:

Wish 1: To keep learning, as learning (meaning relevant learning) obviously makes me happy. I am year by year working my back up to the happiness level I experienced the first ten years of my life. From my perspective that would be quite the accomplishment.

Constantly learning and exploring the world with a healthy dose of naivety and stupidity. Everything to lose, and everything to win = super happy.

Wish 2: That we take a long, hard look at our school system. Are we providing the skills our kids need to navigate society today and decades from now? Are we optimising for happiness and learning intertwined? Are we?

Everything to lose, and nothing to win = unhappy.