He is a specialized communication consultant, public speaker, a well-known blogger and a startup entrepreneur. For Johan Ronnestam, this variety of projects is what brings him pleasure, and what eventually enables him to become free. Let’s hear more on his philosophy and ways of achieving his goals.
Hi Johan. Is it ok to say that you have a split work personality?
Haha well if you want to. It’s true that I have a big problem telling people what it is that I do, since I’m dealing with a variety of very different projects simultaneously. That was one of the reasons why I started my blog… so I could simply tell people to go there and read about me, instead of explaining everything.
So let’s say we don’t want to read your blog right now. How would you introduce yourself?
Well, ok. I have been working with the Internet in one or another way since 1993, and I had the privilege to be able to do projects for some of the world’s biggest brands, both regarding advertising and communication but also in the field of business development and online/offline strategies. I tend to say that I do three things: I consult for different businesses, I do public speaking gigs and I am an entrepreneur, being involved in a couple of startups, one of them JAJDO, which develops iPad apps for kids.
How do clients who want you for consulting find you?
Primarily through word of mouth. After they have heard about me through somebody else, they usually go on the web and google me, and then they find my blog and can get to know me a bit better before getting in touch with me.
Considering your different activities one has to wonder if you simply stumbled into this situation working simultaneously in very different fields or if that was a deliberate decision of yours?
It was totally deliberate. When I started to blog some people told me that I need more focus. But I replied to them that I don’t do this to make business, I just try to shape my life so I have fun. And I have fun doing lots of things.
You don’t find it hard to prioritize all the time? Like when a client wants your help but you are preparing an important speech or working with your startup?
When I take assignments I am very clear with communicating that the client needs to follow my agenda.
That sounds as if you managed to build up quite a reputation. What’s your secret?
I would say it’s a mix of things. I got the chance to work with Nike Football in Europe in the 90s as well as with some other big global brands, which helped me to get noticed and increase my network. Also, my blog which I launched in 2007 has helped me to show people what I am good at. For example, I am a passionate designer, but telling somebody might not be convincing enough. Instead, I can show my creations. Also, my speaking gigs have helped me to spread the word. And when blogging, I try to publish my own thoughts, ideas and theories, not only linking to others. That’s important I think because it enables you to become and authority in your area of expertise.
What’s your thoughts on the state of social media?
Everything is maturing. And it hasn’t really happened so much during the past two years, at least nothing that really “WOWs” me. ; )
You are hoping for bigger changes?
It would make things a bit more exciting again. It was different in 2007 when all those new sites and services became big, like Facebook and Twitter. Now there are still new services, but often they do the same thing as the past ones. I also notice an increasing fragmentation. Everybody is using different services. You could say that social media is going through the same process as traditional media did – one newspaper was replaced by 1000 digital services, now 1000 big digital services are replaced by 10.000 small services. A couple of big things become many small things. The problem with fragmentation is that even the potential audience is fragmented. User driven content relies on people feeling that someone else is listening or reading. If people lack this feeling they stop publishing. Two years ago you had 50 great blogs in Sweden that were updated daily. Now that number has shrunk to 5. That means less linking and less engagement for everyone blogging in Sweden. But lets see how everything will change again with the next radical evolution that is already in sight: mobile.
…which is where you are heading with your own startup JAJDO.
Exactly. We are three guys running JAJDO, developing iPad apps for children. My co-founder Andreas and I kickstarted tons of smaller initiatives in the past and one day we decided to dedicate our time to a “real” startup. The big companies had overlooked this part of the gaming market which made it easier to build apps with only a very small team. We called our friend Jonas and went ahead. Today we invest about 3 days a week into JAJDO. It’s one brand and one engine in the background but we want to publish different apps. Of course we made a lot of beginner’s mistakes. One app we are going to launch is delayed 20 weeks. But we are not really under pressure since we are bootstrapping, thanks to our consulting jobs.
What’s your goal with being an entrepreneur?
If you are running a digital company with money from your own pocket, you are free to do what you want. You can go and surf while the company is running without you for a while. My goal in life is to become free (I blogged about that once). Another aspect is that by developing apps for children you can have a good conscious about what you’re doing, even if it would make you rich. We have more than 100.000 app downloads. I know that there are 70.000 or 80.000 children that got happy while playing with JAJDO. That’s a great feeling and something to be proud of. I hope we come to the point that we will be able to live off the app completely.
How much are your own kids involved in testing?
A lot. Often when we get close to launching the app they are already bored by it because they have been using it for such a long time, so I need to find new kids then to test it.