Reimagining The Social Networking Experience
In This Podcast
- Getting closer to the people you care about
- Gozamm as a platform for change
- The importance of human connection
- Create human change within organisations
- The future according to Johan
- Advice to leaders and organisations
Johan Premfors is an unconventional entrepreneur with a global experience that is hard to match. He has moved from investment banking to post conflict reconstruction, to building a global coaching school. And today, his focus is on mental health and his and his wife’s passion project, Gozamm, a technological platform that will forever change how we consume life changing content, and also how you grow with the people you care most about.
Changing how we consume content with Johan Premfors
Johan Premfors is a disillusioned banker, moving from there to the Fourth World entrepreneur and developer, to becoming a faculty member of a coaching training institute in California. He’s built many interesting companies along the way, everything from furniture manufacturing to advanced telecom. And geographically, he’s moved around quite a bit as well, from Freetown and Sierra Leone, to Kabul, meeting a lot of inspiring and meaningful people along the way.
But right now, his focus is on mental health and his and his wife’s passion project, Gozamm, a technological platform that will forever change how we consume life changing content, and also how you grow with the people you care most about.
So why has he stopped moving, and what are the drivers behind Gozamm?
“When I was very young, growing up in Sweden, feeling that I never belonged, I couldn’t fit in, I was always too loud, I was always too different. And I felt that I had to see if I could find my tribe somewhere else, which I did. And at 13, I moved to Pakistan.”
From there he moved back to Sweden, to Kenya, to Turkey and on and on. The world was so big, says Johan, and full of so much information, he felt compelled to simply go out and tap into that, meeting the most incredible people along the way.
“It’s a very wide product. It’s really for anybody who is searching for anything. We realised after being in the coaching industry for close to two decades, that people are always searching and people are not finding the right answer.”
With more information than ever before readily available and accessible through the internet, you can literally find something about anything, yet people are unhappy. Mental health is on the decline.
“Young children are taking medication for depression, especially in the United States, in France and in Sweden. So we just wanted to make great information available to as many people as possible, at no cost.”
Because at the moment, if you want to access really great information, Johan uses the example of Merrill Lynch which has developed incredible training programmes, or the coaching world where, if you can afford it, you can pay someone to develop you as a human. But if you can’t afford to attend these courses, or you don’t work for a great company, how do you access this information?
If your child is depressed, or being bullied, or you’re not feeling great about your relationship, where can you go to get answers without paying a psychologist or therapist for it?
Which is where Gozamm comes in.
They’ve created a ‘content council’, which has everything from a professor of economics all the way to thought leaders in the coaching industry, professors of global health, and people who have worked in Afghanistan and Burundi. Their aim is to create an entertaining platform packed full of information, based on science, based on impact, that is easily digestible.
“This project has been growing since 2009, when my wife started a parenting programme. She wanted to give parents better information, coaching skills that they can use in families, because we realised that if parents aren’t creating a safe environment for their children, those kids grow up to be exactly like their parents, they don’t feel safe to explore who they really are.”
Getting closer to the people you care about
“We’ve created the relation-verse, which is like a universe, but it contains the people that you care about the most.”
You basically bring the people you care about into your visual universe, and through this universe, you interact with them, share stories and information with them, message them, do quizzes etc.
“We have built in telemetry, so you can see how much time you spent, you can see the type of or the quality of that relationship. So the idea is that you can start to pay attention to the individual relationships, and start to build that and start to realise, oh, there’s a weakness over here.”
At the moment the platform is invite only, but it’s soon going to be available to all, and it’s going to be free.
“This is not some sort of a marketing trick that we do to lure you in to create the sales funnel, we do want to convert the people that want to get into more niche content, and more nice experiences. And there will be a paid version. But you can, as a normal user, use Gozamm for life for free.”
Free as in actually free, not free as in Facebook and Google free that sell your data, sell advertising. This is a product that puts you at the centre, focusing on creating a better UX for you.
Gozamm as a platform for change
Johan believes we need to move away from the problem/solution model. Too often we see a problem and try to fix it, and we only fix it on a superficial level, or we’re barking up the wrong tree.
“We need to look deeper, we need to equip people with better skills, we need to raise the skill level. Our vision statement within the company is upskilling humanity. It’s giving people skills, allowing people to find tools that would really help them change things. And to do that we need to go to the root cause.”
The platform aims to help people really look at their lives, to see the things that shaped them, to identify what they need to adjust in order to create the change they want to see. Not just to become happier or wealthier, or more successful, those are old paradigms we need to move away from.
The importance of human connection
For Johan, the most important thing is human connection. When he’s with someone, he wants that person to not just feel good, but to see something in themselves.
“I don’t care if the person is a beggar on the street, or if the person is a multi billionaire who owns a basketball team, I really don’t care when I’m with the person, in the moment. I’m so willing to go all the way to make them see themselves in that moment.”
But his drive for connection has also made him become selective in the people he has around him, in which networks he chooses to belong to.
“That’s a hard thing to do for somebody, I’m a total extrovert, I want everybody in my life. But I have been forced to kind of start to be very selective. And say no to a lot of things.”
Create human change within organisations
If business is to be a force for good, an instrument for great change, then we need to focus on the human elements of the business, says Johan.
Yes, there are the Elon Musks of the world, creating enormous technical change and innovation, but if you choose to create a cultural change – change the knowledge, change the upskilling of humanity, we will change the world.
“We spend the majority of our time at work, not even with our family, five days a week, most people go to work from eight to five or nine to six. We have the opportunity to create a safe space for people to learn to grow… We have an opportunity to not only enforce change, but to encourage learning.”
By learning he means learning values, learning how to communicate, how to pick up cues, how to listen, how to be heard, how to make sure people don’t misunderstand you, how to get somebody’s attention, how to create the space and timing to say what you need to say.
“These are the things that make a difference, not some sort of public speaking course and convince people to listen to you or not, I don’t believe in those things. I believe in real skills, transferable skills, like [how to] become better human beings.”
The future according to Johan
In the context of what Johan is trying to achieve with Gozamm, he wants to see hundreds, if not thousands of organisations taking on real challenges. Having the courage to talk about discrimination, racism, dealing with real issues.
“If companies are able to start to create that conversation openly, without people being afraid of being judged on either side of the spectrum, or regardless of the knowledge level, then I think you can deal with almost anything.”
Having a safe space, according to Johan, is the only way to move the needle on humanity. We all have moulds that we need to break out of and in order to create real change, someone has to go first. They have to do something unconventional, take a risk that goes against what you’re used to.
And it’s that vulnerability that we’re not used to.
We need to learn how to connect with ourselves, whether you want to call that spirituality, or not. You need to understand who you are and how you operate in the world. Because when you can do that, you can move mountains, and there’s nothing that can throw you off course.
Advice to leadership and organisations
“Look inside you. Who are you? How do people feel when they are around you, especially people who work for you? And if they default to you, just because of your power, then you’re doing something wrong.”
Organisations need to take a good look around and see how their employees feel. How safe are they at work? Are you supporting them? Are you helping them do their work? Are you allowing them to change their roles if they’re not happy? If you want to create change, you need to own the problem.
Every person has within themselves the ability to speak up, to speak out. The world needs you not to be boring, says Johan. Take a risk, say the things you’ve never dared say, the world needs us all to have a little more courage.
“Richard Branson is one of my heroes, he’s still true to himself. Elon Musk is a hero, even though I don’t agree with everything he does, he’s still an incredibly efficient communicator, who’s doing incredible things. But you don’t have to be Branson or Musk to do this. You can do this with your corner store. You can do this with your family at the dinner table.”
If the talk resonates with you, we’d recommend you listen to this episode too: Bob Chapman