178. Today’s Hero: Christina Anderskov (and the way of doing the hard work that counts)
Welcome to the Heroes series. Here, I talk about people, who have inspired me and who I think the world deserves to know better. The mini-portraits I share are my personal observations and are done completely without any input from those, I write about. If you couldn’t care less, than I suggest that you stop reading, but if that intro appeals to you, read on!
When I met Christina, she had a quite fancy title: International Climate Coordinator (Climate and Sustainability) for the City of Copenhagen. Being the curious soul I am, I of course wanted to know all about her work and why that was what she was doing.
And oh, did I learn… three top learnings from listening to her were these:
- I learned that even though the numbers get bigger, the human mistakes are the same. But here, placing the comma one digit wrong suddenly means going from 3 to 30 million (or vice versa) instead of from 300 to 3,000. That was an eye-opener for me back then, and I loved how Christina was both humble and humorous about that sort of thing.
- I learned that no matter how passionate one is for the bigger picture (in Christina’s case it’s sustainability that really gets her going), it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of politically led organisations have an immense amount of low-key day-to-day operational stuff that is essential if you want to change anything.
- I learned the value of consultants (which is ironic, since I’ve since become one). I remember a discussion about names for an event. The city had paid a solid fee to a creative agency to provide them with name options, and I couldn’t understand why that was worth it. Christina patiently explained to me that it wasn’t about the names themselves, but the fact that they came from an outside agency that mattered, and provided a step-by-step analysis of why it made a lot of sense money wise. And she was right.
But most of all, I learned about the difference between playing the cards life has dealt you and grumbling about the cards you’ve got in your hand.
When you meet Christina, you’ll notice a couple of things about her.
- She’s energetic and positively radiating with good vibes.
- She’s sharp and curious and not afraid to ask questions.
- And she has a quality that is rare in high level governmental officials that I’ve encountered — she’s not afraid to answer questions either.
But perhaps the most noticeable thing about her is that she is a master of duality. She is an expert at making fun of her job and her role in changing the world, while taking it extremely seriously and doing her utmost. She is acutely aware of some of the tough cards that life has dealt her, and is sensitive to others, who haven’t always been lucky, but is also the first person to rise above her past and embrace the challenges she faces. She is Danish to the bone, but incredibly international as well — a fact that’s neatly expressed in her work (with a title that’s just gotten longer over the years):
Counsellor for Sustainable Urban Development, Royal Danish Embassy in Beijing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
So, with all these nice words about how cool Christina is, what made me think of her for this post in the Heroes series? Well, one big reason is that I’ve now shifted the blog to have more of an innovation focus, and if there’s one person I know, who is knee-deep in grand scale innovation, it’s Christina.
She’s also fighting the good fight — Danish/Chinese cooperation on sustainability issues is one of those big picture fiefdoms out there, that really make a dent in the world. And she is doing so while remaining impressively grounded, highly professional and incredibly human.
So if you have interests or dreams that include words like “China”, “Sustainability”, “Impact” and the like, then Christina might just be someone that you should be aware of. And if life offers you the opportunity to work with her, I’d suggest that you grab it — you might just learn a thing or two!
Claus Raasted is an Innovation Strategist, and recently wrote “The Innovation Cycle”. He serves as the Director of the College of Extraordinary Experiences, is a Coach at McKinsey & Company and is a founding partner at the Global Institute For Thought Leadership. He also has a past in reality TV, but these days, who hasn’t?