Interview – Mårten Hedlund
Helene Clabecq: Hejsan Mårten, thank you for answering my questions all the way from Malmö, Sweden. Let’s dive right in. You started your career in Education, as a sports teacher. How has it shaped you for the rest of your career?
Mårten Hedlund: In several ways, I was passionate about sports myself but so were not the kids. Nothing more unmotivated that having to teach several dozen teenagers who do not want to be there by any means. It shaped what became my motto later on: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (NB: Radical Minds’s slogan – my other company).
HC: Good one. So you went on to become an athlete?
MH: Yes. I became a professional sailor, at the great surprise of many, since I was terrible when I first started. When people think you cannot and your parents beg you to do something “more serious”, you want to show them it’s possible, right? The easiest thing would have been to give up, but I saw it as a challenge, and the fun part was to perform and win. But indeed, I never saw it as a job. Actually to this day, I never felt like I’ve worked in my life. You know, enjoying every day and every moment is, together with performing and meeting new people, what life is all about. Job sounds like a must..
To make sailing competitions possible, athletes have to find their own sponsors, was that the premises of you connecting brands and businesses with experiences?
100%. I did not have the finances to travel around the world as I pleased, when I first started, and sailing differs from team sports like football, for which an agent collects sponsorships. Which means I had to learn to raise money and to negotiate with global brands on local markets. Sport is about winning but at the end of the day you lose more than you win and you really have to love the “mission impossibles”.
It was many tough years but I am glad for every effort that we made and the moments of success. We had to struggle and perform, and not getting everything for free taught us to appreciate what we had. Actually, it is now easier for me to work with and relate to people who have had to perform at a high scale or have had a challenging way of living. It shapes a different mindset.
That’s what it’s about. Making it happen no matter what…
Of course, I do it all the time. You have to fight against limiting beliefs, yours and those of others.
How many people have told you “I’d love to come visit you in Bali!” and never did it? How many people postpone their actions till Monday, or till never-day? In sport, we can’t postpone the competition for another week because we are “not ready”. There is a set date and that’s the time to perform. No excuse. But if we lose, at least we did everything in our power to achieve our goal, so no regret.
You also own a competition on the ATP Champions Tour. What is the reason for that?
A few years ago, I sat at home and reflected on how good my home country, Sweden, was in tennis when I myself competed in sailing. I think for a while we had 5 tennis players in the top 10 in the world, which was crazy in its own way. At the same time, I noted how the situation was on ATP ranking and I think we had one (1) player in the top 200 in the world. It would have been natural for most people to just state “that it was better before”, but that was not the case for me. Instead, I thought about whether I could contribute, which resulted in that by recreating memory images with players and icons from the past, I could stimulate players and business to a new major investment in the “Swedish tennis wonder”. The start for this was Svaneholm Open ATP Champions Tour 2019. A successful event that was played on grass with a beautiful castle as a backdrop in southern Sweden and with players like John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Goran Ivanicevic, Henri Leconte and several other superstars from the past.
It was an amazing event that will hopefully continue in 2022 and maybe with a sister event in the south of France. These events are a great fit for Wall Street Luxury Europe and our partners and clients. We will certainly be involved in other major events in the world as soon as everything restarts after covid.
What events are you thinking of?
The America’s Cup and other sailing events are close to my heart. But there are lots of interesting events in, for example, horse polo, motorsport, art exhibitions and much more. We want to spend in-person time with our partners and clients as much as possible.
What is a secret weapon that you have, that people do not know about?
Give me 20 minutes and I will find the phone number of anyone in the world. I have built a fantastic network around the world, like a family tree. I can connect people and make things happen. Set up meetings between important people that were otherwise struggling to meet. Do impossible things.
That is pretty convenient indeed. Actually, when answering requests from high net-worth individuals, what is the importance of understanding and exceeding the needs and requirements?
To deliver and perform, you must talk to the source itself. If someone needs to find a house, rent an island or get anything at all, the more you know, the better. There is always a deeper reason why someone wants to achieve something, buy something, start a company… If you look at the “small” target rather than the big vision, you will not succeed at satisfying them. This is what we implement at Wall Street Luxury Europe.
Say you ask specifically for a new house in Saint Tropez, but in actuality you just want to live somewhere safe. Or you ask for a superyacht. It could be because you’re sea sick and can’t handle the water movements. It could be because you have never seen the water. Or it could be because you see it as a trophee and you want to impress. But again, why? This is why we educate our clients to open up so we know what they truly want, and they become easier to please.
What are a few things one cannot buy?
You can buy a new house but not the family that lives in it.
You can buy a new car but not the performance on the driver’s seat.
You can buy a football team but not the victory.
You can buy visibility but not people’s opinions.
What is your opinion on the future of the service sector, for people with large financial resources?
With the know-how and experience we have, I have clearly noticed that we are transitioning from “ownership” to “renting”. The future could even be about “swapping”, why not. It used to be about “how many cars can you have?”. We now sell and buy in a different way. I noticed a demand for variety. Transforming your interior design, maybe just swapping the statue in your living room every year, how about that? Clearly, the market of asset investment will change a lot over the next few years. People want to move closer to safe environments, less crimes and less people around. The second home with the vineyard becomes the main residence. The apartment in New York, Paris or London is occupied once in a while, when necessary.
Another noticeable change I have noticed since Covid and which I believe will go on, is the way we share with others: people who used to be “so busy” and had 5 minutes to offer, now can talk for two hours. We understand we won’t live forever, and feel closer than before. Also, people are more inclined to go after what they really want, they have a more radical mindset. They want to scratch off the bucket list. The time is now and not 5 years from now! They want to explore further away and experience different areas and surroundings, not just hang around say Monaco. People want to see more of this fantastic world before it is too late. On top of it, as a company, we see that as a species, we have not been so good at taking care of the earth as we should have.
What do you want to achieve with Wall Street Luxury Europe?
It was my connection to the sailing and tennis world that naturally led me to help buyers and sellers in the upper luxury segments. Our development lies in working very close to Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and their influencers. The closer we are to these individuals, the better we understand and can satisfy personal needs and desires. Our strength is the unique service level.
In 2005, I worked with two Americas Cup events which thanks to me ended up in Sweden. One of the participants was Larry Ellison and his team BMW Oracle. In a speech he gave, he praised the Scandinavian way of delivering. He said something like this: “All products can be copied, but copying service, punctuality, honesty is not possible over time. The America’s Cup event in Sweden was absolutely world class”. That is the feeling I bring with me into Wall Street Luxury Europe and that is the level of service that we will deliver to our clients and partners all over the world.
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