Simon Sunde

"Fail early and fail often."

That One Time I Visited Playstation

This is the story of seeing opportunities, kindness and *freakin* good mangement.
My history with Playstation is properly similar to so many other guys and girls out there; I was given my first console at my 8th birthday and stayed loyal ever since. However as happy as that 8-year-old were, little did he know, that moment were about to change his life for good. It might sound exaggerated or over-dramatic, but as I’m sitting here typing, I can’t seem to find any earlier trace of my fascination of IT and it’s infinit possibilities – that’s how I felt back then – and to me it was like, as long as you could imagine it, anything could become possible with this technology (I still believe that, by the way!)

Now you might be thinking “That’s all good, but how the hell did you end up at Playstation(DK)’s office?!” and that’s completely understandable, but let me just tell you a little more about what led me to that day (if you can’t wait jump down a section). You see, that early fascination of mine, went on to shape my entire path of studies and career. Like most people who loves gaming consoles have felt, at least at some point in their life, I wanted to be a game-designer, which led me to programming. However, somewhere during my high school years, I realized that there were so much more to it. As most of you properly know, games are much more than the software they’re made from; they’re educational, cognitive challenging and last but not least, games are social.

That got me thinking, what makes the difference between a good game and a bad game. My conclusion? It’s the story. In order for a game to be great, it needs to tell a compelling story – which led my to my interest in communication. As some of you might know, I went on to pursue a BA in Communication & IT (paradoxically enough), and that’s when me and Playstation’s paths met once again…

As any other fanboy I follow Playstation(DK) on their social media pages like Facebook and Instagram. Then one day I decided to leave a comment at one of their posts, regarding if they had any job openings – I mean, what did I had to loose right?
Then I sort of forgot about, until I got a notification saying, playstation replied on my comment. At first I was excited! But then I thought to myself “it’s properly just a kind rejection” – But it wasn’t. In the reply it said, that I was welcome to write an email to their Nordic Community Coordinator, which goes by the name of Casper. He kindly took the time to tell me that they weren’t currently hiring (bummer, right?!). But then I realized that I got so far, why not try to seize the opportunity – and so I asked Casper if I could come visit them at their office. And he said YES!
They’re located at the creative milieu of Nordisk Film in Valby and when got there, you could almost feel the intensity in their buzzing offices, due to the release of the new game title ‘Bloodborne’ (FYI they’re giving it out for free, to everyone who donates blood at ITU tomorrow 22/03, see more here). But when I first met Casper, I quickly realized that he was just as tall as he was kind (which says a lot!). He gave me a private tour around the office and I also got to meet a couple of the guys from the team (and some of the machines as well!) and they were all very friendly and welcoming. To me it was like that little 8-year-old boys’ biggest dream had finally come true!
Here’s some of the pictures I could manage to take, during my state of total awe:

Later on I talked to Casper about the culture they had Playstation and he mentioned how important it was to them to cultivate a creative environment and a team spirit  who cares deeply about the product and its customers. My case might be a pretty good example of that, right?
All-in-all I had a great time and got to meet some cool people, and all because of a little comment on Instagram (the magic of social media). Now, I’m not saying that I think everyone should to Playstation, asking them for a visit, but my point being, to be proactive in life and seize the opportunities you get thrown at you. Furthermore I wanted to acknowledge the great management they have at Playstation, which is remarkable. So I believe credit should be given, where credit is deserved, and I most certainly believe that Playstation deserves it. That’s why I mainly wrote this article, to share my experience, and to say: Thank you.

Purpose

Every day we wake up and go out to do things. These things often have to do with our jobs, hobbies or businesses. We do these things day after day, week after week, year after year. But why?

Sometimes it’s ’cause we have to. Other times it’s ‘cause we really want to. It can be driven by curiosity, passion or necessity.
However, one abstract and inexpressible substance is to be found in every single thing we do. That’s our purpose. That’s our why.
A person’s purpose isn’t always easily found. But when it is, it makes everything seem clear and can produce enormous amounts of enthusiasm, courage and optimism, that’ll last a lifetime (if not longer).

What is it?
Purpose is often defined as some sort of goal, that we aim for and try to reach in everything we do. That’s purpose all right, but it goes deeper. It has wider implications. It has higher meaning. It has greater impact.
It’s our guiding star, when we’re navigating through opportunities and self-discovery. Without out it, we wander into a meaningless void. Never fully understanding where we’re going and why we do the things we do.
Because as said “purpose” is your essential “reason why”. It is your motivating force, your invigorating energy, your inner fuel that fires your engines. Purpose is what drives you to do what you already do – and want to keep doing.

Gathered here are three things I find crucial for discovering, as well as maintaining one’s purpose:

Forget Prestige!
In my opinion one should never do anything just because of the prestige. Don’t worry about what other people make of you – the only thing that matters is what you, your friends and family thinks.
If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. Many things we consider prestigious today, used to be anything but at the beginning. It’s because someone took “nothing” and made it “something” we now consider it prestigious.
The first example that comes to mind, is the Beatles. Everybody once laughed at the Beatles, because their music were so obscure and weird (at the time) – But they kept going and then one day someone took the chance and recorded their first album. Ever since they’ve been one of the most record-breaking and prestigious bands ever in history.

Success
There’s two main misassumptions about success that troubles me:
The first one is how we think we know what success is. However, the truth is, that we adopt these perceptions by others and considers it success. I’m not saying we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they’re our own. Success should be an individual measurement, based on what a person is pursuing in life.
The second is the destination. Most people believe that when they reach, what they consider to be success, they’ll be happy. What really happens, is when one goal is reached, another is immediately set – which basically means that we might be successful, but we’ll never reach true success and therefore never reach true happiness.

Boundaries
There will be situations in life when you’ll be faced with decisions that put your values at odds. In order to be true to your purpose (and yourself), you’ll need to be able to set boundaries. You need to know where you draw the line and remembering your values. Every time you compromise with believes, you compromise with your purpose (which means your success and simultaneously who you are).

If you have anything to add, please share it in the comment section below.

Becoming an Uncle

Some time ago I was told that I was going to be an uncle. Then came a lot of waiting and a couple a weeks ago it finally happened and it was official – I was an uncle (to a beautiful little girl). However I didn’t knew the first thing about being an uncle and what this new title might bring. So I did what any rational guy in my age (with no children) would do… I google’d it!

At first I feared that it would be nothing but a rampaging tornado of baby talk, diapers and screaming rushing over the family for a couple of years. But as it turns out there are actually quite a few things to be excited about!
I always loved children. Maybe ‘cause we’re so much a like? Anyhow, I came up with 10 reasons why becoming an uncle is one of the best things that could ever happen to a guy.

1. See how it feels to have a baby (but only when it’s cute and quite)
I’ve been with my girlfriend for almost 6 years now (yea, ‘high-school sweethearts’), so of course the thought of having a pooper ran across our minds. Now that I’m an uncle, we can finally see how it is and how well we do in certain (screaming) situations.

2. A great excuse to do little kid things again (without being judged)
No one is going to question you, if you watch cartoon for 1-2 hours – that’s if you’re doing it with a kid. Suddenly you go from childish dude, to a really great and patient babysitter.
When you have a kid in the family, you get to relive all of your favorite childhood memories. You can bring over your old legos and play with them for hours and hours, and see the same joy you felt as a kid, in another child’s eyes.

3. They’ll always be honest with you (for better or worse)
Honesty comes from drunks and kids – that’s just the way it is. So be prepared!

4. Birthdays are cool (kids birthday are the best!)
Family birthdays are all-right: you sit down, eat some cake, sing a few songs, and that’s it. A kids birthday, on the other hand, is a whole different matter. Usually you have a great theme (maybe dress-up) tons of cake, candy and baked-goods. There’s never a moment to sit down, because there is always something new and exciting happening – like a scavenger-hunt or a bouncing castle.

5. They’ll share all of their candy with you
Kids loves to share. If they don’t, you tell them that’s a valuable lesson to learn in life (and take whatever you wanted them to give you in the first place).

6. You get a free mini-me
“You have to be a role model…” is what my mom used to say, when I was playing with my younger brother, and of course I’ll be – but first we’re going to have a little fun (and my niece will be no exception)! I’m gonna teach her all the pranks and curse words, that’ll drive her parents crazy. Dress her up in the exact same outfits as mine and give her all the ‘My uncle is the best’-merch I can get my hands on.
Warning for all young uncles: your sister will be pissed at you for teaching her 2-year-old the F word and the middle finger.

7. You have someone to pass down all your wisdom to
The world is in desperate need of more female coders. My niece is gonna be one of them.

8. Kids are weird
Kids does and loves the weirdest things. They presume every room to be the bathroom, eat things not considered to be eatable and listen to Justin Bieber (sometimes all at once!) They’ll always embrace what is weird and quirky – and that’s where we’re very much alike. In order to become the best uncle ever, one most be as weird and funny as one can be.

9. Kids are basically free entertainment
To observe a kid who’s learning everything from scratch can be very joyful. To see them make the same obvious mistakes as you did – like miscalculating the existence of gravity when you’re trying to see how far you can swing in a rocking chair.

10. Kids melts your heart
If any of the above doesn’t appeal to you (or if the idea of kids frightens you), remember this: Kids are the most awesome form we humans can ever take. They’re curious, adventures, weird, adorable, sticky and smelly, and absolutely wonderful.

I dedicate this article to my niece, whom I started loving long before I’d ever layed eyes on her. The most precious gift an uncle could ever receive.

Emily

Emilie

6 Ways To Pull The Plug On Vacation

I’m one of those people who gets very early up in the morning, to get something out of the day. You could imagine that I’m also one of those having a hard time relaxing, when on vacation (I mean I’m on vacay now, but still I’m writing this post). However, I was intrigued when I first learned, that I wasn’t the only one facing this problem – or at least the relaxation part (people genuinely don’t like mornings).

So I (unquestionably) sought to our beloved science, to resolve this difficulty of reaching the state of relaxation. What I found was quite interesting and I divided it into 6 simple tips:

1. Go to the beach. When you’re deciding whether or not you should spent your holiday on the countryside, in the city, or near the beach – you should go for the water’s edge. A study by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health shows, that people who went to the seaside for a holiday reported more refreshment, serenity, and enjoyment than people who spent time in an urban setting or wilderness.

2. Leave the smartphone on the counter. For a vacay to be rejuvenating and calming one self, you need to be completely present in the moment, says Matthew Edlund, MD, author of “The Power of Rest”. It’s now secret that smartphones, tablets and PCs are a constant distraction in our everyday lives. So we need to put them away, in order to be on vacay in both mind and body. “If you’re distracted on vacation, it’s not worth it,” says Dr. Edlund.

3. Get out of your comfort zone. Sure, laying by the pool, at an all-inclusive hotel with all the food and drinks in the world, sounds like a nice way to spend you day – just don’t spend all your days like that. Your physical and mental welfare will gain a lot more from an out-of-the-box activity, says Dr. Edlund. Plan activities. Go surfing. Go eat at a local restaurant. Go do something uncomfortable (yay, so excided…)!

4. Go out with a bang. Ever heard of the “peak-end rule”? Neither had I. It’s a term used by psychologists, and what it basically means is that we remembers an experience by its peak – and how it ends. Keep that in mind, when planing your holiday activities. Save something you’re really looking forward to, for the end – and you’ll look back at a wonderful vacation, full of happy memories.

5. Don’t post it. In this modern society, it can be ever so tempting to post every little memorable moment of your vacation. However, by doing so could actually compromise those beautiful memories. Researchers from the University of Alberta found that the more we pick apart our experiences or analyze our memories, the more we dilute the strong emotional connections we have to them – turning heartwarming and joyous memories into detached cognitive experiences.

6. Plan you next trip. The joy of anticipation is always greater than the actual event. Same goes for vacations, finds a study from the Netherlands. It was also found that participants found an positive change of their moods, up to eight weeks before a big trip. Unfortunately, when the vacation is over, people tend to fall back into their everyday rutines (and also moods). So my advice would be: Plan your next vacation, as soon as your current one is over.

And now I’m pulling the plug,
Happy Holidays :-)

Hands-on w/Google Glass

Google Glass – the controversial wearable that everyone sneer at, until they try it themselves. Then they’re suddenly awfully nice. Today I gained an understanding of why that is. Personally, I’ve been eager to try them ever since the first demoes were send out to developers.
However the odds wasn’t really in my favor, considering they’re only available in the US.

If I should try to describe the experience, when wearing Google Glass, I would compare it with having the screen of you mobile phone in the top corner of your eye. It performs hands-free tasks, like browsing the web or taking a picture and upload it to social media. Furthermore it’s powered by this instinctive software, that lets you know if your flight is being delayed, how the weather is going to be, an the route for the airport – all that, without even asking. It has no speaker, but communicates to the inner-ear through a bone conducting transducer, which personalizes the sound. So no one can hear what you might be watching or listening to (which is pretty cool).

Other specs (for the geeks):

    Titanium frame
    Adjustable notepads fits any face.
    Photos – 5MP
    Video – 720p
    Wi-fi – 802.11 b/g
    Bluetooth
    12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total.
    Battery: one day of typical use.
    Display: equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.

On the software part, it’s all still very beta. That’s actually how i got to play with this $1500 bad boy. I was a participant in a prototype evaluation. A Communication & IT student (like myself), is developing an app he calls ‘Reader’ as a part of his Master Thesis: Augmenting the reading experience with Google Glass. Twitter: @jacob_funch

Watch the introduction video here: Reader for Google Glass

When I heard Jacob was looking for participants, I signed-up immediately. To help a fellow student. That’s important. Sure. But I would be lying, if I didn’t admit that I also did it to satisfy my ginormous tech-geeky side as well.
Below you’ll see a happy guy. I almost forgot to take them off, because it felt so right. So long Google Glass – until we meet again.

Captured happiness.

Captured happiness.

7 Free Apps For The Best Summer Ever

please note, that all of these where free when this post was written, but there is no guarantee that they always be.

1. Word Lens (Android and iOS)
Let’s kick this one of with one of the coolest little things: Word Lens lets you instantly translate from English to Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, or Portuguese (and vice versa) – All you need to do, is pointing your phone camera at some text, and it’ll translate instantly (no wi-fi required)!

2. Duolingo (Android and iOS)
Ever wanted to master a new language? Here’s how it’s done the awesome way: Duolingo let’s you learn Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese (hey, that’s the same as Word Lens! cool).
They have received many awards and a good rep. for their app, and that’s because they know how to keep things interesting. The learning process is set-up like a game, where you gain XP, levels and challenge your friends (just my kind of an app!).

3. Hipmunk (Android and iOS)
We’ve seen these thing a hundred times: an app that helps you find and book your travel all together. Hipmunk is just like that – and then it’s not at all. It stands apart with alternative options, like Amtrak or AirBNB. With an added twist Hipmunk lets you sort listings by “agony” scores – combination of price, time and layovers.

4. Viator (Android and iOS)
Whether it’s New York or New Delhi, everyone wants to travel like the locals. Due to their global network of expert travelers, Viator offers “insider” deals and different activities and tours at a discount, around the world. They promise to let the users “skip the lines” – and who wouldn’t want that?

5. Roadtrippers (Android and iOS)
Are you one of those free-spirit-minded people, that thinks the journey is more important than the destination? This app is for you. It takes the roads less traveled – but in a cool and exciting kind of way. You simply type in your starting point, your destination and then aaaaall the thing you want to see in between. Then Roadtrippers navigate in-app and point out what you missed. Furthermore you can add your discoveries for others to find along the way.

6. Day One (iOS)
When you’re out and about, it’s important to keep track of all the new discoveries and memories you make along with your travel/vacation – meet your new log-buddy, its name is Day One.
It lets you keep a journal and/or travel log in one neat and simple designed app.

7. Lumosity (Android and iOS)
When we’re on vacay, we tend to forget all about our everyday obligations, such as work and studies. Nevertheless, we need to keep challenging our minds, to keep them in shape. Lumosity is a series of mind strengthening games, developed by neuroscientists (that’s brain guys). It gives you scores and daily challenge – and to be honest, it really addictive!

Strive to change

I have always been fascinated by innovation to an immensely extend. A fascination only exceeded by an interest to the people who stands behind it. Often they’re considered unique, geniuses or in other ways unusual. The truth might be, that some of them really are! However, the most certain truth is that we’re all innovators by nature.

Think of a time when you started something, that wasn’t supposed to happen. It might have been a courageous act, or it might just be something like adding a new ingredient to a dish you’ve been cooking hundreds of times before. You might saved a life. You might perfected a recipe. Or neither.
Nevertheless, you were innovative. You changed the outcome of something, just because you had a thought. Now, you might haven’t changed the course of the world, but that isn’t really the concept of innovation anyway.

Succesfull innovation is about context and perspective. What might seem like an epiphany one place, can be completely worthless in another. The spices you add to your dish, might not be in everyones taste. The kind of innovation that might be needed in the West can be absolutely purposeless in the East.
In order to be a true innovator, you’ll need to be familiarized with the things you wish to change, and adjust your perspective according to it. Furthermore you’ll have to contemplate the context of the problem you’re trying to solve.

Some of the most successful startups, started out by wanting to solve a problem they were familiar with. AirBNB, Apple and Google are amongst some of them. Even though they’re all billion dollar companies now, they all started from the same foundation:

They’re striving to change behavior – not adapt to it!

This is what innovative startups set out to do. That’s why I love ‘em. That’s why we love ‘em. They improve, they disrupt, they create – and the people behind them do it, because they can’t imagine to do anything else, other than what they believe in.

It’s in human nature to adapt, that’s how we survive; physically, socially and psychologically. However, I believe that there’s more to life than survival. Taking a historical perspective, it would seem that i’m right. Through human history we’ve continued to improve our transcendence, way beyond adaptation and survival. Innovation has brought us to where we are today, and it’s going to bring us beyond our wildest imagination. We’re all part of it. The only question is “to what extend do you wish to be a part of it?”

Apply with heart

When you’re searching for your dream job there is only one question that applies: How do I get noticed and stand out from the pack?

The bad news is, todays market is a tough market. The good news is, it’s to your advantage! I know many people who are struggling to find a job these days, so who am I to say it’s a good thing?
Truth is, I been there myself. I applied for all my dream jobs, but no offers were coming my way. Eventually, I broadened the filter, expanded more and more, and eventually I landed a job in a 7-eleven (yeah, that’s right). I was fresh out of high school at the time, so I had no degree or real work experience. I really had to fight for that job and it was minimal pay, long hours and bad conditions.

It wasn’t until afterwards I realized how to apply for a job ‘the right way’. It became clear to me that I’ve failed in three main areas. First of all, I turned down every job description with a requirement I didn’t met. Second of all, when I applied for a job I did it like everybody else, either filled out a form or send a resume by email. Not that there’s anything wrong with these two application methods per se, however, unassisted they’re seemingly ineffective. And (thirdly), come to think of it, in my application I was focused on what I did and how the employer would benefit from that. But I was yet to realize that I couldn’t have been more mistaken…

What I did was to appeal to the rationality of the employer, by sticking to the facts. “I’ll be a good fit for this position because of my experience, skills and education etc.” – you should hire me!
But that’s not how it works (for 99% of applicants), ‘cause only if you’re in the top 1% you might get hired exclusively due to does features. But in my experience most people aren’t in the top 1% (shocker!). So what are the rest of us supposed to do?
Well, in my experience one should appeal, not to cold facts, but the fuzziest of things – feelings. However, it’s to be noted that I’m not talking about sympathy. I’m talking about the reason you get up in the morning. The reason why you do what you do, and why you can’t stop doing it.

To give an example, here’s my latest application: microsoft.simonsunde.dk
It was a job as a student worker in their marketing department. The idea was to illustrate my believes above my skills. I wanted them to know, that I should be working there, not because I was the best candidate (on paper), but because I shared their believes. And that’s far more to valuable than just a dutiful employee. That’s what I wanted to share with you. I’m not saying you should make a page like mine, but I’m telling you to put in the effort – be creative! Would you hire someone if you knew they were only applying for the pay, prestige or the network? (I know I wouldn’t). As a company you want to have people who believe what you believe. Employees that shares you vision. Not someone who doesn’t give a damn.

So lastly I want to encourage you guys to go on and apply for your dreams and be true to what you believe in. If you don’t know what that is, it might be a good starting point, before you apply for your next job.

(If you’re wondering my application did open some doors, but eventually I went other ways, because I went with my heart… which I’ll never regret!)

Get started on programming

Ever wanted to create something, but didn’t knew how to or maybe you didn’t had the tools for it? That’s how I felt before I learned programming. It’s no secret that I’m yet still a grasshopper in this field. Nevertheless I still feel a slight obligation to help others, like myself, getting started.
In the previous post How I learned to think I introduced you to two different sites, Codecademy and Team Treehouse, which had the same objective: Teach the world how to code!

Codecademy is free and based on learn-by-doing with simple instructions. You work at their terminal environment, so you don’t have to install anything – which is ideal for newbies! Should you get stuck on a task, fear not, they have a great Q&A forum, which is categorized by tasks.

Team Treehouse costs 25$/m (for the basic package) but have some different specializations than Codecademy. Treehouse is based on video tutorials. Which means that you have to install the required software, in order to participate (which mostly is very easy and straight forward).

Personally I recommend Codecademy for beginners, due to its cool work environment and understandable projects (and its free of course!). But it really comes down to what you want to be able to do. Do you want to create web and home pages, iOS, apps or something complete different? My advice is, that you sit down and try to determine what you specifically want to do. This will help you narrow down what programming languages you should look into.
Due to the sites offer different lectures in different languages, this might help you determine which site is right for you.
eg. Team Treehouse offeres lectures in iOS development – Codecademy doesn’t.

I wish you all good luck and happy coding!

How I learned to think

NB: I’ve divided this post into two sections: the first is this one where I tell the story of how I got into programming and the second one is “Get started on programming” where I’ve made my best version of a guide to get you guys coding.

I typed my first lines of code, little less than a year ago. However, a series of events went on before hand, in order for this to become a reality.

As a 90’s kid I grew up with the Gameboy, PlayStation and the internet (as we know it). All of these objects where yet to shape, not only a childhood, but a whole generation and their objective from which they perceived the world.
I was mesmerized by these machines. How could you fit so much, into so little? And I was told it all was based on 1’s and 0’s – unbelievable.
Growing up I wasn’t very fund of sports. My mind was (and partly still is…) deeply buried in the wondrous world of my imagination. Back then I was already developing – but only in mind. Nevertheless this strong urge of creating kept me going until I found my way into programming.
It started with a little HTML/CSS and BASIC, but it was not until i took the Computer Science course at my first semester at the university, things really took of.

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think” – Steve Jobs

We were introduced to a programming language called Python. To those of you who are not familiar with Python, its a high-level programming language. Soon we were creating our own little applications – and I was hooked.
However, the course was coming to and end, but I needed more. That’s when I discovered awesome sites like Codecademy and Team Treehouse. Both devoted startups with the objective of learning the world how to code.
I believe these services are a great resource as a starting point, for those aspiring to get started with programming. I completed Codecademy’s Python exercises and found them quite alright. And I certainly see no reason for you to pay your hard-earned money, on private teachers or seminars, when the information is only a couple clicks away.
Therefore, my last words to you is this: Start programming today! Make the world a better place to live, ‘cause the power of creation lies with the many, not the few.

See how to get started on programming in my next post here!