Freedom was my big motivation when I started out as an entrepreneur. My answer to all problems with life was; “You just need enough money.” What is the secret to a happy marriage in a world where the divorce rate is 50%? “Oh you just need enough money.” I sincerely believed in this concept and when you take into consideration that 50% of all divorces happen because of money related problems who can blame me for this simple solution to all of lifes challenges.



The book 4-Hour Work Week radically changed my view on business and life. The biggest mind shift for me in this book was how you do NOT need massive amount of money to experience a millionaire lifestyle. You can achieve this through a concept called “sampling”. The concept works like this; I want a 911 Turbo that cost´s $ 130 000. The solution is to rent the car for 1 week and see how much you like it. If it is all you wished it was, buy the car, but you may find that people like you less because they are now jealous of you or they simply hate rich people. You may also find that instead of loving every moment in the car you have become conscious of where you park and whether anyone has scratched your car. I´m talking of experience here! I bought a Porsche and boy do I love it, but it did not transform my life in the ways I thought it would. Now it sits in the garage most of the time and I look at it and take it for a drive on rare occasions. My reason for using this as an example is to clarify that it´s not the stuff we want, but the feeling and experience that we have imagined comes with it. Sampling has transformed my life and now I no longer focus on money, but on time. Time is in fact the only commodity we can´t get any more of in life. I constantly ask myself; Do I want to spend time on this? Is this worth my time?

I believe that deep down all humans have the same needs and desires. These are disguised in fancy clothes, experiences, fame and cars ie. when you want these you are actually living one of the seven deadly sins because you think having or living it will give you freedom.

Freedom can be categories in 5 levels and categories;

1) Political

2) Financial

3) Social

4) Mind

5) Tao

We are all pursuing one or the other level of freedom in some shape or form and of course all these need to be balanced because as my good friend Jakob Løvstad says; It´s all good and well to sit on a mountain and be in meditation for years, but who is going to pay the bills and take care of your family? Balance here must be practiced, but what I find in my business circles is mainly the pursuit of financial freedom and as I have experienced myself money is a really bad motivator for entrepreneurial success. At some point you will either burn out or you will hate what you do and the people you surround yourself with. I have know many entrepreneurs that have owned and started large financial houses where they have experienced mutiny and severe drug abuse because of pure greed.



A friend of mine inherited $ 20 million when he was 18 and now simply manages the funds on a daily basis. He owns boats, houses etc. that he regularly invites me to for social happenings. One day we had taken his speed boat out on the fjord I asked him; Must be great having all this stuff and a safe financial future. He slowly turned to me and said; “Your things own you.” Later the same year he sold most of his things and decided to live a more simple life and he is much much happier. His way to freedom maybe?

There is no way of getting away from the importance of freedom of mind and the tao. The amazing aspect of this is that its FREE! Yes! You get what people really want for FREE in terms of money that is, but it comes at a cost!


The cost is that you will need to practice daily, weekly year in and year out. You will also have to approach your life in a new way because you are opening up to a new kind of consciousness and you will bring this with you in all aspects of your life. 2 years ago (beginning of 2011) I was on my knees, I hated what I did and it gave me little or no pleasure, more in the line of pure pain that joy (of course there were highes, but rare ones). For the past 730 + days I have spent 30 minutes every morning in a meditation called pranayama. This would lead me down a path of discovery that we now have dubbed ZenBusinessism where you bring with you these principles into how I run my businesses.

What has changed?

– I focus on how I can add value to others before myself

– Focused on staying in the “now”, because life is process and there is no destination only process

– Letting go, I have stopped trying to control everything and focus on what I want and let everything else go

– STOP I don´t think about business all the time and when I do it starts with “How can we do more for others, rather than how can we make more money.”

– Patient with employees, family and friends

– Simply do not stress or get worked up

– I follow through on what I commit to in a larger degree

– Take much better care of myself and the clients we already have

The overall question here is how it has helped me in terms of freedom? Even though I know the levels of freedom I have only experienced true freedom once in my life and that was after 1 hour of yoga and about 15 minutes of mediation where reality blurred and I felt a very clear presence of God. I have since not been able to get back the same experience, but I believe I will when I continue in my process and getting better and better at living in freedom, because isn´t that the biggest challenge? Being present and living freedom every second instead of pursuing it?


Erlend Bakke