Notes from a Small Country

You’re always with yourself, so enjoy the company

“Listen to that, it’s sick! I’m gonna have one before I’m 30 to prove I did something with my life”

Said one teenager to another.

I was walking in London, from Whitechapel to Shoreditch.

Two teenagers were in front of me while a red Ferrari braked for the traffic lights. It then sat there revving its engine so everyone could notice and appreciate how awesome the driver was.

There’s no point showing off when there’s no-one to impress

It was a stark reminder of cultural differences between the UK and Denmark.

Differences such as confidence. Where in one culture your confidence comes from how others perceive you, and the other from how you perceive you.

I’ve been back in the UK this week, staying in Shoreditch for a work event.

Wow, I’d never really noticed how much we Brits seek validation from others (even those we don’t know or care about).

The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence

As a teenager, I wore second-hand clothing, read Batman comics and wrote BASIC on my Commodore Vic20.

None of those were accepted as cool choices in society back then.

And my confidence and self-esteem lowered continually over time.

It’s different for Danish kids. They’re happy with themselves.

When I first arrived in Denmark I mistakenly thought they weren’t an ambitious nation.

Yet I’ve discovered that Danes are ambitious, they just don’t like to show their ambition.

Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose

Danes like to succeed, though not in public.

There are virtually no taboo lifestyles, meaning there’s no right or wrong life.

They can choose the life that fits them, the one they want for themselves.

Not the one society says they should have.

When I see a person, I see a person – not a rank, not a job, not a class

My son is in Kindergarten, and even at his young age it’s clear to see that Danes are taught no matter what their skills are, they are important to society.

As they mature into students, they learn and accept that those who are great at science are not considered more valuable than those who are great at knitting or cooking.

Isn’t that awesome?

(the correct answer is yes!)

“The main purpose of Danish education is to help students develop individual personalities…” – Malene Rydahl

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it

I feel just as successful in Denmark as I did in the UK.

But I have no car, I don’t own a house, and my clothes don’t have expensive labels.

The measure of success is different.

Also, the world accepts geeks as cool now, that might be helping.

I hope you’re living the life you want to live. Not the life society or others want you to live.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been” – George Eliot

I hope you enjoyed episode 6 of Notes from a Small Country? Please give me feedback directly or in the comments. Which part was your favourite? What do you want to see more or less of? Other suggestions? Let me know!

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See you next week for Episode 7.

Marcus Purvis leads software engineering teams at Unity Technologies, the realtime development platform of choice for video games, movies and more. He’s also learning to write inspiring content on LinkedInMedium and here at

Originally published as part of LinkedIn newsletters here: Marcus Purvis Newsletters


Genuine Kindness is the Ultimate Strength

So there I am in Nigeria, sitting across the road from a dead man in a ditch and all I’m thinking is ‘why hasn’t anyone moved him? The flies and the stink, arrggh!’

At the time it was only the second dead person I’d ever seen, and I was already becoming numb.

I spoke to the other volunteer next to me, he just nodded and said someone would come along at some point that day ‘I already said they’re never left for more than a day or two.’ was his reply.

Let’s call him Nigel, though that’s not his real name. He’d been volunteering in South Nigeria for the last 3 years and I was with him to learn how to get through the culture shock of my first few months. Then I’d be sent to the jungle village of my assignment, left to my own devices teaching mechanical engineering.

I remember that moment with Nigel clearly. It was the moment I realised I didn’t want to be like he was, that is numb to a dead person across the street.

One of my strengths is empathy and connection with people. I’m not perfect at it and still make mistakes, yet I’ve a solid foundation I’m working from. I didn’t realise that strength until my mid thirties while surrounded by software engineering teams, where at that time the people side was often neglected.

‘Leadership is about empathy.’ – Oprah Winfrey

It’s disappointing how long it can take for many organisations to understand the value of empathy and connection, it’s a proven winning ingredient for the success of individuals and teams.

A second strength I build on is intuition, again often overlooked and under valued in a world of software engineering and data centric decision making. In teams I support, I value intuition from everyone, otherwise why hire a person? There’s an old proverb ‘One cannot hire a hand – the whole man always comes with it’ . So why do so many organisations create a burden of proof required for people to do what their intuition (from the experience and skill they have), says needs doing? A culture of experimentation allows for this, another important ingredient for the success of individuals and teams.

So back to the dead person in the ditch not far from me. I stood up, put down my Sprite, took one of the dirty table cloths from a nearby table and walked across the dusty road. I placed it over the top half of the dead mans body, hoping to give him some dignity in the best way I could. I could see the diseased lower half that had killed him and felt sad all of a sudden, what if it was me?

After pausing with that thought and brushing off the flies buzzing around me, I walked back to the small street cafe. The cafe where Nigel was sitting, watching me. He was sat under a corrugated metal roof, a roof with rusty pin holes where the sun shone down across his head, making him look more angel like than he really was.

“I wish I’d have thought of doing that, I guess I’m just so numb to it now” he said looking at the ground.

Here’s what I promised myself from that moment onwards. I’ll never get numb to my surroundings, I won’t blindly follow others, I’ll always take note of my intuition, and most of all, I’ll always have empathy.

Genuine Kindness is the Ultimate Strength” – Quote from Gary Vee

If empathy and connecting with people is one of your strengths, use it and build on it. It’s amazing how many people in the work place don’t understand it’s value, and when they do you’ll be the one they look to for direction and support.

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)


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5 Share Friday 12 April 2019

Quote I’m pondering –  Action expresses priorities” Mahatma Gandhi

I now see things differently – According to Gary Vaynerchuk LinkedIn is the next big social network to explode. I’ve had my doubts about LinkedIn, so it’s good to see people like Tim Ferriss and Gary V embrace it more, giving me confidence to invest the time. I’ve since been researching how to effectively engage on the platform. I discovered this infographic which is fantastic, 5 or 10 minutes each day and you’ll be well on your way to more effective LinkedIn engagement!

Favourite purchase this week – I finally subscribed to Blinkist. It’s amazing. If you haven’t seen Blinkist then take a look. Now I can get recommendations on books via summaries on my phone. It’s helping me decide whether to read a specific book or investigate more. If you like reading and gaining knowledge on any type of subject, Blinkist is certainly a great way to do it.

Will Smith shared something today about Effortless Manifestation. You can find it here on Instagram and on YouTube below. Will puts it well when he says opportunity is in abundance, you just gotta see it.

Long form read of the week. One of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with shared this article a week ago. I’ve not been able stop reading it since. It’s a fascinating view of Rupert Murdoch, both informative and worrying at the same time. If you consume any type of media, you might want to spend time reading this (at least a 20 minute read).


I hope you have a fantastic weekend doing what you love.

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5 Share Friday 5 April 2019

Quote I’m pondering – ” It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” – Hugh Laurie

Article that’s changed my behaviourAdam Grant’s NYTimes article on productivity is a worthy read. He shows how attention management not time management is the solution for increased productivity. I particularly liked the mention of Paul Graham’s blog where he describes dividing the week into “maker days” and “manager days”, I’m trying it!

Favourite purchaseCube Cross Pro bicycle. Being carless isn’t as easy as I thought in Denmark. When you bike everywhere, you need a really good bike. So I ditched all the prior advice on city bikes and bicycle living, focusing on my own needs. I found the Cube Cross Pro light enough and high spec enough for almost all cycling (with and without kids). I no longer get tired from trying to keep up with my wife on our family bike (she has battery power!).  If you’re looking for a bicycle to get you around town, take you into the country, carry or tow your kids, you won’t get better than this one for the price.

On employee experience – I saw another fantastic article this week. Part of it details how most of us are now in a stage where we have too much technology, and not enough time at work. The author goes on to describe how a major part of building an employee experience is simplifying the technology experience, and designing programs that happen “in the flow of work.”

Even in a relatively new company I’m finding systems I’m required to use (benefits, expense, IT infrastructure inc email servers and permissions to online systems etc.) appear to have been created in silo’s. They stop my flow at times, blocking my most important work. Imagine working for a company where systems thinking, resulting in departments collaborating on a ‘whole’ employee experience make everything flow, I want that.

Book I’m reading – I found my old John Titor book the other day. John Titor sparked great debate amongst friends and work colleagues years ago. This book is  a fascinating look at one of histories recorded time travellers, reprinting all of his posts online. I’m not saying I believe he was a time traveler, though I like to think he might have been. It’s an amazing read (Here’s a good online summary for those not aware of John).

Thankfully many of his predictions did not come true, though could it simply be that in our timeline they’re still in our future? 🙂


I hope you have a great weekend doing what you love.

Missed last weeks 5 Share? Find it here. If you like this 5 share, please share with others. You can also get notified by email every Friday, simply sign up using the sign up box on this page.

See my other blog posts and interesting topics here: