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'Sweden felt like East Germany in 1983'

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Colin Moon in action on the public speaking circuit. Photo: Colin Moon
08:37 CET+01:00
Award-winning public speaker and author Colin Moon tells The Local about his new book, his 30 years as a British expat in Sweden, and how he gets the Swedes to laugh at themselves.

Colin Moon is one of a kind. But don't take my word for it, that's what the Londoner says himself about his latest book 'Swedes@meetings.se' which has just hit the shelves. 

"There's nothing else like it out there," Moon tells The Local with a chuckle about his new tome, which reveals Swedes' bizarre obsession with attending meetings.

The 56-year old is engaging company as he gives The Local an exclusive one-to-one about his three decades living the Scandinavian dream... or something like that.

The Local: So Colin, how did you end up in Sweden?

Colin Moon: Well, it was quite a few years ago and, no, I didn't come for love. That came later. When I first arrived I got a job teaching English as a foreign language as those were rough times for teachers back in England. I believe that was back in 1983.

The Local: What was Sweden like then?

Colin Moon: I knew nothing about Sweden and, to me, it felt like a communist country. I'd been to East Germany before and Sweden felt similar as you only had two TV channels. You couldn't do this, you couldn't do that. It's changed... a bit.

The Local: After teaching you branched out to do what?

Colin Moon: I started doing sales training and doing presentation techniques with companies all over the country. After a few years it was suggested to me that I should consider public speaking.

The Local: Which has turned out pretty well I'm told?

Colin Moon: It has indeed. I've done public speaking engagements with most of the big banks and Volvo plus many other companies. In 2012 I was the Årets Talare (Business Speaker of the Year) which was a great achievement considering Swedish isn't my native language. I do the public speeches in English and Swedish, so I was rather proud of myself...especially considering I knocked the spots off the competition!

The Local: After 30 years in Sweden, how has the country changed in your view?

Colin Moon: Back then Sweden was a very arrogant country. There were monopolies on everything. I remember TV ended at 10pm and you couldn't buy beer in the supermarket after 8pm as they thought everybody would go out and get drunk.

Now things have changed, especially since joining the EU (in 1995) so it is more open and the supermarkets are a lot better; they used to be dreadful.

The Local: Sweden is being love-bombed by your native country with Michael Booth's book (The Almost Perfect People) and a television series (Scandimania) generating a lot of interest in the UK. The Brits seem to think Sweden is the greatest place on earth. Do you agree?

Colin Moon: It depends on who you are speaking to. When I was last in England I told a guy in a pub that I lived in Sweden and he was 'RAWR Sweden Wow' acting like a randy teenager. Of course you hear all the old arguments about child care and paternity care which, of course, are great perks.

On the flipside there is a certain schadenfreude from the Brits when things go wrong in Sweden. For instance, the riots in Husby last year and there is a sense 'oh you aren't so perfect after all' sentiment. 

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The Local: Just like Booth you have a new book out yourself. Go on, get the plug in!

Colin Moon: I began writing books some years back. My first one 'Sweden - The Secret Files' did well (it sold over 200,000 copies) and I've written several since. The new one 'Swedes@meetings.se' is my take on this Swedish obsession with going to meetings and how come the Swedes continue to outperform most other industrialized nations.

While it's true that I do tease Swedes a bit, it's done in a respectful way and with love in my heart. The Swedes can take a joke. People all like to think they are a bit weird and wonderful.

The Local: So at the age of 56 are you planning to remain in Sweden or are you pining for Blighty?

Colin Moon: Sometimes I get a bit homesick like when the Olympics was in London in 2012. But no, I've got the summer house in Sweden and I'm building a pond so I reckon I'll be relaxing by the pond in the years to come.

Colin Moon's new book 'Swedes@meetings.se' is available to buy now.

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