“We can not change our ways - providing undeserved credit to the madness and insanity – life has to go on…”




     The saftey and security in Russia has generally a higher level than any other countries in Europe. You reserve/ enter trains or flight with your passport, airports have double scanning procedures for entering the airport and planes (including body scans) for both domestic & international flights. Hotels, restaurants, metro stations & public buildings have metal detectors (luggage scans in hotelsback office for group arrivals). A large presence of traffic police on streets, visa regulations, camera surveillance on streets & subway provides extra attention and control. The “Winter  Olympic 2014” was probably one of the most professional security setups seen in history of sport events without public evidence of threats, weapons and security dressed in sport costumes.


     People mourn and go on with life with very little aftermath effects visual however with a strengthen security not obviously seen – hardly noted but existent. During the last decades after incidents things normalize quickly from an outside perspective – however people do not forget and in Russia 3 days of mourning was announced.


     Russia surely got its share of tragedies during the last decades and now in St. Petersburg. However, rarely with the same attention and solidarity as seen elsewhere the last years – if not filled and combined with political speculations as presently seen in the reporting of western and North America media of the tragedy…

     The metro attack is a crime against all of us – you and me. After my more then 25 years in Russia I have learnt that Russian people do not politicize, speculate, judge or analyze various scenarios and opinions during long debates – but provide facts only when known.  


     Reactions to this and other incidents during the last decades are extremely efficient and quick with an immediate security built up in transport hubs in St. Petersburg, Moscow as well as other cities. Within minutes Medical assistance was available and in the hour the Metro in St. Petersburg was closed and secured. The solidarity of and support of regular people was instantly and extra transportation was provided, taxis and busses was offered free of charge rides, individual people wrote sign in windows telling their routs and provided transport for fellow citizens. The Metro system provides transport for around 2 million people travelling by the Metro daily and continue to do so already in the evening (except the line of the incident).

     Personally, I travelled from Moscow to St. Petersburg by metro and train a few hours after the attack. The general security presence was immediate, police in Metro and the main gate of the train’s station was temporary closed and entry only through another gate.

     People mourn and show support and affection for victims with disgust of the actions of innocent people but don’t provide evidence for any “success of attacks” prolonging the sensation – life goes on which doesn’t mean that it will be forgotten. Every 9th of May people mourn and remember the sacrifice of the 27 million people perished during the Second World War (friends, family and relatives) to never forget the past and present crimes on humanity.

How should we react? We can not give up our plans and intended way of living or change our lives to past threats as it will result in the success of the motive of the assaulter – the more attention and speculations the more to follow – forcing us to change our right to choose our own freedom…

220px-Tiutchev Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone, No ordinary yardstick can span her greatness: She stands alone, unique – In Russia, one can only believe.
Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev (1803 – 1873 Russian poet)

Ola Kastensson 


Simply copying or Intellectual Property theft?

CopyrI would be delighted to encourage a debate, awareness & sharing of cases of “unethical behavior” & “Intellectual property theft” in our industry. I might be too honest and somewhat naïve in today’s world – but I do believe in ethics, honor and respect in what I’m doing for a living. A former SITE president once told me “Unethical behavior should / will always be punished”.

However – internally you constantly have to share, innovate and market your new ideas to become a leader of new ideas and frontier solutions. Question is – how to protect and share your intellectual property? Where and how to set out limits of what’s wrong and right? Below some of my company’s issues that I believe talks for itself…

Being an entrepreneur/DMC on the Russian market for 20 years with creativity, innovations and technology as a base – we have seen it all. Old colleagues leaving with our client database (4 occasions), interfering during site inspections & actual program operations – trying to snatch business, undercutting rates of offers known & available prior to their departure, copying programs and posting on their own website (forgetting to leave out our company name..), copying layout of websites, listing our PowerPoint presentations with changed logotypes, transforming published ideas – into printed books, marketing our ideas/ new projects as own a week after published on our website, spreading negative gossips & obtaining same supplier conditions within their new established company (based on reputation of the former) etc … A web research I made some years ago of the complete paragraph on our “Service & Quality Guarantees” resulted in a hit for 5 local competitors with identical text – word by word …

Last week was the final drop … all our visions, compleate set of feutures and functionalities and layouts of our commercial single-inventory back-office system (sold with copyright) is now availlable the industry under a different name with slightly changed layout but with the majortiy of functions intact. … Some days later an ex-colleague announcing world breaking news of an identical quotation layout and format with links (used by us for 7 years  – at least text and pictures changed) – how creative… Following a mailing the next day an old client with a past successful program operated by a former employee many years ago suddenly complained about overcharging. Probably just another coincident…!

1qte 2 qte

2 versions of our layout (only text & pictures is different)….

We are all joining International organizations as a proof of our professionalism (like MPI, SITE, ADMEI, ICCA etc.) which also includes honoring ethical conduct – so how to avoid the misuse of ethic behavior amongst the membership? I encourage and challenge you all in a debate in this issue and as well to open this subject publicly in meetings, forums and social media to discuss examples in professional organizations. I am sure we all lost business as course of unethical behavior based on “approved competitors” but without pointing fingers of misconduct.

At least – let people doing wrong being silently embarrassed for what they have done – maybe even being afraid of doing it again….

Ola Kastensson


Managing today’s World!

Being in a Russian environment with present turmoil created by media focus on the olacrisis in our neighboring country we immediately see the effects and causes on various market segments and geographical interests. You really need a flexible and innovative management style to stay tuned. However, to find new solutions is not everything to counter these constant changes (whatever causing them – politics, economics, war, terrorism, catastrophes or other disturbances) – they seem to be more and more constant in our future environment and we haven’t seen it all yet…

We must be more connectable face-to-face with the help of internal – & external video devices and systems due to the internationalization & different time zones, quick decisions and requirements in a competitive and changing environment. We must manage our companies by personalization and trust in a combination with proven and flexible risk calculations. The icon and image of leadership could be a direct competitive advantage and will certainly play a more major role for the future. To make a comparison with today where I believe we find to many vague leadership styles (back-up role) doing careful strategic implementations instead of moving forward. Maybe a reason for the present uprising in today’s world by individuals forming groups and protests.

Strategies must change momentarily following the actual reason to succeed. It will become even more actual in the future with focus of various scenarios of if’s & but’s – which should be the natural skill of a leadership function. In a globalized world we must be ready for – and have the skills for – immediate actions and implementation within wider frames in the business plans which will be constantly monitored and reevaluated as a ratio of the total ROI of the company or department. Plans should rahter be seen as an indication instead of fousing on precise short term goals for each segment initially intended. Essentials for a future long term success is to establish sufficient financial back-up (funds) to cover immediate market activities during recessions and crisis situations while being more careful of spending during positive trends.

In larger organizations to have the freedom to decide within the frames of a total dedicated budget – not focused on projects and specific sectors. Bottom line will always count!

Ola Kastensson

Ukraine – why can’t people compromise …?

To create a conflict you only need one part offending another that can’t solve it without discussion through a third part finding a compromise. It’s not about threats, boycotts, suspensions and supporting one or another – it’s about being able to compromise being able to see diplomatic solutions from two sides and find the balance with respect not to depriving the right for millions of people in their country to speak their respective language. Is it only about a bailout of who will finance the billions needed for the nation and an integration or exclusion! Will ever the East and West meet if not with compromises?

Today it’s only about power play and politics – who claims the power, dominance and media influenced from governments like from the old time propaganda and cold war thCAJ9GCM3tactics – why? When I was young I was told to look on a problem from at least two sides but today it’s only a one-side source and from media giants overseas. Be critical!  I am always following news based on CNN, BBC, Russia Today and Al Jassirah in order to get a balanced point of view however, the two latter never seen or quoted in the west…-why?

thCAK2CYU9Have we all been so indoctrinated accepting being a part of a Big Brother role that we don’t need (should not dare) to question? All sides are controlling Social Networks, establishing military interventions, having minority differences, security issues, arresting people not following laws  but it seams like its more correct for one side – but never from another side even if identical (such a hypocrisy). The media is filled with show time reporters without investigation tactics expressing their own points of views (as well as from people of the streets) rather then looking from official, historical or general sources. Entertainment instead of reporting – why are we so naive?

thCA08M2LNWe are all different people with different opinions, religions, mentality the world differences makes us all unique and should be allowed to have different opinions. We have to accept the fact of majority still rules in a democracy (or am I wrong) and to be understanding for minorities with rights in proportions. Why don’t the majority go out for demonstrations – are we to passive? People are not the same all over the world and not sharing the same values – but all are given a choice and should solve their differences between themselves and with people wanting to respect and in the interest of their best instead of by external power play.

Sometimes I am ashamed of being “normal” and probably belonging to a passive majority – but at least I am trying to find out different reasoning looking on political selfish domination demands so obvious from far, far away hoping this planet sometime will learn to live together as different people solving problems instead of creating them….

In politics we choose minority parties and leaders who in the most cases do not represent our ideas and whishes as they build up coalitions – but having said that they always find a compromise (though often resulting in failure to make thCAJGVPSZdecision and without leadership). Well, at least it’s democracy but maybe also the fall of our civilization… In a prefect world we all should be equal but quoting Honoree Balzac “Bureaucracy (Politics of today) is the power of Giants handled by pygmies”… and in our dreams we fulfill the fairytale of Snow White  and the seven dwarfs waiting for the knight on a white horse for our salvation.

Ola Kastensson

Olympics threats – a personal note…

I am sad when I hear about fear of traveling, cancellations (loosing opportunities) due to threats from various individual sources and massive information from the media – creating an oversized proportion of biased analysis making headlines.


The security during the Olympics based on our own witnesses in Sochi at the moment are very strict with controls especially on Airports in the main hubs (Moscow, Sochi & St. Petersburg) and elsewhere in the country as well as security controls on all venues, local transportation, vehicle, transport and driver permission and a security force of some 70.000 people in Sochi itself.

The general infra-structure compared with previous games are more protected then ever before as all Olympic Venus are within the accreditation zone (Airport, Costal Cluster and Mountain Cluster which is closed for admissions and spectators only including confirmed and accredited transportation and drivers by both SOCOG and Federal Security). Locally there is no stress or concerns and even the boarder to the neighboring break-out republic Abkhazia is closed.

In addition to a mhockeyassive security from the official Russian side many of the main sponsors have their own security measures set up and as one of the Olympic Board members stated some weeks ago “Sochi will probably be the safest place in the world during the games”. During the following Paralympic Games I believe that any threats to people involved with limited mobility’s would definitely harm any course of actions as it would be condemned by all.

Personally, having our staff and family members at place (as well the responsibilities for our own clients) we do not consider this an extraordinary threat and I feel by avoiding a presence due to threats by anyone posting anonymously messages in any media will accept the facts of success for the threats made. We have done the evaluation that we will support the right of free travel and resistance to threats by sport-management-sochisystematically minimizing the efforts by terrorism threats as publicity victories which I believe (unfortunately) media on the contrary is making an oversized assistance to encourage.

The official information given on the public website of the state departments are no different from other public events of the seize of Olympics according to my view and believe that being in contact with the respective Embassies in Moscow they would be more able to give an unbiased recommendation if considering it an extraordinary risky event or not as they in constant contact with respective International companies  measures going to be present:

Ice Hockey Quarter Final - Day 13 - Russia v CanadaOf course I accept and understand internal decisions and policies but feel it’s important that we all express our personal opinion and views as I am strongly opposing medias way of limiting and sometimes scaring away opportunities of public interest and good cause.

Ola Kastensson


LGBT laws in Russia

There are plenty of information in the International Media about the danger, prisons and legal prosecution in regards to visit Russia and I feel it’s important to provide a more balanced explanation as I feel that  media has not entirely expressed correctly the actual situation in Russia.

Homosexuality is not by any means forbidden in Russia. The basic context of the law is NOT a ban of homosexuality, or not to criminalize  homosexuality (which is recognized Italy Europride Marchth[10]without restrictions) there are plenty of gay clubs and equal rights to people of all interests – however gay parades or public promotions where children is presented is not allowed in media or public.

Same- sex marriages is at the moment not recognized in Russia as only 17 states in United States have a full legislation acceptance by law and as well by various religious segments and many as 54 of the United Nations member States are still legally opposed to any LGBT rights with strict punishments involved, bans and prosecution (Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_laws_of_the_world )

See below a short content of the law explained simply as related by RT: “The Russian President has recently signed two laws against:

  • Insulting people’s religious feelings in public
  • Propagating homosexuality amongst minors”.

2 WhatWeDo Meeting MarketUnder the amended law holding public LGBT rallies is now prohibited as well as distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual concepts for children. Of the recent polls conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center (VTSIOM) in early June showed that 88 per cent of Russians supported the amendments to the law – 7 per cent said they are against.“

                                                                                                          Source RT

   I don’t believe it’s the correct way to avoid travel to Russia or boycott events held in Russia. By singlehanded boycotting one country without neither commenting nor providing travel restrictions to the mentioned individual countries and separate states in the US who provides limitations to LTGB rights. It’s of course open for discussion if this is right or wrong however within our own circle of friends whom are having “non-traditional relations” none have ever expressed any interest in participating in any public rallies or demonstrations but we all accepted their rights as a natural fact.

350px-LGBT_rights_at_the_UN_svgGREEN: Support: Countries which have signed an LGBT rights Declaration in the General Assembly, sponsored the 2011 LGBT rights resolution in the UNHRC, or both (94 member-states)RED: Oppose: Countries which had signed a statement opposing LGBT rights in 2008; initially 57, but 3 countries switched to supporting LGBT rights (54 member-states) GREY: Neither: Countries which have not officially opposed or supported LGBT rights in the UN (46 member-states). (Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_laws_of_the_world )

Ola Kastensson

23 things Russian’s do….

Ola500002Some short generalizations that I have encountered since my arrival to Russia in 1992 which helped me to understand this fantastic country and its people. I hope these hints will explain how “we” might do things differently and share my excitement and enthusiasm for being here! Enjoy!

1. WHO ARE “WE”? First of all don’t forget that we have 20 fingers and 2 brains (no different word for toes & fingers – only location). The brain and the spine have the same name.

2. Carpe Diem: We seize the moment and do what we think is right solving any issues on the spot!

3. Cars & Traffic: We love our cars and we drive against yellow lights – watch out! Traffic can be intense during weekdays and we DON’T avoid peak hours. During summer weekends we leave the city for our “dachas”!

4. Coats & Jackets: We never enter a restaurant with the coat on – even to have a quick look!

5. Whistle: We never whistle inside as we don’t want to lose our money – be careful! You can show happiness in so many other different ways!

Ola5000106. Foreigners & understanding: We have a great tolerance to foreigners speaking “broken” Russian and during Soviet Union era we had 123 different language groups “speaking” our language. Try for example “Yellow Blue Bus” which in Russian means “I love you” in a formal way. An immediate response is guaranteed…

7. Going Home: In St. Petersburg we make a quick decision to go home or stay – usually around an hour or two after midnight. Instead it might be worth waiting until after 4am when the bridges are down again! In Moscow we stay as long as we want and might have breakfast before going home…

8. Hello & Goodbye: When we are polite, we put the coat on before saying goodbye and we never greet one another on the threshold which brings bad luck!

9. Horoscopes: We know everything about horoscopes and star signs, all about the elements and Chinese symbolism for every New Year. So watch out – we might know more about you than you think…

10. Ice cream: We usually have ice cream for dessert and eat it outdoors in the winter time – as long as it’s cold it makes us feel fresh…

11. Information: If you want to know something – why don’t you ask? Why should we talk too much if nobody is interested? Do you really want to know?

12. Meat: In our local Russian restaurants meat should always be well done and it will be – a delicious alternative is Beef Stroganoff!

Ola50000613. Mobile Phones: If the telephone rings, we take it – what ever is happening around us and in any conditions. What happens NOW is more important than important things later – it’s even impolite to not answer!

15. Opinions: There are 145 million people in Russia – and as many opinions! If you want to find out the truth you have to collect as many opinions as you can and make up your own mind.

16. Photos: We don’t want to upset anyone by taking pictures of people in restaurants, bars or night clubs – maybe they don’t want to be seen and probably we don’t know them anyway!

17. Possibly yes? Nothing is possible – rather wait to see for ourselves! We start with a “no” and then… maybe rain, maybe snow…!

18. Presents: We love presents, small gifts and surprises, but we are shy and might not show you enough appreciation! So on behalf of an entire nation – thank you!

19. Smiles: We love a good story and we are very family and friend-orientated, but expect you to take the first step before being emotional with strangers. We might be more Latin or Eastern in our mentality than “Northern European”.

20. Specifics: It’s very difficult to generalize about Russia – so we don’t – things are good and bad, black and white, close or far away but not yet standardized. Everything and everyone should be evaluated as entirely unique!

21. Speeches: We love speeches with the drinks – but not too long – only spontaneously and from the heart!

22. Talking: We are very direct – so is our language. We start with the actual point and leave arguments and description to the end…if anyone’s still listening!

Ola50000123. Evenings: We usually go out to night clubs just before midnight and sometimes the “entertainment” is spiced with a short strip tease . You either enjoy it or ignore it – just don’t get upset, it is not our intention to offend.

Ola Kastensson

Will a hotel listen to 51.000 comments?

St. Petersburg, Russia.

Traveling means staying days after days in different hotels all over the world – our home away from home… In today’s world who is not traveling with devices? Communicators, iPads or tablets, phones, cameras and computers. Arriving to the hotel with all our gadgets we stare hysterically at the single electricity circuit hidden behind the TV or sideboard of our beds, even under the writing tables.

“In our business attire we crawl on the floor disconnecting the only source of light in order to install at least one of our business tools (not talking about our companions need for hair dryers)…”
imageSometimes we are rewarded by an empty circuit located near the entrance door located conveniently for the use of the maids vacuum cleaner. We run up – totally confused – in the morning to disconnect the phone alarm (I am tired of learning all different types of alarm provided by the hotels). For a modern couple traveling today a minimum of 6 connections is needed. Why not simply provide to all rooms an extension cable with multi connections – I just can’t understand. For a hotel of 200 rooms with 70% occupancy there are more then 140 people daily with the same problem (in a year 51.000 clients who does not complain)…

For all of over 40 there there is another thing that annoys me. Running to the bathroom every hotel have a special collection branded shampoo, bath gel and conditioners (we all know from the site inspections). When standing as god created me in the shower – I can without my reading glasses clearly identify the brand (or the hotel name) – however to see if it’s shampoo, conditioner or bath gel – I have to get back inside the room to fetch my glasses – already wet and with complaints from my partner. The next day I better remember the slight different colors of the liquid for the next time…

Chocolate on the pillows is of course a nice tradition – but looking for creativity. A focus group could be in place to show originality or local touch! If every chocolate (using my above example) is 10 grams the hotels are contributing an amount of 511 kg per year

The world changes – but who listens to the small comments that nobody even bothers to mention?

Ola Kastensson