Signe Lønholdt Head of Community Growth, LEGO
“We have this program called the leadership playground, which is really for everyone, no matter which level you’re on at the LEGO Group. You can be a leader and lead your team doing these fun programs that will actually develop the team and you – and of course a lot of it is also learning through play which is such an important thing at the LEGO Group. So we have a day where we simply just play.”
Signe Lønholdt is an executive at LEGO Group and a leader of a team dedicated to connecting and strengthening the relationship between the community of adult LEGO fans and the company.
Educated in business, economic, and financial journalism, her career has spanned from TV news reporting, being a web editor at a popular Women’s Lifestyle Magazine before joining the LEGO company in 2011. From there, she’s launched an award-winning web experience for adult fans.
She’s a value investor who’s more passionate about the hunt for business knowledge than moving money into stocks. She’s also a mama, a mentor, an avid dodgeball player, and is most likely to be found with her nose in a book or any other medium, collecting gems of knowledge.
A stylist with a closet full of gems of knowledge. (05:45)
Why I have stopped watching news altogether. (11:32)
LEGO, how did that happen? (16:57)
What is it about the adults that build LEGO that they all have in common? (25:10)
Created by fans of LEGO (28:46)
It’s the fan community that’s driving the community (31:32)
About value investing (41:35)
Every value investor needs certainty (48:01)
Failure lessons (50:14)
I was kidnapped (56:13)
My top three LEGO sets (1:00:34)
Edited Transcription with typos – sorry:
Eitan Chitayat 0:07
Well, I’m pretty excited about today’s conversation. Because a while back on LinkedIn, someone’s senior at the LEGO Company in Denmark checked out my profile. That’s all I saw. I didn’t know who it was. But I was so excited because – you might not know this, I am a huge LEGO fan. So I copy and pasted a screenshot into my LinkedIn profile with a comment. Anyone who truly knows me will understand that this just made my day and over 500 LinkedIn reactions later, I found out that it was my dear friend Guy Spier who’d actually been speaking to this mystery LEGO executive. And he’d been the one to mention that he has a friend – me – who’s a bit of a fanatic, which is an understatement. I wrote to her. I told her the story about how we’d been connected, we spoke. Fast forward to right now. And here we are on our podcast, folks.
Signe Lønholdt is an executive at LEGO Group in Denmark and the leader of a team dedicated to connecting and strengthening the relationship between the community of adult LEGO fans and the company. She’s educated in business, economic and financial journalism and her career has taken her from TV news reporting, to being a web editor at a popular women’s lifestyle magazine, to joining the LEGO Company in 2011. To launching an award-winning web experience for adult fans like me. She’s a mama, a mentor, and most likely to be found with a nose in a book or some other medium collecting gems of knowledge. I’m so excited. Signe, welcome.
Signe Lønholdt 2:23
Thank you so much, Eitan. I’m super happy to be here. And yeah, it’s so great to connect with you and like a fan.
Eitan Chitayat 2:33
I love our story and how we met actually, I really love our story.
Signe Lønholdt 2:38
Yeah, and it’s such a fun story because I was talking to Guy. And during our conversation, he mentioned that he actually had friend who was a LEGO fan. And if he could, could connect the two of us. And I was like, Sure, definitely go ahead. And so he sent me your LinkedIn profile. And I went over there to check it out. And at that time, you didn’t know that it was me. But I think you pretty quickly got there.
Eitan Chitayat 3:15
Yeah, I got an email, I got a phone call. And here we are. It’s serendipity, as far as I’m concerned, and guide, you guys amazing. And actually Guy, I not sure if you know, but I did interview him for the podcast. And yeah, and actually, if you familiar with also with William Green, who he introduced me to, I’m also talking with him very soon. And he’s also going to be on the podcast and I’m reading his book right now about investing. Which I’m not sure that you’ve read, but it’s fantastic.
Signe Lønholdt 3:52
Yeah, actually, I got it from Guy. So but yeah, it’s it’s an amazing book. And you can look forward to that one for sure. It’s it really introduces some of the great investors and that’s what me and Guy haven’t come in also right it’s the investing. And yeah, I think one of the most extraordinary thing about Guy is actually what, what he gave and that was our connection, right so that after our call, I was the call with me and Guy I was reflecting about what had just experienced because for me it was an amazing experience to meet Guy who was a big role model of mine and an investing mentor. And I was reflecting our on our conversation and also after meeting you that it was the most extraordinary gift to actually give to someone to connect one person with the other and I thought it was such a beautiful thing that I, I definitely am going to, to model off him. And to share that in the future too.
Eitan Chitayat 5:11
I echo you every word, Guy’s a beautiful person. And I learned a lot from him. And we’re gonna talk about him as well. But you know what? Let’s start with the first thing before we get carried away see that? So the first thing, which is the question that I always ask my guests when they join. And it’s it’s a simple question, really. And it’s just really to complete a sentence. So my question to you, Signe, can you please just complete this sentence for me? I’m that…
Signe Lønholdt 5:45
Stylist with a closet full of gems of knowledge.
Eitan Chitayat 5:50
What does that mean?
Signe Lønholdt 5:52
Yes. So that is what I see as my purpose in life, actually. And there’s those words that I chose, there are so loaded with little nuggets of different kinds of information about me. So for example, a stylist is someone who is guiding someone else is a stylist is someone who communicates through a creative medium. And a stylist usually has a lot of followers that really follow that style, but it’s not directing anyone they’re guiding. And that’s why I chose that word. And then another thing is actually, when I was younger, I really enjoyed drawing, and it was always designing clothes. So so that’s where a stylist comes from. And then there’s the closet, full of gems of knowledge. And it’s also something I’ve been doing my whole life is to, yeah, just pick knowledge and put it up in my head, in my little closet up here. And when the time is right, I will pick that gym, for that person of knowledge. And hopefully, it’s something that will help them. That’s definitely my intention. So that’s behind that sentence stylist, a stylist with a closet full of gems of knowledge will uncover
Eitan Chitayat 7:32
Hopefully some of these gems today. I love what you said about the stylist and the creative aspect. Now, when we look back at, you know, with the introduction that I gave about your background, it really is very clear that you’re a creative soul. Also, your job right now, which I’m very excited to talk to you about the company that you work for. I mean, my followers know me as a branding specialist, a brand builder, and LEGO is one of my top three brands of all time. So I’d love to hear more about the creativity that goes on there. But let’s talk a little bit maybe if you don’t mind about, you know, you came from business, and economics and financial journalism. And then you got into TV news. So that’s a very big was that in the same kind of category or something completely different?
Signe Lønholdt 8:35
And no, it was actually I was in journalism school and as a part of school, you’re sent apply for it for different kinds of jobs while you’re at school. And I at the time, I was absolutely certain that the future for me was to go into news journalism, some maybe of the longer term formats where we would try to investigate businesses and try to find those bad companies that ruin the world. So with journalism school, that’s really what I thought I was going to do, which is also why I picked that that field within journalism, I was going to be an investigator and, and dig up some stories with some companies. So so that was kind of the reason why I went that route, and also doing news, because I really thought at the time that news was going to be the right path for me in journalism in order to to make some stories that mattered. And it’s just so important for me in everything I do that it has meaning to someone besides myself, and that was why I went into to news in order to actually change the world and also at the same time trying to find some of those bad bad businesses out there.
Eitan Chitayat 10:22
Did you uncover any bad bad companies?
Signe Lønholdt 10:27
Well, I didn’t. Because it turns out that news today is something where you have a couple of hours to get yourself familiarized with a story. And preferably that story has to be black and white, so that the viewers, listeners readers easily can digest these news. And I discovered that well, the world is not black and white, right? There are so many nuances.
Eitan Chitayat 11:03
What actually surprises me because in you know, the field of investigative journalism, I would, I would have thought that they would encourage you to take your time and do the research. I know that, you know, we’re probably talking about, you know, a few years ago, and obviously, today, it’s much worse with this whole advent of fake news and clickbait, and just trying to get people’s attention. How do you feel about everything that’s going on? Right now with the news,
Signe Lønholdt 11:32
I actually have stopped watching news altogether. And the reason for that is because, first of all, I know what’s going on in the room, where they are choosing stories, and I know that there’s people there that have political agendas, there’s people there that have their own agenda, in what will be written or made that day. Plus, I also, like I say, the viewers today are treated as consumers, and they have to sell the news in order to get more viewers. So it’s just become something that I can identify with. And I know that, you know, for me to not actually watch the news for me, if there’s some news, I need to see, I will, I’m absolutely certain I will see him.
Eitan Chitayat 12:33
You know, it’s funny the days I missed the days when you would tune into a TV station. And you’d be able to watch the news. Like, literally, the whole idea was to just tell you about something that happened today, a meeting that took place today with no spin, literally a reporting of the news very objectively. And I miss, I miss those days, because every TV channel, every station or network is agenda based. And so in order to really understand the news, you have to watch maybe 10 different channels, and you have to be responsible for understanding the nuances of each channel and read between the lines so that you get the average, you know, the common denominator story, which is which is a shame, I don’t know what it’s like in Denmark. I mean, it’s, it’s, um, I guess the same polarization kind of like everywhere else right now.
Signe Lønholdt 13:32
Yeah, definitely. There’s a big difference between what, what is called the cultural elite, and what’s here called the outskirts of Denmark. And I think you’re absolutely right, you need to, to watch so many different channels in so many different countries to actually understand the news. And also to understand was I given the right information, because what I see is you can watch news on a Danish channel, and then later you watch it from some other news channel outside of Denmark, and it’s two completely different stories. Plus, when I was a news journalist, even though a situation a certain situation might not have been necessarily that interesting, or confrontational, we would always go to that part of this big demonstration or whatever it was where there was some conflict. Right. So and that’s typical news.
Eitan Chitayat 14:43
Yeah, sure. Well, what’s interesting is that afterwards, you went to work for a women’s lifestyle magazine, I guess. What was it like? I mean, which one was it? Was it in Denmark?
Signe Lønholdt 14:55
Yeah, it was. It was it was in Denmark and I applied for the position, because it was very difficult at the time to get a job within journalism here, just to be completely honest, it was not my dream job. But I was hired. And it turned out it was such a fun job. And it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. And I hadn’t thought about that. Because I was, I didn’t think it would be like that, because I was very serious at the time. As mentioned, I thought it was going to do something different. And it turned out to be such a great career move, because we had so much fun being together. And I think, you know, it was a popular magazine, but we spent maybe 90% of the time having fun and 10% writing articles, right. But it really worked and the owner of of the magazine really encouraged that we continued that way. And so we had so much fun, and we had such a great relationship with each other. It was a such a great place to be. And I had not thought that when I look at well, I was there for a year, it was a cover and maternity cover. Here in Denmark, we get one year of maternity leave. So I was there for a year. And I was crushed when I had to leave, because so it’s such a fun, funny story in that way that I went in there. And I was kind of ashamed to tell my my friends where I worked in the beginning. Because it was a women’s lifestyle magazine and wasn’t very serious. But after a couple of weeks, I was very proud of it.
Eitan Chitayat 16:47
So what was the name of the magazine?
Signe Lønholdt 16:50
It’s called woman. Oh, and it’s it was it’s like Cosmopolitan.
Eitan Chitayat 16:57
And then LEGO, how did that happen?
Signe Lønholdt 17:01
Well, so at woman, I was editor for the website. And what I had to do there was to move from one platform where we were hosted. And on that blog platform, we had a big community. So I had to move that community from that platform, to our own platform. And of course, that was a big job trying to get that community over on the new website and try it to, to do something so that they would want to come with us. And that went really well. And that’s how I, I got into community at one point, a job opening came up at the LEGO Group in around 2010. And I applied for the position and at the time, Community Manager. And and that type of role was not yet a big thing. So there wasn’t a lot of people at the time that actually had the these qualifications. So I got the job. And I was at the time product owner of this web experience.
Eitan Chitayat 18:16
When you talk about LEGO, the brand, the company, at least abroad, and look, you’re in Denmark, you’re in the you’re on your home ground over there, but it’s tell us a little bit about what it’s like to work for this company. I think a lot of people would be very interested, it’d be great to hear about what it is exactly that you do. what your responsibilities are about the culture. I mean, I think it would be very, very interesting, especially to me.
Signe Lønholdt 18:47
Yeah, and the LEGO Group has it definitely. It’s a very, very special culture we have because a lot of businesses have values. But at the LEGO Group, we actually live our values. So it is everything about learning about having fun at work. It’s It’s really such an amazing place to work. That’s yeah, everything is awesome. The LEGO Group it really is. Yeah. I also think as a leader, you get a lot of support, in terms of there’s a lot of programs there to really develop you and not even US leaders but we have this program called the leadership playground, which is really for everyone, no matter which level you’re on at the LEGO Group. You can be a leader and, and lead your team doing these fun programs that will actually develop the team develop you and of course a lot of it is also learning through play which is such an important thing at the LEGO Group. So we have a day where we simply just play. And we just did it last month where we, the whole department play together.
Eitan Chitayat 20:14
And usually what play what do you sit down, you make LEGOs you play different things.
Signe Lønholdt 20:18
This year, it was a box of, of LEGO bricks and other creative pieces, like paper and pipe cleaners, and all all kinds of things. But usually it would be this huge field full of fun and games, some of it building with LEGO bricks, but also sports type games, or arcades and many, many different things. And then you just play all day.
Eitan Chitayat 20:46
Why do you think they do that? Like, why is it important?
Signe Lønholdt 20:48
It is really also about learning through play. First of all, it’s to pause, and just have fun. At a day like that it is really to pause and have fun. But we often use Lego bricks as an exercise where, for example, just this week, we came out of we built bridges between some of the different products we have. And so each team was each product team was divided into groups. And then we would build a bridge was between one product and the other. So what does the digital products have in common, what are some knowledge they have over there that we can use or some knowledge we have that they might be able to use or technology and things like that.
And we use LEGO bricks, as building these bridges, where we also had to make the bridge, just creative to actually show that this is the point we’re bringing forward. This is about relationships, or this is about technology, or any other kind of resource, it makes the conversation so much easier. We also use it for example, to get each other to know to get to know each other better. And oftentimes, it’s a session where you just get a pile of bricks, and then you have to introduce yourself, for example, to someone new, and you build a little model. And you have to use the bricks that you’re given. So you have to be really creative. Okay, so this flagpole here means that I’m raising the flag, or things like that, in order to actually describe ourselves. It just gives it the conversation, a whole nother context, and you open up so much more, you get a very open and an honest environment and a very trusted environment is because from these conversations, you end up telling a lot about yourself and your path.
Eitan Chitayat 22:47
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, when I when I was working in the creative department of an advertising agency, one of the big ones in New York, my creative director had LEGO. This was almost 20 years ago, maybe 15 years ago, 16 years ago. And you know, as as, as young creatives, you know, sometimes you just, you’re stuck. You’re just stuck, you know, and you have to come up with ideas, you have to come up with creative concepts with a language with design, and it’s one in the morning. And we would kind of like stop and build. And and what’s interesting is today, you know, I’m the owner of my own branding agency, and we actually have an office and like a, we work. And there have been many times where I brought LEGO to work. And I would take the LEGO out into the common area where there all these companies that you know, we’re not working with them. And I sit down at a table and I you know, I love Star Wars, you know, like go. And I would just sit down and I would take out a few of the bags, and I would just like, stop and build. Because that’s what I need to do. And then people would gather around, and they would want to know what you’re building. Can I build some of it with you? What and you just have these conversations around LEGO. And I think what’s interesting is about LEGO, the product, and also the imagination that goes with building, whether it’s building something for my kids, or building something from scratch with you, which is your own thing. At least for me. It’s meditative. It’s my meditation. Um, there’s some people that do yoga, there’s some people that run there’s some people that do they do lots of things, and I do some of those things as well. But my real hobby is building LEGO because I’m able to just pause and focus and meditate. And I’m wondering if because your job is very special. You know, it’s about building a community maintaining a community of adults. I’m one of those Guys, I’m literally one of those guys. And we’ve spoken a little bit about that. What is it about the adults that build LEGO that kind of like that something that they all have in common?
Signe Lønholdt 25:10
It’s funny you ask because it is exactly what you’re saying. It’s about socializing. It’s about de-stressing. Or just to focus on, on building and accomplishing something, and not thinking about anything else. But just put your life to the side and then focus on the build and focus on the accomplishment of either building a set or a kid, like you said, or your own model, which is called a MOC – my own creation. And then I also know that a lot of adults enjoy to share their knowledge about buildings. So if they build their own models, tips and tricks about how do you actually build that is something that they enjoy, to share to, and enjoy to display, what they build and showcase what they’ve built. So yeah, what you’re saying there is definitely something we see from the community that they really enjoy. And I would say, for the community that I’m in close connection to on a daily basis, it’s very much about the socializing, and the connections to other LEGO fans and to the LEGO Group.
Eitan Chitayat 26:30
You know, it’s interesting also is, I definitely get that about the connectivity with people because I gave you an example of in a, in an office environment. But they’re also like, probably like three, four, maybe five friends that I have that like to build LEGO as well. And when I’m building my Lego, at different stages in the build, I’ll stop. And I’ll take pictures, and I’ll send it to them. And they’ll do the same. So like we involve each other in the process. And when you finish the build, I mean, send you a few pictures already. But I will sit down with the spaceship with the characters and I will create these scenes and I’ll post them online. And even people that don’t build LEGO, they really, they love it. And I find that what one of the things that I really want to do is because I enjoy it so much, because I enjoyed the build, and what you said about a sense of accomplishment, you know, being able to say, Wow, I just made that, you know, I just made something that was 2000 pieces, and it’s gorgeous that even my parents in their 80s and 90s. They’re like, Wow, that’s amazing. I want to kind of like spread that I want to spread that joy.
And actually a little funny story for you. I’m a huge Prince fan. And in fact, the music at the beginning of the podcast was written by Lisa Coleman, who is the piano player in Prince’s original band, the Revolution. And her partner, her musical partner is a woman called Wendy Melvoin. So I don’t know if you’ve seen the prince video of Kiss where he’s dancing around. And there’s a woman playing a guitar, you have to watch the video. It’s amazing. That’s Wendy. So whenever I see a guitar, I think about Wendy Melvoin. And because I’m connected to them, I just saw the guitar that LEGO came out with. And amazing. And I voted for her. And I sent it to her. And she wrote back and she’s like, Wow, that’s amazing. And that’s just like, it’s just you want to spread the joy. Like if there’s a piano, I would want to get it for these as well. Because she’s she’s gifted and she’s beautiful. I think she’s absolutely amazing. But you just want to spread the joy, you know, because there’s joy in building LEGO.
Signe Lønholdt 28:46
And the two sets you mentioned are actually created by fans of LEGO. Yeah. Both the piano and the guitar.
Eitan Chitayat 28:56
Oh, there was a piano. Maybe I missed it. I didn’t know that there is a piano?
Signe Lønholdt 29:00
Yes. The grand piano. So and it’s an amazing, absolutely amazing model. I have it. It is beautiful. Well, I will have the amazing,
Eitan Chitayat 29:14
I will have to look that up because that’s got Lisa written all over it. But tell me more about what do you mean when you say it’s a fan?
Signe Lønholdt 29:22
It’s a fan who built let’s let’s take the guitar, for example. So a fan built his own model of a guitar. So buying LEGO pieces, building a model. And then he submitted it to a website we have. And a lot of people liked his model and voted for it. Wow. And then what we do at the LEGO Group is we review all of these submissions that get more than 10,000 votes and then We decide which one of them we want to make into a LEGO set. And for the guitar and piano, they are both fan submissions. So it’s not a thing that was actually something that the LEGO group came up with. It was a designer, fan designer who put it on a website, and then people loved it. And the company decided, yep, we believe in that idea.
Eitan Chitayat 30:27
Is that something that you’re involved in?
Signe Lønholdt 30:30
I’m not involved. I actually used to be, but I’m not involved in it anymore. But it is within the same department that I’m in that this website is a product.
Eitan Chitayat 30:41
That’s amazing. I saw recently there was a typewriter, an old school typewriter. Is that also a fan? Or is that something that yeah, that’s also fun.
Signe Lønholdt 30:48
Unbelievable, also a fan. Yeah.
Eitan Chitayat 30:51
So I mean, this is a company and this is what I love about, like, the company and the brand. I mean, you’re celebrating the community. I mean, it’s I mean, a part of what you do, I mean, what it is that you do, which is as your bio said, you know, the whole idea is to strengthen the relationship between the company, the community of like, adult labor, fans and the company. And it feels like, it’s such a natural. And I know that there’s a lot of work involved, of course, to make it happen. But it feels like such a natural thing for this company to want to do is to create that connection. Do you find that you feed each other, like the company feeds the community, that community feeds the company?
Signe Lønholdt 31:32
Well, that’s a very good question. I would say that, you know, we have this saying that a brand, don’t create a fan, a fan creates a fan. So it is, it’s really the fan community that’s driving the community. And then we are just lucky that they also want to have a connection with us. And we enjoy that very much to actually have that relationship with them. So we can actually say celebrate what they do. A lot of the fans are connected in communities, and they do events where they display their models. And of course, during COVID, it’s been very tough for the fans, because they’re used to, to meeting each other at these events and socializing and displaying their models to the visitors that come by and check out the model. So it’s been a very tough time, because that’s the essence of their hobby.
Eitan Chitayat 32:30
How has the company been able to help the community in this in this time? Because I know also there have been LEGO conventions, LEGO meets, it’s global, it’s not, you know, it’s an it’s all over the world. How have you as a company, and specifically with what you’re doing in terms of strengthening the bonds between the company and the fans? What have you been able to do? Have you been able to help strategically in execution really?
Signe Lønholdt 32:59
Well, yeah, it’s what what we are trying to do is actually to say, Okay, so a community that actually have been successful in overcoming some of the struggles during COVID, can you share with other communities? What would you have been doing, and then right in the beginning of the COVID crisis, let’s call it that. We also did feel a lot of the community wasn’t necessarily in a good place. So we have really tried with communication, to turn it around, and to actually reestablish that happy place, where it’s something that the community really enjoys coming to our platform and enjoy talking to us, and actually get a lot of out of that connection. So really trying to, to do some initiatives, with with communication, in order to, you know, bring back the joy. And it is very much about pausing and reflecting about life where we, we asked some questions,
Eitan Chitayat 34:10
I imagined, I don’t know that you might have individual stories from people that are actually quite moving. Could you share any, it will be great to hear if there are any stories that you’ve come across with your with your community, individual stories that might reflect just just what this whole relationship with the LEGO building in the community or the company or connecting with joy? As we’ve said a few times, how much did you mean to people?
Signe Lønholdt 34:39
Well, it does mean a lot with the socializing and the connecting. And during tough times, we really see how the community is coming together and helping each other out. So one story is that we had a member in a community that that passed away and during that time His friends really came together from the community and helped the family and reached out to us also to just make sure that we were aware of what was going on. And it was, it was just really beautiful to see how the community came together. But we’ve seen it many times in times of crisis, how the community really comes together and, and help that person we have a, a close member who’s a huge Star Wars fan, a French person who actually had his whole collection, stolen, his house was robbed his whole LEGO collection. And of course, that was a super difficult time for him. And he was quite crushed. And we actually managed to find a set and ship it to Hollywood, and have the set of actors on the Star Wars movie, sign a box and shipped it to him. As well as the design team at the LEGO Group.
Eitan Chitayat 36:23
Signe Lønholdt 36:35
Yeah. And we also made sure that he was a part of our connected community just for support, because we can’t rebuild his whole LEGO collection. Right. And, and we can help him with that. But we want him to know that we’re there to support him going through this. And of course, there’s many stories, and it’s not everyone that we can help like that. But there are definitely some.
Eitan Chitayat 37:02
Full disclosure. I mean, if it’s okay with me sharing it, but I turned 50. And You conspired with my wife? And I don’t know you that well, you know, and you sent me the R2-D2 LEGO, which was so moving, it was such a beautiful surprise. And I think for no other reason, then you probably felt that I’d liked it. And I turned 50. And we maybe we have a nice story. But you know, as a representative of the LEGO Company, it’s just to me, that’s just, it’s just a beautiful thing. And I’ve really appreciated it. And I’ve said thank you so many times already, but in public, I’d love to say thank you. But I think it’s things like that, that it’s what makes me love the brand so much. And even a story that I read recently about that someone bought a LEGO kit, and something in the LEGO kit from Star Wars and Han Solo, something was missing from the kit and someone wrote in complaints, something’s missing. And then the response was, I don’t even know if you’re aware of this. But the response was that the customer service were back and said, Okay, well, someone’s obviously stolen it, Han Solo is going to get it back with a What was it like some of the Kessel Run, I don’t even know. But it was just like such a creative response that Han Solo went after them, and that you’re going to get back to them as soon as possible. But like, it’s a little stories that you hear about all the time from LEGO, like all the time,
Signe Lønholdt 38:32
We do have the most awesome LEGO customer service team in the world, I have to say it, they are absolutely brilliant. And they’re the head of the division is a mentor of mine, she is absolutely inspiring such a such a role model and the team are ultra creative in in the way that they respond. And they are, you know, this, the whole structure in that team is so caring. And it’s it’s a huge inspiration for the rest of the company.
Eitan Chitayat 39:04
But I have to say, again, you know, coming from, you know, brand building background, and what I do is like so much of that is felt and it’s what made people want to be associated with your brand. And I love what you said about the company living its values. I mean, to me, that’s, that’s very apparent. I mean, I was going one of the questions I was gonna ask you earlier on was, what is it that you love so much about working at LEGO? But I think that you’ve naturally already answered so many of those questions with everything that you’ve been saying. But if there’s one thing that you haven’t said Signe, that is what you love about the company. What would that be?
Signe Lønholdt 39:45
Well, I really love that, that you get an endless amount of opportunities. There is a culture of, of really, if you’re a person that needs a new challenge or would like to know more about a certain area, there’s really a, an amazing culture in, in giving that to people and actually try to accommodate some of these things. And to develop people, and really a caring spirit towards the employees that you don’t find in many companies, but they really want you to thrive. And we can all feel that.
Eitan Chitayat 40:31
Do you think that that comes from the top leadership? I mean, I’ve read some interviews with the CEO, and about the vision of the LEGO company, there’s all sorts of amazing things that you’re doing also in terms of sustainability, which I think is very important, because I always had this kind of like a guilt, you know, we’re using plastic, but I also am comforted by the fact that labor is investing an extraordinary amount of time and energy to to get to the place where everything that they make will be sustainable.
Signe Lønholdt 41:03
Yes, and it is definitely something that is a very big part of our agenda towards 2032. And to your question about, if it comes from the top, I really do believe it. So the LEGO Group is a family-owned company, it’s the Kirk Christiansen family that owns the company, and I do believe that, that comes from there and comes from them. And just crystals all the way down through the ranks. I’m certain about that.
Eitan Chitayat 41:35
Well, you’re working for a great company. And I’m a fan. We’ll let’s switch a little bit from LEGO. Because there’s a lot of other things about you, which are quite interesting. One is we talked about investing. And I know that you’re a value, investor. And I understand that you’re, even though you’re a value investor, you’re more passionate about the hunt for business knowledge, then you are moving about moving money around into stocks and stuff. So how did you get into this whole world of investing? And what is it about that, that, you know, and you’re of course, you’re you’ve already mentioned that you’re a fan of Guy Spiers. In my preparation for my interview with William Green and reading his book, I’m learning a lot about the person behind the investor, because it’s not about investing. It’s also about the way you approach life. I’d love to know more about investing from you. Your thoughts on investing in what is it that you’re so passionate about?
Signe Lønholdt 42:33
So this is sort of where my life comes full circle, right? Because when I was young, I thought I would go after those bad businesses and now it turns out, I am going after the wonderful businesses instead. And that is really what we do in value investing, we try to find those companies that are absolutely wonderful. And to stay clear of the companies that aren’t. And what I really like about value investing is really first of all the community. So I got into value investing, because I read a book. And I know it’s your friend who wrote the book, Danielle downs. And yes, and yeah, she is such an amazing person. And that book, it really, truly changed my life and the way I view the world. And also the way I view investing, it was such an eye-opening experience to read the book. So I started doing my own research, and started to study some of the topics from the book more in depth, and listening to their podcast. I remember listening to one of the podcast where they had a person named Guy Spier. And that’s the day I started my list of my favorite podcast episodes, because what I really admired was authenticity and integrity and just being absolutely honest about own failures, and even using it as an advantage to have failed. And I just, I feel I found my right shelf with value investing because it is, like you say it’s so much more about personality necessarily, then it is about finding stocks and monitoring the stock market and clicking the buy button. That’s the least bit
Eitan Chitayat 44:41
Well, I think this is maybe a good point to talk about, just like quickly for anyone who’s listening. The Daniel Townes book, which is amazing is called invested. William Green wrote a fantastic book, the one that I’m reading right now which is called richer, wiser, happier. And of course, there is Guy’s, four guys fuse book, which is also a phenomenal book the education of a value investor. So if anyone listening, go pick up those books right now. So we know your day job, you know, managing people like me, in the labor community. What are you doing with this other passion?
Signe Lønholdt 45:17
Well, it’s a lot of blissful moments reading, or, or studying or listening to podcasts and just gaining a lot of knowledge, not only about businesses, but as but the world in general. And, and this is also where the news is not necessarily super interesting. But someone’s opinion might be interesting, where, again, you might curate a list over people that’s interesting to follow, or their opinion matters. So you, you prime yourself in terms of what you want to see and read. And that’s really what what it’s all about. It’s hunting for those gems of knowledge, really. And that’s why I like it so much, also, because when, when you spend so much time looking into to a company into their annual reports, and have studied management, etc, and found out okay, yeah, this is a company that is really wonderful in terms of, of the CEO, think about the shareholders and is driven by a long term strategy. And once you find a company like that, it is really, it’s like, you know, building a Lego set, you’re, you’ve accomplished something, and now you you’re finished. And now you’re just waiting for that perfect time where that company goes on sale, so we can buy it at a good price. So that’s really the the essence of investing, finding a management with integrity, and a company that have a competitive advantage, and then buying it.
Eitan Chitayat 46:56
In something that’s interesting about what I’m learning from Williams book is that some of the most success, one of the attributes of one or two of the investors, and we’re talking about legendary investors that he spoke to, is about this notion of patience. And it’s not about swimming with all the fish in the sea in one direction, because people, you have this herd mentality, doing what everyone else will do. A lot of times, it’s about waiting, and trusting your own gut based on wisdom and knowledge that you’ve acquired, and then making the move when you’re ready, and having the conviction to make that move. And it’s about character. It’s about having faith in yourself and not leaving it for someone else to decide what you’re going to do. And that was my takeaway. And so I guess I’m learning about the things that I really didn’t know about investing or investments, it’s really about the people behind it, and the decisions behind it. And it comes down to character and values in in many ways.
Signe Lønholdt 48:01
One of the traits that we all have, every value investor is certainty, that we need certainty. And that’s why we spend so much time investigating companies. So that when we’re ready to buy, that we’re certain it is a good company. And we also choose to not invest in a lot of businesses, because it’s a times businesses we don’t understand, or they turned out that the management might not have, have a good strategy, etc. And so it’s really about creating certainty for us, that our money is invested in the right thing and not having someone else invest the money for us. Because we are sure that we’ve done our due diligence. And that’s, this is a business that is truly wonderful that we understand and that we want to to bet our hard earned money on an explosive growth is not necessarily something that’s super important. But it is really important for us to to just make sure that that it is a company that have a competitive advantage and a management that know where they’re going long term.
Eitan Chitayat 49:28
See now I want to ask you a couple of other questions, if I may. Because I think it’s nice to kind of like get to know you also from you know, talk a little bit about investments, talking about the company that you work at a little bit about your past. But let me ask you a couple of questions about difficult things, meaning, failures. I’m always interested in learning and growing from failure. So is there anything that you can share about something in your life that was very, very difficult Maybe professionally that was that at the time, maybe you perceived as failure. But actually, it was something that was very, very beneficial to you and that you learned a lot from it.
Signe Lønholdt 50:14
Yeah, so one of the first thing I think about was, as the first time I had to let go of someone that was in my team, and I knew really love their job. But unfortunately, I had to let that person go. And it was such a tough time, I knew it was the right thing to do. But it was very, very, very difficult to know that this person, this was their dream job. And now they had to go home to their family. And until their family that they screwed up, it was it was very, very difficult. And I definitely makes us made some mistakes at the time in terms of my communication to the rest of the team and to the community. And it was very, very difficult period for me, but it was also a time where I grew a lot and learned a lot. And, and I definitely came out of out of the on the other side, stronger. But also, you know, with the team, since I don’t want that to happen for anyone, it also took some, some soul searching within the team to ensure that we were reflected a little bit in the team about our roles and responsibilities. And I really wanted to make sure that that it didn’t happen again. And because I really also felt in the beginning that I failed. Even though it wasn’t necessarily me, but a leader failed. And maybe had I done things differently. So I really wanted to make sure that that the team had some had a good firm foundation to also come to me with some of the things they thought was difficult in the organization, some tasks or something like that, that make made it difficult for them to carry out their jobs. In order for for us to, to work that out and see what what we could do.
Eitan Chitayat 52:20
Don’t let it get to the stage where someone’s going to be laid off. It’s like, let’s record it to make sure that people are happier. And if they need help, they can come to us. So we just don’t I don’t want to it’s like almost like I don’t want to be in that situation again, you know, kind of let’s what can we do to avoid it? Let’s get better collectively.
Signe Lønholdt 52:36
Exactly. Absolutely. And, and also to protect them so that they didn’t end up in a situation where, you know, they felt they either had to do something or, or did something they shouldn’t do. I wanted that openness and honesty between us. So what do you what are
Eitan Chitayat 52:57
you really good at? See, you know, like, what’s your, what’s the thing that you feel that you’re really good at where you excel?
Signe Lønholdt 53:05
Well, there there’s a couple of things. But one thing is definitely to to do research. I excel in that. And I’m also a quite caring person. Because of my childhood, you never quite knew which mood my dad was in my father was in. So from a quite young age, I learned to just decode his his mood and it is something I still use this day to kind of okay, what’s, what’s the temperature in this room? Or with this person?
Eitan Chitayat 53:44
Was this something about your dad? something specific? No, but he was like, he was moody.
Signe Lønholdt 53:52
Yeah, yeah, he was he had quite a temperament. Ah, so of course, you know, if he was if he was in a bad mood or something like that, it was just to stay clear and and move away from where he was.
Eitan Chitayat 54:08
And the premises vacate the premises.
Signe Lønholdt 54:11
Exactly. Evacuate. And one place where I’m quite intelligent is to read people’s emotions, or to read a room. And sometimes probably also reading way too much into certain situations. But I definitely see that as one of my strengths because I also see a lot of people that that can’t read a room.
Eitan Chitayat 54:37
And what do you suck at? What are you just absolutely terrible at?
Signe Lønholdt 54:40
Oh, it must be like, I’m actually and I am really I suck at at cleaning and housework. I’m not a good wife there. In terms of helping out with that. I really suck at it. And it’s so funny because You know, it’s, I do really suck at it. It’s when I’ve cleaned someone has to, to go after me and clean, clean after my cleaning.
Eitan Chitayat 55:11
That’s pretty bad. If someone has to clean after you’ve cleaned, then you really must suck, you know,
Signe Lønholdt 55:16
Eitan Chitayat 55:19
But you play dodgeball, that’s something that’s something that’s amazing. You actually play dodgeball.
Signe Lønholdt 55:23
It is actually a sport that that people play or adults play. And it is so much fun. So when I was a kid played it in school every Friday, it would be Oh, can you please pay to play dodgeball and we got to play dodgeball for an hour or so on Fridays? Yeah, so it’s something I also really enjoy in my, my adult life is to, to throw balls at someone. And we have we have so much fun.
Eitan Chitayat 55:52
I think I need to pick that up, I need to throw some balls that I could actually like, as a few people I’d like to throw balls out. But we can talk about that offline. I want to be cognizant of the time. But there’s two more questions that I want to ask you. And one of them is what’s something that nobody and I mean, nobody knows about you.
Signe Lønholdt 56:13
Well, something that only very, very few people knows about me is that I, I actually had a very tragic childhood. So my, as mentioned, my dad, he was very temperamental. So he took it out on his kids when he was in a bad mood and sorry, yeah, the thing is that it took me actually many years to realize that, that I’m actually quite grateful about it, because it made me into the person I am. And yeah, it took me a lot of years. And also, I’ve just been incredibly blessed in my adulthood. I’ve had the most fantastic life. So my childhood was not great. What someone what most people don’t know was when I was five, I was actually kidnapped. And that is something not a lot of people know,
Eitan Chitayat 57:22
Kidnapped – what happened? What’s the story?
Signe Lønholdt 57:25
You don’t want to you don’t want to know, but it was an absolute. Yeah. terrible story, but, and it took me 30 years to get over. I was in my mid 30s. Before I I actually was able to, to not see myself as a victim. But But yeah, it’s, I would say that it’s it’s definitely one of those things that that has an incredibly strong person, right, it’s where I see other people might be very fragile. I am just extremely strong. And it takes a lot to, to kind of get me off course. And though my childhood wasn’t the most amazing childhood, I’ve been so incredibly blessed as an adult to Yeah, to experience so many incredible things and being surrounded by incredible, incredible people. And, you know, my own kids, it’s so important for me to just give them an absolutely wonderful childhood. So they feel safe and, and things like that. So it’s something that I, I take quite seriously to make sure that that my kids have some some good memories, because in all reality about my childhood, I don’t have a lot of memories. And I think I simply just blocked it. Which is also something I’m very grateful for but but then simply focusing on my, my adult life, my, my career, my family, all of the experiences I’ve had, and the relationships I have is actually absolutely amazing. And I’m, I’m so grateful for that and live a relaxed everyday thinking about things that I’m grateful for in my life.
Eitan Chitayat 59:23
When I asked you that question I was expecting maybe, you know, maybe you pick your nose when no one’s looking.
Signe Lønholdt 59:32
I do that too.
Eitan Chitayat 59:33
Yeah, well, you could be kicked out. But um, but what Well, first of all, more power to you. Definitely. And I also think that something that’s coming across loud and clear, which is a beautiful thing is, is is and I think this is something that I’m trying to do more and more is to, to feel gratitude, to invest the time and to make it a point and to feel grateful. And that really comes through. So Wow. Maybe we have to do another podcast one day entirely devoted to that story. The other question that I have is, well, actually, I said, I said, too, but I just thought of one more. Coming out of the kidnapping thing, it feels very, very silly. Now, everything would what’s your favorite LEGO set? I have to ask you.
Signe Lønholdt 1:00:25
Yeah. Okay. So that’s, that’s a very difficult question for someone working at the LEGO Group.
Eitan Chitayat 1:00:30
Top three, top three. Let’s make it easy. What are your tops?
Signe Lønholdt 1:00:34
Yes. Okay, so I like pirates of the Barracuda Bay, because of the Bucks art, which is absolutely extraordinary. It’s like one of the LEGO sets from your childhood. So it’s designed exactly like LEGO sets was back in the day. And so that is absolutely beautiful. And then I don’t remember the set number, which is definitely usually something that we we do try to remember. But there was a Porsche and orange liquid technique Porsche that came out a few years ago, I’ve seen another one. And that is just also absolutely amazing. The build the color, the way again, with the packaging, every it is like a little workshop car shop. In a box.
Eitan Chitayat 1:01:30
So you I don’t think you I looked for that. I couldn’t find it anywhere because they go out of stock. What do you do? What do you do? Like, there’s so many kits that I want that I can get? What do you do when when that happens? Is there any place we can go? I mean, they’re the fake LEGOs, which occasionally, if they you know, people are known to go and get the free clothes, which is not the not the ideal situation. But is there I guess eBay is? eBay is another way. You know, you can get old collectors.
Signe Lønholdt 1:01:59
Yeah, there’s there’s also there’s eBay, there’s brick link, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, yeah. Where you can purchase elements and and sets. And that’s what, what most league fans do, right? They go to eBay or for bricklink,
Eitan Chitayat 1:02:16
I bought a triple the price for kits that I just can’t find that one. I can’t because you know, the first one is really expensive. But there have been like smaller kits that you know, maybe sold at $50 that I bought for $200. Secondhand, which I’m fine with at that price. But you know, sometimes it gets pretty. Labor is not cheap. You know, it can get pretty expensive. The last question I have and that’s Oh, wait a second. There’s there was one more than we said three, you get me to the Porsche, the pirates one. What’s the third one?
Signe Lønholdt 1:02:48
Let’s see. Which one is my third favorite LEGO set. It’s, it’s actually a Christmas present that we got. And when was that? But it was it was a so every year we get a special Christmas present for all employees. And we actually share that with with some of the community members that some of the very close community members that Christmas set, but it is a very, very special set. And every year, it is so exciting to see what is coming. And a few years ago, it was a walk down memory lane really where there was some iconic mini builds from from the LEGO group’s history. Oh, wow. So it was an absolutely amazing gift. And and they usually are. And what is also amazing is that in the last couple of years, the community has actually created our Christmas cards. So last year, the toy photography community provided the photos for our Christmas card. I shared a link with you the other day.
Eitan Chitayat 1:04:09
Yeah, you did. So that was the that’s the cameras. The ones the photographing of the products.
Signe Lønholdt 1:04:18
Well, they so they’re a community of photographers, and we have a couple of those communities they’re stuck in plastic is IP and there’s brick Central, brick Central. And what they’re passionate about is taking photos off sets, or the LEGO Minifigures or the bills they create themselves and they are amazing photographer, some of them are professional photographers and but their passion is really taking photos.
Eitan Chitayat 1:04:46
Like what I sent you how I create a scene. And and and you can you can submit those as a part of the community and if they like it, they upload it or is it? Yeah, maybe that’s why you sent it to me I think I’m going to do that like right now. Because I have like, around 1000 pictures of little of little people with with spaceships and stuff. But so um, Hey, have you have you ever been? Have you ever been to Israel? Have you ever been to Tel Aviv?
Signe Lønholdt 1:05:14
I’ve never been I want to go I before I had kids, I enjoyed surfing. And I know that Tel Aviv have beautiful search surfing beaches, so. So
Eitan Chitayat 1:05:30
I don’t know if we have nice beaches, that’s for sure. But surfing is not like what television is known for this kite surfing, which is great. And there’s also wonderful in the Kineret, which is in the northern furthermore than in the north of Israel is an incredible kite surfing. We have great beaches along the coast. But the reason I asked is because nothing to do with Lego. I mean, I know that of course, there is an Israeli community here. And you told me that an avid LEGO fan came to the event. Recently, we send you the picture of the CEO, as well. So I was very happy to see that there is a Lego community here, which hopefully will just continue to grow. But first of all, it’s great to hear that you’ve always wanted to come to Tel Aviv. And what I suggest is that you and I speak with guy and the next time that he comes to Israel, we drag you along for a wonderful trip here because it’s an incredible Israel’s an incredible country. It’s a beautiful country. It’s very misunderstood country. And Tel Aviv is I think hands down the best city in the world. And I would love to for you to come and visit.
Signe Lønholdt 1:06:42
I’ve heard so many good things about Tel Aviv so it is on my bucket list. I really want to go there and and the surfing is actually because I used to know someone from Tel Aviv, who was a surfer now he lives here in Denmark and have a surf shop up north.
Eitan Chitayat 1:07:02
Surfing in Tel Aviv is great. Yeah, you let you let him listen to this podcast afterwards. And I challenge him on if you never hear that surfing instead of your people serve but they’re not like no big waves or anything really. It’s you know, you’re lucky if you get because always but the beaches are great. The beaches are great, you should come anyway, and surf your surf your your heart out, but you come here. Listen, I just want to say, Sina, it has been such a pleasure to talk to you. And it’s such a joy. I love our story. I love everything that you had to say today. I think that people will find a lot of value in what you brought to the table in this conversation. And I think also you you gave a little peek into the the behind the scenes of Lego, which, which I personally thank you for. And, and one day, hey, I might come and visit you and do a little surfing on some LEGO bricks in in the 40s with you.
Signe Lønholdt 1:07:58
I will I will give you the tour if you come here and thank you so much for inviting inviting me to your podcast. And I really appreciate you know you’ve got so many amazing people on this podcast. So I’m very honored that you wanted to talk to me.
Eitan Chitayat 1:08:13
My absolute pleasure. Thank you. Well, that’s it. Thanks for listening to on that podcast. Go ahead and subscribe to the show on iTunes and if you’d like leave a rating and review, tune in for the next episode, and see you soon