Per Wimmer’s 8 Tips for Becoming a Total Boss


Photo by Philip Peng Rosenthal

CBS Talk’s first event of the year featured a talk from Per Wimmer, Danish philanthropist, space advocate, entrepreneur, financier, adventurer, author and future space tourist. Mr. Wimmer’s life is a tour de force, probably involving very little sleep. At the tender age of 46, he already has five degrees, including an MBA from Harvard, and has been a Director at Goldman Sachs, published several books, and broken several world records. His next step is to be the first Dane in space.

Today, he owns and administrates his own international corporate financial advisory firm. How, you might wonder, does Mr. Wimmer do it? You’ll find the not-so-secret secrets below as we recap the wisdom Per Wimmer shared with us during his two-hour talk at CBS.

1. “Follow Your Passion and the Money Will Emerge.”

Per Wimmer knows you can’t teach passion. You have to go out and look for it until you find it. He suggests that you have fun and find out what you really care about. If you know that, you will excel. You won’t think about the cost, the pain, or the time. Just about doing what you love.

2. “Nothing is Better Than Being Under Pressure.”

Per Wimmer believes in the power of competition and timing in driving results. He’s always challenging his limits. During his law degree, he wrote his masters thesis in six months. It’s supposed to take eighteen. In high school, he moved to France and completed three years of schooling in one. He also wrote his first book about the future of Europe – in French – in just four/five months time before he started at Harvard.

3. “Find Your Edge.”

Per Wimmer knows what his special spice is. He understands where he can make a difference and do something that’s different from everyone else. This is what helped him stand out, get into Harvard, and land awesome jobs. He explained that while stellar grades are important, so is having a story to tell that separates you from the crowd. We all want to learn about someone who has done something interesting. If you can express what makes you unique in any application process, you have much better odds. (We almost forgot to mention that Per has also been a recruiting captain for Goldman and on the student admissions board at Harvard so he really knows his stuff).

4.”Be Part of a Company When it IPOs.”

Per Wimmer is a much-wanted man. After finishing his MBA at Harvard, Bill Clinton’s administration wanted him in the White House and Goldman Sachs wanted him as part of their family. Goldman sent Wimmer through 38 interviews spending around one million dollars to bring him in. They won. He worked at Goldman during the dot.com tech era and when the company went public. He highly recommends working at a company during its IPO. He said it makes very profitable times. We believe him.

5. “Beware of the Bubbles.”

Per Wimmer thinks we are currently in middle of two bubbles: the Dot.com bubble number two and the Green Bubble (his book about the second just came out this week). He showed that in today’s tech arena, many of the companies are not producing real revenue. Take WhatsApp. It sold for 19 billion dollars to Facebook. This must mean that it’s a big company worth a lot of money, yet it only has 55 employees and is making 20 million dollars in revenue. These inflated deals are a warning sign of a bubble. He suggests that if you are building a tech company, make sure you hurry up with it, sell it, and get the hell out. Also make sure you take real cash – not paper.

Per Wimmer thinks the Green Bubble is going to burst because the energy industries rely too heavily on government subsidies. Real, competitive companies are not sustainably built this way. Per Wimmer suggests we apply some business logic to this sector and produce green energy solutions that are commercially sustainable. Per wants the government to stop giving subsidies to companies after 6-7 years. If their product is not ready by then, it’s not meant for commercial use. The government’s basket of money should instead go to technical universities that can work on R&D solutions.

6. “Make History.”

Per Wimmer doesn’t follow the rules. He makes them. He was the first person to ever tandem skydive from Mount Everest. He plans on breaking the world’s fastest landspeed record. He has flown a jet pack to and from work. He will be the first Dane to enter space and is working on deep diving to the Titanic. It’s also pretty cool that he’s always hanging out with celebrities including Richard Branson on his island.

7. “Execute. Execute. Execute.”

Per Wimmer uses his time wisely. He outsources all the noise and stuff that he doesn’t want to do in order to focus on what he’s good at. He compartmentalizes his year. He knows that business deals happen in the spring and follow ups happen in the fall. That obviously leaves August and January for book writing and adventuring. If only it were that simple.

8. “The Champagne Moment is Never The Goal”

Per Wimmer knows that winning and money can’t buy happiness. The real joy comes from the learning process that happens on the way to the top.