My name is Tomas Björkman and I am an applied philosopher and social entrepreneur.
One of the strongest personal drivers in my life has always been to unlock the hidden structures of the world around me. Curious and exploring, I constantly strive for a better understanding of science, people and social phenomena. Based on my understanding of human and societal needs in a world that is in many ways falling apart, I have committed myself to facilitating the co-creation of a more conscious society.
I want to give momentum to the right kind of changes
I am by no means the only person trying to become more conscious about the problems in the world. Many are also actively doing something about it. My main contribution is to bring change-makers together by creating arenas and initiatives with the goal of stimulating the right kind of development at both an individual and a societal level. The overall goal is to co-create a future at a higher level of individual, cultural, societal consciousness.
In 2008, I started my personal journey by founding Stiftelsen Ekskäret (Ekskäret Foundation) together with a number of future-oriented thinkers, social entrepreneurs and change-makers who became members of the board or creative partners. The Foundation's strategic vision is to "support a sustainable world where people are creating more well-being for themselves, each other and the planet". I strongly believe that personal development is a prerequisite for societal change.
Under the umbrella of the Ekskäret Foundation, we have created primarily two venues for events, Learning Labs and exploratory meetings etc.: the workshop facility at the island of Ekskäret (literally: the island where the oak-trees grow), located in the Stockholm archipelago, and the co-working space Ekskäret Klustret in central Stockholm.
The workshop facility on the island of Ekskäret welcomed its first curious and creative visitors in 2011. The facility provides a breath-taking venue and is a perfect arena for exploring existential questions and personal development - for teenager as well as adults. All activities on the island are carried out according to the principles of the Foundation. Ekskäret Klustret, a creative, activity-based co-working space located in the very heart of Stockholm city centre, opened its doors in 2016.
I believe that providing physical and digital meeting venues will create fertile soil for change. Gathering change-makers under one roof will stimulate sharing of ideas and creativity and lead to the co-creation of new initiatives and projects. It will also expand the networks of all participating entrepreneur and generate greater momentum for their important work.
I like to think of these two arenas as important incubators for co-creating positive changes. They are physical manifestations of the idea that a more conscious and sustainable society is possible, and we do watch and guide the ripple effects that result.
More recently I have taken the initiative to create K9 Co-living, Stockholm; Perspectiva Institute, London; the Co-creation loft, Berlin and the digital initiatives 29k.org and 'Emerge': www.whatisemerging.com.
The Love of Knowledge in Action
I am a member of the Club of Rome, a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science and a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Science. I call myself a philosopher in the original sense of the word: someone who loves knowledge and tries to see the big picture. I try to bridge many academic fields without, of course, being an expert in any of them; I search for the connections that form the evolving whole. You find an example of my thinking in the articles here and here; or in my books The Market Myth, The Nordic Secret or The World We Create.
From an historical and material perspective, the majority of humanity is doing better than ever, but at what cost? And can it go on? Urgent climate issues, economic instability and a widespread lack of security and meaning is spreading across the globe. Society is fostering loneliness, anxiety, depression, and terrorism, while distracting us from finding deeper forms of value and purpose.
My philosophical take on the world is that it is not enough to simply try to ‘solve problems’. Given the complexity of inter-related problems that all have elements relating to human thought and emotion, we need to evolve and adapt – that’s the challenge within the challenge. I believe we need to cultivate human capacities – for instance mental complexity, systems thinking, empathy - through which we can honour ecological constraints while also creating societies that enable us to thrive and live a meaningful and prosperous lives.
These are the reasons that I have launched the various initiatives that help people grow, such as the Ekskäret Foundation, and the youth organisation Protus among many others. I challenge myself every day in my effort to help promote these changes faster. I am a co-founders of the Fri Tanke Förlag, a publishing house dedicated to promoting challenging and ground-breaking literature which crosses the borders between science, politics, philosophy and existential issues.
Interviews and articles
You can listen to a 'Corporate Unplugged' podcast interview where I explain my philosophy and and talk abut my initiatives here. This pod gives you a good overview of my thinking and doing.
Some of my initiatives
My initiatives are all important parts of my life, but they have their own autonomy and have to speak for themselves. Please visit their websites.
The Foundation's mission is to facilitate the co-creation of a more conscious society. We do this by providing arenas for inquisitive exploratory meetings and lifelong learning. The Foundation creates and also supports various initiatives, conferences, seminars, courses, and more with the goal of bringing together individuals, organizations and companies in exploring and learning meetings, often with a cross-border perspective.
Ekskäret Klustret - our co-working space - is the go-to place for today's and tomorrow's society developers and change-makers. At Ekskäret Klustret, we meet and work together for the conscious development of individuals, businesses, and society. Klustret gathers curious entrepreneurs, researchers, consultants, and community stakeholders who, through their commitment and activities have the power and the will to contribute to our common vision. It is also an important arena for exploratory meetings, workshops and Learning Labs.
The Ekskäret Foundation owns and manages the island of Ekskäret (eng: where the oak trees grow), located in the Stockholm archipelago in Sweden. The development of this island was the first project of the foundation and the island is the origin of the name and spirit of the Ekskäret Foundation. Today's activities on the island are developed in close harmony with the foundation's principles.
The island provides a breath-taking venue dedicated to curious and exploratory initiatives, such as the Protus youth camps, courses in personal development and other exploratory meetings.
Established in 2008 by Ekskäret Foundation. The youth organisation Protus arranges youth camps at Ekskäret island and a few other places in Sweden. The camps are an religiously and ideologically independent alternative to traditional confirmation camps.
29k is a non-profit, open source, personal growth platform, combining the best science based tools with deep human connection - made available wherever you are, whenever you need it - for free. The initiative is a cooperation between the Ekskäret Foundation and the Norrsken Foundation.
Transformational Skills for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Goals were created as a roadmap to a sustainable future. We are now creating the Inner Development Goals - a framework of the capabilities, qualities, and skills that are needed to achieve the SDGs. Our aim is to educate, inspire and empower people to be a positive force for change in society, in their own lives and those around them.
K9 is a purpose-driven real estate venture that launches and manages conscious co-living and co-working properties for global citizens. The aim is to support the development of a more conscious society.
The Perspectiva Institute, London, examines complex problems in the external world from the perspectives of our inner worlds; integrating systems, souls and society for the common good.
Co-creation loft, Berlin, is a place for new ideas, a space for personal development, a room for exploring innovative ways of working and a homebase for system changers to make a difference in society.
As mentioned above, you can get an overview of my books by listening to this podcast.
The Market Myth (2016)
The market is a social construct, not a natural phenomenon, and we humans are not rational decision makers. The old models are not helping us any longer and we need to think anew around the market.
The Nordic Secret (2017)
Facilitating large scale personal development helped the Nordic countries build strong and happy democracies. Co-authored with Lene Rachel Andersen.
The World We Create (2019)
The world is entering a new technological, social and global age and it is our ability to create meaning - both individually and collectively - which will decide whether we face a bright future or a tragic decline.
Finding my purpose
I grew up on a farm outside Borås in Western Sweden and spent most of my adult life in cities, first in Stockholm, then in Geneva and now in London where I live today. Despite a modest background, I decided to pursue academic studies in mathematics and theoretical physics. I loved trying to understand the world from a theoretical and empirical perspective and would gladly have dedicated my life to science, but I wanted to change it too, and I became an entrepreneur.
In the first part of my professional life I worked in information technology, investment banking and property development, and started several companies and organisations. I founded Investment Banking Partners AB and was chairman of EFG Investment Bank. I am proud of what I have accomplished in business and it was an exhilarating journey, but it also changed me. I have come to see the world in a different way.
The main change was becoming more acutely conscious of what my own personal drivers are, and more conscious of the motivations and passions that I wanted to define the second half of my life. I am still animated by the entrepreneurial spirit, but feel drawn to understanding the relationship between our inner worlds and the major social and ecological challenges of our time. After many years in business I now work with social entrepreneurs and thought leaders, supporting initiatives pursuing the greater good that are grounded in research from natural and social sciences.
These activities, along with my three grown up children, give my life meaning and purpose. I feel blessed, but also focussed. My sense is that the world is at a precarious juncture and the combined challenge of understanding the world and acting effectively has never been more exacting, important and fascinating. I am resolved to do what I can to help build momentum for positive change in the world.
Research in Action
With my background as a theoretical physicist I have great confidence in science and follow cutting-edge research in a range of disciplines with a particular interest in cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology and sociology. My impression is that we have the knowledge we need to find meaningful paths through the challenges of today's complex society and overwhelming flow of information. But sadly, very little of this research reaches beyond academic circles and therefore is rarely used to help us develop a better world.
There are myriad insights in ecology, education, economics and wellbeing through which we can create better functioning societies, where everybody could thrive and lead prosperous and meaningful lives. For our children's future as well as ours, I want to help initiatives that are at the forefront of the conscious development of societies. We need to be mindful of emergence and complexity - there is only so much we can do - but let's find the courage to take an intentional stance towards the world we create together.