Om mine næste 10 år

Min tale til min fødselsdags-reception 28.1.2015

Liselotte’s birthday reception for me on January 28, 2015

Some words at the party by the happy 70 year oldie !


The time of surprises is never ending. At least not when my wife Liselotte is concerned. I thought I would have a “quiet” week with 3 conferences, 5 appointments, 6 important notes to finish and more.   And now this.  GREAT surprise.  Warming an old Viking to the heart.  I am so happy that you did also this for me J

One’s birthday is about the only thing in life you for certain have never had any influence on! You can only wonder, where your parents were and what they were doing 70 years + 9 months ago!

But I now have such a long and very good experience with birthdays that I have decided to have 95 of them  – at least. So welcome back here in 25 years.

In my Christmas letter I told about the big decision I took when I turned 60 – just a short while ago.  I left the Commission after 32 years and started a new great life. And I also wrote that I do something similar now at 70.  This is still my decision.

Many friends have tried to guess what this new important step could be? Moving back to Denmark?  Sell everything and make cruise around the world and other  adventures?  Were we going to divorce?  Or would I be nominated to something new and impressive?

But no!  Nobody got it.  Not even my wife got it right!  I have saved it for myself – until tonight J  I will tell you in a moment.

Some have also asked me, how I have celebrated my birthday ?

I have done it 4 times now:

  1. A 110 years birthday I Australia together with my daughter Cecilie  – at a resort called Busselton at the Indian Ocean just before Christmas – with the whole close family around

  2. A lovely stay for 2 for a couple of days, incl. the day itself, in charming Saarbrücken in Saarland in Germany – at the invitation of my dear Liselotte

  3. A great Thai brunch together with my Brussels-based son Lasse and Liselotte  at the best Thai restaurant in town.

  4. And then tonight’s  Surprise party!

And by the way:  why tonight in this building,, which belongs to the University Foundation?  Because the office of Europeans Throughout the World – which I am pleased to be the president for – has its office here. So this is in a way HOME. 

Two words about this place and this building:  it was a gift from the US to Belgian universities after World War I.  Perhaps the name Brand Whitlock rings a bell. It’s a boulevard here in Brussels.  He was the American ambassador here during and after the war. And together with the later president Herbert Hoover (another avenue here) he organized a massive help to the Belgians. Including this building.


So back to basics and my promise:  What do I have up my sleeve??

  1. Having had the pleasure of being a leader in different places most of my life I have always been of the opinion that one of the most important tasks for a leader is to make himself dispensable. To arrange that others – who often are better, younger and with more fresh ideas – to take over for you. Giving you the pleasure of leaning somewhat back – though still being involved – and enjoying see things happen, develop and grow.  I feel that I am now at a moment, where I have succeeded in that.  Therefore, at my board meeting yesterday in ETTW, my prime task nowadays, I said that I will now more than before take this more laid-back position and have the pleasure of seeing all my great friends and colleagues carry the tasks ahead.  I have done and will do the same in my other different functions. Only still being involved in a few of my present tasks.  So far so good!

  2. So what now?  The last 10 years I have been involved in a lot of very interesting and stimulating activities here and around the world.  I want the next 10 years to equally exciting. But different. I will call them my CULTURAL DECADE.  Yes, I know that you now look astonished. So do I, by the way!  Culture in a wide sense of the word.  I want to enjoy a lot of different activities, which I so far haven’t given myself time to do, such as:

  • Enjoying the feeling of no calendar commitments in most of my time

  • Reading books (so far I always preferred to write books instead of reading them, incl. my own!)

  • Writing books – such as further develop my memoirs, which are already about 300 pages, writing a book for my great grand children (whom I perhaps never will see – if I ever get any!), continue the book I actually write a chapter to every morning:  WHAT DO YOU KNOW / VIDEN OM. Some of you already get my small chapter of daily greetings.

  • Studying and trying (if possible) many new and fascinating developments in what we people are able to do nowadays and in the foreseeable future. I am already carried away by things like drones, thorium energy, 3D printing, cars with no driver, super high-speed digital communication, intelligent homes, and more.  And in many ways a combination of it all.  Our life and possibilities in the near future will be VERY much different, very much easier and very much more exciting

  • Editing and using all my thousands of photos and films

  • Flying Hot Air balloon  ( my son Claus gave me a tour as a birthday present)

  • Travelling the world – many great places still to be discovered – and not necessarily only far away. Karen Blixen, the famous Danish author, once said::  If you do not get a kick out of walking on your own street it is no point to travel further away!.  Liselotte and I have a plan. And a plan which is not a repetition of anything from before. Never repeat a success. This can only be a disappointment.

  • Developing my family research – my genealogy. I am already back to 1536.  But there is much more to do so discover, which real Viking I am related to!

  • Going to cinema, concerts and other stimulating things (yes, now Liselotte will definitely faint! )

  • And most important:  having time to pleasure, to relax, to reflect, to wonder, to enjoy my and our long daily walks, and much more.

  • And what about Europe – my second wife ?   Ya, ok. An old horse will of course have great difficulties in keeping quiet all the time, when you see your darling in great – and undeserved – difficulties.


    But first and foremost – you have to keep yourself in top form – mentally and physically. Try to continue to be someone of interest – for yourself and more important: for others.

    So this is my new plan for the next 10 years! It starts – on Sunday!

    And do not forget to come back here in 25 years!


    SKÅL – and warm thanks for coming!

    NJT – 28 January 2015