Kārlis Danēvičs

MBA Alumnus, class 2008
Chief Risk Officer, Member of Management Board, SEB Latvia
Chairman of the Supervisory Council, SOS Children’s Villages Latvia
Senator, SOS Children Villages International
Co-chair of the Lending Committee, the Finance Latvia Association
Member of the Board, Baltic Institute of Corporate Governance

What are your success habits?

My success habits are constant learning. I have been the worst in class in some aspects (e.g. English language), but having decided to fix that after many years have become the best. To keep my brain sharp, in addition to having read many books, I have read The Economist every week for 20 years. I thoroughly believe and have seen in my own life and in people around me that hard work always beats talent, especially when talent is not willing to work hard. Not an inspiring message – but harsh truth is better than sweet lies.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

The best advice I received is from my Swedish boss many years ago after a big, big mistake. He said that now a lot has been invested into my education and I need to put it to good use. He also said that, with the experience and mistakes I have made, I am more worthy, while having the right attitude as well as willingness to improve, than a person that has not made any mistakes.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my relatives. And of SOS Children’s villages and all the people that I can try to help to make Latvia an even better place. Jointly healing and helping one person at a time.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

People would be surprised that I am more shy and introverted than they can ever assume. Only those ones who have  known me since childhood believe that.

What have you always wanted to try, but have never found the time to actually do it?

I don’t believe it when someone says that I don’t have time for that. People that are dead don’t have time. The ones that are alive have time, but might have different priorities. I forbid myself (and sometimes also others) to say “I don’t have time for this”. I insist on this being rephrased to “it is not my current priority”.

What is your current challenge or goal?

I believe that the biggest enemy and challenge for everyone is himself. The same for me! How can I continue to develop? How can I be a good person? How do I remain relevant? Those challenges remain with us forever. To quote Breakfast at Tiffany’s – “you are in a cage and you have built it yourself … wherever you go”.

What are your hobbies or activities to relax?

Definition of relaxation is doing something different that gives you satisfaction. It is therefore not lying hopelessly on a bed. So my relaxation is The Economist, books, learning things and sometimes reflective walks in the forest or along the sea.

How do you push through your worst times?

I always use Winston Churchill’s suggestion: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” That’s the only way not to remain in hell. Try to have a stoic mentality and try to endure whatever life throws at you. There are periods when you celebrate that you have survived one day, then another, then a week then maybe a month. And then, hopefully, you have kept going and you are not in hell anymore. Not the most inspiring thing to say – but again, harsh truth is better than sweet lies.

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