As Publisher and Editor-in-Chief this global media platform, I was delighted to be introduced to Jane Graham Founder & CEO of Awaken Business Summit, an intensive two-day business self-empowerment, networking, and educational experience, offering a programme of innovative Business Master Classes delivered by world-class speakers and educators. This introduction came to me via DR. Vibeke Vad Baunsgaard, CEO of ManageMagazine, with whom we enjoy a very special syndication alliance. Sit back an enjoy Jane’s inspiring journey from the shipping industry to launch of the Summit, highlighted within our Game Changer Interview below:

We’d like to hear about your professional journey before Awaken Business Summit.

Jane Graham, Founder & CEO, Awaken Business Summit

I started my professional journey in the shipping industry for BP Petroleum during my education at Copenhagen Business School. While working for BP I moved from shipping to the service stations department of advertising and marketing for 400 service station where I Managed post-acquisition integration to meet corporate standards, Developed branches to provide pilot testing for new products and service, Devised innovative product ranges adopted nationally. I became the first women in Denmark employed as a business manager for service stations with 50 employees as a twenty-year-old leader. I have always had a practical approach and logic thinking to everything in life, so I Managed post-acquisition integration to meet corporate standards, Developed branches to provide pilot testing for new products and services, Granted unique ability to buy nonstandard products for market testing, Devised innovative product ranges adopted nationally.

After nearly two years of travelling, I had enough and missed coming home to work and have a “normal life” again. I got a job in Kodak as a technical consultant, moving on quickly to become key account manager helping businesses develop and expand their business growth.

I thought we should test danish pasty and other bakery products to sell mainly in the morning from the service station which turned out to be a massive hit. After many years working for BP & Q8, I decided to travel around the world as a diving instructor for Padi, before settling down with a family. So I worked my way around and got jobs in Egypt, Thailand, and Australia as second captain and diver for deep sea diving in the Coral Sea close to Papua New Guinea. After nearly two years of travelling, I had enough and missed coming home to work and have a “normal life” again. I got a job in Kodak as a technical consultant, moving on quickly to become key account manager helping businesses develop and expand their business growth. While working for Kodak I started to develop a new marketing product with a guaranteed return on investment together with the Danish Technology Institute and managed to get funding from the EU then. I moved to the UK London to sell it to all the hotels and airports where there was a large flow of people. After two years I got into the Hilton International hotels, BAA airports, and The Thistle Hotels, in total 240 locations throughout Uk, Scotland, and Ireland. I had 15 employees and 85 temps in the field. Very exciting snowball everybody said with a return on the investment of 12,5 % for companies like Burger King, Europcar, NatWest Bank also. I sold it to Hilton International after September the 11th and given birth to my lovely boys that I had in England and moved back to Denmark again after a fun and tough adventure. I remember then that my dream was to meet Sir Richard Branson.

After finding my feet in Denmark again I got offered a department manager job in the recruitment business for Randstad in Denmark’s biggest department. Starting a 5 am getting 350 temps out to work and hiring professionals for managerial positions in any industry, then I moved on to become a management consultant, business development manager for Right Management where I sold and delivered executive training program, leadership development programs and executive coaching for Denmark’s top 100 companies. Best job ever for me, I found my place. Loved the people, the latest thinking in phycology, people growth and Company growth.

Unfortunately, we had a terrible sudden accident in our family that changed our lives from one moment to the other. We had it all going for us, lovely family, family home, financial freedom, holidays, wonderful children and Then my ex-husband’s son tried to take cocaine to a twenty-year-old birthday party and died within 20 min.

So our lives changed from then on. My ex got a deep depression for many years on and I changed my work to something totally different going back to the shipping world. Long sad story….I went down with stress while working for the shipping company, because of the personal pressure and bad management and culture in the company. I continued my education and started studying psychology and travel to find the meaning of life.

Tell us about Awaken Business Summit and the inspiration behind it.

I started my own business designing company, planning corporate events, employee celebrations, conferences, kick-off events, product launches and anniversary celebrations of all sizes, including team-building and leadership development programs. Both as one-off projects or as a more long-term collaboration on corporate event strategy for large companies and the Danish State, working from home to be available for my family while working from home on all the projects that I delivered. I always got my inspiration from abroad and while travelling to experience other awards or conferences, I didn’t seem to get to where I wanted, so I started to join different talks and business summit to educate myself, again and again, to find out what I needed to do and after listening to Sir Richard Branson, Jack Daly, Dr. John Demartini, Dr. Martyn Newman, Mandy Hickson, Pandit Dasa, Sally Gunnell, James Caan, Baroness Michelle Mone, I got so inspired and all the step by step tools and I suddenly knew what I needed to do to break the pattern and move to my next level, my dream life, my ambition of bringing all my life dreams together in one concept, where I could give back in so many ways to people and our world.

Now I had the idea to change, to be part of something big, where I could help make our world a better place from the top. I felt at this point in my life after I have been divorced for some time, that I was free to give it all I had for my self and my children.

When did you “open for business” and what’s been your biggest challenge?

I started January 2018 designing and planning Awaken Business Summit concept and I thought I needed Sir Richard Branson to open this first event in Copenhagen Denmark, so I wrote a letter to him explaining my dream, my life, and my passion to awaken peoples life’s before it’s too late. Denmark is a very special country with a special law called “jantelov” and that’s basically that you should not think you are anything special and if you have success then don’t tell or show it. I have always thought that was quite wrong and very draining for any human, so because of my life experience working as a leader since I was 20 and because of what I have experienced close up in my own family, I could see from documented facts and figures that Denmark and so many other countries were in a global leadership crisis. My biggest challenge has been to get PR and Media around here in Denmark because they are not allowed to sell any products through the media so they say its too commercial so we try to find different angles, so that’s been a complicated challenge and still is.

Any noteworthy surprises or ‘A-ha’ moments?

Yes, we found out that people buy fear, so instead of selling the concept through success stories we managed to find facts and figures that are documented from the world’s biggest organizations and universities and started a new promotion for the media through hardcore facts and fear. Very interesting. It wasn’t in my plans at all to go down that route. Here’s the promotional approach that followed:

Join the Resistance: Fight Back Against the Growing Global Leadership Crisis

Our world is in the grip of a global leadership crisis. Regardless of your industry or career level, you have undoubtedly felt its effects, often manifested as toxic corporate culture and employee dissatisfaction. Here at Awaken, we say enough is enough: our corporations must become more people-centric if we want to see great results. These worrying statistics reveal the true extent of the crisis:

  • 77% of leaders think that they do a good job of engaging with their team…
  • However, 88% of employees say their managers and leaders don’t engage effectively with them!
  • 83% of employees don’t like their manager
  • People are suffering in the workplace – 35% of employees would forego their own pay-rise if they could see their management fired!

Obviously, this is an enormous waste of the incredible talent and human resources we have in Denmark. $46 billion is spent every year on leadership development, but evidently, something is still missing. A study of assessments undertaken by over 35,000 leaders and interviews with 250 C-level executives has shown that, often, the mindset of those in leadership is the source of employee dissatisfaction. Many also suggested that their management didn’t meet the basic needs of employees, failing to help them find meaning, purpose, and genuine happiness in their work.

Awaken Business Summit is at the forefront of a global movement hoping to change our toxic corporate culture. By doing more than just acknowledging the problem, Awaken’s ground-breaking 2019 event is set to provide a radical yet practical solution to the crisis.

People are central to all organisations, and to beat this leadership crisis we need to develop the skills of managers with three core qualities: mindfulness, compassion, and selflessness. The Awaken Business Summit 2019 will teach you how to re-program your mindset and turn conventional leadership ideas upside-down! The Summit presents a radical new definition of effective leadership and offers real, effective solutions to the engagement and operational problems faced by all organisations.

Join us in Copenhagen, 20th-21st March 2019, and begin your Awaken leadership journey.

What’s unique about your business / Summit?

We combine that with hardcore documented life facts and figures from some of the best human behavior professors and doctors in psychology and why people that made it several times in the Olympics have the resilience, can do spirit and never give up mentality.

All the world-class speakers we have invited are entrepreneurs with no education; they come from nothing, all down to earth, both feet on the ground even though they today are billionaires. They managed through their passion, drive, can do spirit, never give up mindset to build a successful business on the back of just that. I find that interesting and inspiring. We all born as a genius, we just need to find it again and start rebuilding our selves to the life we deserve. We combine that with hardcore documented life facts and figures from some of the best human behavior professors and doctors in psychology and why people that made it several times in the Olympics have the resilience, can do spirit and never give up mentality. The latest thinking in leadership, what works best for our companies today with the new generation? Mindful leadership, why is it important and working today with high growth results and creativity and we demonstrate mindfulness and meditation for all the attendees. It’s going to be so amazing and mind-blowing for so many people.

It’s all very unique compared to other leadership conferences and so on because we have been approved and accredited as an education from the CPD standard office in London, so all lawyers, engineers, nurses or other educations get points for attending our summit.

What we get we give back to our Ocean clean up project, Ocean Unite. I want to create an awaken family, so when you buy a ticket from tomorrow you get a share in awaken with your ticket. My dream is to awaken people and just imagine if we awaken just one CEO of ten thousand people how we will create a ripple effect.

What’s a typical day for you?

I practice what successful people do and I test everything I learn to experience the results, so I have joined the 5 am club and get up, start bicycling, walk my dog, get coffee and shower, then I plan my day and action, write down what I am grateful for, then I meditate and then I start my day with all the most challenging calls or actions to get them out of the way so I can focus on good energy and move forward towards my goals. I work till I am done, sometime in the evening around 9 pm and I haven’t had a day off since I started Awaken Business Summit. It’s not because I am crazy with work, but I believe you have to give it all you got to make it happen and I promised my self never to give up on my dream.

How would you describe your typical Attendee and your typical Speaker?

The typical attendee could be anybody that needs inspiration; motivation and business education in what it takes to either run your own business or move forward in your career, mostly it will be c-level people or business owners or young entrepreneurs that will attend, or groups from accountant firms, groups from law firms also to get points and to keep them up to date in the business world.

What’s the next big thing for you / the Summit?

I have one focus and that is the make Awaken Business Summit a huge success for Scandinavia and Europe to attend, to share, to become ambassadors, so more and more will attend and so we are able to make an awaken family in every capital of our world.

As an entrepreneur, what’s non-negotiable for you?

My family, my health and my children’s health, I mention me first, because it starts with the way I behave and If I can feel or see any of this is suffering its not the right life or living.

How can we all learn more about Awaken Business Summit?

Good question – Awaken Business Summit will super-charge and ignite the minds and careers of executives from all over Europe, during two full days of mind-blowing, inspired live Master Classes designed to boost your personal and business success. To learn more about our Programme, and to obtain tickets to the “game-changing” event, visit Awaken Business Summit. I need help spreading the word and get PR and media. I keep pushing for getting into TV channels, magazines and I have written to Ellen show and other to make this happen in a big way.


In the midst of a world where so many are disengaged, cynical and apathetic, isn’t it time for some fresh air? Isn't it time to join together in building a refreshing, new community founded upon “real” relationships, “real” thought leadership, and “authentic” engagement? NO Clutter. NO Spam. NO NO Fees. NO Promotions. NO Kidding. SIMPLY Pure Engagement Unplugged. ☕️ CLICK TO GRAB YOUR SEAT IN OUR NEW ENGAGE CAFÉ ☕️

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Kat O'Keefe-Kanavos

I never knew the concept behind the Danish word Jentelov. It certainly makes sense why It may be part of their Leadership Crisis. The opposite is “If you’ve got it, show it and be proud.” Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. I have shared it on my social media pages.