Steen Knigge | Crain's Boston

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Steen Knigge


Founded in Denmark in 1952, BoConcept is a retail furniture franchise that creates functional furniture for the urban consumer through partnerships with leading interior designers. BoConcept has more than 300 locations in 60 countries. It has 15 locations in the U.S., including those in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Miami.

The Mistake:

Wearing myself out.

When I started my career with Procter & Gamble in 1989, I often heard two things: Lunch is for losers, and you can sleep when you’re old.

I don’t blame P&G for this; it was more the culture among my colleagues and myself. We had to show what we were made of, so we worked through lunch, and into the night, and then we were up partying until the morning. And because I didn’t really have time to make food, I ended up buying a lot of processed food that was easy to prepare.

That was the culture for many years, and I ended up transferring it to my subsequent jobs.

It was around 2006 — as I was starting a Scandinavian lifestyle retail store in the U.S. — that I began to notice how fatigued I was all the time. Though it had never been a problem before, I was suddenly having a hard time focusing and getting through the daily grind.

When I looked into it, I realized it was because I wasn’t eating or sleeping right.

The difference in my work when I do eat and sleep right, versus when I don’t, is unbelievable.

The Lesson:

When you eat and sleep right, your quality of work is so much better.

It sounds more like common sense than advice, but I still see people wearing these behaviors like a badge of honor. Like, great: “You work so hard because you work 18 hours a day.” But if you’re not getting the rest you need, you’re on a downward slope.

I didn’t notice that until I started sleeping about seven or eight hours a night. And I when I started eating healthier foods, I felt even better.

The difference in my work when I do eat and sleep right, versus when I don’t, is unbelievable. My quality [of work] is so much better because I’m more clear-headed, now.


Follow BoConcept on Twitter at @BoConcept.

​Photo courtesy of BoConcept.

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