Ingvar Kamprad

I decided to explore more onto the concept of answering the universe. The concept heavily borrowed from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, but I feel like there is something different to be found that is unique to my own observation. After all, it is fun to explore ideas and write about it.

I have been trying to find real-life example to best describe the concept. Obviously, looking for the best. People that have accomplished more than us. So, I come with my own approach. My approach is to distant this writing from the big names like Bill Gates, Warrent Buffett, Steve Jobs etc. I want to give the lesser-known the spotlight they deserve.

But, as best as I could staying with this principle. Trying not to again write about the riches. By some means, I simply can not left the founder of IKEA: Ingvar Kamprad.

As a reminder, this writing sets as an example of people who listen to the universe.

Ingvar Kamprad had a long journey in building IKEA into world’s largest furniture retailer. In spite of that, there is one crucial moment, one particular time and situation in his life, where he made a decision that change the course of the history of entrepreneurship. That decision defied logic, data, counsel and just sounds like something out of mind. But, the same decision launched him as “one of the greatest entrepreneur of the 20th century”.

In that moment, he was the only one who believe the value of what he does. So, here is the story.

In the mid 1950s, Mr Kamprad’s IKEA faced boycott from Swedish furniture manufacturer because of his low price. They were angry at him and stop filing his order. IKEA faced ruin and about to go out of business. Mr Kamprad was desperate in finding a solution.

Ingvar Kamprad decided to move IKEA’s operation across the Baltic sea to Poland. Hence, IKEA’s initial sales pitch. IKEA is essentially furniture ship flat made in Poland, a country with much cheaper labor and plenty of wood. Sounds nothing special at all. I mean, if you open any business book probably they would tell you the same thing. To outsource your production from a country that has cheaper labor and has abundant natural resources.

What makes this story interesting is that Ingvar Kamprad did it in 1961. At the height of Cold War, the Berlin wall was up, at the time the east and west, communist world and free world are closer to nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. A guy living in the west, Sweden, crossed the sea to set a shop in Poland, the iron curtain. Can you imagine what a controversial move that is? It is unimaginable for us to think the peer-pressure Mr Kamprad faced at that time. It is just insane.

The equivalent for today is for Walmart setting up a shop in North Korea.

In the absence of Mr Kamprad moving his operation to Poland, IKEA would ran out of business. There will be no ready-to assemble furniture that we know today. No warehouse that you can spend your whole day inside. And most importantly, we would not have tasted that Swedish meatballs and ribs dipped in caramel sauce.

Ingvar Kamprad defy all the logic and follow his gut.

He listened to his heart. He listened to the universe. Ingvar Kamprad answered the universe.


By the time of writing this post, Ingvar Kamprad passed away at the age of 91 on January 27th 2018. Rest in Peace Sir.


The original story appears in David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

The whole concept of answering the universe is influenced by The Alchemist

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