För att komma till inlägget på svenska, klicka här: Söndagsintervjun: med podcasten Huskys Magnus Ormestad
For the first 2021 interview, we have the honor of presenting an interview with one of our favorite people in the world: Magnus Ormestad. Magnus is the brain and voice behind the infinitely popular Husky Podcast, which has become a bit of an institution in Sweden’s outdoor industry ever since its premiere in 2013. He has interviewed over 200 guests of widely varying professions – everything from professional trail runners and skiers to nature photographers and CEO:s – and has never failed to deliver heartfelt, meaningful and genuine episodes no matter who’s been in front of him. Inspiration to pursue your dreams and dare to lead an unconventional life is bountiful, and every insight into the guests’ lives feels like a true treasure.
In other words, Magnus knows what he’s doing when talks to people – and we’ve thought very highly of him ever since we met for the first time. That was a few years ago, when we were getting together to see if perhaps a podcast episode with us would be something of interest. Magnus deemed it was, and we’ve called each other friends ever since. A nicer guy is hard to come by, and we’re so excited he wanted to share some insights into his own – nowadays rather unconventional – life as well. For once not the one asking the questions: here’s Magnus Ormestad.
What did you do before Husky, and what made you want to change paths?
I did lots of different things but nothing I really wanted to do. I worked in finance but that was definitely the wrong path for me. Even though I had great co-workers, it was a job that ate me up from the inside and there was no happy ending in sight, had I stayed.
I have a degree in political science but due to an unfinished master’s, I was never clearly and properly funneled into my work life – instead, it all just turned into a bunch of makeshift solutions. And eventually, those makeshift solutions had become my professional career and it damaged me on a rather profound level, I’d say.
Parallel to this, I rediscovered my love for nature and the outdoors in general and ski touring and off piste skiing in particular. Life in the mountains, or at least dreaming of them, sort of. This turned into a much essential vent for me, as my regular life with lots of work only really cost me energy at the end of the day.
And then suddenly I had this idea that I should start a podcast on the theme of the outdoors. It took me a few months before I’d figured out the format – but then everything went really fast and it felt like the most natural thing. This happened in 2012 and I posted my first episode in March 2013. I’m eternally grateful – and incredibly proud – for everything that has happened since.
We consider you the best in the business. Do you feel like you know what you’re doing? When did things click for you?
Haha, as the Swede as I am, it’s difficult for me to handle such praise – but I’ll continue in that un-Swedish style by saying that it’s always come very easily to me to see, understand and talk to people. My nature is infinitely curious and I’m fascinated by social structures, flows and trends. So when I’m given the opportunity to meet all these inspiring people that have all chosen such cool paths in life, the interview and the questions come very naturally.
What tools, advice, books, people etc. made you dare to take the leap and go for it?
Good question. I don’t really know. I think it’s a matter of lots of small components, where perhaps the most important one is my own desire to find an outlet for my dreams and creativity. Equal parts desperation and conviction that this idea could turn into something. I have a few friends who work with music or sound production, and they were of course very important for the sake of the tech aspect. But besides that, I’m self taught. At the time I didn’t know a single person who had a podcast – now I feel like there’s one on every street corner.
After the start, things changed slightly on an emotional level. I was so inspired by my guests who, most of them, have chosen to follow their dreams and live more unconventional lives. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me and I felt more convinced I should try to follow my own. And so the episodes that I came to post were jam packed with inspiration that I know listeners were touched by. I know that some have literally changed their lives after listening to some of my episodes and that’s almost hard to grasp for me. It makes me unbelievably happy and proud.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Ha. I don’t really have any structures or routines, or at least none that I’m particularly happy with! Sometimes I just agonize over the fact that I’m not producing anything, and I also agonize over everything I’m not doing and everything I should be doing – but some days, I’m in a state of perfect flow where I connect with people, find inspiration for new interviews and write manuscripts for upcoming recordings without stopping.
I both love and hate working with such freedom – after a while it feels like the pendulum moves more and more forcefully: when it’s good it’s like a fairytale but when it’s not, it’s really tough and one feels rather worthless.
It’s certainly an interesting experience when I have my eyes on and do research on upcoming guests who are doing cool things outside while I’m sitting inside by a computer, daydreaming myself far away from there, but that’s the kind of mind game we all have to deal with. No one can do everything all the time. Social media in a nutshell.
Has any particular guest had a more significant impact on you and how you live your life?
Hard to say. I’m leaning no – no particular guest. It’s more an accumulation of inspiration from the over 200 people I’ve had the privilege of meeting.
Dream guest on the podcast? Why?
That’s another hard one to answer. I usually flip it and say that my dream is more tweaking the podcast format a bit and go towards features with people about people. By that I mean instead of conducting an interview straight up, I’d spend more time with them out in the field and combine a story and an interview. This would, however, be too time consuming from a production standpoint and not possible to combine with the podcast today.
Because honestly, I think that if you get the chance to interview one of the big names, that interview will just turn into one out of many hundreds he or she has already done – and I can’t help but to think that’s a little boring. In those cases, I like to find something that stands out a little bit – in hopes of both challenging the guest and also giving the listener something new. If, for example, I was given the opportunity to interview Alex Honnold, I would perhaps not say a word about climbing. If you get what I mean.
If you didn’t need to make money, how would you spend your time? Would you still want to be interviewing?
I’d love to. Perhaps an episode a month, and more as a story than an interview. And with an editorial team instead of working by myself all the time.
Have nature and the outdoors been a part of your life since childhood or entered later?
I literally grew up in the middle of the woods, and that has definitely shaped me fundamentally. We didn’t have heaps of money and never traveled abroad – instead we were always out in the woods paddling, hiking, skiing, birdwatching, grilling, camping on small islands in the forest ponds and we really had an awesome time. I can’t recall ever missing anything – it was always fun to be out with my family and our two dogs.
We had an old wooden house with several fire places that all had to be going if we wanted the house to be warm enough during the winters. We often lost power but we all really just thought it was cozy and a little exciting.
Are you at all longing to move back home? Or countryside elsewhere?
Yes, definitely. Perhaps not Ludvika specifically, but I can definitely picture myself living somewhere inland and farther north in the future. But we have a rather small family which also happens to be quite spread out, so we often run into trouble when trying to find the perfect location for us to move to. Obviously, the perfect one doesn’t exist which means we’re still in Stockholm – but we have such a nice setup here in Värmdö now and have real nature really close by, so we certainly don’t have too much to complain about!
And now we have both a fire place and a dog – as well as a cat from before – so it does remind me of my childhood anyway.
What do you see has happened in the world of the outdoor scene in the past 7 years, since you started Husky?
The biggest change is the simple fact that everything that has to do with the outdoors is so trendy in more or less all social groups and sectors – something that was happening already before Corona, I should add.
All the focus on for example hiking and trail running makes is easier for everything from guides to brands to grow as the demand keeps increasing and that’s just so much fun to se. I do expect to see even more fishing, traveling with roof top tents, gravel-biking and various forms of bike vacationing. And the more people who discover all of this, the more will find their way to ski touring, climbing and so on. I can’t really picture an end to this trend right now and that’s just amazing.
How are you getting the outdoors into your son Henry’s life?
So far it’s all on a very basic level – we go for walks in the woods we have right around the corner often and he truly loves that. I don’t think you should be freaking out if your kid hasn’t gone winter camping or conquered Kebnekaise (Sweden’s tallest mountain) before he turns 4, so to speak. I want him to feel at home in the woods and in nature – that he won’t think it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient no matter the season or weather. The rest will fall into place naturally.
What I can tell you is that every time we’re out in the woods, he usually hums and sings to himself – and I take that as a wonderful little sign that he finds it quite fun to hop around among the blueberry bushes.
What are some dream activities you’d like to do with him eventually?
Definitely skiing and snowboarding. To go ski touring together and do longer hikes during summer and fall.
In the Swedish TV program “Go kväll”, a famous guest a week is asked to share their dream dinner party – who their four guests are (famous/not famous, dead/alive, people you know/people you don’t know), why they’ve been invited and where you’re having your meal. If we ask you the same, what does you answer look like?
Mohammad Ali, I’ve been very intrigued by him for a long time and I’m convinced he’d be an incredibly interesting person to have dinner with.
Jane Goodall, because wow, the stories she must be sitting on, and all those insights!
Göran Kropp, because it literally feels like I’d be committing a crime – considering what I do for a living – if I didn’t invite him. That’s just a given, because he’s inspired so many of my previous podcast guests and his influence on the more pioneering part of the Swedish outdoor scene simply can’t be exaggerated. He was a person who could show the rest of us almost anything was possible.
Then I actually think I’d like to have the person behind the artist Banksy. If he or she reads this: I promise not to reveal your identity after our dinner!
We’re in a low key log cabin up north. It’s winter, lots of snow and there’s a disproportionately large fireplace in the cabin, which also has big windows with magnificent views over snow covered fir trees and inviting mountains.
Now, if the tent is pitched and the fire is going. What are you cooking up?
Confession: I’m the laziest person when it comes to cooking outside – I almost always turn to those single serving meals, or hot dogs.
But why not a nice risotto with lots of Parmesan and mushrooms from the woods? I could probably whip up something like that with some patience and a good grill pan. And a bottle of red to go with it.
But you shouldn’t underestimate hot dogs!
We’re borrowing this question from famous podcast host and author Tim Ferriss: what book have you recommended or gifted the most to people?
I feel very non-cultivated right now but I can’t think of a single book that I can recall I’ve recommended more than once. Whenever Paul Auster and William Gibson come out with something new I always get those and right now I’m working on Klas Östergren’s latest. And I know that I’ve recommended that trilogy before – so perhaps that will have to be my answer.
Hang on, I might have to add Hemingway. I do think I’ve recommended him before.
And last but not least, what we ask everyone: what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Woah, definitely the hardest question so far. I’d say pistachio, I think. But I’ve had the dreamiest flavor once, which was something along the lines of rose water and saffron – unbelievably delicious. And once in Berlin I had a downright amazing combination of one scoop bitter dark chocolate and one scoop salted peanut ice cream. Ridiculously yummy.
Thank you so much, Magnus, for wanting to be part of our interview series! For those of you who are curious to give the Husky podcast a listen, these are some great episodes to start out with:
And of course we can’t resist recommending Episode 28, “Live Slow Run Far” with Michael and Sophia Miracolo, which is the one we had the honor of being on. Enjoy!
This interview was originally conducted in Swedish.
Feature image by Petter Engdahl. All other images courtesy of Magnus Ormestad.
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