The Icelandic Personal Brand Attribute… Cool or Calm?


Personal Branding Across Cultures Blogathon – Day 2 / Runa Magnusdottir:


“You come from ICELAND?!! WOW… HOW COOL” the most common reaction I get from people when I introduce myself internationally.

Their surprise and interest to learn more about my country is genuine; their look of surprise, sometimes feels like they are looking at an alien, most often follows with a sentence such as:

  • “I’ve always wanted to visit that place,” or
  • “My friends just visited your country and they loved it,” or
  • “Is it true that the sun doesn’t sit in the summer?” or
  • “Is it true that you are had the first openly gay prime-minister in the world?” 

These comments are followed by stories about what they saw, how they felt, what their connections with the Icelandic people gave them etc.  All questions and stories that relate to the feeling they’ve got when thinking of the country of Iceland.

Being an Icelander, born and raised and living in a small island (the whole island about the same size as the state of Kentucky in USA) with only 330.000 inhabitants, my little heart is always filled with joy and pride of belonging to a country that so many people are showing interest in.

And I do use the fact that I’m born, raised and living in Iceland as one of my ways to distinguish myself as one of Europe’s Transformational Leaders and Speakers in the Leadership & Personal Branding Field.

So, What’s the Typical Personal Brand Attribute of an Icelander?

According to an amusing and interesting book called “The Little Book of the Icelanders” written by Alda Sigmundsdottir,  you can find quite a few interesting attributes, descriptions of the “typical Icelander” among them are:

  • Icelanders as a nation, value their independence above all else
  • Icelanders are a literary bunch, they love books… yes even the Old Icelandic Sagas including the Nordic Kings and settlement of nearby lands, therefore most Icelanders will proudly say they are Vikings!
  • Icelanders are informal, and address everyone by their first names, irrespective of that person’s age or social standing.
  • Some Icelanders have very odd professions – at least according to the phone book where everybody is listed first by their first name, than their last.  According to the phone book, you will find 6 people who name their professions as “a winner”. Nine people say they are “sorcerers” 14 “Ghostbusters” one “formal tough guy” and there are even two people who are listed there as “hen whisperers” 
  • Icelanders have a sense of dry, self-effacing, sardonic and deadpan humour, they can’t take anything seriously at least not themselves.
  • Icelanders are workaholics.  It’s considered to be a virtue to work… and work hard long hours… not necessarily giving more productive results… but a virtue it is!
  • Icelanders believe in trolls & elves! Sounds weird?  “Well, what’s different with that or believing in Santa Claus or other religious persons? “ A common reply from an Icelander when asked about our special believes in trolls and elves.
  • Icelandic women are strong and independent.  85% of all Icelandic women are active in the Icelandic working world, actively working outside their home.
  • Iceland is the #1 country in the world when it comes to gender equality.

Needless to say, these are only a part of the culture behind the personal attributes belonging to the Icelandic nation.  Like everyone else on this beautiful planet of ours; every single Icelander has their own personal stories, strengths, knowledge and attributes that are part of our personal brands as independent Icelanders.

From this short description I’m curious to hear your insights. 

  1. What character do you see in the general Icelandic Personal Brand?  
  2. What type of people, groups or companies would benefit most from hiring a leadership & personal branding lecturer from Iceland?

About the author

Runa Magnusdottir Runa Magnusdottir is a lifetime entrepreneur, an international speaker & trainer, founder & CEO of, a global community site for women entrepreneurs to promote their brands,  co-founder of the EUWIIN European Union Innovators & Inventors 2011 Award for Personal Training program called BRANDit, and a passionate gender equality spokesperson. Runa uses her life time experience as a woman business owner, her “shaken but not stirred” sense of humor with a good dash of passion, to speak, inspire and coach entrepreneurs to get focus and achieve their own mission and visions.