The TED X lecture

About a month ago I was honored beyond belief when I was invited as one of six lecturers who the organizers thought worthy of keeping to the TED idea. It was a group of young students from Singapore who very professionally with much joy and work ethic put this inspiring event together. I choose to speak about Normal-na, the Siberian way to the meaning of life. I´d like to share this with all of you my readers.



“Mikael Strandberg spoke at TEDxMälaren that was held in Stockholm. TEDxMälaren is an independently organised event which is a sub-programme of TED in the vision to share ideas worth spreading. Mikael kicked off the event with an inspiring talk on humanity and communication especially in foreign countries through his expedition in Siberia. He delivered messages of how one should never judge people, how one should learn to adjust in foreign environments and the humanity of people through his experiences. He left the audience pondering over these lessons and reflecting on themselves. Mikael proved to be a remarkable explorer, braving through what seemed impossible and an inspiring lecturer, teaching people great values and lessons that one should learn in life in a humourous and relaxed manner. He is definitely one of the best lecturer I have come across and I hope he will continue to inspire people around the world!”

July 5, 2010

Hui Qi Foong, Intern, Biorecro AB

It seems like my Siberian journey has, once again, become interesting globally. So interesting that I met my partner on that trip, Johan Ivarsson, a few days ago, first time in 3 years! It was great seeing him, so he wrote this piece for me. About his time after Siberia, a trip which dramatically changed both of our lives!

During this Expedition, we made these 7 3-minute TV-slots!


  1. Hi Mikael

    Greetings from Singapore! My name is Yihui, a female Singaporean and I’m writing to you to let you know that I enjoy reading the articles on your website alot, and particularly enjoyed the talk you posted on Youtube – Normala, The Siberian Way to Understanding the Meaning of Life. It is so inspiring to hear about your adventures and how they have impacted you and inspired you to become a better person, especially to contribute to more cross-cultural understanding of issues and cultures in the world. I really believe it’s not just about ‘conquering’ and reaching your goal, but really understanding the place, landscape, people that you encounter.

    I myself have embarked on some adventures myself – having returned recently from climbing Denali in Alaska. Alaska is such a beautiful country – the landscape there is simply pristine. Currently, I have some bigger plans of planning an expedition to Greenland, or Siberia. Would certainly love to link up with people like yourself who share similiar passion and doesn’t mind sharing your experiences and giving advices. Oh, I also read your article titled ‘Can female explorers save us from extinction?’, after reading it, I feel very encouraged, thank you.

    Hope to hear from you soon and thank you for being an inspiration! 🙂

    Sim Yihui

  2. Mikael,
    I’ve just listened to your youtube video – Normalna – that you kindly attached to your message. What a great piece of art it is! Not only a great polar explorer you are, but also a fascinating performer: I laughed and cried through the entire video and was saddened when it ended. Such a great way to inspire people! Thank you, thank you so many times for sending me this piece. i will keep exploring your web-site and will write you more later on.
    And thank you again so many times for accepting me as your friend on FB.

  3. Hi Mikael, I just saw your video Normalna (pronounced narmalna in Russian). The photos and stories are fascinating. When you say this is normal for Siberia, do you mean this is normal for the Soviet Union or for the ‘real’, pre-Soviet Siberia? I’ve not been there but I would say many of the experiences you share are shaped by the Soviet absurdity. However, these experiences (gulag, living in apartment buildings with cockroaches, etc) did not exist before Stalin. In Bulgaria, as a way to describe many absurd Soviet things we just say ‘normalno’ – like a pensioner living with 50$ per month, barely enough to pay electricity and water, the roof of a hospital collapsing on the aged people, the bus taking 2 hours late to arrive. It’s normalno, but it wouldn’t have been normalno 60 years ago 🙂 there are a few very good books about gulags, Kolyma and Soviet life in general which describe getting used to the absurdities in your daily life.

    Did you visit Yakutsk? Is it normal to have such a huge city settled in the middle of nowhere? It’s normalna. (We don’t have any cities of parallel sizes, nothing even close to Yakutya in northern Alaska, Canada, or Scandinavia). It’s like Semipalatinsk, normalna that they were doing nuclear tests just 150km in the open plain from there. Or the city of Gomel, normalna for 500 000 people to be just a 100km from Pripyat and Chernobyl in the plain without any care taken for its citizens.

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