In June, many brilliant minds gather in Stockholm for the Brilliant Minds conference.
“The lineup this year is amazing. I’m really proud of what’s happening here,” says Natalia Brzezinski, CEO of Symposium. “When we started people didn’t really understand – what is it, and why Stockholm? Now everyone wants to be involved. The audience is 90 percent international.”
Symposium was started in 2015 by Spotify founder Daniel Ek and Ash Pournouri, a major record producer perhaps best-known as Swedish music sensation Avicii’s long-time manager.
The event started big – Ek and Pournouri don't do small – but has since exploded further into an week-long international festival bringing together creative elite from tech, music, fashion, and innovation.
“Our goal is to redefine leadership in the creative world – to define the next generation of the ‘elders’,” Brzezinski explains. “And these people come from all fields – music, technology, and art. These are people who are fearless, who look at a problem and see an opportunity.”
Part of Brzezinski’s job – a fearless firecracker herself – is to find and connect those people. And she excels.
Her husband, Mark Brzezinski, served as US Ambassador to Sweden from 2011 to 2015, and Natalia instantly fell in love with the country.
A media expert, moderator, consultant, and master networker with a sparkle in her eye and dedication to doing good, Brzezinski immediately started making waves in Stockholm. Taking the helm of Symposium was a natural next step.
“Whatever I do I always do 1000 percent – and with this job, the sky is the limit,” Brzezinski exclaims. “There’s really nothing you can’t do with it. I get to bring people together who don’t usually meet, and amazing things happen.”
Brzezinski notes that this is much more than just another “tech event” – it’s a festival built on values and a vision of the future.
“Sweden is a great example of what the future can look like,” she explains.
“People are drawn to the values of transparency, equal access, and egalitarianism. And especially in this current climate of political fallout in the world, Sweden is a place where people come to learn.”
And if you’re coming to Stockholm to learn at Symposium – or find yourself in the Swedish capital for any other reason – you may want to check out some of Natalia Brzezinski’s top ten ‘not-to-be-missed’ highlights in Stockholm.
Monteliusvägen: “It’s my favourite walk in the world,” Brzezinski says. “It’s’ such a beautiful view and it reminds me of being a university student again because you see all the teenagers having picnics along it.”
Rosendal’s Café: “My favourite cafes are the nameless, small ones with strong coffee in little booths around Djurgarden where you need to use an iZettle to pay,” Brzezinski says. “But perhaps my favourite is in Rosendal, where you can walk along the kale and chard gardens planted by Matthias Dahlgren, and have coffee in the greenhouse.”
Snickarbaken 7: “I love the healthy food and sitting there for an amazing coffee or turmeric latte in the cold seasons of Sweden. It is so cozy inside and you sit with the coolest young people from the fashion and arts scene.”
McCabe Fine Art: “A small but powerful gallery in Östermalm. Paul Mccabe is a fantastic South African entrepreneur and I saw my first Damien Hirst exhibit there.”
Wetterling Gallery: “This gallery is fantastic and so is its owner Bjorn Wetterling,” says Brzezinski. “It sits right in Kungsträdgården, where you can ice skate in the winter, sit amongst the cherry blossoms in spring, and listen to cool DJs and pop artists in the summer.”
Doctor Salad: “I love ‘raw food’ and healthy options, and Stockholm is an undiscovered jewel when it comes to the raw food scene. I always pick up salads and raw food balls from Doctor Salad. I also love that it was founded and run by several young women; it’s my way of supporting their entrepreneurship!”
Råkultur: “Mark and my all-time favourite sushi place - it still rivals some of my favourites in NYC!”
Riche: “Riche remains a classic for people-watching,” Brzezinski remarks. “I also love the concept of the ‘celebrity maitre’D’ there in the form of Anders, as he is both humble and charismatic. We have celebrity chefs in the USA but not celebrity hosts. He goes to every table to connect personally and make people laugh, which I love!”
Pop-up and delivery restaurants: “I think the coolest new trend to watch are the pop up and ‘Uber-like’ restaurants in Stockholm. Being a digital capital, it’s no surprise the food scene is becoming transformed by virality and digitalisation. The app Maitres is cool, and also the restaurant Adam & Albin. Then there’s the apps Karma, Foodora, and Wolt.”