Community//

Jonas Karklys of NordPass: ” Most of us are self-driven and motivated towards our own goals”

Like every problem, it needs to be discussed publicly and widely. In the long run, improvements in the education system solve a variety of problems. We could start preparing good managers in school, emphasizing the most important parts of work ethics, culture, people needs and behaviour. Ultimately, the free market also has a large role, […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Like every problem, it needs to be discussed publicly and widely. In the long run, improvements in the education system solve a variety of problems. We could start preparing good managers in school, emphasizing the most important parts of work ethics, culture, people needs and behaviour. Ultimately, the free market also has a large role, as business will need to compete on not just the salary but also the culture of the company.


As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonas Karklys.

Jonas Karklys is one of the founders of Nord Security and CEO of NordPass and NordLocker.

Today, Nord Security products are used by over 15 million people. NordVPN holds the title of the world’s fastest VPN, while NordPass and NordLocker are gaining recognition fast among the tech crowd.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

First of all, I am really excited at how quickly one can achieve tangible results in digital products, which is why I am fascinated by this career path. I enjoy experimenting and creating, and in this industry, you can do that all the time and achieve quick results — sometimes even build a beautiful product within a day. This is why I got involved in the digital world from early childhood. But this personal curiosity becomes more difficult as you want to scale it. That adds another layer of curiosity: how does one keep people motivated and achieve the most effective results working alongside them?

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Many interesting things have occurred since I began leading the company, but one is very special to me. We were having a team-building event in France, which was lovely. One cozy summer evening, we were having a stroll around a small village and enjoying a wonderful dinner. We had parked in a small lot near a store, and we returned to find the car locked in behind a number of barriers. The owner insisted we had parked after hours, despite us having paid, and he refused to let us out until the following morning. The police didn’t want to help us either, even though we had to get to Switzerland for our flight. So we did the only thing we could do — get the car out by ourselves! Seven ladies and gents pulled together as a team to build a two-story bridge from wooden boxes scattered nearby, and we drove to freedom! This is special to me because it was a perfect illustration of howa clear shared goal leads to a united, motivated team that can achieve anything.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My job is always exciting because we create next-generation security products with a great passion for detail. One of the most thrilling current projects at NordPass is integrating machine learning into our product. We believe that artificial intelligence and its algorithms can provide an unprecedented experience for customers. We’re also working on a lot of extra security features, like the data breach scanner. The largest benefit for users is that they can generate a personal breach report in a second.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

There is no one answer to that — the world is complicated, and people even more so. The workforce comprises millions of people with millions of different wants and needs, meaning each will have a different reason for being unhappy. When you combine the intricacies of people with the intricacies of the world, that becomes even more complex. In a stable society with no war or disaster ongoing, self-expression and recognition, rather than basic needs, take the top spots in the pyramid of human needs.. This is especially pronounced in intellectual fields.

Research backs up the idea that there is no one reason for an unhappy workforce. For example, a great specialist in their field may be promoted to a managing position — but they will struggle without adequate training and support on how to cope with the new challenges.

Often workplaces have a culture where people are not comfortable admitting mistakes. That’s despite the fact that everyone makes mistakes, and they are a key component of learning. It indicates a lack of trust in the manager, leadership and company culture, which, of course, leads to an unhappy workforce.

Moreover, a company’s culture itself, a lack of appreciation, a lack of autonomy or too much micromanagement, weak communication, unclear company goals, and a lack of purpose at work could also cause unhappy employees.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Of course, all these results are related to employee happiness. There is plenty of comprehensive research explaining all these factors. A motivated and happy person is more creative and effective. So this means that a happy employee is likely to generate more value for a company in the same period of time than an unhappy person. More value means more profitability. And naturally, happiness and motivation contribute to better health of an employee.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

Leaders of companies and teams should ensure their values and goals are geared towards people’s wellbeing. They should understand what kind of environment, work ethic and communication make up their company culture and ensure all that motivates their people. Most of us are self-driven and motivated towards our own goals, but we can be pushed off the track by a demotivating culture. Furthermore, the whole organization should be structured so that all teams, departments and individual employees know their goals, milestones, timelines and responsibilities. This is not to say that departments should be competing with each other. Unhealthy interdepartmental competition creates some happy employees and some unhappy ones, so they should understand how their goals add up to the greater one.

An open, trusting and caring organization that takes pride in its work, takes on collective responsibility and helps its members grow professionally and personally is one where people want to work.

Lastly, a manager needs to set an example of how the organization should be. If they or any other employee do not live up to it, they should be removed from their position out of respect for their colleagues.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

Like every problem, it needs to be discussed publicly and widely. In the long run, improvements in the education system solve a variety of problems. We could start preparing good managers in school, emphasizing the most important parts of work ethics, culture, people needs and behaviour. Ultimately, the free market also has a large role, as business will need to compete on not just the salary but also the culture of the company.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

The most important thing in business is people. My work is to set up the organization architecture, culture and core fundamentals to achieve business targets in the most effective way. That means people have to stay motivated and get satisfaction from their work. To be on the same page, our team agreed on cultural guidelines and what we expect from each other. We are continually learning how to work best together. Some of our core principles are asking instead of demanding, providing feedback correctly, avoiding blaming culture, fostering accountability versus micromanagement, respecting others’ thoughts and ideas, working in a team and many more. At first, it looks like a small detail, but it pays off in the long run. It’s also very important to foster a growth mindset and help people raise their competence all the time.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Books. There are so many great books written by exceptional people. I love to read biographies and research books, which help to dive deeper into a specific topic. Of course, I have met, seen and listened to a lot of great people who will sometimes utter a short sentence of pure wisdom that makes you think. And of course, my parents, grandparents and uncle made significant contributions to my personality.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Together with Nord Security, NordPass works with various non-governmental organizations, cybersecurity initiatives, as well as educational institutions and student communities worldwide. We believe that it’s important to work with such organizations in order to spread the word and educate people on cybersecurity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Oh, I use plenty of them. For instance, ‘less is more’ — it helped me understand that sometimes by doing less, you are more efficient, enjoy more what you do and even do more.

Another one — ‘a coin has two sides’. That’s the rule — if something bad happens, there is always a lesson on the flip side. If you want to achieve something, you have to be passionate about it, which means you have to put other activities or even very important things aside. And another ironic but correct one — ‘You have two lives: the second one begins when you understand that you live only once.’ For me it represents a young person who is too careless sometimes or wastes time on meaningless things. One day they realize that time needs to be cherished.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would be awesome to inspire people to increase their level of critical thinking. There is so much fake news, opinion-based “facts”, superficial research and some bad community habits in general around us. There is plenty of room for improvement that could foster quicker progress in healthcare, law, education or even business.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

Thank you!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Jolanta Balciene of NordPass: “Have a clear purpose and stay true to your core principles”

by Fotis Georgiadis
Community//

Transforming Learning

by Peter Jonas
Who in your life, when you think of them, or when you’re together with them, brings up for you feelings of being constrained, stuck, powerless, not fully yourself?
Community//

The Six-Step Conversation That Will Leave You Feeling Powerful And Self-Expressed

by Remy Blumenfeld

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.