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2022 Best Podcast Award
Disability Solutions

Europe: Viking Robots Edition

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Sweden has been an outlier, hoping that bypassing lockdowns and instead, bracing herd immunity would win the day. Well, it hasn't worked out very well, and the country is grappling with next steps. That's why we've brought Sweden's Elin Martenzon, Tengai Unbiased CEO, to discuss the state of her country. You'll learn why Sept. 29 is such a big day. Then we travel to Italy, where the continent's first COVID passport mandate is about to be implemented. The answer to whether or not the rest of Europe will follow suit may surprise you.

You want acquisitions? We got acquisitions, covering Amsterdam-based Impraise getting gobbled up by San Francisco-based unicorn BetterUp.

TRANSCRIPTION SPONSORED BY: Disability Solutions partners with our clients to build best-in-class inclusion programs and reach qualified, talented individuals with disabilities of every skill, education, and experience level.

INTRO (5s):

Some podcasts, do it for the fun. Some do it for the fame, Chad and Cheese they do it for global effin domination. That's why bringing America to its knees was just the beginning. Now they have their eyes set on conquering Europe and they've drafted industry veteran Lieven Van Nieuwenhuyze of Belgium to help them navigate the old country and bring HR's most dangerous podcast across the pond to trash-talk like never before. Not safe for work in any language. The Chad and Cheese podcast does Europe.

Joel (38s):

I watched every season of Vikings to prepare for this episodes, mystery guest, skull motherfuckers. You're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast as Europe. I'm your cohost, Joel "see you in Valhalla" Cheeseman.

Chad (51s):

And this is Chad "Red October" Sowash

Lieven (53s):

I'm Lieven, "we don't have any submarines in Belgium" Van Nieuwenhuyz.

Joel (57s):

In this episode, Italy says no work for you without a COVID passport, Sweden says, get your asses back to the office and an American company gobbles up an Amsterdam based startup. Amsterdam it really is more than just hookers and weed. Amsterdam-based

sfx (1m 17s):

Europe has a bunch of countries in it.

Joel (1m 21s):

What's up my friends as the lone American on the podcast, I say good day to everyone.

Chad (1m 26s):

So, I'm now, Portuguese, is that what you're saying?

Joel (1m 30s):

Well, I'm saying, I'm saying, you know, yeah. It's, you're slipping in. It's sort of like, have you seen Dances with Wolves?

Chad (1m 37s):


Joel (1m 37s):

So this scene where the, Union soldier captures Kevin Costner and says basically like, you know, you've gone injun boy or whatever the line is. And then Kevin Costner gives his name Dances with Wolves. That's kind of like where you are at this phase, you sort of slipped into Port, you're gonna start speaking Portuguese on these shows. I'm sure you probably have a Portuguese name. Don't you like Rinaldo Sowash or something?

Chad (2m 1s):

"Dances with wine in the sand" Yes

Joel (2m 3s):

This is with wine and Michelin restaurants. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Let's bring in our mystery guest.

Chad (2m 10s):

Who is it?

Joel (2m 11s):

Listeners will know her Elin Mårtenzon CEO at guy, you know, Tengai as the recruiting robot. Elin. Welcome back to the show. It's been a minute.

Elin (2m 22s):

Thank you so much. Yeah. It's been a minute. It's been a whole pandemic, I assume, right?

Joel (2m 27s):

Yeah. Yeah. So for our listeners who don't know you, give us a little Twitter bio, and we're going to talk about your company in the show, but give us a little bit about you and living in Sweden.

Elin (2m 38s):

Yeah, of course. Yeah. So I'm the co-founder and CEO of Tengai, which is an interview intelligence platform. And we're also the creators of the first ever use robot for interviewing, without being affected by unconscious bias. And just this year we launched a new digital version of our product and we are now experiencing growth due to that need for automated interviews.

Joel (3m 2s):

We'll get to the company a second. We're looking out for you. You are a CEO in the best sense, but yeah, you have a couple of kids, live in Sweden.

Elin (3m 12s):

I do, I live in the south of Sweden

Joel (3m 14s):

Enjoying the fall there.

Chad (3m 15s):

Are you actually in Malmo or are you just close to it?

Elin (3m 18s):

I'm actually close to Malmo, so it's basically between Malmo and Copenhagen in Denmark. So it's a really close to Copenhagen as well. So down here where I live, we have nice beaches. Nowadays it's actually, as you said, it's turning into fall. So the air is crisp, the birds are moving and we're lighting loads of candles.

Joel (3m 41s):

The birds are moving.

Chad (3m 43s):

They're going south. Get me the fuck out of here.

Joel (3m 49s):

I like that.

Elin (3m 50s):


Joel (3m 51s):

Well let's go from all peace and love. And my first shout out, I just want to talk about France getting pissed off.

Chad (3m 59s):

Oh yeah.

Joel (3m 59s):

They're getting tough on the US after America apparently canceled a $66 billion submarine contract for Australia. And they're mad at Belgium too, which I guess Lieven's to talk about that. But the new pact between the UK, US and Australia dubbed AUKUS, which is great, caused France to recall their ambassadors from the U S and Australia. Not since freedom fries has tension been so thick. Lieven what's your take on this global action?

Lieven (4m 30s):

Apparently no one wants to buy anything from the French and they're a bit angry. Australia was supposed to buy submarines, we were supposed to buy our airplanes. We didn't and Australia didn't and now the French are angry. That's basically the whole thing.

Chad (4m 45s):

But France, they cried for European sovereignty, but neither the Aussies or Brits are part of the EU. So I mean, what fucking sovereignty are they talking about?

Lieven (4m 58s):

Yeah, but they were supposed to be partners and they broke their words and, and now they're not partners anymore. And so they recalled her ambassador and, and now they're sulking.

Joel (5m 9s):

They're mad that they're losing their position in the world stage, I

Lieven (5m 13s):

Think mostly to billion dollars they lost. Yeah.

Joel (5m 16s):

And the $66 billion. That hurts too.

Chad (5m 19s):

Not fun, not fun. So Ted Lasso, baby for killing it, at the Emmys. So a year after the final season of Schitt's Creek, which had taken up the mantle of Emmy comedy gold, Ted Lasso jumps in and emerges as the heir apparent. We keep telling you people over in Europe, if you're not watching it Apple TV or Apple Plus whatever the fuck they're calling it. Now you got to check it out. Ted Lasso, stupid American, comes over. He's the best guy in the world runs a football traditional proper football club in London. It's hilarious, it's fucking awesome.

Elin (5m 59s):

Actually, one of my favorite shows.

Chad (6m 1s):

Have you seen it Lieven?

Elin (6m 2s):

Yeah, I have. It's one of my favorites.

Joel (6m 4s):

Does it play in Swedish there or do you have to watch an American with subtitles?

Elin (6m 8s):

We watch Americans.

Joel (6m 10s):

Oh, ok.

Chad (6m 11s):

They're smarter than we are Joel.

Joel (6m 14s):

These are questions we want to answer on the show. Are there subtitles?

Elin (6m 18s):

Yeah. There are subtitles, but I'm not sure that everyone uses them though.

Joel (6m 22s):

Sometimes you know, I go to Europe, I see Friends and it's dubbed over in whatever language.

Lieven (6m 27s):

Only when you go to France and maybe Germany as well. But most countries in Europe, they use subtitles, which is better to learn languages I guess.

Joel (6m 35s):

There you go. That's the information we want to know on this show.

Chad (6m 38s):

That's how it is here in Portugal, man. I hear British music, but I mean, I think what we've done as Americans, at least we did well in the eighties and we're still doing pretty well now, is we have great pop culture and everybody wants to watch the movies, listen to the music, that kind of stuff. And that's how a lot of these kids are actually learning English.

Lieven (6m 58s):


Joel (6m 59s):

I learned to speak Swedish by listening to Abba in the seventies. But that's a different show.

Lieven (7m 4s):

I learned German by watching porn.

Chad (7m 10s):

I can't top that. Okay.

Joel (7m 13s):

Thank God Elin knew what she was getting into when she agreed to be on this show.

Chad (7m 17s):

Lieven has a shout out.

Lieven (7m 20s):

Yeah, indeed, indeed. Ikea. It's not about Elin. It's about Ikea and apparently they are going to launch a whole e-sports line, gaming line and I just bought, so I've got twins, so I just bought two expensive secret lab, gaming chairs, terribly ugly things. But that's it.

Joel (7m 38s):

That took eight hours to put together.

Lieven (7m 40s):


Joel (7m 41s):

Don't even get me started.

Lieven (7m 44s):

And indeed, but now Ikea is going to launch a gaming line and gets all over the world. 3 billion they say are going to buy Ikea on gaming stuff. Or why do I mention it? What's the link for recruitment? Because I've been saying for a while, the debts e-sports is going to be the next recruitment plaza. And at the house of HR Recruitment Congress on the 25th of November, today already mentioned it. We're going to do a big topic about e-sports because it's booming and it's indeed a great place to hire people.

Joel (8m 15s):

Who's speaking on the topic?

Lieven (8m 16s):

Yeah. His name is Steven Learnen and he's a co-founder and CEO of Metta and Metta is a big gaming agency in Belgium and the Netherlands. But back to the Belgian standards, there are pioneers in e-sports and let's say the, it looks and probably even in the U S they've been. Yeah?

Joel (8m 34s):

And COVID willing, Chad and Cheese will be interviewing my man on e-gaming. So stay tuned for that episode cause that'll be a fun topic.

Chad (8m 42s):

I can't wait.

Joel (8m 43s):

I mean, how many chairs can you make for gaming? It's just that goofy U-shaped chair, right? What other furniture is there?

Lieven (8m 50s):

Oh they have all kinds of accessories.

Joel (8m 54s):

Accessories. Okay.

Lieven (8m 56s):

Like stuff no one needs to put your mouse on and stuff no one needs to put your headphones on. And other stuff no one needs. Also has RGB lightning so it looks cool.

Chad (9m 7s):

Ah, that's a good point. Yeah. It's like, it's just like the hoop T-Mobile that Joel had when he was a kid, he had lights under it.

Joel (9m 17s):

My Pinto was a chick magnet, man, stay off the Pinto baby. That shit was a baby blue. And it was popular with the ladies. Anyway, you mentioned the Congress, which is on Thanksgiving Day, also known as November 25th and the rest of the world, COVID willing, as I said, will be there. So far I can still come. And Chad, I assume, may not even leave the country or the continent, will be there as well as another American Steven Rothberg and Faith I think you're going to be there. And Adam Gordon, is he still slated?

Lieven (9m 50s):

Yes, he's coming and a Canadian guy, Jim Carroll has also joining. Okay. He didn't care about Thanksgiving because apparently in America it's one month early.

Joel (9m 58s):

It's a different day. Yeah. And maybe Elin can pop in and hang out at the Congress in Belgium for a couple of days.

Elin (10m 6s):


Chad (10m 6s):

Maybe Tengai can come by too. Who knows?

Joel (10m 11s):

Well, speaking of that, let's get

Chad (10m 16s):


Joel (10m 18s):

Alrighty, then we're going to talk a little Sweden. Talk about Tengai. We haven't seen the robot in a while. We miss it. I guess you won an award recently. Give us a state of the union there at Tengai. What's going on?

Elin (10m 34s):

You know, the union. Well, that's the, I said, you just briefly mentioned we earlier this year, we launched a new digital version of the product and due to that, I think it's also like a result of the pandemic, and everything we've done on online and so on and so did interviews over the last year. So we're now actually experiencing some growth in that area. And also I think that the need for automated interviews focusing our soft skills has become a new need for at least the companies in Sweden. So yeah, basically it's kind of good. We won an award in May, which basically was an innovation award on the Swedish market. So we were proud of that.

Elin (11m 14s):

And things are looking good I believe we're opening up Sweden as well, which naturally we'll bring some more, more business along the way I think.

Joel (11m 22s):

And you launched English about a year ago, right? How's that going?

Elin (11m 26s):

Yeah. So we're mostly using the Swedish version in Sweden. So, but the English version is mostly used for a Swedish company on an international level. So basically we're still, we're still working from Sweden and now we're actually hoping for getting outside of Sweden to new COVID passes.

Joel (11m 45s):

And when you say obviously going digital opens up a whole new opportunity, is digital Tengai, a chat bot? Is it more smarter than that? Like talk about exactly what you say when you mean digital.

Elin (12m 2s):

It's more of it's more than a chat bot actually. It's more of a, like a two way interaction with an avatar or a robot. Then the automated two way situation where you can sort of have a much, much more, I believe, greater experience from your interview. So it's still focusing on like the early stages of the process. And now we actually do just did a few integrations as well towards ATSs in Sweden. So we did with an ETS called Tintae just recently, which is a really nice platform in Sweden, focusing on automated situations as well. So we just did that integration. So now we can actually see the results of the first stages of automated processes in a sort of a long run.

Chad (12m 50s):

Now it sounds like you've pivoted kind of, to an extent, because a year now an interview intelligence platform and because there really was no need for quote unquote "physical interviews" or much less need, you guys went virtual, right? You went to more of a virtual platform.

Elin (13m 8s):

We definitely have the pandemic to thank for that because it's been a part of our roadmap since the beginning actually to go on the digital flight as well. But one, one part was that, okay, people are still used that used to do interviews physically. Right. So, and I don't know if that's a typical Swedish thing or whatever, but before the pandemic, most people are actually sitting face to face during interviews. So when the pandemic hits and people were forced to sit at home doing like virtual interviews, everyone was like, okay, so now what? So this was basically a thing that we could do. So they sort of experienced that it was like yeah, a better way of conducting interviews. I think that we can see now that people are actually moving towards the virtual interview stage as well, even after the pandemic.

Joel (13m 55s):

So not only virtual interviews, but we talked about the metaverse, if not on the last show, the one before that, and certainly Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, if he had his way, we'd all be, you know, icons in this metaverse and we all have meetings as digital representations of ourselves. I'm guessing that you're bullish on the metaverse or virtual reality and how Tengai could fit into that digital world as a recruitment. I don't know, persona? What are your thoughts on the metaverse and Tengai's place in that?

Elin (14m 29s):

I don't know if I've ever had any at all. I'm thinking that we need to create experience for candidates that are fun, unique, and engaging, and that might be a solution for that as well. I mean, just look at the future, it might be like AI avatars, that's being the CEO of the company or with the digital version, basically anything can happen, right? It's more of creating a situation where candidates can feel safe, secure, engage, and so on. And so I, I don't, I'm not saying that that is the natural way for us. It's more, I think it's more a situation where we need to be very aware that we can make sure that we're create experiences for the candidates as well.

Joel (15m 13s):

Let's pivot to the state of Sweden. Now that we've talked to the state of Tengai now, most of the world here heard about Sweden not getting down with lockdowns. It was more of a herd mentality strategy. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, sort of, talk about what Sweden's response was to COVID and maybe the state of Sweden right now, and what's going on with the pandemic. Cause it seems like it didn't work out real well.

Elin (15m 39s):

To say the least Joel. I mean, yeah, we did have like the society open, we didn't go into lockdown as most of the world did during last spring. However, what most people basically don't know is that we've actually been in sort of semi locked down since November last year. And so it's been more of like, okay, we need to do this anyways. Since I think that they understood quite, quite like, like strictly after the summer, last year that, okay, this, this strategy isn't working, we need to do something more. And then we went into sort of like a semi lockdown.

Elin (16m 20s):

So the schools have been opened, restaurants have been opened, but restricted and a larger public gatherings hadn't been allowed, larger private gatherings haven't been allowed and so on. So that's basically the situation at the moment now as well. But as of September 29, then most of the restrictions will actually be eased.

Chad (16m 41s):

So after watching what's happened in the US, this total shit storm that is happening. And Sweden's only like around 61, 62% actually vaccinated. Right? So you guys aren't even close to herd immunity.

Elin (16m 57s):

Oh no.

Chad (16m 58s):

Is there any, I mean, is there anything from like a TNG and from Tengai from like your world or universe where you guys are having conversations around this and saying, look, this is probably not a good idea from what we're seeing from all those idiots over in the US?

Elin (17m 15s):

Yeah. Yeah. I think that we definitely need to like focus on like what model we will have after September 29 when it comes to, are we forcing people back to the offices or not? Are we still, since everyone's not received their vaccine yet effects have had governed their vaccine yet? I think that we definitely need to be restricted when it comes to keeping distance, still washing our hands. That's a good thing though, and all of those things. But I think that in terms of like, looking at the Swedish strategy overall, I think that we can all just come to the conclusion that it was a crappy strategy, but I think that a Swedish citizens somewhere had had sort of hoped that the Swedish model will be successful.

Elin (18m 2s):

But now the opposite has definitely been proven. And we've been actually defending the strategy of herd community by believing it was to protect the economy, economic growth and to save jobs. However, it, that also turned out to be wrong, right? So since both economic growth and unemployment rates had suffered from that. So on the other hand, like keeping the society open, might to some argue that we have contributed to like a more happy citizens overall, I guess that we need to wait and see what the future holds in terms of mental health issues though.

Chad (18m 36s):

We are always looking for the bright side. Every time, everything you ask a Swede, they're like, no, it's the best. No, it's the best.

Elin (18m 44s):

<inaudible> in our culture

Lieven (18m 47s):

A colleague of mine is living in Sweden right now, he's our copywriter. And by the way, shout out to <inaudible> and he left to <inaudible>, or he moved to Sweden because his wife is an organist. And apparently in Sweden, if you play the organ, you get a well-paid jobs at a Swedish church or some way.

Elin (19m 3s):

Yeah, definitely.

Lieven (19m 5s):

They need organ players so she was a very good organist and she was invited to Sweden to get a well-paid job, whatever. So at my copywriter moved with her to wherever he's living in Sweden, but he told me about the whole pandemic that the Swedish people are very disciplined and that they keep distance that you don't need to force them and blah, blah, blah. And in Belgium, we were very jealous about discipline Swedish people, but in the end they screwed up anyway.

Elin (19m 34s):


Chad (19m 35s):

Hey Joel, you can play the organ. Why don't you, why aren't you in Sweden?

Joel (19m 41s):

Well, I can fuck it up on the organ. Don't don't mess with me. By the way. I have a little story about Sweden. So when Chad and I went there a couple of years ago, Elin was nice enough to pick me up at the airport and drive me to the conference. So we're driving and we're almost all doing the same speed limit. We're all in the right hand lane or the same lane. And then as someone passes us, Elin mentions how rude it is to be passing on the freeway. And I'm like in America, this bitch is Thunderdome. Like it's mad max on the freeway, everyone's passing everyone. So that gives you an idea of the, I don't know, the orderly manner of most Swedes, which brings me to, I want to dig into the September 29th deadline, where basically the recommendation to work from home if possible will be lifted by the government, along with the other pandemic restrictions that you mentioned.

Joel (20m 39s):

So the question is, you know, can your boss force you to return to the workplace? Apparently they can. I'm curious in terms of culture, are all Swedes going to go back to work? Are other things like government subsidies or money from the government has that been happening and what will that stop on September 29th? What's going to happen? Is a bomb going to go off or is everyone just going to go back to work and go back to normal?

Elin (21m 2s):

I don't think that anyone will just go back to work, we're talking a lot about like a hybrid models at the moment, and like the larger companies in Sweden being in the forefront of that. I mean, companies such as like Spotify and so on. They have like ordered their employees to stay at home for at least the end of the year, as a safety precaution. So I think there's a lot of discussion going on what will actually happen on the 29th. But I'm guessing that we'll be seeing more of these like hybrid models and when it comes to like the government, if they're putting in more money and so on, that will also pretty much end at the end of September.

Elin (21m 46s):

So I'm thinking that from the government side, they will sort of try to get things back to normal, but I mean, still we're only 62% rights that are vaccinated. So, we'll see what happens. I know that there've been talking a lot of like vaccine passes and so on as well for larger gatherings and so on to make sure that we could like have gathering safely.

Lieven (22m 11s):

Do you think there's a link with the new migration act? I mean, Sweden was or used to be the most migrant welcoming country in Europe, I feel. And now suddenly there are very restrictive, is it because of COVID? Is there a link?

Elin (22m 25s):

I don't think it's because of COVID to be honest, there's the new migration act in Sweden is what's basically a temporary law that established in 2016, just after when we had like large immigration from Afghanistan and, and so on. So it's been, I think, it was like a necessity to find a ways to limit that like large immigration in some ways to create some sort of system stability. But now that that temporary act has now become permanent. So it definitely becomes more important in terms of like talent acquisitions and so on as well.

Joel (23m 2s):

Yeah. Which is another great segue. So this is a big issue also called the aliens act in Sweden, apparently. So it does apparently push out PhDs. So a critic critical argument has come out that said, this thing has created impossible conditions for PhD students to pursue a career in Sweden.` Critics say the new requirements that came into force on July 20th of this year, severely affect foreign doctoral candidates and researchers in Sweden. It waste several years of tax funded investment in research by expelling thousands of foreign PhD students and researchers from the country. So it sounds like just everyone, including PhDs are going to be pushed out of Sweden, which I'm guessing you think is not great for the economy.

Elin (23m 49s):

I definitely do not. And I think it's, it's problematic from a talent acquisition perspective as well. I mean, it's, it affects a temporary work permits that might risk not be extended to permanent work permits and residency. So it might affect the long-term supply of talents coming to Sweden. And I think from the perspective of that, we also, I mean, just last week, the largest skill shortage in 15 years was announced in Swedish media and paradoxically enough, unemployment rates is an all time high as the <inaudible>. So there is a, now a large debate around skill shortage and skills gap in Sweden affecting certain areas, such as logisticS, manufacturing, production, IT, sales and marketing.

Elin (24m 31s):

And at the same time, Swedish employers are actually stating that the number one threats to their growth is recruiting the right people for the job and that soft skills are more important than ever. So it's kind of a difficult situation. Definitely.

Joel (24m 45s):

Yeah. A little more context to this. According to the Swedish higher education authority, 37% of the total 17,000 doctoral candidates registered in 2020 are from foreign countries of whom 6 in 10 leave Sweden after graduation. So definitely a brain drain situation you guys have there. Other reports suggested that 66% of the non EU slash EEA researchers previously eligible for Swedish permanent residency are considering leaving Sweden. So I hope you guys figure that out.