Taking even a cursory glance at Per Wimmer's list of accolades and achievements, one can clearly identify a relentless drive to explore and innovate. A successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, financier, author, conservationist, adventurer and astronaut, he has a restless desire to keep pushing forwards.
Not only does he operate an investment bank (Wimmer Financial), hedge fund / investment manager (Wimmer Horizon), and his own family office – coming off a background working with Goldman Sachs, Collins Stewart, Man Securities and the cabinet of the Vice President of the European Union – he also has a seemingly unquenchable thirst for adventure, having visited 84 different countries on his travels, attempted two Titanic dives, walked on live Hawaiian volcanoes, spent time with tribes in the Amazon rainforest and completed the first-ever tandem skydive over Mount Everest.
During our conversation, it becomes clear that for this endlessly aspirational individual, the world is not enough. With a dream to become the first Dane on the moon and experience as a founding astronaut with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and his own extensive space training, he’s very much looking to the stars for his next great escapade.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking Wimmer’s head is firmly in the clouds. Nature conservation, the fight against climate change and a yearning to inspire the next generation are key drivers in his entrepreneurial and philanthropic mindset. All of which led him to form the Seven Wimmer Values – a set of rules by which he lives his life and hopes to enthuse others with.
“They are the factors of how I operate personally and professionally,” says Wimmer. “It was when I started to do corporate presentation and motivational speaking that I sat down and crystallised the seven fundamental values that drive me. These values are not rocket science, but they do work.”
In an exclusive interview with Campden FB, Wimmer discusses how his life and experiences have led to the formation of a septenary of simple rules in which to flourish, evolve and make a difference…
Wimmer Value 1 – Think out of the box: Allow yourself to be inspired
"Always be open for new inspiration and new ideas. This is really important because the next great idea might just be in front of you."
Campden FB: Given your drive to experience and explore, it seems extremely possible that you will realise your dream of being the first Danish man on the moon. What inspired you to launch yourself into space and where do you see the future of space entrepreneurship?
Per Wimmer: “In 2020, about $15 billion in private capital went into the space sector, which is roughly equal to NASA's entire budget. Some very big money is being invested, driven by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, as well as Boeing and Lockheed.
“There’s a lot of excitement around space, a lot of new business plans and developments. If you look back at the Apollo programme, Silicon Valley was effectively created as a result. I think you could have something similar here with all that money going in, whether it's telecommunication satellites or further exploration. There’s even a kind of space taxi service from Earth to the International Space Station, courtesy of the Falcon Nine by SpaceX.
“The advancement of space entrepreneurship by private companies allows government agencies to then focus on going further into deeper space.
“With the success of the James Webb Space Telescope and the [impending launch of the] Artemis 1 [moon-orbiting mission], the future's bright for space exploration and private companies.
“I'm just a small player, but I'm certainly I'm certainly hoping to put myself into space as early as next year – it’s an endless source of inspiration for me. I'm also hoping to send a strong message of inspiration to young kids that science is cool and that they should live out their dreams.”
Wimmer Value 2 – Follow your heart and passion: Have purpose. Have fun. Be authentic
"Whatever you do, always have fun, allow your passion to shine… Because passion can move mountains."
Campden FB: You’ve done some incredibly adventurous things, such as tandem skydiving over Mount Everest. Has this spirit of adventure and exploration always been with you?
Per Wimmer: “It started when I was in high school, I started traveling with a language school in France and then, slowly but surely, started traveling further – when you catch the traveling bug, you really sort of keep pushing it. And that's what I did. From exploring the Amazon jungle to diving with sharks in Fiji, it just got more exciting. I love traveling and I love adventures – the more you do it, the more you like a good challenge.
“What really gets me excited is the possibility of breaking records, truly pushing the boundaries. The Everest skydive was a world's first and next year I aim to be the first private Dane in space. I've always been involved with these cutting-edge things. Obviously, it's not something you do every day and they take long preparation and a lot of effort, but, nevertheless, they're super exciting.
Wimmer Value 3 – Focus and execution
“Obviously, you can only do so much. So focus on two or three big things –but not more –and then execute, execute, execute.”
Campden FB: Do you find that your space experience gives you a new perspective and focus on what’s happening on terra firma?
Per Wimmer: “I'm heavily hands on with my day-to-day business but I do benefit from what astronauts call the overview effect – literally seeing the bigger picture from the highest of positions.
“Many astronauts are great environmentalists, because they really appreciate how enormously rare and unique our planet is. We're very aware of Earth’s fragility.
“While people have been fighting politically and wars have been raging, in space we’re all good friends. There is enormous collaboration on the International Space Station (ISS) with the Russians, Americans and Europeans. Even when China was looking to explore the dark side of the moon, they couldn't have done it without the help of NASA. Everybody was helping China to achieve this goal because, within the international space community, we're all friends and we can learn a lot from each other.”
Wimmer Value 4 – Time discipline: Be conscious about time allocation
“You have to be conscious about how you use your time –and make sure that the time you use is equal to your priorities.”
Campden FB: You’ve spent much of your life setting and attaining goals, from graduating university with concentrations in math, physics and a master of arts in law, to your many adventures and passion for conservation. Do you feel that others are also using their time effectively to tackle the global problems we’re facing?
Per Wimmer: “In 2014/2015, there was a great desire for politicians to be front page of the newspapers presenting themselves as very pro-green, but without looking into the commercial validity of their statements. I thought that was a shame because it ended up wasting a lot of public money. For green energy to be truly sustainable, it must be commercially sustainable.
“Climate change is something I strongly believe in and take very seriously, we're very much doing our bits in terms of financing and education.
“I have my own private island in Denmark and my plan is to sustain it as a nature conservation. The island runs solely on solar power, it's truly independent and sustainable.”
Wimmer Value 5 –Teamwork: The sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts alone
“When it comes to teamwork, one plus one plus one equals five –there are synergies created within teams and that enhances the great work we can do.”
Campden FB: Do you find that having a strong, informed and knowledgeable team around you helps to amplify your problem-solving abilities?
Per Wimmer: “I've always been a very curious person and have always wanted to learn both in terms of formal education and being street-smart. One thing I’ve learned is that, whether you’re embarking on a new business undertaking or a truly ground-breaking adventure, we don’t always follow the manual – sometimes we write the manual!
“I find that I get really motivated in my professional life because I'm blessed with many great colleagues. I also meet a lot of great people all the time at conferences, business interactions and deals and, as a result, you learn every day.
“When we did the Everest skydive, we managed to logistically secure the correct permits, transport half a ton of equipment, bring in a plane from Switzerland, arrange special training sessions and even modify oxygen masks to work at high altitudes – this was all done for the first time and it was down to teamwork that we could get set this record.”
Wimmer Value 6 – Take calculated risks: Assess the risks-rewards ratio. Apply sustainable solutions respecting the environment and scarce resources
“Whatever you decide to do, obviously, look at all the risks. As long as those risks are lower percentages and not double-digit stuff, it's okay. Climbing Mount Everest presents a roughly 10% death rate, that's too high so, for me, skydiving was better. Nobody had done it before, so there were no previous fatalities!”
Campden FB: In your book The Green Bubble (2014), you wrote about how gas and nuclear are the future of energy due to their commercial viability. Nearly ten years on, has your opinion changed with reduction in the costs of renewables and the increase in cost of fossil fuels?
Per Wimmer: “For sure, I think if anything the current crisis should further emphasise that we need to accelerate the energy transition towards a greener economy. The good news is, technology has advanced significantly from when I wrote my book. Back then, I was slightly concerned about offshore wind, for instance, thinking that it required too many subsidies and it was just not efficient enough. In retrospect, I must admit that the technology has gotten so much better. Solar panels, specifically, have become much more efficient.
“Politically, I think the foundations for shifting the economies towards a greener landscape is definitely there. In my home country of Denmark, there are days when we’re able to use 100% renewable energy, which definitely sets a great benchmark for the rest of the world.
“In my book, I also highlight the positive effects of hydro-electric power. With large rivers like the ones in Brazil, you can put in big hydro dams that can generate many gigawatts of power.
“Nuclear is definitely still part of the energy mix though. Yes, they are expensive to build but once they are up and running, they can create an enormous amount of power – that's when you can really move the needle. It's a complex thing, but life has advanced significantly.”
Wimmer Value 7 –Inspire others: Especially children, and encourage them to live out their dreams
“Always remember to give back and always inspire others. I especially feel an obligation to share my experience with young kids.”
Campden FB: Clearly you're driven in business and your personal life. Why is inspiring others, especially the younger generation, so important to you?
Per Wimmer: “I think the next generation obviously has a major role to play in shaping the future, and it's my privilege to help them. In addition to being involved in traditional charitable efforts, I also have a role to play in helping to establish new business ideas and plans that comes up.
“I wear two hats, I have the finance and investment hat and I have the space hat. Many space entrepreneurs are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what they do but maybe not so sharp on the business end, so they often come to me for advice and guidance and I help them shape their plans so that they become investable and commercially sustainable. It’s an important role and I’m super enthusiastic about being a part of it.”
For further information on Per Wimmer, visit wimmerspace.com.
Per Wimmer's autobiography volume 1, The Sky Is No Limit, is released on November 9, 2022. For more information, click here.