#62 How to be more vulnerable online with Jens Lennartsson

If you're tired of seeing everyone's life filtered on social media and you've had enough of being sold 6-step processes to achieving your dreams, you're going to love today's guest.

In 2013 Jens Lennartsson went viral online when he created 400 “GI Jens” action figurines of himself to send out as promotional materials to potential clients.

It propelled his career to a whole new level. He traveled the world, worked with amazing clients built a strong online following and then...depression came knocking on the door.

What started off as a passion for photography became a calling for storytelling and although today Jens isn't quite sure what to call himself, it doesn't really matter. As long as he gets to be creative, real and tell stories he'll be happy.

Here is his raw and honest account of how building an online presence and trying to follow your passion can come at a cost: your wellbeing.


In today’s episode, you will learn:

  • How to take personal branding to a whole new level

  • How to answer the question: “what do you do”?

  • Tips to create your own photography style

  • The ‘warts and all’ side of chasing your passion

  • What happens when you start opening up fully to your audience

  • Why Jens turned vegan overnight

  • How to protect yourself from a monkey attack...



I love how Jens talks about breaking out of the box he put himself in.  I hope it gave you some ideas for how to brand yourself or talk about what you do. Tell me: what boxes do you think you’ve been trying to put yourself in and how can you change that? Let me know by sharing your thoughts with me on your favourite social media platform @markleruste.




On being authentic online

“I have actually held myself back for maybe one and half two years just because I have been clinging to being a photographer. I felt that if I say that okay fuck, I’m not going to be a photographer, I’m going to do something else. Then I spent 8 -10 years doing something that I’m not going to do anymore and I’m going to be a failure. People are going to see me as a failure. I made the mistake to call myself what I am instead of why I am.” [20:54]


“One day I thought fuck it. This is boring. It’s boring trying to be someone else. If I’m going to talk about something, I want to talk about it because I want to talk about it… and not in a way I’m supposed to, I’m going to talk about it in my way. I stopped trying so hard and I just sat down and wrote down whatever I wanted to write about at that moment...The first email I wrote like that, I started to get tens of answers for every email.” [23:58]

“Some people are getting tired of this perfect life we are living. Somewhere in the back of your head you know that it can’t be like this anymore.” [27:44]


“I don’t want to be one person in real life and one person online because it’s like living in a lie half the time.” [29:58]


On opening up about depression

“I was kind of open with it (depression) from day 1 and I talked to people and I said, I’m depressed now and I've been going to talk to someone...and the answers I got in 95% of the cases, either someone said: ‘Oh I have been depressed too and I’ve been to a shrink’. Or ‘oh yeah, I should go talk to someone too.” [28:03]


“You’re not ashamed if you get cancer, or break your arm...and need to go to the hospital... but for some reason it’s taboo to talk about mental health.. And I realised when I started to talk about that with everyone else, they started to talk to me about it.” [29:00]


“You should never be afraid of narrowing your focus… you will always find someone that is on your side.” [31:36]


“The main thing that helped me get out of the depression and I managed to get out of those without any kind of medication…what I realised was that I needed some kind of stability to be able to process this state of mind and state of my body and both times, I could stop working for a few months and I stayed with my family.” [36:55]


“I had a really hard time working, being creative when I feel like that. It’s just blank, it’s nothing.”  [38:22]


“It’s really hard to understand for someone who hasn’t been there why you didn’t just answer my text message or why didn’t you just call me back. You can’t do that it’s just too much effort to do that.” [39:40]


On crafting your personal brand

“I realised I don’t need to put myself in such a small box. I don’t need to be a photographer or a writer, or anything like that. I can be an artist and tell stories and my calling can be to help other people to create things in today’s world...without letting what you think people want take your energy.” [47:04]


“I’m really trying to think more about why I am doing what I’m doing. Have a story that I really believe in.” [52:00]




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