Oliver Lundquist

I believe that having a healthy work-life balance is crucial for a happy life.

Being able to be flexible about where and when you work gives you more opportunities to enjoy life and keeps you motivated and successful at work.

How I started out

I was 19 and had just graduated high school, clueless about what to do in life. Feeling like I was heading towards a dead-end living in southern Sweden, I wanted to start fresh somewhere new.

That's when I decided to book a 2 month's trip to a destination that was far away and had always intrigued me, Japan. After spending two months in Tokyo I knew that that was where I wanted to live in the future - moving to Japan became my first-ever life goal.

I decided to go to college where I really gained a passion for learning. For the first time in my life, I excelled at my studies in the Japanese department. Not so long after I was granted both the Japanese government and Japanese university-funded scholarships and completed two years of exchange studies in Tokyo.

Although I was doing well in college, once I was about to graduate I knew I had to start looking for jobs.

Working hard

With not much work experience nor skill (except for a near native level of Japanese) I knew I needed to learn something new and quick. I didn't have any programming experience but I've always had an interest in computers so that felt like a logical place to start.

Day and night, weekdays and weekends, I threw myself into the world of programming and did my absolute best to absorb new knowledge and level up my programming skills. After graduating, I got a gig at a web designing agency where I started to write HTML, JS and PHP.

Not more than 3 years later I was hired by another company as a tech lead in a team of 4.

Achieving goals

I've never been the smartest kid in class but I've always worked hard at it when there's something I want to achieve.

Working in Tokyo, I had a 3 hours commute back and forth from the office everyday and I never knew at what time my workday would end. This lifestyle started to take a toll on me. Being a Swede, it's in my DNA to have a healthy work-life balance. For me, it is a necessity to be able to spend time with my wife and kids every day after work.

After getting exhausted from working late hours every day with a very demanding boss, I decided that it was time for a change. I needed to find a balance in life that was more Swedish than Japanese and thus closer to who I am - this became my second life goal.

It took me 10 years, working hard as a company employee until I felt confident enough in myself and my skills to take the leap to become self-employed and work from home.

Learning new things

I love to learn new things, I can't say that I have a broad knowledge about things in general but I dig deep where I find things that interest me.

One of my long-term hobbies is cooking Chinese food, to be able to cook more authentic food I started to study some basic Chinese to understand the cooking instructions written in Chinese cookbooks.

Another, more recent hobby, is DIY and home improvement. I and my wife bought an old vacant house that needed a complete renovation in April 2020. I decided that rather than just hiring contractors, I wanted to learn more about how to take care of a house myself.

My wife and I did a full house renovation of a 160㎑ house, which is now the house we live in. After a couple of years working on the house, I now know how to do plumbing, carpentry and painting. I also took a Japanese electrician license to be able to do electrical work on the house. (*)

After working on the house for a little over a year, I decided to make a sauna as a new challenge to test out my newly gained skills. I completed the sauna in one and a half month and it's used heavily every winter by the whole family 😊 (**)

Having DIY as a hobby has helped me get a balance between sitting still and using my head at work and moving and using my body doing DIY.

Programming languages

When I started learning Japanese I was really interested in the characters and how they were put together into different compounds to create meaning.

When I learn a language, I love the feeling of gradually becoming better at deciphering what is written and understanding the meaning. It feels like it's written code. The challenge to understanding this code is why I love languages so much. This is very closely related to coding and is without a doubt why I so quickly gained an interest in programming.

In my professional career, I've had to figure out most things by myself and once I feel like I've learned something new, I'm always very eager to share it. That's why I love writing articles for this blog. At the same time, I hope that it will be a useful source of information for someone out there reading it.

The shorter version

  • Origin Born in MalmΓΆ, Sweden
  • Residency 13+ years working and living in Japan
  • Family Wife and two kids πŸ₯°
  • Languages Native level Japanese, Swedish and English, basic Chinese
  • Hobbies Coding (mostly PHP, TS, JS), DIY (home improvement) and Chinese cooking - I've always loved to create/build/make stuff.
  • Leadership Experience as a tech lead in a team of 4
  • Things I believe I've done well
    • Self-renovated an old house (now our home) of 160㎑ and built an outdoor firewood sauna. (*)(**)
    • Built an API with JSON-API standard and OAuth2 support that serves 35+ million requests a month.
    • Created an e-commerce platform from scratch generating 1.1 million USD in monthly sales and 16 million pageviews per month.
    • [and more...]
  • Things I wish I'd done different
    • One of my greatest pleasures is listening to music however I've failed to do anything musical several times in my life. The closest I get is "Car"aoke when I drive alone πŸ˜†
    • I've always been a good listener but never a good talker or presenter. When I was a tech lead (for better or worse) I inspired my colleagues by example instead of talking.
    • Back in high school, I wish I had been more active in sports - the closest I got was shooting hoops and jogging. Instead, I spent way too much time playing Quake and UT InstaGib πŸ˜€
    • [and more...πŸ˜…]


* Our DIY adventure is documented here in three parts: part 1, 2 and 3.

** Pictures of the sauna I built can be found here.

Oliver Lundquist

Born in πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ͺ, resident in πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅ for 13+ yrs, husband and father of a daughter and son, web developer since 2009.

Read more about me
β€’ mail@oliverlundquist.comβ€’ Instagram (@olibalundo)