Carlsberg’s Founder, Who Died in 1887, Gave a Surprisingly Insightful TED Talk Today

Career and life advice from beyond the grave

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is J.C. Jacobsen, and I have been dead for 130 years.”

As TED Talk openers go, it was a memorable one in Copenhagen today, as Jacobsen, the founder of Denmark-based brewer Carlsberg, appeared in hologram form at TEDxCopenhagen and gave an interesting posthumous talk about the value of uncertainty—in business and in life.

The talk, titled “Why You Should Answer Every Question With Probably,” nicely dovetailed with Carlsberg’s longtime tagline, “Probably the best beer in the world,” written by Saatchi & Saatchi in 1973.

It was an actor playing Jacobsen (obviously—the man died in 1887), but the speech, crafted by FCB agency Happiness in Brussels, was more than just an empty stunt. In the talk, Jacobsen argues, Camus-like, for the value of embracing probably, rather than the limiting and dogmatic yes or no, as a philosophy for success in business and beyond.

See the talk here:

“A yes mind-set is a static mind-set,” Jacobsen says. “The probably mind-set … says we never arrive at perfection. We are always aiming for it. But it’s the nature of perfection that you can’t ever get there. And that gap, between yes and probably, is where improvement happens. Probably is traveling expectantly, but never arriving. That’s how to live.”

In joining the pantheon of deceased company founders to appear in marketing efforts—Orville Deadenbacher will surely be petitioning TED next—Jacobsen was a decent addition to a full day of TEDxCopenhagen programming on theme of “Trust Uncertainty.”

And he did indeed have a unique philosophy of life, based around the scientific process—which the concept of probably embodies—with his groundbreaking discoveries going well beyond brewing.

Carlsberg promoted the talk with the short film below: