#thIMPULSE - EDITION 04.2020 - April Fools' Day
thoughts & impulses about change & progress.
It is April Fools’ Day!*
April Fools’ Day is also called All Fools’ day, “possion d’avril” in France or just plain and simple “Erster April” in
It is generally a day of laughter, light-heartedness and fun.
I chose this photo on purpose to honor a man of laughter, light-heartedness and fun – my grandfather (father of my mother). I admired him as a person, a role-model and a grandfather. He had to change, pivot and shift due to war, injury and sickness but has always stayed humble, positive, kind and loving.
This day suits you very well “Bahnopa”!
April Fools’ Day is celebrated in different cultures for several centuries. Its exact origins remain mysterious and uncertain.
Some believe it is linked to mother nature’s changes, others think it is linked to the change of the calendar system.
Here some facts:
In 1508, the French poet Eloy d'Amerval mentioned a "poisson d'avril" (April’s fool).
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered to switch from the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar 45BC; already structured in 12 months, including leap years) to the Gregorian calendar (improved version especially from an astronomical point of view). By this, the new year started instead of the last week of March through the 1st of April, on the 1st of January. In France, the people who failed to recognize this change were subject to jokes and hoaxes. One trick that was played on them was having “paper fish” placed on their backs and so being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish).
In 1618 there was a first mentioning in Bavaria, Germany, of „sending someone into the April“.
The first reference in Britain dates back to the year 1686, when John Aubrey referred to the celebration as "Fooles holy day".
Other attempts include the link to festivals of Hilaria which was celebrated by the Romans around the 25th of March and involved people playing games, processions and masquerades. Commoners dressed-up and disguised to imitate nobility to devious ends.
A more nature centered attempt is the vernal equinox (start of spring in the northern Hemisphere), when nature changes and unpredictable weather arises.
The opinions about April Fools’ days vary, it ranges from funny and restraining to creepy, manipulative and rude.
Some positive aspects about progress I see:
Improved health due to stress-relief by laughing and joking.
Opportunity for creativity and innovation to design funny and tricky pranks.
Improvisation and theatrical performances due to making the jokes as real as possible.
Prank marketing for companies and individuals to build a brand, capture your audience’s attention and create a follower-ship.
Resilience when a thoughtful prank is played on you.
Positivity, energy and humor although a prank being played on oneself.
My most memorable April Fools’ Day was when my older brother played the following trick on me:
My mum told me in the morning that a big parcel arrived for me this morning.
She handed over a big carton (maybe 1m x 40 cm, x 30 cm) to me.
I imagined straight away this being a toy or sports equipment.
I starting immediately unwrapping the parcel full of excitement.
When I opened the first layer, I discovered there was a smaller box inside.
I opened the second box and found another layer of newspaper, and another smaller box, and more newspaper…
After 15 minutes of unwrapping and being curious (AND my mother encouraging me that it might be something small and precious and my brother cheering in) I held a very small box, wrapped in gift paper in my hands and thought that’s it…gift here we go…
It was an empty tick-tack box which contained a small note: a gift certificate??!!
It was written: APRIL APRIL (how you say in German when a trick is played in you)
:-) :-( :-)
Business Tools for free
For me one of the most effective ways of self-development, learning and personal growth is by listening to podcasts.
I think they are one of the best innovations in recent years.
And furthermore, the audio aspect will certainly grow even further in the future (think about Alexa, Google Home, Siri – all audio interfaces). This of course, due to the possibility to listen and do something else at the same time (not very mindful but for the multitasker very convenient). You can go running and listen to a podcast, you can do shopping and listen to a podcast…
For me as soon as I leave the house on my own, I will put on a podcast. Even if I am unconcentrated and somewhere else with my thoughts, I have the feeling that I nevertheless benefit from the content, the atmosphere and the spirit of the conversation.
I have noticed that for me my playlist of podcasts has evolved with my personal development, my interests and even with my mood.
My podcast playlist which somehow also represents my podcast journey (!! means strong recommendations):
Super athletes, health and inspiration: The Rich Roll Podcast
Entrepreneurship, inspiration: The Time Ferris Show
Health, Entrepreneurship: Dave Aspery
History, Storytelling, suspense: Revisionist History – Malcome Gladwell (!!)
Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Inspiration: The GaryVee Audio Experience
Entrepreneurship, Business, Start-ups: Master of Scale – Reid Hoffmann
Inspiration, Business: The James Altucher Show
Inspiration, Health, Business: Impact Theory – Tom Bilyeu
Daily Everything, MMA: The Joe Rogan Experience
Inspiration, Spirituality, Wisdom: Super Soul Conversations
Business, Inspiration, Wisdom: Akimbo – Seth Godin
Psychology, Philosophy, Inspiration: The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast (!!)
Business, Coaching, Psychology: The Tony Robbins Podcast
Therapy, coaching: Where Should We Begin – Esther Perel
Coaching, Start-up, Work: How’s Work – Esther Perel
Business, Psychology: Work Life – Adam Grant (!!)
Coaching, Entrepreneurship, Leadership: The Reboot Podcast (!!)
Business Idea for Free
Trail Running Protectors
For all runners who like to go off the beaten tracks – trail runners.
One of the challenges they face are thorns and spikes alongside the trails that poke, pin and skew into the running socks, trousers, sleeves AND skin. This is usually mega uncomfortable, hurts and damages the gear.
Copying protectors from another sport: ski slalom*. In slalom you have shin guards and pole guards to push away the poles.
For the trail running I would think of:
Forearm protectors: on the outer side of the sleeves the whole outer forearm is layered with a specific repellent material (Kevlar??!!). Or a specific pullover sleeve or possibly even a thin plastic protector that can be pulled on top of the shirt, jacket, jumper and can be used like the pole guards to actually push away the thorns and bushes.
Lower leg protectors: the outer side of the running socks or running trousers are layered with a specific repellent material (Kevlar??!!) that decreases the friction and stickiness of the original textile and protects it and the leg skin in general.
I assume it is not a mass market product but a very nice niche product for trail runners.
They will (I WILL!!) appreciate and therefore be prepared to spend some additional money on such a feature or product (at least everybody who has already been blessed by a thorn or whose expensive running jacket has been damaged).
If the idea resonates with you and you would like to exchange further, e.g. scalability, commercial concept,…I am happy you contact me: email@example.com.
A Story about Culture
8 lessons from my life trajectory
Recently I saw on Linked In that two of my old colleagues and friends from Bosch have been promoted.
They have not only just been promoted but they made dream-like career steps.
When I told this somehow casually to my wife, she straight away asked me:
And how do you feel about it?
This made me think.
This made me listen to my feelings.
This made me starting to write.
Since very early I was taught how to compete. And I was thought very well.
I grew up with an older brother who challenged me a lot.
Of course, he was always a bit stronger, a bit faster, a bit more precise, a bit cleverer… There were not many domains where this really bothered me (I was not too much interested in school, reading, handcraft, I did not like technology) but I was very fond of the field of sports. And as we as kids had the great opportunity to play and try a lot of different sports, playing and competing with him made a huge imprint.
At the age of 6 I started playing football. To be precise, I entered an official football club and played my first competitive match. Over the years I developed a tremendous ambition to succeed in this sport.
So very early I got in touch with a competitive environment.
#1) I learnt to face competition and to feel comfortable in a competitive environment.
(I think a great advice is Tony Robbins’s notion of: which story do you tell yourself about a specific situation: drag somebody “normal” with a parachute into an airplane and tell him to jump from 10000 m. How will he/she feel? Anxious. What is anxiousness exactly? Pulse rising, heart beating, sweaty palms… Now, put a professional skydiver with a parachute on a plane and tell him to jump from 10000 m altitude. How will he/she feel like? Excited. What is excitement? Pulse rising, heart beating, sweaty palms…ONLY DIFFERENCE: which story the person tells to oneself.)
The more I developed my football skills, the more competitive the whole trajectory became. I had to change club to play at a higher level.
This also meant that every year there was the CUT.
That meant at the beginning of each season there were between 20-40 new players arriving (typically from Clubs like: FC Bayern, 1860,…) and everybody (including us, the old players) had to compete on specific tasks, exercises and metrics. During these days the atmosphere was tense, fueled with competitive pressure. Everybody had to perform. I am still not sure how, but I made the cut every single time.
When I recall this experience now, years later, I can remember that I was very well aware that I was not the best, not the most skilled, not the most talented, not the quickest, not the strongest….player. I was well aware and self-conscious that I had to focus on the combination of elements and competences I brought to the table (overview, game intelligence, a good first touch – maybe some will doubt all this) and tried to perform these skills on the spot the best possible.
#2) I learnt that competing means to be self-aware of one’s own skills and competences and being able to perform them when needed in the best possible way. And improve them each time as you go along.
Then in the last season in the youth team I did not make the cut. I was not promoted to the first team but had to stay in the second team. If I look back I think I know why: I had become arrogant and complacent. I had the assumption that based on my past experience - to have already played 2 years on this level - and being under the wing of an extremely qualified and famous coach – would be enough. I took things lightly, did not focus on myself and…failed!!
#3) I learnt that past merits and long-term affiliation can lead to arrogance and missing focus. Failure is part of the process and every competition is a new and different challenge.
When I was finally ramping down football, I somehow shifted my focus and ambition on something else - to build the most international career possible.
#4) “Where focus goes energy flows” (Tony Robbins)
So I took on all the opportunities that where presenting themselves: internships in England, France, later China, university in the UK, France and later Germany. Then entering the workforce as international management trainee of a big cooperation. Getting offered my first permanent position as team leader and head of marketing Asia-Pacific in Shanghai. Staying 10 years straight in Asia in four different roles…
#5) The valuable lesson I learnt: Make use of the opportunities that are arising when they are arising while ignoring the competition.
I have to admit especially during these career building times, there were moments where I felt heavily in competition with others.
Regardless the project, task or responsibility I felt that my only objective was to beat the other, win over or assure that I was taken instead of my peers. Unfortunately, after reflection this feeling of competitiveness paired with jealousy and envy did not even stop in front of good acquaintances and friends.
Now I can clearly admit that this was due to lack of self-awareness, self-confidence and my constant feeling of inadequacy. This meant often I had the feeling I did not deserve what was on the plate or worse, that I had the feeling that I was not sufficiently qualified and others were far better but I had to get it anyway. None of this had something to do with the other person but only with my own feelings to the specific circumstances.
#6 I learnt that competitiveness against somebody can be very efficient in the short-run but kept me anxious and having low self-esteem in the long run. Now after reflection these feelings taught me things about own insecurities and weak spots (if I am willing to go there).
After quitting the corporate world and doing things differently, the whole notion of competition and competitive environments changed.
Of course there is the notion as a freelance coach and consultant you have to look for clients and in this industry you typically compete against someone. The lessons #1-#6 help navigating the stormy waters a lot. However generally speaking, I observe that when the chemistry is right, things work out.
This leads me to my philosophy and thought about competition (which is certainly not new):
Instead of competing against somebody in a certain field; I try to focus on which unique niche am I able to create in order to avoid competition in the first place. Meaning in my industry often the personality and the affinities with the clients make the difference. In these cases there is a niche created which can not be covered by somebody else, or others create a niche which does not really cater to my skill-set. (I am well aware some tenders or jobs – especially at big corporations - are based on strict selection criteria and these make it a pure competition).
#7) The lesson I am learning: always trying to make a package which is by design unique and exclusive rather then competitive.
There is a last notion I experienced only recently, which I think is beautiful.
Maybe it is the Corona-virus impact maybe we are approaching new times.
All of a sudden people offer their competences and know how for free, in online-seminars and online-conferences. People offer help, services and products for free in order to help and support society. I think this is a beautiful aspect, the way forward. Not necessary to offer things for free but to share a maximum of competence, know-how and experience with as many people as possible that each individual is able to create him/herself, his/her own niche in the quest for good.
#8) Giving and supporting the community is the competition of tomorrow. Chances that more will come back are high: "What swings around comes around".
“You can create better Karma for yourself moving forward by being a blessing and force for good in other’s lives.” (Deepak Chopra)
A great thinker who writes about competition is Simon Sinek.
He speaks about the importance of having a worthy rival in his newest book: the infinite game.
“They (the worthy rivals) reveal to us our weaknesses; that’s what makes us so uncomfortable in their presence or when their names come up. Instead of getting angry about them, try to learn what it is about them that people admire and love so much, and maybe focus that energy into working on ourselves. Self-improvement. Every day. Constantly.“
This resonates a lot with me…NOW!
Thinking about my friend who got promoted just TODAY (01.04.2020), I have to honestly say:
This friend is the reason why I joined Bosch in the first place.
This friend was one of my greatest inspiration while working for Bosch (actually already when studying together).
This friend has always been a perfect synergy I needed in order thrive myself while studying, working, travelling...
This friend is always there for me with help, support and advice.
I am filled with gratitude, joy and pride that he has achieved this.
Congratulation my friend!
I want to conclude with a note to myself and my son:
The objective of playing / competing is always to give one’s best.
Losing is a great and necessary opportunity to learn.
Focus on progressing from game to game, from challenge to challenge,
Never stop…life is an infinite game.
Impulse about Leadership
Two of my absolute heroes…
the one: long dead…
the other: just about in its prime…
the one: serious and polite…
the other: colloquial and loud…
…but so similar…in a way.
The one I got to know very simply by applying to the company he founded 134 years ago. I got to see him in every location around the world in form of a statue at the entrance: watching and observing how we are treating his legacy.
This omnipresence also symbolizes the value of his leadership in the company.
It shows clearly what the company today attributes to its history, its roots and the founder’s personality: the future needs a past (it says).
The value codex was developed by evaluating the companies past and its famous claim: invented for life.
The values that came out of that are human, social and forward-looking:
Future and result focus
Responsibility and sustainability
Initiative and determination
Openness and trust
Reliability, Credibility and legality
we are proud of our past and it’s the building block for our success in the future.
The other I discovered virtually, like it is happening most of the time these days.
I found his name on a list of top marketing gurus to follow.
I watched one Youtube video and after 2 minutes of cursing and bravado I decided to stop and forget. Nevertheless he stayed in my head somewhere and eventually I listed to a second piece, then a third piece and finally I got hooked (the funny thing is that in his speeches he actually asks the audience “who did not like me the first time you listened to me?” And it is always a big crowed who say yes.)
Now I think he is amazing!
I read all his books and I personally think the value he offers for free on the internet is exceptional. I put my headphones on while I am cycling and I get motivated and knowledgeable by listening to the GaryVee Audia Experience Podcast. He, of course, comes from an ecommerce, internet service company, social media background. Really nothing at all to do with good old manufacturing industry.
In his case his punchline:
be self-aware and optimistic, have patience and gratitude, deploy empathy and kindness and work to leave a legacy.
Pretty impressive punch line for somebody who drops more f…bombs then anybody I know in public.
What do they have in common?
Wisdom in my ears and a perfect set of values which assures success – not millions – but individual happiness day in and day out!!
A combination of these two is a perfect match for me as a person and as a leader.
Thought about Change
COVID-19 is everywhere…
…but mostly in our heads…
The “coachant” thought and impulse I very often use to facilitate a mindset-shift and expansion of options:
Change your perspective!
I am a big fan of putting myself in the shoes of others in order to get more clarity on my action, my decision and finally, my feelings and my emotions.
If a manager is asking me about how to lead a certain person one of my first questions will be: if you put yourself in the shoes of your employee:
What would you need?
What would you want?
What would you expect?
Four scenarios and one homework for the times of the corona crises:
Put yourself into the shoes of your neighbor who is suffering from a severe illness (or your 70 year old neighbor – the risk group):
How would you feel about the situation?
What would you wish for?
What would you want from your next door neighbor?
What would you want but never dare to ask?
I would wish that people are cautious, wash their hands regularly and take the social distancing seriously.
I would wish that I would have taken care of my health earlier.
I would wish to get support when having to go shopping or to the pharmacy.
Secretly I would appreciate a quick phone chat from time to time to have some social interaction.
A great initiative I saw on linked in (in German): https://bit.ly/2WYhL7Q but I think there are a lots of initiatives ongoing with similar objectives, another great one from @Zarah Bruhn https://bit.ly/2X0iRjK.
Put yourself in the shoes of “the other opinion” to current mainstream focus, thought and media.
What are the alternatives?
What’s the opposition’s position on this issue and why?
What about my rights as an individuum to choose?
Why does Sweden approach these things differently?
Currently the broad public opinion is created by articles in newspapers. Even national politics is not made by the Chancellor or the President anymore, but by some virology experts. Of course experts are important but I sincerely hope that these chosen experts are qualified, integer and critical thinkers.
I hope that within these expert circles, there are also some who play the devil’s advocate, some who can think outside of the box, some who see the big picture and some who defend fiercely exactly the contrary. In business everyone is seeking for these people, so why not also in an international crises time.
Here some selected “out of the box” devil’s advocate alternatives:
“In the Corona Fight in Scandinavia – Sweden Stands Apart”: How Sweden deals with the issue: e.g. schools, bars and restaurants are still open, the Swedish government trusts its citizens and vise versa.: https://nyti.ms/2ycfz2k
“Debates must be allowed” (in German): Anyone who triggers a controversial discussion is quickly seen as unsound and anti-social. In France it is even more obvious with the war rhetoric that is used: In war, critics are quickly considered deserters. https://bit.ly/2WI0lMQ
“Is it possible, that everything is really different” Thanks @Florian Rustler: https://bit.ly/33VjxZe
Put yourself in the shoes of a self-responsible citizen.
How do you perceive our leader’s actions and and what is their underlying assumption?
What is important about leadership in the current crises?
What do you wish for the world in the long run?
What are the elements to put in place in order to achieve this?
In order to define a course of action leaders need to be trusted. We trust leaders when we sense that they are driven by values we share, not by their self-gain or ego. Yuval Harari’s essay in the Financial times: “The world after corona virus.” https://on.ft.com/3bsOeHI tackles some great ideas.
My summary of his principle thoughts:
We will survive but we will live in a different world.
This is a major test of citizenship.
There is a choice to make: 1) totalitarian surveillance vs. citizen empowerment; 2) nationalist isolation vs. global solidarity.
Washing hands / social distancing vs. state surveillance (incl. Cambridge Analytics times 1000)
Cooperation and aligned action across borders vs. OUR governments take care of OUR needs first.
An empowered, motivated and informed population is far more effective than a policed and self-centered population.
Put yourself in the shoes of yourself in “say” 8 months, when the crises has passed.
What have you achieved during these challenging times?
What do you want to look back on?
What were promising changes but back-lashed?
What should we not forget we felt or thought while being in crises?
Every crises bears opportunities.
As it was brilliantly posted by @Anna Schützle: Crises in Chinese is the combination of the two characters “danger” and “opportunity” (https://bit.ly/2Ur9bwX). Seek opportunities!
A great perspective on this point has the futurist Matthias Horx (in German): "Das ist ein historischer Moment" (this is a historical moment) https://bit.ly/2R29AnB
My summary of his principle thoughts:
Social distancing did not lead to loneliness but encouraged us to creatively engage, even with more new people.
Remote work has finally entered the work place: home office, videoconferencing and flexible work are established even in the most conservative companies.
Energetic and hectic urban citizens are enjoying now a calm walk in nature.
Medical progress helped but the decisive factor is the change in social behavior.
The global economy will rebound, but the trend will go back to a far more localized version of globalization.
We are stronger than before as we have learnt to cope.
In the future we will appreciate distance again and this will lead to a higher quality of connectiveness.
“System reset. Cool down. Music on the balconies. This is how future works.“
Note down the things you personally want to assure that they will stick once the crises has passed (lessons learnt and to be embraced in the future).
Note to myself:
Walks and runs in nature recharge my energy and soften my mood.
My morning routine assures a great start in the day (Exercise, Meditate, Breakfast, Go).
My nighttime routine assures to calm down, listen & learn and breath (Podcast, reading, writing, Wim Hof breathing)
Online, video conferencing and audio is an integral part of business these days, further strengthen my own offering.
Love and care for the family, even in difficult situations is number one priority, always.
You can ask for help.
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
Viktor E. Frankl
The second part of the questions circling around values (our guiding principles):
Think about 6 people:
3 people you really admire: why exactly?
2 people you really dislike (or three qualities): why (what) exactly?
This should take no more than 20 minutes.
Afterwards have a look at your six pages and try to critically assess which values are described within and which anti-values. Write them down and reflect if you can identify yourself with these values. If there are more that come to your mind, feel free to add.
With this Journaling Question and last month’s results you should be able to make a value compass, which values and anti-values are currently important in your life. This should help you make better decisions, understand better why you like certain people and others not,…everything is linked to being in line with this value compass or not.
Your extra mile: rank these values by importance and you get even more clarity.
Thanks for reading until the end...I feel humbled and grateful!
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A Story about Culture
Thoughts on Change