#thIMPULSE - EDITION 05.2020 - May Day
thoughts & impulses about change & progress.
It is May Day
For some, the celebration of the return of spring and for others a day to celebrate workers’ rights.
It is an astronomical holiday: it is one of the year’s four-cross quarter days – midway between equinox and solstice (the specific moment this year is May 4th at 7:49 pm CDT).
The earliest May celebrations recorded originate from the Roman Republic. The celebration of the festival of Flora, goddess of Flowers and Fertility, and the Maiouma or Maiuma, a festival celebrating Dionysus (the god of the grape-harvest, wine-making and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, festivity and theater - wiki) and Aphrodite (the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation - wiki).
In the Germanic countries the celebration of Walpurgis Night, official canonization of Saint Walpurga, happened on the 1st of May.
In the Gaelic culture, the Celtic festival of Beltane which translates to bright or lucky fire, was celebrated. People lit fires and danced around a pole moving in the same direction that the sun crossed the sky.
In the late 20th century neopagans recreated a festival which combined the pagan festivals with the recently developed European secular and Catholic festivals and created a May Day Pagan Religious Festival.
The overarching theme is the waxing power of the sun as we in the Northern Hemisphere move closer to summer and to ensure the fertility of crops, livestock and human beings.
Quite valid these days!!
In the late 19th century, May Day was also used to celebrate the international workers.
To make the public holiday one not to forget:
Jump over fires or make cattle jump over fire to assure luck and fertility.
Women (traditionally, but why not also men), should wash their faces in fresh spring dew to improve their complexions and men (but why not also women), should try to seduce them (not sure about social-distancing here:-).
If we focus on the return of spring, flowers will blossom and so will human beings…blossoming into something new, beautiful and promising!!
Thought about Leadership
Lessons to learn for / about the most powerful leader on the planet…
...the President of the United States of America!
There is a big debate about leaderships since the outbreak of Corona.
Leadership styles, competences and results, especially of our Head of States.
Which country handles the crises well?
Which leadership style is appropriate?
Who is a good leader in this situation?
For all the people who are concerned about these topics, especially in the United States, YOU have a great opportunity this year.
On the 3rd of November 2020 the presidential election is foreseen. It will be the election of the 59th President of the United States of America.
I would say based on the current situation, quite a crucial vote.
Maybe not only because of the current corona crises, but also because of the conflict with the WHO, because of the dispute with China, because of the importance of climate change (everybody seems to forget about these days), because of the American health care crisis, because of…
I assume we all agree that these are leadership topics and the future Commander in Chief will have a big impact on them...
So who is the right one to take on this challenge?
For the presidential campaign of George Busch Senior, the psychologist and marketing consultant Gilbert Clotaire Rapaille was hired to study how the Americans see their President.
The approach of Clotaire was not to focus on polls and focus groups. He used his “own approach”: a deep dive into the subconscious mind of the Americans in order to find out what primal associations (culture code) they have with their President. Typically these primal associations are responsible for us making the choice between Democrats or Republicans.
Once I read his main findings, I was amazed by the results and level of details which kind of leadership traits the Commander in Chief needs to display.
Here, you can judge yourself:
The American President has to be a Rebel!
The main content needs to be change, moving forward and reinvention.
The president needs to have a good sense about what is broken, needs a grandiose plan how to fix it and go against the problem heads on.
As the American culture is considered to be an “adolescent” culture, of course nobody needs a father figure.
Americans DO NOT WANT their President to think too much (no cortex!!), they want him/her to respond from the gut, to be spontaneous, instinctive (reptilian brain!!).
The culture code (according to Clotaire) for the American president is the biblical figure of MOSES (rather in the abstract sense): a rebellious leader of his people with a strong vision (Make America Great Again! Yes we can!) that will get them out of trouble. He makes people belief that they can do the impossible.
HERE IS THE CATCH: The president does not have to be an ideal human being, no perfection required. Most important the American president should not consider himself perfect. He should be adolescent like the rest of his people. He is allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and make it better next time.
HE IS the Entertainer in Chief, inspiration is the key, he keeps the spirit up and keeps the Americans moving!!
What a great playbook!!
From my personal evaluation: There is at least ONE who fits quite well to this profile…
To my fellow Americans: choose wisely…a lot is on the line these days…!
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I got aware of this platform around 2016 and started immediately a computer programming course in order to reskill myself from powerpoint-engineer to REAL computer engineer.
Unfortunately I terribly failed!
My next attempt was a nutrition and health course, I desperately hoped to fix my diet.
Unfortunately also with this I did not get very far.
My new endeavor is a u.lab course on Theory U, a change management method.
I have nearly finished and I think it is great, not only a method but a new way of approaching change, especially also in times of great crises.
edX is an education platform where you can take online courses in a variety of subjects taught from professors of around 120 top ranked universities worldwide (MIT, Harvard, Berkley, RTWH Aachen, Cornell,…).
edX is a global non profit with the objective to transform traditional education, to remove the barriers of entrance - tuition, location, access. Everyone that has internet access can follow the courses anytime.
If you fancy officializing your taken courses, you can also get a certificate, which is however payable (as far as I am aware between 69 and 99 USD).
I personally like this approach very much and the first line of their mission statement resonates a lot with me: “Increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere”.
I think in this day and age, knowledge and education must not be the bottle neck.
A Story about Culture
8 lessons I learnt from living and working in China
#1 guānxi 關係 / 关系
– the network effect…
…or better, how to behave at a Chinese wedding!
If you want to succeed in China – you need #guanxi!!
Imagine a Chinese wedding - a big Chinese wedding.
Typically this will take place in a hotel or restaurant.
Of course, the richer you are the more upscale you go. Everyone tends to go one class higher then their usual standard would be, just to assure the invited guests will notice this subtle nuance.
So you arrive at the reception area of the wedding.
There you will find two or three beautiful guests (typically family member, but not necessarily close family) already sitting there, “registering” you and / or checking you in.
This will be the moment of truth – you as invitee are supposed to hand over your “Hongbao” (red envelop).
This is your gift. Nothing else. Only the red envelop with MONEY inside (that’s the tradition, that’s what everybody does, that’s what a Chinese wedding is all about).
Questions are always turning around how much to put in?
Exactly here starts the thing:
What is your relationship to the bride and/or groom?
Are you the best friend, are you his boss, are you a colleague…?
How close do you want to be to the bride and / or groom?
Depending on the proximity to the bride and / or broom (the closeness of the relationship) proportionally more money should be in the red envelop. Also depending on you wanting to build up a close relationship with the bride / broom, the sum should be increased.
Additionally there are also some numbers to be avoided.
The most basic principle: 4 is a no-go (as it sounds like death 死 (sǐ)) and 8 (as is sounds like like 發 (fa), which means “wealth”, “fortune”, and “prosper”) is the best ever.
So during my time in China around 2007- 2013: a wedding of one of my employee was between 500-1000 RMB and a wedding of a good friend or upper management was around 800-1500 RMB, just for reference (maybe now some will call me tight).
But coming back to the registration outside the banquet hall.
So you hand over your red envelop and the first thing that will happen is: your name will be written on the envelop, if you have not already written it on the envelop yourself.
The responsibility of the people receiving you is: receiving – hopefully – a lot for money, counting and noting who gave it to assure proper documentation.
This information will – for a very well organized Chinese couple - end up on an excel spreadsheet. The purpose is to assess who is how close to the couple. Are the relative amounts appropriate to the relationship the bride and / or the broom has to that person. AND, if not yet happened, to have an indication of how much to give back once the other person invites for a wedding him or herself.
It clearly shows who is close and who wants to be close.
It indicates who is a reliable partner, friend, customer, supplier, colleague…
To know the position in the network and the proximity within the network will define the closeness, trustworthiness and value of a person.
The quality of the relationship is the #guanxi and it is essential that there is a lot of it to thrive!
It is a simple anecdote of one of the most important aspects of Chinese society (business, politics, friendship, family).
Network is everything in a culture of trust.
If you interact with Chinese, do not be surprised that this concept transcends in every part of life.
As a foreigner you have a lot to offer.
Only your face at a wedding makes it more valuable for the bride and groom. Your colleagues will try and invite you, your suppliers try to force gifts on you (never watches as this means bad luck), your employees will give nice birthday gifts… If a Chinese wants to start a business relationship with somebody, the first thing he/she will think about is who in their network could facilitate this start of the relationship, by introducing, by a informal lunch or dinner or by setting up the meeting.
All these efforts to assure a close relationship. This is not meant in a manipulative way, never. The intentions are culturally pure.
Theoretically #guanxi defines as:
“the fundamental dynamic in personalized social networks of power, and is a crucial system of belief in Chinese culture.” Wiki
It is a principle which originates from Confucianism. It sees the individual as part of a specific community and focuses on mutual commitments, reciprocity and trust.
In all areas of life it is a predominant concept to advance things. Nothing in China is discussed, decided or done without the influence of #guanxi.
So what are my recommendations for establishing and using your #guanxi?
Be open for getting to know a maximum of people from all walks of life anywhere anytime (as anywhere in the world).
Know your limits and make them clear from the start (especially with regards to gifts and invitations, there are often compliance rules in companies, although Chinese suppliers do not like them, eventually they will accept them).
If you are about to establish a relationship, work on the similarities, same interests or hobbies and build the relationship from there (differences and controversial topics will not take you anywhere).
If you want to start a relationship, look and see who can introduce you (Linked In might be a great source).
People always before matters, never focus on being right, focus on being just.
Overall in Chinese it is not important what you know it is far more important who you know (and how close this relationship is).
Business Idea for Free
The never ending story
The perfect communion between binge, reading and open-source platform.
Game of Thrones meets Kindle meets Medium meets Instagram.
Lots of people these days get hooked on binge-watching. They can not wait for the next season(s) to be launched. At the same time, everyone is craving for the same series, the same programs, so we get more and more homogeneous in our tastes and joys. However, lots of people are also looking for participatory experiences and individualization.
Having a platform where never ending stories are created. There is a first part of a story written, and then everybody who wants, can co-create continue writing this story - as a never ending story. People can subscribe and get creative themselves. People can follow several parallel continuations of the same beginning.
An open source literary platform for binge-reading and binge-creating.
Free from the start. It could become a book club with a subscription model. It could be a app-store concept where subscription is sometimes free, sometimes payable. Once you follow different stories these stories could have tags. Through the genre and the tags the platform could promote books to read, films to watch and maybe also other channels to subscribe to.
If the idea resonates with you and you would like to exchange further, e.g. scalability, commercial concept,…I am happy you contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Impulse about Change
Many people are stuck in their job, and do not know how to move on.
Many people hate their boss but do not change anything.
Many people blame the organization for not providing what they think they deserve.
And what happens…?
Fight, Freeze or Flight - our most basic instincts.
They are triggered thanks to our Amygdala, our reptilian brain (limbic systems which we have in common with all animal species), when we sense danger. The response is a cortisol spike, the natural reaction to assure survival. It stops putting any energy in unneeded functions (of the body and mind) and assures the flight, fight or freeze functions are working well: tunnel vision, heart rate increases, oxygen intake goes up especially into the major muscles, pain perception drops, senses sharpen and off we go.
Fortunately none of the questions above are linked to survival.
Unfortunately our body reacts exactly the same way to these questions. And this reaction once being triggered too often, makes us feel unwell and make us sick in the long run.
So how about changing these complicated situations ourselves.
So how about adjusting our patterns and focusing on what we can control instead of surrendering to an emotional response.
I think before considering dramatic and stressful changes or keeping to endure in such uncomfortable situations, lets work on change ourselves in a rational and logical manner.
Maybe the following tool helps: the why - the what - the why & the how:
Why am I doing this in the first place? (primary motivation)
What do I exactly want? (not vaguely, precisely)
Why do you want it so badly? (not vaguely, precisely)
AND finally: How will the changes benefit the company / boss / organization? (not vaguely, precisely)
Most of the people, especially lost in big organizations, are not really aware of the answers to these questions.
They never asked themselves these questions deliberately.
So the first step is to thoroughly think about good and detailed answers to these questions.
An additional hint: do not be modest, shy or hold back, but really think about these questions in detail and map out the answers.
My underlying motivation for joining Bosch was that it offered me the possibility to work abroad.
When I was finishing my trainee program my biggest wish was to get a foreign assignment - NOT to end up in Germany. This meant for me I was ready to work for any division, any product area, in any function as long as it was abroad. Foreign assignment did not mean for me a complete expatriation package, I only wanted to have a guarantee that I could come back to Bosch Germany, once the assignment was over.
I wanted this so badly because my biggest ambition at that time was to become a global manager. Somebody who is acquainted with the global business world, is capable and sufficiently trained to interact with lots of different cultures / people and is able to take decisions which lead to business growth and profitability in a global sense.
The benefit for the company I pictured, was my international background, being flexible, quick to adapt, unbound, very willing to walk 2 or 3 extra miles and an undying well of motivation and drive.
And these four things I made perfectly clear to everyone I spoke to (if he / she liked it or not).
You have to judge but at that time it worked out quite well…
Around that time, I learnt one additional add-on tool myself - THE WISHLIST.
I was already dead happy to go on an expatriate assignment so there were no additional wishes what so ever from my side.
Once the company / boss / organization asks you what you really want, consider thinking hard about what exactly you want / wish / desire.
Make a complete wishlist of things you want that make you entirely happy, perfectly happy. Then add 25% of additional things on top.
The concept of a whishlist was first introduced to me by a very influential boss of mine, who was asked to take on a newly created position. This guy was a very outspoken, clear and target oriented person. So he applied (actually maybe invented) this concept.
He created a list of items he wanted for his new assignment.
He added 25%.
Include items that might be crossed-out but give weight to negotiate.
Then it is up to you to fight for what you value and what you think is right for you for a new job, or what you deserve based on your performance and responsibility of the old job.
I have recommended this concept already to several people and my experience is, solely the thought about what needs to be on such a list already improves the negotiation and the result.
By the way:
In my boss's case the extra 25% were a private jet and a jacuzzi for his house.
Grapes must be crushed to make wine.
Diamonds form under pressure.
Seeds grow in darkness.
Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure or in darkness, you are in a powerful place for transformation and transmutation.
The next topic to be addressed is the biggest emotion that hinders us from realizing our full potential, true self or to just get one step ahead: FEAR.
What would you do if you would not be afraid?
Construct a specific case for you: What would you do in your relationship, in your job, with your life…? It can be anything from big to small.
Take 15 minutes to free-write on everything that comes to your mind. No structure nor correct grammar nor a real thread needed.
Thanks for reading until the end...I feel humbled and grateful!
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A Story about Culture
Thought about Leadership