Category Archives: Do something different

Goodbye Berlin, Hello Rasquera

How to turn a Drama into a Romantic Comedy.

by Andree Bock

Not in the picture: The silence

Greetings from Rasquera!

Never heard of it?

Good. That’s why I am here.

Rasquera is a quiet village in the Catalunyan Countryside. 775 people live here and since two weeks I am one of them.

But this story starts almost two years earlier in Berlin.

I lived there for the last five years or so, working as a copywriter in advertising. I worked a lot and wasn’t too bad at it. My agency promoted me to Creative Director. They wanted to announce it two weeks later during a big event.

A week later I quit my job.

Some call it burn-out syndrome.
I call it the best thing that could happen to me at the time.

I was completely exhausted.

I quit the agency very soon after that, fighting my way out. I earned my money as a freelance copywriter. When I had enough money for the month I stopped working. Often I stopped earlier.

I found out a few things about myself. I don’t want to work in advertising anymore, for example. Hey, great. Then again, stupid, did you learn anything else apart from working night-shifts in advertising agencies?

At this point, let me tell you a secret about advertising: Every creative sees himself as an artist. A copywriter secretly sees himself as the coming bestseller author, an Art Director is the next big thing in painting. The list is long. Thing is, we are not in art, we are in advertising. We make money, not art. And we have got a lot of good excuses not to do our exhibition or write our bestseller.

One day I ran out of excuses.

I found an author who took me under his wing: I am receiving a two-year coaching. In the first year I learned certain techniques of writing. How to build up suspension for example. Or how to characterize people. A lot of theory. More reading. And even more writing. The second year of our cooperation is dedicated to writing my first book. That year started a few weeks ago and I am happy to have found my story during the first year so I could do a lot of research before I came here and know the story about 95%.

It’s a story that plays in the 17th and 18th century. It’s the rise and fall of a kid who grows up under poor conditions in Berlin. German Aufklaerung, Napoleon conquering Berlin in 1806, that kind of stuff.

Funny enough, before I got into advertising (at the age of 23), I studied German literature and history. I always joke when someone asks me if I am just continuing my studies now. I am a student of 37 years – and hopefully will still be a student the day I die.

So why Rasquera, that tiny little village in the middle of nowhere? Three reasons:

1. I am weak. I have to protect my writing from big city distractions. Some might say my commitment isn’t strong enough to keep me in Berlin, doing the job. I say my commitment is strong enough to bring me here do the job.

2. One of my best friends lives here, so I won’t be completely alone and shut off.

3. I love it here. I love the rough and beautiful countryside that brought up those rough and beautiful people with their rough and beautiful language and habits and regional pride and…need more? Come here.

So I left my expensive apartment in Berlin Mitte and put what I haven’t sold in a small shared flat in Kreuzberg. I can go there any time I want and get back to big city life (and answer my letters, because the only post that I let come here is the Kicker, a German football magazine). This place in Catalunya is dedicated to the writing, not to bills and tax declarations. I can deal with them properly in Berlin.

With the money I saved I rented a town house here in Rasquera that comes with furniture. Today, 8th of December, I spent two hours on the terrace in the sun, reading.

The lady from THE bakery is very nice (THE bakery because there is only one. They sell baguette in THE supermarket but they themselves buy it from THE bakery). So I chat almost every day with the lady and one day I told her what I am doing here (people are curious in the village, like in every place) and she said that it sounds to her like what she does see in Hollywood productions. The writer on the hill, a cliché de luxe!

(What is missing here to make it a Romantic Comedy is, of course, the stubborn housekeeping woman whose language I don’t speak and she doesn’t speak mine and she messes up my old bachelor life up in a nice way and after a lot of irritations and mix-ups we end up falling in love with each other and when they haven’t died they….)

I prefer to think that I’m just living my dream.

By the end of 2011 they will present my book at the book fair in Germany. I put all my commitment in that goal.

So, see you on the fair!



P.S.: By the time I had the guts to relocate myself, touch my assets of the last resort and write the book, guess what happened? I won my first own client. It’s a big construction company that needs a lot of brochures and catalogues and much more. The marketing director doesn’t care where I am located as long as the texts are good.

P.P.S.: It’s advertising. I love it. It pays my rent.

P.P.P.S.: Stubborn housekeeping ladies whose language I don’t speak and who want to mess up my life in a nice way – you’ll find me in Rasquera.

P.P.P.P.S.: Hell, I shouldn’t be that square headed: Any stubborn housekeeping who wants to mess up my life in a….you probably know by now, don’t you?


About Andree Bock:

When Andree is not living in Berlin, he is living in a small village in the countryside of Catalunya. He is an author and freelance copywriter in advertising and is currently writing his first novel.


Meet Daniel Jennewein

An up-and-coming illustrator of childrens’ books, Daniel Jennewein is certainly doing something different than most. He is living his dream. In this post, he shares the story of his career move from graphic designer to book illustrator. We are thrilled that he is the first person to be featured in our DSD (doing something different) career series.


Daniel’s Daily Drawings

I could say it all started with my blog

Illustration 531I’d been a web designer since 1999, a job I enjoyed at times but mainly had so I could pay the bills. In the beginning I learned a lot, which was fulfilling enough, but as time went by and I realized I spent more time doing than learning, I started to feel bored.

In order to exercise my mind, I began experimenting with personal side projects.  The first task was a childrens’ book that I planned to develop with my wife Lenore, who is a copywriter. It didn’t take us long to notice that it was a difficult thing to do and that it required a lot of energy – energy which is difficult to unleash while working full-time. After a long time period of working nights and weekends on our book, we finally had a dummy and sent it out for critique.  The feedback made us realize we’d need to dedicate more time to it, and we put it on hold indefinitely.

From this experience I learned that I shouldn’t put more on my plate than I can handle and looked for a personal project that I could tackle while having a demanding full-time job.  It had to be a project that wouldn’t require me to take off work for days or weeks to get the job done but rather short, regular sessions – i.e. something I could do in the evenings after work even when I was very tired.

Illustration 682Many designers and artists keep sketchbooks, but I thought this might not have enough structure to keep me drawing often, which is how the idea for my blog was born. The title Daniel’s Daily Drawings already forces me to publish a drawing a day. However it doesn’t place restrictions on how rough, how funny how  good or how bad a drawing has to be. Here I have all the freedom in the world to draw whatever I feel like but I am also obliged to follow a strict routine.

In May 2007 I visited the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna and had the opportunity to show my work to Art Directors from renowned publishing houses. At that time, I already had quite a few drawings up on my blog and chose the 3 best ones to show. To my surprise, my drawings were highly praised and I ended up with a two book illustration contracts with HarperCollins. This experience gave me the confidence I needed to embark on my new career path as a freelance illustrator.  I doubt I would have dared to take this radical step without having had this encouraging experience.

Sometimes we just need little pushes and kicks to follow our true destinies.



Daniel JenneweinAbout me

My Name is Daniel Jennewein.  I live in Frankfurt with my wife Lenore and 2 very spoiled Birman cats. My first picture book (written by Audrey Vernick) “Is Your Buffalo Ready For Kindergarten?” will be released in summer 2010. In addition to drawing, I love to travel and hang out with inspiring people like Shailia.

For the love of Bruno

I am sitting with a plant named Bruno. “Bruno” on its label let’s me know so. So, I ask about Bruno. Bruno once belonged to Deniz. Deniz gave the wilting Bruno to Ines. Ines revived and relocated Bruno. Bruno is back to verdure and now sitting pertly on an unoccupied desk at an agency in Frankfurt, where I sit writing.

To me, Bruno is a symbol of love given and received, but not replayed. You see, Ines didn’t have to care for Bruno. Bruno can’t give much in return. After all, despite the name, Bruno is still a plant.

BrunoYou may be thinking, “Just a minute, Ines probably felt good about helping Deniz!” OR “Ines certainly had the satisfaction of nurturing a helpless being back to life.” OR “Ines can enjoy looking at Bruno each and every day on that desk.” AND “That’s getting something.”

Ah, maybe true. But that’s only part of the story.

The reason I noticed Bruno at all is this: I found out, I give love to get love (personal realization 1,479, internally logged last week during a conversation on Friday). I’m not saying every time or that it has always been so. Perhaps as a child I gave love unselfishly, maybe even often. But I certainly can’t recall too many times in the recent past where I can honestly argue on my behalf.

On a shallow level, selfish love may look and feel like this:

  1. Send an SMS (=attention),
    expect to receive an SMS in return (= response).
  2. “Like” someone’s Facebook status (=affirmation),
    intend to get liked back at some point (=repayment).
  3. Care about someone (=affection),
    want to be cared for equally (=reciprocation) – preferably soon.
  4. And on and on, until the bill is settled.

On a deeper level, a reaction to non-requitted love (e.g. when disappointed hard or long enough by someone else), can sound like this:

  1. Get shocked and sulk.
  2. Follow with empathy/sympathy-modus = supposed understanding of  their feelings and actions + forgiveness of their “wrong doing”.
  3. Chalk it up to their hard life, failed character or whatever the  current and so-called insight might be.
  4. Call it a lesson learned and feel inner gratefulness – just not being them.
  5. Begin the “distance stage”, withdrawing from the friendship slightly or even leaving the relationship entirely.

All well and good right? In today’s society we have been taught to demand the love we need and not to let ourselves be abused by others. Fine to some degree, but overall this approach doesn’t fit to me the same way it used to.

I recently had to ask myself some new questions: When is the love I have enough? What is the quality of my love if it is primarily based on a return policy? Who am I to judge and cry poison when it doesn’t come back as I expected? Am I lacking in emotional endurance? And most importantly, am I capable of giving love without all the expectations?

Thank God for Maya Angelou who said, “When we knew better, we did better.”

I for me have decided I now know better and can no longer rest on the ideas of reciprocal rights and self-protection. I have already received enough love for a lifetime. I am smart enough to know when it’s time to put up a shield and strong enough to endure the discomfort that might precede it. Until then, I am making every effort to drop my expectations (not always, but more and more often) and give love, JUST BE-CAUSE

  • I have enough love to share and enough time to nurture.
  • I might be able to contribute to the revival of a once wilting heart.
  • I want to watch a living being grow stronger.

Like Ines did, for the love of Bruno.

Until we meet again,


[Today’s blog post is dedicated to Marilena. Thank you for your friendship and your unfaltering straightforwardness.]

Today´s gratification

My gift

Pat’s perfect day today:

  • Survived a meeting I was afraid of. And performed. And reached my personal goal (yay!).
  • Didn´t use the presentation I had prepared for the meeting a week in advance. Reached my goal simply by sitting in a lounge and talking!
  • Didn´t blame myself for being nervous the night in advance.
    Even enjoyed being nervous (because it always makes me alert)!
  • Didn´t complain about not having had a minute of sleep. And didn´t try to find an answer to it (you can easily survive one night without sleep. And perform. And reach your goal. Finding a reason for it does not change it).
  • Still love myself – even though I spent about 10 hours putting together the slides.
  • Love the slides, because they were my path to not using them.
  • Love the path, because it was the experience I gave myself as a present for today!


Thanks to everyone who also joined the game of everyday life today.
I´m so curious about what you might have granted yourself  🙂

Revolt and put down your pens


Last week in our Trinergy trainer seminar Roman Braun told the story of a little boy who asked, “Why does the moon make black light and the sun make blue light?”

Can you remember when you were very little and still completely naive about the workings of the universe? You know, when you were not yet tainted by the so-called facts. When you had no knowledgeable point-of-reference and were still asking ingenious questions.

And can you recall when it happened that the world ceased to appear undiscovered and you stopped seeing all the possibilities? You know, when most questions had been adequately answered and you decided there were only two or three ways of doing things anyway. When you became complacent and began getting the same predictable results – good and bad.

As a coach, one of my main premises when working with clients is this: If you keep on doing what you have always done, you will pretty much get the results you have always gotten. If you want something new, do something different.

Dr. Richard Bandler based NLP largely on this idea. He also said, “The greatest personal limitation is to be found not in the things you want to do and can’t, but in the things you have never considered doing.”

Last week my good friend and counterpart, Pat Medros, wrote a “work in progress” blog post in German, kicking off our “Do something different” (DSD) initiative. In it she paid tribute to “Dick” Fosbury, who did consider doing something he had never done before and, in doing so, revolutionized the high jump event. His idea: jump back-first instead of front-first (now a standard called the Fosbury Flop).

I am kicking off the “Do something different” initiative with my own very simple idea that you might want to try…


DSD Idea Nr. 1: Revolt and put down your pens
I used to be a very detail-oriented note taker – in classes, in client meetings, etc. For the last three nine-day coaching and training seminars I attended, I decided to put down my pen and see what would happen. Here’s what I got:

  • Instead of stooping over my notes, I sat upright or leaned back into a relaxing position. This increased my field of vision and I became aware of the things happening around me and on-stage which I had been missing.
  • I couldn’t rely on reading my notes later, so I paid more attention and re-oriented from “learning later” to “learning now”.
  • That lead me to experimenting with visual memory techniques. One whole day I imagined a monkey running me through the process we had just been introduced to. What a trip!
  • My other senses kicked in and I began to unconsciously link information to things I had seen, heard or even tasted on that day. My knowledge of “pacing” is connected to an orange breathe mint I had in my mouth while listening to the trainer speak about pacing theory.
  • I realized I couldn’t miss a thing even if I had missed something. Because everyone around me wanted to talk about what they had or hadn’t understood . I was constantly getting new information and repetition from them.
  • Subjectively, I feel like I can comprehend and retain far more information –  compared to before with note taking.


When is the next time you could put down your pen?
And what something new might you get?

Until we meet,

Fosbury it!

Fosbury FlopHello everyone! As Shailia already mentioned I will write in german this time 🙂

Mein erster Post ist eine Einladung an Dich.

Shailia und ich haben vor einigen Wochen festgestellt, dass wir unabhängig voneinander den gleichen spannenden Versuch gestartet haben,  mit dem wir unser Lebensspielfeld erweitern, verändern, umgestalten und sogar in eine neue und andere Qualität bringen können. Das Prinzip, dass wir dabei verfolgen, ist ganz einfach: Do something different!

Vermutlich kennst du die nervige (und bisweilen gemeine) innere Stimme, mit der Du (!) Dich gern davon abhältst, Neues auszuprobieren, ungewöhnliche Wege zu gehen oder den mutigen großen Sprung ins Ungewisse zu wagen.  Wir möchten hier einen Platz schaffen, der dazu inspiriert, zur Abwechslung mal keine gute Figur abzugeben, sondern  spielerisch zu experimentieren und einfach zu wagen, zu springen und die Erfahrungen die daraus entstehen mitzuteilen.

Wir laden Dich daher ein, mitzumachen und Deine Erlebnisse  zu teilen. Und wir freuen uns über Geschichten von dritten, die Dich inspiriert haben, weil sie so anders, mutig, zweifelhaft und ungewöhnlich waren – und gerade deshalb so revolutionär, erfolgreich oder schöpferisch, dass sie neue Wege geebnet haben.

Getreu dem Prinzip “just try something else” haben wir dieses Mal keine Strategie, keine Regeln und keine Messlatte.

Unsere Vision sind unzählige Anekdoten, Interviews, Schnipsel, Aphorismen, …, die diesen Blog füllen und eines Tages ein Buch, das wir gemeinsam an andere Pioniere verteilen können.

Just try something else oder spring doch mal andersrum!
Hier als erste Inspiration

Fosbury it!