Tag Archives: Guest bloggers

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!

Yours,

Andree

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?

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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.

D for Death

Life is a death trap or is it not?
by Benedikt Schreyer

In the TV series “Band of Brothers” revolving around the soldiers from the 101st American Airborne Division during World War II, the legendary Lieutenant Ronald Speirs gives a frightened soldier, Albert Blithe, a lecture on the matter of death:

“We’re all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there’s still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function…”

What can we learn from this? How many of us live in hope, waiting for something to change? We may not be in a war zone, but most of us are hiding in a ditch just like Private Blithe – with an overabundance of hope that one day things are going to be different. The line that struck me most was:

“Accept the fact that you’re already dead.”

Honestly and truly. We are born with the intention to one day die. So we are in fact already dead. But because we are so afraid of what will be when we are dead, we decide to reject this unknown matter. The oldest fear and reason for panic in human beings seems to be the unknown.

So instead we believe in something else, maybe eternal youth, invincibility or even impossibility. And we want to believe it because it feels so cosy in that little bubble.

We constantly trick ourselves in respect to that fact and spend a lot of energy on building resistance against the inevitability of death. We cling to our lives like a limpet, not realising that we are already dangling from the gallows of our own illusionary concepts.

But at some point we realise that we’re not invincible and that we have lived in that illusion for a long time because it gave us a good feeling. We also experienced the downside of invincibility, the fact that we didn’t quite challenge ourselves or our ideas. Because, well, we were invincible and we wanted to keep it that way. After all, Gods don’t work.

But suddenly our bodies begin to ache a little, we spot a grey hair and end up buying wrinkle cream. We look back at our lives and realise we’re mortal just like everybody else.

Horay, you’re mortal!

This is the best thing that can happen to you. You’ve finally understood the key ingredient to a happy life. You’ve accepted the inevitable and now your mind is free to focus on the possible. The german poet Hilde Domin wrote:

“Dem Toten ist Ganzheit erlaubt.
Beeil dich ein Toter zu sein,
dem Toten
wird das Versprechen gehalten.”

“The dead are allowed entireness.
Hurry up to be dead,
the dead will be granted the promise.”

from: Hinuebergehen. Das Wunder des Spaetwerks

In ancient fairytales we can also find this wisdom that to “die” is the right way. Like in this russian story:

At a banquet, the czar finds that his three sons haven’t proven their true virtue yet. So they ask for his blessing and each one takes a horse from the stalls. All three come to a directory at a crossroads which says: “Who goes right, will have plenty to eat, but his horse will starve; who goes left, will have enough for his horse, but will starve himself; and he who goes straight, will die.

So the first son chooses to go right and finds a snake on a mountain. After his return his father becomes irate and says, he brought home something dangerous and demonic and throws him in prison. Metaphorically, the prison stands for a rigid life without the spirit of rejuvenation.

The second son chooses to go left and meets a whore who invites him to her mechanical bed. After having jumped out she pushes a button, the bed turns around and he falls into a cellar where a couple of other men are already trapped. So the option to go left is also a failure.

Now Big Iwan, the russian hero, comes along. After having seen the directory he starts to cry and says that a poor guy going to die will neither find honour nor glory… but, still he rides on. His horse dies and rises from the dead. He himself conquers the witch. Then he finds the princess, returns home and becomes czar.

translated from Marie-Louise Franz “Puer aeternus”

This is an average fairytale career: The hero decides to accept the inevitable and stays inside the conflict of life – though it seems like death to his ego, because it always wants to know what is lying ahead. But the miracle lies in the foray into the unknown. Life wants us to go the middle road and bear the tension between the two poles of life. So the ultimate goal in life is not your profession, your partner or your kids. It’s your death. Go through it whilst you’re alive.

Dying is going through the needle’s eye

In coaching, I learned the expression “to go through the needle’s eye”. It means facing your deepest fears and overcoming them. There will be setbacks, there will be defeat, but you know you want to get to the other side and try and try again. You confide in your intention to evolve. And then, you let go and you suddenly feel you have achieved something. Life has got a new quality, more that of an adventure than the hide-and-seek game you used to play before.

My own personal experience

On one of the last legs of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain in 2008, I didn’t feel too well. I had eaten some hot peppers for dinner the day before which haunted my stomach the morning after. My pace slowed down and I started thinking about death. And suddenly I envisioned my own funeral. I saw my future family, friends and brothers,  – aged. I mourned deeply over my own death. It was real to me. My mind imagined my physical death whilst I stood watching at the sidelines. And at the same time I was alive – walking on. And on. And on. And then I understood that my life will continue after death and that the game wouldn’t be over once I played through level earth. There would be a new game, a new cycle of life. And death is just a stop-over.

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Benedikt Schreyer:

My name is Benedikt Schreyer – writer, coach and singer. I love to research life, gain and share knowledge and live up to my full potential. I believe the world is sound. That’s why to love is to laugh – Big loud belly laughter!

Speed up to slow down

by Petra Lehner

Shailia and Pat asked me to contribute a blog post about “when to slow down and when to speed up”. Here are some of my ideas on the topic.

Today, we face  a lot of situations where one simple ability is not enough to successfully fulfill the job we have been asked to do. More and more, we are required to become multi-taskers and quick-workers. Information-overflow, workload pressure and increasingly technical and/or complex matters are commonplace these days.

The dark side of the game is that doing more and more things will cause stress, illness and emotional breakdown (best known as burn-out).

Now, as we all are coaches, no matter if we are employees, mothers, fathers, leaders, students… let’s quickly change our perspective and look to the: „what can we do“ side. And it is a sunny side!

It is easy to become a multi-tasker/quick-worker in your daily life just by training your brain to stay focused. This will lead to channeled energy and concentrated work. And the key is this:

Slow down and you will accomplish more.

While holding seminars on speed-reading, mental training and excellent learning (which is all about excellent communication with yourself!), I found out that the brain loves to learn and work quite long if it is allowed to take enough little breaks in -between.

Also important: before you start with whatever you need to do, declare what you are going to do!

Most of the time, people begin doing their work only to be interrupted by the cellphone ringing or the mailbox beeping. In an instant, concentration is gone. Instead of reconnecting after the interruption, many people start to do some new work while the first point of the schedule is still open in the unconscious mind. So there is a piling-up of activities never finished and the poor brain does not know where to focus.

Your brain loves to think fast, complex and in a big variety of colourful chaos mixed-up with structure. Yet it can only process information from one channel at a time.

Brain research has found that learning or reading while doing sports at a pulse-rate of 90 to 100 beats per minute is a real turbo-boost and happens absolutely fast and long-lasting. Try it out! If you have a home trainer or a treadmill  grab a book, watch a film or listen to a learning course. Whatever you choose, you will discover, that you have focused attention and remember almost everything after the end of the session.

Sometimes it is too much. Did you know this? You need to write an article, carry out research for a new customer, call some clients, do household chores etc. It is essential that you take a healthy rest.

If you find yourself not sleeping well, this proven, very effective and powerful tool may help: make daily notes.

Get a notebook or some lined paper and write down whatever comes to your mind for 20 minutes. Recall, reflect or just let the paper be the counterpart for your inner voice. Do not censor yourself. Just keep on writing for 20 minutes. After a couple of days you will discover a massive change. Your focus will have become clearer and stronger.

And then: take a break. Take a mind-break, a brain-break. If small but constant breaks are like a routine for you, you will have created your own mental island on which to recover at any time.

Start with a 5-minutes-break. Do nothing else but breathing. Make at least three of these 5-minute-breaks every day and schedule them!!!

If you are interested in speeding up your reading-rate, here is a little Christmas present for the readers of this blog:  Lesegeschwindigkeit erhöhen (PDF in German).

For today, take a break and enjoy the following:

Thank you for your focused attention 😉

Petra Lehner

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About Petra Lehner

Petra is a coach, trainer and book author living in Salzburg, Austria. Her areas of specialty are speed-reading, excellent learning, mental training and coaching as well as mental alignment and communication for peak performance. She works with private individuals and business clients and hold seminars on these subjects regularly.

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Further information:

MetaMind homepage: http://meta-mind.at/

Petra’s MetaMind Blog: http://meta-mind.at/Blog/index.html

Petra Lehner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Petra_Lehner

Roman Braun on the art of business and communication

As you may know, Pat and I both look back on long careers in the areas of brand communication, digital marketing and advertising. Up to now, we have frequently written about topics related to personal development.

Starting today, we are broadening the spectrum to include matters related to business and business coaching – e.g.  leadership and organizational creativity (to name a few). In doing so, we would like to share our experience and expertise, as well as those of qualified and inspiring guest bloggers.

We are very pleased and honored that Roman Braun is kicking off with the first article in this domain. In this blog post you’ll hear what he has to say about the art of business and communication. In German. Enjoy!

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Was gute Unternehmensplanung mit Kunst zu tun hat

Ein Reporter stellt dem Hundertjährigen die unvermeidliche Frage:
“Worauf führen Sie Ihr langes Leben zurück?”
“Das kann ich noch nicht sagen”, meint der Greis, “ich verhandle noch mit zwei Frühstücksflockenfirmen und einem Fruchtsaftfabrikanten.”

Werbung ist ein fester Bestandteil unserer Kultur, weil

Erfolg = Leistung x Kommunikation²

Es ist zu wenig gut zu sein in dem, was Du machst, Du musst es die Menschheit auch wissen lassen.

Trotzdem ist in Krisenzeiten der erste Impuls, in der Werbung zu sparen. Henry Ford, der erste Held des Industriezeitalters, hatte eine klare Position zur Werbung:
Wer aufhört zu werben, um Geld zu sparen, kann ebenso seine Uhr anhalten, um Zeit zu sparen.

Also sehen wir uns die Ausgangssituation an

Die Ansprüche der Klienten sind klar:

Die Umsetzung soll zwar originell sein,
darf aber weder zu infantil sein

noch zu plump

Das erhöht auch den Stresslevel in der internen Kommunikation:

Aber wenn es gelingt, kann etwas großartiges daraus werden:

Gute Unternehmensplanung, plant Kunstwerke wie dieses!

Zur guten Unternehmensplanung nochmal

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Wenn Sie einen Dollar in ihr Unternehmen stecken wollen,
so müssen Sie einen weiteren bereithalten,
um das bekannt zu machen.

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Roman BraunDer Autor:

Roman Braun, Bestseller-Autor, langjährige Erfahrung als Business- und Mental-Coach in Wirtschaft, Politik und Sport; Direktor von Trinergy International (“Europas Nr. 1 für akademisches Coaching und NLP”), leitet seit über zehn Jahren Coaching-Ausbildungen. Zu seinen Kunden zählen neben Organisationen wie IBM, Philips, Beiersdorf, Agip, Mobil, Opel und UNIDO auch Weltcupsieger und Weltmeister.

Weiterführende Links:

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.

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Daniel’s Daily Drawings

I could say it all started with my blog danielsdailydrawings.blogspot.com.

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

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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.

The inner clock fairy tale

Despite a myriad of experiments, medical science has yet to discover a clock in the human body. Still, people frequently talk about their inner clock as if it were an organ, like the liver.

Human beings do have a biorhythm, which has not been mechanically “clocked”, but which can adapt to varying circumstances in a natural way. It is called BREATH. Even the universe itself is breathing.

So, when did we people start talking about having an inner clock? When sand trickled through the first hourglass? I am guessing that it began with the industrial revolution – when human beings became “mechanized” to cope with the requirements of production and efficiency. At that time, the capability of machines was compared with that of man. And man lost sorely. The all-encompassing faith in technology pushed man aside and out of focus.

We would be wise to take head of our vocabulary. “Vocabulary” stems from the Latin word “vocare”, which means “to call”. Hence our thoughts and our language create reality, by calling the things into action that our words suggest. Your words, your will be done.

What makes us tick to ask what makes us tick?

The Indian philosopher Krishnamurti makes a discrepancy between chronological time and psychological time. The latter is what he focuses on: “It is the interval between idea and action.” Krishnamurti tries to make clear that OUR THOUGHTS about time bear a conflict in themselves.

“Our thinking which is captured in this process poses the question: “What is time? And exactly this fathoming question stems from the mechanism of time. That’s why our research is useless because the question itself is time. The ‘Yesterday’ has brought thinking into life, and so the thought divides space into yesterday, today and tomorrow. Or it says: ‘There is only NOW’, forgetting that the present is the result of yesterday.”

Stop ticking and start breathing.

In other words: Man has invented the concept of time, forgotten about doing so (or gotten a case of amnesia) and now asks himself what TIME is, as if someone else (God, an alien, Micky Mouse) invented it.

And in order to be able to invent time, man had to invent thinking first – which he also used to invent the lack of time, by the way.

So if we reclaim the responsibility for our own creations and stop regarding them as a phenomenon separate from ourselves, they won’t be able to overwhelm us anymore.

Time is just space, thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more.

Benedikt

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Benedikt SchreyerAbout me:
My name is Benedikt Schreyer – writer, coach and singer. I love to research life, gain and share knowledge and live up to my full potential. I believe the world is sound. That’s why to love is to laugh – Big loud belly laughter!
I am also a good friend of Pat and Shailia. I will be posting articles here from time to time. I aim to inspire and provide impulses. I hope you enjoyed my first post, “The  inner clock fairy tale”.