Archives for posts with tag: thoughts


I took my daughter to school two days ago and was amazed how time flies. A moment ago, I changed her first diaper. Two moments later, she’s going to school, reading chapter books, trying to boss me around. As I was driving to work, I started doing some calculations in my head. If I’m lucky, I have 40 years left. In that time, I will do the following:

– Sleep 7 hours a day or 13.5 years
– Work 8 hours a day (until I’m 70 – let’s be honest here…) or 8.2 years
– Eat 2 hours per day or 3.3 years
– Learn things 3 hours a day or 5 years
– Leisure time (TV, Reading, Hanging, etc.) 2 hours a day or 3.3 years
– Working out 0.5 hours per day or .8 years
– In the bathroom 0.5 hours per day or .8 years
– Life’s necessities (Errands, commuting, shopping, etc.) 2 hours a day or 3.3 years.

The total of already planned stuff is 38.2 years.
I have 1.8 years left to follow my heart, experience things, feel blissed.

Certainly makes the case for working on stuff that you’re passionate about, doesn’t it? Focusing on things that matter.

Now, think about your workday:

How much time do you spend on tasks? Meetings, email, waste of your time? How much time do you spend on changing the world?


People on their deathbed tend to say: “I wish I would have done A/B/C.” Only a tiny majority says: “I wish I would have done less A/B/C.”

For some reason, we tend to beat ourselves up for things we have done: The stupid thing you said, the email that was sent, the presentation that bombed.

Wouldn’t it be much better to reflect upon the book you didn’t read, the call you didn’t make, the hug you didn’t share?

Shouldn’t we try to be more in this world and not less?

We keep track of the wrong things.

We keep track of things we did and didn’t work out. We should track diligently the things we didn’t do, the paths we didn’t take, the bets we didn’t make, the human touch we didn’t show.

I found this little gem on YouTube, created by Jonathan Fields to support the launch of his newest book “Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.”

It’s not only an important lesson for parents. It’s an important lesson for all of us. When I moved to the United States, the majority of my friends I would be back within a year. They thought I made a huge mistake and didn’t have a lot of faith in me. We lost contact quickly. The ones that had faith in me remained friends.

It’s important to support yourself with people that believe in you. And it’s important to believe in others. We need this support as much as oxygen, water and food. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that keeps you afloat.


While waiting in a coffee line, I was overhearing a conversation between 2 elderly men. One was holding an iPhone, the other men an outdated flip-phone.

“Why don’t you get an iPhone?”

“I’m happy with that phone. Why do I need that fancy stuff? I’ll never use it.”

“I couldn’t live without mine.”

“I’m just too old to get into this.”

At one point, all brands, institutions, countries and people consider themselves old.

Think about the DMV. It feels like an old, half-dead organization that will never reform and improve.

Mubarak thought he and his country was too old to change. And the country changed without him.

The two political parties are not ready for real change. And the country might change without them.

That feeling doesn’t happen on a schedule. I see 90-year old enjoying the iPad, 80-year olds taking 6-week bus tours (I’m too old for that. Sorry.) and 40-year olds acting like retirement is around the corner.

Being old is a choice.

There’s nothing biological clock that decides when you’re old. You decide. You can run a marathon when you’re 70, learn a new language when you’re 80 and release your first book when you’re 90. It might be easier to do all that when you’re young.

That’s why it’s worth doing.


I just spent a week with my wife and kid in a small town in the California desert. We rented a lakefront house, spent hours in the pool, playing games, just being.

When you spend that much time with your kid, you get to experience the little battles she has to fight, and challenges she has to overcome when she’s out of sight at school. Her quest to fit in, to be part of the team, you experience her self-doubts, her triumphs, and you get to see how hard it can be to be a 6-year old.

That week gave me time to reflect what I want for my kid. My usual answer is:

I want her to be happy.

Oh, okay. Who doesn’t want that? It’s not an answer, it’s a lame excuse. When we say we want our kids to be happy, we want them to absorb as many of our values and act the way we want them to act.

Let’s be honest here: It doesn’t mean she HAS to go to college, it doesn’t mean she HAS to work long hours to make it in this world like her parents, it doesn’t mean she HAS to have a lot of money.

It does mean that I want her to do good things in the world that make her happy and the world a better place.

Yeah, I know. Still pretty lame.

So, I gave it a little more thought over the last few days and came up with 8 things I want her to become. And, please note, this is not a to-do list, just something I harbor in my heart.

I’ll hug her, no matter what.

a) Curious

I have problems with people who aren’t curious about everything. Why are we here? Why do people behave differently when they have a lot of choices compared to a small amount of choices? Why is the ocean blue and green? If you’re not curious, you will not succeed. Period. You will be stuck in a rut that will get thicker and harder to get out of.

b) Empathetic

Listen, I’m no Mother Theresa. As anybody else, I have my bouts of narcissism and self-absorption. But I know that the world can be a cruel place. I know friends who can have a conversation with a homeless person and hug them when they part ways. Or friends who dedicate hours to help other people. I don’t have that in me. And I don’t expect my kid to become Mother Theresa. But the least I expect is a consideration of the issues in the lives of other people. Understanding where they come from and help them to change.

c) Don’t be stupid

Sounds like an easy one, but it’s not. When educated people suddenly claim we should default on our debt, give people choices when it comes to evolution or just defy any scientific research, I get angry. We can have discussions about everything but we can’t have discussions about stupid things.

d) Push your body to the limits

I’m not asking her to win a gold medal at the Olympics. But I’m asking my kid to push her body to the limit. We learn a lot about ourselves at the edges. I learned a lot about myself training for and running marathons. Playing 4 soccer games in a day. Jumping from 60 feet boards. We need to nurture our brains. But we need to push our physicality to the brink. You can’t live through your brain. You have to push brain, body and mind.

e) Love without abandon

I want her to experience the crazy, amazing love. The love that makes you sleepless for days. I want her to experience the insane extremes. And then stay with the one love that makes her happy.

f) Change the world

Ok, that’s a big one. I’m not asking her to eliminate poverty. I ask her to leave this world a better place. Make an impact. Make a change. Burning Man is a great example of that: You leave no physical trace behind while you’re there but you leave an emotional trace within you.

g) Stop bitching. Start changing.

It’s easy to complain about things. Bright minds tend to do that. It’s hard to change things. Focus on the hard part. And tend to the easy parts when you have time.

h) Your mom and dad are always there for you. And we’re not the parents you want us to be.

Who knows what will happen in the years to come. One thing I know for sure: We will always love you. No matter what. And we will always try to help you become the person you could be.

You won’t like it. You will fight us. We will be there.

And we always have a hug waiting for you?

What do you want for your kid(s)?


I always loved snow prints. Whenever it had snowed overnight, I wanted to be the first person to create snow prints. A snapshot of a moment in time when I was first. The only one.

Very soon, those snow prints would be crowded out by others, vanish because of rain or snow. But, for that short moment in time, there was proof that I was alive. That I had done something.

I was here.

Whenever I walk around a cemetery and see gravestones of people who died 1880 or 1770, I wonder: Does anybody even remember they were here at one point? We do remember the works of a few thousand people but we don’t even know why they really were. We have no clue what made Shakespeare happy. Or how Michelangelo defined a good time. And,  we have absolutely no clue about the millions of forgotten names.

A good time to think about snow prints.

Even though they disappear, my  snow print changed something. My feet transferred some of the snow to other parts of the land, changing the way the snow washes away in spring. Mixing with all the other snow prints people created. Ending up in a sewer, ultimately in the ocean. To start the whole cycle all over again.

My foot print became part of someone’s life without both of us knowing it.

That’s why we’re here.

To touch people’s lives. Often without even knowing it.

Through our smile, our writing, our work, our kid, our friends, our co-workers, our handshakes, our hugs.

Everything you do.

You have a chance to make a difference every day.

All you need to do is create snow prints.

Are you ready?


When I turned 18, I joined the Social Democratic party (the Democrats of Germany, kind of). My goal: become chancellor. Work my way through the ranks and, on one day glorious day, lead the nation. When I joined, I imagined wild, all-night discussions with my party members about alternative energies, unemployment, economic challenges – the stuff political wonks love to talk about.

The first week we talked for three hours about a tree. If it should be cut down or not.
The second week we talked about the naming of a street. For five hours.

The third week I stayed home.

And, I never became Germany’s chancellor.

Everybody has these moments.

At work, you look around and you see the smoke and mirrors guys getting the promotion and all the accolades.

In our industry, you see the charlatans winning over the audience and you wonder why nobody else sees them as what they are: charlatans.

You wonder why the cheerleaders and jocks always win and the good kids always are left behind.

You ask yourself, if you shouldn’t just give up, join the bandwagon and enjoy that free ride. Why bother asking tough questions, why bother doing hard work when nobody else seems to care? Why not become a jester and join the parade of circus clowns?

Because if you give up, they will win.

When you give up, they will continue to run the world. Their garbage will continue to be praised as gold. And we will continue to have the same breed of politicians, executives and thought leaders.

It’s your responsibility that they don’t win.

Make it stop. Now.

Look at their junk and make it disappear with good work. With good actions. With good facts and insights.

Every day we reach crossroads. It’s your responsibility to keep on going. Or they will continue to be the norm.

It’s your call. You know what to do.

Stumbled over the great blog of Alex Noriega and thought it’d be worthy to share some of his illustrations with you.


Isn’t that true? Fear is a constant companion and a perfect partner of the lizard brain that often tries to hold us back. It’s best to learn early that fear will be with you until the end of time. Better learn to live with it and not try to hide or run away. Many say we should let go of fear. Easier said and done. Living with it and embracing it might be the wiser choice.


You can separate human beings into two groups: the ones that are jealous of the accomplishments of others and the ones that cheer them on and consider these accomplishments as an ingredient of their fuel that drives them to create a better life. It’s your choice.

‘Tis the season to be grateful. As long you have your health, everything is possible.


We have to carve out our own niche, our own little place in this universe. For some it’s a house filled with kids, for others it’s a studio filled with books. That what makes life so wonderful and invigorating. Live your own dream. Not the dreams of others.


I have a 5-year old daughter. All day she’s experimenting. Writing, reading, running, playing games, being silly. Always trying out new moves, new ways to interact with the world. She bangs her knees, her hips and ego. Just to start the cycle every day all over again. This is part of the process of figuring out the world. Finding her place in this world. I call this “playing with the flame”. Our natural curiosity demands our hand to touch the flame, see how far we can go. Sometimes we go too far and have to put ice packs on our hands for a while. Sometimes we don’t go far enough and just look at the flame from the distance.

The younger you are, the more likely you’re going to play with the flame. It might result in pain, blisters and mildly charred flesh. That’s the price you pay when you play with the flame. The older we get, the more vivid those pain memories become. (“I can’t I did THIS. I couldn’t do that again.”) The value proposition of discovering new things doesn’t match the possibility of more suffering and pain.

Don’t go there.

Those are the people that get comfortable in their lives and experience their world shrinking in front of their eyes. The people that continue to experiment get rewarded with more and richer experiences.

If you stop experimenting, if you stop playing with the flame: This is it. If that’s the reality you envision for the rest of your life: Fine. You will not grow. You will not evolve. You will stay the same.

For the rest of us: We owe it to ourselves to keep playing with the flame. The world is transforming in front of our eyes in a rapid pace. We need to play with the flame in our personal lives, at work, throughout enterprises and institutions. Never forget the wise words of Jeff Probst, host of Survivor: “Fire represents life.”

Keep playing.