Early Mornings…

 I recently did a very early morning run at 5:30am as I try to get some more miles in than usual. Although it is not easy to get up that early it has something very magical to it. I ran towards the city and the first people you bump into are the young girls and boys who have been dancing (they came across pretty sober, which has never happened to me at that time at their age) all night and could not afford a taxi and still have not figured out how UBER works (that’s the scary part as I guess there are no people on the street in San Francisco at that time of the day). No other runners and very few cars which makes the air very clear and you can just keep going.
The most interesting part of my run was when I passed a waste burning factory which was lit up brightly and you could feel the warm air coming out of it. The parking lot was full which very much reminded me at a time when I had a very similar summer job. My shift started either at 5am, 1pm or 9pm. The factory had 3 shifts and was working 7 days a week. I actually have no clue what we actually have been producing as my only jobs have been to wipe the floor or move 50kg bags from one place to another. After my shift I was so tired that I slept for hours straight afterwards (which was suboptimal as I usually was not tired during the night and went out to get drunk and got back to work verry tired). I was 16 years old and it was the first time I made serious money. I mean really big bucks.The job was so bad and unhealthy that they paid up a lot. None of my co-workers had any school eduaction so there was very little philosophical discussions going on and I could not get them interested in Latin or French.

Most of the discussions with them circled around sex and alcohol. I just loved it. After I smuggled in some bottles of wine I started to become friends with my colleagues. They encouraged me to start full time as my reading skills would get me on the fast lane in no time. I was tempted. Seriously. I even had the discussion at home which did not go down too well but then again my parents did not finish high school so it was hard for them to dig out the benefits of higher education. After 6 weeks I went back to school and miracously finished it including my university degree. When I passed by today I wondered what would have happened if I would have stayed. Would I have seen almost the whole world like I did? For sure not. Would I have friends all over the place? I guess not. Would I have been less happy? This no one will ever know. I am reading Seneca at the moment, which also was not a big hero in the factory and would like to finish with a quote from him:

It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more.

Keep on running!

Token


I recently listened to a podcast from Malcolm Gladwell called “The Lady Vanishes”. Gladwell produced a series of podcasts together with the the publisher Slate which in my opinion will change the landscape and maybe the businessmodel of podcasting. For those of you who do not know the books of Malcolm Gladwell I highly recommend you to read them (his mother does too).

I listen to about 3-4 hours of podcasts per week so I consider myself a bit of an expert in this field but I have to admit that I was blown away. Like all his books the quality of it is outstanding. He is also fortunate that his voice also sounds great and Panoply (panoply.fm) put a lot of effort into the production. The key to it is of course still the content.

Gladwell tackles the issues women are still facing today by going back to the late 19th century and taking a close look at a female painter and her efforts to break into the male dominated Royal Academy of Arts. He then draws the conclusion that societies today have not changed dramatically by proving how Australia elected a female prime minister (Julia Gillard) only to be even more sexiest as it was already proven anyway how open everyone is (this is called Moral Self-Licensing). She served as a token. Like many female boardmembers do. The idea is that if you have a woman there you can keep your behaviour as you already proved that you support the cause. If everything goes according to plan Hillary Clinton will become the first female US president. Not because she is necessarily the best for the job but because she ticks a lot of boxes. I live in Austria, I basically do not care who serves as president there for the next 4-8 years. Will she be another token or will she be able to change society? Only the future will tell.

If you look to Germany where you have a female prime minister for more than 10 years I am not sure how much better the situation for the women is but you probably never had a more respected female politician in the history. Interestingly enough as soon as she got a softer (female?) touch towards intergration the public opinion about her changed in a split second. Can you only be successfull as a female leader if you resemble male beaviour? I do not think so but it looks that way.

Let’s all show a bit more respect towards each other and appreciate the successes and help out when we fail. Don’t forget to listen to Malcolm Galdwell’s podcast at: www.revisionisthistory.com

Habit Formation – Don’t crack under pressure!

 Whatever you try to achieve on a permanent basis you wont be able to do unless you do it regularly. The best example is weightloss. Whenever you try to lose some extra pounds which you build up over years you wont lose them on a permanet basis by 3 crash diets a year. You have to change for good by whatever works for you.

When you try to finish a marathon in less than 4 hours, you wont make it by running 5 times before the event. You need to practice for a long time. For a period of time that it feels bad if you do not run at your scheduled time. It feels as if you broke your routine as if you did not follow your habit.
How do you form a habit. Some people say whatever you do 30 times in a row makes it one. My honest answer is, I have no idea. You can also not run for 30 days in a row but I guess if you run 30 times in 2 months you will start missing it. Good habits also help to break bad ones. If you try to run every other day you might not drink the 10th beer and stop at 9 (just kidding, one can also run after 10 beers, just a bit slower).

A months ago I downloaded an app called habit list. It is outragously expensive at 4 EUR (equivalent of 1 beer, so if you drink 9 instead of 10 you could buy it but in the world of free it is a lot…) and was amazed how well it works.You just put in the habit you would like to form and it reminds you to do your stuff, show you stats and a few other things. It is super simple and even tech idiots like me are able to use it. After one months I am quite confident that I have formed 1 routine which I basically do automatically. I admit it is a stupid and simple one but I force myself to have a cold shower every day for at least 30 seconds. People who know me are aware that I don’t like water, swimming and I really hate cold water. But if you do it for a long period of time you actually start missing it, when you don’t get your wake up splash.

Other things are more complicated and I think will take more time but the most important thing to do is not to crack under pressure and keep on doing it. When you have a bad time do not give up, just restart, it is worth it otherwise you would not wanted it in the first place. My next goal is to run every 2-3 days. For a months it worked but I would not call it a habit yet but I achieved a performance improvement of 20% during that time. I know that the next 20% are much tougher, but I wont crack. At least I hope…

You cannot be serious

How often do you have the feeling, that you just made a complete idiot of yourself and how often do you forget about that within 15 minutes. I can assure you, that I have that feeling quite often (although I rarely take stupid pictures like that). In a world where everything has to be cool and slick I think it is very important not take oneself too serious. Our society became very much about extend and pretend instead of just admitting, I have no clue what you are talking about, just enlighten me.

Most of us would never admit not to understand certain things instead of asking the right question: I have no idea what this is all about about, please explain. This holds true not only in your job but also in your daily life. You don’t want too look stupid infront of your kids, your partner or your dog (ok maybe you should not look stupid infront of your dog as this really is embarrasing).
Although it might sound like an oxymoron (you can also admit that you have no idea what that means) but this is very often a sign of lack of selfconfidence. People who are not scared about not knowing certain things have enough confidence to admit that. Just make a fool about yourself. In many meetings I experienced the relief when someone admits not to understand what everyone is talking about as very often a lot of other people also have no clue what is going on. Instead of making a fool of himself, that person looks like a hero as he helped to enlighten everyone else.

Encourage your family, your coworkers, your neighbours to do the same. If you do not understand what is being talked about, just admit it. Make a fool of yourself (for a short time) to help yourself on the long run. Without being the smart kid in the room your selfconfidence will grow as everyone will envy you for your courage. So go out there and try not bee too serious.

If you like what I am writing, please do not hesitate to share it or comment or just like it.