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Does Your Business Have a Work Out Partner?

When I launched my business, I had an “office” in a walk-in closet off my living room. The view wasn’t so great. Back then my “enterprise” consisted of me and the cat. I would often venture out to Starbucks for a little human interaction. I knew all the baristas on a first name basis.

Studies have shown that we are more likely to stick with an exercise program if we have a workout partner. Someone to be accountable to, to encourage you, someone to share goals with, or simply someone to laugh with over the misfortune of the day.

And yet many of us go it alone when we launch our businesses? Why not find another business owner to be your workout buddy – you don’t have to walk into networking events alone – you can tag team the room. Someone to share with – what technology worked, what was the workaround to those Internet glitches or simply share a cup of coffee occasionally. The baristas tend to get busy!!

If you can’t find a business partner, why not consider an executive coach.  Coaching offers an independent third party perspective to your business.  It creates a safe space for you to brainstorm, share confidences and practice your approach.  You don’t have to go it alone.  In fact, most folks get help in the corporate environment.

  • An internal report of the Personnel Management Association showed that when training is combined with coaching, individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% compared to 22% with training alone.


Coaches can

  • Identify executive strengths and development needs
  • Help the client leverage existing strengths and improve performance
  • Create an Executive Strategy with an Action Plan and Accountability to help them stay on track
  • Facilitate positive and sustainable behavior changes
  • Assist develop leadership skills and offer a safe environment to practice
  • Offer enhanced career planning and development with an action-oriented plan
  • Provide regular ongoing feedback and support that assures professional growth

Matching tracksuits is completely up to you . . .

Does Your Business Have a Work Out Partner?

Understanding OODA Loops

Often overused and broad-reaching, the term strategic planning has become yet another one of those vague buzz phrases that get tossed about with little to no real understanding of what it means.  “I’ve developed an Internet strategy that will make us millions.” Simply electing to sell widgets on the Internet does not a business strategy make.  What is the market?  Who are your competitors?  Who will buy your product?  These types of questions along with much more provide the foundation for developing a solid strategic plan.

A successful business strategy is the combination of art and science. It turns a dynamic situation to your advantage to achieve your goals.  A business strategy must include a set of (frequently interdependent) decisions and actions that define a company self-vision in the competitive marketplace and increase the probability of reaching clearly defined business objectives.  Put simply, it’s the plan to get from struggling start-up a to successful venture.

 Building Successful Businesses

A basic business strategy addresses critical tasks including:

  • Developing the company’s mission
  • Identifying current resources and capabilities
  • Identifying external factors that affect the plan
  • Analyzing the Company’s options by considering its resources and the affects of the external environment
  • Identifying the most desirable options
  • Developing strategies that will achieve the most desired results.
  • Evaluating the success of the strategic process as input to future decision-making.

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to forget the dynamic nature of the outside world.   A fatal planning mistake is to build a business plan around a given set of static assumptions: the market is this, likely penetration is that; it will be sunny on Tuesday.  These assumptions seem reasonable and solid when the plan is made, but if any of them prove to be wrong, the plan will fail.

Any effective business strategy must respond dynamically to the challenges posed by the firm’s immediate and remote external environments.  The immediate environment includes competitors, suppliers, increasingly scarce resources, government agencies and customers whose preferences often shift inexplicably.  The remote external environment comprises economic and social conditions, political priorities, and technological developments.  All of these must be anticipated, monitored, assessed, and incorporated iteratively into the strategic plan.  Sustainable competitive advantage results from strategies that contain real-time orientation.  Successful planning cannot rely solely on static and positional assumptions.

So what goes into a strategic plan?  Well, start at the beginning and go from there.  This may sound simplistic, but you’d be surprised at the powerful business results you can achieve from carefully answering and acting on the following questions:

  • Where are we today? (Observe) What is the Company mission?  What are the available resources?  Who is the competition?  What is the market?
  • How will I get there? (Orient) What is the product?  What will it take to go from concept to market?  How many employees are needed to support the effort?  How will the company distribute the product?  How will the Company position the product in the market?  Develop options from observations.
  • What are the Best Options (Decide) Based on the observations and the Company’s position in the market; management pursues the best options and develops a plan to pursue those options.
  • Implement the Plan (Action)  – Execute.

Implicit in this process model, called Boyd’s OODA Loop, is the final step: Iterate.  This demands that you repeat the OODA process over time, and continually input real-time information.  Business success isn’t simply a matter of being quickest to market, of spending the most, or of selling the highest-quality products. A company may advance momentarily by any of these methods; but there is only one way to win over the long term: Outmaneuver the competition – over and over, and over again.  Simply put, you have to understand the market before they do, act decisively, and constantly reassess to keep one step ahead.

Agility is the essence of strategy in war and in business.  Competitors are a company’s obvious opponents, but the ever-changing environment can have dramatic effects on a success of a business or sector.  For example, it wasn’t competition that hurt the telecom sector; it was external factors such as the economy and customer spending.

Boyd’s OODA Loop –

Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.  Thoughtful agility is the essence of strategy in any conflict constrained by time and resources.  Any venture launching a new technology is fighting for time to market advantages over all the other entrants in the space.  All suppliers in a market segment are in a competition not only for customers but also for time, a precious commodity not voluntarily relinquished by any opponent – in war or in business.

Col John Boyd, USAF (Ret), coined the term and developed the concept of the “OODA Loop” (Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action).   According to Boyd’s theory, conflict can be seen as a series of time-competitive, Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) cycles.

The OODA Loop model comprises four major steps:

  • Observation: Collecting information about the current state of the market.
  • Orientation: Interpreting the information to evaluate and formulate options.
  • Decision: Analyzing the options, making a decision
  • Action: Executing the decision

Observation; Orientation; Decision; Action. Boyd’s model of tactical decision-making, provides an elegantly simple framework for creating competitive advantage.

The competitor who can consistently navigate Boyd’s Loop faster than it’s rivals gains sustainable market advantage.  By the time the slower adversary reacts, the faster one is doing something different and the action becomes ineffective.  With each cycle, the slower competitor’s action causes them to fall further and further behind.

The OODA loop demonstrates that strategy is never static.  Leading-edge companies understand that they must build an organization with fast response times in serving customers and preempting competitors, in order grow profitably.

Fast-response companies not only have marketing advantages, they also tend to discover lower cost structures; by moving production materials and information through a company’s operation quickly, they collect less overhead and don’t accumulate inventory. Fast-response companies also innovate more effectively because they don’t waste time and resources on unsuccessful or unproductive ideas: more new products can be conceived and engineered in a given period, creating more market opportunities by giving customers more choices.

The evolving global market coupled with continuing advances in real-time communication and information technology has led to the reinvention of the meaning and practice of strategy. What do you do in a competitive market where the time advantage of proprietary technology is collapsing, even as the cost of developing it explodes? Companies in manufacturing, telecommunications, retail — in nearly every business — are discovering that fashion, fad, and fickle customers require constant vigilance and adjustment.  In a fast paced world where time is money, information is at our fingertips, and the rules of the game are constantly changing, the OODA loop is more strategically powerful than ever.

Want to out-think and out-execute the competition in the air, on the ground, in combat or in business? Want to test out new ideas, get feedback from your customers, adjust your product accordingly, and launch a new version — before your competition even senses the opportunity? Then learn how to make the OODA loop the centerpiece of your strategy process.

Understanding OODA Loops

Business Networking – But Not the Hippopotamus

I am a pretty big fan of Sandra Boynton’s “But Not the Hippopotamus.” Primarily, because every time I say “But Not the Hippopotamus” my daughter giggles.  But it also reminds me of every business person I know when it comes to networking.

Spoiler alert – I may inadvertently give away the ending of BNTH. The crux of the story is that the poor hippopotamus sits on the sidelines as all the other animals have fun.  She never gets invited.  “But Not the Hippopotamus.”  Or so she thinks.  But then there is a turning point – the other animals say “Come, join us!”  She actually has to think for a moment “should I go?” before she rushes off to join the fun.  Yes, the Hippopotamus!

Many of us feel that when we go to a networking event that it is someone else’s job to break the ice, to include us.  We hover in a corner, staring at the ice cubes melting in our glass.  Networking sucks.  I have been there.

You Are What You Believe

When it comes to marketing, “You are what you believe.”  Let me explain.  If you don’t think you are any good at marketing, chances are that belief will permeate your efforts.  We tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies and look for validation of our beliefs.  If you think you suck at networking, then a bad networking experience will simply confirm that belief and you will be bad at it.

You have to change the dialogue in your head.  The good news is you can.  If we switch the inner voice (you know the one that sounds like your mother) to a more positive tone and repeat that positive message (these are called affirmations by the way), we can actually change our beliefs.  At first, it will feel strange because you haven’t bought into the new voice, but if you keep repeating it, it actually takes hold and you begin to believe.  I like speaking in public, I like speaking in public, I like speaking in public.  And then one day, you realize you actually like speaking in public.

Whether its networking or anything else you want in your life, you can use affirmations to achieve anything you set your mind to.  I love speaking German, I love speaking German, I love speaking German… OK, that one still needs some work.

Tips to Get You Started

I started seriously networking almost 20 years ago.  I had launched a new business a new venture with 2 friends and I was the business development guy.  Prior to that, I had a career in finance, primarily crunch numbers somewhere in the background.  This networking thing was a whole new world for me, and honestly not one I felt very comfortable with.  I was not used to selling myself.  Frustrated, I sought out solutions to become a better networker.  I attended Dale Carnegie‘sHow to Win Friends and Influence People and while it was originally written in 1936, the ideas still rang true.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

The bottom line is people don’t want to be sold to.  They want to connect with another genuine human being.  Someone who expresses interest in what they have to say.  And that can be very rare.  Successful marketers don’t sell, they connect.

I’ve also been “the bear and the hare at the fair.”  Socializing with my peers, having a good time, making contacts – you know networking.  I am not ignoring you in the corner; I just busy working the room.  Maybe I don’t see you. Maybe I try to engage you and you shrink.  In all honesty, I am not going to work that hard to make it work and I will likely move on after some awkward small talk.

Here are some suggestions to get you going –

  • Get out of the corner – mingle and engage.  It’s much harder to approach a group of people chatting and engaged and trying to break in.  And in all honesty, when people have done this to me (and while I applaud their efforts) it tends to come off as rude.  Instead, look around the room.  find another corner dweller, they are just as hungry to make contact but are either shy or nervous.  This person will be thankful you made the first move.
  • Don’t lead with a sales pitch – You don’t know me, you don’t know my needs.  Don’t assume I need your product – an unsolicited sales pitch is like verbal spam.
  • Listen First – Ask me about me about my business, why I am here tonight, who I am trying to meet.  Then if you honestly believe you can add value, make a pitch.
  • Add Value – And remember –adding value doesn’t always mean trying to sell me your product.  Maybe, it’s an introduction to someone else in the room. Maybe it’s a referral.  I am more likely to remember you when you help me out then if you simply try to sell me.
  • Be Prepared – OK, this one I tend to be guilty of.  I have a successful interaction with someone and then they ask me for my business card.  I fish around in my pockets only to come up empty.
  • Set a Goal – How many new people will you talk to?  How many new business cards will you collect?  By setting a goal, you begin to measure the success of your efforts.  You will feel like you accomplished something.  I talked to 5 new contacts this evening.

If you are going to network – then make the most of it.  Building a network is about creating trust.  It’s about referrals.  Give to get.  This will make you a successful networker.  And before you know it – you too will be shouting – Yes, the Hippopotamus!

But not the Aardvark…

Business Networking – But Not the Hippopotamus

Be not afraid of going slowly

Be not afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still . . .

– Chinese Proverb

If you’re like me, when you decide to do something, you go all out. When I decide to diet, I basically stop everything but water and watercress. When I start back at the gym, I try to train every part of my dormant body. The result? Great Abs? No. Lean mean fighting machine? No. One very tired, sore, cranky me? Oh, yea that’s the one.

I have tried every program under the sun. Lemonade diets, Hollywood Diets, you name it! I’ve zoned my carbs straight to South Beach! And while I’ve resisted the temptation of the Abdomizer or the Thigh Master, I do have a weight bench (good for storing unfolded laundry), Chin Up bar (good for the clothes that make it to a hanger) and an inclined sit-up bench (OK, this one just takes up space in the garage).

I am the guy they designed impulse shopping for. I buy the magazines at the Piggly Wiggly (yes, I shop at Piggly Wiggly, what’s your point?) while waiting in the checkout line. I am drawn to the promise of A New Body in 10 days, or The Secrets of Blasting My Biceps (I honestly don’t believe I have ever blasted any part of my body, and that has probably kept me out of the ER). I am pretty sure I have heard the checkout clerk giggle as I plop down the latest edition of Buff and Ripped.

So after years of research and a few Cosmo Sex Questionnaires (What? You thought you ladies had corned the market on those little secrets and tips?), I have learned that . . .

People hate change . . .

It’s easier to keep doing what we are doing, than trying to change. That’s why we revert back to our old ways so easily. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, it takes 21 days to change a bad habit into a good one. That’s 21 days without cigarette. That’s 21 days of walking. That’s 21 days without a latte. 21 days is a long time . . . It’s even longer, if you are set unrealistic goals or try to change too much at once.

And let’s not forget in the midst of our makeovers, life goes on. Kids get sick, the dog pees on the carpet and your boss, well – you know that one. Many people underestimate the inertia of their current job, their chosen role at work and at home, their partner, their friends and colleagues and associates, their current habits, their current tastes and family responsibilities. So, as we approach a new year, let’s look at resolutions . . .

Top 10 resolutions . . .

1. Lose Weight
2. Quit Smoking
3. Exercise More
4. Eat Healthier
5. Make more money
6. Go back to school
7. Pay off debt
8. Spend less
9. Make more time for . . .
10. Get more organized

Most resolutions fail within the first month. I would argue most folks don’t get over the 21-day hump. So, obviously, we need another approach.

Be not afraid . . .

Go slowly. Set realistic achievable and sustainable goals. I believe in doing one thing a day that was healthier than the day before. After a week, you will have done 7 healthy things for yourself. After a month (and that dreaded 21-day threshold), you will have done 30 good things for your body and soul. And, if you embraced this philosophy in 2005, you will do 365 things great things for your body. Will you lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks? NO. But, you will start to move to a healthier place.

Be not afraid . . .

Be not afraid of going slowly

How to Set Goals

“He went about his dull routine as if all the days of the world were still to come . . .”

Mitch Albom, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I am guessing that anyone who has made it to their 40th year has at least once in their lifetime wondered where the time went. Over the holidays, I was talking with a relative and realized we were talking about things that had occurred 30 years ago. How can that be when I don’t feel a day over . . .

If you are like me you have a laundry list of things you will do when you have a few free moments. The problem is there never is time and all of a sudden – well, the time has slipped away. Remember those 10 pounds you were going to lose? Well, now they are 30. Remember when you were going to quit smoking? That’s back when cigarettes cost a $1.75 a pack and you swore you would never spend $2.00 a pack.

I don’t mean to be harsh, so please forgive my directness – but, you’re not getting any younger. What are you waiting for?

Many of us dream of better lives, but figure there is always tomorrow. How many of us have made the same resolutions – year in and year out – only to promise ourselves to do better next year?

“This is the year that I . . .”

How do you want to finish that sentence? In order to achieve that goal, you need to take action, what is it? Let’s talk about your goal:

What you want and why? – Many of us grumble we want things to be better. This vague notion has no concrete meaning, thus how can we possibly move towards it. Instead, decide what you want (the goal) and why you want it (if it’s not personal it won’t motivate you).

Set a measurable, obtainable goal – A very common resolution is “I want to lose weight.” Without a measurable objective, it’s a wish not a goal. A clearly defined objective allows us to plan for its success.

• Develop an action plan – You’ve set your goal, now how do you get there? An action plan is a roadmap: it helps us turn our dreams into a reality.

• Set a deadline – Not unlike the vague goal of losing weight, without a deadline, there is nothing pushing us towards our goal. Set a time frame to accomplish your action plan in stages. Reassess your goal on a weekly basis.

• Bite-size steps – If you are having trouble accomplishing any goals by the specified time frames, are the time frames too strict or is the goal not at a small and manageable level?

• Don’t give up – Acknowledge that you will have successes and failures in achieving any worthwhile goal. It is in our nature to oppose change. If you fall off the proverbial horse, dust yourself off and climb right back on. Remember it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Be patient with yourself.

• Create Accountability – Tell your friends or coworkers about your goal. Post it on your Instagram account.  By making it public, you will be more inclined to stick with it when the going gets tough.

• Keep track of what (and how well) you’ve done – Always keep track of what the group has actually done. If the community change (a new program or policy) took significant time or resources, it’s also a good idea to evaluate what you have done, either formally or informally.

• Celebrate a job well done! Celebrate your accomplishments; you have worked hard, and you deserve it. Celebration helps keep you excited and interested in continuing.

Change is possible, but only if you personally want it. Understand, change means giving up our old ways, ways in which we’ve grown accustomed. But as we close doors to our old self, we open doors to a wonderful new life . . .

How to Set Goals

Business Travel Productivity Tips

You know it’s a bad sign when the barista at the airport greets you by your first name. I used to think of travel time as unproductive, but it can be just the opposite. As a regular at Tegel Airport, I have learned a few tricks to make traveling for business more enjoyable and have found ways to best use of my so-called “down time” when I travel.

Here are some of my Business Travel Productivity Tips –

Online/offline – Most airports offer free WiFi and once the airplane door shut you are pretty much cut off from the digital world – not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.  Once I’ve grabbed a coffee and exchanged pleasantries with Hans the barista, I head online to clear out emails and social media clutter.  I don’t have a lot of time, so I am focused on emails that can be resolved quickly and social media updates that are no-brainers.  Anything that requires my full attention gets flagged for follow-up.  This way when I land, I can focus on putting out any fires before I head off to the next meeting.

On the plane – For me, this can be a very productive period.  I can view my presentation or work on a new article.  There are relatively no distractions – no email, no cell phones, no texts – allowing me a few hours of uninterrupted work.  Yes, this article was written plane as I headed off to Heidelberg for client meetings. Typing away serves to discourage a chatty neighbor on long flights – unless of course, Sir Richard Branson should choose to fly coach with me to Frankfurt, then chat away I say!

Share local – Creating new fresh content can be a chore, but a new environment can be a catalyst for new ideas.  Marketing is about telling your story and sharing tidbits about your trip to Tunisia can be great fodder for social media.  Also, it makes you more human.  You’re more than a niche business topic.  I have had folks chat me up about pictures they’ve seen posted on Twitter – it’s a great icebreaker.

Shout outs – Everybody loves a good shout out.  “I had a great time working with the folks at Bank of Ireland,” This lets you promote your client in a genuine way.  Obviously, be selective about what you share online and ask permission before posting any pics from meetings and such.

Stay in the moment – I have had many business trips that consisted of airport, meeting, hotel, meeting, airport.  Ugh! Seriously, you´re in Mallorca – get out of the hotel and walk around.  It takes a little effort, but if you can take the local sites and meet the locals – you’ll feel like you’ve been somewhere.  This summer, I got to build sand castles on the beach at Playa del Sol, explore Heroes Square in Budapest, and see the Book of Kells at Trinity University, Dublin between client meetings and airports.

Add a day or two – You’ve already paid for the airfare, what’s another night in the hotel? If you get a chance and your schedule permits, why not spend an extra day taking in the sights? Who knows the next time you’ll be back in Mumbai?

Business travel can be a chore, especially if it’s part of your regular routine.  I hope these tips will help you enjoy your travels.  I would love to hear what you do to make your business travel enjoyable, drop me your ideas in the comments below.

Business Travel Productivity Tips

Startup Stories – Anthony Barba FreewayWorks

Telling Stories

Every startup (every business for that matter) has an untold story.  Not the sanitized, after the fact summation of our success types – but real stories about getting from Point A to B via points 1,2 12, 37, 42 and 61.  Brainstorms, meltdowns, pivots, dating, breaking up, funding, compromise. In the end, either against all odds success or going down in a spectacular ball of flame.  Failures? Hardly,  Life’s lessons? Absolutely. Why do the rare few succeed?  What really happened?  It may not be pretty, but it will be real.

There is more to telling stories than simply regurgitating facts.  It’s about curating, learning and ultimately editing – editing not in the sense to make the players good but to get to the heart of what was truly going on. What was the context? What were you feeling? What was your agenda? Why was George Michael playing in the background? (We’ll get back to that one)

What’s the point? Somewhere between scrubbed case studies and reality TV is a level of transparency that is entertaining and offer actionable insights on building a startup, raising more and growing a business.  And so we begin….

And to begin, we have to go back. Back to the beginning, back to where it started.

Anthony (Anthony Barba of FreewayWorks and the Mobility Report) and I met at Startupbootcamp’s Selection Days in Berlin in the spring of 2015.  Anthony and his team (Dennis and David) were finalists trying to secure a space in the Mobility Accelerator.  I was one of many mentors meeting 20 teams to narrow the selection to 10 participants for the programs.  I think we may have spent 30 minutes together.  They pitched and we (the mentors) questioned.

The company was HeyRide and Anthony and his team successfully secured a spot in the next program.  Over the next few months, we casually stayed in touch via Linkedin and the occasional email.  They were busy in the Accelerator and I had moved on to clients and other stuff.  I didn’t run into Anthony again until Demo Days at the end of the program…

Startup Stories - Anthony Barba FreewayWorks

Although very different, Anthony and I shared some common elements.  We had both grown up on the south shore of Long Island.  We had both somehow landed in Berlin.  We were both involved in the Silicon Allee/Startupbootcamp world and we were both trying to figure out our next move.

And so begins another startup journey….

Oh, and as for George Michael? Well, that’s another story for another time.

Matthias Treutwein, co-founder of enpact

Recently, we caught up with Matthias Treutwein, co-founder of enpact.  enpact targets sustainable entrepreneurial development via international mentoring programmes.

How did enpact start

We started in 2013, when Sebastian and I met during the implementation of a different mentoring project. There we realized, what a powerful tool entrepreneurship and mentoring can be and decided to start our own social enterprise

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I have to be there at 9 am…. No, jokes aside. I am trying to build a network of inspiring and engaged people, empower them to create sustainable and fair jobs and to improve in general the way development aid is implemented by focussing more on changemakers – and not the agencies.

Why is entrepreneurship important in developing regions?

People lost faith in governmental and/or religious institutions, that – in many countries –  abuse the mandates they have been given. The huge amount of jobs that have to be created due to the intense population growth – especially in the global South – requires innovative solutions that can only come from the private, and not the public sector.

What is enpact’s mission?

enpact wants to empower people to create urgently needed jobs.

How many cycles have you completed?

We have concluded three cycles of our international mentoring programme, currently with 60 and 25 mentors and experts from more than 10 countries. Additionally, we piloted two national mentorings in 2014 in Egypt and Tunisia, and are now relaunching the one in Tunisia, and hopefully this autumn again the one in Egypt.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

Meeting and working with so many talented people from a region, that normally only gets bad press. Additionally, that for many – myself included, this is a life-changing experience, where barriers are brought down, horizons are broadened and intercultural exchange becomes a playful side effect.

What is your biggest challenge?

Developing a sustainable business model & managing an intercultural and international team across different continents.

What kind of feedback have you gotten?

Lots of positive, but also some negative. Most important one: That we help people to positively impact on their societies and to develop perspectives by living their dreams.

What are you currently working on?

We are trying to become financially more independent and have been restructuring our NGO accordingly. We are about to launch two new projects and starting negotiations to develop more startup spaces in the MENA region.

How can people get involved?

We are always looking for inspiration, so if our activities intrigue you, please reach out to us to discuss over a coffee or a beer. Also, we are currently looking for participants in our national mentoring in Tunisia and in autumn we will open the call for applications of our international mentoring programme. Finally, we are always looking for dedicated mentors, experts, and fundraising leads!

Matthias has worked several years as a project manager and consultant in international development (Transparency International, The Owners Forum, InWent) and cultural management (Goethe Institute, Bosch-Foundation). He holds a Master’s degree in Arabic, French and Spanish Literature. He has a high level of cultural awareness that he developed during several study and work sojourns in the MENA region. Matthias is very interested in fostering networks while strongly believing in horizontal and life-long learning.

enpact was founded with the aim of strengthening economic relations between young entrepreneurs from the start-up scenes of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Since then, this goal has been successfully implemented with the “engage participate act” project – an innovative mentorship programme for promising young entrepreneurs – funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. In addition to that, we promote entrepreneurship and support local entrepreneurial ecosystems by creating entrepreneur spaces for start-up related activities.

Matthias Treutwein, co-founder of enpact

An iPad and the 5 Stages of Grief

I know you were losing sleep over my lost iPad, I know I was.

I have a hectic life.  Clients, 3 dogs, a five year old, and a to do list that only grows.

I tend to get lost in the frustrations of the day. I am always running a bit late and often forget to stop and enjoy the moment.  And with many competing demands, I am easily distracted.  We have lost gloves, hats and what not on the train, but this felt different.  I lost my iPad.  A little piece of electronics, I know but seriously I was crushed.  The iPad has been my primary camera since I got it, it connects me to Instagram, it’s where I check email and yes I even use it for boarding passes at the airport.  Unbeknownst to me, I really like my iPad and somehow I felt lost without it. Yeah, I could replace it, but they are not cheap.  I was devastated.

An iPad and the 5 Stages of Grief

Denial – “It has to be here!” I emptied my backpack, I went through my office. There is just no way I would lose my iPad.  I went over and over the places it should have been, but as hard as I tried, it was gone.

Anger – As I worked through various stages of grief – anger, bargaining – I tried to replay those fatal moments when we were parted.  I don’t usually take my iPad with me to pick up my daughter, but I was trading emails with a client over the upcoming meeting. “If it wasn’t for that damn meeting, I’d still have my iPad.”

Bargaining“Oh please, let me find it.”  I said prayers even though i am not particularly religious. Which saint is the patron saint of lost things. Joseph? No, he’s real estate. Jude? no, he’s lost cases, not ready to admit that one, yet. For the record, it’s Saint Anthony should you need him.

Depression – Devastated, but not without hope.  I tried to retrace my steps.  OK, I had it on the bus home because I checked emails and spoke to a client about an upcoming meeting in Dublin.  That’s the last thing I remember.  So, I must have left it on the bus, ugh!

BVG who runs the bus service in Berlin has an online lost and found.  No iPads found today. Getting gloomy.  Headed over to iCloud, tried to find my iPad but since it was off line, no such luck.  I enabled the lost device and posted my phone number to be displayed should some one turn on my iPad.  I went to bed sad, but surely someone would find it and call.  I even posted on Craigslist. I am not sure anyone in Berlin uses Craigslist but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The next morning no calls.  Nothing new on BVG. And the iCloud indicated my device hadn’t been online.  My poor iPad lying in a ditch somewhere.  I’m sorry I took you for granted.

I tried to get some work done, but seriously my iPad was all alone in a big, bad world.  Would we ever be reunited? I was beginning to lose faith.

Mid day I received an email from my friend Steven would said he had meditated on the return of my iPad and sent his blessings. Namaste.  Bhudda, Jesus, Mother Merkel, whoever was listing, please return my iPad.  I was covering all bases.

My daughter asked me, “Daddy, why are you sad?”

“I lost my iPad” I replied.

“I am sad, too”, she replied.

Acceptance – Well, all was not lost. I regularly back up my pictures on Google, so I least I didn’t lose memories.  I headed over to Google pics to reminisce over the moments my iPad and I had shared.

Wait, there’s a picture I took at BikiniBerlin.  Not a very creative or memorable picture, it was a picture of a bike with a bottle of whiskey in the drink holder. I took it with the intent of sharing it with some friends of mine who had biked with me from Amsterdam to Paris a few years back.  But a very important picture in deed.  See we stopped at BikiniBerlin after the bus, which means the iPad was not left on the bus.

“OK, so I took the picture then what? The baboons of course!” There’s a big window on the ground level that overlooks the baboons in the zoo.  My daughter and I sat there for a few moments to argue about whether I would buy her an ice cream.  The answer was no.

I’m not a mean guy, but we try to limit sweets and it was before dinner and…. Well, you get the point.  We left there and headed to Kaisers to grab a few groceries before heading home.  I can’t remember having the iPad at Kaisers, so I’m guessing Bikini.

It felt like the clouds had parted.  Had Bhudda come though after all? I headed over to Bikini and after a few inquiries was directed to the security office on the upper level.  Before the guard would check he asked for my passport, which lo and behold I had left at home.  Yeah, it was just one of those weeks.  A guy with no ID wanted to peruse lost and found for iPads.  “What color is your iPad?” he asked.  “It’s in a brown case.” I replied.  “But, what color is your iPad?” he asked again.  “Uhm, white, no silver” – clearly not the right answers. “Wait, it’s gold” I had forgotten since I haven’t taken the cover office since day one.  He then produced my iPad.

You would have thought he had found my long lost puppy. I was so happy, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.  But he was  skeptical, no ID and it took three guess to get the color.  The iPad has a thumbprint feature to unlock it, of course in my haste to try to prove my identity, it didn’t work.  Things were going south, fast.

“Do you at least know the pin code?” It was getting really pathetic and you could tell he was trying to help me.  I do, and it worked. Somewhere Peaches and Herb were singing “Reunited.” He gave me my iPad and even the other guard behind the desk had to smile.

So a big thank you to Security at BikiniBerlin.

As for the picture, the Amsterdam Paris team loved it.

Sweating the details and missing the big picture

It was a typical Monday morning.  And like most days, I was running late. I get up early enough but the next hour or so depends on the stars aligning and getting my 4-year-old from Point A to Point B.  Let’s just  say I’d have better luck aligning the stars.

Despite my best parenting intents, I often cave and flip on the Disney Channel so that I have 20-30 minutes to get my act together.  Of course that means some degree of drama trying to move from the TV to brushing her teeth or getting dressed. But, sometimes you just gotta pick your battles.

Actually, things were on pretty much on schedule – the lunch was packed, an outfit was picked out and put on with minimal changes along the way, the dogs were walked and fed. Teeth were brushed, hair was combed, and breakfast was thrown in there somewhere. Coat, check. Gloves, check. Hat, check.  Backpack, check. We were good to go.  I may not be Donna Reed, but I do my best.

As I ushered her out the door, my daughter looked up at me  and giggled, “You forgot my shoes.”  I looked down and sure enough, no shoes.

Sweating the details and missing the big picture

Very often in business we get so caught up in the moment, we lose sight of the big picture.  The clients want something yesterday, the staff is grumbling about being overworked, you can’t remember the last time you had time to breathe, let alone plan and strategize.  Most business work in  reactive mode – putting out fires and responding the loudest demands.  A perpetual game of catch up that you can never win and that inevitably results in lost opportunities.

That’s where we come in.  We help you step back, take a look at the big picture and make decisions that move you towards the goals you had when you set out on this business quest.  Sometimes, all it takes is an objective third-party to help you see the obvious – “You forgot my shoes.”  or whatever your business’ equivalent of that would be.

Often it’s the small actions you take that can set your company apart from the competition. We help you think beyond dollars and cents to what you truly can offer your customers: Why would someone want to buy from you? What is your key differentiation on the competitive landscape? Do you have a defensible position? What can you learn from your competitors?

And the dollars and cents? Well, they matter too. We offer strategies for raising capital and making sure your hard work shows up on the bottom line.

Contact us today to stop reacting and start growing.

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