Peter Drucker made me quit my job…well kind of

When the 100-year old writings of an Austrian Business dude totally throw you off…

Peter Drucker is the ultimate dude when it comes to leadership advice. Although his works date back to the early to mid 20th-century, his writing still holds true in times of Twitter, digital everything and snapchat.

The Austrian dude has a chapter about time in his book “The Effective Executive”. As he goes explaining how time is the only true scarce resource he consequently states: If you are doing something that is not contributing to your goals, you are wasting your time.

I was listening to that chapter after a not so great day of work that had already been preceded by many not too great days of work which had already been foreshadowed by a couple of meh months at work, you get the idea. And the only thing that kept me sane during this time was my workouts, weekends filled with skiing or other fun adventures and my friends in Germany, in South East Asia, in Boston that never get tired of listening to vents, to complaints, to doubts.


You will just have to listen to the Dudes…

I would not go so far as to say that Peter Drucker told me through the grapevine to put in my 2 weeks notice, but that night when I was chopping vegetables in my beautiful Boston apartment I felt that change was going to come my way and that I would embrace it: The uncertainty, the angst, the excitement, the freedom, the opportunity to work more focused towards my goals.

And enjoy the moments of deepest uncertainty

Yesterday Pouya & I walked to cozy Spy Pond in Cambridge on the first day of sunshine after three days of icy rain and snow storms in Boston (yes, Germans, I knwo . We carried with us the Greens from the Persian Sofra. Tradition has it that on the 13th day of Persian New Year you are supposed to tie a knot into your greens while making a wish and then sending the greens into the water. Obviously, I cannot tell anyone about the wish that I made while brading the greens. I can tell you, though, that sitting by the water, enjoying a sunny afternoon moment filled me with inner peace. After all Lichtenberg said “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”

Thanks Dudes! Peter Drucker and Georg Lichtenberg

Being certain about stepping into uncertainty does not work

My friend Maria Rita used to joke about her Plan B: if no job would work out she’ll simply move to South East Asia to embrace uncertainty. Guess what, she did. And she loves it. I have been quiet for a while: I came back from India to what I would call a work blizzard that left me with no shelter and my time in India, pressure at work, strongly felt disbelief about the new United States government and an inner restlessness yanking away my comfort for Boston have swirled me into a phase of doubt.

Is this still the right job? I have taken over a high visibility project at work and with that comes high pressure, politics, energy draining discussions and it culminated in me doubting my abilities and my fit.

Is this still the right country? America is an idea, not a culture. I chose America as my home and I have been able to settle in a beautiful, historical and academically loaded place surrounded by breathtaking nature, an ocean & skiing mountains nearby. I am living the American way in many ways. Yet, the emergence of President Trump, a man who could not be further from what I consider an integer & charismatic statesman delivering a visa ban on majority Muslim countries also made me realize how much I love and always wanted to be involved in politics. Looking back to Europe and seeing nationalist sentiments creeping into Western societies instigate a strong urge to move back “home” and follow that calling I have felt for years.

These phases of doubt are not new to me, they are what brings me forward; they make me emotional, more sensual, prompt me to be very honest to myself. Those of you who know me know that these phases take me over completely, I can’t just have my 30minutes of doubt every week and continue with life. Once that box is opened it surrounds me, it’s closing in on me until I have found answers…

I want to step into a more uncertain, adventurous future, but I want to feel very certain about this decision.  And here’s the first tough to digest finding of 2017: You can never be certain and that’s ok. I guess that is part of adulting… All my options are a blessing, not a burden. I can see Maria Rita smiling at me: The German needs certainty in order to step into uncertainty…

As always, some impressions from the last couple of weeks:


Communicate better, listen more

Day 1 after an election that made me reflect a lot. The German magazine “Die Zeit”, well known for their liberal progressive views, read mostly by a highly educated politicized, economically well off part of Germany, published a piece hit me like a slap in the face. The author basically claims that it is the arrogance with which the well-educated liberal class approaches life that is to blame for the rise of authoritarian or racist politicians. And she makes a good point: We  define what’s hip, we define what we legitimately accept as a real challenge, we use the coolest technologies without considering their affordability and we chose to ignore or belittle whatever does not fit. And it so happens that our cosmopolitan macro world view does, as a matter of fact, not consider the small man’s issues. I might offer a translated version of the article after checking in with the author.

The core argument, that we ignore and marginalize a significant part of society and make them feel left out, is something that happens naturally, not intentionally. All of my time I spend with my colleagues, friends from grad school or at working out at an “elite” crossfit gym. So maybe it is time to communicate better what I am doing, how I am thinking, open to criticism, open to being made aware of the flaws in my value system.

I felt so overwhelmed and hopeless yesterday, so I started journaling. With the intention of only writing down what I am thankful for. And realized that I am incredibly thankful and still humbled for being able to live freely as an immigrant in this country, getting to know cultures, being challenged every day at work. And then I thought: It always sounds so generic when I hear other people say that. What does that even mean? How hard can it be? “Getting to know cultures” or “being challenged at work”?

I have decided to restructure my blog and create a new section about my work experience, calling it “startup adventures”. It will contain impressions, pieces on my struggles, insecurities, beautiful/emotional moments, my everyday life…at least that’s one thing I can start doing right now: Communicate better, and listen more.