Monday, March 30, 2009

The Magic Element of Leadership

For years I have studied leadership from different experts. And I learnt that leadership is about setting and achieving goals, getting followers, its about focus and persistence, its about building relationship and its also about values and characters.

Recently I spoke with a French friend and realized that there is still a missing element, especially valid for me. This is the element which causes a miracle, which turns a drama into a happy end, which makes a crying woman smiling. I asked him: “What is it?” He said: “Let me give you an example.”

“Recently I gave a presentation for 150 top executives and it went very well. After the presentation a man made some tough comments and his view was wrong and his attitude hostile. The moderator wanted to protect my reputation and asked me, Mr. D, is this view contradictory to yours? People expect a confrontation from my side, but I thought few seconds and answered: complementary.”

Another example. You go to hotel bar and see the woman of your life. How do you approach her? You start small talks about meaningless things. Maybe at some point of time you exchange your names. Now this is the critical point. You look at her and say: “Tanya. You look magnificent.” You immediately get her attention and then she may laugh. You keep your face serious and say: “I am not joking.”

The magic element of leadership makes everything lightened, easy, smooth, but still so powerful to break ice, turn things around and save a big deal or a company’s survival.

My suggestion: get a French friend and ask him: “How do you seduce a woman?”


“Go to the hell. Disappear from my life. Never come back.” He thought about her, tried to focus on all her negative characters, remembered the bad experiences with her. “Why did I fall in love with her in the first place? She is just not worth it.”

After he made the decision to detach with her emotionally, he felt much better, enlightened, relaxed. Then he fell in sleep shortly. It was a long, deep sleep. He hadn’t slept so well for weeks.

Then he woke up, all the determinations last night were fused with a single feeling of love, so strong, so hopeless to resist and so beautiful. Then he realized, that this was his calling, he could not explain why rationally.

He stood up and made his mind clear to approach her, probally in a different way. All he knew were two fixed points in his mind. He loves her right now and he will hold her hand to say good bye when she leave the world. He promised her and he is a man of word. How to get there would be interesting details, he thought and smiled from heart, enligthened.

The sun shined, windy, birds chattered. The nature was created so wonderfully in harmony because of love. He decided to go for it, despite obstacles, difficulties, including her own resistances. It will be a long way, but definitely enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's all about capitalism

Discussing with my good friend, Doctor Ding, I have identified from Shanghai, where I live, that there are 3 main capitalisms:

- an anglo-saxon capitalism which is fundamentally about making profit, whatever it takes under any legal circumstances. It is a capitalism of banks, of lawyers, of shareholders, of financial analysts, who will always torture the figures to extract a profit. It is a capitalism of numbers. Whatever the legal mean, whatever the job, where-ever the thing to sell is coming from, there is nothing stupid to do as long as it extracts the right profit. The symbols of this capitalism are Wall Street and the City.

- a Rhineland capitalism which is fundamentally about making the right product, preferably the most beautiful and perfect product, whatever it takes. It is a capitalism of creators and inventors. It is a capitalism of engineers, of technicians, of craftsmen and companions. It is a capitalism of loving the beauty of technology and the art of making quality products. The value of the product is intrinsic to the intelligence, the knowledge, the energy, the materials which make the product itself. The quality of the product justifies its value. The symbols of this capitalism are Porsche and LVMH.

- an Asian capitalism which is fundamentally a capitalism of merchants. It is all about selling again and again and again the same product to a multitude of layers, of go-between and middle-men where every body makes a small profit. It is the "capitalism of the tee-shirt" where the product has almost neither any intrinsic value nor any quality but gains value only when it is sold. It is the sum of the millions of units sold, where the margin is minimal, which generates value. The symbols of this capitalism are the silk road and "made in China".

Of course, these 3 capitalisms are not working in isolated silos. Each one need the 2 others to co-exist. But behind these 3 capitalisms are schools of thoughts and philosophies of lives which, while not in contradictions, support different behaviors.
When an anglo-saxon, a german and a chinese are discussing business, each one comes to the table with his own view of what should be achieved, based on centuries of a certain approach to capitalism and how to achieve succesfull business.
If anyone is not aware of where the 2 others are coming from, the discussion becomes... interesting.

Personal Transformation

Everything in life has a positive meaning. What is the meaning of negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, dissatisfaction, hate, rage and jealousy? The definition of negative emotion is the emotion you actually do not like to happen.

Currently I am surrounded with people holding such emotions. I observed them and come to the conclusions that negative emotions are the source of energy to transform your life, internally and externally.

Internally, because negative emotion is a part of yourself. The way to handle it is to make yourself fully aware of it. How does it come? How does it go? In which part of your body does the emotion sit? Feel it completely. Enjoy it. Be grateful. Be generous. Accept it. Be aware that it is a priceless gift of life.

If you are completely aware of the negative emotion, then next time, when you have the temptation to let it come out from the inside to the surface, you will know, and without any intentional act, it will just disappear, there is no effort required. Try it out, you will be amazed.

Externally, because those are the real reasons causing you to quit a job you dislike, finish a marriage you hold to long, stop smoking, start studying an MBA program, go running 10 km every week, buy a car, sell a house, do Yoga, do Ballet, say “I love you” to some one you love so much and say “good bye” to some one you do not love any more.

When you finish the internal and external transformation, then you finished a phase of your personal development, often very painful. Then you become a new person and start a new life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happiness at the Work

The essential purpose of work in the business is to make other people happy.

If you are a waiter, your clients should enjoy the dinner. If you are writer, your reader should like your text. If you are factory worker, your products, such as iPhone, laptop, shoes, pen, watches, chairs will finally reach the end customers who need or want them.

If you are manager, your job is to make your boss happy, as well as your subordinate, so that they can work on things making the end customers happy.

If the essential purpose of work in the business is to make other people happy, you can not really do a good work without being happy yourself, because your happiness or unhappiness will be eventually transferred to the end customers. The obvious example comes from service sector, when your smile makes immediate difference.

However, most people work without a sense of happiness. They just want to earn money, as much as possible, to make a living. I believe this is the largest source of unhappiness in this world.

Therefore most people really missed the point of purpose of work. Help yourself to do something about it, either by changing the job or creating a working environment that will make yourself and the people around you happy. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Knowledge is for FREE!?

The title is not intended to provoke discussions about pirate practices in some Asia countries for anything that people can burn on a DVD, including movies, songs, audio books, software, seminars, etc.

But knowledge becomes more and more available free legally on the web. Examples: What is the last time you used a paper dictionary? How often do you use the paper yellow book to find any phone numbers and addresses? There are more than 70 million blogs out there, many of them very useful and interesting. Some are highly specialized and offered by experts, like this one :-)

When you google any question today, such as: How to cook Chinese? How to manage your boss? How to handle the situation when you fall in love with your subordinate? How to find a perfect partner? How to generate a coaching business? How to write a resume? There are ideas on the web which will bring you further, lot of them are FREE. And in 10 years from now, there will be much more on the web, because the knowledge on the web is growing exponentially.

So what should you do as an expert who lives from the knowledge. Hold your knowledge? Wrong strategy! Offer the knowledge for free on the web and learn and develop as quickly as you can new knowledge. Because everything you know will eventually become the common knowledge on the web.

What is your advantage when you share what you know, you are positioning yourself as an expert. Your clients will literally find you through the network.

In internet age, it is not about how much you know, but how much you share.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Value Networking for Freelancers

There will be a growing population of freelancers (I also observed in Shanghai), for the following reasons:

1) Big companies have to reduce their work force due to economic down turn and they want to keep the fixed cost minimal.

2) Special knowledge is recognized more and more as selling items.

3) People are getting more mature and capable to run their own business.

4) Internet makes it easier to set up a small business without large investment.

Especially for freelancers, the concept of value networking is extremely useful. As a freelancer you interact with group of people or enterprises to create, add, multiple and distribute values. In most cases, the process is not linear and it is not a zero sum game. Example: if you give some one an advice which creates money for his business, you do not really lose anything, in contrast, you gain more experience in providing advice.

Sometimes you do not get compensated by sharing values to others, but in the long run, it will pay off. If you do someone a favor, he will usually remember and be willing to help you, when you are in need.

Since your limited resource as freelancer is time, how can you create maximal values for others? Answer: position yourself as an expert in a narrow area and network with maximal number of people who can use this value. Unfortunately, when you ask some freelancers what are you really experts for, they do not really know. They do a little bit of everything without depth and hope to get enough contracts.

Conclusions: success of a freelancer depends on the depth and breath. Depth in expert knowledge; Breath in the quality networking with people who need and will pay for that knowledge.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Conversation with a Lily

I met a lily and fell in love with her instantly. She was so beautiful, pure and irresistible that I couldn’t do anything but take her home. I put her into a glass vase with full of water. She felt happy and flourished wonderfully.

Then I started to do my work and paid little attention to watch her. In the coming morning the first thing I did was to see her. But I was surprised to recognize her withering. She dried out, as if she cried the whole night. I felt so sorry, that I poured some water on her, with the full awareness that it wouldn’t help.

One hour later, I watched her again by chance and saw a miracle happening: She flourished again and smiled at me.

Even flowers feel when you love them and when you are lack of attention. What about people?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Strategic Talent Development

Let me start with a conversation between an employee and his boss about strategic talent development.

Employee: “I would like to participate a workshop about strategic talent development on Wednesday at 7:00pm and it costs 250 RMB. Can you approve?”

Boss: “I understand your personal interest in it, but I do not see any relationship with your current assignment.”

Employee: “But it is exactly what strategic talent development all about: preparing for future assignments. And the cost is minimal.”

Boss: “In fairness to all employees I will not approve. It is not a matter of cost, but a matter of principle.”

Employee: “I do not really understand it.” He went there and paid himself…

Sounds familiar?

The workshop did really happen. It was organized by AHK Shanghai for yesterday evening. The Lecturer was Katrin Braun, managing director from Machwürth Team International Asia. (She shares something common with me. We went to the same university RWTH Aachen at almost the same time. The world is small.)


She addressed the differences between leadership and soft skills training in China and in Europe. The resonance was very positive, proven by a lot of questions and after workshop networking. A great success.

Two Skills Bringing You up to Top 1%

In economic recession, what do you really need to stand out? Two things: Speaking and Writing. Why? Let me give you few examples.

- Suppose you lost your job. What do you do? You prepare a superior resume and cover letter that will always land in the short list. Your interview is so impressive that you become the first choice. (Speaking and Writing).

- When you start a marketing campaign to launch a new product, you have to write clear and focused message to the target customers. Then you have to present it to them to remove all of their doubts, so that they buy your products. (Speaking and Writing)

- You are in the middle to close a deal beating your tough competitors. What is required? Preparing and negotiating the contract so well that will finally create a win-win situation between you and your clients. (Speaking and Writing).

I can go on and on, but let me pause here and ask you a question: have you ever learnt professional speaking and writing? Most likely you got some kind of presentation training. However I bet you have never learnt how to write a professional text.

Let say 10% of the people have natural talent to speak extremely well. Let assume 10% of the people are born writers. If you can do both well, it will literally bring you to top 1%. Call it competitive advantages.

How can you learn writing/speaking? Only by writing/speaking and then getting the feedback from the people who can write/speak well. There is no short cut.

My personal experience: I learnt writing by writing texts every month and sending them to the lecturers of
Schule des Schreibens for feedback, three years in a row.

I learnt speaking by creating a seminar myself and producing a DVD:
Top Position, getting constant feedback from a professional trainer. I invested a lot weekends for it, 12 months in a row.

It took time and efforts. And it was worth to do, every single minute.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Italian Way, the German Way and the Chinese Way

Some one knocked at my office door and asked: “Could you please tell me where the conference room C is?” I heard the Italian accent and responded politely: “Are you coming from Italy?” He said: “Yes.” Then I smiled and said: “For Italian I will show you a long way.” He immediately understood my joke and laughed loudly.

Italians have a different work style than German. Sometimes they hold meetings up to three to five hours for an issue where German could conclude within thirty minutes. Why? My observation is that they are passionate about talking, so much that they forget the purpose of the meeting, namely resolving an issue.

Chinese need also more time than German to get things done, but for a completely different reason. Recently, I met a Chinese business woman and she started to talk about the people we know commonly. I started to talk stories over stories about these people and finally we liked each over very much. We spend three hours together and finally I forgot why I was meeting her.

Arrived at home, I called her and said: “Thanks for the meeting, but I forgot to talk my real reason for meeting you. Could you please do me a favor…?” and I told her the reason. She answered without hesitation: “Of cause, I will help you.”

Chinese need more time to talk in order to build relationship, once you establish the relationship you can actually ask everything possible or impossible.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Networking in Internet Age: First Gathering of German Expats in Shanghai

If you are an executive or a business owner, I bet that more than 80% of your success is dependent on your capability of networking. And networking is made extremely easy at the internet age. Here an example.

The group German Expats in Shanghai (/ was created Dec 15, 2008 with the networking tool XING ( Today, three and half months later, there are already 913 registered members. The group had the first gathering March 1, 2009, in Bund Brewery, 11 Hankou Lu 汉口路11号 with around 100 people. All the registration and organization was done online. So everyone could know who else were coming with full details of their profiles, what they offer and what they are looking for.

My personal experience: I spoke with a lot of people there and decided to explore with two people for future business cooperation. I had recommended one person who is looking for a new opportunity to a company which is searching for talents with her profile. This is all because I had some online communications before the dinner. You can call this efficiency.

By the way, the location was very nice and the food was acceptable (except the quantity could be more, probably the restaurant owner was not aware, how much a German can eat, namely always the double size :-). But this was compensated by the free flow of beer, as German people consider beer as food.

Big thanks to the moderator of the group Martin Hackl, Comberry Ltd. and team who organized the wonderful dinner (also for creating the group before - online). Look forward to the next gathering, hopefully very soon.