Interview with Olaf Kapinski
Olaf has a really interesting character. He is an IT guy and he went up through the ranks of different companies, had a great career and learned quite a lot about leadership. He was applying a lot of these learnings and now he’s training others in that regard as he has his very own leadership program. I’m a participant and have benefited a lot.
One day, we agreed to discuss the 4 pillars of boosting your career. He helped me sharpen my thoughts and here’s the result!
Listen to this episode because I’m sure you’ll learn quite a lot from this.
IT Engineer, Entrepreneur, Executive
He is an IT engineer, entrepreneur and a passionate executive. He was an active manager for seventeen years, most recently leading teams and employees in Europe, Asia and North America. He was born and raised in Hannover Ricklingen. Many people got to know him through his podcast and thus brought their own career and life a step further. It took him 50 years to get there. After graduating from high school, he first did an apprenticeship as it should be in a working-class household. Better safe than sorry. That was mechanical engineering too, on the advice of his father: welder. Then community service and then work another year,
During his studies it was clear to him that he would finish this quickly … But what exactly he was doing with it was not yet so clear. So in his hobby he also trained as a paramedic and got a Microsoft certification.
After graduating, he got into an IT company, his first office and academic job. He found the management of the IT department worse than what he experienced in the craft. Well, after six months he was handed over the management of IT. Felt natural for everyone involved.
However, like almost all other fresh managers, he didn’t know what he was doing. It helped him that he had already had 10 years of leadership experience in voluntary work in the DLRG and the Malteser Hilfsdienst, but that was something else.
So he learned. He devoured books, later various podcasts were my constant companions. At the same time, he became an NLP master and communication trainer, and was trained by the Malik Management Center in St. Gallen. The career went well, at some point he was called to the circle that trains the other managers.
He was lucky with the company, and that’s where he found my passion for leadership. The center of what I do came into being with the LEBEN-FÜHREN podcast.
At the next, no one had any idea what “leading” actually is, command and obedience were culture. That was his final spark of decision to continue in this direction: Making people and companies more effective through good leadership.
More about him: https://leben-fuehren.de/olaf-kapinski/
Alexander: Have you already registered for the live recording of episode 200 on November 30? If not head over to theeffectivestatistician.com and register there. If you’re already on the email list, then good, you’ll get an invite. Also are you early in your career? Are you a student that is more advanced in your career? Then also register for the Workshops that we have, the three hour interactive fun workshops that we have to boost your career as a statistician on 1st of December. Just head over to theeffectivestatistian.com and register there. And please tell your colleagues about it as well.
You’re listening to The Effective Statistician Podcast, a weekly podcast with Alexander Schacht, Benjamin Piske and Sam Gardner, designed to help you reach your potential, lead great signs and serve patients without becoming overwhelmed by work.
Today, I’m talking with Olaf Kapinski about The 4 Pillars to Boost Your Career. So Olaf is a really interesting character. He is an IT guy who went up through the ranks of different companies and had a great career and learned quite a lot about leadership. He was applying lots of these, learning a lot of policies and now he’s training others in that regard. And I have listened to his podcast for a very long time. I’m in his leadership program. And when we talked about my 4 Pillars of Boosting Your Career. He mentioned “How about discussing this together on this podcast”. So I was really, really happy about this and to stay tuned for this really nice discussion. And he has this typical German, maybe IT challenging type of thing. So I really love it. But I know that not everybody can relate to it. But I’m sure you’ll learn quite a lot from this. So stay tuned.
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Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician. And today, I’m very excited because I have another podcaster here. And podcasters that I’ve been following for a very, very long time. Since I started my role as supervisor. I stepped over his podcast Leben-Fuhren in German, but now he also has some English content for all those of you who are not familiar with German, so that more can listen to him and his name is Olaf kaplinsky. Hi Olaf, how are you doing?
Olaf: Hi Alex, very, very well. Thank you very much for having me in the podcast. An honor.
Alexander: Yeah, maybe before we get started, what are the different english-speaking contents that you have out there? Of course you have your leadership Star program, which I’m also an active participant of. But there’s also lots of free content that you have available.
Olaf: Yeah, well my main focus is I work for and with Leaders, Managers in IT. The idea is IT equals English. At least, this is my experience in the last give or take 20 years. It started with, I know 20 years ago with the other serious, very good manuals that were all in English. And nowadays, everything is English because you have partners outside of wherever you live. It has nothing to do with German,but has to do with using English as an International language. So, that said I developed from the beginning, all of my programs in English or the majority of the programs. The one you mentioned, which is Leadership Stars and to support this, I started an English podcast Live IT – Lead IT. You can find it on liveitleadit.com, don’t be surprised. It has a break. Sadly enough for one and a half years or something because I couldn’t catch it up and get it up and running to podcast. Plus a program is too much for me. I can’t do it. So the Live IT – Lead IT podcast has very good content, I love it, but it’s at the moment a little bit on hold, and I hope to reanimate this thing next year.
Alexander: Yeah, but you also can find lots of other things on LinkedIn.
Olaf: Yeah, that is right.
Alexander: So follow Olaf on Linkedin there’s always great stuff. And yeah, on a regular basis there is Friday Lunchtime.
Olaf: Yeah, that’s the so-called business break. That’s my experiment with the LiveStream. It’s very laid back, it’s very very Olaffy. It’s in German, but if a lot of people attend and we can do this in English, I mean, the people who are there I know speak English, so that’s kind of an, I don’t care what language goes. Yeah, this is all the things that I do, play around. I hope to help people.
Alexander: And so recently we talked about what I think is needed to have a successful career.
Alexander: And I was always kind of thinking about it. Okay, especially if you’re in the Statistic space, but more and more, I thought hmm. Maybe that’s not only for Statisticians. Maybe it’s for other areas as well, especially people with more of a technical background. I was thinking and so we started to talk about this. That also looks like for maybe an IT background or Data Science and these kinds of things. And it’s about the four pieces of being a successful Statistician in the Effective Statistician that I always talk about. It’s about Leadership, Innovation, Knowledge and Excellence. And Olaf changed me a little bit on that as he always does, which I really like and ask some tough questions.
And so today, we’ll go through these four areas to make some more crisp. To give you a little bit better understanding, what are they? How do they overlap? How can they maybe differentiate from each other? And how do they actually work together? Because I think the great thing is in the interaction of all these.
Alexander: The energy that comes through having all these four pillars, because I think if there’s just one lacking there’s a huge diminishing outcome or impact. So I think only a few all four come together, you can see that people have really successful careers. Whatever that means. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you know, you’re getting a promotion every two years. Maybe that means that you’re starting your own business, or you are just very successful in the positions that you are and very happy with. So it doesn’t necessarily mean kind of the traditional thing of having a successful career. By the way, there’s a couple of really nice episodes on. What’s a Career on Olaf’s podcast.
Olaf: Yeah, I mean let’s jump into it. Like the acronym, the acronym is LIKE, L, I, K, E. And I would start with a little disagreement here Alex, and It’s because I don’t believe that those four topics have to do with Statisticians. If I pronounce this correctly, I don’t even believe that has to do with, let’s say the field of Engineering with Technology. I think this has to do with everything with the difference between people who make a career and the others. Is that the people who make careers think about what they do? And if you pick an example, my favorite HR, if you send an HR and you run and have aspirations on promotion, or you want to just have more influence, get higher, take more responsibility and you take care of those things. You have great leadership, we will talk about what that means in a minute. You have an iron Innovation, which some people think is not possible in HR, and I disagree. If you take care about knowledge, which is your knowledge, which is the knowledge of the people working with you, for you, even your customers and you deliver, what we call excellence and I think we’ll go into the details of those words in a in a second, and there is no way but getting promoted. So I think this it is it is very high level, LIKE is very high level, but I think it’s a very good starting point for everybody who is ambitious, wants to do more, who wants to get from the outside, just into the sandbox with us and play the game, and not sitting outside and just complaining. Oh, I’m about to shoot my employees. I’m such a genius, but nobody sees me. Now, come with us, play and have success. And I think this is a good starting point for it.
Alexander: Yeah, I think then probably depending on where you are. You can just take what we’re talking about now, maybe more from an idea in that perspective and put it in your world. Yeah, putting it into Innovation may look for an IT person may be very different to what looks for an HR person or what looks for a Marketing person. Yeah, but I think there’s fundamentally, there’s certain elements that are the same. First is Leadership, so what is leadership?
Olaf: What’s leadership?
Alexander: For me, let’s say it’s a very easy thing about it or definition is you can influence others to act on your ideas. Yeah, maybe a very simple explanation. There are lots of other things about it and we have in our leadership program. Also, some kind of more pronounced definitions of it, but I think that is really kind of the essence of it.
Olaf: That’s the main thing, repeat it again because I think this needs to go into the show notes.
Alexander: Yeah, Influence others to act on your ideas.
Olaf: Yep, fulfill your ideas. This is the main thing and this is the biggest thing. In my world, this is why I do all of this. This is the most valuable activity that you can do. This is the most valuable knowledge that you can have. I would even go further and say this is the most valuable habit that you have, because successful leaders do this more habitually. Those are the people, and I will take an example, You have this soccer club and after training. Someone says, it’s Wednesday, Wednesday evening or something and everybody’s down getting out of the shower. And by the way guys, awesome weather forecast. What about we go for a barbecue on Friday?
Olaf: Let’s say, 20 people or 12 are not even thinking about thinking about it. From the other 10, half of them are kind of standing up and saying, okay. I have it. Alex, can we do this in your garden? I mean, it is very, very big and we have a parking space in front. Sure. What about, what do we need? We need sausages. Who’s taking care of the project? When you ask those people. Then they are responsible for something in their business life as well. This is my observation. You can double check this, it’s my habit. So those people either you lead or you don’t. And some people are very okay with where they are with not leading or not having others involved, but the world gets more and more, I would avoid complex but separated. We have so much knowledge on the table. We as mankind that you need for nearly everything. A specialist, a real specialist. You need this specialist for online marketing. You need this, and this person hires a Statistician because he says, okay. Here’s my data, what does it tell me?
50 years ago? I doubt that all of this was necessary that you had the, the marketing department in the, in the print press. And the qualification was writing the big letters, and you give this into the factory and they make the stands for the Press. This is way easier today. The beauty and the magic can only be revealed out of what we have, when you have somebody who can orchestrate those different professions. This is what makes it good. What makes a good result, good success, good start up, good company. So I believe this leadership thing is the most important, and this is in the intro of the Leben-Fuhren podcast as well. This is the most important and most highly paid activity that you can do and that you should master and can master.
Alexander: I think it’s also about delegation to those tasks to the, let’s say to the best people.
Olaf: I’m with you.
Alexander: Most people really read.
Olaf: Those are tools, I think delegations are a tool, trust building is a tool. Those are tools. If you don’t have the habit, the mindset of “I work for others”. Let’s go back to the soccer example.
Olaf: This person, 22 people are sitting there fiddling around with the towels and thinking. Oh, very good. We will have a party on Friday and this idiot is taking care of it. The beauty of taking care of it is? You run the show, you have accidentally, we do this in Alex’s Garden, which is 50 minutes away from me. I don’t need to take care of a taxi or wife. However I run the show. So we do a charcoal grill, f**k off with your gas grills. You know?
Alexander: Yeah, you can drive the show.
Olaf: Yeah, there you go. This is the point yeah, I think this starts with the habit, with the idea, because you need to start with activity. You deliver first, otherwise nobody follows. Yeah. So this is why most people have the biggest problems, they think. Oh, no, I just sit here. Somebody else will take care of it. And then I just couldn’t zoom and then participate, as soon as you are beyond that mindset. As soon as you understand that this is just simply selfish. It’s just selfish because I can now manage my barbecue garden party with my beer in Alex Garden, so I don’t even need to take care of cleaning afterwards and it’s not that my rose bushes were destroyed. So, you know, so this is completely selfish. And as soon as I have this attitude, and as soon as I want to do this and then I feel, well this works for the soccer player at the soccer club with the parties, but I still have 10 people working with me, or for me. Ah, something four of them are working like a charm but these two are like this. Something is missing. Then we talk about tools. Then we talk about all these tools that we have in the programs.
And a lot of people do delegation instinctively. You know that I’m not a big fan of instinct because Instinct means you do it and you can’t explain it. So you can’t optimize, but a lot of people do delegation instinctively. So all of this is true, but I think these are only tools, at the very end. It’s only tools.
Alexander: Yep, One other idea. Why I think it’s really really important for a successful career is, if you don’t have that, then you can’t leverage all the resources at your hand, to reach your goals. Yeah, because then you will only be working on someone else’s coats. Yeah, you’ll be the receiver in terms of Delegation. You’ll be all kind of pushed and pulled in all kinds of different directions. I think very easily.
Olaf: Let’s take this. Let’s take this soccer example, and you made a very, very good point. There is, we can give this soccer club an example. A different variation. The different variation is, Oh there is a nice weather forecast. What about we have a party on Friday? And some idiot stands up. Oh, yeah, we do this in my garden. I will spend it on the beer. I just go to the butcher. I do, I do, I do. This is kind of nice for everybody else. I know what the drives of those people are because I work with those people a lot. But this is not leadership. I don’t know, sacrifice, and people need to like me and they only like me when I slave around here. That’s not what we are talking about, we are talking about leadership and leadership goes around like, Alex, can we do this in your garden? Yeah sure, but please can you avoid puking into my rose bushes because I just, you know, and so on. My example was really the leadership part that was intrinsically delegation. Can you? Can you? And everybody has a very small drop and we have a great party afterwards.
Alexander: Yeah, and you know, I think it’s also maybe a little bit of overlap to the last party, excellent part. Yeah. It’s about self leadership, so you need to know exactly what your goals are. You need to have a clear plan, you need to have good habits that keep you on track so that you’re working on the important things. You work on the important things with quality. Yeah, you deliver things that also blend into building trust. Yeah, which is also part of the leadership tools and that if you don’t have this kind of self-leadership, yeah, then you can’t lead others. And so Leadership is kind of the wisest to go so nicely together. You can think about it. Excellence for me is kind of mostly a self-leadership part and making sure that everything is, in terms of quality is great, that you follow up on things. At least if you are alone. Let’s say you make sure that nobody is surprised about it, or at least nothing really bad happens and that you can continuously improve in that area.
Olaf: Isn’t this discipline that you just described here?
Alexander: I think it’s a mix of mindset. Yeah, of continuously improving yourself and it’s a consciously designed certain habit. Like, how you set up meetings. Maybe that’s how you work on your emails. How you arrange your calendar. How would you arrange your Files are kind of all these kinds of different things. How you use tools to work more effectively. Yeah. All that. You also use your management energy in the best way. Yeah, so for me, that leadership. So let’s say you work on your things that really require a lot of concentration. Not directly after you had a big bunch of pasta. Yeah. So you just work on it in the morning when you’re full of energy. That for me is the excellence part.
Olaf: I think a lot of this is why I double-check. I believe, discipline is one part, but a lot of people jump out especially in Germany when they hear the word discipline.
Alexander: Yeah, it’s discipline. Discipline is one thing that I think it’s also more about self motivation.
Olaf: Let me wrap this one up. Discipline is not because if you try to make all those good things only with discipline, then it costs you so much energy.That I believe every day at noon, the batteries are empty and after a week you go back to your trash TV on your sofa and drink cheap beer.
I would like to set this up in a way that you don’t need discipline at the beginning of the day. But at the end of the day, when the batteries are down and you just simply, like, come on, you or me. We are just forcing this through or you decide, guess what? Screw it. We’re not doing it.
Alexander: Yeah, I mean this kind of instance and some habits are there to make it as easy as possible.
Olaf: It’s called thoughts. Yeah, because I think mindset is kind of a very used word. Everybody calls it a mindset, but really it’s at the very end, it’s what you think. And when you think, and even when you speak, I have to go to work, you know what it is. I want to go to work. He wants to go to work. One of my standard questions, at the beginning of coaching, is to tell me, how your job would be and how you would execute without salary? I had this job and currently, I have this job. I think we need to give this little or like to give this little bit of steer of design, your habits, and all of those things in a way that you really like. It’s your life, it’s not my life. I live mine. So design it in a way that you really, really like it.
Luckily, nobody’s listening here, who is just, you know, on this trash TV faction. People who are listening here are the ones who just have achieved something. Otherwise, I mean, nobody listens to podcasts especially not to those podcasts who are completely by definition lazy. I would like to give them a little bit of a positive tune here. If you have your thoughts on a control, and we talked about it, we are not talking about meditation. This is too hardcore, this is only for the real successful people. But it’s just like, what is your first thought in the morning? Is it like a meeting with the boss, meeting with the customer, getting a cold shower. Yep, then you need discipline to get your ass out of the bed. And if I had those thoughts, well I wouldn’t get out of bed at all. Train your thoughts, and I think this is what you mean with habits. Thinking is a habit, but if people get this, they think, well, I think and I say no, then you think what you want to think. So think in the right direction, think of positive things, reduce the s**t out of life. If you don’t want to play soccer for example. Well, then don’t go there. No, I have oh I’ve committed to them for the season the f**k. No, it’s your life.
Life’s too short to suffer. So go to the right thinking and then get to the status that you need the discipline part to fulfill this excellence later on.
Alexander: Yeah. For example, in the morning, I always start with reviewing my goals.
Olaf: Oh, yeah.
Alexander: It kind of sets me up for success, that gets me energized. At the same time. I have a small cup of espresso, which also gets me up and gives me some, you know, nice boost from a kind of luxury, as well as, from a coffee perspective. And, okay, today I will do these things that make me move closer to these goals. And yeah, that’s where the fun comes from. Yeah, and I think we think it means you need to have a difficult discussion. You make them motivated.
Olaf: Yep, and you need to find the right level of goals. I have tried this in the last 3 or 4 months watching my goals and I go back to bed. Because it’s so easy to achieve it. Half of this was already done. I’m so beyond everything that I planned for the whole year and I’m like, Okay, a smart man once said, Tony Robbins, if you’ve never failed your goals were too small. Yeah, I’m at the moment finding myself and making very brave predictions for the future, bright predictions for the future and I’m like, really? I need to find the right balance between motivation and being afraid. But fun comes after fear. I see myself writing down numbers and I’m like it, huh, really? So yeah, I get you.
The goal part is a very good one. And then when you have the right goals then I believe you, make the decisions. Do I really need to have this boring useless painless meeting? No, you don’t, they don’t go there.
Alexander: Exactly, yeah, saying no to things that don’t move you closer to your goals.
Olaf: Exactly. Yeah, which is technically everything. Yeah, so saying no to everything is a good starting point, and then convince me that I really need to do it. Okay, Alex. You’re in the position where you can do this and I wish your new company a lot of fun dealing with you. But a lot of people know that what they do is pointless. It’s pointless, it’s a waste of time. It’s good for nothing. Then my advice is, don’t go there or if you go there then I don’t know. Take care that you have something else to do in the meantime, you know, there are those meetings and the boss wants you to be in this meeting and you needn’t. So first take care that the boss doesn’t see you like when we talk about physical meetings back in the day. Don’t sit next to him. Sit somewhere else and then do something. And if it’s, if it’s only taking this one piece problem into the meeting, which then chew on in your brain, have a piece of paper in front of you and the messages, do your things, don’t waste time. Time is the only thing we don’t have.
Alexander: I think this also goes together with the leadership part. If you can convince your Supervisor or the person who called the meeting that for you, it is more effective to just read the minutes or to just, you know, dial into the minutes where you know your specific agenda point is discussed. You saved a lot of time, but of course, you can only do this. If you have good leadership skills. If you have good communication skills, and things like that. That’s where the other point comes into the business part. Yes, the knowledge part, and in terms of knowledge, I always think of two parts of knowledge. So one part is let’s say the knowledge about your company. Yeah, how does your company operate? What is the competition doing? All the processes, the written and unwritten ones. And, that is kind of the knowledge part. And then the other part of this knowledge is all the domain knowledge that you need to have. Yeah. Let’s say if you’re working in a Pharmaceutical Industry company and you’re working on a specific drug. Then you need to know lots of things about the disease that the drug should free. Yes, the indication, the symptoms, and the diagnosis. What are the other medications that are used? What are the Specialists involved in this? How do the patients go through the HealthCare system, you know, with this disease, all these kinds of different things. What are guidelines for treatments here? So that is the second part. And if you’re working somewhere else. Yeah, let’s say, in marketing. Yeah, then probably you need to know what’s the product that you’re selling. And what are all the kinds of competitor products? What are the features of the product? How can you improve the product? How was it manufactured? All these kinds of different things. I think that you don’t need to know all the details. But at least that you know at least so much that It helps you with your influence, I think.
Olaf: Yeah, let me take the example from my realm in IT. I can easily believe that when I have 10 people who do statistics that they can’t survive only with their statistics knowledge, if they don’t understand what we are analyzing at the moment.
Olaf: Whereas IT can easily live alone. We don’t kind of need the customers. I mean, those
are the people who go on our nerves who just ask stupid questions and the boss just doesn’t give me my money and I don’t need myoutside world. Developers, they ask the customers a question and the customer answers, but gives the wrong answer or has no clue about the question? And it’s just upsetting and I thought, you develop not me. And I don’t know. Why do you ask me about the color? But IT could easily survive alone. We can operate for decades. Oh, by the way, we did operate for two decades alone. To my question again, do we really need any knowledge outside of our domain?
Alexander: I think if you want to have an impact. Then you do.
Olaf: Yeah, I completely agree. I think the same, impact is the word.
Alexander: Yeah. Because otherwise, you can’t influence others, if you don’t know where they’re coming from, what are the constraints? If you don’t know as a marketer who’s your competition and what they are doing? Well, good luck.
Olaf: Well, then you then you step back to the point and say well I’m promoting what my copy writer wrote me. I need to know this. Yeah, I think impact is a big thing. This is one of the reasons, or the main reason why I decided to talk to and work with IT people. Because they are so isolated in their basements and there’s other rooms in their Tech, blah, blah stuff. There is a reason why IT has the reputation that it has at the moment and it’s really shabby. Because a lot of ideas are just simply really shabby. They sit in their basements and they discuss the day with you, day-in and day-out, the service pack of the bloody operating system and everybody outside is like, can we just sort it for customers?
Alexander: Yep, that’s why I really love lots of your podcasts, because actually the same is very, very much true with lots of statistics and data science. Yeah people are so focused on the data part and the kind of fine-tuning things. They are looking in all the details that they completely forget about the bigger picture. Since they optimize something that’s not worth optimizing.
Olaf: And now it’s the beauty of that and that reveals Alex. You need to understand this. Yeah, I get it. I get it and then you just optimize stuff where everybody’s like, what are you doing? I’m optimizing this, but we made the decision two weeks ago. What have you done since then? Optimizing.
Alexander: And that’s kind of the last part, the Innovation part coming in. Innovation means
For me, you do something different that adds value. Yeah, and for example, you do something different and you optimize something that doesn’t add value. Yeah, because you don’t have the business knowledge to understand what really adds value. Then that’s not Innovation.
Olaf: I have a problem with this definition. Because, Innovation in my world, seeks to deliver value, but it’s not sure when to start.
Alexander: Yeah, well, the value generation comes later.
Olaf: Yeah, that’s my point. In my world, when we start to innovate, we have high hopes, good ideas, and have maybe some blah, blah bulls**t, mathematic research, stupid numbers for the stupid Bankers, but at the very end, it’s just Crystal Balling. It’s just guessing. You know, my favorite example of this is the iPad Steve Jobs and his line of white powder and saying, I see a computer with no keyboard at nothing and it’s only five millimeters high. And his insides of an A4 paper, that is the Incarnation of innovation. And it was not clear if this worked out. I mean, a perfect up Newton, five, six, seven, eight years beforehand, which is technically very close to what we have now everybody on the phone, but if I believe both development processes and I have no insights, we’re kind of running through the same process. They both started, super optimistic. Now, we take over the market, this is all genius. Nice, brilliant idea. Oh, how could I live before without this? And the One World Bank and the other.
Alexander: I think maybe I need to say it a little bit differently, that it’s changing something that has a potential to derive value. Because Innovation by itself, if you change something, yeah, and you do something new, then you can always fail.
Olaf: Yeah, that’s the point.
Alexander: Yeah, so everybody that works in the pharmaceutical industry knows that very well. Most of the candidates and trucks that we have in the pipeline will ultimately fail. And when we see very few exceptions made it to the market and even then, they can fail that. Yeah, but it’s also a little bit of a habit of thinking to constantly look for things that are worth changing. Yeah, we’re optimizing or improving or yeah. whirring means in the family.
Olaf: Worth means have a chance.
Alexander: Yeah, and words have weight, it really has an impact. Yeah. So, of course, there’s lots of minor things that you can change. But is it really worth the investment? Yeah, and that, but it may be nice to have a nicer, kind of signature under your email, but doesn’t really have an impact. Yeah, these kinds of things.
Olaf: I believe I’m with you, it should. Especially when you’re self-employed, then you have everybody who’s in my surrounding self-employed and is still self-employed. So, that means there is a dimension of success in it, because otherwise, this person would have left the market. We have one thing enough and this is a business idea. So new ideas or optimization plans or innovation or whatever. Or you know, just fancy ideas and then give up. Took me aside once and said, “Olaf, when you do this blah blah particular part. How many new customers do you generate?” This is my ultimate killer question. This is the one side, the other side, especially in bigger organizations, and I’ve lived a long part of my life in bigger organizations or wasted, this is up to the listener. There I would agree to make a change because of the change, to avoid the fat ass from getting lazy.
Change itself is a habit that an organization must keep, except if you are public service governments, you know, those wasting people. But if you are in the real world and a real company, the difference between fast companies and slow companies is exactly that. The habit of change. Why is Tesla so way ahead of everybody else? Not because they’re a big company, which they are now, but because they are a very fast company. Why is Mercedes not getting it? Because they have been fed for the last 40 years. Or since the last 40 years. So the big difference is not really a, speed is the new size. So to say, I think having a change in the organization, you can tell it differently, but some of the changes I would put through only to have the change only to keep the people used to. Yeah, we change these processes every once in a while.
Change because to keep them tradetrained on change. Because next time you have this real serious real change. Now, get a look at it and everybody is like, oh yeah, the German government. Although we never change anything. We are still struggling with removing the swastika from the old documents because ah, we run the same processes. No, you can’t do this. You can only do this when you don’t have to deliver anything. When you can just simply sit there and burn money that you don’t earn.
Alexander: Doesn’t it also come with a cost. So if you’re constantly changing, you can’t get into this phase where you are really effectively delivering big.
Olaf: Absolutely, isn’t it? This is where Mercedes is, they have optimized producing their cars over the last 40 years, and the result is that they can’t change when the market changes with the high-speed. This is what the controller’s don’t get and the bankers don’t get and the funds don’t get because they only think in three-months. Tesla thinks in ten years, this is the big difference. There is money involved. Yeah, I’m completely with you, but I’m not negating that. I’m saying this is worth it. This is the training cost that you got to have.
Alexander: Yeah, getting back to this kind of personal space. What if you want to be Innovative? What kind of approaches or habits would you need to have to stay in this Innovative mindset? What do you think?
Olaf: Like having it or not having it?
Alexander: Well, what is important to do to make sure you don’t get into this Mercedes role
Olaf: Two things. First, stay hungry. Second stay Fearless.
Alexander: What do you mean by Fearless?
Olaf: Why do people not innovate? Because it can go wrong. In Germany, you are blamed to the roots If you fail with a business idea. He’s a loser, he crashed his company. Yes, he crashed his company and can I hire him? Because now he has a lot more experience than you. Failure is not really an option.
This is now very rare. You can promote this because this is the first and potentially, the only sentence for the next 20 years that I will say that kind of protects or claims little bit of understanding for the government. Why do they act like they act? And what I mean by that is, why do we have death in high water? Yes, because they’re incompetent. This is not my question. But why are they incompetent? Because imagine, and we are now, we’re now in August five weeks ago, something big flood hit the Western part of Germany and killed several people and destroyed some Villages and everything. Everybody was unprepared. Why were they unprepared? Because what if you, as head of disaster management, I don’t know, make a warning, a serious warning, everybody out of your houses. We are not gambling around. This is the police. This military. These are buses. You evacuate now. And then nothing happens.
Olaf: It’s not only that you lose your job. You lose all credibility, you will be thrown into the North Sea with a big rock at your feet. This is how Germany acts. So, I can understand why they are not doing anything at all. Fear, in Germany we don’t have much left of what I call newspapers or press there. This obsession and fear of machines, tits and whore, This is what they sell. Whatever you see as a headline, is connected to fear, scare people, to put fear in these people. I’m not going any further.
So In companies to see the same. Can I have a million to give this a try? No, what do you mean to try? And then, you know, those funny numbers return on investment, which is the biggest bulls**t idea ever. And you cannot really say if your iPad flies or doesn’t.
Alexander: Yep, because any number that you pull out of put to it. There is a kind of a Guesstimate.
Olaf: It’s a lie, simply a lie. When I started the business, I had to go through the same processes, like everybody else because I want you have some sponsoring blah, blah, blah, whatever, and then they asked me for business plan and I’m like, f**k you idiot. I have no clue. All you need to fill this out, he gave me a very comprehensive. Where is the randomizer function? This is all bulls**t. And Banks and controllers, and people with fear, take numbers as the word of God. As soon as you have the number there, everybody believes the number and you know, this better than me. So you cannot really. And this is the mistake that I made for many years. Here is this project request and I said, this is probably half a million, but I don’t know exactly. It’s plus minus 200,000. Okay Olaf said 500-1000? No. No. Hey that’s not what I said, but it’s written there. It’s on PowerPoint. Yeah, but, you know, you see the little star and it says 400 to 800. Okay Olaf said 500,000 on. People believe in those numbers. And if you don’t have those numbers now, we are at the Fear part. Fear takes over. What do you mean you can fail? So this is, this is what I mean with being afraid of, and let’s put this into your department. Here’s the process, and this process works. And you want to give this process, or you see that this process will be done with click. Click. Click click, click hand and mouse button. Okay, let’s check for a solution on the market that can automate this mouse clicking thing. And you buy this for some hundred euros and somebody invests a day to get this process click through. Primitive as it can be, but maybe it can save us. So after this date it doesn’t work. Now you sit there with a birthday of employee working time and some hundred euros of license cost. If you have to be afraid that your boss will double check and you will be the fun part in every next 40 meetings, you will not do it anymore. This is what I mean with Fearless. You need to have an environment, which is fearless. You need to have an environment which accepts that the word error itself is wrong.
There are no mistakes out there, there are only experiences out there. We made some experiences that we now know. Don’t aim in the direction that we wanted. If you don’t try them, you never try. So, this is what I mean with Fearless. The other part of Stay Hungry. Even if you’re Fearless, you know, whatever I do, nothing can happen to me, but me and my sofa are best friends. I think I have at the moment, I have been given a special Netflix program because I think they’ve given me the trash tariff. This is Rubbish, all night long. This fearless and not fearless enough to tell my wife to just switch it off. Like we eliminate the account, but it’s not worth it. There is one good movie, every other whatever, but it’s brainless. And if you are there in this phase, then it is okay. I don’t want to challenge myself. It’s 20 in the evening. I had worked for the day, I’m good. Then you’re not hungry. if you say, okay. Yeah, I’m a bit sleepy, but seriously, do I need to watch people tattooing each other’s asses? Seriously, I’m not drunk enough for this crap and I decided, I don’t want to drink anymore. So hungry. Can we have something that inspires me a little bit? If you’re not hungry, then you don’t want to innovate? If you are afraid then you can’t innovate.
Alexander: Well, I think those who are listening to this podcast are hopefully hungry because I hopefully have bigger goals and where they are now.
Olaf: Be hungry, life’s short, go for it.
Alexander: Yeah, thanks so much. That was an awesome discussion, that really helped to get more meat behind leadership Innovation knowledge and excellence and how these different parts go together. Are there any kind of final things that you want to say to the listeners?
Olaf: Life is short. So go a bit more into the details, as I said at the beginning. Take care. If you take care, if you take the position of your job and your own responsibility in your own hands, then you make decisions. I mean Alex, you know what I’m talking about? You made a decision. And it was an honor to follow this decision for a long, long time, and I’m not going to go into further details and this was a waging discussion. But as always, you knew where to go. What is my next step? And then we had two different ways to discuss. So, take life in your own hands. That’s like helping you. Does it help you perfectly? Yes, sure. And will it run your career? No, because it’s a very high level, high starting point. But take care. Take care. Take care. And then do the best out of it. Life is short.
Alexander: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for the discussion and You’ll find a lot of links in the show notes. So they can also find everything about Leben-Fuhren and all the other things from Olaf.
Olaf: It was an honor Alex, thank you very much. To your listeners, have a great one. Hope to hear you in the Leben-Fuhren podcast, leben-fuehren.de and I spelled it in Germany because it is a German podcast. So see you there.
Alexander: This show was created in association with PSI. Thanks to Reine who helps with the show in the background and thank you for listening. I hope you learned a lot from this discussion with Olaf and there’s quite a lot for you to learn. Especially if you’re german-speaking and you can listen to his German podcast. If not, stay tuned to this one there’s surely lots of other things that I will speak about on this podcast that I learned from Olaf. Reach your potential, lead great signs and serve patients, Just Be an Effective Statistician.
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