The US-American Dan Buettner is an extreme sportsman, adventurer and author of National Geographic. On his expeditions to various parts of the world he had become aware of a phenomenon that he first reported in 2005: the "Blues Zones". These are geographical regions which are characterized by a significantly higher life expectancy than in the rest of the world. One of these "Blue Zones" is the Okinawa archipelago, which belongs to Japan today. Japan's southernmost prefecture consists of 363 islands, on which a total of 1.3 million people are living. 900 of these inhabitants are 100 years and older, which is an unusually high life expectancy even for Japanese conditions. The average life expectancy for men there is 86 years while German or US-American men on average only become 78 years old.
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Leaving our comfort zone often requires accepting a certain loss of control going alongside with the feeling of fear. This is nothing that executives particularly fancy – however it is key to success in today’s world.
There I was sitting. Already 25 minutes in the anteroom of the CEO, waiting. Not that I had been warned in advance that my conversation partner would be extremely busy. But of course I had shown up perfectly in time for the clearing conversation for one of his top managers from the first management level, responsible for 16.000 employees in more than 20 locations.
Originally I had suggested a meeting among the three of us. So, we could start coaching process with the same basis. But this suggestion was crushed by the CEO’s secretary weeks ago. He wanted to speak with me alone, the matter was critical.
She was standing in the back of the room thinking to herself "Why am I doing this? I could be at home on my couch relaxing and watching my favorite TV show..." Instead she was struggling to take the next two steps into the room, locate herself at one of the tables and start a conversation with someone she didn't know. Ah, here comes the waiter with a tray of wine glasses - a secure haven at least for a few moments since the relationship and the mutual expectations are clear - a glass of wine in exchange for a warm ‘thank you’.
A booming industry provides an encouraging ground for new entrepreneurs - be it through start-ups, spin-offs or management buy-outs. So does the real estate industry. However, not all of these start-up’s and spin-offs become equally successful - despite the fertile environment they incubate in. This is rarely a result of overconfidence of the new leaders, lack of market access or bad deals, but rather a lack of investment in the partnering on the top of the company - the newly found leadership team.
I don’t particularly like the term “work-life-balance”. This has several reasons. For one, most people use this term without reflecting about the true meaning behind. The concept of work-life-balance implies that work and life are two opposite sides of a scale. It means that if you work you don’t actually live. This is a pity since most of us work a lot. In fact the idea behind makes a lot of sense for industrial workers at a factory line but does not apply for people in the knowledge industry. Matter of fact what really counts is a more holistic “life balance” which is far more challenging than just levelling out work and life. It can generally be said that a manager’s ability to bounce back from hardships will be particularly challenged if crises or setbacks are experienced in several areas of their life. The more areas are perceived as unfulfilling or even problematic, the more detrimental the effect will be on the level of available resilience.
Why mid-Agers are the least happy group in our population
Last summer, a devastating flood hit western Germany. For the residents of the Ahr Valley, it was the worst disaster since World War II. Resilience expert Karsten Drath was among the thousands of volunteers who lent a hand in the weeks and months that followed. In twelve points, he summarizes which coping strategies proved effective among those affected by the flood disaster.
"The future is female!" was the title Margarete Mitscherlich published in 1987. My father gave me the book for my diploma! What a prophecy!!!
Time for an interim balance 25 years later: is my and our future female?
In the late 80s I was one of the 32% female students. My eldest daughter is currently studying in Amsterdam, making her one of 55% of all students.
On resilience and changing careers following the Executive MBA
When speaking to executive MBA graduates, they often are the source of fascinating career paths and stories about their backgrounds and achievements. However, this is perhaps the first time an EMBA alum has opted to take on the challenge of cycling around the world in several consecutive trips to raise money for charity. Starting in 2017, Karsten Drath has cycled all around Europe from Gibraltar to the North Cape and from Lisbon to the Polish border. We speak to the alumnus of the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA program, entrepreneur, founder, coach, and podcast host, about why he decided to embark on such an ambitious adventure.