Living the European Dream – in Dublin and beyond

When the opportunity came up to move my career from Malaga to Dublin, I knew I had to take it. It was a difficult decision in some respects – I had a job that I enjoyed in Malaga, and I did make a few jokes about moving from “Spain to the rain”. However, I also knew, as everyone else working in technology in Europe knows, that Dublin is where things happen.

This city is the technology hub for our region. Around this corner, there’s Facebook; go around another and there’s Google; up that street is Twitter; up that one there’s Airbnb. And then, of course, there’s LinkedIn. I knew that I’d be taking my life in exciting new directions when I moved to Dublin. But it was only when I connected with an opportunity at LinkedIn that I realised just how transformative the experience would become.

Busting the Dublin myths

By then, I’d already bust the myths that I had in my head about Dublin as a location. For a start – the rain. Okay, it’s not quite as dry as the south of Spain, but it’s certainly doesn’t feel any wetter than where I grew up in Germany. It’s certainly not stopped me cycling to work pretty much every day for the last three and a half years.

I had expected to find different types of people in Dublin – but the extent of the difference really surprised me. The presence of all of those companies in a city that still feels like a community is a very special combination. It makes me feel like I’m living in a true global village. It’s diverse and dynamic but hugely warm and welcoming as well.

That came home to me when I decided to run my first marathon shortly after arriving in the city. It was a way of showing my commitment to my new home and getting to know the city a little more as well. I’ll never forget the feeling of people lining the street to support myself and the other runners. When we went through the suburbs, there were people offering us bowls of fruits and sweets on their doorsteps. It reflects the attitude of people here – and also how extremely fanatical they are about sport.

How LinkedIn took my Dublin experience to the next level

In no time at all then, I’d started to feel pretty settled in my new city – and very happy with my life working in Europe’s technology hub. I was what we at LinkedIn Talent Solutions call a ‘passive candidate’. I wasn’t actively looking for a new job; I wasn’t frustrated in my current role or desperate for a new challenge. However, when the right opportunity came up I could see immediately why I needed to take it – and that opportunity was LinkedIn.

In some respects, LinkedIn was on my radar already. I knew that it was an exciting business – and one of the reasons for Dublin being such an exciting place for a tech career. However, I hadn’t fully grasped the mission and sense of purpose it had until a recruiter from LinkedIn reached out to me and I began the interview process.

A mission that matters

I’ve always had an interest in the purpose of what I’m doing. I’ve been interested in politics for the last 20 years – and a lot of my passion for social media comes from the way it can be used to get a message out and further a cause. That’s why LinkedIn’s mission to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce really resonated with me. There was an aspect of coming here that felt like taking on a role with an NGO – and that really appealed.

That wasn’t the only LinkedIn difference that I found inspiring. Reid Hoffman’s principle of the ‘Tour of Duty’ was another idea that really resonated with me: it’s the idea of there being a contract between yourself and LinkedIn whereby you both aim to transform each other for the better during your time here; you may not be here for ever, but if you do leave here for another role, you’ll definitely be leaving better equipped than when you arrived.

Transformation with a difference

Transformation is a really important part of LinkedIn’s values – and the focus of that transformation culture is really unique. At other businesses, you’re often encouraged to think about your weaknesses and ways you could improve them; here the focus is firmly on your strengths and how you can leverage them more effectively for both you and the business. It’s very empowering.

I’ve been able to apply the principle of transformation to my approach to leadership. The result I’m most focused on as a manager is being able to develop people for their next play – that’s what really makes me proud. It’s part of how my team motivates me every day. When I come into the office and see people already at their desks, making calls, working at their laptops – the buzz that gives me is very powerful indeed.

My transformation journey at LinkedIn is now bringing my ‘Tour of Duty’ in Dublin to an end. I’m making the move to manage one of our enterprise teams in LinkedIn’s Munich office. I was right in thinking that moving to Dublin would take my career to places I hadn’t imagined – and how, thanks to LinkedIn, it’s led me to a new city, a new stage of development in my career – and more new experiences. To me, being able to open up new horizons like this is part of the European dream – and LinkedIn and Dublin both embody that dream.

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surprise -people management is about people

Being in a leadership role now for some years in this crazy growing and changing world of technology, I see myself in a position to may give you some advises you can benefit from, when you develop into your next play – a role where you´re not only responsible for yourself anymore. A people manager role. There is this quote saying, that when you develop from being an individual contributor into a management position, it is not about how great you are and perform anymore, it is about how successful you can make your team. I saw people struggling on this. Why? Because by nature sales experts are restless fighters, chasing for their own success and having a high level of ego. I don´t mean that in a negative way, it is one of the skills you do need to have in that business.

So coming from a world where it is all about you and now it is all about your them is not easy. You really have to think it over. Take a step back, collect lots of feedback from your peers and have an idea about what really makes you happy. And I mean that not only in the sense of if it is the right decision for yourself. As I mentioned in the beginning, you take on responsibility for individuals and you absolutely should care. A high performing account manager is not necessarily a good people manager and a development into leadership role may even not be seen as a development because it feels wrong. Actually this is a step backwards.

If you made up your mind I have three advices for you, which worked for me very well.

1. always hire the best team

In my past years I did hundreds of interviews together with management peers. I have often been really surprised about the indifferent way they did their interviews.(Being later on surprised about why their team is not performing) Your success as a manager is the success of your team in total. So simple as that. You should have a high interest in hiring the best people for your specific open roles. Don´t only think about skills, experience and educational background. Consider soft skills, diversity and how the person would fit into your existing social micro cosmos. Be bold to hire people for roles where they maybe not the experts in. They may have an expertise on totally different topics you never have thought about and they have interesting stories to tell. Don´t limit yourself. The best advice I have for you in doing a perfect interview is, ask as much questions you can. Ask what you´re interested in apart from the job qualifications and prepare yourself to ask creative questions based on their background. (I don´t mean those nonsense questions like google used to have – sorry google.

2. be authentic, be interested and show empathy

Now when you manage your team, you´re in a relationship with let´s say 10 people or more. (In my perspective the span of control for a people manager ends with around 10-12 individuals) The fundament of this relationship should be trust and authenticity. You will be together with your team around 10 hours per day. This relationship mustn´t be friendship (sometimes it can be) and you don´t have to leave the professional path, but it requires as much intense work to keep it up like a friendship. What does this mean? It means all those little things which appear not to be important but at the end they make a difference and make you unique as a people manager. As the headline says – your business is now about people. Be interested in them. Don´t arrive at work, sitting at your desk and claim that you´re always open for them if they have any issue. Look at your individuals maybe a minute longer and build up pro-active empathy. What can you read in their faces? Did they have a good weekend? What kind of activity have they done? What kind of activity have you done? Give and take and absorb as much as you can. Don’t always talk about the things which are going well in your life. You can share your challenges as well. And never forget, personnel development is a key factor in performance management. You have to provide the platform for it and should know all the time, by what your individual is being motivated to achieve his next play. Lead by example and prove your authenticity in speaking about your career development as well. This makes you a great people manager.

3.always tell the why

Working in IT, technology, marketing or elsewhere in a fast changing working environment means you have to do quick decisions and have to cope with a fast pace. Your management style has to be versatile and to be adapted to several different situations during one day. Sure – you could be all the time very directive and just tell you team what you want them to do. But this turns out not to be very useful as you will not benefit from the skills and knowledge from it. You must manage your team by objective (MBO) and not by control (MBC). If you have tasks for your team, make your life easier and tell them the sense behind. Why do you ask them to do it – and especially why is it important to you personally? If the spirit is right, every single individual is happy to help you out. If you have considered number one of my top three people manager skills, you are surrounded by bright minds. They will claim and want to know anyway what´s the deeper sense behind. Do concentric briefing and give a holistic explanation. Make sure that everybody understands buys in and accepts it as q common task which is in line with the companies strategy. This leads to the best performance and results.

What you think? Did you have the same experiences with being a manager or being managed?

Job title customers friend?

Are you working in sales?  Great. What’s your position?  Have you recently opened up an online account where you found a drop down for “position”?  What was your choice?  I am working now for quite a good time in different sales positions, and I am impressed about the variety of different job titles which came up with the years.
Are you a manager? Great. Do you manage individuals or are you an account manager,  or better,  a key account manager?  You could be a territory manager as well. But in fact you’re not manager,  you are an inside sales rep or probably an account executive or a relationship manager. Maybe you are a sales agent or a pre-sales with revenue target.  In some companies a director is apparently a manager and in others a director manages manager – front line manager. Then they are manager,  not team leader, cause these carry targets and manage a team.  Still with me?
Let me give you two advices.

1. Do not chase for job titles on your business card in your career – have a brief look at the job description you may apply for and have a high level of self awareness,  if your personnel skills fit to it. If no, leave it.If yes, you can bring real value to your employer and you will be a rockstar.

2. A sales role means understanding the customer and prospect. This understanding will only achieved by active listening and an empathic response on personnel impacts and pains. Would you share those with a customer representative or just with a friend?  Be a customers friend,  not just a job title.

streaming is like fastfood

Recently some incidents occurred that made be re-think my way of consuming music. Mostly the kind of music to go. Raised up in the analog age where a walkman was a walkman and not simply a branding for mobile devices proving some music features like playlists or boom bass. (Pretty ridicolous when you know a sound of a ghetto blaster). One of these incidents was the announcement by Tim Cook to stop development and production of the iPod classic due to lack of spare parts. This suddenly drove me to use my beloved 30GB 2nd generation device more than usual and I sometimes noticed myself touching it in a tender way. Since this announcement I do take care for this dying species knowing that soon there will be no possibility to get it repaired if something should happen. But what should happen apart from an water incident by too much rain or just by gravity?

This tiny fellow with some 3K songs I carry along with me while commuting to work works propperly and is not showing any sign of weakness. It is great because of its simplicity. It is literally classic. The very, very most important thing which makes this device a classic device is the lack of internet connectivity. This is really the point. Honestly – I have not been aware of it or haven´t even thought about it since I recently read a quote from Haruki Marakumi. In his book “What I talk about when I talk about running” he talked about what kind of device he uses while running cause he enjoys listening to music. He prefers using a MD player instead of using a mp3 player. His reason for this is that he thinks that music and pc do not fit together. They should be seperated. This was the second incident cause it made me think and I agree 100% even if I do not adapt this totally because I still use my iPod classic. To me it is more about listening to music and being at the same time connected to the internet is not the right thing. It disturbs the real interaction with the songs having in your ear. You lose your focus on what you listen because you divide your attraction.

To be frank. For two years I was a heavy user of spotify with a premium account. I absolutey loved this app running on my smartphone and tablet. Specifically I loved the possibility finding and listening to old records which I do only own on vinyl like e.g. Foreigners “Head Games”. I did not use the playlists cause I prefer to choose my own kind of music but the variety of music is amazing. Commuting by train, cycling to work or walking the dogs – I took my phone, started the app and began searching and searching. I started a song, listenened to it for 2 minutes, skipped to a next one and had already the next artist in mind. But I did not listened to one single, complete album like I did in the past. More and more I felt lost cause I did not really know what I wanted to listen next. The choice is too overwhelming and causes a overstimulation. Additonally while being online by nature I answered emails or responded on social network interaction. I was not with the artist.

Don´t get me wrong and I know it sounds oldschool (a consequence of my age for sure) – I do understand and appreciate all the advantages of streaming music. Mostly you have a big choice, flexibility and you save much money (even not so good for the artist cause they do suffer because of this low price policy) but – because I really do like to listen to an album, I prefer listen to it without anz kind of distraction. So I went back to my iPod classic. No Wi-Fi, no bluetooth, no 4 G or any other thing. Just pure music. Now when I bought an album (I never used file sharing cause the quality is disgusting) it feels a bit like in the old times when I e.g. listened to the Back in Black album the very first time after Bon Scotts death. It was like heaven and I did not skip any song. I worked myself through from “Hells Bells” to “Rockn Roll ain´t no Pollution” This is how listening to music should be. I do it less now – but with more intensity and joy. Streaming music is like having fast food. I prefer a propper dinner and a nice glass of wine.

ipodclassic

ipodclassic

10 reasons why you should not read 10 reasons tips

Browsing my social networks and feeds in a daily manner, I get more and more annoyed and bored about all these Business Insider, Forbes and Tech Crunch lists, which appear in my timeline. Who on earth believes it is innovative or related to a slight kind of entrepreneurship to follow up on 10 things to read, 10 things to do, 10 things not to do lists? Do you really believe it is cool to share or to re-tweet things which show that you do not have any clue about and others made up their minds for you? It is not. Therefore you urgently need this list to help you out.

1. 10 reasons lists do not help anybody but at the end they prove that you at least know the numbers from 1 to 10 which is good
2. 10 reasons list show, that you are interested in content – but you don´t care about reading it, apart from reading 10 reasons lists
3. Editors of 10 reasons lists do not know anything about reality, because the fundament of their researches are 10 reasons lists
4. How many of the biblical 10 commandments did the society has failed to follow up? Why on earth do you believe this works for business?
5. Still reading this stuff? – This is disgraceful. Do you´ve got nothing else to do? E.g. making some business.
6. Can you name the last 10 things which your spouse has told you after coming home from work? You can´t. Same for the last ten 10 reasons lists I guess.
7. At this point I do not have any clue what kind of advise I can give you additionally, but still I have 3 reasons left. So I go on.
8. No 10 reasons lists reader can be 10 times more productive in not adapting any of those stupid lists
9. Why on earth must this always be 10 tips?
10. If you are at this point, you can now open a window and through ten 10 dollars notes into the street. This is exactly the amount you wasted by reading this.

Don´t forget to share this important tips. Also read my 10 reasons why you are not successful and everybody is thinking you are a donkey.

Posting from (new) home

Finally the process is coming to its end. A house has been found in Dublin area. More specific in Dublin 13. Which is close to Malahide, Donobate and the beach – but as well within 20 min distance by bus to city centre or work. I would not describe the living area with semi-detached houses as picturesque. It appears as a kind of heritage of building boom in the mid-ninties and afterwards forgotten. Anyway – the quality and standard is sufficient and quite okay.
Garbage bins have been ordered and my upc 50 MB cable connection is working to my fully satisfaction.
Next week the furniture will arrive from Spain. And then the transfer has been completed.
Summarizing all issues – I am getting more and more comfortable with relocating and after approx. 3 weeks I am now an Irish resident with all necessary documents. Not so bad.
Now its the time to benefit from the situation, to work and live here – so as an open minded person – I want to get a deeper knowledge of Irelands history, culture and landscape. Up to know – I met really open and friendly people. I am curious for more.

Dublin - heart of IT

Dublin – heart of IT

Dublin is a living city with so many professionals from the most important IT companies worldwide with their EMEA headquarter here in Ireland. None of the important names are missing. I saw this bicycle in front of our building.

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