Learn how my kids helped me with a speech on big dreams, why I rarely wear ties anymore, how many coaching clients I had this year, how many books I sold in the past two years, how a 55-year-old passed me, how to ride the wave of adrenaline, which two books inspired me most in 2016, where we went for our family vacation, and much more.
2016 - The Year of Speaking
Speaking was my theme for 2016. Here is a quick summary on the topics I covered and the locations I spoke at this year.
List of speeches and location
The Big Dreams speech was the definite highlight of all the year. In my last speech of the year, I included both Lily and Kai as my little presenters. They were so excited. We practiced a lot for it. Yet, there were still some unexpected elements. Take a look.
In "How to PEP up your happiness", I came up with the following visual aid.
And here are all Toastmasters speeches
I also applied to speak at TEDx Harrisburg. This year's theme was "Thrive". The curators, however, did not select my talk about "The Power of Sustainability Thinking". Nevertheless, I am proud, that I did apply and went through the process of selecting a topic. Committing to a topic alone was a big accomplishment.
Voice lessons in Hollywood, CA
I hired Patrick Munoz to help me develop a more powerful voice and improve my American accent. I took my first lesson in his studio in West Hollywood. After that we continued on Skype. My kids enjoyed the tongue twisters and warm up exercises that I learned.
Exciting year at SAP
10 Years at SAP
In April, I celebrated 10 years at SAP! What an exciting journey thus far! I still remember the first day at my first client in beautiful San Diego. As I was used to in Germany, I showed up with suit and tie. To which my customer responded: "You can take your tie off, you don't need it here." Since then, I have rarely worn a tie with the exception of company Christmas parties, weddings, and conferences. I love how laid back, yet extremely productive American work life is.
In these ten years, I have visited many states. I have even made it all the way to Alaska. I became a leading expert for SAP EHSM (Environment Health Safety Management) solutions including Incident Management, Risk Assessment, Management of Change, Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Health, Hazardous Substance Management, Environment Management, and Waste Management. And, I have worked with dozens of leading brands, completed over 20 projects, and touched ten thousands of workers with these solutions.
My favorite project in terms team, location, and customer was in Los Angeles. I have been there so many times that LA has become almost like my second home in the US. This year, I helped that customer to implement my first mobile app to help them track safety observations using our innovative Fiori platform.
Strategic finance project
This year, I took on a new challenge outside of Sustainability. For the past 6 months, I have been leading the business aspect of a strategic finance project inside of SAP. It's been an exciting journey and I had (and still have) the great privilege to work with some of the most talented people at SAP. I learned a lot about a new domain and a new SAP tool.
Judge at entrepreneurship contest
As a volunteer activity, I signed up for being a judge at the NFTE Business Plan Competition hosted by SAP in Newtown Square. It felt a little bit like being on "Shark Tank". The team's presentations and the keynote speeches made this a very memorable and inspiring event.
Updating my LinkedIn profile
An outcome of my personal offsite was my effort to streamline my LinkedIn profile. I dramatically simplified it and made it more effective by adding more pictures and adding calls to action.
My first quarterly offsite
At the SAP for Utilities conference, I learned about this concept of a personal offsite. Greg Mckeown the author of "Essentialism" and our guest speaker at the conference introduced us to that idea. The idea is simple: once a quarter take a step back from what you are doing and reflect. Ask bigger picture questions. Where am I now? Am I still heading in the right direction? Am I happy? Where do I want to be heading? What do I need to get there? And so on...
I combined my first "personal" offsite with a business trip to Bellevue, WA. Since I had to stay the weekend, I decided to spend Saturday morning on reflecting and planning for the future. I made myself comfortable in my hotel room, armed myself with a pen and a few sheets of blank copy paper, and started brainstorming. Focusing several hours just on reflecting and brainstorming without distractions allowed me to get to deeper levels of thinking. At the end, I came out of that weekend with more clarity and motivation for the weeks to come.
Inspiring year of Coaching
I practice all my coaching at SAP. This year, I coached 11 clients and a total of 55 hours. Overall, I am up to 91 coaching hours for 2015 and 2016 combined. One coaching client said, that coaching was the "best decision" she had made in her career. Others had breakthroughs in developing their skills or important insights that helped them move forward.
Official Internal Coach
In November, I became an official SAP internal coach. This is one level up from being a "junior coach". I had to go through a coaching readiness interview and coach one of my interviewers.
Growth through mentoring
To continue my growth as a coach, I had 10 mentor sessions with the coach who inspired me to get into coaching in the first place. A couple of years ago, he gave me a coaching demo and that stuck with me. I was hooked and wanted to learn more about the art and science of coaching. The mentor coaching helped me to refine my coaching skills and find my own style.
Focus on Productivity coaching
One of the things that came out of my off-site was the idea of focusing on one specific coaching topic. Productivity coaching is the natural fit at this point and that is what seems to be needed most.
New Momentum in Online Entrepreneurship
1. Book publishing
In April, I released a new book "Lesen Lernen von A-Z". This time I ventured into creating my first printed book. I used Amazon's free platform CreateSpace. The book contains all the 12 Kindle books that I published in 2014 and 2015. This series of books introduces new letters of the alphabet in each book until all letters are covered by book 12. Next year, I am planning to come out with the audio book.
My first Five Star review
I was ecstatic when I saw my first 5-star review. Finally, someone got it and loved it!
Lily and Kai's first books
My kids really wanted to publish their own books as well. We started this summer. They came up with a story each and created their own illustrations. I helped them to with the cover of the book and getting it set up in CreateSpace.
In my latest project, I created a tool to help me become 'insanely' productive. I wanted a consistent structure that integrates the best of coaching, project management, and productivity. I wanted to create a tool that would set me up for greater success at work and in other ventures.
2. Online Business in numbers
Kindle Direct Publishing: $90 ($410 in 2015)
The change in compensation for reader with a Kindle Direct subscription led to that significant drop. Also, I did not actively promote my books.
This revenue comes from the print books. I am planning to focus on this aspect a bit more next year.
Number of Kindle books: 1,355 Total (319 Free Book Promotion + 1,036 Sold)
In 2015, I sold 743 books vs. just 293 in 2016.
Lack of marketing and a drop in page ranking might be the biggest contributors for this decline. Just recently, I tweaked the keywords of Lesen Lernen von A-Z and promptly sold two print units. There is definitely room for improvement. Especially with the Success Journal which will launch soon.
This is my coaching storefront. I have not invested much this year into improving this site.
This is my virtual face to the world. For next year, I am planning to focus more on that site. The underlying technology is much more user-friendly, more flexible, and agile.
Unleashing Einstein Podcast
I have not done much with that in 2016. I might look at podcasting next year. It is great tool to practice public speaking.
In an attempt to get faster to the point and train my ability to make a short and concise statement, I came up with the idea of making 90s recordings of things that I learned. Every time I learned something worth spreading, I recorded a quick 90s audio on my iPhone. I stopped when I had 52 of such recordings. My idea is to publish them in form of a mini podcast series.
5. Other considerations
YouTube & AdSense
I tried to monetize videos and blog post. However, the revenue from that is insignificant and does not even hit the $100 payment thresholds.
Another source of income might be affiliate marketing. Something that I try to explore in the future.
Successful year in Sports
Keystone Super Sprint Tri
To my surprise, I was able to place second overall this year without significant training. Last year, I won that race. This year, a 55-year-old woman passed me. I could not keep up with her in the run. :) The distances were a 1/4-mile swim, 9-mile bike loop, and 2-mile run.
Kings Gap Time Trial
This is a short bike race going up to Kings Gap in PA. It is a 3-mile time trial and takes about 12-13 min to complete. I wore my new SAP jersey that I got earlier this year.
5K Pumpkin Chase
Later in October, I ran my first 5K in years, the Pumpkin Chase. It is my favorite race in Harrisburg. In my quite competitive age group, I placed 2nd. I ran the distance in about 22 min, which is a great time considering the less intensive training leading up to it.
5 mile Turkey Trot
On Thanksgiving Day, I ran my last race for the year. The Turkey Trot in Miamisburg near Dayton, OH. I beat my time from 7 years ago by 3 min and arrived at the finish in 36.5 min.
Having races on my calendar is an important motivation to keep engaged with sports. I view sports more and more as a way to stay healthy and in shape, so I can keep up with my growing kids.
Top 7 lessons / insights
1. Learning habit
In our big dream speech, we talk about consistency and growth as the key to reaching big dreams. One way to grow is to learn something new every day. Either through reflection or through learning, e.g. reading, taking an online class, or listening to an educational podcast.
2. My Morning Start-up Routine
In the last 2 years, I developed my own morning routine. I exercise, meditate, visualize, and plan. I can do that routine in less than 10 min and it is a great way to start every day.
3. The Power of Homeostasis
George Leonard introduces the concept of homeostasis in his book "Mastery". Homeostasis is the tendency of a system to go back to a certain set point. Because we often are unaware of the power of homeostasis, we fall back into bad habits. Homeostasis is the counterforce to change.
4. New definition of success
This year, I listened to an interview of John Wooden, the legendary Basketball coach at UCLA. Such an incredible man! In his TED talk, he shared his definition of success:
"Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you're capable."
Here is the ultimate test of whether or not you gave it your best:
"When a game is over, and you see somebody that didn't know the outcome, I hope they couldn't tell by your actions whether you outscored an opponent or the opponent outscored you."
If you view/live life that like, the results will not matter as long as you know that you gave it your best you were capable of at the time.
Knowing and remembering this will help you to take off all the pressure that comes with expecting certain results.
Click here to the full interview.
5. Riding the wave of adrenaline
Through my wife, I know of performance coach Don Greene. Don Greene coached Olympians and Musicians to reach peak performance. Centering and mental rehearsal are two of the major concepts that he teaches. They apply to EVERY situation in which you need to perform.
Here is the book that he wrote for the general business community "Fight Your Fear and Win".
I highly recommend this YouTube Interview with Don Greene to get started. You do not need to be a musician :))
In the 45 min, you will learn about:
6. The importance of a vision
12 years ago, I had the vision of have a family, my own home, and an international career. All of which came true.
Arnold Schwarzenegger put it best:
“All I know is that the first step is to create the vision, because when you see that vision there — the beautiful vision — that creates the ‘want power.’ For example, my wanting to be Mr. Universe came about because I saw myself so clearly, being up there on the stage and winning”
7. Musical notes in speaking
In my own pursuit of a stronger, more powerful, and more dynamic voice, I came across this interview with celebrity coach Roger Love on YouTube.
Did you know that most of the people use only 2-3 musical notes when they talk?
In minute 15 of the interview, he starts diving into the concept of musical notes.
Roger Love also gave a TEDx talk, if you are interested.
Two most inspiring books in 2016
Relaxing at the Beach
Just like every year, my mom comes over to see her grandkids. Traditionally, we spend a week at the beach in Sea Isle City in New Jersey.
Summer in Germany
Finally, the whole family made it back to Germany this summer. We had a great time enjoying the time with my parents, relatives, and friends. The day trips to the nearby "Elsa Anna Tastles" in Torgau and Wittenberg, the Leipzig Zoo, the Leipzig Gasometer, and a reptile zoo were just some of the many highlights. Most importantly, the grandparents had some precious moments with the three grandchildren.
Kids Healthy Run Series
Inspired by my triathlon race, my kids really wanted to do their own race. I signed them up for the Healthy Kids Running Series consisting of five short races. Pre-K ran 75 yards (very cute!), first grade 1/4 miles, and second grade 1/2 miles. They were so excited and did so well. At the end of the five weeks, each kid received a medal.
Overall, this was a very exciting year with many breakthroughs and aha-moments.
All the best wishes, continued health, and future success!