Characteristics of successful athletes and entrepreneurs
In the following I will shortly list some characteristics I’ve noticed in the recent combined 15 years of my athlete and entrepreneurial way among people who seemed to be successful in a way. I think there is no difference in which field you are active, whether it is sports, business or voluntary. You will probably discover at least some of the characteristics below with people who seem to be successful. Curiosity One rule I discovered is that lots of athletes would start an own business after their athlete career, they normally don’t go to big corporations like Daimler, VW or IBM. They want to discover new things and are interested in a wide area of different fields, that is always good to grow yourself. Lifelong learning I heard that a lot at school and at university and always thought: “yeah, just go ahead”. But it is like it is and you should be always willing to learn new things. In the retrospective I recognize that most of things I can call my skills I learned by myself in an autodidactic and try-and-error way. Always stay hungry! Focus Besides staying curious and learning new things, you also need to focus on the important things and don’t involve yourself in way too much different things. So to give you an example: when I was in school my whole life rotated around cycling and sports and today around growing my own business Binando. That means not that you should not go out with friends or doing some holidays and so on. It should only be in the correct balance. Learn from “the older ones” It is always good to talk to people who have experienced that where you are currently going through to learn from their experience. When I came to the Elite in Cycling I had a guy in my team who rode two times Le Tour de France and lots of Classics like Paris-Roubaix and it was great to learn from his experiences how to read a race competition for example. The same for example if you need to raise 10m € for your company or need to develop your sales team, than best is to talk with people who were going through that and learn from their experience, that you don’t do the same failures they did. Passion for business This is a very often heard sentence but it is just true: “do what you love”. I think there is nothing explanation needed. Period. Integrity There are a lot people out there who are looking for the fast success and will hop on every hype which arises. Those are most often the people who are doing everything for their success and lack of honesty or integrity. Maybe that is sometimes good for be successful in the short-term but for me a 10- or 20-years plan is much more important than being successful in 3 months and after that the story implodes because it was just a nice facade. A very well-known sentence from Warren Buffet is: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” So, think about that! That is just my opinion what I have experienced but I guess if you look around a bit in your circle of acquaintances that often applies. But of course, as always, people are different and there are a lot of different ways which are leading to success. If you have very important other characteristics in mind which you have experienced and are not listed above, I would be happy to hear about them!
Best way to get healthy, balanced and satisfied (and of course to get a sixpack ;-)
The three key principles One of my life mottos can be described with: There is only one speed – full speed. Over the recent years there evolved three key principles for myself with which I feel myself pretty good for most of the time: Workout regular Eat most of the time healthy Sleep not too short for a longer time They work for me very well but of course could be different for other people. But with those key principles I think I can work very productive and efficient to create a nice company, have a good strength and endurance and the most important one: I feel good. Workout regular Workout regular As you may recognized I was a very successful and good athlete in my younger years in the cycling area. I think my whole life was characterized with going out a lot in the nature and play there around with friends. In summer we played a lot of soccer or hide yourself and in winter we sledged or fighted with snowballs. And then when I was around 12 I focused a little bit in cycling. It made me happy and I needed the competition, the feeling after a long ride and being outside regardless of the weather. Even after I ended my athlete career silently due to study a semester abroad I needed to workout. As of today, I really workout 4 to 6 times a week depending on the travel volume and work load for my startup Binando. It is most of the time only 60 to 70 minutes, which is enough to build strength and endurance but of course on a sunny weekend when I have time, I sometimes take a 2 or 3 hours ride with my bike 😍. As you can see here I am still quite in shape and do lots of different sport activities. This helps me to break out of the daily business, think about several urgent problems – often I solve problems which seem to be hard during a workout – and get a free head to come back energized to my beloved laptop. Try it out: you can even start with one or two times a week and go out just for a walk for an hour, that could be enough if you did nothing before. But one thing I highly recommend: Don’t hang around all the time with your smartphone during your workout – use your workout to be offline, that is the real timeout! Eat most of the time healthy Healthy Food To be honest I also sometimes eat fast food or sweets like a cake or drink alcohol like a beer or wine. But I think the right amount is of vital importance. Don’t eat every day fast food or drink ever day a beer. Focus on a well-balanced nutrition best with half carbs and half proteins and as little fat as possible because that comes automatic in for most of the people. What I always try is to eat more ground carbs like rice or potatoes and less processed carbs like pasta or pizza. But of course, sometimes you need the best pasta from your favorite Italian – no doubt, enjoy. To get a sixpack you definitely need another plan but we come to that later. I also try to eat enough vegetables and fruits. A normal day when I am in the office and have no external meeting: Breakfast: Porridge / Oatmeal Lunch: Rice with chicken or turkey and a big salad – eat as much as I can Afternoon snack: Quark with nuts and raisins and banana Dinner: spelt bread with salmon and shrimps Late night snack before bed: tuna fish When I am on my way to a customer or event or fair it is hard to get the above things to the “right time” into your stomach but I try as good as I can and with improvising a little bit it works out most of the time with a similar food plan, which is totally sufficient for a non-competitive athlete. Sleep not too short for a longer time Beautiful sleep We all know that different people need a different amount of sleep to be energized, healthy and do not yawn all the time. In general, I feel best when I sleep 6 to 7 hours per night. If I sleep too long than I feel like I slept not enough. I think the recommendations from studies are somewhere between 6 and 9 hours of sleep is fine. If you sleep longer than you are at risk again according to several studies. So, the more you sleep the healthier you are does not count until the endlessness. As a founder of course, it can happen sometime that something needs to be finished and it takes you until 2 a.m. but you need to get up at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. again for an important meeting with a customer or your investors. For me that is no problem as long as this is no permanent state. During normal days I go to bed between 0.30 and 2 a.m. depending on the workload and the hardness of workout 😉 and wake up around 8 a.m. No joking is that when I train very very hard I feel better when I sleep 8 hours a night. And when I mean I train hard than it is really really hard, I think a normal training from me is still too hard for a normal person without the athletic background I have. New studies prove that if you sleep not enough you are able to catch up the missing hours a few day later. Of course, this does not count till the infinity but for example if you sleep under the week 4 hours less than your optimum amount of sleep and on the weekend, you sleep 2 hours longer than normal than your sleep consumption should be balanced again. But what is the ideal amount of sleep for your body? That can be easily found out, best during vacation. Go to bed at the same time every day for example at midnight and sleep until you are awake without any alarm. After a few days that should be your ideal amount of sleep. What I would highly recommend is not to go directly into the bed when looked a long time in a laptop display, tv or smartphone. What I recognize when directly going from work on the laptop to my bed is that my sleep is not so well as when I read a book or journal for several minutes before trying to sleep. That is what the industry is calling the problem with blue light. Of course, companies like Apple have a solution here, you can use Night Shift for Apple Devices, which reduces the blue light – but I would recommend read the old classical way before sleep and it feels better for you and your wakeup in the morning. What about the sixpack? A nice sixpack, but not from me 😉 To be honest: I never had one until now. The problem is that you really need a perfect workout, meal and recovery plan to get a sixpack. Everything needs to be adjusted in the perfect way for your own body. That should not be an excuse but when you don’t know what is tomorrow and if you need to go spontaneous for a customer meeting the next day it is hard to comply with such stringent plans. Thus, my plan is to try it when I have a “relaxed” 40 hours week and just work as a 9 to 5er. As soon as that has happened and I can present my own sixpack of course I will update this blog post here and also describe with which plans I achieved it. But that can take a few years from now on until that will happen. If you want to publish here your own story on getting a sixpack than please let me know!
Is the location of a young company / startup relevant in today’s digitized world to succeed?
The questions of all questions A lot of entrepreneurs are thinking of where is the best place to be for my company? Is it going into the city center of a big city like Berlin, Munich, Vienna, London, New York and so on or do I have to go to the Silicon Valley or is a B- or C-City better to save money or is a complete remote company also enough to go? My opinion is it depends on what you want: Some would prefer a highly representative building directly in the city that looks impressive for customers, partners, other startups and friends. Some would think that it’s better to go to a coworking space for networking and cheap shared desks or rooms Some might think everybody can work from home to completely save the office costs and time to travel to the office Possibly with all of the above approaches it is possible to build and run a company and earn money, but could they all become a big success? The success is like you describe it for yourself. Some prefer a non-profit organization with the highest possible social impact, some want to be a unicorn as soon as possible for a fast exit and others prefer to be profitable from the beginning on to grow by their own and I think not everybody wants to build a unicorn – it’s just like you define it. Networking is important for success A new research, Informal Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Informal Communities, released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, confirms what everyday experience might have already suggested: informal professional networks and communities are more important for entrepreneurial success than formal structures such as incubators and accelerators. It also states that for 78% of Startups, Networking is vital to entrepreneurial success. So possibly, we should better decide a location with good networking opportunities instead of sitting all the time at home for getting the work done. There are plenty of well-known events for informing and networking like Web Summit, Mobile World Congress, Cebit or CES and due to the mentioned research, you don’t need to feel bad to visit those events and fairs regularly as it is important maybe to get to know the right community for you and your business. In my opinion, it’s good to go to such events from time to time to network, get new inspiration and breakout of the daily business. But I would never hop from one event to the next all year long, as for a young company it is also very important to use your available resources efficient and the best way possible, you are not a corporation with thousands of employees who needs to be busy. In well-known Startup Hubs like Berlin or Munich there are also a lot of “smaller” events like Fuck-Up Nights, Pitch Evening here and Pitch Evening there (of course sponsored by a big Corporation), the next Networking Event 3000 and so on. Of course, I visited some of those events as well and will do so in the future. But what I recognized very soon is that you meet a lot of the time the same people in the same area at different of such events. As above mentioned it is important sometimes to break out of the daily routines and thus it is perfect to go on to the next networking event, but for a startup it is also important to execute a lot and fast and that means: work, work, work! There is no work hard play hard, just work hard 😉. Other key factors for success Why do startups fail? Because of a bad team, bad idea, bad product? No. The most critical point is that they have no or not enough sales. So, the most critical factor are customers. Do you have a perfect product-market-fit? Are your customers willing to pay what you need to survive and grow your company? And then afterwards there come factors like founder problems, bad implemented product or wrong technology, not enough funding and so on. To get customers your location could be a very important point. E.g. if you have a B2B-Product for Industry customers that needs to be sold by person and not the internet than it is good for the first sales if you are based near a city which has a lot of industry. Like in Stuttgart, where my startup Binando is based, we have a lot of automotive industry. So, in case you are aiming for a mobility solution or something else in the automotive area, then Stuttgart would be a good location as it is easy to get contacts in that area soon. If you have a B2C App maybe it is very good to be in a startup hotspot like Berlin, London or New York where you can share the app with lots of startup people who are open to new things to get fast feedback, which you can use for improvements and adjustments and thus make your product better. In the case that you develop the next best technology to fly to the Mars or you want to heal cancer you probably need a huge amount of funding before you can expect revenues. Depending on the technology you develop there may be different best locations to go. Definitely you should find a place where investors get what you are planning to do and are willing to support you and of course have the money what you need. According to Ernst & Young most of the venture capital comes from the U.S., followed by China, Europe and India. So, to start a fancy technology startup, Germany is probably not the best location to start your business, I would rather go for example to the Bay Area for example to start the next moonshot. Because in the Bay Area people think big, believe in you, have the necessary capital to support you and brought out lots of successful companies in the past years. But there are also examples for great companies from locations you might think you will not grow a big successful company. Top countries for total venture capital invested A good example for such a company might be TeamViewer. Well known for its secure remote desktop access and support solutions. The company is based in Göppingen, which is based around 50km east of Stuttgart almost in the middle of nowhere. Regarding the last publications TeamViewer generates almost €200 mio in revenue and was acquired for about $1 billion after 8 years of releasing the first software. So, you see, depending on what you are aiming for there should be no borders for your success, you just need to figure out what fits best for you and your targets you want to achieve. Based on your targets you may look if the location where you currently are seems to be right to start and run your business or its better to move to a place, that fits better for what you want to create. Go and start! But there is one thing to remember: Studies come out all the time like where it is best to start and run your business. Different people using their own criteria make determinations as to what is "best." Is it any wonder that you get completely different lists of which are the best location to start with? Maybe one of the lists, or even part of one of the lists, is really where the smart money would be. But how do you know which selection of cities or states or even industries will be right? The obvious answer is that you can't. You already live in some place. You probably have friends, family, economic ties, and many other reasons why you are still there. You've built experience in a specific line of business already, even if it wasn't some grand plan. Maybe it’s also the place to start your business right away. To sum this up: it won't be perfect. Nothing ever is – including the "best" places to start a business. The advantages of a good fitting location can be special knowledge of an area, relationships with existing people and businesses, a stable life to help offset the instability that being an entrepreneur can create, and personal resources.
Hello World – From Mo to the World
Why would I write Blog Posts? Short: To give away interesting insights and knowledge around the topic’s sports, startup, technology and to improve myself. Long: Introduction My first website I had would now probably be > 10 years old. It was used to share reports about my cycling competitions. It was not that nice as homepages are today and of course it was not optimized for mobiles as there was no iPhone on the market. But to generate that homepage was the first autodidactic learning I remember for myself. In recent years almost everything I can call my skill, such as technology in general, to code, building a company, workout correctly in different disciplines is the result of long learning processes I did by myself. Often you hear that to be a master in a new skill will take ~10.000 hours = 1.250 working days = 5 working years. That is a lot. But I do think, that you really need that time to learn something well, make the needed experience, try and error and come back stronger. Keywords that describe Mo the best As you can see on top of the start page the best keywords I would use to describe myself is Entrepreneur, Athlete, Lecturer. At the start page it also states why. For the first two keywords Entrepreneur and Athlete I think that I have invested lot more than 10.000 hours in each “topic”. Shortly said until 2011 I was a very good racing cyclist but I went to a semester abroad of my studies and just wanted to pause my cycling career for one year. As it has to come in California I learned by myself how to develop apps and I was highly inspired to sometime build my own company. Since than sport was not my only passion to follow, but also Entrepreneurship. As you might assume I also did not continue my sport career from then on – I am just a “hobby athlete” since then. And the Lecturer part is a result of the long hours I invested into being an Entrepreneur and Athlete (of course it was and is and will be all the time my free will and I don’t do it due to fame, money or anything else – maybe others would do but really, I do it for myself). So, the main goal with those blog posts here is give you some tools, knowledge and insights I found out in the past with blood and sweat and tears to raise one level up and also to inspire you to help following your dreams and start your own adventure right away. Mo as an Entrepreneur Mo as an Athlete Mo as a Lecturer and Speaker/Pitcher Of course, I want to learn and improve myself As mentioned above I was half a year in California. That was also good to improve my English. At Binando we have English speaking people as employees and also some clients from outside of Germany so that is also a good practice. But I thought it would be good to write regular English Blog Posts about topics that occupy me during the time I write a post. My thoughts were either to create content via Instagram or this Blog. A very inspiring entrepreneur I also listened to at Web Summit is Gary Vee. Of course, he is a superb marketing mogul/guru but imho (in my humble opinion) he also creates very nice and deep content. The decision in the end was to start this Blog in the first step and why shouldn’t it not be also an Instagram story teller in the future as well. How will the Blog Posts be created? First, I changed my old website from using Jekyll to use Kirby, which I can highly recommend to the Developers out there. It is a file-based CMS, so you don’t need to install and maintain a database as you would need to with for example WordPress. For simple websites maintaining a Database is really a mess and much overblown. But with Kirby you can also realize a complete and complex shop system with integrated payment functionality as I did for Federleicht Designatelier. It is really easy to maintain! Second, I am trying to publish a post every month. If you look at the publish date for the post you will see that it is only written down with month and year and without day. In case of lots of good topics and feedback I may rethink that rhythm, but I think for the moment it will work well. Third, I will write around the topic’s sports, startup, technology and especially about things that occupy me during that time when I will write the post. Fourth, I will write the post of course first in English (not my mother language) and translate it afterwards to German (my mother language). In case you find improvements please do not hesitate to contact me. Fifth, I often suggested people in the past to regular create content for their (mostly business) website to get better SEO results. And most of the time I discovered that all of the people were not able to do make it. Why? I don’t know but I can imagine that it is not so important for them and there are X-thousand other things they prefer to do. So hopefully I can manage it to create content-full posts that will bring you and me a step further! Tools and workplace to work with well Sneak Peak In the following I will summarize possible titles and topics that may be published in the next few months. Is the location of a company/startup relevant in today’s digitized world? In recent conversations with my Co-Founder Niko and other startup people this was a frequently discussed topic. As for example the southwest of Germany where I am living it may be hard to fully convince investors of technology driven businesses (especially when you have a hardware component in your product). Also, the need of good co-workers and employees is a good question, but one may think that remote workers are good to go in today’s time? These and other factors are a very interesting topic and do occupy a lot of people (especially in the startup area). Best way to get/stay healthy, balanced and satisfied (and of course to get a six-pack ;-) The internet, magazines and journals are full of the newest diet, the best supplements, the most efficient workout and so forth. But what is the best way? Probably there is no the one that fits all and everybody needs to discover him-/herself and what he needs. The only thing that I would definitely encourage you in short is: Workout regular Eat most of the time healthy Sleep not too short for a longer time What are the characteristics of a leader and what differentiates himself of other people? This is as the topic before in my opinion a very “over discussed” topic – means that almost everybody talks and writes about it, but which is very important. Because imho lot of people are wantrepreneurs. That means that they are no real entrepreneurs but they want to be one. For them it is cool to be one and I think they do it only for the money and fame. The worst thing is if they can express themselves in a perfect way and so they are the best sellers and are able to crowd the good people around them. But normally after a certain time you will recognize that and the best thing would be to stay away from those people very strict. Means if you work for a wantrepreneur go and start your own business. If you call a wantrepreneur your friend question yourself if it is a real friend and worth it or not. If you are married to a wantrepreneur – well up to you what to do ;-)…. Of course, everybody has another view on different topics and thus don’t get it wrong: I don’t have eaten wisdom with a spoon (attention German proverb) to make such statements and of course you can think that I have a completely wrong view but sometimes you need to stake a claim to have a basis for discussion. And as mentioned a few times: through my experience in the last more than a decade and self-reflection all the time I learned a lot and do think that I have a view worth telling to everybody who is interested.