Author: April Moeller
As many of you may know, CDTM’s Inspire&Dine series has become quite a hit. On April 21st, I&D attracted over 300 attendees to hear the insights of four top-notch speakers.
To start off the evening, Prof. Dr. Konrad Hilbers spoke about why companies like Google and Facebook are not founded in Germany. One of the key take-aways from his talk was the cultural difference in reaction to failure between Germany and the US. In Germany, not only are people risk-averse, but those who take risks and fail see their reputations destroyed. In the US, it is normal to try things: people value what you tried and that you tried, and even if you failed, they trust you to try again.
Prof. Dr. Hilbers emphasized a number of ways to address this issue right away. First, there needs to be an educational and cultural change, such that entrepreneurs become more respected and receive more support. Second, Germany needs to adapt to international processes, so that good ideas don’t get blocked by any number of political or legal agendas. Finally, risk-taking needs to be encouraged and more financing needs to be available for those willing to take risks.
The second speaker of the evening shared with us the importance of self-image, habits, and motivation. Anton Heijbel has done extensive research on success, on why some people become successful, while others struggle to take off. An important factor to success is self-image, which is determined by our experiences, our memories, and our beliefs about ourselves and our futures. Because our brains learn through association and repetition, it is important that we carefully choose what, and who, we associate with; all of these things will affect how our self-image is shaped.
Similarly, it is important to create good habits through these same methods of association and repetition. At first, one uses willpower to do this, but eventually, actions will become easier and achieve automaticity. Finally, motivation is necessary for anything we do. Behind motivation are strong reasons, enough to motivate you to overcome any obstacle. Heijbel closed with the statement, “Dream big, act with courage, and anything is possible.” For more inspiring words, head over to Heijbel’s website: www.lifewithgrit.com.
Prof. Dr. Günter Faltin, the third speaker of the evening, encouraged the audience to become entrepreneurs by reminding us that we are all entrepreneurs at some point when we are children and we simply need to get back to that point. He then went on to provide a few helpful tips for becoming an entrepreneur. First, don’t mix entrepreneurship with business administration. The reason for this is that potential entrepreneurs often become discouraged or overwhelmed by the details of business administration and, consequently, the world misses out on great ideas. Prof. Dr. Faltin likened the entrepreneur to the composer: A composer doesn’t manage the orchestra, he doesn’t play the instruments, he isn’t concerned with booking the venues or selling the tickets – he just composes. In the same way, the entrepreneur should focus on creating something new and making something better; everything else is a distraction.
Second, focus on entrepreneurial design. You don’t become an entrepreneur in 52 hours. You have to understand yourself, what you are shooting for, what is your cause, and have the perseverance to follow though. This takes time; take your time. Treat your idea as if it is your child, or rather, your brainchild. “Keep it in mind; it belongs to you; it is yours.” Third, always have a proof of concept. You should be sure that customers would accept your idea before you invest. Don’t just make assumptions – test them. Finally, make use of the high degree of division of labor in modern economics. You don’t have to do everything. By using components, you need less capital, you can be faster, more professional, and you take less risk. “If people really understood these things about entrepreneurship, there would be a revolution by tomorrow.”
The last speaker of the evening, Dr. Fabian Hemmert, conducts research on futuristic features of technology, such as how mobile phones can use weight, resistance, and thickness to communicate information to the user. For example, a phone could get bigger, thicker, or thinner based on how “full” it is. Or it could shift around its weight, which could be useful in navigation. The phone screen could have different resistances, for example, certain articles could be harder to scroll past, or a signature could be made more difficult for large sums of money.
Every one of us has probably said, at some point, “My phone is dead.” What about a phone that “lives?” How about a phone that has a heartbeat and a breathing motion? One that gets “excited” when it misses a call and needs to be calmed with touch? These futuristic features excite some people and worry others, but either way they remain features of a machine. It’s important that we stay human in this digital world and don’t turn ourselves into a computer.
Don’t miss out on the upcoming Inspire&Dine events: May 19th and June 9th at 1900.