Today I want to talk about something scary. At least, something that I find scary and I know that I am not alone. I want to talk about getting out of your comfort zone and just giving something a try.

Let me tell you a recent story. A few weeks back I sat and thought about places that I would like to speak at, and places that would benefit from having me speak there. I’m currently down in Frankfurt taking Economics classes at the Goethe-Universität and knew that they have a course in Entrepreneurship (which I am, by the way, not taking). Perfect. Lecturing at a University has long been a dream of mine.

Here I could have done any number of things, but I chose to look the professor up and write him an email, presenting myself, who I am and what I do and offered a guest lecture on any of my topics. I thought: What’s the worst that can happen?

What happened? Within five minutes I had a reply from the professor, asking for an appointment later that week, and later that week I had the lecture confirmed. Why did this happen? Because I took a gamble and asked.

Now, let me tell you, it isn’t always this simple and straight forward. I am however constantly surprised at how often it in fact is this simple. A quick, honest email or call to someone and you’ll find yourself getting what you wanted because it benefitted everyone. Instead of thinking about this person as unreachable—I have it a shot and this time succeeded.

The lesson to be learned here is the importance of just giving things a go. You never know what could happen. There is a 50% chance of succeeding if you try, but a 100% sure probability of failure if you don’t. Which gamble would you rather take?

On Handling Failure

Another thing that successful people do constantly is accepting and embracing failures with a positive attitude. See, you can learn from a failure and as long as it isn’t fatal, you’re now better of thanks to it.

I know this to be true. I could count the number of times where this mindset would have made a great, positive difference for me. Yet, it doesn’t come easy to me. I wish it did. But I don’t think that I am alone in this.

For me personally, this has very deep roots. While something I don’t hide, it is also something I don’t talk about a lot: Being the victim of constant bullying from first through ninth grade. Age old story: You can’t be smart if you are in school… It would be naïve to believe that you just shrug this off lightly.

In essence this made me afraid of publicly admitting failure. Psychologically, very logically. As a businessman and public figure, who also happen to be a public speaker, this isn’t the most ideal quality. What’s good is however that you can work to improve it.

Would I say that I handle failure better now than I did before? Absolutely. Would I say that I handle it graciously? Not a chance. There is still a long way to go for me before I handle failure, and even harsh (but justified) criticism in the way in which I know makes you stronger. By accepting it, embracing it, and seeing it as ultimately something positive.

As the age-old saying goes: What doesn’t kill you make your stronger. And by being aware of it and actively working to improve and change, you are already halfway there.


On Tuesday I had the pleasure of being a guest lecturer in the course Entrepreneurship at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. To fit in with the topic of the day which was metrics and analaytics, I wanted to give a primer into web analytics as it relates to entrepreneurship.

Why is it important? Not only will most entrepreneurs be using the web and digital campaigns as primary marketing tools when starting their company, and thus be well-served by understanding the fundamentals. Web Analytics is built on the same foundation as any business analysis and also serves as a great practical and introductory example of using an analytical mindset and lean framework which can then be extended to other parts of running a company.

I want to thank Dr Schäfer for inviting me to give the lecture and of course thank the great class. No lecture is better than its audience. If you are interested, the slides are available publicly online though I wasn’t manage to get a recording done of the lecture itself. I would definitely hope to give more lectures as part of university courses and in the entrepreneurship area.

(Thanks to Nicki Eirfeldt for the photo.)

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One of the things that definitely does not come easy to me is doing small chunks of work on projects continuously. I would much rather sit down, be in the zone, and power through something right away and be done with it.

Someone I met once, told me that this was because I was young, and that I would realize the right ways when I am older. Looking at people, old or young, I however often see the same behavior. I refuse to subscribe to a theory that how you do things purely depends on age.

You have a lot to win to teach yourself to made continuous small progress on many projects. One of the reasons is that doing the big chunks of work at once requires you to be “in the zone”. Sure, when this happens work is nothing but pure enjoyment. But really, ask yourself. Do you spend all your weeks “in the zone”?

When you learn to do a little work all the time, you are essentially trying to lessen the impact of the days when you are not feeling up to it. You are making it easier for yourself to get started and get at least something done. As a consequence you will be overall much more productive and efficient.

I’m always asked how I can manage everything that I do. That is, run a successful business, study economics full time at the side, while still finding time to friends and some time off too.

I wrote about prioritization and focusing your efforts a while ago, and while this is a must as well, you still need to manage what is left. What this most often comes down to is sheer mental power.

What sets a productive person apart from a less productive peer, is his or her ability to just get down to it and just focus, regardless of how unappealing and daunting of a prospect it is.

Fortunately, there are some tricks. My best tip to you is to write down a list of things, a recipe, that you can use to try and clear your mind and get focused. For me, this list includes going out for a walk or run, putting on some good music or reading something inspiring (I like magazines—Harvard Business Review and The Economist).

By clearing your mind, you are able to get down to focus, a skill that truly is what sets apart productive, and dare I say successful, people from the rest. It takes practice. It is not always easy. But in the long run, it is very rewarding.