Best Read 2016

My favourite book this year I have read so far is Brené Brown‘s ‘Daring Greatly’. Brown is a social researcher and works on the concept of vulnerability. Her research suggests that vulnerability is the key to feeling connected to other people.

You might benefit from reading ‘Daring Geatly’ especially if you had to close down and build a wall around your feelings at one time in your life to survive and be able to go on. You know, like, when you feel as if as soon as you tell someone what’s going on you have to crumble to the floor and will never be able to stop crying again. Sometimes it’s hard after such a period to open up again. Brené Brown has a wonderful approach to this sensitive topic. It’s  not your average ‘be honest and everything will be fine’ stuff. No. She is very clear that vulnerability is risky, and that you have to learn to distinguish who earns your trust and who doesn’t.

Watch her TED-talk on vulnerability here:

I am a bit of the ‘better careful than sorry’ type when it comes to opening up, and people who open up too fast make me feel uncomfortable. I stepped back from showing myself for fear of becoming one of those annoying professional victims who tell you too much too early. Brenè Brown remembered me that it is not about being open or not. It’s about stopping to use strength as a shield and being able to open up when appropriate and desirable. And, first and foremost, that there are situations when it IS appropriate and desirable. Because only when you show yourself can people like who you are.

Love

Natalie

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A Bookish Confession

I’m addicted to self-help and personal development books.

When my friends thank me for kicking ass or helping them taking on another perspective to their problem, it’s because my brain contains every approach to self-help ever written. How to survive trauma and other tough stuff. How to overcome addiction. How to boost self-esteem and stand up for yourself. How to find your passion. How to come clear about your values. How to get out of unhealthy relationships. How to find a job you love. How to find a job at all. How to make relationships work. How to raise children. How to let your children go. How to leave behind a dysfunctional childhood. How to deal with mobbing or harressment. How to prevent abuse. How to heal. How to nourish body, mind and soul. How to feel better. How to perform better. How to be yourself. How to live on a budget.

You choose the topic, I read a book on it. And if not on the specific issue, then on something related. Because that is what I’m really good at: Applying basic principles of how people and (social) systems work to other areas. People like to think that their problem, subject or issue is unique. But, let’s face it: That is really unlikely. Chances are someone else solved a similar, if not the same problem before.

But I only know that because I read such a wide variety of stuff, and it all can be broken down to maybe a handful of lessons. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that those lessons are the same for everybody. Otherwise, I would eventually write the book my friends and family constantly demand me to write.

*lame excuse*

Cheers

Natalie

Movie Adapation

When I think about my favourite books, there is hardly anything of which I am sure that it has not been adapted into a movie before. In fact, it happens quite often that I read a book only after I saw the movie. But last Christmas I found something which I would like to see adapted. I was looking for a present for my stepfather who enjoys criminal novels set in Northern Germany (it’s a trend here currently). Browsing the bookstore I came across Cay Rademacher. He has some stories taking place in Hamburg right after WWII. I bought one as a present and one for me.

‘Der Schieber’ (English: The Trafficker), part 2 of a series of cases superintendent Frank Stave is confronted with, is the book I’d like to see adapted in a movie. Some refugee kids are killed and he is doing his job. Some personal conflicts added, he has an affair and is waiting for his son to come back from war captivity in Russia, and there you are with the average plot. Why I’d like to see it adapted, though, is that in the time it plays, late 40ies of the 20th century, Stave is walking through the whole city. Walking. No public transport, only the British soldiers  of high ranks occupying the city have cars. Or gas, rather. So Stave walks through the city and Rademacher describes in detail what he sees. And that’s the part I’d like to see in a movie. There are many movies playing during the war, and that’s bad enough. But of the time right after, when houses and systems were still down while people tried to get back to normal life, we rarely speak. And if, then maybe about the time ten years later or so, when the worst was over.

It also reminds me of my Granny who was working for the Americans when they occupied parts of Germany. I only exist because she turned down a job offer in the United States and instead went back home to Schleswig-Holstein, the most beautiful place in the world, only to meet my Granddad.

*sigh*

Natalie

Books & Music

For me, the link between music and books is the movie. With one exception, which is a ballet performance I had the pleasure of accompanying in Kiel as PR intern. The company is in Leipzig now. If you have the chance to visit Leipzig, you should definitely see a ballet performance there, whether you normally are into ballet or not. However, here is my bookish playlist:

‘Riders on the Storm’, The Doors

Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman: No one here gets out alive


All the Harry Potter Intros

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the whole Harry Potter series, of course, but this one is my favourite)


‘Killing me softly’, Roberta Flack

Nick Hornby: About a boy


‘I see Fire’, Ed Sheeran

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit.

I stole this one. I never read The Hobbit. But my mom loves it, and I love the song. When I hear it I think of my mother and all the people I chose as family.

Have a wonderful Sunday, everybody!

Natalie

Strongly Recommended

There are not many books I think everyone should read. Rather, I think there are some topics everybody should read something about. For every topic which exists there is an introduction somewhere, you just have to dare reading what is suggested for people who study a subject. So, if you are looking for an introduction to quantum physics, go into the science corner of the library. And don’t bother whether you understand everything. You are not going to attend exams, are you?

In general, I suggest reading biographies. A broad variety of tales of what real people experienced. It allows you to understand how ordinary people (because that’s what every single person on the planet is) make it through hard times or reach their dreams. And if they can, you can, too. You just have to let go of the idea that successfull or famous people have a special trait which seperates them from everybody else. Learn how hard they worked in the years leading up to their ‘overnight’ fame.

Topics which apply to everbody

  • Psychology: Basic understanding of why people act how they act, e.g. ‘Influence‘ by Robert Caldini. He not only explains how to influence behaviour but also gives an idea of why those mechanisms are useful for a social group.
  • Sociology or history of civilization: I recommend making up your mind about the fact that what we consider right or wrong is changing over time and differs between places. As various as humanity is, you will find a topic which fascinates you, I promise. Just go from where you are. If you like dancing, learn about the development of dance through the ages. If you like to eat, do the same for food.
  • Economy: I’m sorry but I have to recommend ‘Wealth of Nations‘ by Adam Smith here. It is a hell to read. But it gives you a deep understanding of how our economic system evolved, and how it is justified. Which people need, if they want to be more than powerless consumers and employees.
  • Research & scientific basics: In a time where religious laws for living together are more and more substituted by so called scientific facts, you should know how those ‘facts’ are created. Otherwise, you have to believe in the scientists just as much as earlier generations had to believe in their religious authorities. Basic understanding e.g. of biology allows you to at least question it when somebody tries to sell you supplements to make you thin and beautiful within three days. Basic knowledge of research methods, and you kow that if all test persons are male, your results cannot necessarily be transferred to women, and much less be used to explain differences between both. Speaking of it: ‘Delusions of Gender‘ by Cordelia Fine is a great book to start learning about how studies are manipulated or used to manipulate what we believe, in this case about men and women, but the principles are the same everywhere.
  • Health: Learn how the human body works when it is healthy, not when it is sick. Use e.g. an old book from school when the medical jargon in books on physiology intimidates you.
  • Law: Read the relevant laws in your country for your situation. It is totally unnecessary to be exploited just because you don’t know your rights. Also read the declaration of human rights by the United Nations.
  • Self-help: I strongly recommend ‘The 4 hour work week‘ by Tim Ferris. That’s everything you need to start questioning whether how you live is how you want to live, and where to start if you want to change something.
  • The holocaust: I don’t know about you, but for me 6.000.000 dead jews have always been just a number. Being German, I grew up with the feeling of guilt. Guilt does not breed empathy. It breeds defense mechanisms such as shutting down or cynicism. It took me a while until I read individual accounts of what had happened in my home country decades before I was born, even before my parents were born, which is why the guilt thing is of so little help. Learning what the holocaust meant for one family was so much more meaningful than considering the whole people of Israel while I grew up with news about Gaza. It is my country’s history, but everyone should read about it, please. Learn what happened in order to never let that happen again! When I hear Donald Trump talk about shutting out ‘the Muslims’ or Muslims rant against ‘infidels’, it’s all the same ground, it’s fascism. It leads nowhere but directly to hell. Demand of your leaders that they find more intelligent ways of solving problems than blaming one group. Demand of yourselves to stand up for human rights. Because you never know when they take the turn against you.

Fiction

Although I think fiction is too individual to make recommendations suitable for everyone, there is a book of which I think every person on the planet should read it, whether in high technology societies or in more rural areas striving for technological advancement, and that is George Orwell’s ‘1984‘. You know why.

Now, enjoy your weekend, and if you haven’t for a while, tonight party like it’s 1999!

Natalie

Business Ethics & Corporate Responsibility

Happy Earth Day!

I chose management studies because I wanted to understand what makes employers (i.e. companies) waste their resources, and especially their human resources.

I studied Strategy, HR, Finance, Marketing and Change and now think exploiting resources is not only morally wrong, but also economically idiotic. A book we used over several modules was ‘Exploring Corporate Strategy‘ by Johnson, Scholes and Whittington. I strongly recommend it in my own strategy class and to everyone interested in corporate strategy. It covers the whole range of strategic analysis and implementation tools and is excellent for an initial, and practically helpful, overview when you start studying strategic management. The weird thing is that strategy is all about staying competitive in the long run, but how do you make it in the long run when you destroy your market environment and your workforce’s ability to perform? I don’t get it.

naissance d'un arbre

I went on to focus on International Management, Marketing Communications and Business Ethics. International management was pretty much about taking other views seriously, marketing communications about authenticity, and ethics, well, ethics destroys everything. The shock for me came when I realised that there were people of 30, 40 or 50 years in my MBA class who had never, like: NEVER considered their values as expression of the community they lived in. I saw grown up managers shaking up their world view, realising that there are different approaches to what is right or wrong. Unfortunately, this is true for how you treat your resources, too. Although it’s funny how different approaches to ethics try to ignore how you can use them to argue everything. If you want to get started learning about business ethics, try Crane and Matten’s ‘business ethics‘. Their approach is very hands-on, which takes the intimidating part out of philosophical considerations. I still don’t know why people destroy the environment they depend on. I even developed difficulties understanding how people can ignore that there are so many more people on the planet who are affected by their individual, daily decisions.

Even if you think it’s your right to destroy YOUR environment, you have to acknowledge the right of every other society to protect their environment from being destroyed by you. So, in the long run, if you want to live a wealthy, healthy, peaceful life, it makes so much more sense to ensure and protect wealth, health and peace for everybody. For me, it is no longer a moral decision, it is economically and egoistically reasonable to behave responsibly towards our resources.

If only meat would not taste so good!

Take care

Natalie

Snow in April

Today we have lost a great artist. His music has been part of my life for so long. I cried with the doves, I never made it through 23 positions in a one night stand, I danced like nobody was watching to Alphabet Street, I partied like it was 1999 ever since 1982, I threw kisses, I sang on the top of my lungs along Diamonds and Pearls and I calmed my mind down at the Holy River. And there is so much more! Today I am sad. Tomorrow your music will make me sing and dance again.

Thank you for having been an inspiration, Prince. I hope you find peace and funk on!

Natalie