I’ve been preparing for this moment for two years now, and now that it’s finally come, I can hardly believe it. There seems to be a whole lot you with the intention to come cheer for me this Sunday, July 27, when I’ll be facing my biggest sports challenge ever: the Ironman in Zurich (3.8 km of swimming, 180 km bike racing and 42.1 km jogging). In order to hopefully not waste your time, I’ve used the official race schedule table to calculate my approximate passage times, so you can come, see me and go on to further enjoying your Sunday :-). Depending on my condition this Sunday, I expect to need something between 13 and 14 hours to arrive at the finish line. You can use the following table as a point of orientation and adjust it accordingly (by changing the duration in the first worksheet), once you see that I’m slower or faster.
Thank you for your support and looking forward to see you!
Yesterday was the day a dream came true: I successfully finished my first medium distance triathlon (1.9 km swimming, 90 km racing bike, and 21 km running) in Locarno. I don’t want to tell you about my glorious success because there’s no glory in it, just hard work. I’d rather share with you an experience that demonstrates once again the importance of doing what’s right.
I’m a rather bad and therefore slow swimmer. I estimated I’d need an hour or at least 55 minutes to swim the distance of 1.9 km. I knew, I’d be last coming out of the lake and I was right. To my surprise, I needed 48 minutes “only”, my new personal best but still 10 minutes slower than the rest of the athletes. Happy with my time, I didn’t understand yet, why being one of the last is risky.
Despite the very hot day, the racing bike and the jogging part went well for me, and I kept going and going. I knew that we had to run 4 rounds and was just finishing my third round, wanting to start my fourth and last round, when a female staff member at the finish line / the run through area tried to stop me. “You’re finished, stop now”, she said. I just kept going and made her understand that I had to run one more round, but she put herself in my way stating that this was indeed my last round, and that I needed to stop. Again, I negated and continued to run. I heard her saying about me (literally behind my back): “She can’t count.”
An even more unpleasant surprise happened a bit later: The run through area had been closed with barriers which I had to tediously circumvent in order to pass by. I continued my last round just to find deserted guard posts and beverage stands being dismantled in front of my eyes. At the first beverage stand I passed, there was no normal water left for me, because it had already been removed. The helpers at the stand were screaming with disbelief when I told them that I still had to run one more round. I got sparkling water in a bottle instead of the normal, still water from a cup because there was nothing else left for me.
Feeling more alone than ever – which I knew I wasn’t because I saw other joggers behind me – I spend these last kilometers of my race wondering how hard it is to be right. I know right from wrong, I can count till 4 – given that at the end you pretty much count every step you take toward the finish line – and still, it would have been a very easy decision to just stop because I was told to. But I kept moving till the end.
So, no matter what they tell you, no matter how sure they are and how alone you are, don’t hesitate. You know what’s right.
Looking back on 2012 today, I realize that it was the year of maxima: I learned a lot, I moved (myself and sometimes others) a lot, I worked a lot, I found many new friends and I accomplished a lot. It was also the year of premieres: rarely have I tried, started and finished so many new things as in 2012. I’m not trying to impress anyone. Given that I’m always trying to live up to my own expectations, this post is rather aimed at myself as my own documentation of my actions in the past year. These little achievements might be meaningless to the world but are essential to me and my development.
These were some of my personal smaller and bigger milestones along the way:
- January 14th, 2012: Starting the sporting year with the Dietiker Neujahrslauf, I ran its 12.1 km in 56.15 minutes. I finished as 45th overall and 19th in my category. Never have I run this distance as fast in my entire life.
- February 25th, 2012: Beautiful Bremgarten welcomed me on a cold but relatively dry day for the Bremgarter Reusslauf where I ran the11 km in 51.16 minutes to arrive as 148th overall and 55th of my category.
- March 24th, 2012: I ran the picturesque Badener Limmatlauf with its rather challenging elevation profile and its 13.17 km in 1:02.28 to reach an incredible 36th place overall and an even more incredible 15th place in my category.
- April, 2012: April came and with it a very nervous me preparing physically and mentally for my first triathlon, followed by the Zurich marathon a week later. On April 15th, 2012, I swam the 600 indoor meters of the Walliseller Triathlon to get out to an 8 degrees celcius cold and rainy outdoors, bike 15 km and run 4 km. Finishing as 63rd overall and 37th in my category, I came to the conclusion – while struggling to feel my legs during my race after the bike – that triathlon is something entirely different, much more difficult and immensely more interesting to an athlete. A week later, on April 22nd, 2012, I managed to live through a very rainy, windy and chilly Zurich Marathon with a race time of 3:42.39 finishing as 135th overall and 35th in my category.
- May 12th-18th, 2012: With a group of racing bicycle aficionados, I spent a wonderful vacation week in amazing Massa Marittima, Tuscany to drill myself to a better racing bike performance, cycling my first 100 km on Sunday, May 13th, 2012 in a surprisingly good shape and without follow-up pain on the days after. It was my first racing bike experience and my first active vacation of this type (I mean the type where you bike 80-100 km every day).
- June 30th, 2012: After 3 years, 3 months and 3 days of studies, I handed in my MBA dissertation paper, finally freeing myself from the sleepless nights of an extra-occupational education. Although I’m still awaiting my grade (and hence expecting my diploma) which is to be announced by mid-January 2013, I can hardly express my great relief and triumph to have passed this very important finish line.
- July 22nd-29th, 2012: During my dive week at Helengeli in the Maldivian North-Male Atoll, I fell deeply in love with this little paradise and completed a very challenging and adventurous diving course to get the Advanced Open Water Diver certificate from PADI and successfully overcome some of my limits. Learning to navigate under water, dive with a current, deep dive, night dive and improving my peak performance buoyancy, I got to know a whole new world where mantas, dolphins, morays and squids made their sensational appearance while fluorescent plankton set the night sea aglow.
- August 22nd, 2012: I swam 1.5 km across the lake of Zurich for the first time (Seeüberquerung) and got to know the rather tough water outside.
- August 26th, 2012: I finished my first open water triathlon in Uster, swimming 750 meters in Greifensee, biking 20 km and running 5 km. Despite my terrible swimming performance, I enjoyed the fantastic event and great weather exceedingly and finished in 1:31.24 as 156th overall and 81st in my category.
- A foot injury in September lead to my missing of the half-marathon in Greifensee, but I felt more or less fit to dare the Lucerne Marathon on October 28th, 2012 and suffer the polar conditions of a heavy snowstorm that swept over us for hours. I successfully completed my 6th marathon in 3:58.11, arriving as 112th overall and 42nd in my category.
- November 1st, 2012: I happily celebrated a very cool and exciting first year as Senior Consultant at Namics in a truly wonderful team with many inspiring colleagues to learn from.
- December 16th, 2012: I concluded the official sports activities of the year with a not very exceptional Silvesterlauf in Zurich, running the totally overcrowded short distance of 8.6 km in 42:59, finishing as 340th overall and 121st in my category.
- December 20th, 2012: As my own personal Christmas present, I registered for the Ironman 70.3 on June 2nd, 2013 in Rapperswil-Jona and have started training for this next big and thrilling challenge.
I’m very thankful to have learned and grown so much this year. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my family and friends for caring and supporting me and to all of you out there who inspire and teach me every day (you know who you are).
Wishing you all a marvellous, enjoyable, healthy and successfull new 2013. Make the most of it, dare to dream and reach for the stars!
I believe in you.
What’s started on April 27, 2009 ends today: 3 years, 3 months and 3 days later. After completing the courses “Organizational behavior”, “Financial Management”, “Marketing Management”, “Michael Porter on Corporate Strategy and Competitiveness”, “Entrepreneurship”, “e-Business”, “Applied Leadership” and “Strategic Management”, writing a midterm and final research paper each, earning many Bs, one C, and one A (check out my Robert Kennedy College Gradebook), I’ve handed in my Master of Business Administration (MBA) dissertation paper today which is the final work.
Working 100% and studying for my second degree after my Master of Arts at the University of Zurich – the MBA at Robert Kennedy College – has been an enormous challenge. Countless nights with less than three hours of sleep, numerous vacations spent studying and writing, and endless evenings and weekends in front of books and laptops were just one part of the incredible effort invested. Another was the immense mental strain and inner pressure to complete the studies, hand in the papers and attend the online classes and discussions. And even on a night off, “off” stayed a utopian term.
That is why today – on my first day off since 3 years, my new life begins. Today, I celebrate the passing of this finish line and toast to endings and new beginnings, proudly looking back on achievements along the way, giving thanks to all the people who contributed to this success:
- To my parents: Thank you for supporting me in every situation. I wouldn’t be anything without you!
- To my brother and fellow student: Thank you for giving me the idea of this MBA und getting through it with me! Without a peer near me like you were all the time, doing this online, by myself, would have been close to impossible.
- To my first boss at homegate.ch: Thank you for believing in me and taking over one part of the financing of my second study so that your “chief editor would get the further education she wants”.
- To my friends: Thank you for beeing there and motivating me whenever I felt like giving up.
Already in 1990, Thomas Bonoma, business administration professor at the Harvard Business School in Boston, has highlighted the need for everyone in the organization to actively participate in marketing. Tom French, Laura LaBerge, and Paul Magill of the McKinsey Quarterly have recently acknowledged this thought in their article We’re all marketers now.
The most important jobs of the marketer according to Bonoma include:
- Understanding the customer, company, and competition
- Interpreting customer dynamics to key insiders, who may be motivated not to bear or to understand, as well as to potential customers
- Leading others inside the corporation across every fuction, in the sense that customer requirements are key across all functions in the organization, not just something to be delegated to experts who “know that stuff”
- Self-destructing, in the sense that the best marketing makes marketers of others and does away with much of the need for specialized marketing “expertise”, because the culture of the corporation has been changed to total customer sensitivity.
That is why I claim that the best marketing is one you don’t notice because it feels so natural that is lived by the entire organization and by its customers who have become brand ambassadors and unsolicited marketers.
Of course, advertising is not dead (yet). But its role and imporance in the marketing mix is definitively shifting: New forms of customer communications are emerging to increasingly push it aside given that the world wide web, social media, and mobile are providing a broad spectrum of new ways for brands to communicate with desired and prospective audiences.
If you happened to miss this old and visionary article in the Journal of Advertising, Volume XXIII, Number 4 from December 1994 by Roland T. Rust and Richard W. Oliver on the death of advertising, you definitively missed something important. This is why you’ll the full article as PDF below.
Rust and Oliver were without doubt visionaries given that they predicted search engines (knowbots), e-commerce, SEO and content marketing (customer communications). According to the authors, a new type of marketing calls for a radically new form of detailed, information-oriented communications as opposed to mass media advertising.
My favorite sentences and passages from a content marketer perspective are the following:
“The value-added of many traditional products today is their information content” (page 72).
“This period will last well into the middle of the 21st century, as the only real value of products, services and communications becomes their information content. The information content of products and services themselves will be transformed during this period into what we call “wisdom products.” Such “wisdom products” will provide customers not only data and information, but knowledge and wisdom for decision
making and action” (page 75).
“Virtually the whole of marketing communications will be “not advertising” in the relatively
near future, so the field of advertising must go out of its way to welcome new, broader topics before it is too late” (page 76).
“Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge. Imagine a world where what you gave away was more valuable than what you held back, where joy was not a dirty word, where play was not forbidden after your eleventh birthday. Imagine a world in which the business of business was to imagine worlds people might actually want to live in someday. Imagine a world created by people, for the people not perishing from the earth forever. Yeah. Imagine that.”
Christopher Locke (2009) in ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto. The End of Business as Usual’
Don Miguel Ruiz’ The four agreements has made a big impression on me. I’d like to share the last pages (134-138) of this inspiring guide to personal freedom with you which is the “Prayers” section of the book because it’s telling a beautiful story, the story of love.
Prayer for Love
We are going to share a beautiful dream together – a dream that you will love to have all of the time. In this dream you are in the middle of a beautiful, warm sunny day. You hear the birds, the wind, and a little river. You walk toward the river. At the edge of the river is an old man in meditation, and you see that out of his head comes a beautiful light of different colors. You try not to bother him, but he notices your presence and opens his eyes. He has the kind of eyes that are full of love and a big smile. You ask him how he is able to radiate all that beautiful light. You ask him if he can teach you to do what he is doing. He replies that many, many years ago he asked the same question of his teacher.
The old man begins to tell you his story: “My teacher opened his chest and took out his heart, and he took a beautiful flame from his heart. Then he opened my chest, opened my heart, and he put that little flame inside it. He put my heart back in my chest, and as soon as my heart was inside me, I felt intense love, because the flame he put in my heart was his own love.
“That flame grew in my heart and became a big, big fire – a fire that doesn’t burn, but purifies everything that it touches. And that fire touched each one of the cells of my body, and the cells of my body loved me back. I became one with my body, but my love grew even more. That fire touched every emotion of my mind, and all the emotions transformed into a strong and intense love. And I loved myself, completely and unconditionally.
“But the fire kept burning and I had the need to share my love. I decided to put a little piece of my love in every tree, and the trees loved me back, and I became one with the trees, but my love did not stop, it grew more, I put a piece of love in every flower, in the grass, in the earth and they loved me back, and we became one. And my love grew more and more to love every animal in the world. They responded to my love and they loved me back, and we became one. But my love kept growing and growing.
“I put a piece of my love in every crystal, in every stone in the ground, in the dirt, in the metals, and they loved me back, and I became one with the earth. And then I decided to put my love in the water, in the oceans, in the rivers, in the rain, in the snow. And they loved me back and we became one. And still my love grew more and more. I decided to give my love to the air, to the wind. I felt a strong communion with the wind, with the oceans, with nature, and my love grew and grew.
“I turned my head to the sky, to the sun, to the stars, and put a little piece of my love in every star, in the moon, in the sun, and they loved me back. And I became one with the moon and the sun and the stars, and my love kept growing and growing. And I put a little piece of my love in every human, and I became one with the whole of humanity. Wherever I go, whomever I meet, I see myself in their eyes, because I am a part of everything, because I love.”
And than the old man opens his own chest, takes out his heart with that beautiful flame inside, and he puts that flame in your heart. And now that love is growing inside of you. Now you are one with the wind, with the water, with the stars, with all of nature, with all animals, and with all humans. You feel the heat and light emanating from the flame in your heart. Out of your head shines a beautiful light of different colors. You are radiant with the glow of love and you pray:
Thank you, Creator of the Universe, for the gift of life you have given me. Thank you for giving me everything that I have ever truly needed. Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind. Thank you for living inside me with all your love, with all your pure and boundless spirit, with your warm and radiant light.
Thank you for using my words, for using my eyes, for using my heart to share your love wherever I go. I love you just the way you are, and because I am your creation, I love myself just the way I am. Help me to keep the love and the peace in my heart and to make that love a new way of life, that I may live in love the rest of my life. Amen.