Week 76

Last week we spent some time thinking about when the time is right for hiring someone. Also, we have some updates for you on three events we’re involved in: Next12, Digitale Selbstvermessung and Ignite Berlin.

Thoughts on hiring

We’re not currently hiring. We might be at some point. In fact it’s crossed our mind more than once, but currently we’re three people plus X, X being maybe an intern or someone like the fantastic Maddie, who’s a trainee at VCCP and spends part of her time working with us.

That said, we regularly get job applications. We get applications from recent graduates, and experienced designers or strategists. Applications for internships, strategist jobs and partners. By email, contact form and twitter. And we feel truly humbled by the amount and quality of them all.

When I read through them, I can’t help but think how skilled and able, sometimes even over-qualified some of these folks seem to be, and wonder: What are the main driving forces at work here? Is it Berlin’s appeal, or working in a small shop, or a function of the struggling US economy? A tiny voice inside my head says it’s because the stuff of what we’ve done; rationally I know that’s only one small part of the overall story. I know that not just because it’d be over-estimating our appeal as an employer — which by definition we cannot even have yet, having never employed anyone — but also by just thinking back to the applications I sent out myself over the years. A good deal was for things I really, really wanted to do, often sent at a whim in the middle of the night. Some of these gigs I applied for because I wanted to spend time at one place or another, or because the topic interested me, or to learn stuff. It stands to reason that at least a part of the applications we get fall into one or more of these categories.

So I read them, and we talk about them, and sometimes it’s perfectly clear that one of the candidates would be a great addition to the team. This is the hardest moment: To realize there’s someone great, yet you cannot hire them at that point. And it would be just as unfair to tell them that maybe at some point in the future you want to hire them: If I was the applicant and received that kind of signal it might just throw me off balance instead of staying my course.

Am I complaining about getting applications? Absolutely not. Hearing that someone would like to work side by side with you is the nicest compliment. Yet, before we’re even near to hiring anyone, there are plenty of questions to consider beyond just economics. What type of personality & experience level would fit? How would another person on the team affect team dynamics? Should an extra person add new skills or increase the punching power in our current skill sets?

So no, we’re not currently hiring. But we might, at some point. Figuring out the who/what/when is exciting, as are the prospects for the coming years – but the timing is key.

Events

More details are coming together regarding the events we’re involved in. Over at Next12, the planning of our three stages is getting a final polish. Our joint event with Hybrid Plattform, Digitale Selbstvermessung is getting more concrete as we already did a location check. Hint: this is the view:

Location check

And last but not least, we found a location for Ignite Berlin. And not just any location, but one that has some truly excellent coffee – the baristas work with Portland’s finest beans, straight from Stumptown. Check out the site for more details & let us know there if you’d like to give a lightning talk.

What else is happening?

Our glimpse into the near future is still getting quite a bit of attention, as both stats and conversations tell us. We have some travel coming up and some interesting, but as-of-yet confidential projects in the proverbial pipeline. Johannes will be finishing up a series of in-house presentations at a client agency. Keep an eye on the blog and on Twitter for some blog posts and slides about the topics covered there. Igor will do a workshop with a favorite startup around here, and I’ll try to tick off a bunch of items on my todo list before leaving on a vacation next week.

In other words, exciting times all ’round. And we couldn’t be happier.

Week 72 + 73

Two in one. This week note comes with updates about week 72 and 73. And there are plenty of them.

Last week was the first week we didn’t publish a week note since we started writing them. Sorry about that. Nothing tragic happened, it was just a hectic, very output heavy week and the week note just fell through the cracks. We will try not to make it a habit.

Business

I actually started writing a week note last week, but never got to finish it. Mostly because those last weeks I focused on business development. We are always trying different things. That’s necessary for a company that works at the intersection of agency, consultancy and think tank. It’s easier to other companies who are trying to fit the already known formats. So we try to be as aware and helpful to our current and potential clients as we can.

This been a lot on my mind. We are finally at a point where we became profoundly secure about the message that we are communicating to the outside. In a few weeks, we will update a few of the descriptions on our website and the usual slides that you have seen from us to give you a better understanding of what I’m talking about right now. We laid our eyes on a designer who might be helpful to help us shape the message even better.

Events

There’s not just one, but three events coming up.

Next12 is getting really underway. The International Program Director Monique van Dusseldorp had to dial down her involvement in this year’s Next a bit. Monique and the Next team kindly asked us to step in for her. While the cause isn’t a good one, we’ll try to make the best out of the occasion and fill her proverbial big shoes – after all, Monique is easily one of the best curators out there and extremely experienced in what she’s doing. 

So as Peter takes over her role, finalizing the program for the big keynote stage falls largely to him, which is somewhat of a conference geek’s dream. While sorting through long shortlists (sorry, bad pun) and a stack of emails, this allows us to invite a wide range of excellent speakers. As you know, this is how we usually try to fill up conferences: We invite all those people who we’ve always wanted to see present, and get to know. Usually this method turned out pretty decent results.

So between Peter and me, and with plenty of indispensable input from Johannes, we curate three tracks at Next: the International Stage (aka keynote stage), Arena (best of the speaker proposals plus demo area) and Experience (hot emerging topics). It’s a lot of work, and great fun. Also, it’s amazing to see the input from a half-dozen curators and the Hamburg-based team come together from first brainstorming several months ago to a final program and speaker roster. 

We’re also in the final stages of organizing a Quantified Self event of some sort together with our friends over at Hybrid Plattform. Hybrid Plattform, for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with it, is a joint research center run by Berlin’s University of Arts (UdK) and Technical University (TU). While the details aren’t finalized, we already know it’s going to be two half-days, it’s non-commercial, size-wise intimate and it’s going to be good. There’s a little bit more information and a preliminary tell-us-if-you’re-interested form here.

Last but not least, together with our good friends Claudia and Yasmina we’re putting together another round of Ignite Berlin. This is largely a private endeavor, but since it might be interesting to you I’ll include a link to the little information we can already announce as of yet > here.

Our travel schedule this week

Johannes will be in London for an internal company talk. I will briefly swing by Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday/Tuesday. If you want to meet with one of us, ping us. On Wednesday, Peter and I will be off the grid for a workshop in Münster, Germany. The rest of the week we’re back in town.

Next Conference 2011

On May 17/18, SinnerSchrader’s Next Conference comes to Berlin, this year with the guiding theme Data Love. We curated the Social track, called The Social Layer, which I will also host on May 18. The premise we worked on was this: Social Media as a stand-alone complex is dead – everything from services to products to whole companies will have a social layer built right in, as a core that permeates everything.

On May 17/18, SinnerSchrader’s Next Conference comes to Berlin, this year with the guiding theme Data Love. We curated the Social track, called The Social Layer, which I will also host on May 18 (schedule). The premise we worked on was this: Social Media as a stand-alone complex is dead – everything from services to products to whole companies will have a social layer built right in, as a core that permeates everything.

Wo we started looking for speakers who could share insights about exactly this and were really happy to see a great line-up emerge, including Mike Arauz (Undercurrent), David Noël (Soundcloud), Cornelius Puschmann (University of Düsseldorf), Amanda Rose (Twestival), Will Sansom (Contagious Magazine), Matt Stinchcomb (Etsy), Bastian Unterberg (Jovoto), Birgit Gebhardt (Trendbüro), Matt Gierhart (Ogilvy Action), Jochen Adler (Deutsche Bank), Michael Trautmann (kempertrautmann) and Florian Steps (Vodafone).

On the Next website you can find a full list of all speakers as well as all fellow curators.

If you happen to be at Next, make sure to say hi. I’ll be on the stage for all of the second day (May 18), and available all of the first day (May 17). Igor and Johannes are also going to be around for most of the time.