Introducing Jannik

Meet Jannik, one of our two trainees in Social Media Strategy, in cooperation with VCCP.

Jannik Schäfer has been working part-time at ad agency VCCP and part-time with us for almost two months. Now that he’s properly settled in, it’s time to make a formal introduction.

Where are you from, and what made you want to move to Berlin?
I was born and raised on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany and grew up always wanting to leave the countryside. While the beauty and calm of nature might be very enjoyable on occasion, the vibrant life of a big city does have its advantages for an energetic youngster. I left Cologne, as soon as I could, to study at a Business School in Frankfurt and found that it was not just any other city that would do the trick. I spent about a year abroad in Paris and have seen quite a few cities around Europe, but upon graduation was pretty firm on the idea that it would have to be Berlin next. The city combines many of the most important elements that make a great home for me. There are creative, intelligent, inspiring and crazy people, there is (still) affordable space and a hugely energetic subculture. Who would want to miss out on that?

What drew you into the world of social media strategy?
I have always had quite a good time on the internet. I started spending time online from about twelve onwards and never stopped exploring and trying to figure out the mechanics of it. When the topic of social media started popping up in mainstream media outlets, I was already sure that communication online was going to be the next big thing. I wrote my bachelor thesis on evaluating Facebook pages and social media strategy in general and discovered that classical scientific research hadn’t really caught up with reality yet. I have always, amongst other things, been interested in brand strategy and good advertising campaigns and so when I was offered the opportunity to learn and work with Third Wave and VCCP, it seemed like a great next step to me. It is probably not a shame to admit that I have spent a few hours on the social networks and the underlying mechanics of it all has often left me fascinated and thrilled in the light of untapped possibilities.

What would you most like to dig into during your traineeship?
I always had a gut feeling about what worked out online and what didn’t. I could pick campaigns or newborn web trends that would make it and ones that would fail but I never really had the knowledge to back up my assumptions. Besides the usual blogs there was never really an interesting source of knowledge I could turn to and so I was very glad to find that I had come to a place where people actually have a working concept. I wish to learn what it takes from all perspectives to make a good strategic plan come true. From the creative, strategic planning through to the real world implementation and execution. There is a lot more to be known about online strategy than what it says in the latest Top 5 list of social media trends.

What takes up most of your free time?
That is a difficult question for me to answer. I would say that as of now it is a very wild mix of things, as I have just changed cities twice within a few months and have a lot of settling-in to do. I would assume most of my time goes into enjoying friends, music, films and shows, (mostly) non-fictional reading, enjoying cold beverages with other humans and apart from that quoting The Big Lebowski. I’ll make sure to update you as soon as the self-tracking delivers new insights!

Give us a couple links that will helps us to get to know you better.
I made you a Top 5 (wink-wink):

Introducing Doro

An interview with Doro Halewska, our new trainee in Social Media Strategy with VCCP. Welcome, Doro!

Dorota Halewska, aka Doro, has been with us for a couple weeks now. She’s doing a six-month traineeship in Social Media Strategy with us and VCCP. This may be slightly belated, but nevertheless, we would like to officially introduce her with this little interview. Welcome, Doro!

Where are you from, and how did you come to be in Berlin?
I’m from a town called Stargard in northwestern Poland, not far away from the German border. As a teenager, I came to Berlin on a school trip and remember saying out loud: “I will live in Berlin one day.” Several years have passed, things have changed, but my wish stayed the same. So last year, after receiving my MA in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Warsaw, I packed my bags and well, here I am!

What would you most like to try your hand at during your six months with us and VCCP?
I was really excited about getting into this traineeship with VCCP and Third Wave. I would love to get more insights into the creative and strategic side of the game, lay the foundations in both strategic planning and consulting. Apart from that, my goal is to become a fully fledged social media strategist, team up with an open-minded client and create a great social media campaign that will change the course of the digital advertising history. (Ideally.) I love playing with languages; I happen to know three of them at the moment. I’ve always wanted to do some copywriting work so maybe I’ll be lucky enough to sit at that table, too.

Since you’re now working in social media and advertising, what’s your favorite social media campaign?
My favorite ad campaign on social media so far was created for a Polish pharmaceutical company selling… you’ll learn that at the end of my answer. It was a viral campaign, launched on social media (as a Facebook fan page) and in the form of traditional printed media. The title of the fan page was “Nie biegam” (the literal translation would be “I don’t run”). This was the slogan on every poster in the biggest cities in Poland. Couch potatoes all over the country liked it on Facebook, believing it was just another common interest fan page for expressing their distaste for jogging as a form of exercise. In a very short time, the campaign managed to attract a very – no, let me rephrase that – VERY significant number of fans. After some time, the responsible advertising agency made its next move… and updated the FB fan page title: “Nie biegam do toalety. Mam Stoperan” (or “I don’t run to the bathroom. I have Stoperan” – Stoperan is an antidiarrhoeal product in Poland). I just love how the creatives played a trick on so many people who actually fell into this trap.

What do you get up to outside of work?
Generally put, I am an art person. I am a photographer, so I try to regularly come up with new projects. In my free time, I like to grab my camera and let my ideas leak right out into the lens. For the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve managed a photo blog, where I upload sneak-peaks from my running projects or simply beautiful snapshots that move me. As befits an art person, I like going to galleries and museums, just to feed my brain and get inspired. I like it when an exhibition works as a great mind opener. One thing which really gets in the way of doing all of the above is my (not-so-healthy) affinity for spending long hours in front of the computer, for which I get told off every day.

What are your favorite places to visit on the web?
Continuing the answer from the previous question, I could spend hours and hours on watching videos like this one by Christien Meindertsma on TED. I also enjoy looking at memes, reading articles and reportages on different international media platforms like The New Yorker or looking at private blogs/websites of people who work in advertising, e.g. Tom Fishburne. I also enjoy looking at well-made humorous cartoons. More favorite places on the web? Well, YouTube for the music, FB for the gossip and many more I simply can’t think of right now.

Meet Jasmine

Meet Jasmine Probst, who has recently joined us for an internship. We’re excited to have her with us.

As of June 1st, we’ve had a new face in the office: Jasmine Probst. She’s come to Berlin for two months from a somewhat sunnier California, and is doing an internship with us as part of her Masters program, an MBA in Design Strategy. We’re excited to work with and learn from her over the coming weeks. Welcome, Jasmine!

What got you interested in coming to Berlin?
Something just sort of drew me here. I don’t have an extremely specific answer, to be honest.

My father is from Freiburg and my mother is English but grew up in Switzerland. I was born in the US with dual EU/US citizenship and always wanted to live in Europe for a bit. With a break between school semesters and the time to do an internship, I found my opportunity.

So why Berlin? I had never been to the city before but heard many wonderful things about the creativity going on here. Also, one of my undergraduate seminars was on the Pink Triangle and that had sparked my historical cultural curiosity. Over the years, various people and interests all started aligning and pointing this way. I’m following the path as it unfolds.

How did you get into the field of business and design?
Design has always been something I’ve been exposed to and interested in — I grew up in a design family; both of my parents are graphic designers and design educators. My own undergraduate degree is in electronic media and journalism. After college, I moved to New York City and started working at a communication/branding design firm, where I found a niche as a content person and writer. That realm has been my bread and butter for the past six years.

Traditionally, design and business are understood and taught as exclusive disciplines. In practice, however, they (can/should) work hand in hand. Working at the interface of creative and analytical thinking: that’s where I want to be.

When I started to get serious about graduate school, I looked into a few traditional MBA programs to “balance” my Bachelor of Fine Arts. Instead, I was quickly drawn in by the new-ish hybrid programs that foster a whole-brain approach. In May I completed my first year in the MBA in Design Strategy program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco; I’m getting a lot out of the integrated, holistic curriculum.

I think there’s an exciting and rewarding future for organizations and individuals that are agile in understanding diverse perspectives and adapting to different scenarios and collaborators.

Anything you’re particularly eager to learn about or work on while you’re here?
I’m enthusiastic about being involved in the multidisciplinary strategy work and discourse at Third Wave. It is great to connect topics I’m studying in school to real-world projects, while absorbing the flow and insights here in the office — I’m impressed and refreshed by the intellectual curiosity and productivity.

I’m also happy to apply my own experience dealing with content to help crystallize some of Third Wave’s communication materials about process, etc. It’s a nice bridge between the kind of work I have done and the kind of work I’m transitioning into.

What are you reading about these days?
I’m addicted to The New Yorker, so anything that shows up in that publication usually passes through my eyes. For daily news, I check The New York Times.

I did a ton of reading for school this past year — many, many, many articles and books about innovation, business models, design strategy, marketing, communication, economics, leadership…for example, Business Model Generation, Switch, and Designing for Growth.

The next book I plan to crack is The Information. Also, my husband recently picked up a copy of the Spring 2012, Means of Communication issue of Lapham’s Quarterly for me, which I’m excited about.

Could you give us a few links to help us get to know you better?

  • My professional website is a good place to get a glimpse of the branding work I’ve done. It needs to be updated with samples of research and strategy projects I did in school — a potential side project if I find the time this summer (not very likely since I expect to be out exploring when not in the Third Wave office).
  • To learn more about my graduate program, check out the CCA MBA in Design Strategy description and student blog.
  • When I need to shake things up mentally during the work day, I like trolling FastCompany’s blogs.
  • If I flip on the radio, it’s for NPR. If I turn on the TV, I tune to PBS.
  • In my daily personal life, I enjoy yoga and good food. One of my favorite places to find recipes is 101 Cookbooks. While I’m in Germany, I’m trying a membership with YogaVibes, a website where one of my favorite teachers from the studio I went to in Venice, CA, has some videos.
  • I spend so much time online these days that, when I get the chance, I really love to disconnect.

Welcome once again, Maddie!

Starting this week, Madeline Maher joined the team once again, this time as a full-time strategist and researcher. Welcome!

Almost exactly half a year ago, Maddie joined us as a trainee. Starting this week, she’s joined us again, as a full-time strategist/researcher, and officially our first team member outside our merry crew of three founders. This is awesome, and so on behalf of the three of us I’d like to say once more:

Welcome to the team, Maddie!

So now with a half year to look back on and compare to, let’s revisit some of those questions you answered last time as well as a couple new ones.

What are the websites or feeds without which a day just isn’t complete these days?
This Is My Jam, as ever, though I have been a bit remiss in posting lately. I also just started trying out Prismatic, which is kind of like Google Reader, but it tries to learn what articles and topics you like and don’t like, and pulls quite interesting things from your Twitter feed that you may otherwise have missed. It allows me to sort by topic rather than by source, which seems more natural and logical. Also, Aleks Krotoski has been running a seven-part show called The Digital Human on BBC Radio 4 that I’ve been downloading and listening to every week as the episodes come out.

After working “in the field” for six months, where do you see the biggest challenges for digital strategy?
Digital strategy can only be effectively applied on top of working interpersonal communication within an organization. The more people work in an organization, the more the system tends to behave like a game of Broken Telephone – unless ideas and goals are communicated clearly to everyone, these messages will get distorted as they’re passed from one person to the other. Communication with the public can’t work properly unless communication within the organization works properly, too. I think one of the bigger challenges is overcoming the common misconception that internal issues can be safely ignored while developing a digital strategy.

What are the bigger issues you are thinking about these days, the problems you’d like to tackle?
I’d still like to find ways of using digital strategy to fix things that are very broken in secondary and post-secondary education systems. Perhaps we could find a way to team up with organizations like the Science Gallery in Dublin or the Hive Learning Network to work on these things.

What’s your coffee setup at home?
Ah, about that. I have beans, and I have a percolator. I don’t have a grinder. So for now there’s only tea. I tend to get most of my non-office coffee from Café CK around the corner on Oranienstraße and KaffeeBar on Graefestraße.

Where can folks find more of your stuff online?
My blog has grown a very little bit in the last six months. I collect images and assorted other things I like on Gimmebar. Things I’m reading or would like to read are either on Pinboard or QuoteFM.

Week 86

In which we think about growing, team dynamics and implicit values, and wrap up our May event marathon.

Growing pains (are sweet)

We’re about to grow, and quite significantly given our small team: With Maddie, we’ll have our first non-founder join us. As we three, as founders, are all employed by Third Wave as well, that makes her employee number 4, and as such the first real addition to the core team. Additionally, two trainees for VCCP are going to join us for six months, and we’ll have an intern join us from her home in California for two months over the summer. That brings us up to 7 people total, from 4 right now.

This is exciting, and we’re figuring out how best to prepare for the influx of smart team members. This goes from more lofty things like leadership questions down to the banal side of things, like ordering chairs and sorting out document folders.

Personally, I’m really curious to see how team dynamics change, how we can keep the information flow going strong without creating too much overhead, how to foster knowledge transfer without too much redundancy. It’s a good challenge to have, and we’re happy to take it on. We’re also all looking forward to discussing ideas in this larger round, and to figure out together how to make the best out of all the energy & capacity that we now have, combined.

Implicit values

We’ve always been thinking about values, and how to run a business. Keep in mind that one of the founding resolutions for Third Wave was to set up a sustainable, responsible business. I’m mentioning this because I just read about Etsy becoming a B-Corp, and there’s a lot in the blog post about Etsy’s values, neatly in bullet points. There’s always a bit of an inherent risk of sounding blasé or just corporate-y by trying to sum up something as big and rich as values in bullet points, but I think Matt & Co actually did a great job.

So Third Wave is built around some inherent, implicit values that we’ve always consciously avoided writing down. But let’s just say that building sustainable relationships instead of unnecessary upsell, top quality instead of scale, and openness instead of obscurity & lock-in are all somewhere close to the center of how we want to run this thing. Despite having never put down a “mission statement” or a “values” document, these things are always implicit in what we do.

Wrapping up Next12, Digitale Selbervermessung (#dise12) and Ignite Berlin

If you’d like to read up on how things went at Next12 and #dise12, you can now find some documentation online, namely a photo gallery and a brief wrapup of #dise12, and a growing archive of videos of Next12 talks and interviews. And if you missed the live event, all the Ignite Berlin talks are now available online.

What else?

Thursday, I had the honor of being invited as a guest to Prof. Faltin’s Labor für Entrepreneurship, a long-running series of interviews around entrepreneurship and related fields. Prof. Faltin interviewed three guests that night – Olympic bronze medal winner Ditte Kotzian, life & startup coach Jana K. Scharfschwerdt and me. Videos will be up on soon.

On Friday, while Igor was on jury duty for the LeadAwards, the rest of us set up the projector to watch the berthing of the Dragon on NASA TV, which needless to say was awesome. We did so while I was having the Campusparty Europe team over, who are planning one heck of an event. (Hint: it’s going to include 10.000 geeks camping out on a former airport; robots; bio hacking; and lots of flying things.) I’m happy to report that we might get involved in one way or another. Once that was all set, together with our office buddy Matt we all sang the 2001 theme song while the ISS’ Canadarm connected with Dragon. In other words, just your normal Friday afternoon in the Makers Loft.

Week 62

Where we welcomed Maddie to our team, sent Igor to Umeå and worked on our own near future.

We’re in a bit of an end of year sprint that will last till the end of next week. After that, we’ll wrap up for the rest of the year and enjoy the holidays. So: one more week, go!

Welcome Maddie!

As of last Thursday, Maddie Maher will be working with us. Well, half with us, half with VCCP. We will try to guide her on the way to becoming a digital strategist, and she will help us out with a few projects. Expect her name to show up on our blog more regularly. Also, we did a little introduction interview with Maddie.

IoT2011 at Umeå

Igor was invited to join a fantastic conference, Critically Making the Internet of Things at Umeå, Sweden. It was a great occasion to meet some of the smartest folks out there, in an intimate setting in the middle of nowhere in north Sweden. Bruce Sterling, Molly Steenson, Anne Galloway, Johanna Drucker and Chris Speed were all there, just to name drop a few. More on that soon.

Next Berlin

Our track curation for Next Berlin is coming together nicely. Just having the chance to invite all these great people to speak is quite neat, so in fact my track is filling up quickly. I might have to slow down a bit to leave some space for last minute recruiting. We’re also slowly inching towards a couple more events next year, so follow this blog and our Twitter accounts closely for updates and announcements.

Have a good week & enjoy the holiday season.

Welcome to the team, Maddie!

As of this week, Madeline Maher joined the team, training to become a digital strategist. Welcome!

As of this week, Madeline Maher joined the team. Maddie will be working half and half with us and VCCP, training to become a digital strategist.

Maddie, what brought you to Berlin?
I suppose Twitter brought me to Berlin. I found an internship with your loftmates, Gidsy, through #jobfairy, an immensely helpful Irish hashtag. After that, I decided to stay. Too many great things happening in this city to pass up, really.

How did you get interested in digital strategy?
Listening to the three of you talk at various office get-togethers (and eavesdropping), as well as coming across new services and tools almost daily that make my brain spin with all the ways in which they might be applied. Digital strategy appeals to both the people-person and the nerd in me. Because the field is evolving rapidly and constantly, it’s a bronco of a learning curve, and that is exciting.

What are some things you think about that you’re planning to dig into over the next six months?
What interests me most is connecting things that weren’t connected before, or thinking up new uses for existing tools. I’d like to get a better understanding of what makes a tool, site or service exciting or unexciting, and how sharing content in new ways could be used to make our lives easier and more fun. I’m also interested in the intersection of the digital world and the education system, and how it might be expanded in unconventional and creative ways.

What are the websites or feeds without which a day just isn’t complete?
My current favorites are three sites that show me new, interesting material every day. (Unlike the news, these don’t make me want to curl up armadillo-style and hide from the world.) They are:

  1., a brilliant site for finding and sharing articles and inspiring ideas.
  2. This Is My Jam, which is’s musical equivalent, letting you upload and share your song of the moment.
  3., Maria Popova’s all-things-interesting blog. Stylish, but with a lot of nerd appeal.


To get to know you better, give us a few links.
My Tumblelog has been snoozing a lot lately. It’s where I go when I can’t fit what I want to say into 140 characters, and when I don’t want to direct my thoughts at anyone in particular. An older collection of observations, rants and anecdotes can be found on Blogger. Follow me on to see where my webcrawling takes me.

Week 60

This week has been all about interviewing people for our project with VCCP and preparing a roadmap for the end of the year.

Interviewing people

Last week we scheduled a full day of conducting interviews for the trainee position of the Social Media Strategist that we want to hire together with VCCP.

We’ve been very impressed with quality of CVs people submitted. The most amazing part was that very few of the people where actually from Germany. People from across Europe and as far as India showed interest in the position.

This is probably due to the international reputation of Berlin as much as the fact that we communicated the opening in English. Still, it was a surprise to us. A good one.

It’s been an overall very good and interesting experience to interview candidates. This position is very much an experiment for both VCCP and us. It requires a specific kind of attitude to be part of this and we’ve been eagerly looking forward to hearing from the applicants how they would approach the experiment and what their expecations towards us are. In this case, it is really important to establish a clear communication between all parties.

End of year sprint

It’s been an exciting and exhausting year. We are currently working on some big projects, especially the big strategy outline for Postbank, and are in the early stages of planning some events.

After our retreat, we decided to adapt a roadmap approach from software development to how we plan our projects. Be that for our clients or for ourselves. Right now, our roadmap for this year ends on December the 16th. After that, we’re going to take it slow for the rest of the year and enjoy a break, let our minds cool down and come back swinging into the next year.