Ben quits his job running a business school and looks for a new place for himself in the future.
But first he gets lost in the woods and later finds his way to new inspiration amongst fellow members of the Bosch Alumni Network during a three-day workshop: “Zukunft der Arbeit: Der Mensch im Fokus -- The Future of Work: People in Focus.” Will the future be owned by artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data or do the answers lie in the forest inscribed in the patterns and organic networks of nature? Is Ben going back to the world of business or will he turn his passion into a job? Walk with him, listen and find out.
Bosch Alumni Network Event:
“Zukunft der Arbeit: Der Mensch im Fokus -- The Future of Work: People in Focus”
Music in this episode:
Big Tree – Evan Schaeffer
Cast of Pods – Doug Maxwell
Digital Solitude – Silent Partner
EPISODE 02 - I’m Gonna Quit My Job – Transcript
Step One Transcript
“I'm Gonna Quit My Job"
© 2018 – Step One Productions
This is STEP ONE
a podcast about people striving to change their world -- our world.
We tell you stories of the Bosch Alumni Network.
A network of doers and thinkers connected across the globe, working toward positive change.
I'm Benjamin Lorch.
And in this episode I’m gonna quit my job.
But before we dive into our story, we want to introduce you to the community this podcast is part of:
It’s the Bosch Alumni Network, which consists of people who have been supported, in one way or another, by the Robert Bosch foundation. The network is coordinated by the International Alumni Center, a think & do tank for alumni communities with social impact. The iac Berlin supports this podcast. If you want to know more about the power of networks, visit iac-berlin.org.
Three months ago I quit a pretty serious job running a business school in Berlin.
I hereby terminate the existing employment relationship between us properly and on time to the next possible date.
I took pleasure in writing that letter and delivering it in person to the Chief Executive Officer.
Placing it on the desk between us was long in coming.
There are many reasons I left.
It’s hard to count them all
and to speak my mind right now might not be in my best interest.
Here's what you need to know:
I gave up a good salary
and money like that is hard to come by in Berlin, where I live.
Not only that, I had a German work contract which comes with lots of protections
it is almost impossible to get fired,
I had five weeks of vacation, full health care coverage.
But, these are all gone now.
I am 46 year old.
with a kid
So, what do I do now?
I guess I need a job and income
But more than that
I need to do something genuine that brings meaning.
And I'm searching for that now.
But this story is more than just about me.
It is about all of us
and the world of work we find ourselves in.
Because work has changed since I began working back in 1993. At that time I was good a faxing and the web was new.
Today I communicate over email, whats app and a bunch of other channels.
All we share with one another is text.
No one wants to talk on the telephone or even take a message. It seems like the art of conversation is lost and with that a lot of soul has left business and work.
You know, work is a funny thing.
It fills so much of our lives.
Some work is paid
and a lot of the work we do brings no money at all.
Some people work to express themselves
Some work to make things better
Some just work to keep their lives glued together
Sometimes we’re in control.
Sometimes work controls us.
It shapes our lives, our relationships.
And, it is closely tied to our identities and our emotions. Our wellbeing.
Most all of us have to work with other people and that can be a minefield…
or an immensely beautiful, fulfilling experience ….
Now, when I say WORK, I want you to think of two things at once:
the “small” work we do everyday as individuals – our jobs
and THE BIG WORK – CAPITAL LETTERS BIG WORK – that all of us are doing collectively in cooperation or in strife to shape the future.
THE BIG WORK operates at such a large, global scale that no one person can understand it all
but the consequences are massive, all around us and important for the future.
So, what is our job now?
What should my work be?
What should your work be?
What should OUR COLLECTIVE WORK be?
Stay tuned, walk with me we’ll find out.
LOST IN THE WOODS (WOOD SOUND)
After I left my job I found myself one day wandering through a dark German woods and I lost my way.
It was like I was sleep-walking.
The sun was beginning to set and it quickly became colder and darker. I began to worry I would have to spend the night there. But I managed to stay calm.
And then … I encountered someone,
nothing but a silhouette at first.
Silently he led me to a clearing and then to a small harbor with a dock.
And then this stranger began to ask me questions:
WOODS 1 - Gravel road
“What do you see.”
“Now I see a gravel road and some nice farm equipment that reminds me a little bit of my past…
WOODS 2 - Body
“What do you feel in your body”
WOODS 3 - Heart
“What do you feel in your heart.”
WOODS 4 - Longing
“What are you longing for”
“I am longing for a kind of an energetic balance”
…… (SOUNDS OF THE WOODS)
The man is Peter Kesselberg, a member of the Bosch Alumni Network. We are in Paretz, a small village outside of Berlin. Peter is the first person I encounter during workshop focused on THE FUTURE OF WORK. To begin the weekend all of us participants walk into the village of Paretz together, answering the questions you just heard in pairs, to get to know one another and begin the workshop.
Paretz feels like a place to slow down and think. It lies the banks of the wide Havel River west of Berlin. It was built when horses and walking were the only transportation options. The streets are cobblestone and the houses and barnyards are in an austere Prussian style. and it holds a pastoral spirit of farming and work
Attending the conference there is a perfect opportunity to connect with new people and “network.” Fancy words for “look for a job.”
-Three months ago I quit my job and I don’t have any next job to go to.
-To quit the job or.. to come here…? To quit?
This is Fredericke Hardering from the sociology department at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt. Since Hardering is an expert on work-life balance I took the opportunity to ask her my question.
I mean, if you don't get out of the job what you want from it, and you have opportunity, the exit option, of course you should quit. I think it is so important that we really try to listen to our hearts what we really want to do, and if we change what we do and improve our working situations, then of course we should do it, yeah.
I like what Hardering says and I agree with her. She is an expert that understands why people work, how they define work and when they experience their work as meaningful. And I was on that very quest, to find something meaningful.
The conference is about the future and I am 47 years old and I am thinking about my future..And I am wondering if there is a place for me in the future of work. So just for fun, I brought you my resume, and I want you to look at it, and I want you to give me your first impressions of my resume. Here I am at the piece of paper, that’s me (that’s you?) so you look and who do you see, what should this man do?
Actually….you look like a lawyer or something like this here, and I only screen management and administration, you look very off icial and like in a high qualified professional job , lawyer or economic researcher, but when I look at you now you look pretty different than this….
(Ben) And if you look now in the actual Lebenslauf (?), this is my recent jobs….what do you see in this person? Where should he go?
(Hardening) I would say you can also follow the steps you have already done and follow your way as a self-employed.... The headphone and mic suit you well, so maybe you should do more podcast and everything like this, and maybe a bit of You Tube… and...yeah, yeah,…. Go this way with the headphones…
(Ben) So, your advice is wear headphones …(laughs)....ok...
Headphones!.... Of course!
She is right because I have always loved radio.
I mean, I was raised on radio -- listening all the time in the kitchen when I was a kid. And I love the stories and voices that radio bring us.
They have a tremendous power to resonate within the souls of others.
Hardening reminded me that of that and she reminded me that I want to make meaningful conversation a part of my work.I am not the only one searching for the meaning in work.
Millions of people around the world quit their jobs every month: They are not necessarily unhappy, but many hope to establish their own businesses, with a healthier business culture. More and more people are ready to abandon traditional work for self-employment, they are ready to face job market uncertainty if that means they can escape the old. The 9-5, cubicles, office politics and bad behavior.
Today, it just feels so normal to look for self fulfilment in work. It is not just survival.
It is close to our souls. We do more than toil.
But it hasn't always been that way.
To put this all into perspective I spoke to Simon Berkler, co-founder of TheDive, a collective helping organizations and teams to reformulate how they work together.
Simon led a workshop which took an historical look at work and the way we relate to each other through our organizations
This gets a bit big picture, but this part is important because knowing a little about how we got to this point might help us to understand the here and now
So what he's saying is basically this:
We have passed through four grand epochs of work and its organization.
First, people settled down to cultivate land, work was done to grow and store food. The materials came directly from nature and the major source of power were wind water, animals, and the sweat of your own brow. It was the agrarian era, when you worked to serve your lord, like a King.
Then early Industrialization occurred, at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Machines started to organize our lives and people were taught to use the tools and become a part of a larger production. The world of work was made of steel and powered by steam.
Industrialization led next to the Information Age. People began to work more and more with information in the form of data and computers. Tools are not anymore just objects anymore but rather information technologies. This era ends with the moon landing in 1969.
Today we live in the Globalized world wherein we are exposed in big and small ways to all of our neighbors around the world. The Internet is at the center of all of this. People work more independently or in the “gig economy.” Rapid change is the norm and increasingly decisions are made by computers.
In the globalized world, what is our new material of work ?
On the tangible level it seems to be data, I think this is the answer you get most often. On a deeper level, not sure about that, it is rather frequency or energy or something like that but this sounds a bit spiritual and it is also meant like that. Because, the idea of being interconnected to everything around us is a very spiritual idea, and data is maybe a metaphor for the way we are intertwined with everything around us, maybe.
Change has come so fast that many people can't remember an earlier world, but that earlier time was just a few years ago. Before the smartphone and the apps, before amazon, before Google and Facebook . . . even before the Internet. We were connected to each other differently. And because of that we worked together differently.
In the past things moved a little slower but perhaps in a good way. Work was a more deliberate and taken at a more soulful, human pace. People were more focused – and far less distracted by the many channels we are all monitoring.
So, just what should we call times we are living in?
We need new words to describe our era. How does “Post-Internet, TransLocal, Technocapitalism sound to you?
We need better language, better codes to describe what is going on.
Because in ten years from now, we will be working more and more with robots and quote “smart” devices that we talk to and they will talk with us. Actually, we work with them now! Alexa. Siri.
And these devices, they are watching us, listening to us and sucking up all the data they can. So, how can I get ready for the brave new world of work with the robots, the Artificial Intelligence, the Big Data?
Should I learn their language? Learn their code? Learn coding?
It is a future skill and we are convinced everyone needs it.
This is Nora Perseke of the Calliope Company. She knows something about code. teaches workshops on coding. She offered one of these in Paretz at the conference
You don’t have to delve into it very deeply but understand basics of algorithms, how the computer and the programs are working. Because there is more and more digitized tools around us in our everyday lives and our work lives. We need to use them, and we want to not only produce consumers, but people who really know what they are doing. So that’s the point.
She came there with this small do-it-yourself computer that looks like an electronic star fish with chips on it. You can program it to do basic functions and learn the basics of coding in that way.
I wasn’t so into the Calliope and I asked Nora if we should be scared of it.
(Ben) Do you ever fear that Caliope machines will get together and do their own thing and do their own thing, without your influence or command?
(Nora) I doubt that because the processor of the computer is a bit dumb, so that they cannot take over the world. They are just our little helpers, our little star shaped computers to make the world better. But who knows….I mean, I don’t know what they do at night, so maybe they are planning a revolution...
(Ben)I am actually very interested in leaving computers behind...I would like to leave anything made of silicone behind me….
(Nora) Technology will move on, and there will be Ai, and it will affect you even if you don’t use the social media. I think it is healthy to stay sceptical and to think of the threats applied but it is also...yes, if you deny everything that will happen that makes it hard to take part in the world, and also if you know how to influence an AI in you favour, for example..
(Ben) Now I am going to become a little philosophical and ask you something…I was just at a workshop across the way and they are talking about this organic networked work, moving away from hierarchy and command and control, but isn’t coding all about the command and control… Are you poisoning the minds of people to think that they can control this world through the use of computers?
(Nora) As you can see in our workshops, people are coding together, so it is a social thing. You can not be a programmer on your own and program a whole car or a whole robot, so you always need a team. What we teach is coding skills but at the same time social skills. They need to work together, they need to make a plan together, they need to present their results to each other in order to create a better product. So I can understand that people think that computers estrange us from each other but it is actually not, and it nice to see that in our workshops, so people should come and take a look.
CODING WORKSHOP 1
Man, I do not think that this coding thing is for me. The last thing I want to do is spend more time in front of a computer that does not know me.
EXTRA GRAVEL SOUNDS 1
I gotta keep on moving to figure this out:
Back to the woods to think about all I have heard.
Maybe the answers lie there.
WOODA SEQUENCE : SOUNDS [EXTRA GRAVEL SOUNDS 1]+ [ BIRDS 1 ]+[ SINGING STONE 1 ]
JULIA BEATRICE 1
What do you love,
what do you like to do,
what do you not want to do anymore,
who are people around you that might be interested in doing things with you,
and what is the next thing you can do now to get into motion
Keep on moving but in a very sensitive way, in terms of not stressing yourself really train your antennas for the weak signals which might come along, because in the transition times, it helps to be very sensitive to the weak signals…
Learning how to code is a really beneficial career advice...
Go forward by going back on the road you came on
the road you came on
you came on.
[ SINGING STONE 1 ]
[ BIRDS 1 ]
When I was a kid, I spent summers living and working on a farm in Rhode Island. The farm there rolled to the ocean, like Paretz lies by its river.
Some days in Rhode Island, I could hear pounding Atlantic surf as I stood in a field of grazing cows. And sometimes in the morning after storms at night I awoke to find the windows of the house frosted with sea salt.
The farm was old and some of it slowly falling down.
I spent days without time around the animals and the farmer and woodworker, John. I watched him work, I followed him. I watched and I listened and I learned his trades in the fields, around the barn and in the woodshop.
We baled hay. We slopped the pigs. I worked in the woodshop, cutting, pläning and waiting for glue to dry. It was another world -- an earlier world -- something like living in history because John liked old machinery and hand tools and John liked to watch thing rust. We were surrounded by time and this was the first notion of work I ever had.
Paretz reminded me of this and there a deeper, past part of me come forth. Amongst the old buildings on the dirt roads and in the woods, I encountered an earlier me.
It’s emotional to talk about it. It’s emotional because in Paretz I brushed up against my boyhood dreams of what I might, one day, become and the work I would do. Naïve ideas about what life might hold for me.
Now I have walked the roads and I have and I can look back and look forward simultaneously. And, I have enough experiences to know who I am and what I want.
When I awoke on the last day of the conference, after all the talks and workshops, I felt I could chart a course forward.
I knew what work to do.
I want to hear stories and I want to tell stories.
I want to grab a microphone, put on my headphones and head out to go talk with people. Because there is work to be done -- radio to be made -- and it’s time to start.
This podcast -- the one you have been listening to -- is the result.
This Podcast is my StepOne.
Step One is supported by the International Alumni Center Berlin. Producing by Yannic HANNEBOHN. Our editor is Jelena PRTORIC. Our theme music is composed by Niklas Kramer of the band Still Parade.
Special shoutout this time goes to my wonderful friend Jerry Mulderig and my wife, Odette.
Peter Kesselberg and our team, we are all part of the Bosch Alumni network.
If you liked this episode, tell a friend. If you want to tell us about you're quest to find a job, write us to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll publish the best stories on our website at www.stepone.berlin
Before we part ways, I want to share with you some advice I got in Paretz that moved me. It was not about technology, it was about connecting with myself and others. I hope it helps you too.
There is just a metaphor which comes to my mind when talking about transitions...it is about a lobster because when the lobsters grow they get rid of their shell because otherwise they wouldn't be able to grow, it would really tighten them, but when they do get rid of their shell they are also very vulnerable for enemies, and this is something I find kind of poetic because that might be true for humans who develop or who grow, to step into their vulnerability and make it part of their transition process...
That is it for this episode. In the next episode we’ll travel to Bosnia to look at the elections.
I´m Benjamin Lorch
Remember the next step is always step one.
Thanks for listening.
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