Savvy Talks with Philipp Baumgaertel
What was your first job ever? What did you learn from it?
My first job was delivering a free newspaper to houses in our neighborhood at the age of 12. The job included putting promotional letters into each newspaper. I outsourced this boring task to my little sisters who were seven and eight years old back then. They made 6 Deutsche Marks per hour while I kept 2.
Everybody was happy until my dad said that this practice was unfair and that my sisters did not have to work. We were lucky to have parents who provided us with financial stability. I come from a big family of mostly doctors, carpenters and farm workers, where capitalism is usually met with skepticism. I believed our deal was fair because otherwise my sisters wouldn’t have earned anything at all. I learned that opinions on issues like money can vary greatly, even within families.
What is the best advice you ever got?
I do not know to be honest. I’ve been offered so much good advice … I think the best advice generally comes from people with either unique experiences or unique lifestyles. Both groups are often able to form an interesting hypothesis about life or work or society. This does not mean that they are always right, but at least they have a very strong opinion which makes it easier for me to understand and learn from them.
My wife and my mother also offer very good advice because they know me the best.
What are your personal rules for success?
In Germany there is this saying, “Es gibt nichts Gutes, außer man tut es”. It means that good things only come from doing something or that nothing will happen at all if you do not do anything.
I also believe that failure is part of the process. Most of the things I do, fail, some even miserably. But after hearing stories about rejection, mistakes and hardship from successful people who I have asked for advice I have come to understand that failure is normal. Today, I am not scared of failing. I just keep on pushing and I actually enjoy challenges.
What is your best habit?
I think I am good at acting responsibly towards other people. Everyone is accountable for their own lives, but sometimes things in life happen that you cannot control. Like illness, discrimination and poverty. I am aware of people in need and I believe that with success and fortune comes the responsibility to share and help.
What is your worst habit?
My worst habit is my diet. I have a bad food discipline, I love chocolate, potato chips, burgers and beer. Luckily, I do lots of sports.
Which (living or deceased) person would you like to have dinner with?
I would like to share a meal with Donald Trump and Ben Shapiro. Both are representatives of a political movement that I oppose. And both are completely different characters. Trump does not care much about facts while Shapiro is a very sharp analyst and has almost zero tolerance for non-rational arguments. It would be very interesting to see how these two personalities would argue about different topics from economy to society to welfare.
Who is your favorite artist?
My favorite modern-day photographer is Johannes Höhn, who is part of our Cherrydeck community. Johannes combines digital innovation with a timeless style and makes beautiful pictures of urban life and nature.
Flemming Pinck, the founder of Inferno Ragazzi, a small fashion label from Hamburg, is my favorite designer and one of my dearest friends. He has a ton of energy and never runs out of ideas and creativity.
I am also a big fan of Alex Proba of Studio Proba. She applies colorful multi-layered patterns onto almost anything, rugs, tables, objects, posters, murals … She is amazing!
What is your favorite book?
I do not read too many books, but there are two books I can recommend.
The first is “Außer Dienst” by former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt. His policies would probably be perceived as conservative today, but he was actually a social democrat. It is very insightful and shows how times change politics. It helped me understand the political generation of my father and grandfather.
The second book I can recommend is “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. It is a modern classic and the perfect book to read before starting a business. After you are done, you are fully charged to dive into a deep pile of shit and work your way up.
Please describe the year 2019 with three words.
Amazing experiences everywhere.
In which field(s) would you like to see more innovation in 2020 and beyond?
I would like to see technologies that help us solve major problems in the areas of inequality (people and businesses), political bias and environmental issues. I believe those are the biggest problems — right now and in the next 50 years.
What are your goals in 2020?
To live a happy and healthy family life and to run Cherrydeck successfully. And to find enough time for my friends and myself. I need time alone.
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