René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for the 'Whatsoever' Category

Back to Normal after the FIFA World Championship

Over and out, with Spain being the new Football World Champion 2010. Well deserved, especially for playing the most efficient football of all teams whereas the usual 1:0 victories didn’t really reflect their true dominance during the matches. Spain threw “my” German team out and prevailed over Holland in the finals whose only creativity consisted in systematically employing systematic (brutal) tactical fouls. Therefore congratulations to this proud, fair and technically supreme Spanish championship-heroes.

For me, it have been awesome 4 weeks juggling work, travel and watching football. It’s sort of only every 4 years that I get drawn into TV so much, but it was definitely worth it. Interesting, also staying both in India, Germany and actually Spain during the tournament and experiencing the different spirits in these countries.

In my observation, Indians have become bigger aficionados of football this time than in 2006. Speaking to random people, even my gentle Bangalore-neighbours in their 60s and 70s, they confessed how they were spending long nights in front of TV when the matches – due to the time shift – started right at midnight.

At the same time, on the other side in Germany, a healthy patriotism has become the norm which was unheard of before the Championship 2006 in our own land. Four years ago showing German flags was still being discussed, in parts controversially, but no longer this year. Good.

Moreover, this young, ethnically diverse and highly committed team of the German national team won the hearts of all in Germany and of many abroad. How often did I hear something sympathetic like “I am watching all the matches and Germany is playing so well that they deserve the championship!” Although history turned out differently, still very kind to hear.

I also take pride in the performance of our team which in its composition should be seen as a blueprint to where Germany with its multiple challenges should be heading to: Targeted immigration with “no creed, no caste, only merit” (to borrow the karma of India’s IT-champion Infosys) combined with a strong emphasis with affirmative integration. If our German government was run like our national football team, Germany would be as good as Singapore  (I’m aware that this is not desirable for everyone, for me it clearly is.)

Anyway, it also means from today on back to normal: no more long nights in front of TV, no more beer, chips and other junk food. Instead lean nutrition and lots of training as I have to get fit for a mountain tour beginning of August.

FIFA World Championship 2010 in South Africa will be well remembered.

Please re-send E-Mails from Today

I believed I was smart and should fiddle around with the name server-settings of my level360.com-domain. This happened today around 10.30 am India Standard Time (7 am CET). What I did not take into consideration: It also affected all my e-mails to my mail address under @level360.com

Actually throughout the day I thought: “Wow, great, this is really a quiet day where I can get a few things done without e-mail distraction.” An hour ago it dawned on me that this was not normal at all and that there must be connection with my playfulness on these name-servers. (The tricky thing, though, was that all mails I sent out went out perfectly. So there was no indication for me that something was not working.)

Anyway. The problem is resolved, and things are back to normal. A few mails are drizzling in, but I am not safe to say that this will happen to all of them.

Therefore if you have sent me an e-mail today, kindly re-send it.

Sorry also for this communication-mishap.

Indredible India – Carbon Neutral Schoolbus

One of these drive-by moments when you try to be as fast as possible with your camera. Yesterday in Delhi, we were approaching this one from the back with three happy kids in their school uniforms in the back …

Delhi Schoolbus

… and three happy kids in the front.

Delhi Schoolbus

Chapeau to the driver for pedalling in 40 degrees of heat these six cute little chicken home into their nest.

TED India with Inspiration for Profit and Non-Profit

Even after a week of TED India, I feel the inspiration of this unique event still hasn’t left its grip on me. On the weekend, there came via e-mail the request from the TED-team to rate the event, it took me some 10 minutes in all various categories and questions, but the last one was certainly the most important. Besides all the dissecting of single aspects of the event, the holistic question was “How would you rate your overall TED India experience?” On the given scale I gave it the best marks with “off the charts”. This applied for the venue, the Infosys Campus in Mysore, as well.

The Infosys Campus in Mysore

(All pictures of the event, here on my Flickr-set.)

What makes this event so fundamentally unique is the mix of phenomenal speakers in a broad array of disciplines combined with an extremely open discussion culture with the attendees, around 1,000. In terms of the latter: The norm is to just sit down e.g. at lunch or before a session and start a conversation with the people left and right of you. Every time, I felt it was interesting what they had to say, moreover the conversation was characterized by mutual curiosity. The topics started mostly with “what do you do” (without the sales-pitch to it) or “where do you come from”. A phenomenal review of the event which speaks from my heart here at GodInChief from my dear friend Vishal Gondal.

TEDIndia: Day 1 - Vishal Gondal & Rene Seifert

For instance during the last night at the party, I spoke to a PhD in biology who has been running a field study in South India how to reconcile the two apparently contradicting systems of wildlife conservation and that of agriculture for the neighbouring farmers. (There seems to be one …)

Plenty of such exciting conversations on how to lift the life of the underprivileged, especially through grass-root-projects which create some self-sustaining momentum. Those can have an approach of “one person at a time” to scalable models. A brief update at this point on our own charity “Wipro Netbooks for Vatsalya”: We are optimizing tiny little bits and pieces. Being an anal German we bought some buttons from felt which we installed below the table-legs to stop them rock, got some pillows for the chairs so that the very little girls would not have to have their arms at the level of their ears to reach the keyboard.

In fact, it was Petra who who took care of it during her and her husband’s Jürgen visit to Bangalore in the last weeks. Jürgen with his IT-network expertise installed a new, more robust WiFi-router which is better suited to serve 12 concurrent connections. Last, but not least: This month, the computer training started with an experienced female teacher twice a week.

Also, I would not like to withhold the official “thanking letter” from Shashi in the name of the institution.

Thanking Letter Vatsalya

What TED’s inspiration taught me or at least recalled to keep in consideration: If you do business for profit, there is always some higher calling beyond the P&L. Go out, find this mission and inspire your employees, your customers and all your other stakeholders with it. Your following will be manifold.

When you are doing well, there is ample of space of doing good. Go and understand what is what you do best in your organization. Find a way to apply a tiny portion of time and resources from it. Find a way to transfer this abilily in order to enable those who need this little kick-start before they can get lifted on their own.

That’s something I have just embodied in a recent business plan. In one year down the line I will have to be measured by my actions resulting from the easy part called words.

TED India: First Impressions from Mysore

It’s been some 6 hours that I arrived at Infosys’ Campus in Mysore, the venue for the TED India conference. The campus is out of this world, when going through the gate “you are leaving the Indian sector” and it appears as neat as Disney World – although the Infosysians roaming around are way smarter ;-)

Obviously, I am no conference newbie. But every event has its own culture and my experience has been to look and watch in the first place, keep a bit of a low profile to understand the dos and don’ts and then fully immersing into the action. So far my first impression has been fantastic. You just start a conversation with anybody on where they come from, what they do or what interests them. What is a good thing – and I hate anything else – that the conversations are genuinely personal and nobody tries to “sell” himself, lest any product or service.

I guess one little anecdote illustrates my point quite well: When I took the bus back from the opening party to the campus, there was a slim Indian gentleman sitting there. I asked politely if the chair was vacant, he confirmed politely and we introduced each other by name: “Rama – René”. He made an extremely humble, maybe even slightly shy impression to me, and we started to talk in a real curious two-way conversation. After 3 minutes or so it turned out that this gentleman was Vilayanur Ramachandran, one of the leading neuroscientists of the world. He told me about his studies of the human brain with his approach to learn from deviant behaviour in a systematic way about the brain function and arrive to general conclusions for the ‘normal’ case. Rama held a talk today in the pre-conference programme; and here he is in a TED-talk of 2007.

We came then to some older studies of his where he looked at the function of humour which he explained in an amazing way of cultural evolution. But then we didn’t stay too long too theoretical and started to exchange hilarious jokes. One of them which the Professor told me is the sort of jokes I usually tell and I had to promise not spread it by giving “credit” to him. Promised.

As I mentioned Twitter, Rama said that he was registered, but didn’t understand if he had to admit people who follow him, what was public and what not. This was of course my little moment of glory where I could share my experience with the microblogging service and explain all open points. So my initial take: TED is predominantly about good, mutual conversations where a pinch of humour doesn’t do any harm either.

An amazing first evening, and I am really really looking forward to tomorrow, with Day 1 of the conference program. By the way, the entire Day 1 will be broadcast live online.

My personal Farewell: Michael Jackson’s „This is It“

It was a movie I just had to see. So I took the opportunity during my journey through Switzerland for a cinema-adventure last night in Zürich’s newly built Siehlcity. Watching „This is It“ was a bit of my personal farewell for an artist I had always adored throughout my youth and whom I came closer at one occasion than I ever thought.

It was in 1998 that I was head of marketing of Bavaria’s popular radio station Bayern 3 and Michael Jackson was about to come to town. Young and creative as our station used to be, we sat together and cooked up an idea how to make this visit very special – both for Michael and ourselves. So we came up with the „Michael Jackson Welcome Party“ in front of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof where MJ always used to stay. At that time my boss, now a good friend of mine, Rainer Tief spearheaded the initiative, my role lay in proper execution. As we announced this „party“ on-air, reaching more than a million listeners a day, we rightly expected a huge turn-out, so we had to organize everything to the T.

I negotiated with the City of Munich to circumnavigate a streetcar whose rails went straight through the venue, have sufficient police in place, make the hotel management comfortable with the idea (which they were not at all in the beginning), organize a broadcasting van and get our brand-banners and promotion teams in place. We did not get any commitment from MJ’s management about his involvement, so the square crammed with fans and us radio-guys just stood there and waited.

Then all of a sudden a motorcade rolled up, Michael jumped out of his black limousine, visibly delighted about this warm welcome, when our Bavarian brass band started to play one of his great hits. Michael Jackson has a blast, he wouldn’t stop parading the little sealed-off area for his security up and down, shake hands with his fans. He passed my location in maybe one meter distance and I was surprised that he was taller than he looked on TV and not surprised that his face in close-up looked like a mask.

My colleagues and me were all in arms about this gig, Michael went up to his room when he suddenly demanded a microphone in order to speak to his fans. We were well prepared, let the management hand him over a mic with the logo of our station when Michael appeared on the window and asked „stop the filthy press from spreading all these lies.“ This came at a time when the rumours of having inappropriate contact with underage boys started to spread.

Be it as it was, this is not the moment to be apologetic or raise accusations. I believe everything in this matter has been said. Certainly, if you take the time to watch the very worthwhile interview-documentary „Living with Michael Jackson“ (part 1 to 9 on YouTube), one can’t resist he impression that MJ was a complete weirdo who till his end never left Neverland Ranch – as a metaphor for constructing his own little dream world which did not bear much resemblance with reality.

Yet, as an artist I saw him twice live in concert in my native town Munich. Before and after I have never witnessed a singer, dancer, performer and entertainer like him who would create a „reality distortion field“ during his two hour show and leave the audience in a collective state of awe. His last appearance in „This is It“ gives you a glimpse of his undiminished abilities.

I had to remind myself every little now and then during the movie that this man dancing and singing on stage was 50 years old. In spite of his age and 10 years of concert-pause, he expelled the same grace and elegance in his dance-moves as he did when I saw the video „Billie Jean“ for the first time. Interesting also to see how MJ treated his team with a lot of respect and himself with uncompromising, humble perfectionism

This footage material from his rehearsal, which was never supposed to see the light of day to this extent, is an amazing last legacy of the greatest entertainers I will have witnessed in my lifetime. With „This is It“ the final curtain falls not just on the star and the human being behind the „King of Pop“, but for me personally marks a dignified good-bye to someone I have grown-up with.

RiP, Michael.

Silly Video from “The Seifertinger” explaining the World

After 10 years of live-radio till 2003 I always to sidelined to be an entertainer again, but sometimes I just can't do anything about jumping out of the role of professional conduct. Today, when Dirk and I decided to have lunch at MTR in Bangalore, we filled the one hour with walking around in Bangalore's Lalbagh Botanical Garden garden. And then Dirk had his little photo-camera, I was making some silly jokes and one thing came to the other.

(Ah, sorry, today is somehow my German day, and the worst: What I say is not even German, it's rather some sort of Bavarian dialect…)

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Thanks to Dirk for camera, post-production on iLife and all the fun we are having together. 

Owl at my Window in Bangalore

These are the little things in life to be happy about. Just got into my kitchen and saw something brown and fluffy sitting in front of my window. I couldn't make out what it was till I came close to 20 cm, silently, and realized: an owl.

Owl at my window in Bangalore

In the middle of the city, having a rest. Then I sneaked like a paparazzo around the corner onto my balcony to get a shot from the front. Gotcha. And the owl, like a good photo model, knew how to make a good facial expression into the camera. 

Owl at my window in Bangalore

Then I sneaked silently away and the let the owl continue her rest. Come back soon, always welcome. 

Safe Touch-Down with the “Flugröserl” in San Francisco

After doing my Private Pilot License in 2002, I thought I had understood the main principles of flight. You need wings where the airstream on the leading edge would get accelerated on the bottom side, flowing faster than on the upper side, hence creating at the trailing edge a high pressure which tends to equalize to the lower pressure above and thereby creating this magic force called “lift” which in turn allows a heavy object like a plane to get aloft.

But today, I realized that this was only half of the story. At least equally important, if not even more critical, is the existence of the “Flugröserl”. It is a composed word of the German term “Flug” which means “flight” and “Röserl” which is the Bavarian noun for the High-German term “Rose” which means, well, rose. So it means kind of “flight rosy”, but I prefer “Flugröserl” much more, so let’s stick to it.

CIMG2179

The “Flugröserl” is the out-of-reach-object-of-desire for every Economy Class-passenger with risk of thrombosis during a long-haul flight due to special scarcity which condemns him to regress into an embryonic position over 12 hours. But the “Flugröserl” is also the object of desire for the Business Class passenger who finds the presence of so many other passengers around him utterly vulgar and who is yearning for more and still more in life. Because, the Flugröserl, is an exclusive piece of decoration on your seat of Lufthansa First Class which indicates you that you made it to the top, that on 39,000 feet above sea level you can add another 4 meters in the upper deck of the Boing 747 Jumbo Jet. Wow – how awesome is that?!

Well, to transcend back to some literally grounded reason, the “Flugröserl” was the major theme and amusement for my friend Arnd and me today during our flight on LH 454 from Frankfurt to San Francisco. From my constants flight from and to India, I had so many Lufthansa "Miles & More" that I thought I’ll do us a favour with a “once in a lifetime experience” and get us an upgrade into First Class. Yep, it was cool. You get attention from the cabin staff as if you were a 3-months old baby with the only difference that fine alcoholic drinks are the main liquid to sedate you.

And of course to show you her unconditional love, Mum (=the flight attendant) would bring you approximately one hour after take-off the “Flugröserl” whose bottom is embedded in a water-filled plastic cylinder which gets stuck in a specially engineered hole in your First Class seat. And there it sits peacefully and beautifully, the “Flugröserl”. Arnd and me found so much of a likening for it, that we asked Mum to take a picture of us holding the “Flugröserl” as a sign of our achievement, friendship and imbecility.

 CIMG2176

And so today, I am happy to share my epiphany with you that it’s all about the “Flugröserl” where the “Flugröserl” is a fundamental enabler and catalyst in the history of aviation and mankind alike.

Flying with the “Dead Head” on Lufthansa 754

Yesterday I had a very inspiring flight with Lufthansa 754 from Frankfurt to Bangalore, because my seat-neighbour was a "dead head". What sounds grim to the uneducated ear (like mine was till yesterday as well), is a common expression in the aviation industry. It means that a flight attendant is on a flight (sometimes even in uniform) as a passenger, because this flight serves as a transportation flight to her next mission where he or she will be on duty. The reason yesterday was that there was no paying guest in the First Class, hence Lufthansa kept it empty, but therefore was coping with a surplus of flight attendants. Yet, for the return flight of the same crew which will leave tomorrow morning from Bangalore to Frankfurt on LH 755, there again the plane is fully loaded, hence the flight attendant is required. 

Another thing I can assure: My "dead head"-neighbour was very much alive and very friendly, too. And as I always want to know it all, I poked her with tons of question which she patiently answered. How the crews constantly change and they have been trained to work together well in each and every constellation, but that for a longer trip of a few days team-spirit would kick in which would even make a difference for the better. So, it's basically like in any other profession.

What I really appreciated was her commitment which she had towards her company which was true and genuine, and not just a show to please me. And my own observation with Lufthansa's service overall is really positive, and especially it has improved over the last 10 years. In the vast majority, the crew expels a solid German charm which is perfectly fine: It's not subservient, good so, but I'd describe it as friendly, fast and efficient. As the service on board is improving, the gap to the service level on the ground (especially in Germany) is widening. What I have experienced there already from the check-in counter to the desk in the lounges was abysmal. 

When I asked my neighbour what the two shittiest incidents were in her 10 years of flying, she mentioned two. The second-shittiest was a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt when a passenger got a heart attack. Thanks to the defibrillator on board, a doctor who happened to be on board, managed to re-animate the person and recommended a safety-landing to bring the patient to intense care on the ground. The plane was already somewhere at the east coast of Canada and the nearest airport was prohibitive because of bad weather. An other, further airport seemed possible, the plane was in descend, the captain advised the crew that due to bad weather and a short runway that it should prepare for a "safe landing". The weather was that bad that in the final approach, however, the captain decided for a go-around with next destination Reykjavik in Island. At this point the patient who scratched the end of his days by a narrow margin started to argue with the crew. 

Not what one might expect, that he was scared for his life and why the plane didn't land to get him to hospital. By contrary, he insisted he was fine, he needed to go to Frankfurt, because he would miss his connecting flight. Yet, the pilot clearly told him "no way", first because the doctor said differently and second, by now the plane had burnt so much fuel through the missed approach that it had to land for refuelling anyway. In Reykjavik all went fine, the ambulance took the patient and the plane could continue to Frankfurt within one hour.

Clearly number one of my neighbours bad events happened on October 7th, 2002 when a Boing 747 from Lufthansa in marginal weather conditions was set for approach to Mexico City airport. The crew on the flight deck got a warning from the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) about another plane which would intersect the course of their flight. Air Traffic Control (ATC) gave instruction NOT to climb what was exactly what TCAS commanded. As the planes got closer and closer, the pilots – according to their training – decided to ignore the ATC, follow the TCAS and pull up. My "dead head" sat on the left side of the plane looking out of the window when the Jumbo went into a steep climb, just at that moment the clouds cleared up for a moment and she saw the other plane, an Airbus from Mexicana Airlines, under-flying the Jumbo at 30 meters distance. Pretty shitty picture, isn't it. I found an online-source about the incident here.

The investigation found out 1.5 years later that it was the clear fault of Mexican Air Traffic Control and the pilots had saved the lives of their own 388 plus 120 people of the other plane through their disobedience. Interesting I found the smart way of my neighbour to cope with the incident: She wanted to come over it, deliberately requested the same flight again and for landing asked the captain to watch the landing from the jump-seat from the cockpit. After seeing how this landing could go smooth and safe, she managed to mentally tick it off once forever, and continue enjoying her work as she had always done.

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