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ExperienceZone

Learn and grow through experiences

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September 2015

Did you know that communities made us survive?

There’re one evolutionary reason why you can read these lines: You’re part of humanity – a highly developed species, which successfully adjusted to changing environments for thousands of years. How did we do this? Through collaboration. Let’s explore how it worked in the stone age and which role human interactions play in the modern world. The ExperienceZone way: Short and actionable.

You’re designed to engage

If we reflect upon human history, we always gathered together in groups. Clans and big families were the most prevalent type of community. They moved as nomads through ancient Africa in order to survive. Through the division of labor, we took care of food, clothing and shelter. Women often formed groups of gatherers and men went on the hunt. Both teams wouldn’t have been successful if they wouldn’t have collaborated. It ensured women to find the best spots for gathering fruit and men to make a prey. As we fast-forward through the history of inventions, such as fire, the wheel and thus first vehicles as well as agriculture, ideas of many got mashed into something, which represented a quantum leap for humanity.

Together we’re legion. This still applies to our modern world, in which everybody still wants to make a living. Covering basic needs is still priority one. In addition, we identified higher means (think Maslow’s pyramid), which we want to accomplish. How do we do this? By reaching out. You want to go places? Great! Then you need a host to let you crunch on her couch. You want to make the next career step? Way to go! Then you need your boss to step up for you in the steal-cage-death-match meeting. You want to change the world? Wow! Then you better reach out to do-gooder communities to get your ideas shaped and implemented.

How do you collaborate effectively?

Take ExperienceZone: It’s a social network. One of the most complex endavours one can launch nowadays. Without my development folks and my brother overlooking the technical stuff, we wouldn’t be able to come this far. Whatever you’re up to, you need the support of others:

  1. Make up your mind. What do you want to accomplish? On individual level, this falls back to your mission and aims in life. Once you gained clarity about your goals, you need to come up with a plan.
  2. Brainstorm resources. For each action in your plan, assign others who help you to follow through. This might be your partner remembering you to stick to your low-carb diet. This might be your peers supporting you in delivering the project in time and quality.
  3. Reach out. Once you know whom you can leverage, fill them in. Let folks know what you want to do, have or be by when. Let alone spreading the word brings you closer to achieving your objectives. Bear in mind, that people are more willing to support you if you give before you take, i.e. offer your support in achieving their mission and aims in life.

Did you know that a child can cost as much as an apartment?

Well, I’ve definitely cost as much as a small house. Of course, the decision to get children is dependent on many factors (assuming you can actually plan for it). So, let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

Why having children?

First things first: I don’t have children yet. However, I do understand why many declare them as their mission (although I believe that everyone is on planet earth for an individual reason, which is different from the cheer act and result of reproduction). Since our planet is overpopulated, you don’t need to worry about humankind disappearing just because you decide against children.

Yet if you do so, you want to check yourself in three areas:

First, your personal situation. Are you through your rite of passage? Do you feel like you’re grown up. Admittedly, I’ll always have a child in me, which drives me towards doing new things in a bold way, looking at them with fresh eyes and thus enjoying moments deliberately. Yet, I want you to having made certain experiences (such as partners, journeys or hobbies), which make you comfortable with caring for another human being for the next 15 to 20 years. Reason being, some your parents complain about that they haven’t “lived their life” and are now trapped into their parental responsibilities, which doesn’t allow them to make up the things they “missed”.

Second, the relationship with your partner. Do you’ve a stable relationship? Do you love your partner to the same extend that your partner loves you? Do you have more often sex than you fight each other? You might laugh, yet if case the result of latter formula is positive (i.e. more often sex than fights), it’s usually a good predictive indicator for a healthy relationship. Also, you want to reflect upon the social or constitution type combination of you and your partner.

Last but not least, your financial situation does play a role. Do you’ve savings or debt? Do you’ve property (e.g. real estate)? Do you and/or your partner have a “solid” job (the air quotes are due to the fact that there’s no job security anymore, yet you can create skill-sets which are build to last or meet the needs of a large target group)?

Think before you act

This might be challenging when it comes to rather emotional acts, such as sex and thus the production of offspring. Yet, assuming you’re an adult human being and contraceptives are available, I highly recommend you to think twice:

  1. Check your personal situation. Well, there’s never a perfect moment to get children (since there’s never a perfect moment for anything, you better drop the concept of perfection). You might always think that you miss something. However, please bear in mind that children will boost your self-development. Plus spending time with them can be really rewarding. Again, I’m not a father yet but am a good observer plus claim to have decent sense of empathy.
  2. X-ray your relationship. Talk with you partner about your wish to get children. Is she thinking along the same lines? Does she feel “ready” for it as well? Only if both of you guys confirm a level of certainty towards having children, you should jump into action. This way you ensure than no one regrets anything and might not be fully supportive when it comes to living up to the parental duties.
  3. Run a financial analysis. In first place, your professional situation is key to the monetary considerations. Why’s that? If you’re on a good career track (which basically requires you building it up on your individual passions and ultimately strengths), money comes naturally. It’s just a function of others appreciating the value you deliver to them by leaning in with your unique skill-set.

Did you know that chewing can extend your life-span?

We all heard it: “Eat slower.” or “Chew thoroughly.” Did our parents just echoed a phrase they picked up somewhere or is there a deeper truth in transforming your food intake into a contemplation exercise? Let’s investigate it the ExperienceZone way.

Chewing is more than training your jawbone

I’m guilty as charged: My eating pace is incredible fast and thus unhealthy. That’s what they say at least. So why is that? The faster you eat, the less you chew. What’s the purpose of chewing? In first place, it divides the food bites, which helps the subsequent digestion organs to further convert it. The smaller the food bits, the less work your stomach and intestines have. Also, moving your jaw produces saliva. Latter already converts food in your mouth. Ergo: The fewer chews, the less saliva is available for pre-digestion. Your stomach and intestines have no teeth. Hence, food bits will cause digestion problems eventually.

Two good reasons to spend more time over a meal and thus chew every bite more often. There’re two additional ones, which are not directly related to the physical act of digestion.

First, Your brain impacts your feeling of hunger. Proper chewing supports proper alignment with the rest of your body. Your brain can make a good judgement call when it’s time to stop eating. If you gorge food, your brain might not be able to keep up and receive and send the message “I’m full. Stop eating.” too late. The result is that you ate to much and end up with stomach pains.

Second, spending more time over a meal – especially in company – improves your life quality. Why’s that? Well, it gives you time to enjoy the meal with all senses. You taste food with your tongue – or more precisely your palate. You smell it with your nose. Your eyes get the visual benefits of a well prepared salad. In turn, you significantly decrease the awareness factor of a meal if you eat hasty and being distracted by social media or your telly in worst case.

How do you ensure proper pre-digestion?

Yep, this is definitely one of my larger learning opportunities in nutrition & energy. I’m just eating to fast, due to my hectic nature. There’re some tiny habits I’m about to dig deeper into. Surely, you’ll find value in them too. Here they’re:

  1. Eat consciously: Awareness is the first step towards any change in your life. Eating with all senses requires you to eat when you’re eating. No distractions. No smartphone, tablet or telly. Just you and your meal. Practice enjoyment. Try to be grateful for it. Most people on this planet would love to have a meal like you’re gorging every day once in their lifetime! The problem in our “developed world” is not that we don’t have enough food but that we eat too much (and the wrong stuff).
  2. Eat less: Strive towards an efficient digestion. If your digestive track is clean – from your tongue to your anus – you need only little food intake. I used to too fast and thus too often and too much. Not a surprise that my bowel had a serious conversation with me afterwards. The slower you eat, the less you need. Reason being, your body is able to metabolize food better. Hara hachi bu: Stop once you’re 50% full. That’s what the Japanese do and you need to try as well. Join me on the way to control our palates.
  3. Get a good blender: Usually, there’re no shortcuts in life. Yet, when it comes to eating, there’s a great way to be time efficient and eat healthy – especially if you combine it with a raw vegan diet. Get a good blender! It purifies and thus pre-digests your food. You just need to drink the green-brown soup. Bon appetit!

Why we usually only charge successes on our own account

You won, you tell everyone. You loose, you blame it on the circumstances. It’s great to be proud of ourselves and celebrate successes. Yet, often they’re the result of a failure series. If we don’t embrace latter as well, we miss out on valuable learning opportunities. Be smart and follow me here in an ExperienceZone manner.

Why both are important – failures and successes

Many people experience life as an emotional roller-coaster: If everything works out as planned, they feel like life lifts them up. In case challenges creep in though, they feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

In fact, you’re the only one handing out sticks. There is no objective reality. There’s just your expectations of how things should work, your perception of how they actually work and your memories of how they worked. All three are highly subjective.

Consequently, it’s you who decides every minute of your life, which end of the stick you’re handing yourself. Just drop the “winning or loosing” concept. It’s about the setting the right expectations (best case positive ones or none at all). When the stuff hits the fan, its about installing the right perception filters (best case a learning attitude). Looking in the rear mirror, you better memorize past events in bright colors.

Bottom line, you’re in control: You can have a positive attitude. You can see failures as learning opportunities. You can get up and smile again. Actually, the term “failure” or “mistake” implies already negative judgement. To me, there’re no mistakes but only feedback I receive. Latter enables me to adjust my course of action to get the results I want to have next time. This is what life is all about. We’re living in a world of constant change. Why not driving it?

Put a positive spin on everything

Happiness is a choice, not a reaction. In order to become happy, you need to embrace your “failures” though. Why? Well, those offer you the greatest learning and thus growth opportunities. Don’t miss them. Did you ever look back at a situation, which you judged negatively instantly, yet in hindsight it was one of the most important events in your life? If yes,  get your recommendations:

  1. Own your life. Take a deliberate decision to be the captain of your ship going forward. The Latin rooted term “decision” means “to cut off”. You let go of any possibility to not be in control of your life. The impact of God, other people or chance doesn’t fit into your belief system anymore. Full self-determination makes you the strongest version of yourself.
  2. Fail ahead. Whatever you’re up for, you got to do it. Especially those things you fear, since they bear the largest learning opportunities. Action is magic. Don’t hesitate. Jump fear straight in its face. What do you’ve to loose? Take risks instead of tippy-toeing through life just to make it safe to your deathbed. Life is a game and the world is its playground. Don’t stand on the sideline and complain about the rules of someone not complying to them. Instead, jump onto the field and lean into the experience.
  3. Learn and grow. Change your attitudes. You’re a manifestation of everything that happened in your life. Consequently your future life will be a result of your current thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Put a positive spin on those and you’ll accomplish your mission and aims in life effortlessly.

How to make your written application sing to a recruiter

You want to get your dream job? Earn money by following your heart? Make your passion your profession? It’s time to step up your application game! Instead of bribing the gatekeeper called recruiter, you can simply convince her to joyfully give you the keys to the kingdom. How? Well, let’s check it out the ExperienceZone way.

Brevity and clarity

“If I would have had more time, I would have written you a shorter note.” Getting rid of prosaic slack takes time – in any communication way, shape or form. Yet, essentialism is more important than ever. Why’s that? Nowadays, we’re being swamped with information from all directions. Every hour, we’re uploading YouTube videos, which one human being can’t watch in a lifetime. Every day, blogs articles are written, which no one can ever read. Recruiters are knowledge workers. They review hundreds of resumes each day. Google even receives thousands of applications per vacancy. How do you ensure that yours stand out? By sticking to the “one-page” rule. A single-sheet resume provides the overloaded HR professional your entire career history at a glance. No cumbersome printing. No staples. No flipping.

Brevity is necessary but by far not sufficient. It’s like a small plate without food on it. Hence, you want to structure your information in an easily digestible way. Communication is always about the receiver. So, how do you spoon-feed the stressed hiring managers? Think common sense. Consider your cover letter being a marriage proposal towards a company. First you outline what it wants, then you pitch your accomplishments and finally you match both. In terms of your resume, it’s about reserving most space for a reverse chronological documentation of your responsibilities and achievements. Personal information at the top and qualification highlights at the bottom. Each in one line. Period.

Destroy the competition

Yeah, you read right: There’s a war for talent going on outside. Yet, on the other hand there’s a battle for highly paid dream jobs alike. Here’s how you win it:

  1. Stick to your guns: Know where you’re coming from, who you’re and where you want to go. This requires you to run a personality analysis and gain clarity about your mission and aims in life. Also, you want to reflect on your professional life regularly. Capture any updates in your career tracking document. Essentially, it’s the long version of your resume. Latter represents always a one-pager containing the latest and most relevant work experiences as an extract of your career tracking document.
  2. Become a mercenary: Sit down every three months (note to self) and reflect upon the past quarter. Any new roles and responsibilities? Great, put them on top of your resume. Any new successes? Awesome, they are even more important. Like in every other situation in life, you’re selling yourself here. So, its time to act up a notch. I don’t mean lying but stepping the spotlight and enjoying it. Learn to sugar code information. Especially, if you’ve gaps in your resume. Turn risks into opportunities and bugs into features.
  3. Aim and shoot: Having an updated resume is half of the story. The other one tells your matching. The more information you gather about a vacancy, the more specific is your application, i.e. cover letter (or corporate marriage proposal) and resume in term of relevant skills as well as experiences. Kill two birds with calling the recruiter: Get from a cold to a warm relationship and get company or open requisition input by asking some smart questions. Take time to shape and ask someone for a 4-eye check – in terms of structure, content, spelling, grammar and prose. Then put everything (cover letter, resume and certificates) in one PDF file and shoot!

Why fun is an indicator of happiness

Fun, joy and satisfaction. All three terms represent moments of pleasure. Yet they seem to be of volatile nature – unpredictable in their appearance and disappearance. How can you preserve these occurrences or even transform them into a deeper and sustainable state of mind? Let’s investigate this one the ExperienceZone way.

Happiness is a choice – not a reaction

If this is so, we need to start from square one. This is where you make the most important decision in life: Do you want to be a victim or creator. Latter requires self-determination. Once you took full responsibility (better accountability) for your life, you want to work on your attitudes. In other words: The glasses need to be half-full going forward.

Why’s that important? The way you choose (or better “decide”, as a decision is exclusive and action based) to look at life impacts your inner processes. Gratefulness towards your past (e.g. the education I received) and confidence towards your future (e.g. the career I’ll have), creates a flow. The state in which everything works almost effortlessly and the right things seem to “happen” at the right time. Your flow is as stronger as your level of gratefulness and confidence.

There is an ExperienceZone recreation & fun continuum. It goes like this: Fun, joy and satisfaction are temporary phenomenons often caused by external triggers. Happiness is a sustainable state fueled by backward-looking gratefulness and forward-looking confidence. The combination of both create a flow in the present moment. Contentment is the result of surfing the happiness wave. It fuels your heart with rich experiences and reassures you to be on the right track. You calm down as you know that you don’t miss anything and that everything which happens has a reason and is good for you eventually (even if you don’t see the master plan behind the curtain instantly).

How do you live a happy life?

Yeah, there’s research around this. I don’t want to come up with my top ten advises. You can buy a book and read it over a good cup of tea. I only recommend you three simple steps:

  1. Run a personality analysis. Why is the pursue of happiness such a hype these days? Reason being, people are often confused in this complex and faster spinning world. Whilst being addicted to thinking about the outside world, they forgot what it takes to simply be. “Being” on the one hand side requires accepting external stimulus via your senses without judging them (like the smell of fresh coffee) whilst being grounded. Grounding can be reinforced physically and requires emotional stability. Latter you gain through a personality analysis. It helps you to find out where you’re from, who you’re and where you want to go (as a basis for your mission and aims in life).
  2. Decide to live a self-determined life. Self-determination implies accepting full responsibility for your life, i.e. what happened in the past and what will take place in the future. It requires you to finally jump on the driver seat. Of course, there’re other factors impacting your destiny like driving through rush-hour traffic. Yet, unconditional accountability makes you lighter (since you don’t need to blame anyone else) and gives you a boost of extra energy (since you are the designer of your life).
  3. Change your attitudes. Your attitudes represent the raw materials of words. Words shape the thoughts and thus feelings of yourself plus other people. As outside, so inside and vice versa: A two-way street, whereas the importance of this direction recently increased. I talk positive, I think positive thoughts and have good feelings. Also, I plant my ideas including their qualities into the heads of others.

Which music boosts your running performance?

What the heck does music have to do with your workout? More than you might imagine! Music resonates with your body – in particular your heart rate. Hence the type and pace of tunes flowing into your ears impact your mental as well as physical states. How? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way!

Music is the answer

Sounds connect people plus your body to its vibration. Ok, the last part of the sentence sounds weird. Essentially, everything consists of energy. Music is a high frequency composition. Since your body consists to more than 70% of fluid, it resonates with vibrations. Did you ever step close to a loud speaker in a club or a concert? You might felt your body cells vibrating by the bass. Even at decent volume, resonance exists on a more subtle and thus unconscious level.

More interesting is the mental effect. Its actually a function of the biochemical reaction taking place once music makes your cells vibrate. In particular, your heart beat adjusts to the external audio frequencies. This way bloods pumps faster through your veins plus you feel pumped up by the hormones produced in due course. Adrenalin gives you a rush, your lungs widen and your performance capacity increases.

How do you leverage music to peak perform?

When it comes to running, I’m usually a lone ranger. Music – or better the artist performing – is thus often my only buddy. How can you leverage music to increase my running performance up to 20% (!) in terms of distance or speed?

  1. Check your maturity level and goals: Are you a beginner or professional runner? The more advanced you’re the higher your average heart rate during running and thus higher the beats per minute (BPM), you can listen to. Reason being, your heart and whole organism is already used to train on a higher rate. Advanced runners, I usually recommend to tune into 120-140 BPM (it’s Techno and Electro time!), whilst beginners are advised to stick around 100 BPM (Hip-Hop horray!). Also, do you want to check your objectives? If you’re targeting towards speed rather than endurance, switch to fast music. In case, you’re up for long runs, play songs at decent BPM levels.
  2. Monitor and control your performance: For a decade, swiftly gadgets are available, which help you to track your heart rate and running performance, such as time, speed and distance. Engage in some A/B testing, which translates into you running one day at the same heart rate one distance or speed without music and the other day with music. This allows you to measure the difference assuming all other things being equal. Based on the data, you can adjust the kind of music in order to optimize your performance.

How large is your social network?

It’s more about “who” you know than “what” you know. Especially, in the corporate world (some even argue it’s most important who knows you). Since we’re designed to only become truly happy in company, your social network is paramount – in working and private life. Hence, let’s dive into this the ExperienceZone way.

Tell me who you’re with and I tell you who you’re

Imagine us sitting around a fire and singing songs. Sounds romantic? Well, human beings have engaged in social events from begin of humanity. We’re social beings. Period. If you don’t believe me, go into a zoo and watch our closest relatives. Chimps are interacting with each other the whole day. Those who get isolated from a group become mentally and physically sick. Our brain produces endorphin once we’re getting down with others.

Not only in primal surroundings but also in business context, collaboration is the be all and end all. The higher the climb corporate ladders, your professional network becomes more important. As you emerge from an individual contributor to a leader, expertise is assumed to be a given, yet collaboration (or as you haters might put it “politics”) moves into the center of your daily work.

Bottom line, social interactions are paramount to your life. The people you engage with have an significant impact on your life and vice versa. That’s the reason why emotional intelligence is such a hot topic nowadays.

How do you optimize your social network?

Last night I was a first-timer at the Octoberfest in Munich. Met great people. Will stay in touch with some and not with others. How do I make these decisions? Here’re my recommendations:

  1. Check who you engage with. Sit down at a quiet place and write down who you know. I don’t mean your 1,000+ Facebook “friends” but the people you regularly (let’s say at least every quarter interact with). Bear in mind that this goes beyond Family & Friends and thus includes working colleagues and other acquaintances.
  2. Become selective. In case your list is longer than 50 folks, you want to separate the wheat from the shaft. Why? Your social network is about quality not quantity. Focus on win-win relationships (sorry for the consultant speak). How? As you go down the list, cross out those people, which neither support your mission and aims in life nor you can help them to accomplish theirs.
  3. Surround yourself with like minded people. As soon as you landed on a narrow and deep (rather than broad and shallow) network, reach out to those 20-30 folks left. Contemplate about what everyone wants to achieve in life and how you can help her. Since one of life’s golden rule is to give before you take, you want to check on how every one can help you to execute your plans thereafter. Finally switch into action gear and schedule touch points with those people (best case face-to-face interactions). Sounds over-systemic but works like a charm. Have fun!

Are many small or a few large meals healthier?

I used to eat by the clock. Five small meals every three hours. I willingly sacrificed flexibility on the altar of high energy. Yet, is it really true that several small portions are best for you? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way.

How your digestion works

Our physical bodies have been designed and nurtured by nature since the beginning of humanity. Hence, we work according to circiadian rhythms, which steers our body temperature, serotonin production and digestive functions. Such a rhythm makes one day full circle. Or in terms of nature: The time earth needs to turn around itself. From our perspective, sun goes up and down and thereafter the moon.

In the morning, our body is waking up. With that your intestines need to be carefully prepared for the first food intake. As sun reaches its zenith, our digestive power is peaking. Our gut is able to convert more food into nutrition. In the evening, your body wants to prepare for the night. This might conflict with large dinner parties.

You are a symbiont

Biochemically, we’re actually not talking organs but microorganisms here, such as the bacteria, fungus and virus living inside us. These guys are most busy at noon (similar to yourself as being their host). Essentially, you’re an symbiont, who consists of ten times more microbes than body cells. They help you to convert food, impact your mood and your health. Hence you want to live in symbiosis with them.

How much do you need to eat when?

In terms of mealtimes and food quantity, this means the following.

  1. In the morning a decent breakfast. Prepare your digestive track properly by drinking a water with a shot of apple vinegar, lemon and cayenne pepper beforehand. This stimulates your stomach to produce acid. I recommend you to drink anyway up to a liter after waking up since your body sweat during the night and thus lost fluid, which you want to refill. Eat earliest one hour after getting up your breakfast. This gives your stomach and intestines enough time to get ready for the first meal.
  2. At noon a rather large lunch. This is peak time on earth and therewith for your microbes. They thus can peak perform and wait for a large food intake to convert to nutrition. Latter your body needs to function during the day’s high season as well as to regenerate in the upcoming night. Eat only as much until you’re full though and not more. I used to engage in gluttony and ate 3-4 plates. Learn from my experiences and eat one plate full of raw vegan food in best case. Alternatively – and even more healthy – one green smoothie bottle.
  3. In the evening a small snack. Every now and then you want to practice dinner cancelling. This enables your body to invest its energy on regeneration, i.e. your microbes to repair cells, rather than to digest food at night. In case you experience a hunger attack, rather drink liter of water or non-caffeine tea. This fills your stomach and counteracts hunger. Strive to go to bed with a slight feeling of hunger instead of feeling full. Your sleep quality will tremendously improve and you’ll wake up fully energized the next morning instead of tired and looking back on nightmares.

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