Pallegram | #5

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Enthusiasm for the future versus “German angst”

“They’ve got bats in the belfry!” That’s what my grandfather would probably have said if he could have seen some of the headlines currently appearing in Google News. Apart from the fact that many of these headlines are “hacked by Der Postillon” or “powered by Outbrain,” my grandfather would have immediately noticed their incredibly negative fundamental tone.

To get to the point, these headlines suggest that there is no alternative to giving up! The climate can no longer be saved, Germany’s economy is on the brink of collapse, and our politicians are clueless anyhow. If you add the fact that Prince Charles is still not King and that FC Bayern Munich team have once again won the national soccer championship, you might think you were looking at the cover of a German magazine from the early 1990s.

And that’s exactly the problem that has kept us stuck for decades in an endless loop of unmotivated lethargy, occasionally interrupted by the successes of our national soccer team followed by weeks of “We’re the kings of the universe” megalomania. The mood of the Germans is binary, and it could be fairly easily pictured in Visual Basic as follows:

If German [ then ]
[ glass half-full]
[ Else
[ Cheers!] ]
End If

No nation on this planet willingly spends one euro at a newsstand in order to be put into a bad mood. Well…almost none! The Japanese are very similar to us in terms of their mentality. They regard a runner-up as a first-place loser rather than as the winner of a silver medal.

The future belongs to the people with courage!

But what annoys me most of all about this whole situation is the fact that the people who continually write about how this country is on the brink of various apocalyptic scenarios also continually point out that we’re being outdone all the time by various Silicon Valley startups! Why on earth is this happening?

Because you, a young company founder in Germany who has fallen flat on his face with an idea two or three times, are being sent off to the psychiatric ward. If you had a CV like that in California, the future Venture capital providers or CEOs would nod in agreement and whisper across the edge of his light blended cappuccino Frappuccino with levorotatory dairy cultures, “Wow! You look like someone with lots of experience.”

We are currently experiencing the most fundamental social and industrial transformation of recent decades, if not centuries, and what are we doing? We’re getting excited about unsuccessful satires and creating Twitter trends about people I’ve never heard of before who want to find out at last what maggots and earthworms taste like — while half a continent is burning up around them, mind you.

When I agreed to take on my present job at Daimler in December 2016, I considered it the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I was being granted the trust of a pioneering company that had fundamentally transformed the world we live in.

I was told that here I could contribute my enthusiasm in the same way that hundreds of thousands of my colleagues do every day. And here I could write reports and communicate how this Group and the entire sector are undergoing a fundamental change. How it is becoming sustainable. How the future of our planet and our societies is once again becoming the center of attention and how we’re making a break with outdated mindsets.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.” That’s how marketing and advertising pioneer Rob Siltanen wonderfully summed up the situation once upon a time (this quotation became world-famous thanks to a talk given by Steve Jobs in Stanford). “And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Nonetheless I have the feeling that we still regard such people as candidates for the psychiatric ward — and that during these disruptive times that attitude will not take us one step forward!

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Sascha Pallenberg

At the age of four Sascha sat for the first time at the 24h race at the Nordschleife. Ten years later, in 1985, he went online for the first time. At least for a month, because then the phone bill surprised his parents. But at least this time still forms the foundation for his passion for the intersection of mobility and the digital world.

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