Die Schule meines Lebens

Weisheiten und Lebenstricks von ziemlich außergewöhnlichen Menschen

by Matze Hielscher

336 pages, ★★★★☆
Finished on 30th of January, buy here.

Matze Hielscher hosts a popular Podcast in Germany called “Hotel Matze” which is almost a 1:1 copy of Tim Ferriss’ Podcast. That’s not a bad thing and he is completely open about that. His interview partners are similarly successful, though of course mostly in the German speaking part of the world. Asking successful people about what made them successful and listening to what advice they have to give is a favorite thing of mine, which is why I enjoyed reading this book containing a bunch of the best interviews, condensed into chapters of 5-10 pages per person out of several hours of conversation.

Sometimes I would have wished for Matze to ask a bit deeper, but I suppose the guests wouldn’t always appreciate that. In order for you to also get a benefit out of me reading the book, here are the main things I considered noteworthy or important or interesting from each of the interviews.

For a few of the interviewees, I wrote down nothing and felt bad about that… did they really have nothing new or interesting to say? Of course it’s not just the type of questions asked, but the answers will have different impact on different people.

🙋 Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What should this experience teach me?
  • What would it look like if it were easy?
  • Is my statement true (or am I making it up, lying to myself)?
  • What do I really need to be happy?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • What are you learning that you're not yet good at?
  • Who do you want to have been?

🤲 Quintessence (Common Ground)

  • Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Strengthen the strengths, don’t focus on the weaknesses.
  • Deal with yourself and get to know yourself. Get a grip on things that limit you.
  • Routines, structure, diligence, play a big role, especially for “free thinking” artists.
  • Work a lot and try yourself out. Even do too much in order to find what you really want.
  • Do not take yourself too seriously.
  • Try out other playgrounds as well. You are not just one aspect of your personality.
  • Go where you see growth potential for yourself.
  • Dare to be unique. Share your view of the world.

Wolfgang Joop (Fashion Designer)

  • That empty space in your soul is the greatest gift (Simone Weil quote), because you have to find out with what you can fill it. Religion, love, maybe work? Joop: mine is still free.
  • Happiness is just a temporary state of euphoria and will pass. Contentment is what you should be seeking.
  • Stay in your era and do what you can do.

Anne Will (Journalist, TV Anchor)

  • Landing somewhere in your career by having luck is alright, but then comes skill, then you have to prove yourself through good work.
  • Doing a lot, working a lot, helps to develop an understanding of what you are particularly good at.

Jürgen Vogel (Actor)

  • The great danger of getting older is to believe that you always know what is right.

Hazel Brugger (Comedian, Author)

  • Getting labeled has one advantage: recognition value in this complex and diverse time.
  • People are addicted to feeling bad because they feel a little bit better when they can praise themselves for feeling bad.

Klaas Hefner-Umlauf (Comedian, TV Anchor)

  • It’s good to take risks for things that you personally find important.

Frank Elstner (TV Anchor)

  • You need to ask yourself more questions. Only those who ask questions will find answers.

Katrin Bauerfeind (Journalist, Author)

  • If you don't know what to do (professionally), just do everything! Deciding on a single job is no longer necessary.
  • Optimism: If a person tells you a new idea, answer “Awesome, start following up on that, sounds great, just get in touch with us when you need something!” instead of pointing out all the ways that idea could fail.
  • Hermann Hesse quote: you have to want to achieve the impossible, because you will achieve the possible anyway.

Atze Schröder (Comedian)

  • I have no talent, but that's not bad. If you don't know something, you can always ask others. Too many people overestimate themselves. This way I can not disappoint myself.
  • I do not wish to be remembered after my death but instead be quickly forgotten by the public (my loved ones will already remember).
  • Don't take yourself too seriously.

Fynn Kliemann (Businessman, Musician, Author, Youtuber)

  • Just start immediately with a new idea. Don't break everything first by thinking too much about it.
  • Keep the funding of an idea separate from the work itself in your head. Helps to be carefree at work.
  • Don't believe anything, but instead try it out for yourself. Maybe you find better solutions that way.
  • I do not need anything, I am not dependent on anyone. That feeling is important to me.

Christoph Niemann (Designer, Illustrator)

  • If you do decent work and deliver it on time, you're golden. If one out of 10 jobs is really good, all the better.
  • Empathize with the consumer of what you make. Be your own consumer to understand the culture.

Kim Frank (Musician, Director)

  • As long as you create something that you like, the likelihood is that there will be others who like it. Because we humans are all quite similar.
  • As long as you have made the best according to your possibilities and the circumstances, you should be proud of yourself.
  • Keep the momentum and be happy about the breakthroughs. Even if they are very small.

Madeleine Alizadeh (Author, Podcaster)

  • Learning to hand things over as an entrepreneur so that you can close your laptop in the evening and know that you have actually worked through your daily workload and are done for the day is the best feeling.
  • It is important to escape identification through work. We are not only then good people when we have achieved something.
  • What is the first thing I feel when I read or think something new. You should rely more on your intuition.
  • Don't move back and forth between the extremes with detox and sabbaticals, but find a reasonable long-term solution for your workload.

Giovanni di Lorenzo (Journalist, Editor in Chief of Die ZEIT)

  • If someone wants something from me and comes to me, he must have the feeling that I am here now and totally focussed on him, even if the last conversation was two months ago.
  • Nobody wants to work for a whining boss.
  • As a boss you have to say what's going on. Everyone has to know where they stand.
  • Max Frisch says don't take it so seriously, do other things, don't take it so seriously.

Tim Mälzer (TV Cook)

  • Life becomes easier when you focus only on your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
  • If you are good at something you have to be humble and not arrogant towards your destiny. You owe it to yourself and others to do what you’re good at.

Paul Ripke (Photographer)

  • Maximize your event density. Experience as much as possible in as short a time as possible.
  • Finishing and delivering something at 80% of quality is better than delivering something late or not at all.

Tim Raue (Cook, 2 Michelin Stars)

  • Ask yourself: Who am I, what do I want and what can I do that others may not be able to do?

Clueso (Musician)

  • Embrace the bad days, they inevitably lead to good ones again.
  • You can only do well what you want to do well.
  • Clueso didn't want to go on tour for his musicians and his team so they could make a living from it. He has separated himself from everything to be in an environment that is not dependent on him, where he can be completely free.

Christian Ulmen (Actor, Director)

  • When something unexpected happens, it can be better than something you made up at your desk beforehand.
  • Try to see your work through someone else's eyes always.
  • Death is an impertinence. No one explains what this is all about, it's an outrage. Death should be forbidden.

Sabine Rückert (Journalist, Author)

  • You have to love the people you lead, then it goes all by itself. You have to take care that nothing happens to them, that they feel comfortable and that they have the freedom to be and work as they are.
  • The apostle Paul says to have as if you did not have; everything you have you should have as if you did not have it. Meaning, you have to be able to say goodbye to everything that is important to you. Not only objects and achievements, but also people. This is liberating.
  • Try to live in such a way that others will say it was good that he/she was there. That they say, “If you are not there, then it is sad, then we miss you.”

Nora Tschirner (Actor)

  • Always change small things in your daily routine, this suggests to the brain that the days are fuller and longer.
  • Make a good day feel like you've been skiing, then fall into bed at night with the appropriate fatigue.
  • Part of your workout is to take a break.
  • Stop every now and then like a carpenter and look at what you have accomplished.
  • Take care of yourself first, then you can help the next if you still have capacity.
  • Contentment can be learned.
  • You are not in the traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.

Sarah Kuttner (TV Anchor, Author)

  • You have control over your reactions. Let a second or two pass, then get into thinking mode before reacting.
  • People who suck often just don't know what to do with their feelings.
  • Give compliments to strangers, because they will know you mean it. People just want to be loved.

Lars Eidinger (Actor)

  • Hey it's your first life so how would you know?
  • We should establish a culture of failure, because there can only ever be one winner, everyone else is a loser. Don’t be ashamed of losing.
  • Maybe we all have an insane longing for a feeling, for a resolution, maybe for death. I.e. not that we are suicidal or super morbid. The thoughts about death can be comforting, too.
  • Life may always be about being loved. There is no other motivation at all.

Titus Dittmann (Businessman, “Father of Skateboarding in Germany”)

  • Fear is the biggest handbrake in life, so if you want to step on the gas you have to deal with why you are afraid. Is that fear justified or not?
  • If you imagine countless times having done something once that causes the fear, your mind thinks you've already done it. That's how you conquer your fear.
  • On the subject of stage fright: if you've got it down in terms of content, you don't need to be afraid and you don't need to prepare. A burning heart and enthusiasm bring authenticity across.
  • If you want to understand people in general, you have to start with yourself.
  • As a businessperson, also study philosophy, sociology and pedagogy, because if you want to understand the market you have to understand people. Because the market is made up of people.
  • If you reach your goal in life, you have not set the bar high enough.
  • Detach yourself mentally from everything that belongs to you, because then you will no longer be afraid of losing something, because you no longer have it in your head.

Sibylle Berg (Author)

  • In the short time I have in the world, I want to learn and understand as much as possible. What I want to do with it, I don't really know myself.
  • Start early in life to realize that most people don't care about you. You are not the center.
  • Everyone has to try within their means to save the world.
  • Be content with mediocrity, the insignificance of yourself. You can only try to do well what you are good at. That's enough.
  • Questioning other people's life plans can lead to hatred, it would be better if we just let each other do what they want. We have a very short time here.
    • I think that’s problematic, because a social corrective is often important for people who are railing off into hedonism. We should be openly questioning each other about their life’s decisions to understand their reasoning behind it. I would like to be questioned and criticized about that myself more in order to learn.

Dunja Hayali (Journalist, TV Anchor)

  • We can't all save the world, but if you move yourself, you can make a difference.
  • People are a mirror. Don't bare your teeth but instead smile and say thank you.
  • Commit to 1, 2, 3 things, not more. Now is not the time to sit back.
  • Stop complaining and get going: when you will be old later, you will remember not how tired you often were, but what you did and experienced.
  • "The dignity of man is inviolable, not only that of the German." (Quoting the German constitution with a twist)

Kübra Gümüsay (Journalist, Activist)

  • What we say and carry into the world says much more about us than about the world.
  • Not the world must give me something, but I have the power and I can give something to the world.
  • It would be presumptuous to assume that I can do something that has an effect. However, it is my responsibility to do what I can anyways.
  • We must understand that no human being and nothing in this world can be understood conclusively.
  • The people I consider to be role models are those who have retained curiosity into their oldest age.
  • Create realities, don't just react to them.

Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre (Author)

  • Actually, if you're going on about the form instead of just doing it, that's always wrong. Then you are trapped in theory.

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