Season 2
39 Minutes

E82 | Stephan K. Thieringer | What Changed When Strangers Saved My Life

Stephan Thieringer is a German-born serial entrepreneur, business thinker, executive coach, investor, TEDx speaker, and the Founder and CEO of the Boston-based Human Innovation Garage. Stephan’s extensive professional expertise includes serving as Senior Lecturer in Management and Entrepreneurship at Suffolk University and, for a little while, as Director of Operations at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

His numerous awards include being named one of the world’s top 101 Coaching Leaders by the World Human Resource Conference and World Coaching Congress. Stephan is the outspoken host of his own podcast, Raw Rants. In 2020, a heart-attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery invoked an unflinching reflection on what matters in life.

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Stephan K. Thieringer  00:00

I started really asking myself what is a friend. And I said to myself, if there’s people on my Facebook, that’s a great example for me. If there’s people on my Facebook where if I would be in their city, they wouldn’t be willing to pick me up from the airport because I don’t have the $10 to get to downtown. I don’t want them on my Facebook. So I deleted literally probably 600 people off my Facebook

Achim Nowak  00:25

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am just so delighted to welcome Stephan K. Thieringer the my fourth act podcast. Stefan is a German born serial entrepreneur, business thinker, executive coach and investor. He is the founder and CEO of the Boston based human innovation garage. And let me just say this, to me, this is actually one of my most favorite business names for any business in the coaching industry, anywhere. I love this name. Stefan’s extensive professional expertise includes among many other things, serving as senior lecturer in management and entrepreneurship at Suffolk University. And way back in the days, serving as Director of Operations at New York’s world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel. His numerous awards include being named as one of the world’s top 100 coaching leaders by the world human resource conference and world coaching Congress in 2020. Stefan is also the outspoken host of his own podcast rah rants. And in recent years, he’s faced the end of a marriage to a woman he loved face mortality. So he’s gone through a profound personal journey as he investigates what really matters to him. So Stefan, hello, welcome

Stephan K. Thieringer  02:18

him. Wonderful to be here. And I’m always excited, right? Because the German connection here we can pronounce these are those name exactly the way it was intended by our parents. It’s wonderful to be here.

Achim Nowak  02:30

I will honor the German as I am always curious, since you already made mention of our shared culture. And I want to also say that your father was a prominent political leader in a large town in Germany. And that can be a wonderful thing. But that can also be a pressure films thing. So when you were young boy growing up in, in a political family with a civic leader, dad, who did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? Or who did your parents want you to be when you grew up?

Stephan K. Thieringer  03:07

You know, it’s it’s such an interesting question. And so timely, I mean, you’ve talked about you know, personal journey hardships. Interestingly enough, as we’re speaking today, just this year, I lost earlier this year, I lost my father at the age of 94. And you and I, off record over they have spoken about this, when I was little, and I actually speak about it in one of my TEDx talks, when I was little, because I was so fascinated when my father had a driver. And he would pick me up in the morning with my father, and then dropped me off at school. And it started at a very young age, until we got older into one thing, I always loved going just with my driver, with my father’s driver to with the gas station. And what was so much fun was taking that squeegee where, at that time, you know, windows were not the big window is where the front little window was integrated. There was eight Windows on a car, and I literally, I was fighting for that squeegee so I could wash the window. So what I really wanted to be when I was very little very young, I wanted to be a gas station attendant, because it was just so fascinating. And there was a service component about it, etcetera, etcetera. And as I got older, it transitioned because of a friend of my mother’s and somebody where we have a dog, I was very young. For me, I wanted to be a veterinarian. So that was my first big dream.

Achim Nowak  04:21

Now I chuckle as I listen to those two wonderful examples, because I know you’ve had many stages in your life already, professionally speaking. But when you and I first got to know each other, I was struck by you. You started off in, in the hospitality industry, right? Which, in some places that’s considered cool, but also thinking oh, my traditional German family. That’s the last place my parents would have wanted me to go to. What drove you into that industry? I’m curious and how did mom and dad react?

Stephan K. Thieringer  04:57

It’s interesting, distinct difference between moms or reaction and dad’s reaction, as I’m sure you can imagine, in the context you’ve provided earlier, I wanted to be a veterinarian and then had an opportunity to be in what we call it land cleaning a land clinic to see how literally a veterinarian who was the friend had to help birth with a young horse. And that was, for me, the complete turnoff of what I imagined being a veterinary was, which was, you know, small animals, dogs to cute neighborhoods. So that kind of swayed me in the other direction. And then as I got older, my interest suddenly became, you know, I was 18. And I wanted to travel the world as a graduation gift. At the end of school, I was in the Maldives and wanted to stay there and dive and be on the ocean and all the things and then my mom and dad called and said, No, no, you coming home. You got to do something. And very respected. I wouldn’t say friend, but somebody my father knew very well was one of the top general managers in the country of a hotel that was in Stuttgart Steigenberger hotels. Yeah. And he said, You know, I’m gonna

Achim Nowak  06:05

interject for any reason or Steigenberger, illustrious high end, German or Central European hotel.

Stephan K. Thieringer  06:12

And so in Stuttgart, we had the hotel golf Zeppelin, which at that time was and is still there today. It was at that time, ranked in the top 10 hotels, and my father said, Are you going to go do just an internship and see if that’s something that speaks to you. And I was so fascinated by the interaction with people by the conversations, very profound conversations I had with people at the bar as I was observing or in the banquet area. I remember CoSIDA when he was in strip club at the castle, state reception was hosted, I was able to be there as well with the staff because the this particular hotel would always host the state receptions. And the combination between there was some global aspect to it, the dynamic, the craziness of it, the constant change, it really drew me there. And then one day Mr. Herr came to me and said, You know what, you’re doing an amazing job. I can actually fast forward you. And we’re going to credit you already apprenticeship we’re gonna put you into Hospitality Management School. ABC indeed make a very long story short, I was I was intrigued, I did it and then kind of ended up through that journey and Switzerland, Hospitality Management, school, etc. And then ultimately ended up in the United States, initially for Ritz Carlton hotels, where I met at the NASA joven V spot and was what we say in German defectos Assistant, where we were, I met the co founder of Ritz Carlton hotels seakeeper, our German as well. never spoke a word of German with me, and said to me, if you’re ready to do people business, come to the United States. That was in July, August 30 1991, I arrived in Boston, and was at the Ritz Carlton in Boston.

Achim Nowak  07:53

As I listen to this, wonderful, it’s very fast track story. And I’d love to go a little deeper, because you talked about your interest in people and the people dynamics. And you’re obviously in that field right now. But as somebody who used to live in Manhattan for many years, and I used to be way too poor to hang out at the Waldorf Astoria, I mean, I have been walked through the lobby, but that’s where my friends and I hung out. You were the head of operations in this world famous hotel for a while that all of our listeners know if you had to just share one story with us either a highlight or a low light. And I know in hospitality industry, there are both and definitely low lights. So you decide decide what’s the high point? Or what was the one where you go, what the hell am I doing here?

Stephan K. Thieringer  08:43

I’ll share a self incriminating story where some people will cringe or bone and say, Oh, my God, I can’t believe he did that. But it’s also I think, a good context in the day of inherent bias and the way we see the world and discrimination and inclusivity and diversity, etc. So I was there when Madeleine Albright was the ambassador to the United Nations, I mean a wonderful, wonderful woman. So highlight that was always her very personalized interaction. And I was seeing her almost every day. And I was also during the transition when she left and Kofi Annan came in. And Kofi Annan lifted. The wall of towers of the Waldorf Hotel or Astoria Hotel at that time was the world of towers, which was about 250, very high end guest suites and rooms. And the other part is about 12 150 rooms, which were just almost like a conference hotel a little bit. And we had at that time, the largest conference facility in New York. Mr. Anand and I were talking about his transition into the hotel and how he’s living in his living quarters. And as we all know, Mr. Annan by heritage is not a white skinned man. And you start building these stereotypes about the people they are with and it should be with. So I’m sitting with him the hallways in these hotels, in particular, the Waldorf in the suites are very, very long and I’m sitting with him and on kind of almost like a living room area. And I have other stuff there. There’s also security there. And a woman walks in bright, smiling, blonde, Swedish looking. And I get up and I say, Mr. Anand, excuse me for just one moment, I’ll walk up to her. And as, ma’am, good afternoon, is there anything I can help you with? And that was his wife. And it was one of those moments, which was, you know, this aha moment. And I look back at that situation so many times today, how the world is developing how we judge people, how we are very stereotypical how we make other expectations, ours or our expectations, others. And that was, for me, probably one of those pivotal moments in the most endearing I mean, her energy was incredible. His energy was incredible. The context of who he was also the politics, he would make following that, not because the interaction between his wife i and him, but just the general global context, it was just such a humbling experience. And I look back at that many, many times.

Achim Nowak  11:08

Yeah. It’s such a wonderful transition to, because you at some point, you stopped working in hospitality. But one way that you and I are similar, and I’d like for you to expound on it. We both come from these traditional German cities. But you’ve your work became very international in education, technology, an entrepreneur, you did a lot of work in India, other parts of the world. Did that all just sort of happen? Because sometimes we do stuff because somebody calls us and we say yes, or how much of that was? Oh, yeah, I think I want to do that. Let me make it happen.

Stephan K. Thieringer  11:51

That’s a great question. I never I never really thought about it this way. I think my it was very clear from my father’s hospitality was something that was initiated by my father and I went along with it, and then found joy, pleasure. And really, I found a home in that I connected with that industry, I connected with that piece. And I think the one thing which was very clear for me, particularly as I speak to people today, and they asked me about interesting journey, the journey is really people. And that was for me really a constant. Even when I was an education technology. It was always about how can I connect people? And what is it that we can serve and support people with, in the instance of education technology was access to world class education of about 265 institutions around the world. Some of your listeners may be familiar with open content at MIT. And the Open Content initiative, there’s initially were three institutions, which was Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon and MIT, who were funded by the ULA foundation to create open educational resources, which today, oftentimes we refer to as MOOCs, Massive Open Online content. And that was a journey I travelled for a long time. So as I came out of hospitality, I was coincidentally introduced through catering software work to a couple of guys who were creating a training tool for compliance management that was in the late 90s, for Cumberland Farms, which is a regional company here. So that was sexual harassment, discrimination and diversity. The combination of that was that I was coming out of New York as well after four or five years in New York. And I wanted to be back in Boston. So the option for me was, am I going to go work for someone else? Or am I going to be from here on out unemployable, and start my own journey, so to speak, which is the entrepreneurs journey. And that happened then in the late 90s, or late 98. I’ve been unemployable ever since so to speak, I know you can relate to that as well. And so it’s something where it was maybe a little coincidental, but I found the impact was always something that was very important to me. And oftentimes people say to me, why did you leave India? And I always have this gut about, I left something behind that I didn’t entirely finish. That was probably, you know, the consistent journey education, supporting people, providing people kind of a aspect of what’s possible. Yeah, a view into their own future that view into possibility. And I heard many years ago, it is wonderful, Quick Quote. See the invisible duty impossible. And that’s always a little bit guided me along the way as well.

Achim Nowak  14:38

I am certainly just like you 100% unemployable, so, I write and I roll your journey and I’m gonna take us to the human innovation garage, but there may be lots of listeners to go blush Teflon makes it sound kind of easy. Yeah, I decided I want to do my own thing and let me do my own thing. It’s money. you listeners, especially as we get older, we think there’s my own thing I always wanted to do. But we may have lots of stories why we shouldn’t do it? Yeah. And when you started the human innovation garage, you’re you’re in an industry, you know, it’s personal development, growth team building. There are lots of other people doing it. So it would be very easy to say, Why me why, Stefan? You know, what, why am I competing with the big boys and girls who already all doing this? Yeah. So given that framework, because it’s a bit of a departure from the education software. So it’s different from some of the other stuff? What triggered human innovation garage in Europe?

Stephan K. Thieringer  15:41

Let’s talk about the name. And that’ll be part of the answer that I want to give you all about my personal journey. So human innovation garage, when people say today, well, what’s the name about is, is about humanity is about human, we all are inherently human. And we have all these needs and wants, we the desire to be seen that desire to matter, the desire to contribute actively. And I think that conversation in particular, I mean, you know, the last two years has been a huge focus on that conversation and inclusiveness. Innovation is something I think we make it too complicated, right? Innovation is something we very easily can be inspired by things that work and don’t work. And if I’m able, with IN HERE COMES TO garage and with a toolset with some framework of support. And that may be all kinds of different things. If I’m able to help you see the brilliant pieces that you can potentially reinvent yourself, re innovate yourself or innovate yourself in the first place. That can make you from a future standpoint, somebody who’s very, very powerful and very, very driven to do something either different or new, recognizing that potentially some patterns you’ve identified from your behaviors from your actions in the past, are no longer longer serving you today, and will no longer serve you in the future. So that’s kind of the general framework of human innovation, or the human innovation garage, personally, for me was about, and I’ll be very direct with you. In 2012, I started hurting this, hearing this rumor and to talk about this coaching this, you know, business coaching, executive coaching, life coaching. And then obviously, the association was always made, as you said earlier with the big names in the industry. I mean, that’s how I was introduced to you, I want this this gentleman you need to meet. I mean, initially, it was pure admiration that I knew you had written a book, where somebody who was practicing what we’re talking about here for a long time, in a very successful manner and had built a company around it as well.

Achim Nowak  17:37

I think you just call me old.

Stephan K. Thieringer  17:40

No, I just said you were very experienced. So we’re on the fourth act, isn’t it? Because so I would never call you old because I think it’s not about you know, I think one of the things about inspiration in particular, it’s not about age, it’s about wisdom. It’s about experience. It’s about expertise. It’s about knowledge. And I think that’s what you were very kind also with me to relate some of that to me. And along the journey, then we became friends. But so that was my entry into also the coaching world. And I spoke to some different people, I spoke to people that, you know, the Federation’s, we all know international coaching Federation and other training institutes. And I started realizing that good coaching is not just about the certificate you hold. It’s about the life experience, and you bring it into, and how are you able to relate your own knowledge, but also in the context of the person that you’re listening to. And the emphasis being on listening in guiding them in a way that they are able to discover their own resources, which goes back to the innovation of myself, and being able to move forward in a way that supports them, but also gives them joy gives them if we talk about passion and some fire, and they’re getting lit up about what’s ahead of them, kind of that future is planned for them. And that was fascinating to me. And part of it came out of it simply that I think I felt along my journey, particularly in formal education. I sometimes was not giving that opportunity because I think formal education is very limited. And it doesn’t open up the possibility and shows people young kids, even older kids like you and I sometimes what’s possible, that’s what fascinated me. I’m a firm believer

Achim Nowak  19:25

that because we talked about the name human innovation garage. And I’m a firm believer that when somebody decides that I want to work with Stefan for example, I want to work with our team is on some part. People go and this is not conscious i i want to innovate myself, like Stefan has you are your story is about change and innovation and in doing some things that are unexpected. You talked about looking at habits, beliefs and patterns But I was also thinking, in a moment to relate this to our listeners. Part of innovation is having the courage to completely change the story of what things should look like, or could life look like is that correct?

Stephan K. Thieringer  20:16

100% I think the emphasis being on the two words should like and could look like. Because I think there’s a lot of external influence. Sometimes in the validation, we’re seeking external rather than evaluating and searching within itself.

Achim Nowak  20:33

A word from your sponsor, that’s me, I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast Fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts, please check it out. And now back to the conversation. The funny part about being in the human potential business innovation business, you know, you are a leader and space holder for others. But if you don’t mind, I know. In recent years, you’ve had two profound experiences that have impacted how you, Stefan, view yourself, and the choices that you make in life. And you decide where you want to go with it. But one, I never met your wife. But I know that you love her dearly. What I appreciate about you didn’t marry in meek and timid woman, you were married to a rockstar wife. And I know you are affected by the end of the marriage, how has the end of a marriage affected you changed you, I’ll leave it at that.

Stephan K. Thieringer  21:53

Whenever there’s an ending, there’s also a beginning. And I think I don’t mean this in the context of you end a marriage and get into another relationship, what I’m talking about is you are concluding for yourself a chapter in life that goes back to the fact of closure you will never get from someone else, you have to give closure to yourself. And part of giving yourself closure is also acknowledging the mistakes, the choices, and sometimes not so good choices you have made, speaking for myself, and dealing and acknowledging and appreciating and just honoring also the results that you’ve created for yourself and others and the pain you’ve inflicted on yourself and on others. I think the biggest word and the one word I want to focus on in that context is integrity. And I in the context of my marriage for a long time, while we looked like a functioning couple and everything was great on the external side, I did have no integrity. And that was the biggest piece for me, how do I live my life in the context of when I speak, particularly in a romantic context with people and how I engage? Do I have integrity or not. And that was the biggest piece. And that was the one piece really, in terms of change how I live my life, how I hold myself accountable, has significantly and solely shifted, and I didn’t do it alone, I hired myself a coach in that world of marriage, that’s a therapist. And I’ve traveled a long journey there. And journey didn’t last just a week or two or five, that was probably about two and a half years of work almost three years, to be able to come out on the other side and say you know what, now I feel good about myself not because of what I’ve done, not what I haven’t done. But I feel now that I have the tool set that I will not repeat the pattern that I’ve created for myself in the past. And I can go forward with integrity, commitment, cleanliness, almost so to speak almost. And I think that’s in the context of human relations in the intimacy is so important.

Achim Nowak  23:56

I am so appreciating your reflection on on your role in the dissolution of the marriage. But if I go back to the idea of story, I think our story in our culture is is that marriages or relationships have to last forever. And you could also like, like, who came up with that rule, right? Why does that have to 100%? You know, so it’s interesting as well, that circumstances invited you to look

Stephan K. Thieringer  24:26

at all of that. You know, there’s a woman at Harvard who was considered a double and I forgot her name, but she’s considered a relationship expert. I believe she was married three times and people always say How can you be the expert in relationships? She goes well, exactly to your point. We have to understand that relationships today have a much longer term deal that the reason for relationship is no longer than one can exist without the other women as well as man can exist parallel or decide to live separately because we both have no financial means as man and woman or whichever way somebody may declare to say stained themselves. And that has changed tremendously in our life expectancy is now when you sit down with a financial planner today, they plan until 9495. Yeah, well, 15 years ago, that was not the case. And so I think those cycles we are in, in the growth we experience, forget about growth within the marriage, but growth as a human being, there are just simple situations where people grow apart. And that can be done in very thoughtful, amicable, kind manner. And I see people do it, and I see people talk about it. And I think that’s an important thing to remember.

Achim Nowak  25:42

It you mentioned 9495, and we’re talking about longevity. And at the same time, I know that you had a very serious brush with mortality when you were unexpectedly in the hospital. I’ll leave it at that. But I think many people as we get older, we have experiences around our health, which become a true wake up call. Can you give us a snapshot of what happens to you first, before we should be going to the meaning making afterwards?

Stephan K. Thieringer  26:14

Very quick story. I was downtown Boston at a meeting went to a second meeting felt a little nauseous, was conscious all the way through. And after meeting number two was walking, if somebody knows Boston kind of Downtown Crossing area and walked into a shoe store, and I said gentleman, I think I need an ambulance. And I just was nauseous and felt really off. And I’m not a guy who just goes to the doctor because somebody says I gotta go to the doctor. And there was a gentleman in the store who was shopping and he says, Does anybody have aspirin here for this gentleman. And I didn’t put the pieces together yet, but one of the store clerks, he called 911 handed me his mobile phone. His name was Sebastian. And Sebastian probably was one of the people who in the first step saved my life and ran across the street to a Walgreens came back with baby aspirin. And while the dispatchers estimate, take full baby aspirin, dry, no chewing, he literally already had the bottle in front of me, which was amazing. And make a long story short, I was in a cardiac event, I was effectively having a heart attack while I was fully conscious. My blood pressure was off the roof. And it was on a Monday and Wednesday, I had quadruple bypass, all original parts completely re engineered. That was in February 2020. My timing was perfect. Because I wasn’t going in the fall. I remember a friend of mine, German friend of mine as well, it comes in on a Saturday on the 28th or 29th, whatever the Saturday was investment, you do realize that the world is like shutting down, I’m going down, I can see my television. And so my timing was perfect. It was one of those moments where you recognize, as you said, there is shortness of life. I was never afraid of dying. But there’s also a reality you go, wow, that’s your heart. Right? That’s where you have an event. And I found out earlier that day, then that Saturday from one of the nurses she goes, Yeah, you actually checked out on Wednesday night. But that’s a normal thing. Don’t worry about it. So nobody really told me all the details, but and it seems to be a normal thing that when they put your lung on the coat hanger, and you’re you’re hard on the other that you know, you sometimes say goodbye and they bring you back. But which was the reason that also they kept me sedated for almost 2425 hours before they brought me back to the real world the following day. So it was as you said, it was a reality check. And today also, you know, I’ve talked to talk a lot about shortness of life and accepting that and I’ll stop here

Achim Nowak  28:46

since we’ve been talking really a lot about people and the importance of people I use and I took my partner to the hospital yesterday for a routine procedure. But when he came out afterwards again his first reaction was how wonderful the doctor was how wonderful the nurses were and the people part of even a routine procedure where there was nothing at stake and I believe you the people part of the experience impacted you powerfully as well. Would you give us a snapshot of when literally other people are handling your life

Stephan K. Thieringer  29:21

would you speak to that? So I arrived in the ER and the ER at Mass General Hospital Mass General Hospital Forgive me you guys are fucking amazing and I just made your podcast accurate X rated. The ER is troublesome at Mass General Hospital and anybody in the medical community in Boston knows that once you make it beyond the ER that hospital is amazing. And I was connected in the ER that night was an attending heart surgeon or a cardiologist there he was German. And he wants my blood work came back. Suddenly the train started moving and it was probably one of the words I I talk a lot about in the context of my heart surgery is the word surrender. I’m a guy, I walk into a room, I want control, whatever that means. I mean, control is an illusion. But I want to know what’s going on, I will be the one to tell the doctor what to do. Because I’ve read it all on Google. I know everything about it. Well, this time I just shut my mouth. And that surrender really gifted me, the top two guys at Mass General completely coincidentally, because this gentleman who was there based on the German connection and his generosity of introducing, brought that night, the number one guy of cardiology to my room, and I felt immensely taken care of immensely cared for, not just a number, like oftentimes people say about hospitals. And I didn’t ask for anything, it just coincidentally happened because of maybe because I was quiet maybe because I didn’t ask for it. Maybe because I didn’t push for it, maybe because I shut my mouth. And it was just such a incredible experience all the way through that was from the nurses on the ICU that was to the way they interacted to it. One of the biggest experiences, I want to share this, if I may, very briefly, the staff which came in to change my trash every single day, and brought me the foot. And the smile at that moment when you wake up in the morning. And these are the first people you see, and it’s a good morning and you get the smile. There was a woman she was from Jamaica, I stopped there on the second or third day I said, I gotta tell you something. You’re in my experience in this hospital. Nobody ever talks about these people. Because they’re like the sideshow, right? The front row is the doctor and the guy who’s got the talent. And hopefully he or she has bedside manner. Nevertheless, those experiences were just absolutely incredible. I was just at MGH yesterday, coincidentally, for for a checkup. And I’m always so tempted to just walk up there and bring them a whole bunch of, you know, 500 doughnuts and say, Guys, you were amazing. And I did it at the beginning. It’s a life changing experience. And particularly if you pay attention to it, what happens? It’s incredible.

Achim Nowak  32:02

I had to chuckle at the fact that you want to bring them donuts. Right now

Stephan K. Thieringer  32:08

have a donor.

Achim Nowak  32:09

I appreciate the details. The so this happened about two and a half years ago or so. Yeah. What I’m really curious about how has that experience impacted? The choices you’re making in your life you’ve made since then? They’re either in either in your thinking but possibly thinking in actual choices about what you do, where you live? Who you spend time with? Yeah,

Stephan K. Thieringer  32:38

great question. You know, I think it’s, it’s kind of interesting and serendipitous. That question comes on the podcast from a man who wrote a book, which was the first book I read from you, which was moments, what the moment is the moment. And I think that’s what it is, we go through life. And we go through the day, through the hour without really paying attention to what is happening and what’s happening around us. In particular, in terms of the interaction, and the depth of interaction with people that could be at the coffee shop, that could be as simple as holding the door, a smile and saying, Thank you, whatever it may be. So for me the biggest changes that I really, I think it goes back to integrity of being it goes back to I mean, I went and this may sound ridiculous to some people. But I started really asking myself, What is a friend? Yeah. And I said to myself, if there’s people on my Facebook, that’s a great example for me, if there’s people on my Facebook, where if I would be in their city, they wouldn’t be willing to pick me up from the airport, because I don’t have to $10 to get to downtown. I don’t want them on my Facebook.

Achim Nowak  33:47

And I that’s a very German standard you just quoted

Stephan K. Thieringer  33:51

maybe. But did you understand it? I totally understand. And so So I deleted literally probably 600 people off my Facebook. Yeah. Because if we have business interactions, let’s do it on LinkedIn, let’s do it somewhere else, but not on my Facebook. I applied the same thing to Instagram. And a lot of people say, Oh, you’re missing opportunity. And but you know what, I’m okay with that. Because I want to choose who I want to surround myself with. And I want to choose who I want to spend time with. Right? I mean, one of the biggest gifts I I almost want to say gave myself was my father passed in January of this year. And I thank God and I think I shared this with you. I decided in September. I’m gonna go over there for 10 days. I’m gonna spend some time with him. We had breakfast every morning. I mean, he’s so German rigid about it. You better be at the house eight o’clock. 815 his breakfast and then we do this lunches at 1230 dinners at 630 You know what? It was the best thing I ever did. I have pictures with him. We have videos I have phone calls with my daughter with him, etc, etc. And so I think these choices that consciousness my soccer buddies, right taken a trip with a whole team to Ireland, these are guys who have played with for a long, long, long time, more than a decade, a lot of them. There’s no pretense there’s no having to pretend there is no storytelling in terms of who you portray yourself to be. It’s like they know who I am. Because they’ve seen me in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, because also, when I had my heart attack, if that was my support group from my therapy group, but also my support of the soccer guys and other friends, the way they all pulled together was an unbelievable, showing up at the hospital, and my daughter was managing my phone and text messages for like five days filtering, who gets to come to the hospital, who doesn’t. I mean, it was just incredible, incredible.

Achim Nowak  35:49

As you look to the future. And you think, well, here’s some things I would like to do more of. And here’s some things I would like to do less of. Yeah, because every day is about moments, but it’s all about choices. Sure, when you think about more of less of what comes to mind,

Stephan K. Thieringer  36:09

it’s kind of interesting, it kind of goes hand in hand. So I want to build a stronger community around wherever I will end up. So when I see these commercials on television, and I see people sitting in the mountains in a hut, and they there’s 10 people at the table, and they have a dinner together. And it’s just kind of like fun. It’s human connection. That’s what I want more off. Because I think that keeps us alive. It’s not about, you know, the social or the professional accreditation and recognition and awards. I think those interactions, those juices up, they feed us what I want less often I’m speaking on a very personal level there is I want to be able to let even more go off that social conformity that I sometimes feel compelled to jump into. Because I think I need to say something or I need to do something to look a certain way or do a certain thing a certain way because somebody else expects me to. I still deal with that. Because growing up with a father who was a politician, maybe that’s a given, being told by my grandmother from that I remember, people always know what we do when people always need to see that we are and pay attention to this. So there is social stigma around that as well. But I’m on the journey to I think every week, maybe every month to let go of that a little more. That’s the longer answer to a short question.

Achim Nowak  37:35

Well, that quest is such a wonderful message for all of us, not just for the German. So thank you for that. Thank you. If people want to learn more about you, because they love the conversation we had, where would you like to direct them to,

Stephan K. Thieringer  37:51

you know, if you’re on LinkedIn, the best way is just message me on LinkedIn. And I’m easily found on LinkedIn, or simply go to also human innovation garage, because we’ve talked about it so much now. human innovation That’s the website, and you’ll find him connect with me there. And when I say connect, really reach out personally, I’m happy to have a chat happy to you know, whatever the conversation is, I think, again, going back to moments, you know, hearing different people, different perspectives, different backgrounds, different cultures, inspires me. And I think that’s really the connection I seek as well.

Achim Nowak  38:28

Thank you so much for the gift of this conversation. And I hope that sometime soon you and I get to do this in person in Boston on one of my visits and continue.

Stephan K. Thieringer  38:38

Brilliant. Awesome. Thank you for having me. It’s been an honor to be here. And you have he doesn’t have videos and despite

Achim Nowak  38:47

like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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