I’m always hard-pressed when I have to put myself (or rather: the essence of who I am) into a few sentences. If I had to do that, say, for an author’s page on a website, it might go like this:
(Fair warning: I didn’t manage with just a few sentences. If you want me in a nutshell, the first five bullet points kinda sum up said essence.)
- I think in structures – always have, always will.
Although it did take me a while to realize that not everybody thinks the same way I do.
- I’m a highly visual person
(and really weak on the auditive channel. Don’t talk to me while the radio is on. Seriously. You have been warned!).
- I’m strong in the best of both worlds:
In language (the written word is my medium of choice). And in the sciency, techie, abstract thinking stuff.
- I’ve never wanted to restrict myself to just one topic, or just one area of expertise and learning.
Instead, I thrive when I can connect different worlds and bring seemingly unrelated things together.
- Finally, I’m a highly creative person (but then aren’t we all?).
Not in the artistic sense – I couldn’t draw my way out of a paperbag. But in the sense of creativity that runs through all of life… having ideas, perceiving problems, finding solutions.
And although my past forty-odd years on this planet have been an eclectic mixture of very different things, in hindsight everything comes together quite nicely when viewed through the lens of these character traits.
I guess you could say that seeing structures, visual thinking, multidisciplinarity, drawing connections, and being creative are the “real me”.
In the spirit of The Hidden Things, they are the underlying structure of my life…
(To be honest, though, it took me decades to clearly see this structure in my own life, and to realize what its cohesive thread is.
Given that perceiving such structures is one of these five things that usually comes second-nature to me, I guess you could call it ironic that I was so blind when it came to myself. I’m fairly sure there is a lesson in there…)
So what have I done with my life so far?
After school, I refused to be put into just one little box, and instead went for a colourful bouquet of topics at university.
In the end, I took my M.A. in German linguistics, cognitive science and physics. But I also studied some philosophy, German literature, and speech and language processing. And just for fun, I took classes in history, history of art, maths, and other stuff, too.
I guess you could say I was widely interested. 😉
One of my takeaways from those years at university is that oftentimes, things only seem to be unrelated, when upon a closer look, they really are quite similar in some way.
Another takeaway is that structure and systems run through everything, even (especially!) the arts and languages.
After my M.A. degree, I decided I wanted to dig deeper into one specific topic, and went to get a Ph.D. in computer science.
(Nope, I didn’t study computer science before. Yep, it’s possible to do that. And yep, it’s hard work.)
During that time, I was involved in running a large research project, applying for grants etc, but also in supervising students and running classes. Oh, and there was the research, too.
Again, I learned a lot during those years, both in terms of skills and knowledge, and as a person. Among other things, I learned that…
a. the more complex things become, the more important their structure is going to be;
b. for really complex things (like thousands of lines of code, or large projects with a lot of people involved), documenting said structure is the most important thing;
c. no matter how good and simple your documentation is, 95% of folks will never read / watch / go through it, and another 4% will cling to the deeply held belief that there is no documentation;
d. in order to stay sane, you can’t take c. personally. Just suck it up and work with it; and
e. if you’re lucky, your boss is gonna be part of the 95%. If not, he’s bound to be among the 4%.
After I had finished my Ph.D., I wasn’t quite sure what to do – until I came across somebody who was selling courses on the internet and making a living of that!
Back then, I was stunned: You could actually earn money online? I mean, other than working for Google or Yahoo?
So I did the only reasonable thing:
I came up with the plan for a small business selling digital reports and training, and then went ahead and got self-employed.
I’m not gonna tell you what that first business was about, because frankly: Back then, I had no clue, and it didn’t work out.
I’m still grateful for that initial idea, though, because for me it was the start of more than 10 amazing years online.
I’ve done projects on my own, for clients and with partners.
I’ve done email and social media marketing, product creation, software development, website creation, copywriting, support management and product launches, to name just a few things.
I’ve led small teams, worked with people from all over the world and on my own. I’ve also set up and used about every software tool under the sun (it certainly felt like that at times).
But most of all, I learned about marketing.
Not the sleazy, talk-you-into-buying-shit-you-don’t-need kinda marketing.
But the marketing you do when you offer great products to great people whose lives would be poorer without them.
Or when you “sell” yourself, your skills and expertise to a potential client.
Or when you try to get your kids to clean up their room – ’cause that, folks, requires highly advanced marketing skills!
These past 10 years gave me the chance to do very creative work, to learn a lot, to write in both English and my native German, and to connect and relate yet more areas and topics with each other.
They also taught me how to set up and run a website like The Hidden Things in a somewhat efficient way (or we wouldn’t be here today).
And they taught me that being self-employed is no fun if I never take the time to do the things which are true to me – that’s why my sister and me looked at each other one memorable morning and decided to just go ahead with The Hidden Things…
And hey, aren’t you glad we did?
So this is who I am. In more than a few sentences, but you did ask for it. 😉
Lemme see… What else is there to know about me?
- I hate perfumed tea (especially artificial vanilla flavour – urgh!!), but I love myself a nice cuppa Earl Grey.
- I’m a lousy programmer, even though I got a Ph.D. in computer science – but I’m really good at breaking your code and finding all the hidden bugs and quirks.
- I can’t not read. E.g. when I’m walking past a sign or written note, it’s physically impossible for me to not read the text on it.
- For all me working with technology (and being the nerd of our wee team), I’m essentially a pen-and-paper person. Give me some time, a quiet place, a stack of paper and my favourite ballpen (and a cuppa Earl Grey!), and I’m a happy critter.
- I’m a pretty spiritual person (Ha! You didn’t see that one coming, did ya?).
Not the woo-woo, incense-burning, chanting kind of spiritual, but the looking-inwards-and-finding-my-true-self kind.
To me, using my brains and my (techie, logical, …) skills here on The Hidden Things is not a contradiction to that, but just another way of expressing who I really am.
And yes, I also do Tai Chi, I meditate and I really do love incense… 😉
Still haven’t heard enough about me? Well, you’ve either got a lot of time to kill, or you’re really into reading about weird people on the internet.
And to get in touch with me personally, send me an email to email@example.com..