San Francisco…through the eyes of an unprepared European!

I was prepared for a couple of things: the foggy “summer” weather, any form of mustache, the standard phrase: “There is an app for this” and the mouth-watering, inescapable amount of fresh “good-for-you” food.

And then there were other things that came wrapped up in a huge, fat “in your face” package…with a bold ribbon!

I had the luck to stay at my friends place the entire summer, who made sure I skipped all the touristy, sugar-coated fluff and jumped right into the real life of this diverse playground for hipsters, techies, smoothie- and raw-food enthusiasts, wantrepreneurs, actual entrepreneurs, fabulous pride people, coffee worshipers and beer brewers!

On my first day in SF, friends took me to Dolores Park…two things caught my undivided attention: the smell of weed and a rainbow-minded community manifested through hundreds of extremely good-looking  men in very tight shirts (slightly too short?…naa, wear whatever you want, its SF)!

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“Oh, interesting!” became my standard phrase for the next days, weeks and months! On that day we started drinking beer and wine at an hour of the day (2 pm…!”§$%&/(!!) which was not very compatible with German standards (standards I threw overboard quickly). A concept I would later on get to know and enjoy under the term: “sunday funday”! You start with a brunch and Mimosas and then slide effortlessly into the many independent breweries and bars of the city…only to eventually end up with shots of Fireball (headache mixed with cinnamon) at a friends place! But 2 pm is not the standard…it can also be 9 am as seen on Bay to Breakers! After all the actual runners pass the running route at around 8 am, the masqueraded liquidity lovers take over the streets, walk their costumes and make sure the level of liquidity stays constant over the entire morning…(and afternoon if you’re a pro rather than a poor SF freshman).

 

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Apart from their beer adoration, manifested in many independent, brick-wall breweries throughout the city, San Franciscans love coffee….no wait, not just coffee…drib coffee, dark, medium or light roast with lovely names such as Heaven of Canopy, Dancing Water and Greater Alarm…and what an Alarm it is! After a cup of Philz – undoubtedly the most famous coffee establishment in SF, you can take 5 German shepherds for a walk ! The coffee connaisseurs are widespread throughout the entire city and apart from many independent, ridiculously hip coffee spots, Philz is a synonym for the creative hipster and hard-working entrepreneur. Then there is Blue Bottle Coffee, which attracts a long line of loyal followers like a sect leader throughout the entire day…is it really ONLY coffee?? Anyways…both of them are amazing and keep my wallet light!

 

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Only Baristas with style are allowed to brew a real cup of Philz!

 

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The usual line of the “Blue Bottle sect” followers

Due to their focus on health and fitness, SF locals are crazy about good, healthy, sustainable green food. But it’s not only somehow “healthy”…it is gluten-free, lactose-free, locally sourced, organic (and only organic – everything else is not even considered food), GMO-free and you have always the option to throw in some kale or quinoa (just to be save!). The amount of fresh and incredibly delicious food is mouthwatering…every step is a temptation! From dried bacon in dark chocolate to salt&pepper ice cream…your taste buds get pleasantly kicked all the time. Street-food and food trucks are another big thing…Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Peruvian, Spanish, Caribbean – the World at your fingertips…and probably on your hips!

Then there is the startup and tech scene! I was lucky to experience the Startup scene from within during my internship at one of the hot music startups in SF. As an enthusiastic follower of Techcrunch and Mashable it just blows your mind if you randomly walk by the office of Yelp and Airbnb! It takes some self control to not run inside and take pictures like a 15-year-old-selfie-princess to send it to your startup enthusiastic friends back home.  Oh…and then there are new apps coming out every day! Apps to loose weight (like lose it, which makes your lovely roommates turn down dinner because they “ran out of calories for today”) , apps to spot locals with common interests -either for networking (Weave) or “bedworking” (Tinder, Grinder), apps to send annoying messages to your friends (Yo?!) or apps to share secrets anonymously with friends and strangers! Life can be so simple and easy!

 

The observation wouldn’t be complete without the most fabulous district if SF – CASTRO, baby! Coined as the “gayest place on earth” by a dear gay friend of mine, it quickly became my favorite spot in the city for nightlife, sunday funday and people watching. If you walk into a club with male strippers, cheap drinks, girly party music and no man cares about your dress or high heels while your male friends are checked out within seconds, you know – you are in one of the most fun party spots on earth! The atmosphere is warm, welcoming and for the first time I understood what “no filters” during a conversation really meant! A huge event for the Castro once a year is Pink Saturday. While the parade holds many surprises and great costumes, (the best costume: my dear crazy (straight) friend who wrote a “HARDER” on his lower back!!), my main learning and observation was that the pride parade and mindset was not only for gay people…it is also a sign to all San Franciscans to show who they really are and feel comfortable with it! Maybe this is why so many people absolutely adore this city.

Another group of people I got to know and love in SF – police officers! Crossing the streets during red light is not always a smart decision…it is even less smart if a police car is standing right next to you! (why are American police cars white and so undercover anyway???!!!!)…The nice police man pulled me off the bus in  which I walked, unknowingly of any guilt after I crossed the streets. “Miss, we gotta talk..come out!”…for the next 10 minutes I felt like a school girl as the caring police man reminded me of the dangers of jaywalking. After I reminded myself a couple of times to shut up when he asked me how German police officers would react to such a misbehave (honestly, they don’t give a ****), I got my jaywalking ticket and a notice to appear in traffic court! Obviously SF is a playground for all kinds of new experiences.

 

 

 

 

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How To Build Confidence (That Lasts)

Lately I stumbled upon tons of articles about how to gain that extra plus in confidence that allows you to worry less about what other people think of you, bring up the willpower to do great things (and even looking super relaxed and competent while doing so).

There seem to be one trend among all those articles that claim that your positive mindset is all you need to be confident. An Easy and therefore very appealing idea.

Hold on…isn’t there something missing? How do I develop this positive mindset if I’m not a notorius tree hugger with an unshakeable optimism?

Here is my experience with this positive mindset formula.

If you would have asked me a year ago about how to gain confidence, I would say that your attitude plays the most important part. Reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and grow rich”  set me in the right mindset to train the belief in myself and my abilities. I remembered all the times when I did something really well, I meditated and simply forced every inch of my body to perform really well when it mattered. I read Joe Navarro’s “What every body is saying: An FBI Agent’s guide to speedreading people” and developed a fairly good understanding which posture helps to set yourself in a confident mood.

A “fake it till you make it” mentality helped me very often to be a confident speaker,  succeed in job interviews or simply connect with new people (which for me is one of the most exciting but also challenging tasks to do-being very curious about psychology lets me overthink many things). While it worked many times, I also failed many times because I relied only on my positive mindset.

Here comes the catch: although I know how to switch into the super confident state of mind through some training, it didn’t last for very long. It was situational and not long-lasting! While it helped to gain that extra confidence in the moment I needed it the most, it vanished until the next challenge. You can compare it with a short-term and a long-term orientation. The confidence I trained was very short-term focused. The positive mindset was helpful in the moment I needed it…and if the outcome was great, my confidence level rised for a certain period…and went back to my standard level after that. Hence, for the next time when it mattered I would have to build my positive mindset again in order to gain that extra confidence. I would take the right posture and put a winning smile on my face…and I still do-with the difference that this is only a support strategy. The most important strategy now, and this time its long-term oriented, is practice!

I had to realize: there is no short cut! If you want a confidence that lasts you need to improve…whatever that is you want to master…marketing skills, financial literacy, coding, playing the guitar…If you fail, accept it and keep moving on. I always have a curve in mind that is shaped like this when I start to develop a new skill or improve an old one:

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It reminds me of the fact that you have to undergo a “valley of tears” before you can take of…practice bears frustration, setbacks and failures-but in the end comes the gratification in form of confidence! Not only in that particular field of competence but in an overall confidence level – the confidence you develop in one area spills over to other areas.

This long-lasting confidence has many benefits: it’s not as susceptible to setbacks and failures as short-term, situational confidence and you don’t have to build up your confidence anew everytime you step up to a challenge – since you already have success in your bag!

Why organize meet ups?

When I was at the look out for like-minded people in my home town Frankfurt about 5 month ago, I decided to try out meetup.com, a community website that helps you connecting with people in your area who share the same interests.

Why?

At that time, I just finished my Bachelor in Business and felt that all of my friends from University headed towards another direction than I…ending up in consulting, investment banking or HR didn’t feel very tempting – to be honest, it was so unattractive that I didn’t even fell enthusiastic enough to accept two offers from distinguished companies for an internship after my Bachelor. I just applied in order to satisfy my sense of responsability. I was definitely a minority among my peers…so I searched on meet up for entrepreneurship and/or personal development groups in order to get to know people who would be hopefully different and with whom I could exchange ideas about start-ups and personal growth – two fields that have caught my attention 3 years ago and haven’t let got ever since.

Difficulty:

I was not surprised that I couldn’t find any group for these sorts of interests in Frankfurt – after all it’s a banking city where you see more suits & ties than on Wall Street during lunch break. Now don’t get me wrong – Frankfurt is a wonderful place to live in, in fact it’s very high ranked on the list of cities with the best life quality worldwide. But you won’t find all too many people who will think outside the box (corporate career, family, house)  or take too many risks – which is partly because of the german culture! Accuracy, Savety and Punctuality. Prost!

Go for it!

All of a sudden, I saw the red button which said “start your own group”….why not? I thought to myself and just clicked it. After all, meet up is a huge community and there should be at least some people who are ineterested in entrepreneurship and/or personal development. What I hoped to find? People who would actually question the mainstream beliefs. People who would live these beliefs. People who would inspire me to do the same.

This is how “shaping the unconventional path” meet up group was created-the name of the meet up group also inspired the name of my blog. The first meet up started unconventional and not really smoothly. The place I picked was closed recently! So we had to find another place nearby. Fortunately, we found an italian place not far way from the initially planned place. On the way, I chatted with my first “unconventional minds” and navigated people to the new meeting point who arrived late at the initial place. Finally, when everybody arrived, we were 15 people and I gave an intro about myself and the purpose of the group. I was so curious! The people were very different..some were students, some were professionals, some were starting their own company, some were exchange students who just arrived in Frankfurt. But the best about the first meet up – I found a like-minded friend who also became my first business partner! The first out of 4 currently.

The second meet up brought 20 people together at a cozy bar/restaurant at Berger Straße called Rink’s. New and old faces, inetersting conversations – I didn’t prepared any structure which was a good idea. I managed to talk to everybody for at least 15 minutes. At this meet up I met another like-minded person who later on became a friend and business partner! Furthermore, a new friend attendet who I stumbled upon on the internet – a very vibrant, dedicated, original writer, expat and passionate salsa dancer from Frankfurt – our team was complete! I couldn’t believe that this amazing team was created by a simple click on the meet-up button and the further happeings after that.

Conclusion:

The number one lesson I’ve learned so far: You really have to go out and search for the people you wish to have in your life! If you wish to find people who inspire you, you have to search actively for them since they won’t just fall down from the sky…or let’s say, sometimes they do – nice coincidence…but it’s easier to find them yourself instead of waiting for them to find you.

The next 2 meet ups were even more fulfilling than the first two. The “core” people came back while new unconventional minds kept signing up and showing up. Apart from one experiment where I threw in some questions in order to enforce the idea exchange, I kept the structure very random…people just came together and exchanged their experiences and ideas on personal development and entrepreneurship as well as culture and travel as it turned out to be a very international mix of people.

In the end, it was one of the best unplanned decisions I made this year…I met my current team…..interesting people, shared inspiring conversations with remarkable people and most of all: gained the insight that you have to search actively for like-minded people you want to have in your life! The people we surround ouselves with, are the people who shape who we become…so it  a huge value to search for those people…and if you can find these people in Frankfurt, you can find them everywhere!