Of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh

Mar 20


by Claudia Linker (Monnet)


The German word for being quick-witted though, is “schlagfertig“ and it means: being ready to beat … the “adversary“. That’s why, so far, I had refused requests for lectures on the subject. Do a picture search in your search engine for that German "schlagfertig". Well? Exactly. Boxing gloves, fists, thunder arrows everywhere. No wonder, with the German word, your brain will automatically generate violent associations: you’ll feel at least a little bit like you're tripping in the boxing ring and ready for the punch. But the boxing ring doesn't fit  one of my two core concerns: successful communication.

I shared my thoughts with entrepreneurial women in Schleswig, where I spoke on 5 February 2020: "You're also allowed not to reply sometimes," I said. “A confident break is the most powerful communication strategy.“ Behind the desire for quick-wittedness are needs: I want to be treated with respect. Having a conversation, I seek openness, genuine attention, mutual understanding and attention for each other.

The idea of a counterattack means something different and that idea is inherent to "schlagfertig": there are winners and losers and we’ll rather be rocking up and down with heated minds. How could even we Germans develop a more harmonious term? I like to use my penchant for languages (see also my blog entry of 1 December 2015) and ask myself: What is the word in other languages? What associations come with it?

I do like the English: to be quick-witted – to answer with a quick joke really can help oftentimes.
But I am even more fond of the French “répondre du tac au tac“ – ... Well, how should I explain that?!

"Du tac au tac" is an onomatopoeia from the fencing sports. We do know the idea of having to fight out something, don’t we? But when I hear the "tac-tac" sound, I can almost see the elegance of the "piste": the fencers dancing back and forth in a crazy tempo, elegantly leading the foil – and the metallic "tac-tac". There is a lot of fun to it. Nobody is knocked out. At best "touché". It’s by contact that you win in fencing. Oh yes, I like that much better!

Charmingly disarming. Doesn't that sound better than "right in the face"? Verbal disarmament seems to me in many places to be the order of the day. Rather elegantly eloquent.

Welcome to my training, whoever wants to practice:
Taking breaks confidently (and enduring them!) is, by the way, a topic in "Performing convincingly"
Charmingly disarming in "How to get your words across - and with ease"

Sep 17


by Claudia Linker (Monnet)

I have a confession to make: The way I conduct strategic consultations differs considerably from the standard business scheme. I formulate softer. I have modified, extended and supplemented standard business schemes.

The declared goal in business is always to strategically define an area for myself in which I can and will strive for market leadership. Now my name is not Steve Jobs and I don't feel called to " put a dent the universe". I prefer quieter sounds and cautious developments. Prudence is one of my favourite words, and I mean, in the biblical sense of Wisdom.

But I don't mention Steve Jobs here for nothing either. He must have been a rather choleric person. All I know is that Bill Gates, who is more sociable and more circumspect, is much more likeable to me. However, Steve Jobs could also speak inspiringly and his Stanford speech is highly recommendable!
Poetically and emotionally, he describes how he and I think about strategic planning. He certainly wasn't aware of that at all. But I am grateful anyway, that in the speech he talks about what we believe in at heart.
He calls it: "the dots will connect": The little stones of my life will connect to a mosaic and the connections will be strong, if I only collect those little stones that really mean something to me. This dimension of personal resonance is what I absolutely add to strategic consultation.

In my life many mosaic stones lay around unconnected for a long time. I had almost forgotten them. Strategic work, however, directs our gaze exactly there, to the almost forgotten: What becomes visible is what nourishes you (still), but slumbers unused and lies idle. Treasures that want to be lifted become visible.

For me, there are three large thematic areas:
Art and Culture.
Faith and Learning.

I have been intensively involved with languages, art and culture for a long time and wanted to use it professionally. I studied " something with art " in France and speak a bunch of languages more or less well. Then I married a professor from Flensburg and joined the existing consulting firm with great pleasure.
Later, I found my way back to my Christian faith and that was through the study of the neurobiology of human learning.

The mosaic stones "Languages" and "Art and Culture", however, lay around for a long time without any connection. I found it very difficult or even impossible to integrate the faith reference. I don't want to convert. I even believe (neurobiologically well founded) that this is not possible at all. So I didn't even think of this stone as belonging to the mosaic. Has this changed with the company's strategic reorientation? The answer is: not so far, with an emphasis on so far. Because these issues have clearly moved forward.
For years I have been making myself at least a little smarter every day in six languages: Danish, English,

French, Italian, Russian, Spanish. I put our website online in four languages right from the start. My Russian is still too bad. But Spanish has long been on the to-do list. Maybe it will work out some time soon?
In the summer of 2017, many mosaic stones in the field of "art and culture" were added to this. I spent a whole week at documenta 14 in Kassel.

In the picture above you can see a kind of mosaic. On YouTube you can discover: It is in motion. The work "The End" by the Greek artist Nikos Alexiou is inspired by a floor mosaic of the monastery Ivirion on Mount Athos. What the YouTube video doesn't show: Visitors enjoy this work of art! They place themselves in the light, many even lie down on the floor. Many take a light shower for minutes.
Should and may art be fun? I will write more about it.

Oct 16
Kaheman thinking fast and slow


By Prof. Wolfgang Linker


Our late chancellor Helmut Schmidt once said: “People with visions should go see their doctor!“. Well, in this case, our most honored grand man of recent German history was wrong. Visions, when things go as they should, are by no means delusional ideas, but precious guiding principles. On the other hand: maybe he was right, after all? It’s quite true: self-employed people, entrepreneurs, managers, they oftentimes need a “doctor“ remove the ill tissue of unrealistic illusions and to pamper the healthy tissue of realistic wishes.
Illusions and visions differ in three ways: content, motivation, strategy.   

If I aimed to earn a Nobel Prize, that would be an unrealistic reverie. At age 75, my guarantee has already expired: e.g. the guarantee for necessary forces to run longterm research.
Healthy visions thus answer the question: specifically what would be a reachable goal?

There are things I can do to contribute to my fitness in old age. With an emphasis on “do“. It takes the determination to do it, that means, it takes motivation. That is the second difference between illusions and visions.
Healthy visions thus also answer the question: why would it be tempting to reach a given goal?

The third difference is in the promising plan.
Healthy visions thus further answer the question: exactly how can I reach that tempting goal?

No sooner said than done? No! I have known for ages, that I could to a lot to stay fit beyond the “guarantee terms“. I also know - rationally: It would be possible for me to finalize my second book on communication, sitting in my drawer with two thirds being done. Content, motivation, strategy, all that is clear. In theory. For it takes one more thing. Something fundamental. A fourth prerequisite. Fasting and hiking prepare the ground: it takes distance from visions. 

At a distance and only at a distance, we will discover that, when it comes to our own judgments, we tend to be overconfident. All of us. All the time. Time and again. Even age and wisdom don’t help it. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman proved the overconfidence bias so well that it earned him the Nobel prize in Economics in 2002. (His book “Thinking, Fast and Slow“ is highly recommendable, but also very heavy. For those being reluctant to reading 500 pages: part III is entitled … yeah … right: overconfidence. And its only 65 pages long).

Overconfidence bias sounds unpleasant. It’s worse: the overconfidence bias prevents that we even take into consideration new aspects - especially, if they seem to be against us, or pessimistic. Love turns blind. Greed is stronger than reason. Right? Right!, says Kahneman in a slightly more scientific manner: Our Known Knowns knock out most Known Unknowns (and make us completely forget that there could be Unknown Unknowns). That means that another difference between visions and illusions is the …

Healthy visions answer the question: how will I create the necessary distance to give room for objective strategic thinking?

Which leads us back to Fasting and Hiking and my two personal strategic goals:
stay fit.
write book.
We left our office and, by doing so, our many silent and seated work.
We went the the island of Sylt.
We hiked and, with new acquaintances every day, we talked about everything under the sun.
We made use of our idle periods to set up our strategic plans - in an unusual physical and mental state.
Pure distance!
Lo and behold:
I really saw things in new and creative ways.
I saw the previously overlooked.
I asked myself new and different questions.
I also realized and with joy: I am on the right track.
I double-checked my thoughts, with my wife as feedback giver.

Beyond that, I got fresh “food“: short presentations on health issues provided me with a wealth of new information, e.g. on edibles and their components. More importantly, I heard once more what I had read before oh so many times, judged correct oh so many times, and neglected anyway oh so many times. I am harming myself with my belief “Any kind of physical exercise is a nuisance and a waste“. So far, knowing that didn’t help. But now I heard recommendation in a completely different mind set: after physically strenuous, but satisfactory tours followed by gratifying mental work. That overcame my couch potato attitude.

I am know proud owner a a deluxe caddy and walk to the grocery stores. That is 30 minutes of physical exercice which I can do and stick to. I also picked up writing on my book regularly. At a desk set up on purpose at a remote place of our house, providing the seclusion that helps me. 

Finally and after all, Helmut Schmidt was right: I was in need of “medical help“: by Kahneman, the speakers, my wife.

Which “doctor“ would you nee to turn illusions into visions?

Aug 16


by Claudia Linker (Monnet)

For a while we didn't eat. At all. Instead, we walked, in wind and weather, between 12 and 15 km per day. And used that to do our yearly strategic planning. And yes, we consider this of enough value, to recommend you to do so, too. Both: yearly strategic planning and registering to a course in fasting and hiking. After a week on Germany's beautiful Sylt Island, our backpacks were filled with very specific plans and so far, they seem to sprout. Also and especially the professional ones.

While - als far as we know - noone yet is offering a mix of fasting, hiking and strategic business development, you can still use thoughts from this series of articles to tinker your own strategic plan, with or without fasting (and / or hiking). Or you get in touch with us for further support. We'd be pleased.

"Specifically what would we like to do (be it continue to do / start to do / do at all)?", this question has an urge to be asked and answered. In 2015, the urge was even stronger, partly because Wolfgang was nearing his 75th birthday. Slowly but surely, age made him feel like wanting a bit more to look for the "bare necessities, the simple bare necessities". Djungle book's baloo is so right: those bare necessities, they really tend to come to you, at least at a given age. But there was another reason for our strategic urge to be so particularly strong in 2015: Claudia was nearing her 50th birthday. And that is not yet the age to oft completeley for Baloo's bare necessities. The stronger inspiration is Bagheera. 

Somehow we had to fairly well balance these very different stages in life - and to put the company on that track. And so we did. It took us some months of thought-giving, putting in writing, discussing, deciding, rejecting, focussing, 4-6 hours per week. Then we ended up with a neat strategic plan, and with energy, luck and coincidences, it worked out surprisingly well so far.

So now, in summer 2016, it was about time for a provisional evaluation: What had we been able to realize? Or not? Why? Based on our successes and failures, how would we decide to move on? 

However, our calendar was full, which, generally speaking, is pleasant, yet harbours the risk to prefer the urgent to the important - thus making strategic work impossible. So we decided for one intense week, which with some effort we were able to block. 

Additionnally, we decided to fast again simultaneously. Simultaneously because we already new that real fasting automatically induces deep pondering, assessing and reorganizing. And yes, to fast really means: to eat nothing. Nothing you could bite, that is. Unless you'd count the parsil on the then evening broth among solid food. New to us was the combination with hiking, which meant to move and really a lot. Rough and about four to five hours per day, in all weathers. And trust us: Sylt even in July 2016 absolutely meant all weathers, or nearly so. Until then, we'd been to monasteries for fasting retreats. They would make you move, but a lot more moderately. Also, especially Claudia can really dive into her inner self in a monastic setting. Her fear now was, not to reach that depth with all that physical acitivity. The opposite turned out to be true. 

So what are those specific plans that we put into our backpack? That's what we'll let you now little be little on this site. Just this for today: strategic planning puts us in touch with what we really want - or not. Strategic planning puts habits on hold and questions them. Strategic planning takes off the shackles of false constraints und unchains heartfelt desires. Replace "strategic planning" by "fasting", alternatively by "hiking", maybe even by "fasting" and "hiking".

Want more? Pleasure!

Dec 15


von Claudia Linker (Monnet)


One day I stumbled upon the English “operate“ as for “do surgery“. I could have sworn black and blue, it were a false friend. It’s not. One may say so. Ok.

Then “cabinet“ slips out, but I can sense: it sounds wrong. Although: French always works and “everything sounds sexy in French“ (sexy French starts at minute 1:19; see below for the English meaning of the words). My grandmother stopped putting her feet on sidewalks to be found on trottoirs only, once marriage had gained her a higher social status.  

I want to get that right now und drop down what a doctor’s working place is in “my languages“. Cabinet say the French and the Italians; consultation the Danish and Spanish, Practice the Germans and Russians. 

The English words, British and American, seem quite odd … until I take a closer look at the roots. Then only the French cabinet marches to a different drummer. 

Boring? Not at all!
Fascinating? Yes!

Words start to march to different drummers when and as they like it. So, if I say doctor’s cabinet over and over and over again, it might gain acceptance. Or not. Would also be ok. Everything sounds sexy in French.


JUST TELL YOURSELF: “There is no such thing as mistakes, just expressions that have not yet gained acceptance.“ — You might be a trendsetter.

EXPLORE: Our brains never (!) produce nonsense. Quite the opposite: round the clock our brains create sense. They keep looking for relationships und build associational fields. Feed them. My way here was, to explore the words’ ancestors und to literally visualize that big picture.

OVERCOMPENSATE: By exploring I learned even more than the accurate terms for “what surgeons do“ and “the place where we meet a doctor“ in my languages; e.g. that surgery literally means to work with ones’ hands. The Greek word “kheirourgia“ being composed of “kheír“ (hand) and  “érgon“ (work). All of a sudden, my associational fields produce a bounty of words connect to “érgon“ — and their meanings become clearer.

REWARD YOURSELF FOR HAVING SUCH A STUNNING BRAIN: You might talk to someone about what you discovered. That would multiply the likelihood for longterm memory of what you learned, and for a pleasant one.  

English translation of the sexy French words:
earwax accumulation
waiting room
curtain rail
recreation offers for seniors
value added tax
mouth odor
health care reform
hard skin remover