Turning 30 – What you should know by now

Turning 30 Not too fastA little more than three weeks ago I turned 30. Some weeks before that a friend of mine shared this article on Facebook: 20 Things Every Twentysomething Should Know How to Do (no need to click, I’ll get to it).

So I thought hard about it and by now (fortunately) I’m happy to say: Yes, I know how to do these things! Here’s the list with a personal Kalle-touch to it:

1. Make a Great Breakfast

Breakfast traditionally is a big thing for me as a German. Turning 30 breakfast becomes even more important: Cornflakes times are over! I have always been a breakfast nerd, but my girlfriend brought me a revelation: Pesto! You might ask: What the heck does pesto have to do with breakfast? The answer is simple: Everything! Of course you also need some salad, tomato, cheese, maybe mushrooms to put on your sandwich (or the good old German Brötchen), but you will never reach perfection with butter or margarine. Try using pesto instead! Whether to use pesto genovese (green pesto), pesto rosso (red pesto) or pesto alla calabrese (spicy pesto) is up to you!

2. Argue Kindly

Everyone who knows me also knows I can become quite polemic with certain topics. Usually, that’s politics. In a professional context I would rate myself 4 out of 5 stars in “arguing kindly”. That means making a point without being rude. Being tough with the issue, yet kind towards your counterpart.

3. Hold a Conversation With Someone of Any Age

What better age to be in than just turning 30? 8 year olds are only 22 years away – just as 52 year olds are. I’ve always had a close bond to my relatives, some of them (brothers and sister of my mother) in their 70ies by now. Talking to them, getting to know their perspective on things, is great and inspiring! Just as inspiring as answering (not at all stupid) questions of 4 year olds!

4. Parallel Park

Great stuff! When I read this I had to laugh out loud. I absolutely don’t like parallel parking. If I have the choice, I try to avoid it, although it’s not that hard at all. Practice a little and you’ll do grand! When I was on vacation in Portugal with my girlfriend, I HAD TO DO IT. In the historical city center of Lisbon often there’s no other way to park, so I had to do it multiple times. Put under this pressure (to prove my manliness) I realized: I could do this much better than I had expected. Once even on the other side of the road in a one way street with parking on both sides. Without a scratch!!!

5. Defend Your Media Choices

Yes, I like the Toten Hosen. I also still like Die Ärzte, although they’re far away from punk by now. But so am I. Also I’m listening to Placebo, Coldplay and others. And yes: I own a Robbie Williams Best Of album. And I love it. There’s a time for each of my favorite bands. Some depend on moods, others on walking down memory lane. Turning 30 most of our media choices had probably been done a long time ago. If you still stick to some of them you should know why.

6. Limit Your Online Life

For people working in IT (I’m graciously including online marketeers here) this is not easy. The question probably is: Where is the limit? Unlike in my World of Warcraft times by now I’m well aware of my time spent playing. Also since Breaking Bad is over, I’m not watching two seasons of American TV shows on one weekend anymore.

My Facebook privacy settings are always up to speed. For example you can easily check whether you’re in my “close friends” group – in that case you’ll always get my current mobile phone number on Facebook! Everybody else needs to get in touch first. I do consider myself well aware of my online life and do make conscious decisions on what to use, how to use it and more importantly how intensively to use it.

7. Approach a Stranger

Asking for directions, haha, men don’t do that! We rather drive 30 more kilometers (in circles) instead of asking someone. Oh, wait. In Portugal I was asking for directions because we were running low on gas in the middle of nowhere (no mobile broadband, driving through streets that hadn’t been on the map). So yes: If required or in the right mood, I do approach strangers. Some shops are a good case as well: Instead of searching for something for 20 minutes, you might just ask someone and get it in 2! Also I’ve had nice conversations with a businessman and interesting smalltalk with a Canadian (or Australian) tourist on a plane. Try it! It’s fun!

8. Stand Up for Yourself

I find this one harder than parallel parking! Not in general, but when I’m discussing with my CEO or Managing Director (usually known for very strong personalities) I sometimes still feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights. In situations like this I desperately try to pull myself together and make my point, kindly (see no. 2). I like to believe an honest opinion gets me further than giving in hastily. Afterwards I feel better, too, because there’s no worse feeling than having let myself down.

9. Say “I Was Wrong”

Admitting when you’re wrong is something everyone should learn before graduating from high school, I think. Unfortunately you’ll always meet people who won’t ever admit they had been wrong. Like never. Oftentimes I can be very stubborn and surely there’s the occasional exception where I insist on being right, while I’m wrong. The normal case would be me admitting “I was wrong”, so we can stop discussing and continue the conversation or whatever we were doing!

10. Brew a Great Cup of Coffee or Tea

Ok this one’s not for me. Turning 30 I have never drank a cup of coffee in my life. Yes, I can brew a great cup (or can) of tea. Coffee? No idea. Bring your own, when you’re coming by 😀

11. Tip Generously

Are you getting a good salary? Not a fortune maybe, but can you live on your money? Is there something left to go on vacation or to put aside? Can you afford going to a nice restaurant every now and then? Yes? Well then don’t tip like an asshole! I’m not always tipping. Actually, I’m very German here: If something was far below expectation I can be a total scrooge, not tipping a single cent. If the service was really good, really funny, really fast (or everything was okay and the waitress was really HOT) I tip very generously.

12. Maintain a Mentor

Mentoring… A concept I never quite understood. Mainly because I always wanted to just be myself. Yet, there’s loads of people around you that you can learn from. Hold on to a few or at least one of them. Get advice! Use and enhance your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

I personally learned a lot from Claudia Deckert, who also had proof read my Diploma Thesis. Over the past 5 years Mathias Tötzke not only has taught me a lot about business, stakeholder management and communication but also has shared 10% of his Excel skills with me (which makes me now the Excel king of Ireland).

13. Bite Your Tongue

Another thing I learned from my mentors. Five years ago no situation was inappropriate for me to make a joke, no argument too unimportant to give in. That changed a lot. I mean: I’m still a Humor Expert and yes, there is still the occasional joke I had better not made. But usually I know when to bite my tongue.

14. Stay Well Rested

Sleep is important. Even I have realized this by now. The days (better: nights) I play until 3 in the morning are getting rare. I am still usually up until twelve and sometimes I do get up at 6:30 just to get something done in the morning. But I do sleep more than when I was 23. Not having to sleep alone helps a lot though…

15. Respond to Criticism

Not my #1 strength, but even here the mentoring (see #12) did wonders. Personally I think I do respond to criticism much better than I did years ago. If you find me go very very quiet while criticizing me that is for one reason: You are right. And this makes me think. Think about what to do to improve. This thinking process uses about 90% of my brain capacity (Or 90% of the 10% we humans can use? Not sure.) so I am not very likely to come up with a smart response to your critique.

16. Write a Cover Letter

Check. Check and triple-check! While applying for a job abroad I wrote so many cover letters… And they do work. A good cover letter really makes a difference, so you should tailor it to the job you’re applying for. Or you can go crazy and use this Leonardo da Vinci style cover letter.

17. Be Alone

Me time. It’s important. Everything is social today, but the fact is many people forget what it’s like to be alone and/or what to do with themselves. Read a book! Draw something (I started sketching with pen and paper after not having done anything in this direction probably since 12th grade)! Listen to your inner spirit. I can totally do that and some of you will confirm that once I planned on an evening for myself, it’s hard to convince me to get my ass up and go out…

18. Recommend a Book, Movie or Album

A recommendation is more than a Facebook like. Or a +1 for that matter. A recommendation explains why something is worth reading or listening to. Take the effort and recommend things you hold dear. Speaking of it: I took the effort to write a recommendation on a book, Fallenmagie, a friend of mine had written. Check it out:

Antony Peckham - Fallenmagie

19. Prioritize the Important Over the Urgent

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
— Dwight D. Eisenhower

There is always something that you have to do or want or need to do. So time management is important. Learn to limit trivial, unimportant and not urgent tasks – usually this is procrastination anyway. Avoid and delegate interruptions by seemingly urgent but unimportant tasks. Most likely these things will solve themselves. Manage the important and urgent tasks: They need your attention and obviously personal involvement. But take good care of the balance between important & urgent and important & not urgent. Usually the latter is what really benefits you in life.

If you like visuals – check out the nice little matrix on http://leap-start.com/urgent-vs-important/.

20. Hold on to a Good Friend

Hi there, Martin, Christian, Nadine, Enrico, Peter, Robert, Matthias, Tobias, Dennis, Anna, Anne! I love you guys! Should you ever have a website, I will link to you from here! 🙂

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