Achim Nowak

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About Achim Nowak

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Achim Nowak Posts

A sliver of space.

I love that phrase and cannot take credit for it. It is a gift from my friend Alli Polin.

Do you make sure you have your slivers of space? Alli asked in a tweet.

I knew exactly what she was talking about. I had just had a coaching chat with Steve, CFO of global high-tech firm. I simply never have time to do everything I am supposed to do on any given day, Steve says.

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I stumbled on an ad for the Metropolitan Opera’s new work “Two Boys” the other day. The catch: The entire ad is comprised of tweets.

Some of the tweets are from famous folk (Salman Rushdie), others from people I don’t know. But the language throughout is bold, visceral, kinesthetic. A sample: I’m shaking. I’m about to cry. That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. @nicomuhly @metopera, thank you for this. @PaulDavidFlood

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My week was hi-jacked by your basic nasty cold.

Sore throat, fever, guttural coughing. Grim. The life I had planned came to a sudden halt. Bedtime. Rest. Antibiotics.

And because I felt so vulnerable, I was doubly touched by the many random acts kindness that came my way.

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Last Friday, I went on an architectural tour of the Vitra Industrial Campus on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland.

Vitra is one of the premier makers of iconic modern furniture. The campus, Vitra’s main manufacturing complex, is a sprawling grid of industrial buildings designed by some of the world’s great architects: Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Sanaa, Herzog de Meuron.

I am an architecture geek. Whoa, I was in architectural heaven.

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You know you’re smart. You know on any given day you’d be able to figure it out. But today, just for today, your brain is going on strike.

Can’t process another piece of information. Can’t look at one more spread-sheet. Can’t listen to one more scintillating idea.


Let’s simply call it mental fatigue.

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You may be too young to remember the K.D. Lang classic: Constant Craving.
Haunting, hypnotic song.

I thought of “craving” a lot last week while I was working in France. The beauty of engaging with a Europolitan group of business folks – they re-energize my thoughts on stuff I think I know.

Oliver, the sharp and super-insightful German Operations Manager of a global manufacturing giant, gave me a little linguistics lesson.

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First things first. I’m not catholic.

But I, like many, am fascinated by a pope that is sending new leadership signals.

Among the flurry of reactions to Pope Francis’ public demeanor, this comment tickled my fancy:

What we’re seeing is an incredible change in the atmosphere, Sister Carol Zinn, president of the umbrella group of American nuns, said in an interview. And when you have change in the atmosphere, it’s amazing what kind of things can unfold. (NY Times, Saturday, 9/21/2013)

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A quick little email exchange last week with Carolyn Holland, an Associate at my firm, as we negotiate dates for an impending engagement.

My, you’re a busy bee, I write to Carolyn playfully.

From one busy bee to another, Carolyn chirps back.

Yes, busy bees we are, Carolyn and I. Every one of our clients is, as well. Busy. Unceasingly so. Communication-fueled. Information-overloaded. Break-deprived.

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When it pops up in every conversation it’s not a fluke. It’s a theme.

That’s what happened to me in LA last week.

I broke bread with some amazing colleagues. And every conversation settled onto the notion of personal generosity.

Two chats, in particular, got me thinking.

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I was skype-chatting the other day with Hoda Maloof, a colleague in Beirut, about the US holiday week-end.

Labor Day? she asked. Isn’t that celebrated sometime in May?

Yes, Labor Day has been a uniquely American ritual since 1894. The rest of the world celebrates the socialist-inspired International Workers Day in May. In the US, we tend to honor the economic and social contributions of workers with a host of supremely American traditions: Parades. Barbeques. And for some folks, shopping like there is no tomorrow.

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