Markus Gull
Christmas elf stands in the forest. All the branches are covered in hoarfrost.

Do you know Secret Santa 2.0?

Have you already removed all traces of Christmas from your home? Have you redeemed vouchers, exchanged things that need exchanging, disposed of the Christmas tree, are the table and window decorations in the cellar, pine needles under the carpet...? Custom dictates that from Epiphany onwards, everything looks as if nothing has happened. We don't look like it ourselves - Christmas fat and all that, but we'll get there, won't we?

After all, we have something on our radar that stems from the beautiful custom of New Year's resolutions. Unless, as is the case every year, we keep the somewhat less pleasant custom of making New Year's resolutions alive. We still have until the end of February to fulfill the findings of the statistics. Because only a quarter of New Year's resolution holders last longer than two months. A quarter only last a month, and ten percent of resolutions end up in the pile of snow after just one day.

That's what the customs want, of which there are also plenty before Christmas. Advent songs and Perchten and handicraft lessons and St. Nicholas and punching each other away and arguing about whether the Christ Child or Santa Claus will bring the presents.


In the blogcast, I read this recent blog article to you. With emphasis, of course!

Oh yes, presents!

In the circle of colleagues, Secret Santa is quite popular in this respect. Do you know it? Wichtelpedia writes about it: Secret Santa is a pre-Christmas custom that is usually practiced among work colleagues, in clubs, in school classes, by youth groups and virtually in various online communities. A different group member is chosen at random for each group member, who then gives them a present.

Even though this sounds very appealing in principle and definitely has positive facets to the team-building crystal, I admit that it always got on my nerves. I always saw it as the miraculous transformation of gift-giving into stress. For both the giver and the recipient, by the way. What's more, there's something that makes a mockery of gift-giving itself: there's usually a bit of calculation built into each of these small, weighted gifts, which makes a mockery of the very idea of gift-giving. The clever Wilhelm Schmid writes in his delightful little book "On giving and receiving gifts""Attention is an expression of the energy that one person gives to another. Everyone longs for it, but it is not available in all relationships." In absolutely no relationship can this attention be planned or even prescribed, I think. Except in a bad relationship.

This year I noticed a special Secret Santa variation: Scrap Secret Santa. As far as I understand the rules, this could also be called "evil gnomes" or, in keeping with the spirit of the times, a 2.0 upgrade. You disguise your junk, which you can neither bury in the forest nor check out on eBay, as a gift, which you give to your assigned fellow gnome. The best thing that comes out of this is that everyone laughs, i.e. they laugh a little at the gnome receiving the present and sing about the gnome's originality. And, crucially, you also have something to post!

This takes the idea of gift-giving to another level, because it's no longer about you, but only about me - we're just giving ourselves, so to speak. The person who does this best will probably soon only be friends with themselves and from then on will practise the art of living in dealing with themselves. There is also a book about this a book by Wilhelm Schmid, which can be seen as the antithesis of the scrap metal gimmick.

What is more important than me?

Yes, the ME. It drives so many things. It drives so many things. Especially companies, careers, business. It's so often and always, again and again and more and more often about self-realization, sorry: self-realization, which is confused with success, in the worst case with vocation or, God forbid, with fulfillment. An apparent success story, in fact, junk with and for oneself.

Why is that?

Even if it often looks like it, in work and business it is not just about whatis given, but why it is given. What is the purpose? Where is the usefulness, the intrinsic value for those who receive something, the goodwill? Meaning and relationship arise from this attention. For the giver and the receiver in unison. This is a contribution to something that grows beyond the self in self-realization.

Is this about hugging trees, the frowned upon world improvement or what is so contemptuously called do-gooderism? Not as far as I can see. Although the widespread improvement of the world by good people would be worth a try, as a counter-program to what hasn't really worked for the last few hundred years, as any non-hugged tree in the rainforest can tell you, as can (theoretically) any extinct species.

You can do it just as the Marschallin advises us in Der Rosenkavalier: "One must be light, with a light heart and light hands, hold and take, hold and let go." Just like Monica.

Yesterday and the day before yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with Monica on the story and, yes, the business model for her wonderful heart project, with which she helps people to rediscover and experience their creative side in a light-footed way - an essential part of their buried humanity. At the same time, this special idea transforms stuff that would otherwise at best be thrown away into objects of bright joy. In this way, Monica fills a vacuum, a hole in the soul that so many of us feel but can't even describe, and in the process actually retrieves valuable things from the garbage cans.

Now, when I've finished writing this, I'm meeting Claudia for a walking PowerHour for her fabulous project, in which she uses gamification to show people in cities where there are beautiful things to discover and, above all, drinking fountains. At the same time, she is taking those damn plastic bottles out of circulation. The bottle deposit won't solve the problem. But Claudia might, just a little bit.

Such projects take the big I out of wICHtig and put the attentive, connecting WE into WIRtschaft. Such entrepreneurial ideas are gifts for us all. It is an entrepreneurial expression of energy that one person gives to another. Or, as Khalil Gibran would say: "Work is love made visible."

One of the special privileges of my work is that I am allowed to accompany such projects as a mentor. These are social entrepreneurships, i.e. companies run by people who use their entrepreneurial expertise to bring necessary improvements into the world and thus do business that is not only profitable and good, but good for something and good for many.

But even in traditional companies that were once founded for purely economic reasons on the basis of market opportunities and know-how, an increasing number of people - entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs - are setting out to renew themselves from within. Huge industrial companies and even political organizations are knocking on my door with the question: "Can you help us with our new story?" My "Yes, I'd love to!" quickly leads to the transformative realization: "Hey, we don't just have a booming business, we even have a mission that will fulfill us if we fulfill it."

One of the main triggers is the longing of employees and potential team members for more than just self-fulfilment. Namely, for meaning in their daily activities that goes beyond the self. This doesn't just affect potentials and high-potentials from Bobostan, it affects us all, because it's what makes us human. I wouldn't be at all surprised if these groups don't do a lot of Christmas presents during Advent, but give a lot throughout the year. Attention, for example.

Do you sense that a new story is needed for yourself, your profession, your company, your team or your brand? Are you on the verge of transformation? Then you probably want supportive guidance in the form of a mentor. I myself have had and still have many of them, most of whom I have never met in person, but have written what they put between the covers of their books behind my ears.

If you have the feeling that I could be an inspiring mentor for you, I would be honored to accompany you. There are several ways to do this, depending on where you are. For example, there's the PowerHour as a very simple, quick impulse session, because a professional view from the outside can often help very quickly and effectively. Or the New Story Bootcamp as an intensive work package, especially for brands & companies, or the structured New Story Mentoring - my platinum program in One on One.

In any case, we work together on your powerful inner story that moves, guides and drives you all the way to your Little Story ABC with a great magnetic effect.

We sharpen your perspective, find out what the real core of your task is, what meaning your work has for you and your audience, what makes the unique impact of your work and formulate the decisive guiding principle for you, your work and everything that follows. For your New Story, which you give to the world because it is not only good, but also and above all good for something.

Perhaps this is precisely the decisive impulse that will turn this year into the best year you've ever had, without any resolutions but with courageous energy, a hot heart and a cool head?

In doing so, you are giving yourself and the world a gift, in the spirit of my grandmother, the old Story Dudette, who founded the custom of storytelling, which is still practiced today around campfires in the mountains of the Alps and whose motto is: "New Story. New Glory."

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