Don’t let a corporation bring down your start-up mentality
The worst thing I could imagine after graduating was working for a large, sluggish corporation. Booooring! Runtastic, Air B’n’B, and the like fueled my dream of one day starting my own business. The only thing that held me back was my need for security… but what if I could have the best of both worlds?
Who isn’t fascinated by all these companies that revolutionize the world with their smart ideas? To tell the truth, I wasn’t so much intrigued by actually owning my own business, I was more interested in how start-ups work. They make room for taking risks, encourage creativity and allow for greater flexibility.
Today, I am working in one of the largest sporting goods companies in the world and before you say it, no, I have not sacrificed my dream. What makes me stay here is the fact that it shows how a start-up mentality and large corporations don’t always have to be mutually exclusive. Here’s why:
In a start-up there’s always a high degree of risk, because you never know if an idea will lead to success. Taking bold decisions, accepting the risk of failure and learning from mistakes is the key to great results on both a personal and professional level.
“In each new role I’ve taken on at the adidas Group, I’ve always been thrown in at the deep end and I still love these uncomfortable situations and that strange feeling you get in your stomach when dealing with the unknown.”
I’ve helped to organize one of the most important fitness events of the year for Reebok Germany, deal with last minute statement requests for trade media and the challenge of planning and taking responsibility of an adidas NEO blogger event. Just recently, in my new role as a social media manager for corporate communication, I had to publish our quarterly results on our website for the first time in my life – a situation where every second counts. What brings these events together is the fact that my pulse rate hit 130, but in the end, the outcome was great.
When I really need a new idea, I grab my longboard during lunchtime and cruise around whereas other colleagues might work out to free their minds.
“I really believe that a single person might have a good idea, but harnessing the creativity of many achieves extraordinary results.”
What I find really inspiring is the fact that we as a company always think big, opening up to external partners to come up with game changing concepts. I like the fact that we don’t feel like we need to have all the answers – it’s ok to involve other people to achieve something together. It takes away the pressure from an individual – from me. Two of my favorite moments so far were when I learned how the very company I was working for would make a true impact on this planet with this open-source approach: The Sport Infinity project aims at producing fully recyclable sporting goods, while our cooperation with Parley for the Oceans resulted in a shoe made from ocean plastic.
For me, being flexible also helps to fuel creativity. The barrier between business and my personal life has definitely come down. The two are one and cannot be divided. I can work wherever and whenever I want – perfectly adjusting to the requirements of my tasks and personal preference.
When I feel the need to escape my desk routine, I love that I can change my working environment. At our headquarters in Herzo, my favorite area is called ‘Elvis’- an installation where you can sit on gym mats, in half closed boxes and listen to speakers talking about new trends and business topics from a small stage. For an urban atmosphere, I sometimes sit in our coffee shop or on the sun terrace if the weather is nice. Hopefully soon, I will have even more opportunities. At “Pitch”, the building in which we are testing our new workplace concept. All of these options are fun and let me perform at my best.
As a designer, I also find that by changing the work environment also helps, but more at the concept stage, or when a creative blockage occurs. I find therefore when I´m designing (doing the more "technical work" per say), the need of having an organized and familiar studio environment. I´m far more efficient.
I believe that kind of freedom is needed in order to have better and healthier relation to your job and consequently the work you put out will be far superior!
Adidas Herzo seems to be like a place in heaven!
thanks for your great comment. I'm happy that you' ve enjoyed reading my story. Very interesting how you as a designer address creative tasks. You're absolutely right that we sometimes need a familiar environment to focus and at another point of time we need some freshness to disrupt our routines. I believe that the fact of having the freedom to change the working environment if needed is an essential enabler of my creativity.
At the adidas Group HQ I enjoy every minute of my working day, because the feeling I get through all the various opportunities (environments, sport facilities, workshops, speeches) is outstanding.
All the best,
And one more advice: Follow your intuition. This is probably one of the most important factors in being yourself. I ignored my intuition for the longest time because I felt so obligated to others. Their happiness was more important than my own.
thanks for your comment. Everyday I'm happy to wake up knowing that the adidas Group is the place to be for making progress - professionally and personally. The NEO Blogger event I'm referring to was last year and I'm not responsible for that anymore. Follow adidas NEO's social media channels (especially @adidasneo on Instagram) to be always up-to-date.