#100K: Claudia Siebert

Anyone who has worked in an agency for more than 25 years - like me - has met lot´s of colleagues over those years. Really a lot. With some of them paths crossed only briefly (Sorry to all I´ll bump into on a street or at an event and I don´t immediately remember your name). Some colleagues you work with you remember as great professional partners. But then there are some, you can't even imagine what would have been if they hadn't shown up at some point. These people enriched your job, your career - heck, your whole life. And with them you really became friends.

Today I`ll meet such a wonderful friend – for this #100K interview. It´s the fabulous Claudia Siebert (formerly known as Geidel), Claudi or da_ludi, for those who follow her on Instagram.

Dear Claudi, I am really happy that we finally meet again. The last time we saw each other was for the last stop of our annual roadshow "#ThereMustBeSomething" in Hildesheim. For those who don't know what I am talking about: once a year we visit together a city that is a bit “off-the-beaten-tracks”, a city where you not necessarily wanna go to. The "ThereMustBeSomething-Tour” brought us already to Gelsenkirchen, Worms or Madgeburg. And we always found “something”, something special at all theses places (if you are curious, have a look into the ThereMustBeSomething travel guides - sorry, all in Germany).

But after 2019 this tour came to a halt and so many else stopped. For three years - because of covid. Today, finally this is over. Life is back. And everything is like before, isn´t it? Claudi, what´s your opinion on this? And, what is you take away from this time. Should we forget this horrible time as quickly as we can or is there something worth to remember? Did you learn something during this time – useful even for today?

Absolutely, there was one learning that I find quite helpful and I´ll try to keep: that´s flexibility. Flexibility in everyday life.
From one day to the next, our world was completely different. All plans and routines, which I relied on before, were suddenly gone. My husband and I had to trust each other and come along in our tiny home with a three-year-old. No kindergarten, no office, no pause. Anyone who has little kids at home knows what I am talking about.

Everything had to be adjusted and rearranged. At the beginning, I was skeptical whether we would be able to manage all this. But hey, how quick and flexible you can be in a crisis!

We both built offices at home – one in the house, the other one in the garden shed. We setted up office hours. One started working at 6 a.m.. Another shift was from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.. And inbetween was “Kids-time” to replace kindergarden. We took turns for care work. And if changes where needs, we changed. Everything was in flux.

Well, you need discipline to manage work and family. But we just thought day by day, or even hour by hour in advance - and shimmied our way through the crisis bit by bit. That impressed me. You don't always need a big plan. Being flexible and open to change can also be very fulfilling. Because you never know what's going to happen in the future. 

A very good advice. Anyway, I never perceived you in the past as unflexible, stucked or fixed on a plan. Quite the opposite. For me, you are a role model in terms of inspiration, creativity and also irritation. Yes, I say irritation. Because I know you love to explore new topics and areas and incorporate all this into your creative way of working. 
Do you remember our "Brainstorming in the Dark"? We wanted to know what it was like to brainstorm in complete darkness. And find out whether reduced senses were better or worse for ideation. It was a wonderful experiment. Lot´s of fun. It almost pushed us to our limit, just to completely darken the room. Light can be so nasty. Comes in everywhere. But at the end it worked. And we got even more ideas. (It´s on YouTube, have a look into “Brainstorming in the Dark”). You are one of the most creative people I've worked with. So I hope you'll reveal your secret superpower today: What do you need to be creative?

That´s quite simple. Is it a superpower? I don´t know, but sometimes it´s not easy to get: All I need are people around me who are enthusiastic about things. Enthusiastic about movies, podcasts, books, food, music and so on. I need people around me who inspire me. And even more important, I need to feel their energy and passion. This kicks off my own discovery mode. I´ll pick up on their energy and incorporate it into my work.

That´s also very practical for me: today I have less time and less opportunities to go on discovery tours on my own. I live on the countryside. There is a nice house, lovely husband, child and dog. That's wonderful. But on top of this I have to look out for peers. For wonderful people who inspire me. People who keep saying, "Hey, did you see this...". Or "You really need to check out that..."

These are friends who come from different backgrounds. People who drag me out of my own bubble. People with different professions - painters, police officers, public utility employees. People with different hobbies.

All that is the source for a creativity-technique I´ll practice: “change of perspective”. It´s so inspiring to see how different people look at a thing in different ways. You can draw so many ideas just from this one practice.

Change of perspective - that's great for my last question. Well, we´ve overcome the Covid pandemic, but we still live in difficult times. The World Economic Forum calls this a "polycrisis": Climate crisis, energy crisis, inflation, recession, war in Europe (and so many other places), as well as radicalization of politics and public opinions - wherever you look we are faced with massive problems. It´s challenging for all of us. This time challenges us to do something. Something to help, to support, to get involved into something that makes the world a little bit better. How do you see this? What is your contribution to make the world a bit better?

I don't like to call it “crisis” anymore. “Crisis” implies that there will be an end soon and everything will go back to normal. But I don't believe that. the world is rebuilding and then we are creating a “new normal”. That´s a fundamental thought to get going in a positive mode and look forward into a new future. (To learn more about this have a look into this interview with Anna Maria Braun, CEO of pharma company B.Braun Group and Claudia's extraordinary, inspiring boss – interview in German)

And this new future needs everyone. Everyone is a piece of the puzzle. Every action, every step helps - especially in the climate sector. Every solar installation, no matter how small, every measure to save electricity is helpful. Everyone should consider what he or she can do to save planet earth.

The best is to do this together. I live in a tiny village. Only 350 people live here. Once or twice a year, we clean up our surroundings. This helps nature, but it also strengthens our community. And it's fun too. You don´t believe what we´ve already found in that forest: Irons, loudspeakers. We've even found an old Trabi. Old and young join in. That's very important: Take the little ones, the next generation, with you right from the start. Kids should learn what to look for while shopping. Products should be organic, if possible, and not packaged in plastic. These are behaviours we, as adults, had to learn the hard way. For our kids, all this should be naturally.

And I'm very happy that my little son has internalized that pretty much. Carlos is an absolute pro when it comes to "upcycling". He's too happy to sort through our trash, pull something out, and say, "We can make something out of that." I often shake my head. But actually I think, "He's right. Yes, we can make something out of it.”

(And that's already all said, isn't it? Oh, by the way, Claudia's favorite podcast is called "all said”. "Alles gesagt" is a podcast published by Zeit online. Click here.)

About #100K

In 2023 Ketchum - an international communications network - celebrates its 100th anniversary. This makes it probably the oldest communications agency in the world. I´ve worked more than 25 years at Ketchum and learned so much at this agency. I am thankful for this time and the many colleagues and friends I´ve met there. So I´ll take this as an opportunity to meet old Ketchum-friends. And ask them some fundamental questions. Thanks to Claudia, Rod Cartwright, Robert Burnside, Lukas Adda, Linda Eatherton, Gustav Averbuj, Sabine Stadel-Strauch, Gesine Märten and Martin Dambacher.

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