Interviews › Hermann Scherer
Enjoying your job—the basis of successful work
Whether digitally or in person, it’s all about attitude.
Hermann Scherer is one of the best-known speakers, trainers, and consultants in Germany. He was always on the road, traveling all over the world with his team. But COVID-19 was a turning point even for Hermann Scherer’s “global workers,” taking them away from real-life meetings and into the digital world.
In the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Mastershausen, the company’s headquarters were expanded and an event location set up in order to be able to hold their own events in accordance with COVID-19 regulations. However, destinations can now once again include New York, Miami, or Bangkok—and there’s more to come.
Today we’re delighted to be talking to Hermann Scherer himself, his Head of Events, Lisa Gier, and Head of Sales, Kai Schneuing, on the topic of the new working, workations, and working on the move.
You have always traveled a lot, attending events all over the world, with your laptop on the plane. And then COVID-19 drove almost everyone away from offices and public spaces and into the home office. How has that affected your work?
Hermann Scherer: We actually did exactly the opposite and put the focus on being physically present in our premises. We built our own hall, a huge office, and did a lot on site. In this way we were able to do something within the COVID-19 regulations at least in small groups and promote our online formats. This has made us very strong digitally—and of course we use it all the more today. It works well.
For an event in New York, I rented a house in advance and for three weeks I used it for both work and vacation. But we’ve always had a good hybrid form when it comes to working and we’ve always seen working hours and free time as flexible.
Lisa Gier: What new working also means to me is a certain kind of flexibility. This doesn’t mean that you decide whether to work from home or in an office, but that everything is generally very flexible. You have to be able and willing to react to circumstances—one month at your desk and the next month traveling again.
Mr. Scherer, what you did in New York was almost a classic workation. Were you doing this in your company previously too?
Hermann Scherer: Of course. We’re usually traveling as a group and one or other of us will say: Hey, I can arrive earlier or I’ll stay behind longer. And that’s something we really encourage.
Lisa Gier: At our upcoming event, too, I’ll fly to Bangkok a day earlier and stay three weeks longer. But even before COVID-19, that was the case. We’ve always worked in very different places and also at different times. But you don’t have to be traveling internationally, it can just be that before the presentation, which is two hours away, one person is still working in the car or on the train and the other is perhaps already setting up something on site.
Kai Schneuing: My initial period working with Hermann reflects that quite well. I had booked my vacation a long time ago, and then, after two weeks of induction, I went straight to Croatia with my family for four weeks. My family was on the beach and in the sea and I had carved out time slots for myself, sitting under a parasol with my laptop or having Zoom meetings on the terrace in the evening. That was just great, that was trust, that was freedom, and I wish lots of people could have this experience. This is also the flexibility that Lisa was talking about. Because actually I’ve only worked in one other country, but it was really exciting, it fitted in well with the family—and the experience also helped me personally.
Hermann Scherer: In our seminars we turn people into brands, we want to make them big—visible. This works well when new experiences are combined with a change of location. “You go out as a kitten, and come back as a tiger.” This comment by one participant could actually describe the topic of workation.
Have you noticed any change in aspirations when it comes to recruiting? Is the new working a dominant theme for your customers or for you too?
Lisa Gier: Being able to travel, for example, was an important issue for me and was promised to me when I started. But we have generally noticed that flexibility at work is one of the prerequisites for being an attractive company. Whether it’s home office, workation, or time management, I think, depending on the industry, this will become more and more important in the future. And that’s very exciting.
Hermann Scherer: We’re also seeing that this is an issue and a step forward for our customers. Of course, it’s not always about sitting in a hut in Bali, but about rethinking and breaking up fixed structures wherever possible.
Lisa Gier: On the one hand, lots of people see the opportunities that this way of working brings them, on the other hand, there’s the feeling of having to follow a trend and having no choice. But it’s great to spot this “aha” effect when people you’re working with in person, for example at our events abroad, realize that something has changed in people’s minds and lots of them approach their jobs much more freely. “That gave me a whole new perspective on a lot of things and helped me move on,” said one participant—and that’s the mind shift that new working can promote.
Kai Schneuing: After more than 20 years of self-employment in some really old processes, I now have a completely new working day: start when you want, leave when you want—the main thing is that the work gets done and that we react quickly. I believe that there’s an increasing understanding of this kind of working. I see in myself that I am more effective when I can manage my time more freely. However, it’s still essential that we see each other, that we exchange ideas actively—whether in the office or remotely.
Hermann Scherer: What links all of this is actually loving your job, the joy and fun you can have at work. And that includes companies trusting their employees. Really, I’m grown-up enough to decide what I need to do my job. And if the conditions are there and the opportunity exists, it shouldn’t really matter whether you’re working from the office, from home, or from somewhere else.
An institution in the German-speaking world of motivational speakers, Hermann Scherer was giving lectures and keynote speeches when no one even knew what a speaker was. Through exciting keynote speeches and inspiring events, his seminars across the world turn people into brands.
Learn more about Hermann Scherer at www.hermannscherer.com