Nico Appel

I’m working on it.

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Work with friends

Part of the upside of running your own company, or to freelance, is that you can to some degree decide to work with friends instead of coworkers.

I often forget just how different we work at our company – and how well that works for me. I deeply appreciate it.

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Out of left field

The more you have a clear plan of action, a trajectory you are trying to follow, the more you are able to see what is in fact coming “out of left field”.

Makes sense. Firmly understanding what is part of the plan, on the trajectory, exposes everything that is not

Unexpected events are sometimes surprisingly welcome, even fortunate. And at other times they present obstacles which we have not anticipated, and which can be utterly frustrating.

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Read more

How often do we hit a button that says “Read more” or “Learn more”?

My motivation to read got recently majorly re-kindled by a series of events. I already had quite a few books, mostly audiobooks on Scribd, saved for later. Then I watched Eric Weinstein’s conversation with Werner Herzog on his new podcast The Portal (Apple Podcasts, YouTube).

Herzog makes a convincing case for reading, in general. Note how he is hammering it in with his hand gestures going from cutting to praying.

Werner Herzog:

Yes, watch films and do whatever you need to do in technical terms, but read, read, read, read, read, read. If you don’t read, you will be a film maker, but mediocre at best.


Click on the image to see that part of the conversation.

Herzog has some more thoughts on reading and even what to read, but I will leave the option to “Learn more” up to you.

The mentioned required reading list for...

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People-based reminders

There is a place that sells ice cream in Berlin, a family run business, called Eis Hennig. Their business is going so well, they haven’t updated their website in roughly eight years, it seems. They don’t even need any of the images on their website to work. It doesn’t matter. They got better things to do: making and selling ice cream, assembly-line style. I am not kidding. There is always a queue.


At Eis Hennig, you don’t buy ice cream by the spoon, you can choose a container size and they fill that up with ice cream, layering the selected varieties on top of each other. Here, pick a size.


The reason why I am telling this is context. This is not a sponsored post. Bear with me.

Last weekend I went and had the 2.50 € container. One minute into enjoying my ice cream, I thought: “This is too much ice cream.” So I took to my portable super computer and set a location-based reminder:


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Same boat, different page


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It is 2019 and I am officially networking. Not entirely sure what networking actually is, I am making an effort to go out and meet people. I re-signed with LinkedIn, or maybe I resigned myself to use LinkedIn, which appears to be the “business Facebook” where you can like and comment on all things professional.

Apart from the mutual awkwardness involved in most networking activities, I am genuinely interested to learn about people’s problems related to my area of expertise. If you read this and even slightly suspect I might be able to help you, please reach out to me. If you think you could help me, I invite you to do the same.

Back to networking events. It seems that most of it is rather blind networking: You don’t know who you are going to meet. The filter could be being in the same city, the same industry, having the same sex, … you name it.

At those events, while we are meeting...

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While reading about the underlying structure of stories, I began to map my own story onto the classic structure. Whether through projection or reflection, the part about change began resonating with me.

change, and the internal struggle a character must undergo in order to achieve it. We’ve seen that in three-dimensional stories the protagonist goes on a journey to overcome their flaw. They learn the quality they need to achieve their goal; or, in other words, they change. Change is thus inextricably linked to dramatic desire: if a character wants something, they are going to have to change to get it. – John Yorke, Into the Woods

I began to wonder: What is the exact nature of the change I need to make in order to resolve my story in a happy ending. What is the specific flaw (from the array of flaws I am currently aware of) that I need to overcome?

I also could not help but consider...

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Why Germans can’t make money

Obviously, the full title should have been: “5 reasons why Germans can’t make money, 2 of which you would have never thought could be real”. But seriously, this should be interesting.

This article is more literal than you probably expected.
First, it’s true, I’m not kidding and this wasn’t just click bait: Germans can’t make money.

Now let me tell you how come and what the specific problem is.

See, I’m German, but for the last couple of years, I have spent less and less time in Germany due to being a Hobo CEO. I am also speaking, reading, writing, … well, 95 % of my media consumption, it’s all in English. Combine that with the fact that I’m socializing with other entrepreneurs, I actually do often think and talk about making money.
The problem is, in English mode I can, but as German, I simply can’t. It doesn’t work.

You folks living in or coming from the Anglosphere can make money...

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How the heck did I become a fan of Jack Reacher?

Jack Reacher (the movie) appeared on Netflix not long ago. It was late at night on the weekend when I decided I was kind of in the mood for a probably mediocre action movie – and possibly fall asleep while watching it.

I was mistaken. The opposite happened: I really enjoyed the movie.

That was particularly due to the fact that Tom Cruise seemed to be just the right cast to pull it off: not too much of a stereotype action movie character he embodied the mix of this hardass, no-bullshit and smart guy (even though I guess most novel reader probably thought their Jack Reacher isn’t as short as Cruise).

I’m sure others have done a better job elsewhere explaining who this Jack Reacher character is. At this point I didn’t even know that he is the main character of a series of novels by Lee Child.

One great sentence is all it takes

Here’s the scene / dialogue / sentence that won me over.


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What I don’t do – acts of omission

Meeting new people, we often ask, “What are you actually doing?”

I, for one, am beginning to realize that this is the less important and interesting question to ask, or to answer. More could be said about what I don’t do – consciously and intentionally.

Nassim Taleb uses the phrase via negativa (slightly redefined) in Antifragile. He writes:

Yet in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid.

It’s fascinating. The underlying mechanic is this:

Positive action, doing, is “respected and glorified by our primitive minds” (location 5042).

Negative actions, not doing something, “are not considered acts and do not appear to be part of one’s mission”...

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