Fabian Dittrich Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Fabian Dittrich
Fabian Dittrich is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview.
He is a man where you think where do I start?
This is a man with three distinct areas of his life, which he calls his key stories.
One being an explorer, one being an adventurer, and one being the start of his entrepreneurial life.
When he was in Berlin back in 2006, he was like all of us, and was in a bit of a funk.
He was studying computer science, but had no idea how to make a living from the subject that he was learning.
And we hear this time and time again from people across the world.
You start in a world of confusion, unsure of anything, even what you are doing at that time, but that is ok.
Even though throughout your life you may have times when you are lost and unsure of your next move you only have to do two things.
Gain as much knowledge whilst you are in that position, as there are gifts in your confusion.
And then secondly say “Yes” to things, to put yourself in new experiences where those learnings start to make sense.
And that is what our guest did, as without a clue to his future, a friend phoned him one day and his life started to change forever
How The Dots Joined Up For Fabian
As he says” I got a call from a friend who’s hobby it was to use an old press ID card to sneak into expensive conferences to network and eat free food.
He said: “You need to come to the Hyatt Hotel, there is a Ruby on Rails conference and the food is amazing”.
“Ruby on what??” he replied. It was a fairly new programming language back in 2006. Free food sounded good though, so an hour later he was standing at the buffet and filling my plate with heaps of tasty salmon.
A recruiter standing next to him, who had paid $1000 be there, asked if he wanted a job – working with Ruby on Rails!
He pretended to have some experience and accepted this offer. From that moment on, while studying, he worked 2 days a week programming in various startups as a freelancer, all thanks to his desire to eat fish.”
And that is where we will start today’s episode of Join Up Dots, even though I have no idea myself where this conversation is going to go.
So does he still have episodes of confusion in his life, or is it now a seamless journey of experiences and success, as he travels around the world inspiring others to create a life on their own terms?
And does he look back at his life and now see gifts in the dark times when he didn’t have a clue, which powers the belief to keep moving forward in his life?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Fabian Dittrich.
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Fabian Dittrich such as:
How he has spent years looking back on his early life as a student, and reflects on how he has learnt more from taking action than anything he ever get from a book.
Why he feels that we should all imagine looking down on ourselves from the Moon, so we can truly appreciate the huge amount of opportunities that are all around us.
Why even the most inspired, and motivated entrepreneur can sometimes look at employees with a mild envy of simpler life, where hustle isn’t part of each and everyday.
How he travelled across Africa looking for people to sing with, raising money for charity, and tells about h
Why he feels that life and the building of success is nothing more than “A numbers game”….sometimes things will work, sometimes things wont, but you have to try, try, try.
How To Connect With Fabian Dittrich
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Audio Transcription Of Fabian Dittrich Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes. Hello, everybody. Hello, world. Hello, San Diego. I’m getting so many people contact me from San Diego, what is it about San Diego? Let me know is it somewhere that I should come over and record live? Should I move there? Is it a place to be but so many people are saying to me, this is the place you know, I’ve traveled the world, but I’ve hit San Diego. And that’s where I’m going to lay my head. And I’m going to ask the same question to today’s guest because he is somebody who he travels all over the place. And he’s a man that merely I always have to think, where do I start with him? Where do I start because he’s a man with three distinct areas of his life, which he calls his key stories, one being an explorer, one being an adventure, and one being the star of his entrepreneurial life. When he was in Berlin back in 2006, he was like all of us. And he was in a bit of a funk. He was studying computer science, but had no idea how to make a living from this subject that he was learning. And we hear this time and time again, from people across the world. You start in a world of confusion, unsure of anything, even what you are doing at that time. But it’s okay. Because even throughout your life, you might have times when you’re lost and unsure of your next move, and you only have to do two things, gain as much knowledge while you’re in that position, as there are gifts in your confusion. And then secondly, say yes to things to put yourself in new experiences where those learnings start to make sense. And that is what our guest did as without a clue to his future. A friend phoned him one day and his life started to change forever. As he says, I got a call from a friend whose hobby It was too use an old press ID card to sneak into expensive conferences to network and eat free food. He said you need to come to the Hyatt Hotel, there is a Ruby on Rails conference and the food is amazing Ruby on what they’ll get you apply. It was a fairly new programming language back in 2006. And pre food sounded good. So an hour later, he was standing at the buffet and filling his plate with heaps of tasty salmon, and a recruiter standing next to him who paid $1,000 to be there. asked if he wanted a job working with Ruby on Rails. He pretended to have some experience and accepted his offer. And from that moment on while studying, he worked two days a week programming in various startups as a freelancer all thanks to his desire to eat fish bizarre story. And that is where we will start today’s episode of join up dots even though I had no idea myself where this conversation is going to go. So Does he still have episodes of confusion in his life? Or is it now a seamless journey of experiences and success as he travels around the world? It’s bombing others to create a life on their own terms. And does he look back at his life and now see GIFs in the dark times when he didn’t have a clue which powers that belief to keep moving forward in his life? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start join up dots where the one and only Fabian Dittrich How are you?
Fabian Dittrich [3:18]
Wow, what an intro. Hey David, thanks for having me on your show. I’m, I’m good. I’m just coming out of a three day sickness. But I’m back on the road to recovery and already back on track and good.
David Ralph [3:29]
Where are you? I’m always good. I’m always good. I am a podcaster for a living. I’ve got a nice warm cup of coffee. I’ve got a nice studio. I’ve got no boss in my life. Okay, the wife might pretend that she’s my boss. But its life is good. And that’s how life should be should it be and we should wake up being the creators of our own destiny. What do you think about as a star?
Fabian Dittrich [3:51]
I think that’s true. I mean, there’s lots of people thinking about destiny, right? But I think destiny doesn’t exist, right? It’s your actions which create your day me into your future. We create our own destiny. Yeah.
David Ralph [4:04]
I think so from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I would say 70% of the time, I just do what I want. Now. I just do what I want. And I know there’s a lot of people out there that go, Wait, so I’ve been out. So I thought David is not as easy for me. But 10 years ago, I would have said the same thing. I would have said you Yeah. And so it is it’s down to us. Isn’t it is down to us. Let’s see power. This is going to be a good one. I’m all fired up already. Fabian Dittrich, you’ve got you’ve got the motivation rocket fired at me. Do you reckon by the end of the episode, we can have people punching their bosses in the face or walking out and start in their own life?
Fabian Dittrich [4:42]
We do it let’s let’s do it.
David Ralph [4:45]
It’d be on the news. Wouldn’t it be a new on the news everywhere. hundreds of students have steamed into offices in Berlin and punch people. Now we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to do that. Now with yours when you hear that introduction? Do you actually kind of go it wasn’t bizarre. I went for free food. And I ended up where I am now.
Fabian Dittrich [5:05]
Yes. I you know, I told this story so many times in onstage in podcast to friends and boss and traveling, you know, drunk sitting somewhere in a Thai restaurant somewhere. And yes, every time I tell it, I am gone a little bit like, wow, this was just amazingly crazy. Yeah, but now that I told the story so many times, I kind of processed it. I processed it. And, and it doesn’t invoke the same kind of feeling of Wow, this, this is just bizarre how it all happened cuz I thought about it so many times. So now there’s more recent stories where where I think this, this the same thing. But these old stories, because as you said, they were in 2006, I kind of process them. They’re part of my past. And I see them just as something that happened to me, which was kind of it’s kind of normal now.
David Ralph [5:57]
It’s not normal for you, because I went over to your website started today. And it’s a great read, and I was flicking around it. And I’ll be honest, be honest, Fabian Dittrich, I have some guests that come on that when I go on to their website, I spend seconds because there’s not enough to grab me. Now the first thing that grabbed me was a picture and it looks like you sitting on the steps. And you’ve got your laptop. And I love this. I’ve never heard anyone say this before. But I really want to sort of delve into this. And it’s a strap line across, the best way to live your life is to choose the experience that will have the greatest anecdotal value.
Fabian Dittrich [6:32]
Yes, I think that was my philosophy for for for a couple of years. Right? When when I was confronted with decisions, for example, let’s say standing at the buffet and the story that you talked about where the free fish was where this friend of mine who had a fake press ID brought me into this conference, which usually costs $1,000 per day. And I just went there because I wanted to taste the free food, right. And it was a conference about a programming language, Ruby on Rails, which I heard about before, but I had no idea what it really was. And, you know, there’s a bunch of headhunters at this conference who just come there to recruit new talent because they know that the people who go there who spent $1,000 per day they are kind of involved in this thing. Now I just kind of sneaked in with the help of a friend. And then I put all these the sermon on my plate. And next to me was a headhunter who asked me if I wanted to have a job with Ruby on Rails. And that’s totally where the philosophy applies. Like, it’s such a cool story, that I accepted the job just for the story. Because it’s such a nice story. You know, there’s a guy randomly offered me a job because I’m there for free food. And then I go into this company, work there, earn some money, learn this programming language, and it’s just a nice story. And on top of it, I learned Ruby on Rails. And that changed my whole life because From then on, I just went from startup to start up. Because of that I went traveling with a car through Africa because of that I have my own company. It also it with this free fish. And yeah, so I think that’s, that’s the philosophy I lived by for for many years. But But the thing about that,
David Ralph [8:07]
and I also had a guy on the show called Paul Cousineau, but became an accountant because they were offering free pizza at the course. And he went there. 15 years, he was an accountant, before he realized he hated it. And now he takes people down to the Amazon lane fully. But a shaman, so there’s a kind of food, I suppose it’s a survival instinct, isn’t it? Where we’re grazing, we’re finding it. But the key thing to me that I want to delve into at that moment, it wasn’t the fact that he offered you a job, it wasn’t a fact that you were trying to get free food. Why did you go? Yes? where most people would go, Oh, hang on? No, I don’t know anything about that. No, no. And just sort of like, push back, you you went for the opportunity before you could actually provide the value to this company? Is that a key part of you? Have you always been like that? Or was that the first time? You you did something like that?
Fabian Dittrich [9:02]
Yeah, you know, it’s, I think you learn by doing right, I went to university for probably eight years, I did a bachelor, the Master, I can’t say that I learned a lot there. But when I really learned something is when I jumped into the cold water, you know, going to tiller living again to live without speaking of word of Spanish, and then just learning it are accepting and jumping Ruby on Rails and then being set in front of the computer and learning it. It’s kind of fake it till you make it, you know? Yeah, yeah. And I love those things. I love learning by doing and, and getting the practical knowledge first without learning the theory first, because that’s, that’s, that’s how I can work. And that’s how I can learn I cannot just learn the theory and then learn by by, by by reading or by, you know, looking things up, I have to have a task first problem to solve and then see how can I solve the problem?
David Ralph [9:57]
But that’s very different, isn’t it? That’s very difficult. Most people you know, I talk about Richard Branson a lot. He has to kind of say yes, and then work it out afterwards. And you’ve got that same spirit. But so many people don’t do they so many people will try to join the dots up to get all the experience before they go into that. And I agree with you. I don’t like to say this, because education is very important. But because nobody listens to the show. Fabien I can say it. I learned more from doing the hustle than I have, you know, my my geography or level that I’ve got. It doesn’t really help me a totally normal life. oxbow lakes are nice to know. But they don’t really help you delay.
Fabian Dittrich [10:41]
I don’t think they don’t they do. And, you know, my explanation is, I think twofold. One thing is, I think, Now many people are driven by fear. And I don’t think it’s the fault of the people. It’s not the fault of us, I think our brains, they’re still 30,000 years old. They didn’t, the brains didn’t involved since then. And our brains are made for being on the prairie young, on the African wasteland. And when there’s a moving bus, then it’s probably a good idea to run away. Because probably an evil, let’s say a lion or a dangerous enemy. And our brains still work like this. For some of us, the unknown is still something that induces fear. But if we think rationally, then this is this needs an update. It’s not up to date anymore, because there’s no more lions in the process, at least not here in Berlin. And million nowhere where I went, so we don’t have to be afraid anymore. I think you know, that comes back to facing new challenges or learning the theory First, we probably want to do that, because we afraid that when we get into the job, then we can’t stand the challenges. But there’s really nothing to be afraid of. What was the second thing I wanted to say? Oh, so you have to help me here. What was? What was the last thing you said?
David Ralph [12:03]
I’m still with the burning bushes and lions and tigers? I don’t know. Yeah, we’re come back to it where we’re come back to LA state. So when you started to take this action, was it something that because it was bold? Because it was exciting? It naturally led to this nomadic lifestyle? But you’ve got? Or did you get to a point where you went? Actually, I’m still quite bored with this. Ruby on Rails is all right, but it’s not really what I want to do. How did you change to that kind of utopia that people look for creating a lifestyle business where you can sit on the steps of a church with a laptop and do your work.
Fabian Dittrich [12:43]
But I think there’s two approaches to it. Like, let’s say we look on the planet Earth, and especially at you or my life, or whoever’s listening live from the moon, right and see yourself sitting there, the word is very big. And you’re sitting there in a flat, maybe in an office for eight hours a day, five hours, five days a week. And if you do the normal thing, then probably 45 years of your life. Now if you if you if you look at the scene zoomed in, and then you zoom out, you see that the earth is very big, and you can rotate it and there’s so many different diverse things. So just from that perspective, how much sense does it make to stay in this one particular place in this cubicle for 45 years of your life, until you made a bunch of money, which you then probably too old, or to spend in a way that you would have spent it when you were 20 or 30 when your back didn’t hurt and you could still you know, jump from waterfalls and climb trees,
David Ralph [13:44]
who’s in women, booze and women. That’s what you’re saying? when when when you’re young. And that’s what you want to spend it on.
Fabian Dittrich [13:51]
Exactly what so that’s one thing. The word is big. And there’s so much to discover. So why not do it? Now the other thing is when I was to in 2001. I, like many people, I read the book, the beats from Alex garlin. Yeah, the beats Yeah. And that triggered in me the the need to travel to Thailand, which I did. And like so many other people who got triggered to go to Thailand to buy that book. And spending two months in Thailand was just amazing. For me, I was 2021, I think and I just wanted to stay and travel more, I was totally infected with the Trello box. So my plan was to stay in Bangkok into internship at Siemens, which looked like it would work out, but it didn’t. But I was already set, I already had set up my mind to stay out of Germany for a while. So my mother had a friend and this friend had a friend who when doing his civil service, went to tiller. And then he opened up a US internet Stop in today. So instead of to Thailand, I went to today and stand up year in senior and I think that really was a stepping stone in my life because I worked in a company with which was founded by a Canadian guy, a Chilean guy, a German guy, a Cuban guy. And most of the people working there were Chileans, so I worked in this inter cultural environment and amazing startup and the highest building on the top floor of Santiago de Chile. And had an amazing time I learned Spanish. But what this really was about is inducing in my mind, a mindset of everything is possible. Because in South America or in other countries where things are not that, let’s say we’re not everything is totally organized yet. Like in Germany, you kind of get this mindset of there’s a problem and you have to solve it. Yeah. And it doesn’t matter how. And there’s no rules. And there’s no fixed way how to get to the end goal. Just Just an anecdote to showcase that. If you back in the days in 2004, and chill if you switched on the TV at 4am in the morning. And then serious was over, you could see the background picture from Windows x XP, and then the mouse cursor moving clicking on the next movie. You know, this was how things were, like improvised back in the days. And I just loved spending time in South America because everything was so improvised. And it just showed me how I can just think about how to solve a problem and then just find a way to do it. And that Yeah, as I said in Houston, me in a mindset of everything is possible. And
David Ralph [16:43]
does it mean just to jump in there? It doesn’t have to be perfect. Right? That TV, it was still operating you were still able to watch it. It just wasn’t as good as you might get in America or Germany.
Fabian Dittrich [16:53]
Right? Yes, exactly. And I totally love this experience. Also the founders of the company, well, they were just like 10 years older than me. And you know, they went surfing every weekend took took me to the, to the surfing spots on the weekends. And it was just a great time that and from that moment on, I was so motivated and pushed to I went back to Germany and I had three semesters which I had to study left. And I did it in one semester, because I just wanted to go back to Chile. Because I was so motivated. I just spent at home and studied and studied and didn’t do anything else. And did three semesters in one just to go back traveling.
David Ralph [17:30]
So so effectively what you done you you hadn’t found your path, but you’d found the spirit of possibilities, you realize that as it says on your website that boundaries are mostly imagined and exist only in people’s heads. So we put ourselves in these boxes, just because we haven’t given ourselves a chance to look around and assess what is possible. There is a lovely lady who’s part of my coaching group called mega mega, and this is to your famous now apply this to all your friends. She basically is touring Europe at the moment, and she’s going through Venice, and Geneva and Italy and all these different places. And she wants to become a digital marketer. And in some ways, because she’s quit her job and she’s traveling, she now knows that her life can never be the same. And it is almost it makes it more difficult because you’ve tasted something. But you can’t quite have it yet. You know, you’ve tasted the experience of travel, you’ve seen people doing what you want to do. But you haven’t quite got there in your life. Do you kind of wish some times that you actually hadn’t tasted it? What is life simpler to just get on the train every morning, go to an office come home because to me, I hustle every single day. And some days I think to myself, you know, I wish I could just switch off from it. I wish I could just rest. But I know it’s in me now what what do you think?
Fabian Dittrich [18:57]
That’s a good question. I definitely think that too, sometimes.
But it’s also too late to go back.
Unknown Speaker [19:03]
Fabian Dittrich [19:04]
fortunately, probably fortunately. You know, I guess you know, if you think about life, like a unfolding story, which I always like to do. If I if you think about yourself about like the hero in your own story, he was walking the hero’s journey, right? Then can it be that you just spent 45 years taking the train and going into the office and came back and watching TV? It’s just a cool story, right? If you think about life, that being a movie, and you know where it’s going in terms of 45 years of this and that, then it’s a movie I don’t really want to see. So. And the other approach, you know, many people say, what is it that you want to look back at when you’re on your deathbed. I also don’t want to look back at 45 years in a cubicle, I want to look back at a life full of exciting stories and doing the things that I wanted to do in the moment and traveling and discovering the word and decreasing those boundaries that we have in our heads, the dangers that we think exists out there that people that we think are so different to us and dangerous or whatever. And that’s the cool thing. If you if you then go and discover the world for yourself, you find out that they’re not really dangerous. You know, I went once driving through whole Africa, with very with a lot of stereotyped images in my head about countries like Nigeria, Mauritania, Congo, and I had the best time of my life and nothing ever happened to me. It also I think, it’s it’s a very healthy thing to actually figure out that the word is a friendly place, and that people are mostly 99% of people are very friendly, you know. And
David Ralph [20:52]
so I agree with that, I think 99% of friendly and 1% serial killers, basically, you know,
Unknown Speaker [20:58]
it even so,
David Ralph [21:00]
bad people, if you get a right time can be good, and then you’ve got the lunatics that will catch you and keep you in a box under their bed for 25 minutes.
Fabian Dittrich [21:11]
Yeah, there’s a saying that there isn’t anybody you can learn to love. Once you know their story. And I had this this. There’s many times where I met someone, let’s say a refugee who told me that once he stole a wallet of someone, and I judged him first, but then I found out his story and how he strapped himself below trucks with a balance. And this truck would then go on a sip and he would just be very much in danger under neath a truck strapped onto the seas and then going on a sip and then the truck would leave a sip in Spain and would drive and when it stops, he would never know when to let off the truck because he doesn’t know if it would go on driving again. If you would be run over and then he would crawl from you know the truck and run and find some money to get the bus. Lorna’s girlfriend would wait and such. And if you didn’t listen to the story and hang out with those people for four weeks straight, you’re like, dude, if I would have seen a wallet on the table, from some guy who has so much, maybe I would have taken it if that’s the only thing I have to do to get to my girlfriend, you know, crawling from beneath the truck. So I think Yeah, in this 1% of people who, assuming Lee are bad by the first impression, I think you can still learn to empathize with them once once you heard all the stories
David Ralph [22:30]
over, although we’ve all had girlfriends at once we’ve seen their stories. We don’t want anything to do with them. Yeah. I agree. It works that way, as well. So let’s move on. So I’m going to play some words now. And we’re going to delve back into the real spirit of Fabian because yeah, fascinating guy. And I really want to get that flavor of what happens when push comes to shove what happens when things aren’t easy in your life. But you still keep going forward. This Jim Carrey,
Jim Carrey [23:00]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [23:27]
So that’s a question for you. What do you love fame? Is it the experiences? Is it the freedom what actually excites you more than anything?
Fabian Dittrich [23:39]
Oh, I think it’s many places, it’s many things at the same time, right? I love discovering. I love discovering new places, new people new ways of thinking, I really like love seeing the world from all its perspectives. Right? I if if the feeling if I had to stay here, let’s say in London, where Lyft are in San Francisco, Berlin, I get an impression of the word which is maybe 10% of the word. But then when I hang out with kings in Africa, or with smugglers, or with prostitutes,
David Ralph [24:11]
or with That’s it, you know, I am in it Blimey, King, gamblers, Kings, gamblers, and prostitutes, and we one night.
Fabian Dittrich [24:20]
Well, I think it was all in one week. And,
and then and then, and then meeting those people or, you know, smugglers I, I met a lot of criminals, I have to say, and I really liked hearing the stories, and then relating to them and seeing that they’re not so different, but that sometimes they just had no other choice. But what I wanted to come and get it is that I really like to see the word from all different perspectives. And not only the people that are usually running around in our lives, but everyone, and that it’s also those people. And it’s also, you know, the smugglers, prostitutes and kings, which I, which I met, you know, it’s everyone because it gives me a whole broader vision of what the world is like, and what reality is like, and makes me understand and empathize with those people. So that’s another thing that drives me then also, it’s, it’s the unknown, I love the unknown. I love just, for example, driving into a new country, or driving through Africa, driving through South America, and not knowing what’s going to hit my left surprises and the uncertainty of things.
David Ralph [25:36]
Oh, I agree with that totally. The other night, I went for a walk with my wife. And we’re both on a bit of a health kick at the moment. And we’ve lived in the same town basically, for sort of 45 years. And I suddenly found myself in part of my town that I didn’t know, it was it. I was walking down a street, and I saw this alleyway. And I said, Let’s go down there. And the wife said, Now you don’t know where it’s going to end. And I said, well, it’s mean somewhere, it’s going to end somewhere in our town, you know, just let’s see what’s down there. And I felt like a happy attack. Just because I was exploring, I was exploring an alleyway, but I’ve never been there. Now. It’s that kind of mindset, once again, that helps somebody like you build a business? Or is that something that sort of like, can make you two are connected? Can you be looking at different avenues and different alleyways and doing so much exploring, but you lose the focus?
Fabian Dittrich [26:29]
Hmm. So I think what it really comes down to is novelty. I think I love novelty. And, you know, I think it’s a healthy thing. If you confront yourself, and you, you, you, you get the sensory input, which is new, into your eyes, your ears, your Victoria, you know, the smells, what, it’s something very healthy for your brain, also, in a neurological way, because new neurological pathways are being formed. It’s kind of going back to itself, like states, you know, when you’re tired, you think like how everything is so new and the days are endless? That’s because there’s so many new experiences. And I think it doesn’t have to be the way that when you grow older and all that, yes, maybe a little bit, it seems like the years passed by. But if you do a good job in, in getting novelty into your brain by experiencing new things, the days can still be endless, I think. And I can see that this is true. Because if I spend time at home here, where I am now, the days just pass by, but then if I go back on the road, the day still are in place, I wake up in the morning, and I think Well, I have an infinity of time for today, let’s see what’s going to happen. So I think that’s a very healthy thing in January for the brain. Now, coming back to the business question. I think if you have an open attitude and open mind, and you let so many different opportunities in, and if you don’t cross them out, then naturally, just because of a numbers game, if you let more things in that you process, naturally, there’s also more opportunities that you can potentially grab, and then go with. So in terms of business, maybe I have to use my example. I mean, I was in, I was driving down an old Mercedes from Berlin to South Africa. And I already had gone through about 15 countries, and I was in Congo. Now in Congo. Sometimes I’ve slept next to the car was these mosquito coils, you know, it’s this little spiral like things which to chase away the mosquitoes. But I got malaria, nevertheless. And I was laying in bed for about a week. But fortunately, I had Wi Fi. So just to keep my mind busy and not get completely crazy from the 40 degrees fever. I searched random things in the internet, rent things, for example, videos, or the coolest world records, Guinness World Records or whatever. And then one day, I typed in the coolest job of the word, space Internet, and I hit Enter. And there was I think, on the third position in Google, there was a job offer from a company in San Francisco. And I was not looking for a job. But because of the mindset of Hey, let’s just see what happens. Let’s try it. I applied for this job. It was an online application form. I left most of the field blank, I just put my name is Bobby and and I put my Congolese phone number. And I got a call from the CEO of that company, the CEO of the London office the next day, and they were like, what is this number? And I’m like, yeah, it’s my cold release phone number. You know, I’m driving a car for Africa. And they’re like, why did you apply for this job, and I had no idea what what company was, what they did is I went quickly on the website zendesk.com. And look what they were doing and improvise the whole interview. And they caught me again, the next day and the next day. And two weeks later, I was wearing a business suit and was living in London. And working in an amazing staff environment, which changed my whole life. Now, because I worked in the startup, I now have my own company, which I can run from anywhere I got a couple of employees, it’s going really well. And that’s all because this random thing of going into the internet searching for something random, right? So I think that’s a good example of showcasing that. The more opportunities you put yourself through, the more probably is, is it that one of these opportunities is something great. You know, I also probably did thousands of things which didn’t lead to anything. But it’s just a numbers game, the more things you try, the more problems that one of these things that you try is going to lead to something great.
David Ralph [30:36]
Yeah, I agree with this totally. And you can apply this to everything. You know, if you only go out with one girl when you’re younger, it’s very unlikely you’re going to find your dream love but you go out with hundreds of them and then half of them you’ll say no, the lunatics and the other half. Yeah, they’re okay. And then you split those into 5050. Everything is a numbers game, isn’t it? But But what I love about you as well is Yeah, okay is a numbers game. But in the nicest way for being you a bit mad. There’s, there’s elements of your story, but I looked at, it’s like the going through Africa. Now I was looking at this boat. Okay. It’s a standard charity project that you chose to drive a Mercedes through Africa. And then I got to a bit and I thought, No madness, but every $10 donated to charity and the name of the project, you would find someone to sing a song with you. Now, yes, how did the people respond, but you come up to them with your guitar or whatever and say to them, come on, we’re going to sing feed the world or we’re going to sing whatever. How did you sort of approach that? Because people generally will go, madman, Otis, I know they go. This sounds fun. A German with a guitar. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting for this all my life.
Fabian Dittrich [31:49]
Yeah, I mean, there was a particular project in Gambia I was raising funds for orphan children, so they could go to school for two years. And people in Germany donate about $1,200 if you divide that by 10 minutes, 120 that means I had to find 120 people singing a song with me, the people who donated could wish the song and they elected waka waka from Shakira, you know, the World Cup song, and I had to find 120 people. So it’s not that easy. But you know, I just went to school, a school for girls. And I went to the to the head of the school and they’re saying, Hey, we’re collecting funds for it was in Ghana. So we’re saying, Hey, we’re collecting funds for your brothers in Ghana, in Gambia, and I need to learn 20 good. So sing waka waka with me. And she was like, All right, let’s do it. And the break, we get them together. And then they got them together. We did a rehearsal at the church. And then we assembled on the schoolyard and sing the song. So that was quite easy.
David Ralph [32:51]
But it’s still a mindset of overcoming something that most people would think like, how am I going to do this? Am I going to do this, but you just looked at me? Okay. I don’t have to find 100 individuals, because that’d be quite typical. Imagine going up to somebody who’s walking along the street with a bag of shopping and say, Would you stop and sing a song with me?
Fabian Dittrich [33:10]
So Africa wouldn’t be as hot? I think everybody would fall up foot, you know, people are just, it was just have time in Africa.
David Ralph [33:17]
So So could you have done the same thing in Germany, if he was in Berlin, walking around with your guitar, getting them to sing the latest Rick Astley song? Could you could you do that? Could you walk up to them? And they start Never gonna give you up? and away you go?
Fabian Dittrich [33:31]
Well, yes, I think if I would go to, let’s say, a park in summer, where there’s 1000 people, let’s say, and I would have the lyrics printed out, I could go from person to person. And if as long as soon as you have like five guys together, the others were joined to I think it would work and you know, also with the internet, you know, meetup or a Facebook, I think it will be quite easy to to do that. But back in the days, you know, when I was there in Africa, I also thought, man, how am I going to do this, I had no idea how to do it. And for me, it was also a challenge. Now, looking back and connecting the dots, it looks like an easy thing. But when I was there, in the moment, it wasn’t easy at all. But it worked out.
David Ralph [34:13]
So So do you remember that that pivotal moment in your life? When you become entrepreneurial, and you hustle, and you’re building websites, and you’re doing whatever you need to do? And then suddenly, you make some money? Do you remember that first money that comes into your bank account? And you think, oh, Blimey, today’s I’m onto something here.
Fabian Dittrich [34:32]
I mean, first money that came in ever was was just normal jobs being 15 years old, working in supermarkets. But I think that that doesn’t count it not really what counts is like the money that I made by myself with with own entrepreneurial efforts. And that was, I think, awesome. 2006, there was a German website, which I randomly found, it was some sort of Doctor giving, dating advice for men, right? Like how to approach women. And just Yeah, like this 47 hints or advice pieces. And I could see that there’s was so many people going to this website. So I thought, hey, let’s translate this web page into Spanish and come up with a Spanish version of it, which I did. And after, I think two or three years, it had so many visitors, it had like 30,000 visitors a day. And then I put AdSense and some Click, click, pay per click the X on it. And I made $1,000 per month by doing nothing. So that worked for like two years after Google changed their indexing algorithms. And that all went down the drain. But there was a great feeling I know, something I created that gave me $1,000 for doing nothing but a month. And and that was that was the first money.
David Ralph [35:46]
I remember my first one my first entrepreneurial venture online, and I’ve done loads of them. And some of them have worked very well. And some of them haven’t done anything. But it’s all part of the process. It’s all part of learning. And the very first thing that I did was hemorrhoids, pain up your bottom. And I had this idea that if you create something that is embarrassing for people to go to a doctor or chemist, they’re going to google it secretly. So I created this site on hemorrhoid cream, and contacted this pharmacy and said, you know, would you accept payments through and it was very easy to do. Very easy to do. And I remember the very first day that I set it up, I didn’t get any. And then the second day, I made about $47, which was amazing. And once again, that ticks along quite nicely until Google’s Panda and Penguin or whatever they called the algorithm changes came along, and it sort of just died. But what it gave me baby and it gave me that belief that by putting my efforts into something you can get reward, you can grow an online garden that will grow into something amazing. And little by little through different ventures, I ended up being a host of my own podcast. No one listens to it. No one listens to it. But I’m still I’m out there doing the do.
Fabian Dittrich [37:05]
Nice, good story.
David Ralph [37:07]
So so when you are laying in your bed, and you’ve been ill for the last couple of days, do you have an urge to labor and just go about doing anything? I’m the boss, I’m the boss, I can just be ill and sick? Or do you keep them reaching over and getting your laptop up and working? Can Can you just escape from what you created?
Fabian Dittrich [37:28]
I mean, I currently have a company right. And I have daily calls I have I have I have corporate customers who are deal with so there’s some things I have to do, no matter what, but I enjoy doing it. You know, I’m kind of I wish I would work more and currently delegated so much to employees and freelancers that I’m currently working maybe an hour to per day. So I have a pretty relaxed life. When I’m lying in bed now the last days I lived in bed, it was actually a good time for me because it made me slow down and think and feel. And I think this is something I’ve really learned in the last couple of months that I had times in my life where I came back from a trip. And where I stressed myself out in terms of what what will I do next. You know, and that was not easy at times. Because if you imagine what we did in South America, for example, we bought a Land Rover Defender, we went through Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and we managed our company from the Land Rover, which was absolutely nuts, right? If you have a company which works well, in which you can grow and make a lot of money, and then decide that you want to do boring to do that. And that you want to manage your company from a Land Rover Defender why crossing the South American continent, you have to be nuts. And we did it and it worked out. And it was amazing. And so many things came out of it. We spoke at TED and such. So this project was absolutely amazing. But when I came back to Germany, the afternoon, you’re going from Super stress, super high workload to creating a video documentary in South America while managing company wife struggling to find Wi Fi while getting stuck in the sand and winch yourself out and being on a rush to make it to the next site or coffee somewhere in the middle of the desert in Peru to make it for go live call with a corporate customer in Las Vegas. And then you end up in Germany, and nothing happens anymore, right? It’s just there. And it’s all normal, you can work in your office, and it’s all easy. And that created problems for me in psychological problems in terms of so what what Now, what’s next, you know, you, maybe I always wanted to top it. But then I came to, to, let’s say, listen to myself more by slowing down by by realizing that in the past, whenever these kind of projects happened, I was not rationally thinking about it, that they have to happen. It was not that I was like, Okay, now I go to eat the free fish at the $1,000 conference so that somebody offers me a job, right? I just went there. And then it happened. It always happened when I was in the flow of the of life when I was connected to the present, not when I was rationally forcing myself to figure out what’s the next thing I have to do. And this is something I I recently realized that I cannot force myself to come up with new projects, I just have to be there, I have to live in the present, I have to enjoy life, I have to make the other people enjoy life and make everybody have a good time. And then it will fall from the sky. Literally, it’s the serendipity that that’s going to kick in at one point. And it was always like this, when something happened, I was never trying to come up with an idea. The ideas fell from the sky when I was connected to myself. And when I was listening to my interest in to my inner voice and I had all these problems and troubles with accepting that there is something I can invoice I’d like people would say that to me in the past. But one thing is rationally understanding and one thing is really feeling it. So now I don’t think about the inner voice as something as a Terek new ages, I think about it, the accumulation of your life experiences and that your body because and your soul because of what you went through in the last 20 years of 10s of decades, knows intuitively what is good for you and what is not. And that this is the inner voice which you can hear, but only if your mind is in a quiet place where you where you’re connected to yourself and where you actually give it the space and time to so that this inner voice can come out. And the last two months, I was driving from Morocco, with my land rover through the southern and the losing coast and through France. And I spent about a month alone, just alone in abandoned places. And being there was no one and forests and mountains. And I made a campfire nearly nearly every every evening and cook my own dinner then and listen to music and I had absolutely no distractions. And that’s the first time in my life, I was absolutely connected to myself and I could hear this inner voice. Right. So now when I when I was sick in bed,
it’s not about pulling out the laptop and seeing what I can do and how to it’s more about quieting down, and then listening. What I really want to do next, but not forcing it. You know,
David Ralph [42:35]
I agree with that. Totally. I was actually listening to an interview with Paul McCartney the other day, and he was talking about before the Beatles kind of become the Beatles. And I used to be traveling around in a crappy van up and down England to all these little clubs. And they were getting very depressed because nothing was happening. Now you kind of think to yourself, when it’s obvious, you became the Beatles, you know, it was gonna always happen, but time it wasn’t. And when they got their most depressed, they used to say, you know, what should we do, and one of them would chip in with something that happened. And because he said and something always did, it always did happen just because we kind of trusted the process we just carried on trying to get better as musicians Carrey don’t go into all these places. And something always happens. And I think that ties in really nicely with the words of Steve Jobs that created the whole theme of his show. And we’re going to hear him again, his Steve
Steve Jobs [43:32]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [44:07]
He should have mentioned your name at the end bash and me because that that is spot on for you.
Fabian Dittrich [44:11]
Yes, yes, yes, I can very much identify with with what you said there.
David Ralph [44:15]
Did you think that they are words that become more true? Once you start following them? Do you think somebody sitting in a cubicle going to the job as we were saying that 45 years and I stumbled across this show? Would they go complete rubbish, complete rubbish? Don’t believe it at all? Do you actually have to start moving to see the power of those words?
Fabian Dittrich [44:39]
I think words can maybe be the first step you know, to inspire someone but then of course, the action has to be come from the person. And then you really can maybe in the beginning irrationally, believe in the words, but you really only understand it when you actually do it. You know, it’s it’s it’s like the same with reading the theory, but then putting it into practice. And maybe the words can inspire, that can be the first push into the direction, but then you know, the journey has to be taken by the person itself. And then when you look back, you you go like, okay, now I went through this on my own. Now I can really relate to those words. Now I really feel them on an emotional level whether rather, rather than then just understanding it rationally in the beginning without having done the journey. You know,
David Ralph [45:32]
so when you look back on your life, so what would be your big story where you think to yourself? Yeah, when I’m on my deathbed, and I look back on my whole life, that would be the moment when things really sort of went my way. Oh,
Fabian Dittrich [45:50]
I think it all started with, it all started with a free fish, right. Because of the free fish I got the job. Because I had the job and Ruby on Rails, I went from one stop to another. Because of that I once worked at an NGO in Berlin, when I left this NGO on a Wednesday at 5pm. In the afternoon, I stumbled across a long haired hippie playing guitar on the street, which I wanted to buy. So I asked him if I could play this guitar. And he said yes. And while I did is he taught me that he just came back from a journey in a car through Africa. Because of his story. I also took a journey through Africa with a car. Because of this journey, I had malaria because of malaria, I got the job in London. And then I worked at this job in London for two years, learned a lot and then came up with my own company, which I now have, then in Brazil. During the World Cup, I lost my backpack. And because I told the story of how I lost my backpack to a Brazilian guy, he gave me a book and said in the first page, she wrote, I’m sorry, Fabian, for what happened to you, I hope you will also see another side of Brazil, the creative, innovative side. And he was like an entrepreneur working at a co working space. And then I had the idea that he brought me around, actually, and showed me this innovative creative side in in Brazil. And I was totally surprised because what previously were old streets with children without Sue’s sleeping in the entrances of buildings, because of how he showed me around turned into a place full of companies and startups and investors and co working spaces. And they I had the idea of, hey, I want to create a video documentary about South America and show this other side the innovative and creative side. And that’s how I came up with the project in South America. And because of that, now we’re talking right, it’s, it’s all like a long, long, long path of different dots that that are being connected to each other, which, which I can clearly see, it’s hard to figure out when it started. And when not, I think if you really asked me when it started, it’s, it’s it starts with not not being afraid. And I think, you know, I come from a small town where I had a forest right next to my house. So I spent most of my childhood running around in the forest, and basically discovering things for myself. And always, when I’m when I’m giving talks, I always saw a slide where on one side, this is the dogmatic approach to life. And on the other side, there’s the self discovery approach to life. And, you know, the dogmatic approach is like, if you listen to the, to the advice, let’s say from the drug counselor, who tells you you can either do this or that, or you listen to anything that’s written down, or any rules that are being passed on to you are that are being imprinted in your brain by your, by the upbringing by this society, the rules by anything, that’s dogma. And on the other side, you have the self discovery approach, which basically means you embrace the unknown, you go into the world, on your on your fear, you you, you discover things on your own. Now, I think in the world that we’re living in, you know, they say that 50% of children who are going into school this year, will work in jobs that have not been invented yet. Now, in a world where it’s just changing so fast, what approach what operating system makes more sense, the dogmatic approach or the self discovery approach? Well, I would say, the self discovery process, the better one, because it gives you the flexibility and the skills of creative problem solving and out of the box, thinking that you need to go through this crazy, rapidly changing world. And I think that very early in my life, because I was roaming free as a child, I developed this this ability of discovering places on my own, which embeds the mindset in you that that allows you to take all this, this, this challenges that are being presented to us in this in this rapidly changing world. It’s just that to your question,
David Ralph [50:09]
how he does and as he was talking, I’ve got this image if you like Mowgli, running around forests, like in the jungle book, just just being free. And if it does tie back to that spirit of adventure, doesn’t it everything that you talk about everything that you say, if I’m looking at the earth, from the moon downwards, or running around the forest, or just taking that opportunity, it is about being curious, isn’t it is about the adventure?
Fabian Dittrich [50:35]
Yes, that’s it and embracing the unknown and not being afraid?
David Ralph [50:40]
Well, I hope you’re not going to be afraid now. Because this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to. This is the end of the show where we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Fabian, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme tune. And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [51:08]
Unknown Speaker [51:09]
with the best of the show.
Fabian Dittrich [51:26]
So if I would go back in time and speak to my younger self, I would probably go back to the age of 18. And I would say, little Fabian Dittrich, enjoy the ride and do spots, move and keep your back in in a healthy position. So you don’t get any back pain. I think that’s all I would say, enjoy the ride and sit in a good position.
David Ralph [52:07]
I think that simple women enjoy the ride and make sure that you’ve got the best window to look out of Yeah, I can see that totally. So what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you, sir?
Fabian Dittrich [52:19]
I so if you’re interested in our journey as a nomadic company through South America and meeting other people who redefine work, its startup diaries.org. That’s startup diaries.org. If you want to reach out to me personally, I have my own website called Fabien to trick.com. It’s a bit hard to remember, but I’m sure you can maybe put in the show notes, Fabio to trick calm,
David Ralph [52:43]
absolutely will have all the links on the show notes. Fabian, thank you so much for spending time with us today. And joining up those dots. Please come back again when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Fabian Dittrich. Thank you so much.
Fabian Dittrich [53:00]
Thank you David thanks for having me on your show, I had a blast.
David Ralph [53:05]
I love those kind of stories about people getting out there and having adventures and living life on the edge but creating things on their own terms. That’s that’s kind of me really, that’s very much me. And over the last couple of years I have created something which which is highly lucrative. It’s it’s great to operate. But now I’m looking at a way like Fabian to sort of break it down. So I’ve got freedom to be able to leave it more on automatic pilot and go off and do these things. Or at least take it with me and record around the world. That would be great doing join up dots in Brazilian pubs or whatever. Give it a totally different vibe. So whatever is in your head, guys, and ladies, you can literally go out and do it you don’t actually have to have all the answers right the very beginning but of course what you do need to have is the passion to follow through start something but follow through and wherever you end up, I believe and I totally believe will be a better place than you started. Thank you so much for listening to the show. As always, this was David Ralph and that was join up dots and we will see you again on episode five for one cheers
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you were wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.