Gone Till November…

Wyclef Jean – Gone Till November – Acoustic from barrelhousesf on Vimeo.

Everybody knows that all the good things come to an end at some point – and so does my time here in New York. By the end of October, I will be moving back across the pond to my hometown Zurich. With me: experiences gained during eight of the most intense and beneficial months of my life. Kicking it off as a spontaneous adventure in the wake of a surprising Green Card Lottery win, I have achieved more than I could have ever expected within the craziness of this city. The challenges I had to face, the opportunities I got offered, and all the new friendships I could establish are invaluable.

For the past two months, I have been working for a company that will forever make me feel obliged: Morpheus Media, a world-class digital marketing agency in the heart of New York. They taught me more than I thought was possible about the professional field I have always been interested in the most. Letting this opportunity go feels like a big loss from a personal perspective. If it was only for the job, I would have stayed without batting an eyelash. However, after mastering all the main hurdles related to making a living in the Big Apple, things became easy, and everything that let the city appear magical in the beginning started to become part of the daily routine little by little. New York City is still mind-blowing and can never be compared to any other city around the globe. I will always consider it a home in a way. However, I was aware from the very beginning that sooner or later the moment will come when I make the tough but obvious decision to return to the familiar surroundings. The influencing factors are certainly not only related to my elaborations from earlier this year, such as quality of life, but have also to do with being around old friends and family back home.

In this thorough trade-off between growing within the most exciting industry in the world (digital marketing in NYC is freaking dazzling!) and spending the future in an environment that feels more real, it was important for me to know that everybody I have recently dealt with understands and respects my decision. Integrity is the key to success and happiness. If anybody who is about to undertake a similar step asked me to put in my two cents, I would come up with a reminder to always act sincerely and respectfully in dealing with everybody around. With regard to my professional growth I consider it less important to have learnt so many technical details about Web Analytics and SEO. What matters more is that the people valued my contribution. Having so many co-workers coming out to the bar to “send me off in style” was amazing. These relationships are more valuable than any bullet point in the resume.

Before I got here, I had no idea whether I would stay for a couple of weeks or even over a year. It was a leap in the dark and nothing was defined. The resulting time period will stretch over 8 months in the end. It feels ideal, and in hindsight I couldn’t have outlined this experience any better. After one more month of enjoying the city in its entirety, it will be extremely tough to leave. In November I will find myself back where everything feels like home again – with a major difference to last year: I will have a deeper connection with the Big Apple and its people than ever before.

What people can learn from an underrated Zurich hockey team

The allegedly impossible happened a week ago: Tuesday evening, April 17th, 2012. Steve McCarthy, defender of the ZSC Lions took the decisive shot for a goal that would make his team the Swiss hockey champion two seconds before the end of the regular game time and the logical announcement of a subsequent overtime. He scored. The game was over. The Lions from Zurich were declared champions in Europe’s largest hockey arena, home of their competitors SC Bern. Why is the happening worth mentioning? Because it is one of the most fascinating and impressive stories in the history of Swiss hockey. And because it offers a simple recipe of life.
Looking back at the regular season, the Lions had been struggling hard for long periods. Not only didn’t they find any effective ways to compete against formally stronger teams, but they also indulged themselves in too many mistakes against real underdogs. Throughout the year, they collected 77 points out of 50 games, which put them at risk of not even qualifying for the playoffs, the crucial knock-out stage where several teams play for the actual championship title. Nobody would have been surprised if the Lions dropped out at that point, but they managed to qualify just barely. The playoffs began. And this is when the underdog from Zurich started to shock their opponents one by one.

After eliminating the reigning champion (Davos) in the first round and the winner of the regular season (Zug) in the second round, they had to face Bern in the finals. Experts were in agreement that the Bears from the capital city had the league’s best roster at their disposal, which became evident once the two teams started to play against each other. The first team with four victories would win the championship. Bern led with 3-1. At that point of the series, nobody would have even put one penny on the Lions. Too many factors suggested an easy win by their mighty and forceful opponent. But everything came out differently. Zurich managed to turn the tables and decide the series with a strong morale, an iron will, continuous persistence, and three consecutive victories. Such a rise, from an abortive season to the most unexpected champion in decades, wasn’t even expected by some of the most optimistic and enthusiastic Lions supporters.

Here is what Bob Hartley, the winning trainer, had to say after the already mentioned final game: “That’s the image of our season. We win it in the last two seconds. What a crazy team, but that’s who we were. They battled hard all year and they believed that we could do it. And I challenged them that we would shock the Swiss hockey world, and we did. I’m very proud of my boys. The ones who believed were in our organization and that’s where it matters. Hopefully we showed people a great lesson of life: do never quit, do always persevere. And you know what, two point some seconds left, that’s unreal.”

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. The young team from Zurich understood the performance culture Bob Hartley has been known for in a long time. A friend of mine told me recently that some of the best things are found from tempered persistence and level-headed practicality. The Lions demonstrated this thought in an impressive way. I have never been an enthusiast for idealistic quotes and overdoses of optimism, but this example shows that Winston Churchill used to share a good amount of truth with the world:  “The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.” He can’t be too wrong about that.