Don’t talk. Do.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to talk at "This Happened" in Hamburg, where great creatives usually present their work.

I actually wondered why I was invited. I am not a creative. I have not done anything on my own. Of course, I could show one of the projects that we did at Swipe.

But I thought I should talk about something else. “This Happened” is about stuff great people did—ideas they had and worked on to make them happen.

To get to the point where you can say “This happened,” it needs action; it needs “make your idea happen.” And this is what I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to motivate people actually to start executing their ideas instead of just talking about them. Having ideas is easy, but executing an idea is much harder than just having it. You might fail, but you have to learn and move on.

I talked about a few of the things I did. About having ideas, getting it wrong, failing, learning from it, and moving forward… My talk was video-taped, and if you are interested, you can watch it here (sadly, only in German):

Talking in Front of People


When I was in school, I hated to stand in front of my class to “present” something. I always tried to avoid speaking in front of anyone, and most of the time, I succeeded.

On my first job in an agency, I hated to talk on the phone while someone was in the room. Back then, I had no computer on my desk and the Internet had just been invented, so I had to use the phone, as I could not even write a fax without a computer.

I shared my office with two nice account directors, but I only called someone when they left the room or they were on the phone themselves, so it was loud enough in the room that they could not hear what I was saying.


Fast forward 20 years: now I love talking in front of people. How did that happen?

As you grow older, you gain more self-confidence. I think self-confidence is the key to standing in front of an audience and talking about something.

Talking in front of people needs a lot of training, real life training. You can stand in front of your mirror and present to yourself. However, this does not really help you. You have to learn it the hard way: by presenting to others.

The more often you present to other people, the more you will learn. You will get a feeling on what works and what does not.

It´s the content, Stupid.

But how do you get it on your website and into your apps at the same time?

We are building apps since the iPad was introduced. The only things certain ever since: we have to change the ways we build and think about apps.

When we started building the first apps, we tried the Adobe DPS and Woodwing. Both promised (and DPS still does today) to get content on tablets without a major effort.

For us, that way never worked. We tried it because it sounded so good. But we were unhappy with the results.

So, we decided to build our first apps for BMW as native iPad apps.

The world was easy back then. 1024 x 768 pixels on a fixed screen. No one knew anything about retina displays, smaller tablets, or bigger phones. All this was beyond imagination.

The usual way we built apps was to do designs in Photoshop.

Then we exported all the layers, handed it over to the developers, and they put it all back together so it became “interactive”. We added videos, 360s, sound, etc. to use what the iPad was able to do.

But what we basically did was to pull a lot of .jpgs and .pngs together. It was not possible to have text shown in a way that the print designer was happy with. Therefore, the text was also exported as images.

Imagine building a website where text is displayed with jpgs.

Insane — but that delivered the best result.

How to get your app into the top 100


How to get your app into the Top 100 This is the question almost every app developer asks himself.

Every day, hundreds of new apps are released, and there are a million apps in the app store already. So how do you get your app recognized, that it makes it into the top 100?

Once you are in the top 100, chances are much higher that it stays there for a longer period. People look to the top apps. If others have downloaded it, chances are high that it is a good app. Others are more likely to give it a try as well.

If you make it into the overall top 100, chances are pretty high you are close to the top 10 of a specific category. Which also helps, as people like browsing the top 10 of specific categories when they look for new apps.

There are also categories that Apple has created to promote new apps. Apple is always on the lookout for great new apps.

Usually, it is rather easy to get into the “New” section in the category you have chosen. This is nothing that Apple curates; it is just new apps.

It gets more interesting if Apple likes your app and promotes it. The best possible way are the big banners on top of the App store. It is nothing you can buy; there are no ad spaces that big corporations can pay for. All Apps are equal (of course, if you have a big hit, Apple will pay more attention to your App).

We were lucky that Apple has put our “Vital” App on the front page under the category “Best New Apps.” This is something they curate and choose. 

Visiting London

PA070002.jpg I remember my first visit to London pretty well. It was 1996, and I was on my way back from my first trip to NY. I had a few hours time as I booked the cheapest possible flight, which had a few hours stop over time in London. I took the subway and sat on a deck chair in front of Buckingham Palace and enjoyed the sun. I was so tired I couldn´t do much more than that. PA070057.jpg PA070020.jpg A few years later I had the chance to get to know the city much better. In my time at Dickies, I have been often in London. London is the hub for streetwear in Europe, so it’s a place where we met with a lot of interesting people.

iBeacons Experiments

We have ordered a few beacons from different suppliers and played around with them.

This is a very simple use case, but I got a lot of questions on how the beacons work and what can be done with them. The beacons just send; these ones are rather “dumb.”

We are playing around with smarter ones that can be connected to a server, as well. But more on this at a later stage. With this experiment, we just want to show that each beacon can initiate an event within the app.

Meeting inspiring people: Tobias Nusser


A few months ago, the Art Director’s Club invited me to give a speech about mobile development and design for mobile devices.

Tobi was part of the audience and he is a Creative Director at Strichpunkt, and he leads the Design Team in their Berlin office.

Strichpunkt is one of the leading design agencies in Germany, and Tobi was so kind and invited me to his office in Berlin.

P8080117.jpg P8080092.jpg P8080112.jpg

It is right in the heart of Berlin Mitte, at the “Hackesche Höfe”. A few years ago, this place was really rundown, but it was rebuilt beautifully. The place is packed with tourists, so it is a strange mixture of people in that area; all the Berlin Mitte hipsters, mixed with tourists from all over the world.

iOS7 – The hidden revolution – Part 2


I have spent some more time with iBeacons since my first article from last week.

The feedback on my post from last week was pretty amazing. Usually, I am happy if 100 people a day visit my site but, in the last 7 days more than 19.000 people read the article on iBeacons.

Really exciting and it shows the interest for the possibilities that this new technology seems to have at its core: bringing the real world and the digital world closer together.


We experimented with this new technology a bit and created a simple app to understand how iBeacons in real life work.

Right now it is hard to get Hardware Beacons. A few companies plan to ship them “soon”, but at least I found one supplier where I was able to order three beacons. I hope they will arrive in the next week so we can play around with them.

iOS7 - The hidden revolution


Every once in a while I get totally excited when I see something and know that this will change everything.

I had these moments twice in technology, with the iPhone. However, I missed the opportunity to make something out of it.

The second time I felt like this was the evening when the iPad was revealed. That is what we built Swipe on.

For a few days now, I’ve been feeling there is another revolution that no one sees around the corner.

Today iOS7 will be launched, and all the reviews concentrate on the new flat design, the new fingerprint sensor or the better camera, the amazing chip inside the 5S or the colors of the 5C, or complain about the missing NFC.

However, everyone is missing a major point. Apple hid it so well in front of our eyes that it is hard to see at all.

It was just a tiny word on a slide at WWDC in June:


No one really noted, except those who attended WWDC personally or watched the videos. We are under NDA as developers, so we can’t really show anything out of Apples developer portal.

However, it is easy for one to explain. With iOS7, Apple connects the digital world with the real world.

iBeacons will enable every iOS7 device to become a “beacon”, which creates a “Bluetooth low energy” field. BLE basically needs almost no energy, so it won´t drain your battery at all.

 (I made a few rather bad drawings myself, sorry for the bad handwriting. Hope this helps to understand the idea better)


If you enter this field with your iPhone running iOS7, with bluetooth activated, it will notice that it is within the range of a beacon, and it could activate something on your phone.

Passion on paper: Offscreen


Opening our mailbox (yes, the physical one) is usually nothing that brings any joy. It surprises me either with useless advertising or invoices.

However, every few months I could´t be happier opening the mailbox. Yesterday it was one of these days again. The latest issue of "Offscreen" arrived.


Offscreen is one of these publications that you want to read on paper and that you want to pay for. I have a subscription, and I really like paying for this publication.

What is Offscreen? Let´s say it in their own words:

A print magazine about the human side of websites and apps.

Offscreen is a new periodical with an in-depth look at the life and work of digital creators — captured in enduring print. Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of websites and apps you use every day? We invite you to turn off your device, grab a cup of coffee and meet their makers off screen.


I get asked quite often: does print have any future? Sure it has! This is the answer. Look who is reading Offscreen: mainly people in the “digital industry”. They should be the first to abandon print, but they don´t.

Turning a brand: Warsteiner


How do you make a boring brand interesting again? That is the question, Warsteiner asked itself.

Warsteiner is a German beer brand, a pretty big one. Their only problem: less and less people are drinking beer in general, especially young people. Also, their brand is perceived as rather boring. They have no stories to tell, and their marketing so far was rather “classic” and boring.


Two years ago my buddy Andy Chiu moved from Adidas to Warsteiner to become “Director Brand Marketing”. Back then we had a conversation about if he should really switch companies. Moving from a highly innovative, marketing-driven brand to a rather conservative company that lacked any glamour is a tough decision for anyone. Usually the answer would be pretty clear, but not for Andy. He told me about his talks with the people who wanted to hire him. It seemed they wanted to have someone, who really changes things and who has a “lifestyle” background. Consequently, given this huge opportunity, Andy decided to pick up the challenge.


A few people laughed. I had huge respect for his decision. It is so hard to change a brand. Not that it is actually so difficult. What makes it difficult are all the internal politics. ‘New’ means bad. ‘New’ means change. Change is painful, and most people don’t want change.

Berlin Start Up Hub: St. Oberholz


St. Oberholz became an institution over the last few years and has a certain fame within the digital industry in Berlin. Free WIFI attracted designers, developers, and people from the upcoming “digital industry” a few years ago. Over the course of time,  it developed to a “digital hub”.


I have been a few times to St. Oberholz. The scenery is always the same. A lot of people sitting at their tables with their laptops in front of them. They are writing for their blogs, working on new ideas, meeting with people to discuss new projects, and discussing new start up ideas.


A lot of start ups settled within walking distance around St. Oberholz: EyeEm, TapeTV, Soundcloud, Fab, Monoqi, Wunderlist. I think St. Oberholz did its part that Mitte became the place to be for anything digital in Berlin.

Meeting inspiring people: Gen Sadakane


Gen is a person I really admire. There are so many people out there, especially in advertising, who complain about their job, about what to do in the future. I can´t listen to that anymore. Go and change something. Do something you love. The usual answer is: no time, no idea. Okay, then stop complaining. If you have a passion for something, a lack of time won´t be an issue.


Gen worked in advertising as an art director in one of the best agencies you can work for. His career was easy to predict: Creative director, maybe partner sooner or later. Nothing to really worry about.

He listened to his heart and knew that this won’t be “it”.

So he joined forces with three like-minded people and started to work on their own company. All four had a joint passion for photography, so they knew they have to focus exactly on this.

They started EyeEm without any money — just with an idea. EyeEm is a free photo-sharing and discovery app. Some call it the best “alternative” to Instagram.


For me, the big difference between EyeEm and Instagram is that you feel EyeEm’s passion for photography. Just check their blog and you know what I mean.

Meeting inspiring people: Kai Petermann


One of the best things about  my job is that I constantly meet great people who inspire me. They are people with ideas—people who do things instead of talk.

One such person is Kai. I’ve known him for a few years now, and when he told me he will be on the 10.00 am train to Berlin the day I had to travel to Berlin as well, I switched my train to join him.

Time passes fast when I talk to him; so many ideas bounce forward and backward. Kai started his first blog a few years ago, and it is all about design and style (on his site I also discovered the lights for our office):

His passion goes much further than just blogging. Just recently he launched his first product called "Cliffhanger", that was only available at Not to my surprise, it was sold out quickly.

Travelling to Berlin




The ride from Hamburg to Berlin is just 1 1/2 hours and Berlin is always worth a visit … more from my recent visit soon!