Bonus-Sparen is an excellent example of a complete innovation process. It started as a wild idea, a vision, which then was conceptualized, pretotyped, tested, prototyped and launched to the market. Although I still believe we could have done it sooner, we were the first bank in Germany, maybe even in Europe to launch a similar product. We managed even to hit the market before fintechs, despite their great innovative capacity and development agility.
This innovation award (Kunden-Innovationspreis) is the best confirmation that with focus and dedication a great team can deliver great results, even at a bank. I am very proud of my team and everyone else who supported us in turning our vision into this great product.
… so I became a professor. Who would have ever thought… I often have to look back at picture below to remind myself that it was not a dream and did really happen. On June 23, the Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart appointed me Honorary Professor for Negotiation at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management and it was one of the best days of my life.
Photo credit: HHL
HHL Dean Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart says, “With Dr. Smolinski, an internationally renowned expert from the field of negotiation has joined us at HHL. He sustainably contributes to the success of our innovate125 Future Concept.”
Becoming a professor is kind of a big deal in Germany, where professor is not only a description of a function (someone who teaches at a university) but also a title that needs to be officially granted by an academic institution before it can used. Interestingly enough, only academically appointed professors are allowed to carry the prefix prof. in front of their names. Moreover, once granted, this prefix becomes a part of the name and can be carried also in official documents such as IDs, driver’s licenses and passports.
Many thanks to all those who believed in me and supported me on the way! My special thanks go in the first place to: my beautiful and loving wife Anna who has always unconditionally supported my passions and patiently tolerated their consequences including frequent separations and late night research, to Jan and Hanna whose smiles always brighten my days and help me fight for a better future, to all my academic mentors (Peter, Arnis, Jes, Arshad and many many more) who showed me the true meaning of science, helped me discover my academic passion and taught how to inspire the curiosity of students, and finally, to all my students who patiently allowed me to share my passion with them. One person, however, could not celebrate with us this great moment… Mom, I know you would be very proud to witness this day and I am so sorry God decided otherwise… We all miss you and hope to join you in heaven one day…
I would never become who I am without your love and unconditional support. Thank you so much! It would never be possible without you!
Recently, I was invited to speak to the students of my high school nearly 20 years after my own graduation. My first thought was wow! It seemed not so long ago, that I patiently sat in the auditorium and listened to others and now it was my turn. It was not so much the teaching which in the meantime has become my daily bread. It was much more a new role in a very familiar context from the past. I was not sure, if was ready for it. My second though was: what do I tell them?
So I posted this question on Facebook and here are some of the great answers I have received from my network:
Everything your teachers told you of the importance of getting a great education and lifelong learning is true.
Zacząłbym od tego żeby nie marnować szans i nie obawiać się zmian. Że ważna jest rodzina. Że problemów się nie uniknie i sztuką jest stawić im czoła i znaleźć rozwiązania. I że nigdy nie jest za późno, a dobro okazane wraca.
Every decision is important in constructing you future (professional and personal). Sometimes you think is a little or not important decision… Nevertheless every decision have an impact on our future. So, in other words, you have the power to construct the future you dream.
To become great in the job you first have to become a great human being. Values are more important than numbers.
“You are not special…”
Know your BATNA, always have a good one and never overestimate it (especially in love).
I would tell them that each of them is special in his or her own way and each of them should follow their dreams and not give up. Everyone has the chance to become successful. And successful does not only mean to be rich. It means to be happy with your life, with your family, job, social status. But it takes a lot of hard work to get there. So the kids must prepare for a struggle in order to achieve their dreams. Finally, I will give some examples of my classmates, who already (after 5 years) have done something of themselves. And I will finish by saying that even if they decide to dedicate themselves on career, work is not everything in life and there are much more valuable things.
Don’t grow up, it’s a trap 🙂
Never base your career steps on external expectations but always on your own passion.
The learning has barely begun.
Be wise on taking decisions. Don’t under or overestimate them. Each of them makes the path of what you are to be.
Have fun as long as you can.
To live for them… make something of themselves… believe that they can do anything that they put their mind too. Not to let anyone tell them they can’t and to never back down. Stand up for what they believe in. To be the best that they can in what ever they choose.
I spent weeks thinking about what I should tell them. What should be the message? How do I get it through? …and then the day came and on May 22 I had to start my presentation:
It felt as strangely as expected, if not more. First, because in all my academic career I barely had any opportunities to teach in Polish and it felt a bit rusty at times. Second, I remembered it from my own experience that the last thing I wanted to pay attention to at that age was an advice from some smart asses my teachers asked me to listen.
But I accepted the invitation (and challenge) and there was no turning back. The title of my presentation was: From Pablo to Paul: on Important Things. I started by quoting Pablo Picasso, who supposedly said:
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
My interpretation of the purpose and meaning of life, however, is slightly different:
The purpose of life is to search for your passion. The meaning of life is share it with others.
Then I tried to explain what it means to search for passion and how important it is to stay curious, try new things and above of all to dare to have dreams. I was very fortunate that my dreams, starting from the simplest ones such as finishing a high school, getting to a good university, doing a PhD, working with the best. I also quoted Steve Jobs from his famous Stanford commencement speech:
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the hear, you’ll know when you find it.
I am blessed to have not one, not two but three passions I am very enthusiastic about: volleyball, negotiation and innovations. Passion alone, however, is not enough. Nothing valuable in life is ever served on a silver plate and as pleasant it is to live the passion, the road to success leads through blood, sweat, and tears.
Finally, I showed Stephen Curry’s shoes and quoted some highlights from his career.
The quote from the shoes:
I can do all things…
… has raised some controversy. Some thought: what an arogant jerk! At least until we looked at the source:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
My presentation during the Social Media Week Hamburg on 24.02.2016. Unfortunately, only in German ;-( A short summary for the busy ones: disruptive innovations in banking are developed outside of the banking sector -> bank was yesterday?
It has been 10 years since we organized The Negotiation Challenge for the first time. Back then not even in our wildest dreams did we imagine how well it would develop and where it would take us. It has been an amazing journey!
On April 1-2, world’s greatest student negotiators met in Vienna and competed for the title of The Great Negotiator 2016. 16 teams from nearly all continents measured and compared their negotiation skills in an unofficial World Championship in Negotiation.
After 4 qualification rounds, we the final took place between American University Washington College of Law and… we had a problem. We had a tie for the second spot in the final between Reykjavik University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law. According to our regulations, the second finalist had to be chosen randomly by a coin toss, and the coin chose… the team representing UC Hastings.
Whitney Geitz, Sara Fay Katz, and Danielle Ling Chang negotiating for UC Hastings.
Laura daRosa, Colleen Wellington-Caban, and Jung Kim representing American University Washington College of Law.
The jury consisting of Prof. Dr. Sabine Köszegi, Steve Gates, CEO of The Gap Partnership, and Alexander von Reden, Partner at CMS decided that the title of The Great Negotiators 2016 would go to American University Washington College of Law. Congratulations to Laura, Colleen, and Jung!
The Negotiation Challenge 2016 was truly amazing and it would not have been possible without kind hospitality of our hosts Vienna Technical University with Prof. Dr. Sabine Köszegi and her team as well as Vienna University with with Prof. Dr. Rudolph Vetschera and his team. We thank all our supporters and sponsors and look forward to meeting a new batch of world’s best student negotiators in Bogota next year!
This interview is a bit older but hopefully not less relevant. One of the most important characteristics of an innovation manager is his/her firm belief in a better future and a passion to make it happen.
comdirect Start-up Garageis my newest baby. Setting up a brand new FinTech accelerator program in stellar speed together with Mariusz Bodek was a great fun. With lots of encouragement from the board, Mariusz’s endless energy and commitment and a positive response from the FinTech community, we have created a collaborative platform supporting smart and ambitious founders on their way towards the first million and a hockey stick experience.
I am very happy about the amount of attention our initiative has raised in the press and the FinTech community and positively surprised by the number and the quality of submitted applications.
We have already invited the first teams, who will join us at the beginning of 2016 in the comdirect Start-up Garage and look forward to welcoming them soon. We keep our fingers crossed, hoping that some of them will walk in the footsteps of the famous garage entrepreneurs.
In parallel, we have described our inspiration and the entire thought process leading to founding the Start-up Garage in a book chapter, which is coming out in the first quarter of 2016.