Auf Wiedersehen, Germany

As the Van Trapp kids (yes, I know they are Austrian) famously sang,

There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird
Is popping out to say “cuckoo”

The time for goodbye has come. So I’ll do it as simply as I can do.

It was 5 years ago yesterday that David Fock asked me if I would consider moving to Berlin for Klarna to help build the office. I had just moved into my apartment in Stockholm and my answer was “I don’t know if I would live there. I’ve never even been to Berlin.” So off to Berlin I went a few weeks later and what I recall more than anything was feeling as if my Dad was with me. He had just died and it was like he was touring the city with me and we were surrounded by ghosts.

Five years later and I am the same daughter with ghosts as I pack to leave. I’m not sure yet if he will come with me as strongly to London…(though I’m tempted to believe he will).

At the same time, I am NOT the same leader, friend, or writer I was when I arrived here. I have interviewed and hired hundreds of people. I have led small teams and big ones. I have helped develop an international office and have kept a travel company alive in the midst of a global pandemic. I have made friends…and lost a few. I have worked for men I admire and men that I thought I did. And I have found a simple but uniquely mine voice for sharing what I believe in and what I am learning.

I have learned that I don’t want to work for founders, but I know a few I’ll work WITH (looking at you Julian and Johannes). I’ve learned that there is a whole startup world that revolves around fundraising just to build so you can fundraise some more…and that I never ever want to do that again. But I’ve also met some extraordinary humans with great ideas and a will to serve customers in new and exciting ways.

What I haven’t learned is German…and that will always keep you on the outside in Germany, even in Berlin. And I haven’t ever gotten used to receiving so much snail mail or needing to go to a government office for every little thing. And as American as it sounds, I’ll never get used to a culture where good Customer Service is being asked if you need to see the dessert menu…you didn’t need a 2nd glass of wine or more water right? 😉

The beauty of living somewhere instead of just visiting is that you get to see the bad with the good. The real. The true. The beautiful. The ugly. And that is one of the best parts of living anywhere. You come to love some things and some people so much that it takes a piece of your heart and holds onto it. And that is true for me and Berlin.

To my friends, I love you. I’m glad to know you. And we will see each other down the road.

Thank you Berlin. For all you’ve given me…especially for walks with my dad. And thank you for letting me go so easily…well, except the many many documents and required paperwork that is in the works. 😉

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