#14 A day with Nikolaus Röttger (FutureStory)

May 2, 2022

Good stories make for good business: FutureStory is a business storytelling consultancy for entrepreneurs and digital pioneers. We convert strategies into persuasive messages, develop brand narratives, accompany processes of change with transformation stories and offer our clients assistance with positioning and business ghostwriting. 

We’re pleased that FutureStory calls our Unicorn home and we’re spending a day with its founder, Nikolaus Röttger.  

It’s 8 a.m. Are you already wide awake, or still in a deep sleep?

In any case, my morning starts off without: a mobile phone, emails, social media and no messages on the screen. That’s the ideal scenario. First the family, breakfast and at 8 am I’ve already left home and am on my way to the office. In the winter I take the train, and that’s when I look at my mobile phone for the first time to see what’s in store for the day. Now, when it’s spring and summer, I’m out on my bike, getting in a good 30 minutes of exercise riding through the city. 

It’s 10 a.m. and you’re in the middle of a productive phase. What’s essential for you to be productive?

As a team, we work entirely remote. Shortly after nine in the morning, we have a quick team check-in for the day: what’s planned for today, what do we have to know, how is everyone able to be reached? After that, I try to spend my morning without making appointments. I can recommend Carey Nieuwhof’s book here, “At Your Best”. His advice: make the time where you’re at your best to do what you’re best at your “Green Zone”, which is your most productive time. Make sure to keep this period free of time-consuming meetings, schedule those for another time during the day. That’s why I try to avoid having appointments in the morning, but of course there are always exceptions.  

It’s 11 o’clock, your first meeting is about to start. In meetings: what’s important for you, what makes a meeting successful?  

The most important thing about meetings is not the meeting itself. It’s the preparation and agenda. There’s no acting without intention, no meeting without intention. I try to thoroughly plan and prepare for each meeting: what do I want to accomplish? How much time will I need to do it? Who needs to be on board? What can be announced in writing beforehand, so that the meeting can be utilized for decisions instead of endless discussions? Of course, brainstorming meetings are a different story.  I like working digitally in a meeting with a whiteboard and sticky note tools (like Mural or Miro), yet I really appreciate being able to hold meetings in person once again. 

It’s 1 p.m. and your stomach is growling. What do you do? Have a muesli bar and go out for a jog? Are you rather a stay-in-at-the-office type, or do you need to get out and get some fresh air?

Go around the block once, get out in the fresh air, that’s important, that’s got to happen every day. I also enjoy taking a walk with others. There doesn’t always have to be a big lunch with lots of sitting around, that’d be rather unlikely when I’ve really got a lunch meeting scheduled again.  

It’s 6 p.m., is the workday coming to an end or just getting started?

I’m really glad that events are taking place again, I like being with people and learning new things. But I normally try to get home around 6.00 or 6.30 pm, then there’s time for family, friends or sports. Obviously there are sometimes deadlines or days where I’ll still be hosting a workshop or event in the evening. That comes with the territory. So time for myself or for being with others comes later on, and that’s totally okay from time to time. I’ve learned to let my calendar be my supervisor. It allows me to better determine how my time is spent – and be able to plan well in advance when I want to do something. 

It’s 10 p.m. and you finally have time for yourself! How do you use AI in your spare time? Are you listening to music on vinyl or letting Siri play your favorites?  

No AI after 10 pm! This rule just came to me as I read the question. I’m a big fan of technology and digitalization, provided they are useful to people. There’s a lot of potential here. Yet, at the same time technology is on the rise, there’s a yearning and need for an analog life, for encounters and interactions. We need more of both, instead of one or the other. AI and analog living together. Voice control for our speakers as well as a book with good thoughts and wonderful stories. Both digital tools at the office as well as meetings in person or a chat with the barista. And regarding 10 pm: yes, I use technology late in the evening. But it’s good to occasionally take a break. And 10 pm serves as a good reminder to do that.