Posts in Monthly Reviews
It’s a wrap! July 2019
bernkastel
12Reschensee12.jpg
mickmobil
orionloveslife

Sometime last year, one of my best friends and I conducted an exercise that applied design thinking techniques to what I think is best called “life planning.” Following a step-by-step manual, we had to decide on three guiding principles and values we consider essential. For each of the tenets, we then had to draw a visual five-year timeline. On each of the timelines, the task was to include personal and non-career events we’d want to see happen in our lives in the next few years.

Usually, when people think about doing something like this, they draft just one option. I personally find it puts a lot of pressure on me to only think of one option. Instead, drafting three different options – contradicting or similar ones – gave me a lot of inner peace. It was easy to write “everything” down because suddenly it didn’t matter if what I wrote down was the right choice. It was all optional and, thus, felt much more flexible.

What I especially enjoyed about the exercise was that my friend and I read what we had written out loud and commented on each other’s. Because we know one another fairly well and are used to being candid with one another, we also called each other out on our weaknesses, insecurities, and patterns.

The afternoon was, as you can imagine, rather eye-opening. Nevertheless and as is usually the case, nothing changed immediately. I folded the three sheets of paper filled with my potential life plans, stuck them in the back of my notebook, and more or less forgot about them.

When, six months later, my friend sent me a message to wish me a happy birthday, he asked if I’d made any progress on what I had written down that afternoon.

To my surprise and in that very moment, I realized that I was pursuing one of the big things I had included on one of the timelines. Something that, at the time of the exercise, I didn’t even think was realistic in any way.

I had written down that I wanted to go on a road trip in a camper van.

That’s precisely what happened this past July.

My partner and I left Berlin for five weeks. We traveled from Amsterdam through the south of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol, Northern Italy, and further on to France where we drove from coast to coast before heading back up to the Netherlands with an overnight stop in Brugge.

It wasn’t my intention to go on vacation for five weeks; living in Berlin, I often seem to forget that the world is not as digital as I sometimes like to believe. For the first time since I started freelancing, it was difficult to get my work done – at least as soon I needed internet. So, even though I’m a member of the rebranding team for the Swing Kitchen, working on the brand bible and planning what we’ll do with Swing Kitchen’s website, which will be redesigned soon, there isn’t much to be shared about work in July’s review.

I'm currently fully booked and working on the rebranding of the Swing Kitchen, vegan burger chain from Vienna, and also producing and designing their stand at the Veganes Sommerfest at Alexanderplatz. I'm hoping to make more progress on this project now that I'm back from vacation, and I’ll share more about it here next month.


It’s a wrap! June 2019
plantpig
freelance_life

Writing copy for a website is an exciting task. Attention spans are short, so it’s all about capturing the essence of where the reader might be in life and presenting the solution in just a few sentences. This past month, I got to work with the incredible team at eLab, which is CIEE’s Entrepreneur Lab. CIEE offers comprehensive courses for “wannabe entrepreneurs” from around the world.

eLab was launched in 2018, and I used information from their first 12 months in operation, including student surveys, to define target groups and draft their brand messaging. The wonderful Tracy Teare then copyedited what I’d written and made it sound even better.

Working with the eLab team was a joyful experience. I wish anyone who’s been wanting to start their own business but never dared to do so because of lack of business skills could join an eLab course.

Coming up, I’ll get to work on more projects related to the rebranding of Swing Kitchen, a vegan burger chain from Vienna, which I’m already looking forward to.

I’ve also started exploring the field of natural body care, and I’m looking for people to learn from, exchange ideas with, and potentially collaborate with. I’ve recently joined Karen Rose’s body care workshop and will be looking into learning more about essential oils and different ingredients. I’ll be sharing more about my progress on Instagram.

Next month, I’ll be on vacation, and I hope you’ll find some time to enjoy one, too.


It’s a wrap! May 2019
swing kitchen
future_for_fridays
swinging_einhorn
eLab_by_CIEE

When I first discussed how we could grow Swing Kitchen’s community during our kick off meeting with the team, I made a remark that “our people” come together every Friday to demonstrate for climate justice.

At first, the idea for #friesforfuture was a joke.

Yet a joke everyone on the team loved.

We decided to give free fries to everyone who comes to the Swing Kitchen with a protest sign and do so until the school year ends.

However, it’s one thing to have an idea what you’d like to do (and even if it means you’re giving your products away for free).

It’s a whole different story to do so in a way that’s authentic.

I knew that if this idea was to materialize, someone would have to introduce me to the organizers of Fridays for Future.

I knew that if we wanted for this to succeed, the information about our offer had to come from within, so as it usually goes, I started talking to everyone about what we’d like to do until I met the right person who introduced me to the FfF team.

For the past couple of weeks and every Friday, I’ve started going to the demos.

And every week I was able to make an announcement on stage, welcome pupils and students at the Swing Kitchen, and give them free fries.

Having Swing Kitchen as a client is amazing for several reasons. The company is 100% vegan and sustainable. It was founded by an animal activist with the motivation to end animal suffering. It’s also a company from Vienna and I get to work on this project with old friends.

So many wins.

In the upcoming months, we’re planning a number of great events and also a special collaboration with Einhorn Berlin, which should be a lot of fun.

Yet, the month wasn’t just fun; the most challenging part of May was when I decided to discontinue a project I was incredibly excited about at first. I wrote a much more detailed article explaining the circumstances of what happened.

This past month, I’ve also worked on the messaging for eLab, which is a 6-week course for people who’d like to become entrepreneurs.

First, I’ve worked on their digital marketing strategy. I’ve refined their target group, which led to us deciding to change the messaging on the website.

eLab’s courses are ideal for several target groups, however, and given eLab mostly relies on paid ads, we’ll be targeting people who wish to make a career change and recent graduates seeking international experience.

The website with the new messaging should go live within the next couple of weeks.

I’m currently taking on remote work for the upcoming weeks, as I’ll be traveling around Europe in July. If you or someone you know needs help with online positioning or copywriting, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


It’s a wrap! April 2019

Right at the start of the month, Moriz Piffl, Sebastian Rahs, and I kicked off our collaboration to introduce The Swing Kitchen, a vegan burger fast food restaurant to Berlin. We’re currently planning a series of events, partnerships, and other fun initiatives to put the restaurant on the map for all the cool kids out there. This will be a lot of fun!

I was also lucky to be introduced to the team at CIEE’s eLab, which is a 6-week course to help people learn business skills and validate their ideas to also help them scale from the start. The course launched early this year and after the initial beta-phase, eLab is now looking to attract more participants who’d like to become entrepreneurs. They’ve commissioned me to help them translate the high-level strategy they’ve worked on with another agency, and help them develop an actionable marketing plan by defining their messaging, the timing of their communication, and the most suitable platforms.

The most challenging project I got involved with is the crowdfunding campaign for the community edition of the Mama Superstar book, which recently got nominated for the German Integration Prize. While I’ve said just a couple of weeks ago I’d not get involved with crowdfunding, I felt like I should make one more exception and help turn this book into a movement. In the first book, Melisa Manrique and Manik Chander portrayed 11 migrant women and their daughters. For this second book, we plan to crowdsource the content and also the funding to realize it. I’m half panicking, half excited about it because it’s such an incredible vision that I really wanted to be a part of this project’s realization.

Also my TEDx talk was finally published, which also fits the fact that I’ve concluded my lectures at the New Design University for this semester. And given it’s all about side projects, I’m happy to announce you can now by #kathmoscards themed Architecture in Berlin on Etsy.

I still have capacities to take on exciting projects if you happen to need help with some community building initiative. For the summer, I’m mostly looking for copy writing/strategy work I can do remotely. Hit me up if there is something we could work on together. I’d love that!

It’s a wrap! March 2019
tedxlend
travel story guides
#oriontheofficemanager
SarahReindl
guide to Berlin

March was my third month in a row of having almost no paid projects. The beginning of the year is usually quiet. Yet, I wasn’t expecting things to be quiet for that long.

For the sake of transparency, I should probably explain what’s been going on in that time.

On one hand, and right at the beginning of the year, I started talking to a Berlin-based startup about taking on a full-time job. After seven weeks, four rounds of interviews, and me handing over a strategy deck I’d usually charge almost €3,000 for, they declined and decided to look for someone who fits the profile of a social media manager. It was disappointing because I said in our first conversation (and after I was recommended to them) that I don’t believe social media is how one should attempt to build a business-related community anymore. In my opinion, social has turned into a one-way street and people are getting tired of it.

The second reason why I didn’t have much paid work was my TEDx talk at the end of February. I know that on the video, it always looks so easy. However, the reality is that it takes a lot of practice to get to that point. One (me) completely freaks out about the importance of TEDx, as it’s probably going to remain on the first page of Google forever and ever. I was stressing out about my talk for half of January and most of February with no mental space to try to do anything else but talk to that one company.

At this point, I’d really like to share something about practicing for speaking at TEDx.

A couple of weeks before the talk, I stumbled upon the famous TED talk by Amy Cuddy who explains the importance of body language. It does come with logistical challenges because how is someone supposed to go about trying to do the power pose while sitting in the audience and doing literally what they’re not supposed to be doing - reading the speaker notes.

As I was sitting there, I realized a musician was on stage and he started performing. I immediately got up and went to the back to join the team. Everyone was slowly moving to the melody of the songs, so I joined in.

The music got wilder. We started dancing faster.

We danced.

And danced.

The music stopped and it was my big moment to go on stage.

At that time, there was no more fear. Just joy. And relief. That soon this will be over.

Wow.

But back to what was happening in March.

People always ask me, what one does as a freelancer when there are no paid projects.

In the past whenever I didn’t have any paid projects, I used the time to write the books that I published.

Now I know it was the right thing to focus on projects that filled my soul more than my pocket, as it’s thanks to these three books that I got a number of my clients, press coverage, and the reason why I was asked to speak at TEDx in the first place.

For years, I’ve mostly been following my curiosity and trying to make sense of things I wanted to know more about. Since last year, I’ve been working on a book about social food gatherings, which seems to be much more challenging for me than the three books I’ve published so far. It seems like the more experience one has, the more effort it takes to work on projects without having a preoccupied mind. It’s still in progress and I’m still not sure where this journey will lead me and who’ll help me collaborate on this, but I know writing these stories is filling my soul and helping me practice a different style of writing.

Not having much paid work also gives me the necessary mental space to re-think my habits, analyze what I consume, and implement changes.

Last year I decided to go vegan, which is easy to live by at home, but not so easy once you leave your door. If you’re wondering how someone goes from meat eater to vegan, it was mostly thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals that made me decide to quit animal products. But of course, implementing changes isn’t easy, so it took until the end of the year for me to buy a container to make my own lunches in the morning. I got one from Berlin Eco Brotbox and I’m so in love with this decision. It’s really been life changing and money saving at the same time.

I’ve also finally bought a can for organic trash and have been feeling incredibly happy every time I’d go downstairs to empty it. I realized most of what I consume can be recycled and I don’t actually make that much trash, given I buy most of my groceries at the farmer’s market (a change I implemented in 2016) and try to avoid regular supermarkets as much as I can.

I’ve also experimented with solid bar shampoos and found the most amazing one from Rosenrot Manufaktur, which was first gifted to me by Sarah Reindl from Das Gramm in Graz, who I met during the TEDx event. I also no longer use shower gel. Instead I’ve bought a soap bag made out of sisal, which helps soaps foam.

I’m sharing this here because reducing one’s trash and opting in for the more sustainable options is hard, takes effort, and often needs role models to even understand what’s possible. And of course, because it’s not that one doesn’t do anything when there are no paid projects. One can take the time to pursue personal passions and try to work out how one can live up to one’s values.

It’s been good.

But it’s not like I had nothing to do in March. It was the month I started teaching social media again at the New Design University. I’ve recently published a case study on how I’ve designed the curricula, so before going into much detail, I’d love to invite you to read it if you’d like to learn more about my approach.

Additionally, I’ve also helped the team at Vollpension submit a funding proposal for an exciting project they’re currently working on.

And of course, I was looking for projects, which is why I’m currently fully booked for April, but happy to take on new clients from May and June on. Last but not least, I’m currently looking for remote projects for the summer as I’m planning a bigger trip around Europe. But on that another time! Thank you for reading to this bittersweet end.

It’s a wrap! January 2019
community_summit

When I published This Year Will Be Different four years ago, I never would have thought it would become the mantra for every year’s beginning.

I kicked off the year with a trip to Israel, Palestine, and Spain trying to soak up some sun. I’ve been trying to write about my experience crossing the border between Palestine and Israel and my feelings, especially because I get to cross where the wall in Berlin once stood each and every day, yet haven’t managed to depict my feelings. I’m still pondering about the essay and what it should be...travel writing is hard.

I’m excited about having launched another Kickstarter campaign to capture the history of Berlin’s architecture. I chose 50 buildings, trying to get to the essence of what Berlin as a city is about. The campaign will be live until the 14th of February, 2019.

Meanwhile, I’m also still working on Beyond Small Talk, the book about meaningful gatherings and how to host them. Transcribing is a lot of work, yet it’s a good feeling to be able to say that I only have one interview left until I’ve transcribed them all and can finally start editing.

This month, I was invited to join the Recharge Serviced Apartment Summit where I finally met Marc Jongerius, one of Zoku’s founders, in person. If you haven’t heard of Zoku, do check it out. It’s one of the most incredible hospitality projects I’ve personally come across.

I’ve also been invited to join the Community Summit hosted by Co-Matter, where I facilitated two sessions to explore what makes communities sustainable and what will make them sustainable in the future. It’s truly fascinating to see how the nature of communities is changing, which is also something I’m talking about with the different companies and potential clients I’m currently talking to about future work. (I’m still available for projects, so please reach out should you need help with something. Here is the list of my services.)

I was also really pleased to see another feature of my work. Inc.com recommended My Creative (Side) Business as a great book for people thinking about changing their career. I’ll be speaking more about that subject in February at TEDx in Graz. For now, I’m still practicing my speech.

It's a wrap! November 2018
dietmar_friedmann
Paris
skillshare_social_media

Oh. Wow. NOVEMBER! A lot has happened this month.

Besides me going to Paris to join one of Jim Haynes’ legendary Sunday suppers, I’ve also managed to start working on an event series myself. Together with Kate Sagovsky from Moving Dust, we’re planning a series of 12 live performances to spark an honest, soothing conversation between people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, but more on that later!

I spent parts of the month transcribing interviews for the book I’m currently working on. While I don’t have a name for it just yet, I’ve been collecting stories of people who organize dinners and brunch clubs to bring people together in their communities.

As much as I’ve always loved the internet for bringing like-minded people together, over time I’ve become very aware of how important it is to also gather people who don’t have the same opinion. It’s become increasingly important to create gatherings for strangers of diverse backgrounds to talk and exchange thoughts and experiences. Speaking to people such as Timo Santala, the founder of the Restaurant Day, the tireless idealist Joe Edelman, who loves to play with how people make a connection, Maciej Chmara, who together with his wife ran the Mobile Hospitality where they hosted people despite being just visitors in different cities, and others has inspired me greatly. So far, I have 14 interviews of which I’ve already transcribed six, and given I’ve always been most productive in the winter months, I’m pretty excited about how this project is evolving.

For this particular book, I’m actually not so sure if Kickstarter’s the best way to launch it, so instead I’ll be looking for a publishing house to help me shape the final product. I believe this might be interesting to a publishing house that focuses on coffee table books, city building books, and similar. If you know someone who knows someone, you know where to find me! And should your lead get to something, I promise you a seat at one of the live performances I’ve mentioned above.

On a personal note, in 2019 I’m planning to move into more hands-on community building by running events and offline initiatives. I’d love to get involved with conferences to bring people together, in team building initiatives. I’d also like to work on more customer-focused experiences, such as the LifeStartFest I got to program earlier today. Maybe, I’d even like to become more political and get involved in the European election next year. If you know someone who needs someone, I’m currently looking for new projects starting on the 14th of January. Please don’t hesitate to introduce us via hello@mkanokova.com.

It’s not just future outlook I want to talk about in this monthly summary...

In this past month, I got to collaborate on the launch of the Virgin Galactic Unite LifeStart Challenge that gives UK students the chance to submit to an idea competition and win a trip to the Virgin Galactic Space Port in Mojave, California and up to £1000 in cash. The Challenge is open until the 10th of December, 2018.

Last but not least, and potentially of interest to all freelancers, I’ve launched a new Skillshare class explaining how to frame side projects and use social media to spread the word about them.

Anyway, thank you for reading until the end of this report and please do get in touch if you know of any projects I can get involved with starting in January!

It’s a wrap! October 2018
Norn.co
London
Norn.co

What’s a conversation you’d love to have and with whom?

Every time I started working on a new book, I’d start by asking myself just that; what would I love to know and who do I want to have a discussion with? Then I’d reach out to those people and have the sort of conversations I was craving.

If you’ve been reading these monthly reports for what’s now been exactly four years, you might have noticed I’ve had an obsession with “conversations” and how technology is impacting the way we communicate and spend time together. For my upcoming book project, I’ve reached out to people who gather friends and strangers to ask them more about how they see their role as a host and how they orchestrate gatherings that leave an impression; gatherings people ponder about even days or weeks after.

This new project has been filling me up with joy, in addition to a new client I’ve started working with: Norn.

To me, Norn is one of the most exciting ventures I’ve come across in recent years, and at least since I started working with Kickstarter. As conversation hubs, Norn’s aiming at bringing people together to help them facilitate meaningful conversations.

Together, we’re refining their customer journey and experience and also reworking their messaging. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend following them on Instagram.

Along these lines, yet slightly extended in their sense, I’d also like to recommend the following articles written by my friend Joe Edelman, who I consider one of the most inspiring philosophers of modern times:

Five Question Rethinking Civilisation

Non-Goal Drives

As for LifeStart, we’ll soon be launching new challenges on the platform after closing a challenge with Virgin Money Giving and Sony Pictures. I’ve managed to hire a couple of students to help us create interesting content for students. We’re still looking should you know a student who’s based in the UK looking for part-time work, and is a great storyteller.

I’m also in the process of launching a new Skillshare class on how to use social media as a creative, which should launch within the next couple of weeks.