17 and a Half Questions With Carina Kontio

We ask inspiring 17 and a half questions. This week we have Carina Kontio, who has been the Contributing Editor at Handelsblatt for almost 10 years. Her great passion is sport, especially riding race bikes and jogging. She likes to ponder about the meaning of life and listen to psychological podcasts

17 and a Half Questions With Carina Kontio

1.  What I like about my job

That I can learn something new every day and never get bored. This may sound banal, but instead of suffering from a burnout, I feel exactly in my element, because of the variety. It gives me great satisfaction to increase my knowledge and skills and makes me happy when this happens with exciting interview partners and experts.

2. What sometimes frustrates me

I am a rebel. I am frustrated by formal or technical restrictions, for example when a headline and teaser can only have certain amount of characters. But I am also frustrated when processes are inefficient, because of the poor communication. I am also increasingly unable to stand the lousy image of my profession in social media (#Lügenpresse etc.).

3. My secret alternative job

This does not have to be secret. I think everyone should have a plan B in their drawer. Or at least a feeling what would I like to do happily and earn money with it. I don’t have special jobs in mind, because I believe that it is always the team around you that makes a work perfect. If I leave journalism behind me, then preferably for a job in which I work physically really close with people. Maybe a combination of sports coach, mental coach and massage therapist.

4. Best strategy to survive a really bad day at the office

Absolutely do not talk to your colleagues during the breaks and get stuck in the bad mood, but consciously switch off your head for a moment and let the world in with all your senses instead. This could be a walk around the block, a little jogging in the city park or a 20-minute session of meditation with headspace.

5. When are you in the famous flow

From my experience, whenever I'm not interrupted three times an hour, because of some trivialities. I'm quite sensitive to ambient and other noise and I work in a very focused way, preferably with noise-canceling headphones, with notifications about incoming e-mails or WhatsApp messages turned off and, most importantly, without time pressure. But I'm also in a flow when I meet people and listen to their stories in conversation – whether for my Mindshift podcast, the Rolemodel series or other interviews and stories. That's when I remember why I chose this profession.

6. Biggest success so far

Successes are always the same for me, because: All equally beautiful and if I am to be honest, I so seldom get the chance to remember and reflect on these things, because I always simply move on when I have achieved something – with the next goal in mind. I don't rest on my laurels, but I should become aware of what I have already achieved for myself. From a psychological point of view, this would certainly not be the wrong thing to do. I am still practicing!

7. Biggest defeat

With these questions, many people always say that there are no quitters, only opportunities to learn from them. I don’t know about that. Sure, there is something to it, but I have already had painful failures. Two years ago, for example, I couldn't manage to balance my job, a podcast column for Audible and a book assignment at the same time. Because I took it over myself. That is usually also the reason for my ‘defeats’. For example, I once stayed with an employer for far too long, even though I experienced massive bossing by the managers. I wanted to quit every day after only two weeks – and in the end I was stuck in this hell for a whole year and got a real burnout. It was a mistake that I will never make again.

8. Worst buzzword

Agility and learning – when I hear this, my brain switches off in milliseconds.

9. Best reward after a hard week at work

For me, sport always comes first. In the summer this is usually a 100km long ride on a racing bike or a very long run of 20km along the Rhine. But only after I have slept in and spent at least two to three hours going through various newspapers and magazines with my Spotify favorite songs list in the background.

10. Home office or in-house

“The dose makes the poison”. I can easily work from home for two weeks at a stretch in intensive project phases, but then at some point I need to spend a day or two in the office with my colleagues. You know: For the office radio, to show the boss my face again, or simply so that I don't have to eat my lunch quietly alone in front of my laptop.

11. Most important traits a colleague/business partner must have

The ability to give me undivided attention in conversation. If I notice that someone is distracted when I am talking, I lose all interest in the conversation. But I like to address this and suggest:  “I see that you seem to have your head somewhere else right now, let's talk about it again tomorrow!”.

12. Your creative hack

No matter what: If I don't have time pressure, I am always creative. This seems to be in my blood and is not something I have to specifically trigger. Otherwise, I refer you to my answer to question number 5!

13. First website to check in the morning

At the moment I'm doing Ebay classifieds, because I'm selling two bikes and two pairs of sneakers. Next, I'm switching over to Immobilienscout, because I'm looking for an apartment. When I'm ready for work after two strong coffees with frothed oat milk, of course first is our Handelsblatt website.

14. Favorite digital tool

Slack, to communicate with colleagues, GarageBand to cut my podcasts, Google Docs to never lose unsaved text and I can access it anytime from anywhere and WeTransfer or Dropbox to share content.

15. In which book or series have you learned the most for your (work) life?

My apartment is full of shelves and stacks of books – I can't possibly limit myself to just one. The author Caroline Criado-Perez made a particularly lasting impression and even opened my eyes again as a woman, most recently with "Invisible Women”. She shows how we, women, are systematically discriminated against and disadvantaged in almost all areas of life, because our world is based almost exclusively on male-related data.

16. Which series, book or podcast can you generally recommend?

I have a strong leaning towards Danish series right now: ‘The Rain’, ‘The Ways of the Lord’ (on art with Lars Mikkelsen) and The Day will Come (drama series, again with Lars Mikkelsen. But: Very sad and for those who experienced violence in their childhood, to be treated with special care). Before that I was extremely fascinated by the Italian series ‘Ein Wunder’ and with ‘Dark‘, Germany’s first Netflix series.

Podcasts: Besides the weekly Spiegel podcast ‘Sagen, was ist’, I love to listen to the ‘PsychCast’, in which two doctors talk about our psyche and the imponderables of life. I find ‘Die Lösung’ with Verena Fiebiger and the psychologist Lena Schiestel similarly good, and for falling asleep I like to listen to the ZEIT podcast ‘Verbrechen’ – even if it has already made me lose sleep a few times.

17. Most prominent follower on a social channel?

Oh dear, I honestly don't even know! Anyway, I find it more exciting to know what he or she has to offer, say and contribute to an exciting debate.

17 and a half: What has always...

...occupies me: The search for the answer to the question: What sense do I have as a human being on this planet? What do I exist for and what of my work will outlive me in the end?



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