17 and a Half Questions With Sophia Rödiger

We ask inspiring people 17 and a half questions. This time we have Sophia Rödiger, who is an innovator at Daimler Mobility, psychologist and future yoga trainer. Together with her husband Lukas Fütterer, Sophia founded MountainMinds, a digital transformation consultancy, with which she combines the often contrasting qualities of "mindful" and "digital" and rethinks leadership in networks

Sophia  Rödiger, innovator at Daimler Mobility, 17 and a half questions

1. What I like about my job

I noticed, that I no longer have this one job, but that I am moving professionally in at least three roles that inspire me. First, I am a transformer at Daimler Mobility, changing processes and working methods, based on new technologies, such as Blockchain and inspiring my colleagues with ‘new work’ approaches. Secondly, I am a co-founder and a consultant, with my partner, of www.MountainMinds.net – a transformation consultancy that combines mainly ‘digitalization’ and ‘mindfulness’, in the context of leadership networks. What motivates me for every night shift, is that we see direct impact of our work and receive feedback from the client. Thirdly, I am on my way to becoming a certified Yoga Trainer. I use atmosphere, music and asana practice in such way that after a class, the participants go home feeling better and grateful to have invested this hour in themselves. In all three roles I am thrilled to redesign spaces in order to inspire and be inspired by others, to create energy that brings the best in us. This could be a business meeting, a consulting project or Yoga class.

2. What sometimes frustrates me

When things take ages to implement. When people act bizarre in a way that doesn’t make sense and has no reason, because a process or (organizational) structure dictates it to them. Or when they are constantly looking to put a blame on someone, instead of finding a solution.

3. My secret alternative job

Snowboard instructor in the Zillertal or alpine hostess in South Tyrol – definitely something in the mountains. Ever since I was a child this has been my place where I feel at ease, to ground and to gain new drive. And soon it will also be our place to get married. It is not without a reason that this motif is also found in my own start-up name "MountainMinds".

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

We all have our little steam-release hacks, like a walk or jokes – sometimes even dark humour – with a trusted colleague. I have gotten into the habit of accepting ‘supposedly bad’ office days. We all have them – it’s normal. But the key is to be aware of them and break the chain of just ‘functioning’. That means leaving the office entirely. Instead, I conduct the really urgent appointments on video sessions, clearly stating that today is not my day and continue working from home with a coffee (or a glass of wine, depending on how bad the day is).

5. When are you in the famous flow

Mostly when I am working on something on my own, reaching my mental and physical limits, clearly setting the target and then still having the freedom to come up with my own creative proposal. I’ve experienced the flow when running a marathon, creating our current book project, painting or doing yoga, as well as working on a new program design for a client.

6. Biggest success so far

My last year in a flash: I survived my own severe cancer, fought my way to the top in a few months with my running coach and the running STR group and ran a half-marathon again, then one day later I found out that my mother has no cure for cancer – we have been fighting with it ever since. And it was precisely because of this, that I felt the great impulse to realize long-standing plans and finally set up my own business with my partner: MountainMinds. My deep conviction: There is always something new waiting for us when we accept situations in life, direct our gaze to what we have in our own hands and develop a new creative energy from this attitude – so, never waste a crisis. But it also wouldn’t be possible without my partner in crime, my friends and family. Without them, I would not have been able to live through these times so strongly – the stable network, both private and professional, is of immense importance.

7. Biggest defeat

Let's rather call it situations or wrong decisions, in which something went badly, you stayed behind your possibilities, but you learned a lot. Of course, the already mentioned sickness have had a significant impact on me, especially in the last year. If there is one thing I have learned: It is to feel one's own finiteness and to develop a deep humility and gratitude towards life. But for me, illness is a different kind of imbalance than, for example, the current winding up and strategic repositioning of an innovation unit that I have been able to build up and lead at Daimler Mobility for the past four years. Then came the crisis (in the Automotive Division as early as 2019), and the last few months were strongly influenced by numerous management talks, emotional employee discussions and exhausting workers’ council meetings.

What should we have done differently? I see two major areas of learning: 1) In all the new things we did, we worked a lot with grassroots movements, informal networks and communities. Flat structures should be innovative and not that ‘bossy’ – perhaps it was an arrogant attitude, that we thought that everyone would join the ‘cool’ innovation. We did not focus our energy enough on formal structures and hierarchy and we fell short of our possibilities. 2) We should have radically sharpened the focus earlier in what we do together with the company management, in order to be able to juggle the ‘exploration on the one hand’ and ‘exploitation on the other’ even more effectively. But I am convinced that this imbalance, reinforced by the corona catalyst, now leads to a new radicalism, which will also help the innovation.

8. Worst buzzword

Mindset – because we simply use it for every problem, every solution and every excuse at the same time – in the end it is always about the mindset. This phenomenon should trigger us to take a closer look. Because it is the reflected examination of one's own ‘mindset’ and also of the work and management attitude in organizations, that helps us to move forward. But simply prescribing a ‘new mindset’ on PowerPoint slides or using it as a universal reason why something doesn't work in the company or in leadership is, in my opinion, it’s too short-sighted.

9. Best reward after a hard week at work

Running shoes on and out into the nature, afterwards a hot sauna.

10. Home office or in-house

Rather home office or mobile office – I prefer to be flexible in finding the place where I can best perform my current task.

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

It is precisely the diversity in a team or business relationship that is valuable. But, to put it this way: I prefer people who have the ability to reflect, show authenticity and have a doer's attitude.

12. Your creative hack

Making collages and storyboards – I am a visual type and have to put things in front of my eyes: This can be done with picture snippets, Pinterest screenshots, sticky notes or on the MURAL whiteboard. For me, the helpful thing about it, is that I always find new inspiration when searching for material and at the same time, form a visually powerful target horizon in front of my eyes – psychologically speaking, it helps me to anchor targets in my brain and then remain with them with perseverance.

13. First website to check in the morning

I have finally managed to build the routine in a few months: Starting every morning with at least 15 minutes of yoga, so my first page to open is YouTube and an activating course by Mady Morrison. Namaste.

14. Favorite digital tool

At the moment I like Mural, we have tested this tool with MountainMinds especially for our virtual formats and learned to love it – here you can lead through complex topics very precisely and it’s pleasant for the eye and create a lot of remote interactions.

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

Not a Netflix, but a training series from Metaplan: ‘Organize awesome’. Here, clever organizational sociologists, like Judith Muster, are opening up a new, multi-layered view of organizations and their operating systems – remotely at the highest level. A food for thought that still resonates with me loudly: Leadership does not always have to be hierarchical.

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

Let's stick to the topic of ‘organisation’: In the podcast "der ganz formale Wahnsinn", Stefan Kühl and Andreas Hermwille analyse organizational structures and social interactions in a scientific way and with dry humour and explain to us, for example, why the boss should not stay longer than the first hour at a Christmas party.

17. Most prominent follower on a social channel?

On Instagram it is the creative soul Diana aka @doandlive from Stuttgart, who presents many exciting sustainability tips, fair trade brands, cooking inspirations, sports motivation and local insights in her feed. And across all channels it is our friend, muse and mentor: Tijen Onaran.

17 and a half: What I am always...

... impressed by?

What has always impressed me – but never works out well for me – are early risers, who have already written a book and saved the world when I crawl out of my bed, my eyes half open, heading to the coffee machine. It’s quite clear: I’m the night owl type.




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