Disappearing Into The Fire - The Berlin Edition

In April of this year, I blogged about the Disappearing Into The Fire Workshop. This is a workshop put on by Jerry Colonna and Ann Mehl that seeks to provide CEO Coaching "at scale." What I mean by that is for most people CEO Coaching is a one on one experience, and a very good experience which I highly recommend. These workshops take the same approach but provide it to a room full of people at a single time. If you think you might want to get a CEO Coach but aren't sure what its like, this workshop is an excellent start.

I've talked to a number of entrepreneurs and CEOs who attended the first workshop in mid May in NYC and they all were very complimentary of it.

Jerry and Ann are taking the "show on the road" and doing the Disappearing Into The Fire Workshop in Berlin on Saturday September 10th. The details are here.

Berlin and NYC are like sister startup cities. They remind me of each other in many ways with Berlin a few years behind NYC in terms of its overall development. I'm super excited to see Jerry and Ann take this workshop to Europe and I think the choice of Berlin is a great one.

Too all entrepreneurs in Berlin and Europe, do yourself a favor and check it out.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Esayas Gebremedhin

    This one reminds me of the “Managing Your Own Psychology” post by Ben. Thinking everyday: “How on earth can people resist to invest in a project like this!?” Truth be told, no one can look into my mind and see my vision. A vision that has easily the potential to create the biggest market possible. Will try to attend this workshop. Thanks for sharing Fred!

  2. awaldstein

    I’d be interested to know how this works out from a value per participant basis.Certainly one2few is a better model than one2one as long as the value holds.Been thinking about this myself in my own biz and have not yet made that leap…although for marketing, I think it can be done.

    1. Kevin Friedman

      I was intrigued by your statement “one2few is a better model than one2one as long as the value holds”… did you mean one2few = e.g. workshop while one2one = e.g. personal coaching, etc?I was thinking that a good workshop might not, in some sense, even be “one2few” as a lot of the value comes from the participants and not the “one” — in this case being the teacher. So, it’s actually more, in some sense, “fewtofew”.Does that make sense? What do you think?Also, can you elaborate on how you have been thinking about for your business?

      1. awaldstein

        Hi KevinYes…you hit it correctly.I think this can be very successful but there a bunch of critical items to get right:-Being an advisor is a partnership over time. Even a series with a fixed group is less personal and focused. It’s just different.-Group dynamics are key but I think that few2few is more true in theory than in practice. In order to keep this natural and useful, something slightly different is needed. That’s a secret sauce I’m working on. In any right, this needs to be more a ‘leader with privileges’ than a teacher. -The group is not a replacement for one2one, just very different. It’s a different value quotient, at least for marketing.-One idea, that I’ve done before in meet-up type environments, that has worked, is a series where each time you focus on one or two companies and use their situations in a specific area as the focus, and let this generalize to the group.I’m speaking very casually of course.Groups have a different DNA and you have to both channel them and let them bring their own unique value.Glad to discuss of course and open to all new ideas around this. It’s been on my mind a lot.

    2. JLM

      I have participated in several similar organizations — YPO, TAB — which provide a similar service and come away a huge fan of the CEO peer to peer relationship forums particularly when mentored or facilitated by an able former CEO.An element of this service is one on one meetings between the mentor and the individual CEOs.  They are very, very useful.The insights are invaluable — both in the small forum (6-8 CEOs) and the individual mentor-CEO sessions.Having a CEO coach is like being in therapy — an opportunity to explore some of your own thoughts with someone who can guide you along the way and can from time to time validate the process.Be ready to learn that we are not nearly as deep as what our interests might indicate or we might like to be.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks JLM. This is very helpful.

        1. jerrycolonna

          I’d add my two cents as well…it’s not the same as a one to one relationship BUT there’s tremendous value in working in small groups and finding similar issues (and different solutions).

          1. awaldstein

            Thanks for jumping in this side discussion Jerry. I’m not that familiar with your work but your reputation procedes you and Fred’s personal recommendation means a lot to me.I’m very inspired by the idea of group dynamics as a means to  discover solutions to building a market (aka marketing) and the process of building friendships and community amongst piers during this ongoing problem solving. Likewise my comments above about giving this some thought.My point of view and my focus is building markets and brands for a variety of business models. I start from that specific context. As you say, this is a shared interest but market dynamics make every solution somewhat different.If you would, pls point me to some links (if there are others besides your blog) for further reading and if you  are so inclined, I’d love to chat about this some time.Thanks again.

          2. jerrycolonna

            Sure. Happy to talk through the role of groups in learning. Ann and I have started a small group that meets monthly and the intent is similar (that is, the focus isn’t, say marketing or skills development, but support around the process of dealing with the challenges related to our work lives).My sense of this really comes from my own direct experiences in workshops and various groups more than something I can point to. But I’ll give it some more thought.

          3. awaldstein

            Re: comment below–Thanks Jerry. Glad to participate in one of your small groups to see if it works for myself and the group. My contact info is on my blog at arnoldwaldstein.com

  3. $3236

    I attended the event in May in NYC.  It was well worth the time.  Jerry and Ann do a great job and much of the learning/insight came from the other participants.

  4. David Noël

    Fred – would you recommend this workshop to non-CEO’s? Would love to hear Jerry and Ann speak after all the praise you’ve given them. 

    1. Kevin Friedman

      I attended the workshop in NYC back in May and there were many non-CEOs in attendance. In matter of fact, there were people from all stages: corporate, idea-stage, growing their start-up, large business, etc. People seemed to benefit no matter what stage they were currently at in their work-life. Probably because the themes of the workshop transcend “stages”. So, I’d definitely recommend the workshop to non-CEOs!

      1. David Noël

        Excellent, thanks Kevin. Sold.

        1. Robert Thuston

          Glad you asked. I was wondering the same as well.

      2. Tereza

        I think it could also be effectively (and lucratively) packaged for larger companies. Many have secretly entrepreneurial people who need to a framework for this.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Was wondering the same thing. Glad you asked.

  5. nikolas woischnik

    great stuff! 

  6. Timoth Hill

    Berlin is great but what about Tel Aviv? 😉

  7. ShanaC

    Why do you think nyc and Berlin are sister startup cities

    1. fredwilson

      good fodder for a blog post. thanks!

      1. ShanaC

        You’re welcome! Anytime Fred!

        1. jerrycolonna

          Actually it’s a great topic..among the things I’m trying to explore are the ways cities and areas are similar and the what makes one set of entrepreneurs similar to or different from another.

          1. ShanaC

            Well, when you come to sort of conclusion – let us know!

          2. jerrycolonna

            Count on it. I’m already seeing differences between ability to accept risk from one area to another. When you come from a society where, or a time in a society when, the previous generations were simply thankful to have a job, where the definition of “work” was labor to feed the children and not a means to identity, then the ability to step out and do something so damn risky as to start something on your own can be undermined by ghosts.Wow, that’s a good line. I think I’ll steal for a blog post.

          3. Stefan Wolpers

            Looking forward to discussing this topic with you in Berlin, Jerry…

          4. jerrycolonna

            As am I, Stefan. I think, for me, it’s going to be one of the highlights of my time in Berlin–really getting to know the entrepreneurial community there. Like Fred, these smaller pockets on community remind me of NY–albeit NY in the 90s when Fred and I first started.

          5. Tereza

            My personal thesis is — the soul of the entrepreneur is the same everywhere.Having done this in a couple of places (and languages), while some mechanics are different — or for example legal structures which can drive some different behaviors, or socio/political environment which is the soil — I believe very deeply that this entrepreneurial soul transcends cultures.I watched Czechs change overnight from in-the-box (Communism) to way out-of-the box.Anyone has the potential to be entrepreneurial. But also it’s learn by doing and in an apprenticeship way, can’t ‘learn it in school’. Anyone who grew up in a family business or creative business and grew up with the need to figure out what their objective is and not have it extrinsically imposed — has massively kickstarted his or her entrepreneurial journey. It’s inside all of us. Many never learned how to tap it.BTW you can be extremely entrepreneurial at a huge company too. It’s called being “political”. You figure out the rules of the game and field you’re playing, and how you’ll survive and thrive in them.

      2. nikolas woischnik

        Want to write it and publish it on http://www.techberlin.com? I am interviewing Jerry about his workshop today, very excited! 

  8. Aviah Laor

    should have find a better name for a class in Berlin though

      1. Aviah Laor

        Funny. Yet, “Disappearing Into The Fire – The Berlin Edition” is a bit straightforward”, at least to me.

        1. jerrycolonna

          I see your point…the name comes from a blog post and that title from an old Chinese story.

  9. Nikhil Nirmel

    I hear pattern recognition cited often as something that good CEOs and good investors excel at.  Can that be taught? If so, is that taught in sessions like these?It seems that teaching ways to think about problems that arise over time would more valuable than teaching the way to answer specific problems that arise.

    1. panterosa,

      Currently, I am reading about complexity, self organizing systems and emergence – science and math about biology primarily. Complexity, and the simple rules which make these systems, inform the designs and concepts of visual products I develop. Using the pattern recognition is something that transfers its metaphors to other problems as well. It’s a fascinating, relatively new subject.I’d be interested to hear of other veins to mine to explore other patterns.

    2. Tereza

      I think that’s true but a LOT of people get fixated on and emphasize the wrong patterns, and frankly, the SAME pattern.Whether it’s math or storyarcs in literature, economics or biology, we’ve all embarked on pattern recognition paths. The muscle exercise is there.But brilliant people pick their own pattern — they don’t just apply someone else’s pattern

  10. Tobi Z.

    Amazing, I will be there!Greets from Hamburg!

    1. jerrycolonna

      Glad to hear it Tobi.

  11. David Semeria

    I exchanged some emails with Jerry in the past, and can honestly say he’s the real deal.I would strongly advise anyone who is able to get to Berlin to do so.Jerry was once a VC, and so he understands the entrepreneur’s pain. But he’s moved on to a higher spiritual level. He can place your angst in a much wider context.He sees the big picture, and can offer a rare and very valuable perspective.I would very much like to meet him in person some day.

    1. fredwilson

      so true in all regards about Jerry

      1. jerrycolonna

        Thanks so much David and Fred. Really appreciate the support.

  12. Bryan J Wilson

    Did not attend the NYC workshop, but I work with Ann and can only add my recommendation for anyone on the fence. It’ll certainly be worth it.

  13. William Mougayar

    And I always thought that Toronto was New York’s sister! They say Toronto is like New York if it was run by the Swiss.Jerry & Ann, have you considered Toronto? It’s much closer than Berlin and has lots of startup activity.

    1. jerrycolonna

      We haven’t…frankly, Berlin came about because Kevin Dykes, and ex-pat American in Berlin (sounds like a Gene Kelly movie) was lamenting that he couldn’t attend our workshop in NY in May. Bring it to Berlin, he said. I said, get me a roomful of people…and he did. Toronto would be great. I’ve had folks ask about Nashville AND SF as well.

    2. fredwilson

      toronto is too clean to be NYC’s sister city

  14. Fernando Gutierrez

    I don’t have an opinion on the workshop, but his blog is great and that’s a great sign.http://www.themonsterinyour

    1. jerrycolonna

      Thanks so much Fernando. I wish I had time to post more often. My resolution next year is to post 25% as much as Fred.

      1. fredwilson

        you’ll have to stop obsessing over every word if you are going to do that 🙂

        1. jerrycolonna

          Obsessive-compulsive is my middle name. You’ve seen my desk.

  15. Robert Thuston

    Looks like a good seminar.  I hope “coaching” continues to be a growing trend in the entrepreneurial sector, and the same for “mentoring”.  I think “mentoring” and “coaching” have the most impact on the personal development of entrepreneurs, and I hope the models for both of them continue to grow.

    1. jerrycolonna

      I know it’s a bit self-serving to say but I really do think it helps. I wish I had had a coach early in my career.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I’ve seen examples in which it has made all the difference!

  16. Amy Bevilacqua

    I attended Jerry and Ann’s NYC workshop in May and thought it was a high impact half-day.  It was a great balance of guided learning, provocative questions, and inspiration.  As much as I got from listening to Jerry and Ann share proven strategies and techniques to reconnect deeply with ourselves and others–being part of a small group where there was permission to be open and candid was probably just as valuable.  Helping to galvanize a community of entrepreneurs to support each other is probably a big part of the lasting value of taking this workshop on the road.  I’m a huge fan of both Jerry and Ann–both have been incredibly helpful to me and I encourage anyone who can make it to their workshops to go, and bring a colleague.

    1. jerrycolonna

      Amy, thanks for this. That permission, the ability to actually stand up and say, as one person did in the workshop in May, “I am terrified,” and look out to a room of people who  get you…that’s what I’m hoping Ann and I are spurring on. It’s a lousy business model but my real goal is that people are able to do this work, in support of their life’s work, without a coach.

  17. Kevin Friedman

    I also attended the workshop last May and, if anyone has any doubt about attending the upcoming workshop, they should check out some of the feedback from other attendees! It was truly an exhilarating experience for me… one that I will always remember. Not only did I find inspiration and resources for my personal & entrepreneurial life, I was also able to start building some great relationships. What more can you ask for? 🙂

  18. essay help

      Helping to galvanize a community of entrepreneurs to support each other is probably a big part of the lasting value of taking this workshop on the road.

    1. jerrycolonna

      Exactly. I’m doing more and more in NY trying to help the local community support each other. In my talks, I often recommend that entrepreneurs create a system of elders around them for support. And an elder isn’t just someone who’s older but anyone who can help. That said, I’m enjoying my transition to Elderhood…and trying to live up to my own words. (Never an easy task, eh?)

  19. Ela Madej

    That’s amazing. Great to see such events are taking place in Europe. Luckily Kraków (Poland) – where I live  – is close enough so I am considering taking the 5 hours drive. Who else is going?

    1. jerrycolonna

      Come to the workshop, Ela. We’d love to have you. One of the reasons Berlin made sense was that it was reasonably close to a number of places in Europe. I think friends in Ljubljana are renting a bus (Road Trip!)–just kidding. But I wish they would all come.

      1. Ela Madej

        Thanks Jerry! I am just figuring out my plans for Sept (thought about TC Disrupt San Fran which is just a few days away). I was really impressed with your initial post. It’s super-difficult to be an entrepreneur. I mean – it’s also not difficult at all. It’s easy in a way that many of us could never do anything else so the choice feels very natural. And it’s exciting (and boy, is it addictive!).But it’s also so much work, way too much work, way too many challenges, way too many choices, way too many points where the house of cards can fail. And way too many things you could be doing better while you can’t do it all. So it’s exciting and frustrating at the same time! Letting people go is heartbreaking. People not understanding your product is heartbreaking. Investors looking down at you…  And when you fail –  it’s.. well, heartbreaking. And not only do you have to pretend nothing happened, you actually have to make yourself believe nothing happened and continue changing the reality around you. So you’re up again because you want to get the same kick, the same feeling of doing something that matters and doing it right (even when you’re really doing it wrong).. there’s no stopping. And there’s that constant feeling you don’t understand enough, that you should dig deeper, read more, DO more. Iterate.The best thing about running a company is being surrounded with people who believe in what you’re doing.. Can’t imagine the feeling when they stop. That must be the hardest.Btw, I wonder if starting a great business is even more difficult in Europe where people are more afraid of failing?  Or is that just a cliche? Getting funding is definitely more difficult. I don’t see that many VCs around –  when we were looking for funding, we did go to the US… And it would be great to share experiences about how our friends and family have hard time understanding why we want to reach for the stars when we all could have great senior management jobs in big companies. Here, I kind of feel they think me and my business partners will “wake up” one day and we will  realize that we have wasted the last years of our lives. It always makes me smile (that “mean inside smile” of “I’ll show you!”) In my case it’s even more interesting because one of my business partners (since 5 years) is my long-term life partner (since almost 10 years). I can’t imagine NOT working with him, I have a lot sympathy for entrepreneurs who have to explain their partners where do those rainbows of emotion come from, why they are mentally absent, why they work so much…I guess we do it for the “kick”.Back to the September workshop – Jerry, I need ca. 2 days to figure it out with the flights etc. If I can’t make it to Berlin, see you in NYC maybe?  Time to get  back to work, take good care! 😉

      2. Tereza

        I’ll put the bat signal out to my Prague and Bratislava friends.

    2. Tereza

      Ela I took it in NY. You should do it!BTW Krakow is gorgeous, wow.–Terezka

      1. Ela Madej

        Thanks Terezka 😉 (does it mean you are Polish?)Kraków is indeed a pretty city – let me know when you’re here next time and I will be happy to give you an insider’s tour!It just turned out that Sept 10th it’s the exact Sat my great friends are getting married so I will have to attend Jerry’s next workshop, probably in NYC. I am really looking forward it it.

  20. Tereza

    First of all — take the class, people!!!I did the maiden voyage in December and recommend!I already told Jerry this but what I’m hankering for is a “DITF — Parents Edition”. Because for me each day is really just me jumping in between TWO fires. 🙂

  21. meenuahuja

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