Dr. Friedhelm Boschert has managed to bring mindfulness and tranquility into an industry in which pure stress prevails otherwise… at least in my mind. With his seminars and volunteering activities he is involved in the growing field of “mindful finance”, as he says: the “future of the financial world”.
A really exciting topic and a special person from whom we can learn a lot. This interview was a special pleasure and we hope that you too can take the time to read it carefully :).
How and when did you come to the idea to start your own business?
This was not a specific time – it was always clear to me.
I was employed as a banker all my life and started meditating in the 90s. I learned to do this during a stay with monks in a monastery to better deal with the tense phase while I was writing my dissertation. Meditating helped me get through this exhausting phase and since then it has been part of my life.
This means that I was a banker on the one hand, but also travelled to developing countries to carry out projects for the German Federal Government. So, I always stood on “several legs”.
However, in 2011/12 my bank was sold and I thought about what I would do if I am out there. Retiring was not an option, because I knew that I wanted to bring what I had been doing all this time into the economy. With mindfulness you change yourself, the environment and also companies. This is my task. I did not have to think and plan for long. I knew how I wanted to work as a freelancer.
At the beginning, I also spent a lot of time doing volunteer work, because when you become self-employed, you initially have the feeling that you have a lot of time. But from a certain point of view, my business did not progress so well because I volunteered so much, including at Oikokredit. That had to be weighted a little differently. Today there is also the initiative “Mindful Austria”, for which I am involved. Here we try to bring the topic of mindfulness and the positive effects of it on the population to the public.
What was your motivation and vision at that time?
The vision at the time was to bring my experience and my understanding of leadership to business. In itself, it is still the same, but it has become wider. Among other things, there is now the Mindful Finance Institute, with which we have an impact on the entire financial industry which is waiting desperately for a change that has not yet taken place. Mindfulness can do a lot here, especially in finance.
So, the vision has been transferred from the company to the industry and via the Initiative “Mindful Austria”, politics and society as a whole.
Were there initial challenges?
Many people are moving away from the economy today, wanting to start their own business and think that this will be especially easy for them because they have already gained an incredible amount of contacts. But suddenly you are in a completely different role, not as in the past and often not even perceived as a business partner. That was a real challenge when I realised it was not that easy, if not impossible. I really experienced often that others who came from business believed that they have contacts with many companies and can resort them in any case. But that’s not how it works. But it is not impossible. You just have to have a long breath.
What does a typical day in your life look like today?
So, there are days when I am at home / in the office and there are days when I am in training with customers. But perhaps to start much earlier: My day starts at 5:30 with an hour of meditation, yoga and all the trimmings. This is especially important to me, because that’s when I ground, position myself and start my day. Also, at seminars I always offer QiGong at 6 o’clock in the morning to gather energy for the day. I experience that people really like to accept that offer because they know, or at least feel, that something does not fit. This tension and the stress have to be changed. Starting with oneself. After a seminar day, I am also in the happy situation to never be completely overworked, because also during the day I do mindfulness exercises in the seminars with all the people. On the contrary, I am fully energised afterwards.
When I’m at home, much of the work is “unproductive time,” which means travel planning, acquisition, phone calls, and other organizational issues. That annoyed me at the beginning, because I wanted to do seminars, but that’s just part of it, as well as bookkeeping. However, you should not underestimate that, because that eats up a lot of the time. However, of course, it is also a privilege that I do this part of the job, e.g. in the garden.
What are the key skills and qualities to succeed in your industry?
For what I do, it is very important to like people and like to work with them. That may sound banal, but it is not self-evident. If that is the basis you can also treat them with appreciation in seminars and coaching. Because one of the most important things for me is respectfully dealing with people, whether they follow my idea or not.
In addition, of course, you have to be convincing and be able to “sell” yourself well. To market yourself and your product well is really important to learn.
Of course, a certain resilience to defeat is also important. Disappointments and successes are close to one another and it is good, especially as a self-employed person, when one can emerge from a deep and annoyed state of mind and carry on. I learned that in practice and sometimes, of course, painfully. Cancelling or having a company decide on someone else is very difficult to live with and also caused me to fall into a hole. But then you have to get out again, because it does not change the thing, if you are depressed for two days after that.
Having a certain amount of resilience is therefore an important skill to have.
Do you have a secret of success?
I have no secret of success, because I have no secrets. 🙂
But I think it’s the mindset. For me having appreciation for others is central to succeeding.
How do you / does your business earn money?
I have three projects. First, I teach at the University of Applied Sciences. There is some money involved, more like pocket money I would say. But I enjoy working with the students and doing more scientific work.
Then there is the cooperation with the academy, where I take on assignments whereby I receive my main income from specially organised seminars. I also offer seminars, coaching and workshops, for example, on team building.
Is there anything that you think could be improved in your industry?
Well, I could say a lot about the need for improvement in the financial industry. In the field of counselling, training and mindfulness, I often notice that too little is being considered in terms of people’s working lives. Working directly in the workplace context, where employees spend most of their years, makes a big difference. Especially with mindfulness, it is important that the day can really be installed and used.
If you could start again, would you do something different?
I might invest faster and more in marketing and support today. It was always very time consuming to do a lot myself. Support, for example, organisational support is really important here and in retrospect. I would probably rather invest money earlier to get some work done.
What do you advise others for their lives and careers?
Of course, something that is related to my job and that I would have liked to have heard about earlier is from Kapat-Zinn: “We only have the present to live. The past is over, the future is not there yet.” The only time we have to live now is this second. Therefore, it is important to be careful and not completely automatic (careless) while going through life. Every second goes by so quickly, then the next one. If you do not notice that, you miss a lot, which you cannot bring back.