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From a large corporation to a start-up: Christian's question about the purpose

A lot had to happen before I became a co-founder of a start-up. I had reached the low point of my career as an industrial engineer, which admittedly hadn't even really started yet. On Sunday I was afraid of Monday, on Friday I made five crosses in the calendar with relief and on Saturday I tried not to think about the coming week. Then a call came that turned my life around 180 degrees.

The work in a large corporation

In mid-2016, I completed my compulsory internship at a large automotive group - project management, 35-hour week, minimum wage - running. It was the kind of internship that all my classmates chose: “It's worth it for the CV alone!” they said. I half-heartedly agreed and signed on for six months.

offer of the week

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The following assessments are of course very subjective and for some experiences I bear full responsibility myself because I just didn't do a good job. Nevertheless, they shaped me and made me choose a path that makes me happier.

Slightly euphoric about the futuristic main building of my new employer and the wide range of canteens, reality quickly caught up with me at my height-adjustable desk. I had just overheard a conversation on the other side of the open-plan office: "I'll just put the boss in CC, then maybe something will finally happen in the next two weeks..." This sentence burned in, because it describes the situation in large corporate structures like this in a nutshell: strictly hierarchical. politicized. Slow.

The search for meaning – the 'mid-intern crisis'

So I quickly had to accept that the milestone plan was infallible, the department head was untouchable and conflicts were often unsolvable. But the questions that occupied me even more as I stared at my Excel sheets with a weary look were: Why am I doing this? What's the point?
Unfortunately, the result at the time was the idea of ​​rushing my head towards the screen unchecked – or more simply: frustration and not the slightest idea how to answer it, other than: “That’s the way you do it.”

It was probably also due to my lack of fascination with cars, a questionable choice of study and the urge to be able to see visible results from my trade. But I couldn't imagine, with the best will in the world, why a small cog in a huge construct should waste one's life energy for the visions and dreams of a few. At the latest when I trotted out of a two-hour meeting with "big shots" from the board on the subject of "covering the CD slot in silver or black", I was completely meaningless.

The purpose of the chocolate bar start-up – the realization

Exactly in this phase, in my mid-intern crisis, so to speak, Mathias and Thomas (later co-founders of the nu company) called me and said they had come up with something - it was about hemp seeds, raw chocolate and healthy nutrition and they urgently need reinforcements.

As crazy as it may sound, all of a sudden there was an opportunity to really change something. If I could offer people a product that would help them to eat healthier, I would have found far more personal meaning than having been involved in the facelift of a luxury car line. Suddenly I felt this intrinsic motivation, went home punctually at 5 p.m. to work on the marketing concept for nucao and suddenly I wasn't the grouch on duty anymore.

What I realized during this time is that having a purpose in everyday life can change everything. This sense can lie in helping to develop the best cars in the world, earning a lot of money or supporting your family - everyone defines that for themselves. However, due to unclear responsibilities, internal power games and rigid processes, I got the feeling that many of my colleagues would rather name the last two things and are therefore not fully passionate about what they are doing - and that 35 hours a week.

I believe that everyone can find meaning in the professional world if they regularly question it and draw conclusions from it. Certainly, complaining is at the highest level of the needs pyramid, namely that of self-realization, but that is precisely why it is so relevant for large parts of our society.

In the following articles you will find out to what extent we have found our meaning at the nu company and are still looking for it and what we are doing against rigid hierarchies, politicization and inertia. 🙂