Working Smarter in Berlin

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After a pleasant six hour journey north to Berlin I was quite tired on arrival, and the last thing I needed was to be reminded that without a valid passport I’d be sleeping on the streets – ahh! Yes, I’d forgotten to bring my UK Passport. Hoping that a credit card, a driving license and insurance card would suffice as identity, was, unfortunately a waste of time, it wouldn’t.
image right
The only solution available was to call my (non-tech) wife and present her with the ultimate challenge: photograph my passport and attach it to an email for me to print out in #Berlin. After what seemed like an eternity, and having used all my powers of patience, the email was sent and printed and I was shown to my room – phew!

Bright sunshine filled the hotel room on Saturday morning, which was most pleasant and it helped me to forget the passport incidence. We’d arranged to meet at 10:30am at the Savoy hotel. I had no idea how the day was going to pan out and whether we would only have time for a short meeting or…?

I set off across the city with plenty of time in hand. On route I found a Starbucks and settled into some last minute reading and a cappuccino.

The moment had arrived… it was 10.20am as I entered the Savoy. I introduced myself to the receptionist and found a comfortable spot on one of the huge leather sofa’s. Right on cue, Jay and Harold appeared in the lobby. My first reaction was, hey I know you two :-)  With very little formality, Jay explained the plan for the day and Harold advised me just to go with the flow and follow Jay… which was, throughout the day, excellent advice.

The plan for the day was built around promoting the book and shooting video at key locations around the city. I was designated camera man, which seemed like a cool deal. We left the hotel and went across the street into the stock exchange for the first shoot. As expected on a Saturday morning it was very quiet which gave us the ideal opportunity to break the ice and shoot the first film clip.

Jay whipped out his iPad and showed me the next version of the book in digital format – it looks pretty cool folks. It was actually the first time I’d seen an #iPad and the first thing that struck me was how small it was, I thought it was much bigger?

After filming the first clip we got the tube maps out and began making our cunning plan for the day… well actually Jay did, and me and Harold waited for the next set of instructions.

The next location was the famous landmark at Potsdam Platz, one of the places where the ‘wall’ divided East and West, almost 20 years ago to the day.

While looking around I found a side show where a uniformed guard was giving out information and allowing photos to be made by tourists. I’d brought my copy of Working Smarter as Jay had forgotten to sign it when he’d sent it a few weeks ago. I was pleased I had it with me as it could now be used as an ideal prop :-)  I gingerly asked the guard if I could photograph him and the book (which Harold captured, below), he kindly agreed, although he did warn that it might not help with with international sales :-o)

Using my new and very nice HTC Desire I snapped a shot, thanked him and scuttled off with a grin on my face to find Jay…

I found Jay looking for the ideal place to conduct the next video interview, he’d found a graffitied section of the wall and seemed to be checking out lighting or other such technical considerations… I pushed the HTC under his nose and this was his reaction, superbly caught on camera by Harold.

After another short filming, Harold and I were informed of our next destination. We’d often look at each other and simply say “Follow Jay” :-)  Not too far from this location is the Sony centre and this was to be our destination… On route, and still giggling from the German guard gag, I photographed Jay and Harold under a big yellow Lego giraffe? Why? Well, because it was colourful…?

The Sony centre is pretty impressive. We walked around looking at the various exhibits and admiring the architecture. Jay noticed a film Museum, which he’d not previously visited, and so this became our next destination.

We were not advised before that photography was forbidden, but it did not take us long to get the attention of those working there. Here are some crazy shots of us photographing into mirrors – don’t ask why, it’s complicated. Shortly after this we received our first warning (a sobering moment)… notice the book on the floor…

A strange photo, to say the least…

This picture below was to depict how Working Smarter can help save us from the scenario in the film > “The film is set in the massive, sprawling futuristic mega-city Metropolis, whose society is divided into two classes: one of planners and management, who live high above the Earth in luxurious skyscrapers; and one of workers, who live and toil underground.”

As I took this photo one of the curators appeared from behind a wall (almost like in a haunted house film) and issued us with a final warning (oops!)  Sadly to say there are no more photos from this museum, but at the risk of being thrown out, we behaved ourselves for the remaining time there.

After the excitement of the Film museum it was time for lunch. We found a nice restaurant at the sony center and took a great seat overlooking the main concourse. Before lunch another short film was recorded with the Sony centre as the backdrop.

After a few glasses of wine / beer and a hearty lunch we were ready for the next destination on the tour… Jay, where are we heading now… follow the leader, said Harold :)  Our next destination was the ‘Brandenburger Tur’. On route we passed by the Jewish memorial which had an eerie feel to it…

I’d not really figured it out until we arrived at the Tür, but tomorrow (Sunday) was the 20 years East/West reunion celebration. A carnival was in motion, a band was playing music, a choir singing, really nice, whole area was filled with a positive buzz.

After soaking up the musical atmosphere the tour continued… Jay wanted to visit the location where Hitler had burned all the books from the Humbold University. We walked behind the Tür and were greeted by an array of excellent promotional photo opportunities – or at least that’s how I saw it…

We strolled down to the University in search of the location where the books had been burned. On arrival there was a protest about something, not sure exactly what as it was all in Italian… anyway we found the location and began to snap away… we drew a small crowd of interested spectators, who seemed amused that we wanted to photograph a book in this location…

As can be seen the bookshelves are empty, we thought it a fitting place to photograph the Working Smarter book :-)

We then sauntered over to the University where a book sale was in full swing. Once again this provided an ideal opportunity to make some more shots of the book…

With a little more risk taking, we took these amusing shots… luckily the security guards took our actions with a pinch of salt and we were not arrested!

It was time to leave the Univeristy and once again follow Jay into the unknown. The final destination of the day was the Pergamon Museum. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey.

It was clear on arriving in the Museum that we were allowed to take photos, which gave us a sense of relief. There were some really interesting exhibition pieces and we could have quite easily spent another few hours there… as it was we were the last to leave. In one of the rooms Jay decided that it would make an ideal place to conduct an interview with Harold and I about the benefits of #Amplify. There was no time to prepare, Jay just gave Harold the microphone and the interview began :-)

Just before closing time, Jay wanted to film another short clip. We began filming and within a few minutes a curator came towards us looking most disgruntled. He said “No, no, no… oh, there will be problems”, he turned on his heels and disappeared in search of reinforcements. A few minutes later his boss turned up and asked what we we were doing. We told him we were tourists making a film of our day out.  The big boss looked at the young worker, shook his head and allowed us to carry on filming – I actually think we were lucky not to have been thrown out, but sometimes you need a bit of extra luck ;-)

Tired and thirsty, we began the search for a coffee shop, somewhere to rest our aching legs… by chance we came across a Bavarian brewery along the way and thought, that’ll do. We pulled up a few chairs and enjoyed a well deserved beer.


It was a great way to end a very enjoyable and fun day. I’d not expected the day to turn out this way and it is with much gratitude that I thank both Jay and Harold for making it just perfect.

We’ve all added our photos to #Flickr if you want to see the whole collection >>

Jay Cross >

Harold Jarche >

Paul Simbeck-Hampson >

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  1. @simbeckhampson Great recap, Paul! Btw, was it just a coincidence that the book on top of Work Smarter in one of the photos is entitled “CrossArt”? :)

  2. @dgrossman Well spotted Dave, lol, hadn’t noticed that… when I get a copy of the Amplify interview will post it here…

  3. @simbeckhampson What a fantastic tweetup – seeing the photos makes wish I could have been there for the fun and conversation.

  4. @janet_frg < Twas really a great day out, one I’ll not forget! Jay powered his way around Berlin and Harold and I had to keep up with his energetic pace. It’s given me the taste for more tweetup meetings… watch this space ;-)

  5. Fantastic Paul, I felt I was there with you – if only I could have tasted that beer.

  6. @JudithELS Glad it gave you that feeling, that was exactly my intention when sharing it. Btw, the Bavarian beer in Berlin was a real treat, especially for someone who drinks Bavarian beer :-) The Augustiner Brauhaus in Munich produces (IMO) the best beer in Germany…

  7. Karyn Romeis says:

    Having spent time with Jay and having spoken to Harold on skype, I can recognise the personalities present on that day. I have also visited most of the places you visited, so I really felt as if I could fully capture the essence of the day. Of course, I would have loved to be there with you all, since you have all become valued friends through our various communications along the way.

  8. Ditto… appreciate the extra effort of signing in on Amplify… Btw, if you ever want a guided tour of this Amplify thing, do let me know :-)

  9. RT @simbeckhampson Working Smarter in Berlin, with @JayCross and @Hjarche > #lrnchat #edchat #collaboration #learning

  10. Karyn Romeis says:

    @simbeckhampson I might just have to do that. I am soooo out of the loop :o(

  11. I use Skype screen sharing… we’d need about an hour – just let me know, whenever.

  12. @simbeckhampson The 3 Stooges Do Berlin. Looks like great fun, Paul!! You’ve shown us all your personalities, too..

  13. @MeriWalker Like the analogy :-)

  14. Gina Schreck-Technology Speaker says:

    Absolutely FANTASTIC! What a great trip and thank you for blogging the details of it start to finish. I had to laugh as I was “sternly warned” not to take photos in many a museum or historical building including the Sistine Chapel :)) Rebels with a cause!

  15. Thanks Gina, actually we got that, ooh, aren’t we naughty feeling, but I think we were more like ‘rebels who forget the rules’… lol

  16. @simbeckhampson – We’ll have fun at #likeminds :-)

  17. @scottgould Was hoping you’d say that ;-)

  18. @simbeckhampson Re: Awesome. How I wish I cld’ve been there. But ur recap does a great job of being a virtual tour.

  19. @sahana2802 Thanks Sahana, fun was had by all… I hope it also helps to get the word out about our favourite topic ;)

  20. Re: Working Smarter in Berlin – < Thanks to @MBBdV, @Bill_Masson, @kurtgeer and @barrysampson for the recent rec’s :-)

  21. @simbeckhampson not only were you “working smarter”-it also looks like you were working much happier, too. Joy creates productivity. Well done! Love the photos!

  22. @JenniferSertl Thanks Jennifer… your right, there was plenty of fun (not sure how productive we were)… just a shame the time went by so quickly. Btw, had a Skype chat with @busynessgirl last night… she’s one smart cookie ;)

  23. @simbeckhampson Great summary. Kinda creepy, though, that Star Wars storm trooper at the Brandenburg. Especially considering who Lucas modeled them after.

  24. @srleosalazar Oooh, just sent a shiver up my spine… time for a nice cup of tea :-)

  25. Flavio says:

    @simbeckhampson Thanks for sharing Paul, it was a nice recap of your time :)

  26. You’ve raised the bar for the definition of “Field Book” for future authors.

  27. @techherding Like it ;) Thanks for popping by…

  28. David Kelly says:

    @simbeckhampson great recap Paul- thanks so much for sharing it. I almost feel like I was a part of the day!

  29. @LandDDave Thanks David, glad you enjoyed the day too :-)

  30. @simbeckhampson By far the best “book” tour I’ve seen! Working Smarter Field Book tour in Berlin >>

  31. @simbeckhampson The way things should be done, my only comment.

  32. @Crane13 Thanks David! I do love how you word things… you writer you ;)

  33. @LearnNuggets Thanks for the RT and the cool comment – much appreciated.

  34. Very nice. Looks like some fun!

  35. @simbeckhampson Possible it’s an affliction, Paul.

  36. Really gr8 RT @simbeckhampson Working Smarter in Berlin, with @JayCross and @Hjarche > #lrnchat #edchat #collaboration

  37. @pgsimoes Thanks Paulo, appreciate the RT too :-)

  38. @simbeckhampson Sounds a great day out. But isn’t this a variant on the ‘old’ blog walk format – how can we amplify this approach to learning

  39. @GrahamAttwell There was no real critical mission, no prepared script, we improvised along the way and it just turned out the way it did… so to Amplify this for learning, take that concept, add a large dose of childish fun and just roll with it ;)

    At one point in the day we were not sure which direction to take on the underground and had only a moment to decide… so we just jumped in, within minutes we realised we were going the wrong way… instead of getting upset, we just got out at the next stop and caught another one going the right way… by failing at something, at least you find out which way you should have be heading. Thanks for the comment.

  40. @simbeckhampson Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. It was one of the very few Amplify emails that my program decided was junk. I just scanned for errors this morning for the first time in days and salvaged it. I do some online book reviews and, of course, amplify them. If you send me a copy, I’d be happy to take on this one.

  41. @Crane13 Thank you David, I’ve forwarded your details onto two of the authors, best Paul.

  42. jaycross says:

    Graham, Paul’s post covers only the front end of our journey. The videos that will begin appearing soon round out the experience. For example, I just posted our Amplify video to YouTube. Also invisible to the reader is the great relationship Harold and I established with Paul. Yesterday he became the first associate member of the Internet Time Alliance.

  43. @jaycross Enjoyed the video of Paul and Harold – looking forward to seeing more of the book tour.

    And congrats to Paul and the ITA – sounds like some great new collaboration ahead!

  44. @jaycross i’m looking forward to watching your Amplify video on YouTube. h/t @simbeckhampson on becoming the first associate member of the Internet Time Alliance. Way to go Paul!

  45. @egoldstein Thanks Eric, appreciate the shout, and as ever, the on going support. Here’s the link to the video, I use the word erm quite allot, Jay gave us about 15 seconds notice before hitting record – phew! ;)

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