[quote style=”boxed”]I am blessed with a fair number of new ideas every day. What I learnt to be most crucial in successfully realizing them is timing: having the patience for some ideas to linger around until they are ready for action and having the guts with others to get them onto the road without having everything sketched out up front. On those ideas where I judge the timing correctly, rolling them out is actually rather easy. I found the ancient Greeks even have a word for the right time to get something going: “kairos”.[/quote]
Tobias is graduate of the University of Witten/ Herdecke (Germany) with a short stop at INSEAD. He has always enjoyed travelling and indulging in foreign cultures. After having experienced corporate life at DaimlerChrysler and seeing what poverty does to people in Eritrea he decided it was time to pursue a business idea that he had fermented for a while. He has always been struck by how people would go to language classes to improve their language skills when distance learning would not only be more convenient and effective but also cheaper. In order to provide state of the art language teaching with native tutors from around the world he founded Glovico.org in May 2010. Giving the idea a social twist it focusses on teachers from developing countries who teach their mother tongues via Skype.
Since its establishment Glovico expanded from languages like Spanish, Chinese or French to a huge variety of more exotic languages like Wolof, Tagalog or Thai. Glovico is considered one of the eight ways in which technology improves education by Mashable and has been featured in global media like BBC or the Financial Times. And though having the opportunity now, Tobias unfortunately now lacks the time to indulge in learning a new language.
What are you working on right now?
We are currently expanding our language spectrum and I am conducting interviews with potential teachers from all around the globe. I am always fascinated by the exciting individuals that I meet in that way and the inspiring stories that these individuals share with me.
What does your typical day look like?
It might sound like a cliche but there are no typical days. Elements that are probably included in every day would be checking Mail and Google Analytics but apart from that days are very heterogeneous: I might be scouting for new teachers and conducting Skype-based interviews, working on some technical issue of the homepage, heading for conferences, etc. Routines scare me and I probably wouldn’t be too good in my job if it would show too much regularity.
3 trends that excite you?
- The improvement of infrastructure in developing countries: I am waiting for the day when we have a tutor teaching some exotic language from the African hinterlands with an iPhone.
- It might not even be a trend anymore but I love how you can work from anywhere on this planet today. I can work from New York as well as from Dhaka. Only time differences are really a nuisance in a business like ours with staff all around the world.
- While being able to work globally I nonetheless think that there is a new appreciation of local culture and people enjoy reinventing their cultural identities. For example, small designers in Berlin or New York find their crafts in high demand these days and flourish. The same I find true for food or bars.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am blessed with a fair number of new ideas every day. What I learnt to be most crucial in successfully realizing them is timing: having the patience for some ideas to linger around until they are ready for action and having the guts with others to get them onto the road without having everything sketched out up front. On those ideas where I judge the timing correctly, rolling them out is actually rather easy. I found the ancient Greeks even have a word for the right time to get something going: “kairos”.
What inspires you?
There are tons of areas from which I draw inspiration: conversations, arts, sports, great ideas, only to name a few. This luckily gives me a lot of inspiration. Yet, when thinking about things from these areas that truly inspire me I realized that it is one feature that they share: simplicity. A simple idea can change the world, a simple painting can leave me awestruck: oftentimes we are thinking too complex where reducing things to the core can really bring us forward.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I trusted recommendations for freelancers from colleagues and my learning has been simple: even if someone is highly recommended by somebody you trust, you still have to figure out whether it really fits your organization.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I started to do some Yoga two or three years ago and got addicted to it as it keeps me both in shape and helps me focus at a level I did not know before. Seeing all these Yogis that squeeze in a lesson here or there but still have to travel a lot I believe a service that would sell private Yoga lessons with Indian Gurus via Skype might work out. I’d love to see this idea be implemented. If anybody wanted to move forward on this, please do get in touch with me as we could arrange a deal on taking advantage of our website functionality (scheduling, rating teachers, etc…)
What do you read every day, and why?
I am very old-fashioned in that respect and stick to a printed copy of one the major German newspapers. For me it is important to stay connected to society at large and therefore this is the one thing that I’d read for sure every day also on weekends.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
I recently read „Born to run“ and have become an addicted barefoot runner since. It really changed my running and I am now training to run a barefoot marathon. Through such a small habit as a short barefoot run every morning I boosted my energy levels to a new personal high score.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Probably this is a no-brainer but I am a huge fan of Google Analytics: free, meaningful data and now even in real-time. Amazing!
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
I hardly read Tweets at all.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
I follow the blog “Productive Flourishing” of a guy named Charlie Gilkey who writes about productivity and getting yourself on the track as a small business owner. Being a philosophy student as well as former Army logistics officer he blends philosophy and everyday organizational advice in a genuinely inspiring way. I’d love to see an interview with that guy.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.
My brother keeps developing crazy suggestions about how he’d run Glovico and bombards me with them. These mails always make my day.
Which company issues make you wake up at night?
HR issues, definitly. Having to have a rough conversation with a staff member, a freelancer or teacher always occupies my mind far too much.
What’s the biggest personal project ahead of you?
To run a marathon barefoot next April!
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