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Make History yourself

Interview with Renée Moore

Dr. Renée Moore is from Texas, where she grew up on a small farm. She started her first business in Germany, and little by little she made it into a global enterprise with ten companies in nine countries. Today she is a motivation expert, speaker, entrepreneur and gives seminars and workshops.

grow: So Renée, usually people move from Europe to America, to the land of unlimited opportunities where you can carry out big plans. But you did just the opposite, right?

Renée: First I earned a doctorate in neurobiology in Texas, and then I worked in the pharmaceutical industry. I was headhunted by one of our competitors to come to Germany, where I was supposed to develop the business here for the other company, to establish contacts, and so on. So I quit my good job in America. A few months later, I came to Germany. But the job was a total catastrophe! So eighteen months later, I quit that job and was unemployed! An “illegal alien” who didn’t speak one word of German.

And how did you manage to get out of this situation?

I had two different options: Either I had to take another job in Germany where I would make considerably less money – or I could go back to Texas. I love Germany, so I said, whatever happens, I will stay here. Or I could also marry someone, but I had just gone through a divorce and I didn’t want to get married just to stay here. Or I could start my own limited company (GmbH) in the pharmaceutical industry. So I chose the latter option and established my GmbH when I was 34 years old. As you know, it was a huge success! I had ten different companies in nine different countries: Hong Kong, India, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Panama. And two in Switzerland. It was fantastic! And then I sold these companies at a good profit. My goal was always to build up my business, let it grow, and then sell it.

Dr. Renée Moore

And you accomplished that! As a woman who didn’t speak one word of German and for whom Germany, at first, was a completely foreign place. But that couldn’t have been your original plan though.

No, developing a company here wasn’t my plan; instead, it was the result of my “successful” failure.

That way a person can maybe see what failure can bring about in the end, right?

Yes, exactly! In America we don’t have this kind of negative attitude toward failure at all. In Silicon Valley, failure is part of success. Through my problems and challenges, I was given a great opportunity.

But a person can’t be motivated all the time? On a rainy Monday morning, don’t you just want to stay in bed sometimes too?

Of course, that’s normal and totally human. There are days when you’re just not motivated. But what’s important is that this is really the case just once in a while. In addition, you have to be clear about what you want: to find your purpose in life and in your job as well. When you know what that purpose is, you can use it as the basis for all of your decisions. You have to make sure that your job corresponds with your purpose in life. Then you’ll have more intrinsic motivation. Then what you do every day makes sense!

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Failure is part of success

Dr. Renée Moore

Intrinsic motivation is important. But sometimes you just have the feeling that you’re not allowed to take even one wrong step in your life, and then even intrinsic motivation doesn’t always help.

Do you know what my main message is in this world? That message is Imperfect Action! That means you just have to take small steps toward your goal. And when you notice that maybe one step you took wasn’t exactly the right one, you can always just take another step to the left or right. Break up your goals into smaller pieces! And here’s another tip from the world of neuroscience: What is going on in our brains? This is very important: when you take a small step toward your goals, you get a “dopamine reward.” And this reward makes it easier to take the second small step. This is not simply a thought, but is instead part of physical and chemical processes in your brain.

Then would you also say that we have to convey that to our start-ups as well? For example, that at the very beginning of their work they should set rather small goals?

No, that’s exactly what not to do; instead, set big goals! That’s really important. I love it when people don’t have low expectations. Set big goals for yourself! Your goal should also scare you a little bit because then you know that you have set a big goal that is right for you.

Okay, then like this instead: A big goal should be at the end of the road, but you break the path toward it down into smaller sub-goals.

Yes, exactly! If the goal is too small, it can also cause a lack of motivation.

And then we don’t get a dopamine reward, right?

That’s it exactly!

Five tips from Renée to start-ups

Explore these 5 tips!

  1. Set a big goal for yourself that motivates you and that corresponds with your purpose in life.
  2. Break your goals down into sub-goals so you can celebrate small wins.
  3. Take a look at where you are: What kind of friends do you have? How does your environment look? Ask yourself if these people support you in carrying out your plans.
  4. Learn to prioritize: Things that are important are rarely urgent. And things that are urgent are rarely important. (A saying by Lothar Seiwert, Renée’s husband.)
  5. Just keep going! Once in a while the road to success is not simply a straight line to the top! Sometimes you need to have thick skin. You have to accept that there will be ups and downs.