Me, Myself & I

This page is generally less interesting than my weblog, which gets updated a lot more often than this does. So please read the blog instead – unless you’re looking for my bio which is what more or less follows below.

I am native German and I spent the late eighties and early nineties in the northern Bay Area (Sausalito to be precise) where I became an early member of The Well online community. Five years ago I became a frequent visitor to India and today I spent most of my time there. In Madla, a small village in rural Madhya Pradesh, I live close to the Panna National Tiger Park and Ken River, one of the cleanest rivers in the world. In India I learnt how to ride a motorbike after having spent 20+ years on a motor scooter. Today I am in love with my bullet. I named her “Srini” and basically, she brings me everywhere in India 😉

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Currently I am working on a book about the “Transformative Power of WE” (working title) and Prof. Peter Kruse, with whom I worked over the last eight years, described me for this as follows:

“There are some people whose lives followed the logic of dynamic networks long before the internet appeared. In my time I’ve met a handful of characters who were digital natives in a much more radical sense than their date of birth might lead you to think. Ulrike Reinhard is one of them. She has the genius to be able to think and act in terms of interaction. In conversation with her, it’s easy to forget about set agendas and fixed outcomes and follow wherever the dynamics of open processes might lead.

Ulrike is a catalyst for collective intelligence and a network enabler who forges direct links that connect people. She’s a virtuoso across the whole repertoire of modern communication technologies who would still be adding more reality to the WE in this world if she had to use smoke signals and pigeon post to do so. Ulrike is an impassioned maverick with an astonishing faith in her ability to find her way even in new and uncharted territory. She seldom follows a steady straight line but always shows an unflappable sense of direction. Like the path she’s carved through life, Ulrike is never boring and always good for a surprise!”

What I have to offer

I connect people across sectors, disciplines and continents. I help my clients to reach out to new audiences, strengthen their relationships to all their partners and merge their online and offline activities. I strongly believe that growth should not be defined by pure economic number crunching – growth has to be defined by its social and environmental impact.

With innovative formats I kickstart co-creation processes in companies and rural villages which truly drive change long-term. Through these processes flat network structured peer-to-peer groups come together and collaborate on a specific task or project and then seperate again – they are the most agile and powerful teams ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century working and living environment. I constantly push my client’s boundaries and initiate cultural change. Being disruptive is my job.

Everything I do is within the frameset of these principles:

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And once in a while I do some writing – for example for Google’s THINK QUATERLY or for skateboarding magazines around the globe reporting how we combine learning with skateboarding in rural India.

In my blog you will find quite a few stories around my clients and my work.

Conversations

I have traveled to more than 100 countries where I’ve spoken to Nobel Laureates, nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, high ranking politicians, internationally acknowledged visionary thinkers, successful entrepreneurs, outstanding critics, activists and down-to-earth field practitioners. And from very early on, I’ve video-taped many of these conversations and been a practitioner of a variety of video platforms. A small selection of my conversations you will find here, a broader range you will find on my youtube channel. Today my international audience has viewed these videos more than one million times – and they can now be found all over the Internet.

With some of my conversational partners I have established long-term relationships. We work together on specific projects, share important issues within our network and discuss our experiences of the transformation processes we or they are going through. Isaac Mao – China’s first blogger and my longtime friend – is just one example how my conversations turn into new cooperations. I just recently joined Isaac’s new endeavour aivvy, a Chinese-Silicon Valley start-up, as a consultant for culture mentorship and future thinking.

These (ongoing) conversations have given me deep insight into the Internet, the retail business (Sportscheck and Synaxon in Germany; Best Buy and zappos in the USA), activism and politics, research (nextpractice, Germany) and education.

These people are the core of my international network.

These conversations are also the core of many of our we-magazines. Together with Bea Gschwend and Dominik Wind I founded we-magazine in 2007 – long before the mainstream finally discovered WE as a megatrend. The idea behind we-magazine is most aptly described as being dedicated to the “empowerment of the many given to us by the Internet”. WE stands for COMMUNITY and we look at the impact the Internet with all its complexity and connectedness has or had on a specific ecosystem. And on what is lacking. WE don’t create communities for communities` sake – we’d rather look how communities embedded in a greater WE can learn to thrive.

we-magazine is read in more than 100 countries and parts of it are very often translated into Arabic and Chinese. All content is shared under a creative commons license!

Read our latest edition right here:

Janwaar Castle and The Rural Changemakers

tiger_illu._blau_web (1)I started we-school/Janwaar Castle in February 2014 as a private initiative. In an international campaign SKATEBOARDS/ARTBOARDS I asked artists around the world to transform a skateboard into an artboard. The boards were auctioned on the ebay platform of skate-aid, a German NGO which is well-known in the international skateboarding arena. My idea of the skatepark was to give kids in rural India who DON’T know what a skateboard is and who are lacking in self-confidence the chance to bring some fun into their lives and learn new skills by playing. I was confident that this will give them trust and raise their self-confidence as they learn to develop new social skills and learn what it takes to commit themselves to a set goal.

Inspired by the work of Skateistan I took a slightly different approach and framed Janwaar Castle as an open sandbox meaning:

  • a clear set of values and principles (see above) in which all activities take place
  • no defined outcome (which DOES NOT mean having no vision) and
  • no pre-defined programs

My basic assumption was that this skatepark would interrupt the village in a way that it could drive positive change. And it did. 101India has made a beautiful shortfilm about what happened in Janwaar.

The story of Janwaar Castle is only two and a half years old and it has inspired many people in India and abroad to think about skateboarding as a tool for change. It is NOT skateboarding for skateboarding sake – we use skateboarding to drive fundamental change!

I am currently involved in four new skatepark projects in India. Except of one they are all in rural villages, far away from the big cities. The skateboarding virus is spreading while the stories coming out of Janwaar keep emerging. You can follow them on our blog.

You will find more media coverage of this project here. It is quite unique how this took off.

Older work: whoiswho.de

whoiswho.de was a publishing house founded in 1994 together with Ingo Braun, then of kulturbox.de and Thomas Pflanz. It was an internet platform connecting up thousands of internet companies across German-speaking countries and one of the very first cross-media-projects (Internet, books, CD-Roms) in Germany. In 1996 the team parted company and for more than 10 years afterwards I worked alone on whoiswho.de, establishing it as “the place to be” in the German-speaking internet. whoiswho.de published close to 50 books and CD-ROMs. In late 2006 I sold off parts of it and finally in early 2010 I sold the domains whois.de and whoiswho.de.

In 2004 – the 10th anniversary of whoiswho.de – I edited and published “Digital Transformations”. This weighty (4 kilo) beautifully made book quickly became a benchmark. It deals with the fundamental transformations in business, culture and science driven by digital technologies. Unfortunately it is only available in German.

WEbenin goes straight to my heart. It was a “social” project I was working on with my son Tim. Help people to help themselves is the motto of our projects in Benin, West Africa. The following brief interview will give you an idea of what we do and of our own understanding of “development aid”.

Interview with Ulrike Reinhard about WEbenin by Annellchen

Much older work: ARD and ZDF

I worked for ARD and ZDF, the two main German public TV channels, while I was a student at the University of Mannheim reading business administration and majoring in marketing and human resources, and while I was writing my thesis (Product Placement and Sponsoring for Public TV),– all in all for almost 5 years. These were very exciting times because they saw the advent of private TV and radio in Germany. The monopoly of public TV and radio was broken and competition for advertising budgets and audiences started in earnest, completely changing the face of the market.

In a way it’s all very similar to what was happening in the last years with the Internet. Only some 30 years on.

Miscelany
If you’d like to contact me, email is the best bet.