SHIFTSCHOOL is a family business. With two equal founders. With different personalities, opinions and roles in the company. But with a shared passion: learning. Back in 2015 we built Germany’s first Academy for Digital Transformation. Out of conviction. Because we are passionately committed to the idea of creating the “21st century learning world.” And because we wanted to create a school that we would have loved to go to ourselves! We founded it for all those who really want to make a difference in this world and shape the future.
As a mother of three wild girls, Tina is deeply passionate about education and is a strong advocate of an educational reform. As a member in various networks such as “Global Digital Women”, “PANDA Leadership” and “Frauen verbinden” she is committed to more female founders as well as more visibility of women in the digital economy. She has been nominated for several awards for the exceptional SHIFTSCHOOL concept and the contribution to changing the way of education.
She was also awarded with the “INSPIRING FIFTY AWARD” at the DLD Conference in 2019. Tina is member of the Digital Stakeholder Group (City of Nuremberg), Startup-Mentor at the Zollhof Tech Incubator, Female Mentor at the RWTH Aachen Mentoring Program TANDEMstud, role model for the initiative #BayFiD of the Bavarian Digital Ministry and ambassador for the education initiative GermanDream. She has been a Jury member for the “Digital Champions Award” since 2018 and a member of the platform “Digital Future: Learning . Research . Knowledge” of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. In 2019 Tina was selected as a role model Entrepreneur for the initiative “Frauen unternehmen” by the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy and was selected in 2020 as one of “40 over 40: Germany’s most inspiring women”.
Tobias is a teacher by accident, entrepreneur by passion and European by heart. He has an extensive record of accomplishment as marketer and entrepreneur in various industries ranging from beer and mobile apps to politics. In 2015, he decided to dedicate his career to helping companies find their way of coping with the impact of disruptive technologies on businesses. As he loves to share his passion, he started the SHIFTSCHOOL for Digital Transformation where he teaches future game changers the skills and mindset for a digitized world. Besides, he is a sought-after keynote and TEDx speaker on topics ranging from “transformative mindset”, “leadership in the 21st century” and “digital transformation” to “disruptive education” at international events such as the World Youth Forum in Egypt, Bits & Pretzels in Munich and the NATO Strat Com Conference in Riga.
When Tobias is not trying to impact the future by educating change makers, he likes gardening with his youngest daughter Lotte or prepares exotic new dishes with her sisters Lilly and Lara. As an Ultimate Learner and critical observer of the world, you never see him without a book. It does not matter whether it is about innovation, agile organizational development or artificial intelligence. He is currently working on two book projects of his own – on “Finding a Better Purpose” and “Navigating through Uncertainty”. His latest project is the MINDSETMANTRAMACHINE – an international think thank that wants to design a new educational ideal for the third millennium.
WHAT WE BELIEVE IN
These five values are the foundation for everything we do, every decision we make, and how we collaborate with participants and partners. Our value system helps us to keep ourselves accountable for creating the world we want to live in. We believe that for shaping the 21st century we need
Plans are meaningless in uncertain times. As partners in life and business we strive for a clear direction that we want to take together instead. The horizon we aim at connects us – for better or for worse ;-). We are stubborn in our vision, to be flexible on details of everyday life.
Unconditional trust in us as partners helps us to dare to experiment and come closer to our horizon. Only if we can relate to the vision and trust each other, we will be willing to open up and to fight for the best ideas.
We believe in a diversity of opinions to find the best ideas. That is the only way to shape the world and create new things. Only if we are able to fight for the possible outcome in a trustful environment, we are able to achieve the best quality.
We expect commitment and everybody to take responsibility for their actions. As leaders we should take full responsibility for everything that happens within our sphere of influence and thereby set an example for the community, team, or family.
We have to show and embody in our behavior that we take accountability for our actions in making things work. We strive to be resourceful and spirited and always have skin in the game.
WHAT WE WORK ON
In the coming years, companies will be massively looking for people who have both the qualifications and the attitude to shape fundamental change in their organizations. We need courageous leaders to show us the way to a successful future. We see this as our destiny and want to make our contribution to it: by teaching in an interactive, hands-on way the very things that are most needed in Century 21: MINDSET, SKILLS, NETWORK & BALANCE – the SHIFTSCHOOL way of learning.
We are a school for people who really want to make a difference in uncertain and turbulent times and are ready to question themselves and the status quo. Our ultimate goal is to turn people not into better machines, but into better leaders. In our programs, our participants learn to use their human creativity to rethink leadership, in order to finally bring about the change we want to see in the world.
Who hasn’t seen the scenes from American courtroom movies: defense counsel and prosecutor take turns grilling the defendant. Here Tina and Tobias cross-examine each other. They speak about each other’s strong and weak spots, about the emerging friction when collaborating, how SHIFTSCHOOL transformed their marriage, and why they would start up with each other again.
Who is better at what?
Tobias: Tina has a different perspective on things. She sees and feels what people fear and wish for. Above all, she always tries to address the human side of transformation. She is really into helping people who have little or no experience with changing themselves or others. She works continuously to change people’s habits. That’s her big passion. She is really good at taking people’s fears away by assuring them that everything can be learned. She also reads and senses what our community needs in order to grow sustainably. She is in charge of providing comfort, respect and fun when learning. She is very patient with people, a trait I am still struggling with.
Tina: Tobias is the strategic thinker but he is also incredibly creative. Above all I think my husband is the visionary of this company. He inhales new information. When he is reading, listening, observing or discussing with others, Tobias immediately makes an amazing number of connections. He is always concerned with forming the big picture. I think he sometimes gets a little desperate (and impatient) with the rest of us because we just can’t keep up with him. Fun aside, I think he is also a great dad and the world’s best bedtime story reader for our daughters. And he cooks much better than me. Unlike me, he finishes (almost) everything he sets out to do – without any excuses.
What do the two of you quarrel about?
Tina: Definitely about our different ways of looking at things. We have a very different approach to life. Decision Making in a large family with many different interests can get challenging sometimes. I am someone who reacts strongly to outside expectations. In contrast, I have little accountability of my own. I tend to jump from task to task and others always come first. Tobias is the opposite. He questions everything and wants to know why things are the way they are. It always has to make sense to him. I am very different in that aspect. We also quarrel about the usual things: accountability, commitment to deadlines, and the stuff nobody likes to do. Besides that, we live in a patchwork family with three daughters, there’s always a lot of discussions about things. Sometimes it works for the better – sometimes for the worse.
Tobias: Our biggest challenge definitely is separating our private and professional lives. But we are getting better at it. We have put a lot of passion and personal commitment in building SHIFTSCHOOL. We both enjoy our work so much, but sometimes we don’t know how to stop the shop talk in the evenings and on weekends. We used to think that more was always better, but the break in the pandemic taught us that we have to look after ourselves better. Now we are slowly getting more comfortable with saying no to things. We both still need to learn to balance things better. Taking the necessary time off to have the mental and physical energy for new ideas is definitely something we need to work on.
Why are you a great team nevertheless?
Tobias: I think we are a good team because we complement each other very well. Having contrasting personalities is not always easy, but we both value and respect the other perspective. I strongly believe that innovative strength arises from diversity. Even if it is more strenuous, the result is always better. It pays to be different. We have been very successful in using our different strengths to build a vanguard learning institution which is unique precisely because both Tina and I left our mark on it. Humanism and future orientation are a good mixture if you want to teach 21st Century skills. However, this is only possible because we share exactly the same values and have both a never exhaustible passion for learning.
Tina: Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. We have gone through many ups and downs together over the last 10 years, and it has brought us closer in an incredible way. We are a great team because we appreciate each other’s differences. If we argue over the best way to push our ideas out there, we both fight passionately to convince each other. That can be exhausting when our tempers get in the way. But in the end, everything is sorted out quickly. Fortunately we are both not vindictive. We know that we have to communicate all the time and explain our point of view in detail. And humor goes a long way. We can also laugh with and about each other, because we have learned that we should not take ourselves too seriously.
How do you transform a relationship?
Tina: Relationships are a process. We have to constantly learn and reflect on ourselves. It is applied lifelong learning. Sharing experiences and then thinking about yourself and your behavior is the best start. Really trying to listen to what the other person has to say and observing what is important to them are key elements in a functioning relationship. Communication is crucial. That means that we cannot always understand each other, but we should make the effort to empathize. In addition to all the duties that family and job entail, we should always stay interested in the other person and make an effort to keep the relationship going. This is often very exhausting in everyday life. But I can see it’s worth it, when one of us has ‘given it a push’ and surprises the other. You need an idea of where you still want to go in life as a couple. We have to be honest and don’t fool each other that everything has been said already.
Tobias: I truly believe in serendipity or planning less and trying out a lot. We try to just do things and keep a certain lightness to it; even in difficult times. Like in business, we must constantly question ourselves personally, learn and develop together. In fact, there are many similarities to what we want to teach in our leadership programs. A relationship is hard work, otherwise it gets stale and boring. Thus, the foundation must be a common vision of life. If you don’t share the same values, you cannot iterate and trying news things becomes arbitrary. Partners need to trust each other unconditionally and, at the same time, take responsibility for themselves. These points are the cornerstones of purpose-driven relationships (and the same is true for leadership). It is never the methods or the technologies that make something successful or make it fail, but the ‘in-between’ that arises when people meet. You have to take care of that, the rest comes naturally.