Hi, as you probably know, given that you are reading this text right now, I‘m Alex Rink.
After making the decision not to care about what others (and especially haters) think or say about me anymore, I am currently lucky enough to live a big dream of mine, vagabonding through the world, while only doing what my intuition tells me to do and simultaneously working on all my personal projects, that I so often postponed and never really tackled, running through a busy every day’s life.
I film, I read, I write, I rhyme, I dream about the sunny side,
I eat, I sleep, I sing and I smile, at everything that ‘s on my mind.
– Alex Rink –
I was born and raised in Wolfsburg, a city close to Berlin, Germany and headquarters of the global car manufacturer Volkswagen, where my parents settled down after migrating back to Germany from the former Soviet Union after the war. Always supported by two nominees for my personal “greatest parents of the world” award – thanks Mom & Dad, you’re the best, I love you! – my older brother and I were early taking the Pinky and Brain approach and tried to take over the world in He-Man pyjamas and out of our shared suburb bedroom.
Did you notice the Undertaker tattoo on my forearm, on the first day of school? My mom went crazy about that but it wouldn’t wash of and so I met my first teachers as a 5 year-old tattooed mini bad ass. Haha… I love that pic.
Forced to perform either a crazy long poem or a musical master peace like “Jingle Bells” on a Keyboard in front of a jury of granny’s and other critical relatives to earn our x-mas presents, we used to choose the slightly less embarrassing option and so we had our first encounter with music. We quickly fell in love with it and started to create beats and mega hits such as the following:
Later I started to write lyrics for my brother to perform them. In doing so always wondering how inhumanly genius a mind must be, to write rhymes like my most admired German poetry rolemodel Daniel Ebel aka. Dendemann or his American counterpart Marshall Mathers aka. Eminem. I really love the old songs we created as the “brother inc.” with me as a ghost writer and co-producer and my brother as the lead singer “Jim Chillah”. Here is an example of a song I wrote heartbroken and lovesick for the first time after I broke up with my first girlfriend. Listening to it now, it seems that I wasn’t really quiet sure, if I wanted her back or not. 😉
Always having been a nicely tainted and slightly rebellious loudmouth in my childhood, people referred to me as “the little Greek” who you never can see but always hear. I was frequently pranking around and looking for the next stupid idea. I wasn’t afraid of anything or anybody and so I gave others- and got myself a couple of bloody noses due to that fact. Looking back now, I can say that I actually really enjoyed the company of my great friends at school. Not so much was I able to savor the boring stuff they tried to teach us. Even less did I like the ridiculous hours, that we had to physically be present there, instead of getting enough sleep, what I later learned, happens to be really important for a kid of that age. So, no wonder, I became a little trouble shooter in class after regularly spending the first two hours harmlessly resting my tried head on my folded arms not giving a shit about anything what happened in the classroom. What I learned from school though, was that authorities would let you get away with more shit, if you consistently deliver what they consider important – in that case, good grades. This essentially is nothing else than an early version of one of my nowadays personal directive, that you can “maximize freedom by maximizing success (however you individually define that)”. Thus, I delivered and therefore could afford to imprison all my teachers at once during a teacher’s conference one time without being suspended. Yes, I was that stupid… or smart… ?!?
Growing up a little, I became pretty talented at soccer, made it into several regional selection teams and was scouted to play for the junior squad of the 1st league soccer club VfL Wolfsburg at the age of 13. Just a couple of years later, I was thrown out of the club due to a full-season-knock-out knee injury, by the stupidest trainer duo in world’s history of sports. Never forgave you, you suckers! So ultimately, my former every-boys-childhood-dream of becoming a professional soccer player was shattered. But still soccer would remain a big part of my life. I drunkenly signed a new contract on a beer coaster at glorious FV Wespe Wolfsburg, a team, far far away from being professional which was coached by one of my brother’s former high-school friends and fellow VfL Wolfsburg drop out Jim. Eleven on eleven we sucked but somehow chaotically managed to rise two leagues in three years anyway. It was indoors where we were killing it and had more loyal and better fans than the first league team, representing the city. Looking back, the camaraderie, the millions of laughs and the countless the stories that were written during that period, have definitely been absolutely priceless and I don’t want to miss only one memory of that chaotic time.
After that, as a late teenager, the obligations of semi-professional sports faded out. Simultaneously, girls and fiestas suddenly became the unshakable center of my mind and at the same time I began my studies and an apprenticeship at Volkswagen, that I actually should have prepared myself better for. That’s when I consciously started to realize that a day just doesn’t seem to have enough hours for me to fit in everything, that I wanted to do. In addition to that, I found a great portion of fun in waaaay to many sports and free time activities. Did you ever ask a person about what kind of music they like and their response was: I hear everything? This was also true for me, but unfortunately not only for music, but for every topic in the world as well. I tell you, this is both blessing and curse. I could evolve an interest around freakin’ everything. On one side, its good because that curiosity made me who I am today but on the other side, it was also often holding me awake for nights and killing my focus on whatever subject. End of story was, that I ended up as a member of every kind of sportsclub our hometown had to offer, played Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Soccer and did Kickboxing. At the same time, I always went out with my friends and occasionally some girls, played several games on the PlayStation and on top of that, became a slave to the friction that American TV series makers are able to create at the end of almost every episode of for example “Prison Break”. Anyway, I somehow managed to combine education, sports, social life, my first serious relationship with my former girlfriend and my entire ever-growing list of hobbies and interests, always somehow feeling the “just do it – spirit” inside me. In addition, I felt an increasing inner calling to explore the world, so I started to spend every Euro I had on traveling Europe with friends and shooting little vacation videos on our trips, which I – surprise! surprise! – happened to love more than anything else at the time. It was the first time that I experienced the “flow” state performing an activity other than playing soccer like an overambitious maniac, thinking his life depends on the win of the team.
Becoming more and more adventurous as a working and studying young adult and surely still not having lost interest in beach life, girls and parties – and besides of that, of cause mainly being interested in a maximum high-quality level of education, at the age of 21, *pfff* – I thought the San Diego State University would be the best choice for a semester abroad. Therefore, I went and “just did it” another time. Over there, I had the pleasure to participate in a course given by grandmaster of marketing Steven Osinski, who showed me an entirely different, sympathetic and entertaining approach on delivering knowledge to students and by doing so, completely changed the way I looked at education in general. He was a very inspiring person and represented anything but what I thought of most of the stiff-ass-living-library-personalities, that I had to listen to in my hometown lectures. He also introduced me and my fellow students to Jeffrey Gitomer, a famous Californian sales guru, who Steven was able to talk into holding a guest lecture at the SUSU for us. On top of that, he connected us with the first startup founders I ever encountered. It was Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman from Pura Vida Bracelets, who also were former students of his. I would say that Steven was my first real-life mentor. He opened my eyes to dump my arrogant and stupid young man’s belief of thinking that I know best and taught me to acknowledge the advice of experts or at least take the wisdom of the ones who already achieved into consideration. I think up to this point, my rebellious mind always had a problem with just having to accept an authority, that I didn’t get to choose by myself to deliver knowledge to me, without ever having been asked, if I even want to know about his stuff. And I thought it wasn’t even his stuff but stuff that some other smart-asses in ties told him to tell me. For me it was always the person who mattered, before I could care about the subject. Individual sympathy and the people’s ability to impress or inspire me, had to happen before I could develop an interest in the topic they talk about. I guess this is also the reason why, in soccer I was always more drawn towards following the performance of specific players rather than the teams they played for. Writing this, I just recognized that a psychologist surely could interpret some deep underlying truth or something like that into this. Haha… Whatever… In any case, Steven taught me that there are a lot of smart people in the world, who we can choose or refuse to learn from and I couldn’t wait to learn more from him. He was the first person besides of my family members and closest friends, who really was capable of influencing my thinking, my beliefs and my, at the time pretty narrowed own worldview.
Coming back home from sunny San Diego, routine life and all too often stressed out and bad-tempered people plus the general, rather cold and rude way of how everybody treated each other, directly struck me hard. I immediately had to escape again and so I decided to start my professional career with at least a little Mediterranean vibe by going to the Volkswagen Group Italy, located in the city of Verona. I was dedicated to learning Italian quickly and so I did. Most of the time, I enjoyed the “dolce vita” (the sweet life) weekend by weekend, discovering the beauty and flair of the Italian cities around Verona and the Garda Lake region. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milano, Torino, Bologna, Rimini and in wintertime a couple of other cozy cottage spots to jump on the snowboard in the Italian alps. When in San Diego, besides of my lovely cousin Tina and the friend- and family visits from home, I often only had relatively loose contacts to share my experiences with, the Verona experience was directly planned as a tag-team-adventure between me and one of my closest friends Marco. That basically turned out nothing less than super awesome, because there was hardly any interest that the two of us did not share. Great times.
Following Steven’s and now also my own advice, I talked to the people that I considered wise, smart or at least interesting at the company in Verona about what they’d councel me to do next in pursuit of climbing the ladder in the business world. Most of them suggested, that I should continue to study, because I was still young, could always continue working and because I probably wouldn’t consider continuing academically, if I decided to continue working at that point and regret that later in life. One of those self-elected councils of mine was Francesco Cimmino, a professional, slick and incredibly smart marketing director. He said that “money will always follow your skills, so if you improve yourself and treat your very own skillset right, money will follow automatically without you even having to care about it”. Also, it was him who first told me that “if you want to achieve success in business, the only thing that matters long term is results. Show your results to people and they will believe in your skillset”. Which then of cause leads to money and so on… you get the idea!
Equipped with a little bit of wise advisory, a new and abnormally melodically sounding language on my tongue, some work experience throughout the sales- and marketing department and a small Italian pizza-and-pasta-belly, I was moving to colorful cologne, Germany, a city that basically can be described as the German San Francisco, hometown of the legendary “Karneval” festival and located in the province where people are most likely to carry their heart in the right spot. I went there to become a master-level-super-academic-know-it-all-expert in management and leadership and as a byproduct, having the maximum amount of free time, while still doing something well respected in the eyes of society and what was most important for me – in the eyes of my parents. Despite of the disappointment over my non-approved university expectations that this time, I would learn a lot more of practical tools or skills, that I could apply all the knowledge at my next job and that finally my intrinsic interests on how to really succeed in the business world would be triggered, nonetheless my time in Cologne probably was the most fruitful in terms of gathering knowledge. Not at all because of what I learned in collage but because of deepening my interest in the field of self-development.
Apart from the studies at the university, I soaked up everything on topics that I chose from the internet in my free time. Stuff from people that I found interesting, inspiring or just smart, unique or remarkable. I quickly got addicted to it and started to obsessively absorb every piece of content of people whose type of different thinking I could relate to; People whose style of presenting I found extraordinary and of cause way more appealing, than the boring school-book-monologues of typical German professors. I watched content of people, who were able to pump me up with just a little piece of sometimes genius and almost always highly practical information. It was content of personalities who were able to motivate, influence and inspire not just a few but masses of other people. The list went from Tony Robbins, to Richard Brandson, to Steve Jobs, to Tim Ferris, to the Dalai Lama, to Elon Musk, to Gary Vaynerchuck, to Daniel Kahnemann, to Jase Jarvis, to Vanessa Van Edwards, to Vishen Lakhiani, to Lewis Howes, to Seth Godin, to Robert Green, to Dan Pena, to Malcom Gladwell, to Ariana Huffington, to Guy Kawasaki, to Robert Kyosaki, to Robert Chialdini, to Jim Rohn, to Grand Gardone, to Dan Ariely, to Mark Manson and on and on it goes… At that time, I learned that reading a book is almost like having a long conversation with the author. I understood that our mind processes and interacts with the thoughts of the person who wrote the book and that the internal dialog of our own thoughts about their thoughts, is what really lets us become smarter and ultimately grow intellectually. I then realized that it’s not about the content as itself. Up to this point, I never read anything, except for a stop sign, if I wasn’t forced to.
And now, there I was even hearing audiobooks or keynote speeches of my favorite mentors, whereas I was pumping iron at the gym or being out running at the lake. I always struggled with the act of reading, so I figured out a different way of consuming the valuable input by listening to the audio versions. After having met my limited time real-live mentor in San Diego, in Cologne I understood that the internet gives us unlimited opportunity to choose our own squad of advisors and mentors to learn from them, collect their ideas, worldviews and values, reconsider them and then form your own view out of it. I hardly fell in love with the idea of the new opportunity to choose the topics that I wanted to learn about and the teachers that deliver the info to me by myself. All of that of cause without any unpleasant and stressful pressure of having to hand in papers or pass any exams on those topics. Up until now, that hasn’t changed. I still take my time to listen to what my selection of mentors think about certain subjects and then try to narrow down my own opinion based upon that. This is a kind of selective crowdsourcing of knowledge and I like to think about it as my ultimate self-directed system of building the foundation for freedom through acquiring the ability to succeed in any field, while simultaneously being highly entertained and growing intellectually.
Having been broke after two years of full-time studying and living off a small budget, I was glad to go back to the roots to Wolfsburg and to resume my employment at Volkswagen by taking a job at the headquarters after sales department. I was helping the company on its way to digital transformation by managing a variety of projects regarding connected car features and mobility services, to improve customer centricity and achieve the long-term goal of developing autonomously driving cars. Back home, several of my friends settled down, married and started their own families. One of them is my since-always-best-man Michi, whose daughter Emilia became the first newborn for me to ever build a relationship with. She and her baby brother Leo are now my unofficial godchildren. Their birth gave me the final push to understand what probably will always matter most in life. Although those little poopypants are not my own children, I’d definitely do anything for them.
Also, was it Michi who introduced me to Sascha, the founder and CEO of “ynspirewater”, a non-profit startup that cooperates with “a glimmer of hope” and brings clean water to people who do not know the luxury of being able to drink out of the tap. He presented his concept to me and I replied: Tell me, if I can somehow actively contribute! A couple of weeks later, he asked me if I wanted to become a part of the team and frequently support the project. Surely, I was in.
Having reached a point in life where I managed to build a rock-solid, down to earth living condition in the German middle class, I observed myself giving more and more shits about all the adulthood administrative and mentally disrupting stuff, like tax declarations, insurances and any other forms of motivation-killing bureaucracy, that, I guess everybody has to deal with at some point in his life. Despite of that, my deep inner, adventure seeking, curious and childlike voice has still vividly been alive and was calling for action. After grinding for a while and still not feeling a pressing urge for a contemporary settle down, my friend Moe and I got inspired from the story of Nike founder Phil Night, who did a trip around the world before he built Nike. It was actually him who really came up with the idea of the world trip. So, since “just do it” always felt right for me and I immediately could think of at least 1.000 places to where I wanted to go and of minimum around 7.000.000 things that I always wanted to do, the time felt totally right, even overdue for me to follow Phil’s steps, take a break and travel around the globe. And here I am now on my journey, living the dream. Just thinking about that still gives me goosebumps and makes me feel grateful to the core.
I might sound a little narcissistic at times and I have to admit that this is something I believe to be true about me. Whatever, I can live with that and I think that if we’re really honest to ourselves, who isn’t at least to a certain degree? But I also deeply care about the people around me and around the world and for our planet as the home of all of us. I believe that too many people are waiting for something good to happen to them by accident and circumstances just miraculously to change for the better, without taking the right decisions and actions to redirect their particular life in the direction they desire things to evolve. Therefore, I want to share and spread my approach of following your own interests with integrity and being brave enough to do so, even if it means to sacrifice something that’s meaningful to us and to leave the warmth of our beloved comfort zone from time to time, with as many people as possible. I decided that I’ll always do my best to somehow have a little positive impact on the world. I want to focus on values like honesty and integrity but also always try to support the people I love with all I have, while not living in a constant stressed out condition and to enjoy the sunny side of life to the fullest whenever possible.
So, if you are also seeking for the time or courage to start a personal project that you always wanted to start or do something you always wanted to do or go somewhere you always wanted to go, or if you are also feeling an inner calling to explore more of what life has to offer or you just want to walk on the wild side for a while, I really hope that I can inspire at least a couple of you to be a little braver and to take a little more responsibility for what you really want to pursue in life or contribute to the world. Maybe I can engage you to also try out to “just do” whatever it is you want to do and serve you as a kind of reassurance, that it is always somehow possible. Perhaps I can encourage you to shift the focus of your actions a little bit more towards your real deep desires and interests, instead of following those of others in the disguise of perceived safety. Maybe I can present some thoughts or tools to you, that you can test out for yourself and implement in your life, that would probably help you achieving what you want to achieve. I want to do that because from what I experienced so far, I can say with total certainty and an absolutely clear conscious, that doing so, has had a very high impact on my personal levels of fulfillment and happiness and I believe that this would be true for you, too.
I’m super pumped and excited about what kind of surprises life reveals next for me and I’d be honored to share that whole adventure with you.
Thank you very much for reading this.