Anna Gründer is co-founder of the “Institute for Beautiful Work” in Berlin. Together with her business partner Sophie Mickan, she supports people and organizations in working more beautifully and in finding individual and feasible solutions for a fulfilling and creative working life. In the interview, Anna tells us how she came to found the company, what mindset helps her to keep going even in the face of setbacks, and how she organizes herself between her job, vocation, and family.
Please tell us your story: What is your background, your purpose and mission, what drives you to build your businesses?
After studying psychology, I worked for nine years as a trainer in human resources development. During this time I had the opportunity to work with people in very different companies. Among other things, I trained managers, gave communication and negotiation training and accompanied people on their way to more resilience. That was a nice and multifaceted job. But: I was usually on site for 1-2 days and then already on my way to the next assignment. I realized that I would like to support people in a more sustainable way. Last year, my long-time colleague Sophie and I reflected on what actually drives us and how we would most like to shape our profession – that was the start of the “Institute for Beautiful Work”. We are convinced that joy at work and economic success are not mutually exclusive, but inseparable. We want to accompany people, teams and companies on their way to beautiful work. Our consultations, workshops and trainings should be a ray of hope in everyday life, from which everyone leaves strengthened and inspired.
“Institute for Beautiful Work” sounds great and promising! When is work beautiful for you personally?
I consider my work beautiful when I can do something meaningful and support others. Self-determination is very important to me, so I don’t have to act against my values. I am happy when I can live out my talents and abilities. And when the work fits in with the rest of my life: On the one hand, that includes work-life balance, but also the ability to prioritize my mental health.
What makes good entrepreneurship for you? Socially, but also for you personally, meaning in terms of your values and approach to life?
I believe that we are in the midst of a major shift towards more social and sustainable entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, I see myself as having a responsibility to act sustainably: In dealing with people as well as in dealing with our environment. I want to leave the world a little better for our children than I found it. We can’t do it alone, but perhaps we can do something in our own environment. For me personally, benefit comes before profit. Of course I have to be able to live from my work, but it doesn’t always have to be ‘higher, faster, further’. In my life plan, work is very important to me – but it is at least as important to me to be happy outside of work.
What are your “lessons learned” as you look back on your journey so far in general and 2020 and the first half of 2021 in particular? What do you still want to accomplish this year?
My most important lesson: Trust in your abilities! Start before you’re ready. Because there’s always a residue of uncertainty – that will only go away once you have started. And how many opportunities are lost if we still wait until we are perfectly prepared before we start living our dreams. In 2020/2021 I learned that bureaucracy is complex and accounting is not always intuitive. 😀 All kidding aside, we launched the Institute for Beautiful Work in early 2021, right in the middle of the lockdown, and I’m happy about it every day. We’ve already reached the first milestone: happy clients and some fully booked months in the fall. The second will follow soon: we will move into our first office this month. I’m really looking forward to that.
What inspired you the most on your way to self-employment – it could be a person, an event or a specific moment?
I don’t think it was one person, but many people: My parents, who were also self-employed, my former boss and many more. But most of all, the exchange with my business partner Sophie: our shared vision and the opportunities that arise from it.
What family model do you live with your family?
I live in Berlin with my partner and my daughter (3 years old).
How do you organize the balancing act between work/career and family as a family?
For us, good communication and agreements are very important, so we can also adjust our priorities in between. Because children and self-employment are both not known for sticking to plans 😉 Every Sunday we discuss the week together and divide up the household and family tasks. My partner does a lot of the housework and a large part of the childcare, and I do a lot of the organizing and gardening. More important to us than an exact division, however, is that we make the total load of work and family tasks fair for both of us. I’m very lucky that he always has my back when I need it.
What support do you not want to miss right now?
Privately, the support of my partner and the daycare center. Professionally, I can’t imagine doing without my business partner Sophie.
Would you like to share your top 5 tips for entrepreneurship and parenthood as inspiration for other ParentPreneurs?
- Before parenthood, discuss with your partner the life plan you have together: How do we envision our lives? But also: How should childcare be organized? Otherwise, after the birth of the child, you will automatically fall into role patterns that may not fit very well.
- Set priorities, because often it is not the details that matter. You remember experiences and feelings, not the tidy kitchen or the perfect PowerPoint presentation.
- Consider how much space you want to give to family and work in your life in general and then roughly stick to it in everyday life.
- Pay attention to the needs of all family members. Communicate what you need, listen to what others need, and find the best possible solution for everyone.
- Do something good for yourself. Take a break before the battery runs out. Take a deep breath again and again and refuel. You don’t climb a mountain without taking breaks to enjoy the view.
Do you have a role model or a guiding principle?
“If there is one belief that can move mountains, it is the belief in one’s own strength.” (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)
What question do you have for the*next interviewee?
I liked this question so much that I’m happy to pass it on: When is work beautiful for you personally?