A good life was long considered fulfilled when we had an array of material things (including a house, cars, and certain vacation). These goods are now “democratized”: 'a good life' is redefining itself. In an affluent society, a simple lifestyle becomes luxury. The imperfect moment becomes what we are longing for and suddenly the desire to be oneself triggers the courage to indulge one's own character traits again. In a time of unlimited availability, this is a force that makes differentiation possible again, because character traits cannot be authentically imitated. And, when put in the right context, they create relevance for ourselves and our work.

A good life

In the past, life was considered good if you could afford everything. Everything usually meant at least one summer and winter holiday a year, two cars, a house, maybe even a weekend house in the countryside or somewhere near the beach. New generations neither have a driver's license, nor do they learn to ski in school anymore. Intercontinental flights are also being questioned in the times of Greta and climate change discussions. What about going out for dinner? Yes, but vegan please, preferably with local ingredients. A good life: what does it mean today?

Goodbye luxury, goodbye consumption

Consumption is similar to the monthly salary: up to a certain level, we are still happy about a promotion, until the marginal utility of any further increase becomes zero. After this point we do not care anymore because the next promotion would have to be immense to fundamentally change our lifestyle. In the Western world, the last 40 years have been good years. What do I mean by that? We didn't urgently miss anything, as everything was available. “If” has never been a question; only whether “there's more”. However, constant availability simply leads to boredom. Something similar happens with consumption. As it has become vulgar, as a response, we don't want to test the next Michelin Star restaurant, or buy another car, nor buy a new house in Spain, and our children don't fly anymore anyway, because of their CO2 footprint.

The end of consumption leads to a redefinition of luxury. A minimalist lifestyle seems to be the natural consequence of prosperity.

A simple lifestyle

Luxury always had an exclusive effect, which has been represented by the limited availability or the high price of certain products or services. Now platform models such as booking.com or UBER, but also flight providers such as easyJet, are trivialising a commodity that was reserved for those who had privileged access to a 'good life'. Today everyone has access to a top deal in a 5* hotel, and your private driver (UBER) picks you up from the airport, while your flight costs only 39.00 CHF. The sudden “democratization” of luxury signals a turning point. .

Furthermore, there are brand new ways of communication, which are more visual than verbal. The perfect Instagram image replaces the postcard from the vacation and WhatsApp allows us to be constantly connected with our friends despite thousands of kilometers of distance. In the end, we are longing for a break: break from the availability, to find that imperfect moment you will remember because it doesn't look like something from an ad of a lifestyle magazine.

A strong character

It takes courage to admit imperfection. We have been trained for decades on what a good life should look like - and now we are supposed to just forget about it? The admission is difficult and yet opens up a new perspective. I would like to emphasize the thesis that the new luxury is strongly connected to personality and that the more we develop our character, the stronger our 'feeling for a new luxury' will be. The way to a good life in the new 20s year heralds the era of artists.

If you are interested in this thought, you can read my article "The Era of Artists".

What has inspired me recently?

A recipe for success?

My passion is to curate moments of inspiration for natural leaders. This has the wonderful side effect of allowing me to have conversations with many fascinating people. But the real beauty emerges through connecting and condensing my observations to the essence. After a few inspiring meetings recently, I believe I have discovered a “recipe for success”.

Go your own way: I had an inspiring encounter with an antique dealer and restorer in Zurich. He told me about the beginnings of his profession; all his colleagues started to study and he has decided to learn craftsmanship. He was often mocked for choosing this path. Today, he says with pride: "Yes, only very few people can do what I do today. Nowadays, I would say that I am successful." The gentleman I'm talking about is now over 70 years old. He says he is doing very well, especially when he is working, because he does not notice the passing of time or the little pains that come with age.

Experience is crucial: recently, at a dinner with artists who can be considered as “successful”, I was wondering whether they could see a “recipe” for their success in retrospect. Independently of each other, both artists mentioned their decision to go and work abroad as one reason. Without working in Chicago or Berlin, the recognition of their work would not be at the level where it is today. The experience and change of perspective gained in a foreign country have widened the perspective of their work and strengthened certain character traits in them. Indeed, strong characters have something magically attractive.

What inspired me? Success is something individual: there is no algorithm for success. It seems much more important to follow the intuitive and personal path, no matter whether it leads to craftsmanship or to distant cities. Our good life is something only we can define for ourselves.

Last but not least...

Due to the current situation regarding COVID-19 I had to postpone the Zero Senses Retreat.

I am happy that the wonderful Hotel Paradies as well as each of the fantastic speakers understood due to the given situation we had to postpone the Retreat. The new date for autumn will be announced soon and one more thing: We make two extra seats available. Interested? Sign up here.

And for those of you, who are curious, you can find the program here:

Review: My Circle of Inspiration in St.Moritz

We have to know the source to understand its consequences. The question of how leaders create relevance in this new era was the main topic of my last Circle of Inspiration (click for details). Together with an exclusive group of guests, we discussed the art of context creation during a dinner in the midst of the inspiring environment of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in St.Moritz. By using the current exhibition as an example, the gallery’s director, Stefano Rabolli Pansera, captivated us with his stories and motivated a stimulating table discussion amongst the guests. It was clear: the more we understand the source, the better we are able to create a context. Why is that necessary? To create relevance and thus meaning in times when everything is available.

So much for this issue of the Letter of Inspiration - thank you for following my impulses! Feel free to share this letter with colleagues and friends.