We all know them, those crazy life stories that meander through the hallways like urban legends. They are inspiring, motivational – and they always seem to happen to somebody else and not to us.
Nonetheless, or maybe exactly therefore, we love listening to them to the very end. Because they are simply good. Because they are about people who leave their safety-net, monotony and comfort for a beautiful unknown and a litte more meaning. There’s the investment manager, who is now a shepherd in New Zealand, the former Art Director who turned into some meditation guru and the CEO from Silicon Valley, who’s now mastering the surf in Hawaii. However, there is not always a grazing animal, a deity or a hammock involved in the personal exit plan. Some people prefer to stay with the rest of us and simply decide to discover a new topic or development every day.
A life that forces you to create your own rules
Knud Lueth left his job at a renowned Consulting Company two and a half years ago to turn toward a topic that will keep all of us busy in the future: the Internet of Things, short IoT. The IoT is a fairly new field, that will have great impact on our economic and societal world by integrating sensors into almost all things of our everyday life and making them communicate amongst each other. Based on a study of tech giant Cisco Systems, there will be around 50 billion devices communicating amongst each other by 2020. The company Knud created from scratch, IoT-Analytics, is currently one of the few companies in the world doing market research on the buzzing subject and constantly reveals new insights on what becomes relevant and what the global players like Google, Intel, Microsoft and IBM are currently working on.
Knud, who studied industrial engineering in Karlsruhe, Germany, started his career like many other young men in consulting – aiming for a straight career path, a model CV and best references for his own future. To reach this goal, he was willing to put up with a quite a lot: „I had always been aware of the fact that I’d be working late hours, wouldn’t have a lot of time for my friends and that a career like this would consume a lot of my inner and personal resources,“ he says about the first steps as a consultant. „But it was still a totally conscious choice. I wanted to get a better grasp on how companies work, discover my own personal limits, challenge, doubt and set myself in relation with other ambitious people my age.“
And boarders, questions and learnings was what he got. For five intense, challenging and enriching years, Knud carefully divided his life between Düsseldorf and Hamburg, Peking and Mumbai, pending between his clients’ expectations, the ones of his employer – and ultimately also his own ones. „In a job like that you lose all sense of time,“ the 34-year-old reflects on this phase of his life. „One day you look out of the window and realize that autumn has arrived and that you have missed out on the most beautiful days of the year, because you have been working while others were out drinking beer with their friends.“
For Knud, this was the reason to change his perspective on this cycle. He signed up for a Masters Degree and graduated from the renowned business school INSEAD in Singapur. And while the world outside was changing, so was his inner one. „For me this was a chance to step out of my life and take a look at myself from afar. I soon realized that the only system that would work for me was a system I could make my own rules in.“
The brave new world of things
The desire to be independent and leave a legacy grew so strong that Knud was willing to step away from everything that was safe, substantial and familiar. „For me it was very tempting to leave my old life behind for something that will be a total game-changer simply because of its innovative character and technology,“ Knud explains.
The company as it is today was born like many good ideas out of something that for Knud was actually a hobby: in coffee mood and out of a personal interest in industry and the Internet of Things, Knud startet a blog in which he wrote about questions concerning the field. At the same time he carefully tracked everything that was happening in its realm via simple alerts .„I never thought that this would go through the ceiling that quickly and I suddenly realized how big the demand of reliable information on the topic really was,“ Knud remembers about his first steps with IoT-Analytics. Those steps, meanwhile, have left some distinctive footprints, since companies from Dubai to San Francisco – including names like Microsoft – are requesting his analysis and white papers.
The brave new world that is growing here and that Knud is trying to structure may to some of us seem like utopia and to others like 1984: A society where anything is connected to anything, where streets communicate among themselves, sensors in our clothing work as medical altert systems and the refrigerator informs the supermarket when its owner runs out of chocolate may be paradise – or the Big Brother mansion.
But in the end, it is not for Knud to judge. His aim is, however, is to be the eye between all these growing synapses, the monitor in the flood of information that makes technological progress replicable, yet even tangible. Because it turns the sheep farm – formally known as the crazy dropouts’ destination – into a highly complex technical construct.
Knud himself still works a lot. Sometimes even as much as he did when he was a consultant. But he now tries do join his friends for a beer in summer. And while he is at work his heart is with a topic that fills his heart like the surf in Hawaii.
Wanna know more about Knud’s passion? This is his website.