About me

I was born and grew up in the far north of Germany, where sheep and hedgehogs say good night to each other. Very close by: the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, the deepest part of Germany, once a year the biggest metal festival in the world and in all directions not much else.

I am nordish by nature.

After graduating from high school in 2007, I was soon drawn to the east of the republic: Potsdam and Berlin were my centers of life for a good seven years. Since 2015 Leipzig has been my adopted home. The charm of the city is unique, “Leibzsch” is for me the better Hamburg (sorry, friends) with better weather and more compact gastronomy offers. I am a convinced choice-Ossi.

Because I couldn’t think of anything better, I studied sociology and political/administrative science. Then I came up with something better, which is why I did a master’s degree in futures research.

As if I had finally found the needle in the haystack, which I had unknowingly searched for years, it was suddenly crystal clear: I am a futurist.

After several professional stations, including four years in the 2b AHEAD Think Tank, a large German trend research institute, I have been involved in research and strategy projects with a wide variety of industries and companies. In the course of this, I began to share my theoretical and practical insights at numerous keynotes. Furthermore, I am involved in the community of future researchers.

For all who want to know more about me

My birthplace Itzehoe is about 60km north of Hamburg, 40km east of the North Sea coast and 15km south of Wacken. The characteristic features of these places have influenced my childhood and youth a lot:

Schleswig-Holstein was once called “Land of Horizons”, today officially the “real North”. Besides mountain poverty the landscape is characterized by a lot of flat land, fresh air and beautiful nature – forests, water, wild animals. Summer is the most beautiful day of the year, otherwise it is usually spring or autumn on the same day. This also has something to do with the mentality of the people, who can have complex conversations using only the words “moin”, “jo” and “Tüdelkram”. Fish rolls, preferably with matjes, are part of the basic diet and could justify an exception day even in my vegan phases. In general the north man/woman does not take many things as hot as they are cooked, lets fives be straight, is patient and frugal.

At the Itzehoer Fraunhofer Institut among other things the MP3 was invented, this technikaffine spirit infected me in young years;

at the age of 11 I disassembled and successfully reassembled a computer for the first time, at 18 I started my own business as a web designer.

In addition, thanks to the local high-speed Internet cable, whose long way across the Atlantic Ocean ends in Itzehoe, we were almost the first in the country to have DSL. As a digital gunslinger I also spent many hours playing PC games.

Some famous musicians come from Itzehoe, Wacken has been home to one of the biggest metal festivals in the world for many years. I was also infected by this: one of the first photos of little Kai shows him standing under the keyboard of his parents’ concert piano. A little later he attended the classical piano lessons of the local adult education center for a good ten years and toured through Schleswig-Holstein with his teacher. Much later I discovered my current music idol Frank Turner by chance on the radio; fascinated by this, I wished for a guitar for my next birthday and began to learn the campfire guitar autodidactically. Smaller gigs are the exception, but in private circles the strings seldom remain calm.

I belonged to the last cohort whose male representatives for military service had to go to the physical examination and either actually serve nine months in the Bundeswehr, alternatively they could refuse and choose to do civilian service, or they were discharged for unfitness to serve. I chose option B and completed my year after graduating from high school in the kitchen of a Catholic nursing home. This was a very valuable time, during which I not only gained culinary and organizational experience, but above all learned to love getting up early. Furthermore, I grew up as a son of restaurateurs and at the age of four I was able to fry my own fried egg. Even better, I could burn my fingers in the canteen kitchen. Several times.

At the High School I had a favorite teacher who was originally supposed to lead our class (the first bilingual project class in the state) up to the Abitur and who encouraged and challenged us tremendously. After the 8th grade he died suddenly, much too early. One of his very central messages, which I often remember and which had a great impact on me, was: “be prepared”. Yes, exactly, the old scout maxim. After high school I wanted to get out, to see and experience something new. Nevertheless it became only Potsdam. There I studied sociology and political/administrative sciences out of pure interest and against my actual inclination to computer science. To be honest, this had practically nothing to do with the future. I also spent a year working as a press and public relations officer for the student union AStA and lived for seven years in the small, cosy, tourist-optimized Berlin-Satellite.

In the last Bachelor’s semester I came across the relatively new Master’s program in Futures Studies at the Free University of Berlin quite by chance and attended an information event. At that moment it was clear to me that I had to enroll. No sooner said than done. For me, futurology has always been the concatenation of scientific evidence with largely normative, but independent future design.

Moreover, I carry this intrinsic motivation within me to want to save the world, and this path seemed to me even then to be a functioning vehicle on the way.

Speaking of vehicles: One day after the oral examination for the Master of Arts Futures Studies, a fellow student and I got on our bikes, packed tents and provisions and cycled from Potsdam/Berlin about 2300 kilometers across Germany and France. The whole thing took four weeks and is one of the most valuable experiences of my life. Since then I have been a passionate trekking cyclist and since 2019 also a racing cyclist.

After my studies, I first made a stopover as an innovation and marketing manager in a small Berlin publishing start-up. Then I ended up at the Leipzig 2b AHEAD ThinkTank and for just over four years made sure that the newly founded department for trend studies worked with scientific methodology. In early 2016, I already started to leave the think tank in the coolest city in eastern Germany for keynotes. I quickly realized that I really enjoy these field assignments and the feedback was consistently positive. From 24 gigs in 2016, the number of speeches rose to 59 in 2017. 72 speeches were given in 2018 … besides the full-time job as a senior researcher, this would have been an almost impossible challenge had it not been for a great team on the side of 2b AHEAD and the 5 star agency.

Since May 2019 I have been travelling independently and without institutional ties.

In my opinion, the value-free research of futures can only succeed if you do not act dependent on a company

a strong network of other future researchers ensures a constant influx of new findings and prevents blind spots. In this way, I work freely and soundly for my clients and my audience – with a critical and optimistic view of the future and a tailwind in my sails.

Futuristic greetings

 

Kai Gondlach

Master of Arts Futures Research