Byron's Babbles

Leading Like Oktoberfest

Posted in Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, SMART Factory League by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 1, 2022

I had the opportunity this week to experience Oktoberfest in Hamburg, Germany. While the official festival is held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, one of the official breweries from Munich and also located in Hamburg, Die Hofbräu Wirtshäuser, has the entire Oktoberfest experience. Of course, since I was in Hamburg for the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit, I had to take part. In fact I got about 21 of us from the Summit to go one evening. The celebration takes place from late September to the first weekend in October. The Munich Oktoberfest began in 1810 as a wedding party thrown by King Joseph Maximilian of Bavaria to celebrate his marriage to Princess Theresa of Saxony. Over 200 years later King Joseph Maximilian’s party has become a celebration with over 6 million people attending from across the world.

So, what did I learn from Oktoberfest? Oktoberfest is an event that includes music, food and beer. Entrepreneurs and business owners that are hoping to attract customers and clients should remember that putting on a “show” and entertaining and providing your target audience with what they want and need helps. In Die Hofbräu Wirtshäuse many classic sing-alongs such as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, ‘Sweet Caroline’, or ‘Take me Home, Country Roads’ rotated their way through the set list. But one song played several times while were in attendance is only a single line long, repeated twice and sung in German: ‘Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit der Gemuetlichkeit.’ The song means they are raising a toast (Ein Prosit) to the Gemuetlichkeit, which normally means something like an intimate, cozy feeling. But, what I found around me were people who were experiencing happiness, and tradition to enjoying your beer, and being with friends.

I was lucky to have a true Bavarian with me for my experience. He made sure I had Leberkaessemmel, a Bavarian meat loaf served on a bread roll, Schweinshaxe, a roasted pork knuckle, Münchner Weißwurstand, a white sausage, Schnitzel (thin slice of breaded meat), and Hendl which is a rotisserie chicken. Let’s circle back to Gemütlichkeit (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈmyːtlɪçkaɪt]), which as stated earlier means a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry. Gemütlichkeit encapsulates a feeling of inclusion and leaving your troubles at the door. What if we could create this environment for all those we serve? The beauty of Oktoberfest is that it is a themed event. By hanging out at Oktoberfest we got to know each other on a deeper level and these relationships carried over into the summit discussions. It’s all about community building. I am glad I had the opportunity to experience the phenomenon of Oktoberfest!

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