Inspirations from Kerstin Hack

Category: Success (Page 1 of 2)

Business – going from helplessness to security

One a grey day in February 2000 in a neon-lit office in Berlin I signed a think, office-pale-kind-of-yellowish  paper that would change my life: As a 32 year old woman I started a business called Down to Earth.

It started out as a publishing business, but over the years expanded to four areas

Last summer after I had turned 50 and took time and I looked back over the years. I analyzed my successes and failures.   I believe that every person longs to be successful in one way or another.  While ultimately I consider everything that we can do in this world as a gift of grace there is an deep, god-given longing in my to see fruit for my labour. Taking a deep look at my success or lack thereof was encouraging, but also frustrating.

Success: Changing people’s lives

My biggest success lies  in the lives of people I was able to shape. There is no week where I do not get feedback like:

Your book inspired me so much

You are the only person I follow on G+, because what you say gives so much to me

Your book helped my friend to reconnect with God as it was so honest and helpful

I had one of your articles on my kitchen wall for 8 years as it was so helpful

Das gute Leben Kerstin Hack BuchSome even told me that a book I published cleared their suicidal mind so much that it literally saved their life. There were others who as a coach helped to overcome traumas.

I think of the refugee girl who was afraid of water after crossing the Mediterranean sea on a tiny boat. She lost her fear in just one coaching session using the very focussed and effective emotional de-stressing  wingwave method I am trained in.

The stories are too numerous to tell.  My heart is deeply grateful for the many ways in which I could make the lives of others stronger, more relaxed and more joyful.

No success: Thriving financially

9 out of 10 start ups in Germany do not survive. Therefore I did consider it as a success that I my business did survive. However in all these years it never really did well financially. Especially in the area publishing the basic cost for graphics, copy editing, printing, storage and distribution were so high that it was hard to make a profit. And I never reached the numbers that were necessary to make it easier.

In all years I was able to pay my team, but  often there was not much left over for myself. At times even the German  government did not ask taxes from me as my income was so low. I survived with the help of friends and massive use of my improvisation skill. When – in most years – I could not afford a real holiday I would visit friends. When I could not afford flowers I went to pick wild flowers.

When the door is closed you can climb through the window – is one of the things I say a often. Because I mean it.

Schiff Anna Grace BerlinIt did not really help finances that in 2012 I decided to buy an old army ship to turn it into a place of hope. A place where I could live, teach seminars. And as a haven for  people who needed to refocus or after a crisis needed a break from it all – to just stare on the water for hours and receive professional coaching.

Buying and over the course of five years renovating the ship with virtually no budget was an adventure and a miracle story in itself and it is wonderful to have this place. However it did not really help to improve my finances, but left me with a 5 digit number of debt.

Feeling helpless and looking for change

Looking back I did see that I could shape the lives of people. . But it left me helpless and deeply frustrated me that in spite of working really hard I never found a way to make my business thrive financially.

Trying hard and not succeeding left me with a deep feeling of helplessness – a bit like a person who does want to loose weight and really, really tries hard and sometimes it works a bit, but she never finds the keys of how to do it successfully. At that time I made a drawing – me in front of a machine that was supposed to make money, but clueless as to what buttons I needed to press for the machine to work

Praying for help

I longed to be successful and was so frustrated that I started to pray in a new way. I  had prayed all the years asking God for help – and did see many of these prayers answered. He did care for me in a million ways. But by September 2016 I was so fed up with seeing that I was blessing others, but not doing well financially.

So for the first time I thought about giving up. I dared to think about ending my business in spite of the fact that what I did was beneficial to so many others.  I decided after prayer that I would give my business one more year and if it did not bear fruit financially by then I would re-think the whole thing and maybe give up.

So now I no longer just prayed “please provide for me”, but prayed differently: “God, I believe that you made me to do well – not only in the ways I help others, but also running a business successfully – show me the keys.” A while nothing much happened, but then starting in June 2017 the prayer did get answered in many unexpected ways.

Seeing my success as a fundraiser

One of the first things I felt was that God said: “If you would label yourself as a fundraiser, you would be highly successful!” This made sense. Over the years I had sponsored projects and encouraged others to do so, too. Some in Berlin, but mostly in Afghanistan…I guess I love rough places and I do like to invest where nobody else does.

In the years we had sponsored a club for children in Berlin. And for Shelter an organization working in Afghanistan I raised money to built a well, plant 400 trees,  rebuild villages and sponsor medical projects. I even have my toilet twinned with an outhouse in a village in Afghanistan that helps to improve hygiene and reduce mortality.

In addition to that I raised the money for a few tons of would, hundreds of pots of paint and lots of other building material for the ship and I guess that I was given thousands of hours of volunteer work.

To see myself as  a successful fundraiser did a lot for my soul. I could now see: I am successful in business in one way – not really in the area of profit from sales, but in raising money for good causes.

Uprooting the feeling of helplessness

Although generally speaking I usually do not feel helpless, but rather creative in finding new ways, in business there was a big, ugly feeling of helplessness. It felt like a big, massive octopus that entangled my soul. I engaged a professional coach to deal with that.

We worked for two intense hours. And in this short time we could disentangle the present feeling  of helplessness in business from some childhood experiences that amplified it. It was so intense that after the coaching I slept two solid hours and woke up with much less of a burden.

I also consciously chose to  I let go of that old childish game of hide and seek: In the past I hesitated to promote my things. Partly because I did not like (and sometimes judged) people who promoted their stuff in  a loud and aggressive way. But partly also because of that romantic hope that people would somehow find and love me and my products. A bit like a child playing hide and seek, hoping to be found. Instead I chose to  really show up with what I have to offer. That still takes courage, but I am growing in it.

Cul de sack – business coaching that did not help

I did engage two professional business coaches, to help me with marketing. But after a while I found out that they  wanted to analyze every aspect of my business and then wanted me start all over again. I knew that my products were not perfect – there is always room for improvement, but once people found Down to Earth they usually love our materials and remained faithful customers. I just needed to find more effective ways for new people to discover us. As we could not agree on the way ahead I cancelled the process. This road did not lead to sucess.

Being in shock

In the meantime something interesting happened. I usually spend the first day of the month reflecting and praying and planning the month ahead. So on the first of June I sat on the roof of my ship, looking at the water and praying: “What is important this month!” I would never have anticipated the answer: “Stop working with your present webmaster!”

I was in a state of shock for more than two hours: A good webmaster is crucial for an online business and they are hard to find. I had worked with my present webmaster for more than 8 years, he is the father of one of my Godchildren. However I have walked with God long enough to distinguish his voice from mine and this was clearly not my own thought.

As we had a strong relationship and he was overworked anyhow I could end the cooperation with my old webmaster in peace and respect.

Finding the keys

What now? While having coffee with a friend who I only see twice a year she recommended her webmaster.

It turned out that he not only had the skills for hosting websites professionally, but in the previous months had learned a lot about online marketing and longed (and prayed!) that he could use these newly acquired skills more. What a match. He then recommended amazing business and marketing teachers like Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield to me and through them I also discovered Donald Miller, Jenna Kutcher and Marie Forleo

One of the things they all say: Your newsletter is key to success in Online business . I write a newsletter every two weeks. The people who get my newsletter usually love it as it contains lots of good input on how to improve your life. Some even asked me if they could use some of my content for magazines.  And they follow my recommendations and buy the products I suggest.

I knew that more people on my newsletter would help me, but  in spite of trying hard I had not been able to grow my list of subscribers. I simply did not know how to do it successfully.

The marketing teachers had the keys I had been looking for all these years. And all of them are incredibly generous at sharing a good portion of their business knowledge for free in podcasts and blogs while also offering in depths paid courses. Until December I was preoccupied with writing and promoting my new book, so I could not give this my full attention. But in the last month or so I tried to learn as much from them as much as I could – only stopped at times by very slow internet on my ship.

And I applied for a Scholarship at Marie Forleos B-School (Business school) and hope I win. I even made a video for it that you can like and that I hope she will like, too. #winBSCHOOL

We change the game

yes she canMy team and I now step by step implement what we learn. We created some great free ebooks/ freebies  that people get in exchange for signing up for my newsletter. Just in the last 10 days we had more people sign up for our newsletter than previously in a whole year! Since we started working on this four months ago our list has grown by +15%. Presently it grows even faster: 1% every 3 days.

While this has not yet turned around finance over night – numbers are still fairly low – I know it will.  But the best is: For the first time in years of being a business owner I do not feel helpless, but have a strategy that I know will work.

So on Feb 18 I will celebrate 18 years in business. I will look back thankfully and ahead to the future with the hope to continue blessing people in their lives while also doing well in business.

That feels really good.

What do you think? Drop a line of comment if you want to cheer me on, add insights or share wisdom.










How to plan from your future backwards to your present

Spree River I shared with one of my friend how I do my planning.  She loved it so much that I decided to share it with you all. At the end of the year 2017 I had written to her:

Concerning the future one of my favorite ways of thinking about the future is to plan from the future backwards…Right now I do my annual Look Back 2018. No spelling mistake.

Step I: I dream with God what at the end of the next season  I long to look back to

I have not finished my 2018 evaluation but these are some milestones. By the end of 2018

  • I did become more receptive

that is a big one. I was more of a do-er kind of person. But in this year I developed the skills to receive and enjoy things on a deeper level emotionally. This is on all levels – spiritually, emotionally and interpersonally. This also included enjoying and creating beauty more and “catching” it.. I might get myself a good camera…

  • I discovered new places and had real holidays

The years before there were hardly any real holidays. 2018 I did make room for an spend money on discovering new places and I did it  with great people I love (Han, you are on the top of my list for people I would like to explore with — we need to do some serious planning on this).

  • I streamlined processes and trained my team

I defined values, goals and processes so well that my team knows exactly what to do. Using the formula eliminate – simplify – automate – delegate I reduced the organizational part of my business by 80%. This freed me to be less of a worker or manager, much more of a leader and developer.

  •  I reduced financial burdens 

I sold 30% of my existing stock and transferred it to cheaper warehouses, thus reducing storage cost. I also finished the solar panels on my ship – reducing electricity costs.

  • I developed and sold more digital products

I transformed and developed great digital products and the marketing strategies that go with them.

  • I strengthened people 

Both paid and unpaid I invested in the lives of many people and made them stronger and happier

Cloud doveStep 2: In my spirit I look at what I was given, what I received and what I achieved

And I sense what it feels like. Yes, I am totally happy with what this year has brought – what a great year

Step 3:  I pray and plan and work into it

Based on what I want to look back at at the end of the year I plan the specific steps.

That is my year 2018 – what is yours?”

I would love to hear your feedback on this method. So please drop a line and let me know what you think and what tools you use for planning and dreaming.






Stumbling Strategically

2013-11-04 16.27.16What is the difference between a successful person and a less successful one? Successful people stumble strategically. When they fall down, which is unavoidable, they look to see if there’s perhaps a dust particle or seed on the floor. One of my goals in life is to become a person who stumbles strategically. Or in other words, I would like to be a person who makes fertilizer out of the crap that sometimes happens in life.

– See more at:

Miracles Take a Little Longer

2014-02-05 16.23.55“Miracles take a little longer!” This is so easy to say when you aren’t waiting for one… yet it is wonderful when something occurs about which we can wonder…

One side of shipbuilding: Hard work

Building a ship is a lot of work. I putter around on the ship on any given 3 afternoons and on Saturdays. It also takes work to earn money. I do what I can to bring the required finances together. I rent out my guestroom, recycle bottles, sell used items and books, coach, hold seminars, and much more in order to earn money. Hard work is one side of the coin.

The other side of shipbuilding: Miracles that occur

A friend of mine who identifies as an atheist mentioned recently that as he noticed how often things that I prayed for happened, he began to wonder: “Until now, I have always just believed in coincidence, but in your case, it’s pushing the limits!”

A few miracles from the last couple of days:

– The money that I have earned, borrowed, and received as a gift has sufficed so far. Sometimes, like with the high wharf rent, it was really tight, but it has always been enough. I am so thankful for all of the big and small donations that have made this possible.

– I’ve been praying for several months that God would send me a ventilation engineer who can help me with the ventilation plans. A man from Ghana who studied ventilation in Spain and just came to Berlin looking for a job has contacted me and is now going to make the calculations and plans for me…

– On my list of things that I still need for the ship is “espresso machine for seminar operation.” At the birthday party of my father, I told one of his friends about the ship without revealing any details about the needs. Suddenly, he asked, “Do you need an espresso machine?” And he gave me a fancy, barely-used unit.

– Friends were telling a young woman about my ship. She has visited the sea for many years, loves ships, and currently has more free time than she’d prefer, and now, she’s getting involved with the ship…

Someone – was it Luther? – once said: “Pray as though you cannot work. And work as though you cannot pray.” Absolutely!

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Finishing the Ship: 10 More Weeks?!

2014-02-08 14.07.23There are only 10 or 11 weeks until the planned deadline at the end of April. It is ambitious but not impossible. Whether it’s possible I can’t yet say; it’s hard to tell exactly with construction projects. One thing is clear: we’ve made a lot of progress over the last weeks and months, despite some adversity. The whole ship is finally derusted and painted and the seminar room is almost finished. We’ve started with the substructure for the walls and the window frames under the deck. We’re making headway.

Since August, over 1000 hours of work have been put into the ship!!! About 90% was from people who gave a couple hours, days, or even weeks to help. The many motivated helpers have been a huge blessing and a large portion of the work doesn’t require technical knowledge or it can be learned quickly when someone explains things well. For the next phase (until finishing at the end of April), I will continue to need people who simply want to tackle it with me, although I will also need specialists for different things (ventilation, heating, electric, sanitation, etc.).

Including specialists, I still have about 800-1000 hours of work until the ship is finished. I myself work, when I am not travelling, about 30 hours per week on the ship: 5-10 hours of planning and the rest on-board. A carpenter friend who currently has free time and knows how to do everything (wood, welding, etc.) offered to work for me whenever he can for the next while. Of course, he still needs money to live on – 10 Euros per hour with legal receipts. I would love to hire him for 100 hours per month through the end of April.

I am searching for people who will help finance one or more of his work hours so that the progress on the ship continues. If you would like to contribute, you can donate via Betterplace, Paypal, or bank transfer. This would really help with my burden – and increase the chances of finishing soon.

Of course, just like before, helpers are warmly welcome and will be utilized.

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Joint Effort 2013

A few days ago, I discussed with a good friend about which word could be used to describe the year 2013. My word for 2013 is “effort!” This year was an effort.

I had to reconcile five jobs:

  • – Publisher
  • – Author
  • – Coach
  • – Speaker
  • – Shipbuilder

Then there were still a handful of challenges to overcome:

  • The flooding of the ship in January
  • The unexpectedly high wharf costs
  • The difficulties with transporting the ship
  • A long time of illness within the publishing team
  • A stupid chronic cold

Short and sweet: It was a handful of life and a handful of challenges: a real effort. I am thankful that I overcame them, which wasn’t only because of me alone. I estimate that so far over 50 people have practically helped with the ship for a few hours, days, or even weeks. Over 250 different people have made the shipbuilding possible through small and large donations. Even when I try to do as much as I can myself, I would never have accomplished it alone.

So I am thankful that this year, which was a real effort, was so well managed and is mostly behind me now. I am excited for 2014, which will surely also be a bit of effort but will hopefully also bring me closer to the fulfillment of my dreams.


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Discovering Life – Ants and Kings

IMG_0220Was I alive today?


What new thing did I learn about life?

From a report via a television program on the topic the beauty of women: Lebanese women are considered the most beautiful women of the Near East because of their facial features and figures – my German-Lebanese friend told me about it. They spend tremendous amounts of time and energy on creating and maintaining their beauty and go, when they can afford it, to the salon around three times per week. In a society where the ratio of women to men is 3:1 (many young men work abroad), enormously high competition reigns. 90% of all women choose to have their children via cesarean section, because they see it as safer and less beauty-threatening than natural birth. Right now, the young women who are educated are finding themselves in conflict regarding whether they want to continue to “play the game,” but they often don’t have a choice.

What new thing did I learn about myself?

Sometimes it bothers me when I compare myself to how things should be done – and I find it wonderful when God then says to me, “You are good enough.” There are people who can plan things to the smallest detail – I am not one of them. I can only approach things in stages and layers.

Once in a while, people criticize me for the way I am approaching things with the ship, “Kerstin, you should first contract with engineering consultants to draw up a complete plan before you proceed.” “You should contract with a ship-builder…” etc.

My good friend, with whom I am currently enjoying a few restful days, prayed this morning and asked God what He would like to say to me. She felt like she should read Proverbs 6. Among other things, she read, “The ants are self-organized, have no king, yet still fill their barns!”

She felt like God wanted to say to me, “Kerstin, there are work teams that don’t have a king to tell them what to do. With your ship project, you have teams that more or less organize themselves. And that is OK! That’s also a possibility. And you will reach your goal and ‘fill your barn.'”

That really encouraged me. I don’t need to be anything other than myself… I am allowed to be how I am… and my God deals and works with me in my fashion. How incredibly comforting!

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Discovering Life – Shepherds and Sheep

IMG_0183 Was I alive today?


What new thing did I learn about life?

What new thing did I learn about myself?

I often begin the day by reading Losungen – selected inspiring Bible texts… Yesterday”s was:

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” (John 10:14, New Living Translation)

This touched me deeply on two levels:

  • My Job = Trust: It was a reminder for me that trust is asked for. Sometimes things don”t go fast enough for me on the ship. I would prefer to be further. And it”s sometimes a real challenge for me to let go and to trust that God is already leading me. There is a saying, “Many people want to serve God, as an advisor!” I often belong to this group. I have 1000 ideas about what He could do faster and better. It”s sometimes really dificult for me to let go and to trust that HE is the shepherd and daily gives me what I need for that day. I have decided to practice this more intensively and to declare to God my trust that He has everything in view. And He means well.
  • His Job: To be the Shepherd – and to care for me in the way that I need. “I know my own sheep” left an impression on me. It really touched me to be reminded that He really knows me. A few days ago, I did a really good personality test. The results were not really surprising: I am a visionary, am bored to death by housework, and live in the future, in what should be. And I”m hard on myself – more than others – when things don”t go fast enough.

As I read the verse, I thought and prayed, “Ok. I want to trust You. For today. But hey, it also says that You know me. And if You know me, then You also know that I need encouragement. I need to see that things are (quickly) moving forward. You know that there is nothing that brings my heart more joy than when things are moving in the right direction.

God must have heard my prayer… things are moving forward. I am rejoicing about:

  • Two friends who helped me yesterday to put up insulation so that we could come forward faster
  • 2o 25 Euro donations for the ship project by Betterplace and Paypal… again two more hours of work further
  • Four friends from Portugal who wrote that they would like to come for 7 or 8 days to help on the ship and really make some progress
  • A friend who wrote that he would like to sponsor the trip of one of the Portuguese because 3 of the 4 are unemployed and don”t have any money
  • 30 Euros worth of selling used books on Amazon… not huge, but every little bit helps
  • Over 400 Euros worth of selling books from our publishing house at a church bazaar. Of course the proceeds go first to employee wages and production costs, but anything left over goes into the ship
  • A woman who called and asked if she could help… she is currently doing a practicum in Berlin but has plenty of free time and energy and was looking for a meaningful activity to engage in… a friend told her about me…

My heart rejoices… because things are moving forward… and because I sense that my God sees me…

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Discovering Life – Influential Men

Nelson Mandela Biography

Was I alive today? Yes… I enjoyed having time to clean and sort in the office today due to the snow. Next week, I will be writing more again and also doing a lot of coaching! What new thing did I learn about life? I was in a play about Kennedy – to mark the 50th anniversary of his murder. The play mentioned how many illnesses he had: massive medical problems in his stomach, intestines, back… twice he was so close to death that he had his last rights from a priest, and he often used crutches privately and wore a corset to relieve his back… even during his murder… which lead to his not being able to take cover after the first shot. He clearly understood how to hide it. But how would it have further developed if he had become as old as Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday? He really impressed me… his constant readiness to learn and to grow. He gave the slogan “Each one teach one” to his co-prisoners in jail: everyone who can do something or who knows something should teach it to others. In this way, he made the long imprisonment into a formative time for himself and his co-prisoners. A very impressive man. What new thing did I learn about myself? Stories fascinate me. The life story of Kennedy, but also the stories of my friend, Rosemarie, who told me what it was like to see Kennedy in person when she was a little girl. That was before my time… I wasn’t even born yet. – See more at:

Discovering Life – Differences and Brotherly Blessing

Was I alive today?Image029 Yes! What new thing did I learn about life? I was thinking again about what I have heard about the fundamental longings and fundamental fears of the four personality types according to the DISC assessment:

  • Dominance: Independence/To be forced
  • Inducement: Approval/To be short-changed
  • Steadiness: Security/To be left alone
  • Conscientiousness: Doing everything right/To be corrected

I find it interesting and insightful. What new thing did I learn about myself? Right now, the support and encouragement from others, both male and female, has been very helpful for me in regards to the ship project. I recently received two very encouraging emails from dear men I know. One wrote:

A ship is very heavy by itself, and it’s hard to believe that it can float and won’t sink. But the water carries it. Steady and through all the highs and lows, it shows enormous endurance and toughness. A ship must allow itself to fall into the water and to be carried. It can’t do anything about it. But you can also allow yourself to be carried by God and to continue step-by-step. I’m writing all of the exciting things along the way in a logbook for your ship, and you will experience the next few months like a journey with exciting adventures, times where it storms and fear rises, and times when the sun shines and you feel simply wonderful. You don’t know yet how long the journey will be. But every day is a discovery, even when nothing happens and you only have encounters on the ship or, LIKE NOW, you are on vacation on land and leave the ship alone. It’s waiting for you. Someday, instead of the negligible renovation trips, you will be having huge journeys of completion, seminars, and all kinds of beautiful things. But that will still be awhile. You are not alone, because you have some friends who are very close to you and are supporting your project. And the ship is on-site and floats and belongs to you (or the bank), but it’s also that way with most houses that people own. I really admire you. Your competence is growing tremendously in my eyes. The landlubber woman who is building a ship. This comes just after the man who dances with wolves.

I wrote to another man who is like a father to me, even though we are only in contact every few months, telling him that I had dreamt last night of an encounter with him. And I asked him to pray for me. He wrote back:

Your dream doesn’t surprise me. Over the last few weeks, the Spirit has encouraged me to pray for you again and again. You see: the “father’s blessing” has been given to you even before you sent the letter. It’s good that you’ve brought this ship project to Down-to-Earth. Even Noah had to build his boat without any special knowledge and relying on the guidance of the Spirit. It’s also good for you and for the future home of many. We’ll stick around!

Be protected, you chosen of God! In loving connection,
This touched me almost to tears… it’s good to know that a father is praying for me with blessing – even before I ask him to.

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