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Strategist, Synergist, Spark.
Cha[lle]nging Your Game.

Den Wald vor lauter Bäumen sehen. Sich Zeit
nehmen, 'die Säge zu schärfen', ihn zu retten.

Leadership | Business Innovation | Foresight
Ich bin erst zufrieden, wenn ich begeistert bin.


(©2005 - more true each day)

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

Digitalization, the web, and mobility maximize human's individuality, independence, and impatience with unprecedented power and pace.

New consumers call for innovative playing fields (markets), new rules (business models), and new players adding innovative thinking (leadership).

New entrepreneurs create revolutionary, skyrocketing business models and markets, products and services - unmatched by traditional managers, brands, and businesses.

Too many of the latter are trapped in now obsolete structures, concepts, and cultures. Too much did they invest in their out-dated beliefs and yesterday's successes.

What happens when the game changes?
When ideas and knowledge,
innovation and creativity,
variety and flexibility
become the new qualities you need to compete?
Alan M. Webber, Co-Founder Fast Company Magazine, in 'Rules of Thumb'


Drop-dead simple ad hoc Solutions - #talkingtacheles
talk/tank lets you see the wood for the trees again. So you may CHA[LLE]NGE YOUR GAME by yourself again. Read the full story.

A Distinctive Leadership Culture - #stopmakingsense
lead/culture AWAKEs, GROWs, INSPIREs individuals and businesses to become inspiration/leaders and intuition/companies resp. to make a difference each day: Outgrow Yourself, Inspire the World! Read the full story.

Innovation & Value Creation - #humansolutions
lead/marke CHA[LLE]NGEs YOUR GAME, CO-CREATEs, CRAFTs your Corporate Vision & Strategy, your Business Innovation, Brand Engagement, and Communication Agility. Read the full story.

Experience & Expertise

My 30+ years of experience blend a profound strategic business planning and leadership competence (managing director for almost 10 years) with relevant brand and marketing expertise.

Ie. in brands, businesses, and agencies:
Mars, Effem, Procter & Gamble, Adidas, Sara Lee, Ford, Citroen/ Peugeot, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, RTL, Bertelsmann, Coca Cola GmbH, L'Oréal, Nestlé ... GlaxoSmithKline* ... Grey/Mediacom, Young & Rubicam, Carat/DentsuAegisNetwork, VivaKi/PublicisMedia.


May 2020: Saskia Diez designes an iconic necklace for KREATIVE GEGEN KREBS: WARRIOR - supporting our mission of "Dem Menschen Mut machen. Dem Krebs die Kraft nehmen.".

Early 2020: In 2018/19 more than 130 agencies joined our KREATIVE GEGEN KREBS call for 'Stammzellspende in Agenturen' AND created 35 great videos to raise awareness for our cause.
Our overall partners are Hochschule Fresenius / AMD Akademie Mode & Design Düsseldorf, GWA, APG, BVDW, LiFE LOLLi / KMSZ, Krebsgesellschaft NRW, ZKRD, W&V now. Become a partner, too!

2019: Adding the word PURPOSE to my offering? I ask myself rhetorically, but what could possibly be more PURPOSE-driven than my existing DISTINCTIVE LEADERSHIP process?
- What Difference Do You Make?
- What Value Do You Create?
- Why would anybody Miss You?

Early 2019: "AGENCY BAND AID - Concerts against Cancer" launches in close coop with Hamburg's MINISTRY Group.

April 2018: "KREATIVE GEGEN KREBS" supersedes krebsuzette. GWA becomes our 'Stammzellspende in Agenturen' partner.

Feb 2018: Exactly 5 years after closing down The Third Club (due to my krebsuzette) Thomas Koch and I launch The Forth Club: "Thomas & ralf essen was".

June 2017: As New Work lately focusses fancy talking, tactics, symptoms, I add my "brave & bold" perspective to the table:
#bravenewwork = #talkingtacheles x #humansolutions x #forezeit

May 2017: Back-to-the-roots krebsuzette relaunch of my (slightly updated) original vision - written while still in chemotherapy - #talkingtacheles - #stopmakingsense - #savingsomesouls

Feb 2017: After 4+ years blog and social hiatus due to my krebsuzette I now blog again.

Jan 2017: Launch of fore/zeit - Cha[lle]nging your Game! Corporate Vision & Strategy, my leadmarke initiative. - #humansolutions

Feb 2014: Foundation of krebsuzette.org - Fight Our Cancer! - Protect Our Health! - Cultivate Our Vanitas!, my pro bono initiative to save some souls and lives.

Aug 2013: Wirtschaftswoche online launches my new leadership column "Berühmte letzte Worte". Which I author till Oct, 2014.

Feb 2013: Due to upcoming priorities krebsuzette becomes the nucleus of my current engagement.

Oct 2011: Thomas Koch and I initialize The Third Club (now The Forth Club), a joint venture with 10 great co-founders to nurture creativity & innovation in entrepreneurship, marketing, communication.

Since Oct 2011 Thomas and I have the privilege to write werbesprech (an online column) for German Wirtschaftswoche.

Early 2011 talk/tank goes live as a leadculture spin-off.
Early 2010 lead/marke is up and running as an rsc spin-off.

Since Oct 09: member of the werbeblogger team, a leading German marketing, brand, and communications blog.

From 2005-08: Registered lecturer at the Zukunftsinstitut Academy, a German Future Think Tank.
From 2006-09: LeadAcademy jury member.

Jan 2005: Foundation of ralf schwartz // distinctive leadership.
2004-05: Lecturing Leadership Excellence at Furtwangen University.

For 5 years (since 2003) I published the mind-box-magazine (2 LeadAwards: Silver 2004 / Gold 2005), which morphed into mediaclinique (2007) and policlinique (2013).

2003-04: Based upon a home stay after a severe mtb crash (scapular fracture, etc.) I reflected my life so far and decided to start something more relevant. Sorry, to my agency friends. You know what I want to say.

2002-04: Managing Director at MediaLogics, the German Competence Center of Publicis Media.

1997-01: 1 year Director Strategic Product Development at Carat/Aegis Media, 3 years Managing Director Carat Wiesbaden, 1 year Managing Director Carat Interactive (member of Aegis Central European Executive Board during those last years).

1992-96: * Head of Media Germany, Austria, Switzerland within GlaxoSmithKline Consumer HealthCare marketing.

From the end of 1987 I worked for Grey/MediaCom and Y & R as media trainee, consultant, group head, resp.

I studied economics and specialized in strategic business planning, controlling, and marketing.

My 30+ years of experience blend a profound strategic business planning and leadership competence (managing director for almost 10 years) with relevant brand and marketing expertise.

Wir sollten reden.
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What Difference Do You Make?
What Value Do You Create?
Why would anybody Miss You?