He was successful but not happy. Now he's both? (ft. Jens Mannanal)

Jens Mannanal: I didn't have the courage. It's the trap that I was in from school already. We always have another year to complete. There's another step ahead of you. Success always was measured in money. It wasn't just my friends saying I was losing my mind. It was also my, my parents saying I was losing my mind. Let's say it tells, let's say you, in three years, you have to shut everything down.

How would you defend this decision? Our team is not success yet.

Paul: Welcome to this new episode of Up Next. Today we're talking with my good friend, Jens Mannanal.

He went to some of Europe's top business schools, got his MBA and started a career at Bain in consulting. A couple years in though he noticed that he wasn't really up for this. Corporate ladder and that he needed a change.

So he became part of the German startup ecosystem. First at, GetYourGuide, and later, as a founder of Passionfroot.

This is a conversation about success, a conversation about courage, and a conversation about living a happier life.

Thank you so much for listening. I'm Paul, and this is up next with Jens.

Alright, good to see you, Jens. How are you doing?

Jens Mannanal: I'm good. I'm good. Good to see you as well, Paul.

Paul: I like to start right into it. How would you right now explain to your grandparents what your, what you do for a living?

Jens Mannanal: Wow. Uh, good question. I am lucky that one of my grandparents is still alive, my grandmother in, in India, and if I had to explain what I'm doing to her, I would tell her that I am running my own business.

Uh, that is a technology business. Uh, we are working in the internet and we help people that are themselves, business people to make a living with whatever they're doing on the internet.

Paul: I love to travel back in time and jump into your school time. If I went back and talked to one of your high school teachers, how would they describe you? What do you think? What would they tell me?

Jens Mannanal: I think a teacher from my school back then would tell you that I am always prepared.

I always have my homework. Very studious. always trying to get a better grade. Trying to help others if they need help. And yeah, fighting my way through high school to get the best grades to them. Also get to a university that could lead to a more fulfilling life.

At the end of the high school in Germany, you sometimes have these graduation books. And my own schoolmates actually also said that I was one of the most studious people in my grade. I was teacher's pet, for instance. So teachers would really like to give me good grades, I guess. Um, kind of being the only, or one of the only people with migration background in, in a very german school. Let's put it this way,

Paul: sounds like the opposite to me, was never really prepared and would do my homework and stuff, but yeah. What do you think was the most valuable experience or take away from high school?

Jens Mannanal: Great question again. I think just being in that high school was extremely eye-opening for me and kind of paved the way for a lot of things that I did in the past, after high school.

So for you to know my parents and I we are from a small town next to Cologne, but they decided to send me to, to this Catholic school, which is kind of in the center of Cologne. And because of that I had exposure to a lot of people from. traditional families, I would say, you know, that I probably wouldn't have had exposure to if I was still in that hometown that I was from.

So just seeing what people were thinking of doing after high school, thinking of you know, doing while being at high school. We had one guy who started physics when he was still in grade ninth or so. So there's a lot of people that I think inspired me to just think bigger than, you know, what I was thinking back then.

And that really had an impact in whatever I was doing afterwards. So I think the mere fact that I went to that high school was very impactful. And then I think what I was touching upon earlier as well, I was one of the only ones with the migration background kind of being in the minority and find your way and also find your way through high school was Yeah pretty impactful and has still an impact on my life.

Paul: That's so, interesting to hear cuz it's again, so, yeah, it's, it's a different perspective to compared to the one I had.

I think you then went to Yeah. One of the most renowned public universities in Germany to study basically ba and I'm super interested in trying to understand like, how do I have to imagine you as a, I dunno, 20 year old, what's in your head? What are your thoughts while being at that university in Germany?

Jens Mannanal: Yep. So first of all I was really stuck or not stuck, but I had too many options. I think similar to, to, to where you are right now. I had pretty good grades after high school and you know, had all of this exposure to different professions parents of friends telling me I should do that, to do this.

But wasn't really clear on what I wanted to do long term. For a long time I wanted to study medicine, but then realized it would take me forever and I kind of was optimizing for learning things quickly and then working quickly and. kind of, you know, make my own living very quickly and not studying for a long period of time, which is why I then chose to follow the path of a very close friend of mine who had already gone to Manheim because he was just you know, one year older to me.

And kind of had that step done one year prior to when I had to do it. And I really liked the university. It kind of felt like it, I mean, you have to know it's in, in the middle of a castle. It has some kind of nice impact when you see it for the first time. So I visited my friend, saw the university, kind of understood, okay, business administration or business in general is a door open to a lot of different fields.

And because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, it felt good to. , just have that option set still. Now in hindsight, I think the earlier you close the, a few options, the better and you kind of narrow down on what you wanna do earlier on. But back then it kind of felt good and you know, being there after a year at Manheim I was a little bit disappointed, I have to say.

I was doing the same thing that I was doing in high school, studying a lot, getting good grades, still not knowing what I wanted to do long term, right? Because, you know, here you are, you can do marketing, you can do finance, you can do anything in business. So business is not just business, which I didn't know as an 18 year old, or 17 year old, or you know, when I was much younger.

It has a lot of different facets. And here I was studying everything and still not knowing what I wanted to narrow down on. But yeah, definitely great exposure. Again, great people around me, people that I could learn from. And again, exposure that I wouldn't have had otherwise. So Manhattan was again, really, really impactful for me and would miss that experience in my life.

Paul: How did success look like for you back then?

Jens Mannanal: I think back then it was, it was, I was much more shallow. I, I think success always was measured in money. So I remember someone telling me, yeah, it's good you're going to Mannheim. You can study, uh, business for three years, then join investment banking in London and then be a millionaire by the, by the age of 30.

Um, and as you know now, this is not what I wanted. I realized that later, but at that point of time, I think success was for me personally. Measured by how much money you could earn and have. Uh, and I think that is something that I have definitely, um, yeah, I have, I have a different opinion on. Yeah, I think, we'll,

Paul: we, we are going to, to touch on that a little bit later, but for now, what I, I think when I look at your resume or LinkedIn, um, it's like you then, um, for, for context, you then go ahead and study at, um, also very renowned, um, business school in, in Paris.

Why, like, was it like, again, this maybe not knowing where to narrow down. Then I decided to, to go to that again, like I said, very renowned school and, and to your, your MBA or what was the reason behind it?

Jens Mannanal: I think it, it's important to know that parallel to, to Manheim, I was also accepted to this scholarship program, um, by the German Business Foundation called in German.

And through the S D V I got exposure to, you know, more things than just business. So having been at Manheim, seeing all of the business stuff, it was really necessary for me to also see, okay, what are other things that people do around me and, and people who have the scholarship. Uh, so the scholarship not just helped me financially, but also help me to wide my horizon a lot.

And I realized that with that new horizon, I wanted to step out and go outside of Germany. I had, you know, studied in Germany. My parents are from India, but I didn't really see anything besides Germany up to that point. Um, did my exchange semester in Asia at a university in Bangkok, and, uh, realized then, okay, the world is your oyster.

So I had some kind of fascination in going out of Germany, seeing the world after seeing, you know, parts of Asia and these three months and going to HSC was to that extent, logically, because I was able to go there again with a scholarship funded by s a I probably would've not been able to otherwise. So kind of taking that option was very smart to me back then.

Plus going outside of Germany and just taking that step out of the comfort zone. Um, that really pushed me. And to be honest, at the age of 22, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do. The only thing that was different, when I was 20, I guess, was that I had learned about the master pyramid and I knew that self-actualization is, is more than, you know, just having a steady job and making a lot of money, which I thought was success when I was 20.

So, going out there to at least find out what that, you know, happiness, self-actualization, could be, was important. And going to Paris seemed to be an option to find out what that could be. Yeah.

Paul: Awesome. So after, um, after Paris, after your, your mba, um, your first like, um, big or normal job, you, you went to Bain, right?

And you became like a strategy consultant, um, at a, at this big firm. Um, and I think, um, you probably, like, you probably went on, um, uh, like business trips. You did like, uh, like very important. Projects for big companies. And how was this like?

Jens Mannanal: So, so I think, uh, it's in, it's interesting to at least know how I ended up at Bain before we talk about Bain, because that wasn't also clear when I was going to Paris, um, at, in Paris.

I think I had a great time because it just gave me a lot of things to think through, uh, what I wanted to do in my life. And, uh, again, seeing people from all over the world having exposure to much more than ever before. Um, Me and my friends actually understood that businesses, not just investing and consulting, but entrepreneurship could be really interesting.

And we founded the first entrepreneurship forum called Hscc, which is still, uh, running every year for the first time. Back then in 2015, I think, yeah, now I saw entrepreneurship being the epitome of what I wanted to do, like self-actualization, et cetera. But I didn't have the courage to do it back then.

Uh, what I had the courage for was exploring my roots. And when I had the opportunity at HSC to go to India, it felt like something I had to do. So I decided to do this double degree between Paris and India and kind of go back to where my par family was from. So back to the roots because. , as I said before, I, I was just in, in, in Germany all the time and, and for the first time outside of Germany, I realized everyone is speaking about India.

But I had no idea what India was all about, right? India is huge. It's almost a continent. And the only thing that I knew was, you know, my, my family's, um, home, which is in the south of India, which is not comparable to anything else in India that I knew. So I wanted to go back to India, and when I was in India at the, in Indian Institute of Management, I realized that, uh, I wanted to stay in India for a little bit of time.

So the time was confined to a year because that was the length of the program that I signed up for, kind of, but it wasn't enough for me to be satisfied. So I took up the opportunity to do an internship in India that was part of the university program, and Bain came down to campus. So all the companies come to campus and interview you.

and I really like Bain more than the other consulting companies or investment banks that I could have, uh, could have gone to because of the people. Yeah, really. And having done the internship then with Bain in India, which was super exciting. Uh, you know, I was in cyber city in good gown with my team that kind of also saw the world before, but it was deliberately working in India for a Chinese company doing a market entry in India.

I kind of realized the, which potential of India I got really hooked up. And after my internship I came back to Germany and, and thought about, okay, what are my next steps? But I, what's really clear at that point of time, based on my experience in the university and the experience in internship, that I wanted to go back at least for some more time to, to double down on the experience.

And so I went back to Bain, India, uh, even though probably I. could have stayed back in Europe. And a lot of people were like, why are you doing this? Uh, you're not earning as much money as in, uh, in any other job in Germany. But I think it was always the experience that I was, I was, I was going after, and in hindsight also probably one of the best decisions of my life to go back to India again, to, to start my, start my job there.

Um, and now to your question, H how was it to work at Bain and how was it to work, uh, with great clients and great, um, on great projects? I think something like Bain and that you see across a lot of people that were in consulting at some point in their life just gave you a, a new perspective on how things can be done.

I mean, everything's so structured. Everything can be super efficient and. teamwork is extremely important. So it's a lot of things that I've picked up in, in consulting at Bain that I didn't pick up before and probably also wouldn't pick up at this point of time. It's a very closed, high intensity environment that you have a super steep learning curve and, and I think that I enjoyed a lot and really made the most out of it, uh, for the three years I was there.

Um, it was a year and a few month in India and then afterwards in Berlin when I decided to go back to Germany to be closer to my family again. Um, yeah, and I think the big differences between India and Germany were really the kind of projects I was on. I would say in hindsight, India has so much potential.

The economy is still evolving. The kind of projects I was doing there. super interesting. Much more interesting than the projects I was doing in, in, in Europe, to be honest. And if you ask me, I would, you know, sign up for a job in India, uh, any second again, uh, if I was at that point of time, uh, that point of life again.

Paul: Did you, in, in that like, and again, this like period of time sounds very exciting. You had like a lot of different input, but did you feel successful?

Did you feel that's that's it, or how did you feel?

Jens Mannanal: I think I felt successful. I think it's the trap that I was in. from school school already. You know, you always have another year to complete. complete There's another step ahead of you. It kind of felt good to have the next thing in front of me already, right?

It was after high school, being at university, then after my bachelor's, being at my, at a Master's University, getting a double degree, right? My MBA in India, then doing my job at Bain. And then there you also have the letter, the corporate letter that you can grow up. But I realized at some point, okay, this is great.

But you know, circling back to master experiment, it felt being, I felt being successful, but it wasn't necessarily how I would define success in the future. I thought. So. There was a mismatch between what I was feeling right now and. the feeling I would have in the future. And that's, I think, when I de decided to, to make a change in my life.

Yeah. And go into the uncertain terror, which also was much more what I had in mind when I started in Paris, for instance. And, you know, founding this entrepreneurship forum and giving people more access to the startup world. Um, and I kind of felt after my time at Bain that I had more courage, more knowledge, more, um, yeah.

Experience to, to actually go down that path and, and look for what could be success in the long run rather than in the time then.

Paul: Yeah. I really like that. And I think that's one of the main things, like you have this very string and almost conservative career path of going to a very prestigious university in Germany than going to do your MBA at another important business school.

Everything at least from the outside leads to this career in either investment banking or consulting. But then this moment comes and suddenly you go like basically leave all this behind you and go to a German, German startup, which is I think that's that seems to be a, like a risky decision.

Why did you do it at the point you did it, right? You described like this shift, but, um, what kind of, uh, what was the tipping point?

Jens Mannanal: So yeah. I was describing how much I learned in the, in the three years at Bain, and I think I got to a point where I thought I wouldn't learn necessarily much more and wasn't really up for that corporate letter that Bain was offering. So, after being cons, being a manager, principal, and then partner, I think being a partner at a consulting company is a great job, but it wasn't really what I was looking for to do, uh, in, in the long run.

So having known this or. gotten to, having gotten to that realization, it was kind of clear I needed to get out or do my next thing and get your guide, to be honest, was a very logical decision. Again. So if you are saying everything looked very stringent, stringent, then this also seemed to be, you know, just the next step.

Um, and it was a safe way for me to go out of consulting, see a tech company from the inside, uh, that at that point of time already was extremely successful. Right. If you look at all of the investors that invested into Get Your Guide, the Momentum it had, obviously nobody could know that the Corona Pandemic was, uh, around the corner, but everything was so, so good that I actually de-risked my next step again, right?

It was a step into the unknown without. being completely lost. Right? It was, you know, I had a lot of safety, um, around me, and then in hindsight, best decision of my life to, to not of my life. One of my very good decisions, again, to go together. Your guide, because it wasn't just the investors, it wasn't just the, the industry that I really liked.

Right. Tourism is, is exciting. Uh, traveling is, as one of the co-founders said, Tao, uh, maybe one of the best ways, uh, of killing racism because you people, people travel the world and see things differently after they come back. It was also the people I worked with. It was probably also the pandemic that really helped me understanding further what I wanted to do.

Uh, I think the pandemic having hit. so hard made me realize how amazing the people were that I was working with. Johanna and Tao really navigated and the entire team navigated the pandemic extremely well, uh, as a tourism company. And I realized that I was learning from the best. I had learned a lot from that time in the Corona Pandemic at Get Your Guide, but I also felt like I was ready to, you know, jump into the uncertainty.

so I'm jumping a little bit here, but Yeah. Um, get your guide to your point wasn't really a completely crazy idea. It was a very logical step after consulting.

Paul: And yeah, I mean, then you only stay a year. It feels like that when I researched this episode and I also know you , it was kind of like this a little bit it looks like the thing that always kind of led to the step that followed. Why didn't you, you start your own thing already

Jens Mannanal: back then?

I think that question, you can ask me at every single juncture of my life, right? Why didn't I start my first startup right after high school, right where you are right in right now, um, or after bachelors, after masters, et cetera. I think it was always the courage that I didn't have. Uh, I think that's my biggest recommendation to people who.

consider building a startup or a business themselves. They should just do it right away. I definitely didn't have the courage. Maybe also based on my migration background, right? Things need to be stable and safe around me or around my family. Otherwise, um, something's off . Um, then the year at Gache Guide was such an accelerator, as I just mentioned, things were completely chaotic, right?

Nobody knew what was going on in the world. And then seeing how the company did and navigated through the crisis, I, I just realized how much I learned already, just being there for a year. Plus, I realized that, I mean, I don't wanna be dramatic, but life is short, right? As in the Corona Pandemic, definitely left a mark in everyone's lives.

And for me that Mark was, Hey, uh, you know, just do it because there's probably never a better point of time to start a business than yesterday. So I had that realization. Plus the amazing experience I had at Get Guide, probably also plus knowing what was ahead of us with the Creator economy, which I was kind of, or everyone is kind of part of already.

Right. Uh, I remember that I was running webinars. It's similar to what we are doing here. . I was interviewing Nare Sham from Romeo, um, and, and some other guests on my show that I did for the Indu Germany Young Leaders Forum that I had co-founded. And I realized, okay, there are people dialing in to listen to me talk with Nare and other guests about, you know, the risks of starting a business in Germany or the risk of being a founder.

Um, and now in hindsight I know I was a creator and a lot of things build up to my decision then to quit, get to guide and follow my, follow my idea or follow my passion of just starting something to help others start something. Now at that point of time, it wasn't defined yet. And obviously there's more to it than just me, cuz there's also a team, uh, including Jen who, who added to that thought or that intuition.

But that really happened all in that one year. And even if you look at it on my CV and see, okay, there was just one year at Get to Guide it is much more than just that one year. A lot of things happened and I think that just led to the next natural step, which was going out and starting, um, eventually Passionfroot.

Paul: Let's jump into to Passionfroot. You already kind of, uh, explained why, like, why the topic, why like that, like this touchpoint of, uh, with the creator industry, but why Germany to begin with?

Jens Mannanal: I think whoever starts a business needs to manage a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of variables that are unknown and great.

Founders. I think we'll see in future if that is true, uh, on my, like looking at my own case. But a lot of founders that are successful are able to limit the number of variables that are uncertain. And then if you think this is the way to be successful, then you kind of wanna make sure that you are in an infrastructure that is safe for you as a founder, um, and gives you stability in parts of the life where you need stability because you don't have that stability in the professional life.

So, you know, I had that thought, right? India was booming or it's still booming and there's so much happening right there. I could have obviously gone back to India, but then I wouldn't have that infrastructure there. So, you know, friends and family as I know a bunch of people now in India, but it's not the same kind of friendships and, and family.

um, ties that I have in Germany and I obviously didn't know or still don't know how to navigate that system in India, but I do know how to do it in Germany. I think people like Nare, um, I mentioned him a couple of times now, but just picking him up as an example. He was a student in the US as an Indian, came to Germany to start his own business.

That's crazy. Like , he is definitely an outlier, but you know, as an outlier, there's a bunch of people who obviously didn't manage to do that. Going back to your question, I think it was logical to do it in Germany because here is where I had an infrastructure to rely on that, that I could rely on and, and start a business that wouldn't faile from the, from the beginning because I wasn't, um, making sure the basics are covered.

Paul: What's the goal with, with Passionfroot?

Jens Mannanal: The goal is, and that's our mission, is to empower anyone, right? And that can be, that is very broad. Um, but I think that's also our intention.

We are all about growth. We are all about passion. We are all about, everyone is a creator and we are all about community. And I think what we wanna achieve is that everyone can follow their passion. Everyone can be a creator.

We believe everyone is a creator, to be honest. Um, and we all contribute something through the internet for communities. So it's, it's great to have communities. There are communities around creators and we believe in growth. And I think the creator economies actually, internet has so many opportunities for people to grow.

Um, and we with Passionfroot wanna enable that. Uh, for everyone who's listening to this and doesn't know what Passionfroot really does, it's basically the administrative tool back office for the creator. Business. Uh, imagine a podcaster like Paul running his podcast, but not knowing how to monetize it, could sponsor it, and we take care of the sponsoring workflows, the payments, uh, documentation of it, which is a part of the creator economy that has been neglected so far, because it's obviously also not, not so sexy, right?

Uh, if you think about the creator economy, you first think about Instagram, about YouTube, everything that you see, which is customer facing, but what's happening in the back is also extremely, um, liberating for creators. And I think also what will set a lot of creators free to, to follow their dreams.

Paul: I mean obviously as a company you're, you're pretty early stage. You have your, your first users, you have a product.

But I'm still interested in, in learning as a person, you as a per, are you right now, are you successful?

Jens Mannanal: I think what I wanna minimize in the long run is the number of regrets or any, like any kind of regret in my life and starting Passionfroot going into that uncertainty was really optimizing for that. I would've regret not starting Passionfroot for sure, and looking at that kind of metric.

Then a hundred percent unsuccessful. Now, if you look at further things, right, you have an early stage startup. What is the next step for a startup? It's getting onto into the next growth phase, and I think measured against that. I'm not successful yet, or our team is not successful yet, but it's extreme.

strengthening and empowering to know, okay, we are on the right path. As you said, we have a product, we have early users. We are already helping creators to basically concentrate on the creative side of their business more, which I think is really important. We know from our research that the number one pain point is all of the hazard around the creative work.

So we are already doing a great job at helping creators to follow their dreams and kind of outsourcing the not so interesting and exciting part of the creative business to us. And now it's all about doubling down on this and making sure that we are scaling the product, the team, reaching more and more creators, helping them to, to be successful, to, to really, yeah, come closer to our mission and, um, being so empowered, I would say we are successful.

Right? Um, but then if you ask someone who has a serious de uh, startup going to i p o, then there's still a long way to go before, uh, we could say we are successful .

Paul: Sure. But I also think there is a difference between your company being successful, which is a very objective thing, right?

You could say my company's successful as soon as we are profitable or IPOing or like, they, they're different. You could define or measure it by different metrics, but it's objective.

But with your life or you as a person, it's like another story. There's not this one metric that, and I mean, that's something you explore, right? It's not your, like the number on your bank account that that decides if you're successful. So, I think that's, that's like the thing, right? You have to be successful, um, or think you're successful and feel happy with that.

So if you talk about like Series E, IPO, exiting, what's the end goal? What's not, not as empowering creators, what, like what's the end goal for you with founding a startup?

Jens Mannanal: It's not completely separable, right? So founding, this startup always was based on helping others. And we want to empower creators. It doesn't really matter if we IPO or not, uh, we can be profitable. and not i p o and be successful and help creators until I die. Uh, yeah, hopefully also beyond that. And that would be amazing and that's how I would be successful or how passion put would be successful.

I think what you are kind of also hinting to is, is that it? Like, is that what I wanna be doing for the rest of my life? And I honestly cannot tell you, but what I was trying to say earlier is I'm trying to not regret things. And currently by running Passionfroot and, and working with an amazing team on helping creators, I certainly have made a decision that I do not regret.

So that's great. Yeah, and I think happiness is also a, a chain of decisions that you take as an individual and. You know, every week, every month, every year, I will be reflecting on this, whether this is the great it, it is still what I wanna do, what, what makes me happy. And if, if this is what, you know, makes me successful for myself or personally, and that will change.

And as long as we are not where we want to be, I am pretty sure Passionfroot is, is what I, what I'm gonna do. I am not sure what it's gonna come after, um, because there might be nothing after, right? It might be, uh, something that I'm doing for the rest of my life. But there are certainly things that I would do on the side, like I think building Passionfroot has also doubled down on, or has helped me to double down on, on, on the fact that I wanna be a creator myself.

I wanna. Share things with others. I wanna help others do things they wanna do. Um, I think this podcast is great for me, sharing also part of my story with others and, and hopefully inspire them to do things similarly to me if they want to. So that's gonna happen and I think I would be successful if I do that.

Um, sharing more about, about me, about what we are doing at Passionfroot, about helping creators. Um, I think there's a bit of work that I still wanna do in the future to bring India and Germany together. I think that it's something that I have done in the past. I have not done so much in the last few years, but, uh, definitely something that I want to do again.

But again, that will be in parallel to Passionfroot, uh, and not necessarily after Passionfroot.

Paul: You said this is a decision you're not regretting, right. But let's say it fails, right? Let's say you in three years, you have to shut everything down, you meet a, a stranger in a bar, how would you defend this decision?

Like to this, this stranger of starting Passionfroot after it potentially, which we all know will never happen, um, fail.

Jens Mannanal: It won't Fair , but in a parallel universe, uh, yeah. In which it could happen, could, um, I still think it's a no-brainer to do Passionfroot. We are helping others to make a living A and b every single day.

Everyone in this team is putting their 110% into the company and into basically a creator's life. And that cannot be regretted. I mean, it's, it's basically the thing that everyone should wake up for in the morning. And, uh, I really feel like our team and the company as such is doing the best it can to, to do that.

And if I meet a stranger in 3, 4, 5 years in a parallel universe where Passionfroot failed, not in our universe, then uh, I would be proudly speaking about how the team. , um, has given the 110% and we have always tried to make the best decisions. And if something happens like a thing that we couldn't foresee, then, then it's okay.

Um, because we know we gave everything into it.

Paul: I mean, that's a perfect answer. You touched this a little bit already. I don't know, in, in 40, 50 years and I'm sure there, there will be so much change in the world that it's like really hard to assume we are all going to retire the way our parents, um, or grandparents did.

But if we think of this this point of retirement and you will look back in 30, 40 years at your career. What do you think, will be slash will have been important?

Jens Mannanal: I don't wanna bore you, but it's going to be not having any regrets to be honest, but yeah. I, I think, uh, in, in 50 years, looking back at, at my professional life, um, it's definitely running Passionfroot to the best of my abilities, making it succeed, then doing things on my own, right? Everyone has a creator, so there's also Jens outside of Passionfroot and that Jens, um, as everyone out there can be a creator and should be a creator if he wants to.

And I'm gonna do that for sure, and I think in 50 years, hopefully me as a creator or I as a creator, , I have a, have a greater business myself. And then this is entire India, German thing. I, I really believe in, in India's importance in our lifetime, and I think for Germany slash the EU, not to have a strong tie with India is not smart.

And I want to help bridge, uh, what is whatever is between the two countries, uh, currently and in the long run. So in 50 years, I also see myself being somewhat of a diplomat in between without being a diplomat necessarily. Um, but yeah, I think that's, that's what I would define as being successful for me in 50 years.

And most importantly, there's a life outside the professional life and. , I think you cannot measure success of your professional life without measuring success in your private life. I think my professional life should never limit my private life or my happiness in my private life. So it will always go in, in parallel and, uh, hopefully I'll be healthy and I have a healthy family, uh, while doing all of these crazy things, uh, that I was just describing

Paul: I mean, you're, you're not even 40 yet but you already had like a very, at least from the outside and I, I think you would agree an interesting and exciting career, did like a lot of different things. Are you with your career looking back but also looking ahead, I guess, are you, are you happy with where you are right now?

Jens Mannanal: I'm very happy to be honest. I think sometimes I, I, me and my parents

joke around because it's not something that we would've foreseen, um, what happened in their life and what happens currently in my life. I mean, maybe just a little bit of background. My mom came to Germany at the age of 18 and was a nurse and she left her family behind in India that are, uh, that are, which is living off rubber farms.

Right. So having gone through kind of this development in our lives, um, is, is already super, super nice and makes us happy. So I'm happy. . But at the same time, I think there's still so much one could have done or can still do. Right. And I think the one advice that I always give you is just do all the things you wanna do because there's nothing stopping you.

Uh, if you wanna go to China, if you wanna go to the US and study there, do business there, then do it because, uh, that's what life is for. Don't regret it if you ever had the consideration to do it. So yeah, I'm, I'm happy. But I think

there's still a lot to be explored. Still a lot to be done. That can always add to the happiness.

Paul: Yeah. I think that's a great state to be in, right? You don't want to, cuz you, you always wanna keep developing like, there's not, like otherwise it, it will, it will not just be boring but also. It will only go down probably. So, um, I think I, I love that you have this hunger, but you are also happy with where you are.

I think one of the most interesting things to look at if you look at careers, um, from my perspective is like, what, what were like two, maybe, maybe even more depending on the person key decisions someone made that were against all odds, like something someone did that looked stupid, right? But that kind of fueled the success of that person. I want to know what do you think, what were those moments or decisions in your life?

Jens Mannanal: What I think, um, is a great answer to, to your question is me going to India.

I think it wasn't just my friends saying, uh, I was losing my mind. It was also my, my parents saying I was losing my mind. My mom literally said, I didn't come to Germany for you to go back to India . But I think she also doesn't know India the way I know it now and doesn't see India the way I see it.

Um, but India is so much more than that and I think that is something that people really thought was stupid. And I think the be is still open, right? Uh, maybe in 50 years from now, I can say, I told you guys, uh, India's gonna be up there and having a degree in India, having a network in India and being so close to India still, I'm flying over there actually in a month.

Um, is is something I'm really happy about and is, is a bet to some extent. And then obviously founding Passionfroot, I think every entrepreneur is, is taking a leap of faith and people say, why are you doing this right? Why are you leaving behind a great standard of living and kind of look like a student again, or like a student or being on a budget of a student?

Um, and that can be seen as stupid from the outside. But what it is in the inside is really just going for something that one is passionate about. Uh, and also something that keeps people on the toes or me on the toes to, you know, keep striving, keep pushing. So at some point people don't think it was a stupid idea.

Paul: Love that. You are the one who actually came up with the name Up Next for, for this podcast. Let's talk quickly about that before we wrap the episode.

Jens Mannanal: Yeah, a hundred percent. I, I think it's a, it's a great initiative to do this podcast. Um, I think what you wanna do is help others in your age group to think about what is up next, right? So the name really nails that. Yeah. Plus obviously you always have different guests, uh, so it's always up next.

It's a good name for, for the podcast that your offering. And I really hope that, um, people listen to this podcast maybe this is gonna be an inspiration or some kind of inspirational for others worldwide.

Paul: The goal for this podcast is to have people and stories from all over the world with different ideas and perspectives to share. So I think that's, uh, that was a great episode and I'm thankful that you, um, took the time and, and, and joined. So thank you.

Jens Mannanal: Good stuff. Thank you so much for being on your podcast and, um, fingers crossed, but I'm pretty sure this is going through the roof and you will help a lot of other people in your age group, as I said, with what they should be doing or what they can can be doing,

Paul: Hopefully! Thank you so much for, for joining.

Paul Scherer: And that's a wrap for this week's episode of Up Next. If you want to unlock more secrets to success, then make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode again. And if you enjoy the show, I'd be super grateful. If you could take a moment to leave me a review on your. Favorite podcasting platform.

Your feedback helps me to continue bringing you the best content and guests. Remember, you have the power to shape your own future. You are up next Till next Wednesday, I'm Paul signing off. Bye-bye

Creators and Guests

Jens Mannanal
Jens Mannanal
Co-Founder @ Passionfroot, past: @getyourguide & @bainalerts
He was successful but not happy. Now he's both? (ft. Jens Mannanal)
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