Murder for coffee withdrawal

Coffee has been a part of my life since I was in college, back in the late 90s. I could only survive so many lectures in which the professor made little effort and which were therefore just boring. Later, at work, coffee was a companion for many exciting hours when we were researching something new at university, inventing something at the company or working on a tricky deal. In the morning, coffee is part of the wake-up routine and at meetings (now via web session) it is still an integral part. At the weekend, a good coffee is part of an indulgent breakfast. So why on earth would you want to get off coffee? I did and I want to report on it here (yes, I survived it!).

Coffee belongs to the sgt. stimulants. We do not need them to survive, but consume them because they simply do one thing: they taste good and they provide (short-term) happiness. This is also the reason for the danger of addiction, which varies depending on the stimulant. But that's not why I gave up coffee, because I love drinking coffee. It was rather a recommendation in the context of a 1-week cure fast to do without any stimulant. And I can therefore confirm that coffee is a) addictive and b) giving it up can lead to real withdrawal symptoms. In my case it was mainly persistent and sometimes severe headaches, but also restlessness, followed by listlessness and a certain irritability. This only got better after 2-3 days, but I managed it with a lot of discipline. At least for one week.

What has it done for me? I see (at least) the following advantages:

  • Conscious perception of body and mind: You learn to pay more attention to the signals and to act accordingly.
  • Concentration: focused work is also possible without coffee. Take a break to enjoy your coffee instead of drinking gallons of it.
  • Natural flow: without coffee you learn to follow the flow of your biorhythm. Work in the high, rest in the low.
  • Better sleep: for me, coffee works 100% and I can't fall asleep if I have another cup after a certain time. Without coffee I can simply sleep better and recharge the batteries.

What's the next step?

Forever giving up coffee and other stimulants. I'm too much of a hedonist for that (another topic for another article). However, the planned and controlled withdrawal has taught me mindfulness (another topic!) for pleasure: to enjoy pleasure consciously . I've since significantly reduced the amount of coffee I drink, and I've been enjoying every cup double and triple ever since. For me, this now applies to many other indulgences and foods as well. If you ever get an idea like that, let me know if you've managed to do it without making a killing.

... about this blog (my mission statement)

My mission statement is based on Simon Sinek's slightly expanded Why-How-What circle. It's likely that I'll continue to refine this over time, but here's the first pitch.

Why? My articles are aimed at entrepreneurs and those who want to become entrepreneurs. I assume the entrepreneur wants to make an idea big and "come out ahead". Such people who have a clear, entrepreneurial goal are my target audience. Entrepreneurial success means making few mistakes or correcting them quickly. The management of the company should be conscious and active. It is about working out what to offer to whom(marketing) and how(sales). It is also about setting a strategy and bringing it to fruition. Finally, it is important to constantly reinvent the company and adapt it to the market. The best example here is dealing with the pandemic, which by no means everyone survives if they don't adapt their company.

How. I follow two basic perspectives: 1) improve the company itself and b) improve the entrepreneur. Both need to be in harmony to ensure that an idea ultimately becomes a product in demand and this then leads to success. Both perspectives have different facets that need to be systematically captured and continuously improved. After all, standing still means taking a step backwards, as the competition never sleeps in an attractive market.

I like to start with a 360° view of the company. In doing so, I apply a multi-dimensional model that I developed and refined with my mentor. The dimensions considered include: Customers, Market Approach, Employees, Plan and Actual Numbers, Product Roadmap, etc. Once this is captured, I look with the entrepreneur to see where the bottlenecks are and what operational steps can be derived. A consistent review of the success of the measures rounds this off. I apply the same system to the entrepreneur. The dimensions here include: entrepreneurial fitness and physical fitness. It is also about internalizing the phases of entrepreneurship (growth, sale, exit, life after).

Ishe allowed to do that? As a former company founder, CEO and Managing Director, I walked a rocky road for many years, growing my company through various stages to 120 employees and a leading company. I also actively sought growth capital, negotiated and eventually sold the company. I am now happy to pass on the experience I gained along the way.

(1) Is it "the" or "the" blog? Ask the dictionary!

About me ...

My name is Markus Schumacher, born in 1973, and I live in the Bergstraße district (Hesse). In this blog, I exchange ideas on topics that have literally "occupied" me for many years: Technology, Entrepreneurship and "Toys". This post outlines how I got into it.

Computers have fascinated me since I was a child. The conscious starting shot of my nerd career was in 1985, when my parents gave me a Commodore C64. Besides playing games, I quickly became fascinated with designing with a computer and still do today. By the way, I still have the C64 (see picture).

This hobby led me to study electrical engineering at the TU Darmstadt. When I couldn't find a reasonable job during the semester break in 1996, I decided to participate in a programming internship to learn the then new language Java . After Assembler and C in my studies, this was a completely new experience and set the course for the future. Equipped with this knowledge, I quickly got a job at an advertising agency in Frankfurt to design the first applets for websites of financial companies.

Java 1.0 Desktop Reference (original)
This is my original copy of the Java 1.0 Desktop Reference.

Thus infected, I decided to stay at the university and do my doctorate. I started this in 1998 at the IT Transfer Office (ITO) , an organization of the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt that kept itself alive exclusively through externally funded projects, initially sponsored by the Digital Equipment Corporation. This awakened the entrepreneurial streak in me. The creative freedom, but also the entrepreneurial risk (no project, no job, no PhD) of this time had a great impact on me. It also made me aware early on that technology alone is not enough to sell products or services on the market.

Without teaching duties, however, I lacked contact with the students. Therefore, building on my childhood experiences with computers, I created the Hacker Contest . The goal was to investigate current technologies (new at the time: WLAN, Bluetooth, etc.). In teams the participants took the role of attacker and defender. This initiative was continued for many years, even after I left the university.

In May 2003 I successfully completed my doctorate "with distinction". The topic was Security Patterns, a topic I have been dealing with for many years. Patterns originally come from architecture. The idea is that no architect can learn how to build beautiful houses. You need experience to do that - and that's what is captured in a pattern. The idea was transferred to software (sgt. Design Patterns) and I then adapted and described it for security.

One of my pioneering topics: Security Patterns was a new topic that had a lot of momentum in the design pattern community.

Equipped with this know-how, I decided to go "out" after my doctorate. I had been offered a junior professorship, but that was still quite new at the time and not very attractive to me. I therefore used my ITO contacts and quickly found a job at SAP as a product manager for security. At that time, SAP was another project partner of the ITO and had taken over the Lab in Karlsruhe with which we had cooperated. During this time, the "old" SAP base in NetWeaver (Release 640+) and I was able to learn a lot about the different SAP technologies during this time, most recently during the conversion from an idea to the generally available product SAP Business ByDesign.

The topic of security was and is a matter of the heart for me for many years. However, I have not understood it in the sense of a function for protection, like logging something in with a name and password. Rather, it has always been more exciting for me to understand what gaps a system has, how to exploit them, and what you have to do to be "bulletproof". Since I also noticed that SAP customers do a lot of their own development, the next step was bound to happen. When programming and when systems are complex, gaps are almost bound to occur. So it was clear that I would leave SAP in 2006 and, together with a business partner I met at SAP, I founded the Virtual Forge GmbH together with a business partner I met at SAP. Incidentally, I recruited many of the first employees who then carried out SAP-focused penetration tests from the cohorts of participants in the Hacker Contest.

I had some ideas in my luggage about what can be done in the SAP environment that is not offered by the SAP standard. This resulted in another pioneering topic: scanning SAP ABAP code for security vulnerabilities. The resulting solution CodeProfiler for ABAP (version 1.0 presented at the SAP TechEd in Berlin in 2009) is still a market-leading solution today. During this time our book "Secure ABAP Programming" was published. It has not lost much of its topicality, because although there are some new programming constructs in the SAP environment, "old-school" ABAP is far from being at an end.

SAP ABAP - but secure! In 2.000 lines of code 1 critical security hole. Until today the benchmark.

Virtual Forge was the practical introduction to business management for me. Exclusively self-financed, we have managed to reinvent the company over the years to stay ahead in the market and survive. As CEO and Managing Director, I spent many years looking after sales (how do I sell the value of technology), marketing (which customers do I target and how do they find me) and administration. All the while, tough decisions had to be made and my own compass readjusted: this included the company strategy and its implementation. With about 120 employees, we decided in 2018 to go in search of growth capital so we could be strategic (vs. reactive). This eventually ended with the sale of the company(mid-2019) to market competitor Onapsis, where I was an employee for the first time in many years as General Manager Europe.

Since the beginning of 2021, I am now self-employed again with the idea of sharing experiences I have gained on the path to entrepreneurship outlined here. It goes as written at the beginning all facets of entrepreneurship and technical topics. I will always describe "toys" besides the job. By that I mean things that you can afford to do as an adult and that are one thing above all: fun.

You can find me on LinkedIn and XING, among others.

Hello world!

Welcome This is the first post of a blog that is about the following topics in the life of an adult 40+: getting and staying fit & healthy. Becoming and staying successful at work. Becoming and staying an entrepreneur. And finally: sharing about things you don't need but enjoy.

Asathor, by the way, is the name of my company and is due to the fact that a) I like DC Comics (Thor), b) I've been interested in the Norse sagas for a long time and c) in my experience, the Norse are particularly nice people. Skål!