Episode: 343 |
Agnes Kunkel:
The Year 2023:


Agnes Kunkel

The Year 2023

Show Notes

After COVID started, Umbrex member Dr. Agnes Kunkel started the 2023 Podcast, interviewing experts for their take on what life will be like in the year 2023.

Check out all the episodes of the 2023 Podcast at:


Dr. Kunkel is an expert in negotiations. To learn about her consulting and training practice, visit: https://dr-kunkel.com/

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:02
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I’m here today with Dr. Agnes Coco and Umbrex. member and expert in negotiations. She’s based in the Munich area. And Agnes, I’m so delighted to have you on the show today. Welcome.

Agnes Kunkel 00:23
Oh, hi. Well, that’s great to talk to you. And it’s very nice to be on your show.

Will Bachman 00:29
So I guess we have a lot to talk about. I’m interested to hear about your practice of teaching, negotiation and procurement and sourcing skills. And you have a video blog on going on now on LinkedIn around procurement. But let’s start with your podcast. So you’ve started a podcast 20 hyphen, 23 dot earth, where if I understand that you’ve been exploring, kind of what life is going to be like, in 2023, by interviewing a range of experts tell me a little bit about how you came up with the idea for this show about post COVID life?

Agnes Kunkel 01:08
Okay, maybe Will you remember that you are more or less of the mentor of this podcast, as we met nearly a year ago in Munich, and you said, Agnes, you need a podcast. And you were so convincing, that I said, Okay, I need a podcast. And maybe as it is, when you are a consultant, you will have a lot of work. And you have many clients. And it’s a lot of criss cross and back and forth. And so the idea was a little bit in the drawer. But then very, very unlucky layer, everyone was hit by COVID-19. And I had to very in the beginning, the feeling that is not just like the situation in 2008, where we had this big financial recession, that’s something that will change our life much more in depth. And that will be very crazy and life changing, especially as we had so many technological possibilities, but had not been used to its real potential. Maybe especially here in Germany, I think you in the US, maybe you had used it even more. But here in Germany, we were a little bit reluctant to use remote work and tailor conferences like so more. So that was not very popular. And, of course, we had this restrictions. It was not a lockdown. It was not a curfew, but these restrictions to stay at home. And of course, no more seminars, no more consulting. And so I said, Okay, and I’m very curious.

Will Bachman 03:07
Well, that really, that comes through because let me just listen, I just want to list off some of the topics that Agnes is covered. So you know, she has episodes on travel and holidays, compassionate values, leadership, fashion in 2023, mental health, air conditioning, urban planning, restaurants, remote work, cybersecurity, gender equality, smart collaboration, public transit, and you’ve got this amazing range of really high, you know, very prominent guests, you have the CEO of the former CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration. Heidi Gardner, a professor at Harvard Business School, you have a professor from San Diego at an economics, the Vice President of technical Operations Executive tech security expert, a restaurant expert, so they’ll just why don’t you start I mean, it’s just amazing range in this imagine has given you a chance to just build relationships with some really incredible thinkers. Tell us about some of the things that that you’ve learned from doing the show so far that have really been surprising or unexpected to you? Um,

Agnes Kunkel 04:29
yeah, I have I’ve made us lots of things we will see quite sure things that might happen or, and stuff that’s just open. Maybe one point is not surprised. The most important point which come through in any case, is not the real surprise. It is remote work. And all my guests, even my guests, when I ask what will you change Bill Fulton one of these important urban planners from, from Texas University, he said, on Friday, I will be at home. And the tech and cybersecurity expert showed me a picture of his little pets dog and said, I now at home and I can enjoy life with my wife and my grandchildren, and so on. So, we will see remote work. And here in Germany, it’s quite clear and very well researched, we will see two to three days remote work, and two to two days, three days in the office, which has, of course, a lot of things in sequence. Now, when people don’t go downtown to work there, we will see cities which are now inner cities downtown that has been mainly be a place to work and to spend money that will have to change its purpose, maybe in a direction of more recreation, and living. I if if we have time, I will come back to this later. In any case, we will see much more online shopping. In Germany, it was really the breakthrough for groceries online. I was working or I’m still working for one of the big Chinese grocery chain stores here in Europe. And they just had shut down their online branch for the food section not not for the hardware. But for the food section saying, Oh, that’s that business that will not work. Others had things on the starting point. And they were ramping it up very dramatically. And maybe in other areas of the world. People are surprised Oh, you don’t do it online. One of my people is living in Sao Paolo, she said no one would go for groceries here by walking or buy a car that would be too dangerous. It’s brought by to your everything is brought to you a flat to your apartment. Another point we will see is that the acceptance of technological change, and the acceptance of some risk will increase. So maybe here in Germany was struggling so much about combustion engines and emobility and modern ways of creating electricity by by wind and sun and all that stuff. And there’s so much discussion and at the moment, everyone understands we have to change and we have to do it and we can no longer live in the last century. We will live longer by the end, which is a little bit really that’s maybe in the first point. Surprise, a terrible disease will result in a longer lifespan. Why is that but that’s very easy. We have now understood very much better how to stop infectious disease. Maybe you yourself I don’t know. When you have seen these people in Asia wearing this face mask in the winter Japanese especially is coming to me comment to me. This was a little bit strange. Why do they do this now What for? But when you understand we had nearly 30,000 people dying in the winter 2017 2018 from the normal flu virus. A lot of this could be avoided with face masks. And it’s the flu and norovirus came absolutely to stop when the contact restriction started to work. And I would guess it’s the same in the States. So as in infectious diseases, beside heart diseases is one of the main points that will bring your life to an end. When you are going to a normal and normal process if you don’t die from an accident or that stuff. Then you take away one of the life threatening issues when you are at 9100 years. My mother is 100 year old years old. Nearly And the reason why she is so old is she is not the target of infectious diseases. When someone was ill, she was the one who took care and never grabbed it. And of course, she has a very good heart and physical condition on the other hand, and so she’s really running for how do you call it? Some some records? Yes, she she’s she is running for records in the water means her lives. But I’m absolutely sure we all will live a few years longer, as infectious diseases are much more understood as a threat to our life. And we will undertake take take much more measured measures to contain contain these infectious diseases, especially the norm of law or COVID-19, which will stay in some way with us. Yeah, that’s maybe the stuff that I have learned that will come quite sure. And another point will be quite quite sure. I had this very interesting exchange with the lady that wrote this book on the menus.

Will Bachman 11:17
Tell me about that.

Agnes Kunkel 11:19
Yeah, she has written the book on the menus, and found out, she told me that the restaurants now mainly live on the takeout business. And that the margin and the profitability of the restaurants already was very small. To run a high quality restaurant, is not a way really to earn a lot of money. It’s a high risky business, you have to buy all this. The material you need for cooking, it’s expensive, and you are not sure what guests will come and you have high waist rate, as everything has to be fresh and perfect and all that stuff. So it was already a difficult business. And in a world where I guess we have some economic or quite big economic backlash from COVID-19 restrictions. People will save money and they won’t spend money in restaurants and live on I would not be surprised if we lose a lot of high quality restaurants. And it will come down more to bars to snacks. You go out to meet friends, but you won’t go to a traditional restaurant and sit down for three cores or four course menu for courses in your dinner, and the I guess we will lose a part of our cultural heritage. And it will move to let’s say more in the direction of chains. And maybe what you have seen in in the states even a little bit more as I understood, it’s more a chain business is more concentrated in some way or

Will Bachman 13:34
Well, that seems to be happening. That’s right, which is smaller restaurants seem to be really struggling whereas larger chain restaurants that have the capital to really support a big delivery business have been doing better. There’s certainly been a lot of speculation that I’ve seen around these ghost kitchens, which are restaurants that basically don’t serve patrons, you know, on site. They just have the kitchen and have a pure delivery business. So they can be set up and optimized for delivery business as opposed to making an afterthought

Agnes Kunkel 14:13
that was a little bit surprised to me as I think goes kitchen is a wonderful slogan. But is it really new when you go for cola pizza all that stuff? It’s now it’s it isn’t the restaurant so maybe it’s a little bit more disguise that you say I tried to behave like a real restaurant, maybe upscale restaurant. And but I don’t run a restaurant as selling takeaway food is much more take away food on the outbound. No, having not. These have high rents for a really good location in the Downtown. But I behave like I’m a restaurant so that people may be feels a little better when they are ordering. But most take away food is, at the moment not produced in a restaurant, it’s produced in a kitchen somewhere just set up to produce takeaway food. So I’m I don’t understand what the new aspect is on ghost kitchen beside the slogan goes kitchen?

Will Bachman 15:33
Well, I think I mean, certainly, it’s probably fair about pizza, that, you know, sort of a lot of pizza places are mainly focused on takeout like Domino’s. But at least, you know, for me living in New York City, most of the delivery that we would get would be from regular restaurant, you know, Thai or sushi, or Italian or Greek, or, you know, any other kind of food, it’s, you know, based, you know, ramen, from a regular restaurant that, you know, serving patrons, and that’s, you know, just ordering, you know, from a from a neighborhood restaurant, you know, Indian, Mexican, etc. So, but if they’re more of a ghost kitchen and just have no dine in patrons, then you don’t have to have the expensive Front of House staff, you don’t have to have a storefront property, you could imagine, like whole buildings that have, you know, 30 restaurants in them, you know, all optimized with some shared resources, and the centralized location, maybe even you can order that way, you know, one entree from an Indian place one entree from a Thai place, if you don’t have to agree that you’re both going to get the same, you know, the same type of food, and then delivery person can run around from one kitchen to another, picking up your stuff. So, you know, we may see some innovation there. Tell me a little bit about what you learned from about public transit you so you had an interview with Paul comfort? Who is the former CEO of Maryland Transit Administration? What are what are what are some of the thoughts that you got there around how transit may change

Agnes Kunkel 17:13
that was really a highlight, he’s a wonderful person, and he has a very, very modern and few on public transport. He is fighting for a very flexible trend public transport. More like on demand, though, that you don’t have a fixed routes, but that people can call for public transport vehicle, and that they are a ghost station, so that you can say, Okay, I have now someone here on this contraction, and here I want to enter public transport. And this has not to be a regular stop for a fixed route, public transport situation. And I think that would make In any case, public transport much more attractive to many people. And he says, we will see more micro mobility, and we will see a reorganisation of the last mile of going from A to be so bad public trend at the moment is as public transport is a big, fixed system, typically on tracks, tubes, suburbs, buses, trams, and all that stuff. It’s running on a fixed system. And of course, you need a backbone, you need a backbone on a fixed system, but you need in public transport really to bring people to to bring the service people wants today, you have to have a sort of flexible network around this backbone to pick up people in the suburbs, and to pick them up in a time. That’s not the standard time and whatever. And he hopes for the investment packages, the government investment packages, I guess, its plan to spend amounts nearly what spent the last 10 years should be spent in the next two to three years in maybe public transport by government subsidies. And this should be used to make public transport much much more fluid. And he is thinking about interconnections with maybe he bikes, his quarters, and all that stuff to make it as flexible as possible. So that you’re local transport organization not only allows you to go by underground or tube, but also by a scooter or a bike.

Will Bachman 20:32
Yeah, I saw integrate to integrate all that. Right. I mean, I certainly think when you travel around in Europe, when you go to the train station, they’ll be just these like, half acre of bicycles locked up or people bike to the train and take the train from one city to another. And then you arrive in a city and there’s like, the donkey Republic bikes, you can rent or the line bikes, you cannot get to your final destination. Let’s let’s transition. Oh, you know, actually, there was one more I wanted to ask you about, which is a big issue that I think is under discussed is gender equality, and how so many, I think more believable, I saw recently statistics on how a lot more women have left jobs during COVID than men, presumably because they’re picking up more slack in the home with with kids going to school, you know, remotely from home. What what are you hearing about? gender equality? You had a discussion with Titan, Alon who’s? Yes, San Diego for economics. What are you hearing around gender equality, how they might? Yeah,

Agnes Kunkel 21:44
I guess, when you’re mentioned that more women lost jobs during COVID-19, that could be would be likely to be drawn from his research. As he did something very innovative. He built a Chanda macro economic model. Typically, when you build a macro economic model, you have just one gender, presumably a man. And he and his colleagues, they made a macro economic model that has two genders. That was I guess, before COVID-19 that they created that models that they say, okay, in a micro macro economic model, it’s not the same if you are a man or if you are a woman. And then, when COVID-19 come, they run the problem problems of COVID-19 with this to gender, micro macro economic model. And they found out that in your country, much more women lost their job during COVID-19 than men. That might be related to the fact that in hospitality restaurants, and these branches, you have much more women working. We have a different situation here in Europe. And I have checked the figures for Germany, we have absolutely par job loss at the moment in Germany. So we do not have more women losing their job, and we do not have more especially women working in the hospitality business. That’s not very common. That’s in our thinking. It’s a hard job and it’s a typical at chop chop for men, not for woman seems completely in contrast to the States. And Titan was quite let’s say pessimistic or his model is quite pessimistic. As he says this will bring back that gender pay gap for 30 years it will take when you make an extrapolation from this backlash for the woman being no longer part of the workforce that it will take around 30 years to bridge this backlash and to catch up with the old track I don’t want to put my sing a woman opinion against Titan Alliance perfect and and really high priced. economic model but from from from my let’s say as I see it around me I have the feeling that woman won’t accept it, and that this working remote makes it easier for a woman to stay in the career path. And even further, that’s a point I would like to discuss with you, as you as a expert in consulting, have, as I guess, a lot of ideas and personal experience in this area. But when you are leading remotely, the gender aspect is not so important. At the moment, here in Germany, we have still a situation where, let’s say, the career path is made on Friday afternoon in inner circles. And you should be at the premises and be part of these inner circles to make your career path. typically not easy for a woman caring for a family, even if this is a couple and both are taking care for the children. But we have the experience of the German Democratic Republic. And in the plane writing men and women were equal, and every woman was working. But it was the second shift the woman wherever I can, but household children, caring for elderly people, this has to be done when you come back from work. So in reality, some say it was quite exploitive for a woman, they had to work in the in the company, they had to work in the production. And typically, when you look for the top jobs, and for the career path, they were not included, but they had to work and all the other caring stuff, they just had to stick with it, and no one was taking it away from them. So when we accept the fact that care work at home for the family will not be equally shared during the next years. But this will take maybe a few generations till it’s really equally shared. Then, of course, I think it’s easier when many things are done remote and when it’s no longer a problem when leaders work remote. But that’s my private opinion. That’s not that’s not from Titans model. We, we had a little discussion around the recording. And then we told that, of course he is in a relationship with a very wonderful young economist. And he says, okay, from time to time, I understand that I have to take more burden in household and family stuff. So that’s exactly what I what I see. But especially of course, the well educated women, they I think they will draw advantage, they will have an advantage from the possibility that they do not have to go to the office every day.

Will Bachman 29:03
So some of these trends may push in both directions.

Agnes Kunkel 29:07
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, a lot of Of course Titan will be correct, but maybe for the average worker in a restaurant or wherever this might be a long term problem to catch up. Regarding the gender pay gap.

Will Bachman 29:26
I want to ask you some about just the practical steps you took to set up your podcast I mentioned and I’ll include a link in the in the show notes. You’ve got this really beautiful beautiful website this dynamic interactive website with each episode has a transcript and blog post and you have a nice you know, some nice icons and and logo for your show. Tell us about you and I think we before we start recording you were telling me that you use some some folks on Upwork To help do some of the work, tell us about just what how you went about creating the show and about your virtual team that supporting you now,

Agnes Kunkel 30:09
that’s quite easy. Well, I just looked on Unleashed website, and I said, we have at least to have all these things that you have, we have to have a logo, we have to have a website. And we have to have transcripts, which I think are very, very important as when someone is really interested in a topic, it’s much easier to just go quickly through a transcript than to listen to 30 or 40 minutes of a podcast that’s wonderful when you are in a train or in a car. And we’re looking for something interesting to entertain you and to learn a little bit. But when you really look for information, you need transcripts. And as this cannot be done by one person, I said, Okay, we will need a team or we will need freelancers. And so I hired on Upwork, a incredible designer for podcast logos, he is really specialized on podcast logos. And I hired in UK, a composer for the music, the intro outro music. And he’s also specialized on podcasts. And he gave me some valuable tips of what we have to think about what’s important. And then I hired a few virtual assistants, Matt will keep up with all this stuff, inviting and fresh up the web beside and remove the box from the website. And we have a group of very talented programmers, it people in India, in Pakistan and India that do the programming stuff and new websites and all that stuff. So yeah, it’s a very lovely young, young group of people. And we meet or via we have a teams organization. And yeah, it’s they like it.

Will Bachman 32:38
How are you going about doing the outreach for, for guests for episodes? How are you deciding, you know, who you want to, you know, invite? And mechanically, how does that process work?

Agnes Kunkel 32:51
We have, of course, started with a list of topics we thought might be of interest. Let’s say we want to have someone on urban planning. That’s a topic that’s fascinating for me. So we want to have people for urban planning. We want to have people for mental health, we want to have people for public transport. And then one of the virtual assistants, which is very well trained in marketing, she is reaching out and looking for maybe people who are guests and our podcasts, have podcasts themself are publishing interesting news articles on a certain topic. And then they just write emails and call these people and then typically when they are interested, then you are referred to the office or the assistant. And then we do the scheduling and then the recording. And then it goes back to the virtual assistant, the virtual assistant makes the transcript with help of IE machine and the internet, you can book artificial intelligence for doing the transcript. Man the transcript is, of course you have to proofread it. And then we send the transcript to the guest. That guest gives us approval for the transcript and therefore for the episode. Typically, we make a little announcement with a picture of the guest and what the episode might be about and of course, we have set up this iTunes connection and Spotify connection though, that these podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify. And then of course, we keep contact to our guests. We call informative material articles as the show show notes. And I’m sure some of these guests, we will come back to them. As the project is planned that we will do 123 episodes each week. Till 2023. I have in the end the picture what? What has come real, what will come real what has happened, and most of the predictions were good predictions.

Will Bachman 35:34
What an amazing project. And I imagine that allowed you to build some relationships with just a really diverse range of fascinating people.

Agnes Kunkel 35:44
In any case, yes, yes. I’m overwhelmed myself, I have maybe thought Yes, I will talk more in a circle of people I know already. But Up to now, I guess maybe one guest is a person I have known already very well. All others are completely new. People that are experts in the field, and we’re ready and interested to come to the podcast.

Will Bachman 36:16
Let’s talk a minute about your about your day job about your own consulting practice. So you started out at McKinsey, some time ago, and you worked at a few different consulting firms with my understanding is a large focus on negotiations. And tell us about about the practice that you’ve been running since since 2006.

Agnes Kunkel 36:40
Okay, 2006, I published a book on negotiation. While we were talking about movies, the Godfather, Erin Brockovich, and a few other Pulp Fiction, and we picked negotiation settings and analyze these settings with the tools of negotiation theory. And, but was very well received the book. And so this was the fundament for my training and consulting and coaching business circling around negotiation with a very heavy concentration on procurement and sales. And so my business is having a group of procurement leaders or commodity managers or key account managers and train them in fundamentals of negotiation or advanced stuff of negotiation. And that’s typically done for larger companies, as of course, these programs typically are run by large public companies. And yeah, where you really have maybe 100 or 50 procurement people or 2030 key account managers.

Will Bachman 38:19
Yeah. As you’ve grown your practice, have you engaged sort of subcontractors who can deliver your training materials, do you know yourself or

Agnes Kunkel 38:30
we have a small very small network mainly drawn from all colleagues from McKinsey. And we have one colleague, which had himself run the global sales force for typical German privately owned Thai tech company with a 600 salespeople around the world. And he is joining me for intercultural trainings for special sales trainings where it’s asked do you have someone who has done this himself for some discussion for higher high profile participants, and we have someone who was a leading figure in procurement at BMW in Munich. And he joined us for special input and special knowledge and procurement. And yeah, so three to four people and maybe there are maybe one from sighs optics, procurement professional or high ranking, who is now in his. We have something we call it for who is done when you are as a manager UI. We are retiring a little bit early, maybe around 60 or so. These people of course when they are had been so busy, they need something to cool off. And maybe doing sharing their expertise in trainings. And so that’s a nice way to cool off to make your transition to a little bit more quiet private life later. Now,

Will Bachman 40:18
when you’re working with clients on delivering negotiation training, imagine in some cases you’ve done kind of global programs or delivered training to their negotiators around the world. What sorts of cultural differences have you encountered or had to incorporate into your training when you’re teaching people to negotiate in different different cultures?

Agnes Kunkel 40:47
Oh, yeah, there, let’s say the theory and best practice of negotiation is always the same. But the degree of good practice of negotiation is already embedded in the culture is a very, there’s a big differences. So Germans are very bad negotiators really bad. It’s absolutely contrast to our many, many of our cultural values. Sitting down spending time with people discussing back and forth that we don’t like we asked, straightforward, should be measurable and no making offers and maybe offers to withdraw them later. That’s absolutely crazy to people here in Germany. I guess the Anglo Saxon world has of course, its merits in negotiation. It’s trained in the universities and I guess much of the most of the good negotiation literature is based in the Anglo Saxon world. What’s a little bit a pity is that it was really very advanced and very, let’s say, cultivated way of negotiating but it’s hard. It’s a little bit coming down as you may be might realize yourself, when you look at the Brexit negotiations, I don’t know if you have an eye on these very public high profile negotiations. Let’s Let’s a little bit of this brinkmanship type of negotiation. Let’s now let’s call it war. To me, that’s cold war. And I thought we had overcome this for a few decades. But now, sometimes, you’ll see regressions, and of course, people in India, Asia, typically are very good negotiators. To these cultures. negotiation is much more in some way, even in the Near East. These people of course, they are that’s much more common that you have to be a good, good, good and a polite and an effective negotiator.

Will Bachman 43:29
Right. Fantastic. Well, Agnes, oh, we will include a link to your podcast website in the show notes and if you would like to share any of the links to any of the freelancers that you’ve been working with on Upwork we can include those links as well. Where can where’s the best one but

Agnes Kunkel 43:52
I just don’t understand what you mean by the freelancers.

Will Bachman 43:56
Oh, for the folks on Upwork who have helped you know, design your music Yeah. And your your graphic.

Agnes Kunkel 44:04
Ah, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Now I understand the composer and the design people Yes, Yes, I understand.

Will Bachman 44:16
As always jumping back to that and then for your own practice, where’s the best people to find you if they wanted to follow up to learn more about your negotiation practice?

Agnes Kunkel 44:27
Um, yeah, um, the best place would be Neko dot coach on LinkedIn. Okay, we will make this more international and will bring more English speaking episodes at the moment we have two German what we will subtitles in this will be English subtitles and there will be more the English episodes and this will be a good place to To learn more about me and my practice,

Will Bachman 45:04
fantastic. Well, we will include those links in the show notes. Agnes, thank you so much for joining today. This was amazing. Thank you. It was a pleasure to talk to you

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