#WayForward with Matthias Ackeret, CEO persönlich Verlags AG, Zurich, Switzerland

In the #WayForward series, CEOs tell us what’s on their mind in coronavirus times. Read how Matthias Ackeret, CEO of persönlich Verlags, sees things.

Photograph of Matthias Ackeret

We are a team of 8 and I pulled the government’s loan but we didn’t use any of it. We switched to short-time work and benefited from some costs the government kept away from publishing houses. As a citizen, I’m wondering about who gets money and who doesn’t. Winemakers did, but not brewers. Publishing houses did – especially the large ones –, but not the advertising industry. Personally, I’m glad for any easing we received.

I’m not born an entrepreneur. I was the 50 years old CEO of the business when it suddenly needed a new owner in 2014. Taking over was heavy-lifting and I also had to ask for the help of my longest-standing friend, Manfred Kleemann. I was just a journalist with a good career and suddenly I had to put more than 1 million Swiss Francs on the table. Many people patted me on the back but after 3 weeks I had to pay the salaries. Since then, I’ve lost much of my fear.

That helps in today’s situation.

My best advice for CEOs is to not be whining about mission impossible. The game is played by today’s rules. Make it easier on yourself: Accept it and adapt.

Matthias had some extra insight that she shared on LinkedIn:

on his most basic insights into entrepreneurship after 6 years of owning Persönlich: “Accept that things are the way they are. You can question things but you need the flexibility to react to whatever comes your way. There is always something coming your way. It just never stops. Expect the unexpected.”

about the home office: “It’s fine to see that it works if it has to work. On the other hand, you lose part of that spirit that you have as a team when you spend the days together. I miss it and I feel that part of the DNA of a company gets lost over video calls. Will businesses become more interchangeable? Anyway, we did a few things to stick together. For instance, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the company on a Saturday evening in a Skype conference. Just recently, we also took a hike together.”

about focus: “Every Swiss publisher dreams about success in Germany. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to stick to what you do best and aim to be the leader in that market.”

#WayForward Table Of Contents: Click here to get to the #WayForward series’ Table of Contents with all the posts we did with CEOs plus recordings of media events where the WayForward insights are discussed.