The Hero’s Journey of Benjamin Nuebel

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Cosmogony, or worldbuilding, when I’m creating new identities and see them come alive.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

The concept of ›perfect happiness‹ is repulsive to me; static and dead. My moments of bliss usually occur in early morning or late evening – never during the day – and revolve around writing, reading and music.

What is my greatest fear?

Getting a belly once I enter middle age.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

I have most hyperbolic tendencies.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

As a centaur – half copywriter, half planner – I will nominate three: For planning, the venerable Stephen King who basically invented the profession during the Mad Men era; his ›Master Class‹ is the gold standard up to this day. For copywriting, the disputatious creative Neil French who was also a successful bullfighter (and an unsuccessful entrepreneur); his work taught me how to create desire. And for copy and planning at once, the marvellous Judd Labarthe who, as my mentor, taught me the Manifesto as an art form.

What is my greatest extravagance?

Perhaps the fact I’m having a hard time picking one.

On what occasion would I lie?

Whenever it improves the story.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

In my line of work it’s half-arsed-ness in either idea or execution. Yet, in my own work, I sometimes over-elaborate beyond help and reason.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

At the danger of being unoriginal that would be right here, right now. Leaving the company I co-founded and restarting solo was risky yet has been revelatory.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

My posture, mostly.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

The fact that four alumni of my agency have opened up shop themselves. That makes me more proud than all my shiny awards put together.

Where would I most like to live?

The Los Angeles of Duran Duran’s Drive By.

What is my most treasured possession?

A vintage Breitling watch I keep pretending was given to me by my grandfather. In fact I never knew my grandparents, none of them had luxury watches and I just bought it on the internet. This self-made tradition is precisely why I treasure it so much, so don’t ask me why I keep repeating that grandpa-story. It is a mystery to myself.

What is my most marked characteristic?

The generosity that comes with the delusion of grandeur.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

It used to be the after-hour club Bar25, now extinct, and its beautiful, loopy crowd. Nowadays it’s probably Klunkerkranich, a ›cultural rooftop garden‹ and club on top of the Neukölln Arkaden parkade.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

The Café Einstein on Kurfürstenstraße is a haven of comfort and dignity. And Mrs Robinson in Prenzlauer Berg is a downright culinary orgy.

What books influenced my life and how?

Growing up in the Black Forest I had a rather unhappy childhood, wishing myself to be ›normal‹ like everybody else. Then, age 13, I read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray – and I realised that I am not alone in my quest for beauty and my love of wit. It is no exaggeration to say that this book fixed my soul.

Who are my favorite writers?

Oscar Wilde, Lev Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Italo Calvini, Donna Tartt, Julian Barnes, Michel Houellebecq, Simon Elson, William Boyd, Tom McCarthy.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

Chet Baker for the sweet sorrow. Roxy Music for the last hurrah. Gustav Mahler for the resurrection.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?


Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

Roger Federer because he’s showed that beauty is not decoration but the essence of success.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Three! In order of release: La fille sur le pont by Patrice Leconte starring Daniel Auteuil and Vanessa Paradis. The Prestige by Christopher Nolan (who, if we include Inception, has written the book on creative seduction). And Arrival by Denis Villeneuve, a film that’s nothing short of a ›Gesamtkunstwerk‹.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Let’s just say I have no interest in nature.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My companion Katharina.

Whom would I like to work with in 2020?

Pretty much anybody who wants to align their culture with their brand promise.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2020?

Scott Gordon of StrawberryFrog, Karen Heumann of Thjnk and whoever does the planning at HelloMonday.

What project, in 2020, am I looking forward to work on?

Incidentally I am going back to school, getting my business coach degree in order to teach ›Culture Design‹. I can’t wait for it to start.

Where can you see me or my work in 2020?

Until spring 2020 you won’t be seeing me anywhere as I am on paternity leave. Once I’m back on the road you can meet me at Barcelona’s Offf, Berlin’s Re:Publica as well as SXSW.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

I am consciously building a work environment that doesn’t feel like work at all, with my work being my life – and not its adversary.

Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story?

My mentor Judd Labarthe.

How can you contact me?

Being an early adopter all the way I just discovered Twitter where you can find me as @bourben_de


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