From boss to sparrings partner


Hello Sascha, how did coming back to the agency feel like?

I was definitely looking forward to seeing my colleagues and the office itself, but I was also feeling a new form of stagefright.

Why stagefright?

It was a new start and all about settling in, “finding my place”. For years we’ve been following an approach based on working on eye-level with the whole team whilst being self-reliant as much as possible. When you leave this team for seven months and they take over your tasks – splendidly even – you might start to reconsider and question your role as boss.

Personally, I couldn’t imagine to return without  an idea of how I could benefit this team  now.

That’s when you established ‘Sparrings-Partner’ as an additional consulting start-up?

Exactly. For me, that was a key aspect in answering the question of how to provide the biggest support to my team and enable their personal development.

I think the term ‘sparring’ works pretty well: I assist them in reflecting their challenges, nudge them with new ideas and try to give them the needed space to develope their own creative solutions.  Plus, I teach them consistently to stay focussed on the path we decided on to reach these specific goals. I’m their sparrings partner: entering the ring and “boxing” is what these independent lot of colleagues prefer to do themselves!

“You can’t tell yourself the word that helps you” (loose translation of an African saying)


So it’s basically your music4friends team that made you think about going from boss to sparrings partner?

Yes, that’s true.

Why do you offer this sort of work to external customers?

That’s also something that has been coming along for years. Again and again, friends and business partners came to me for advice – and often that was a mutual conversation.

„It really is impressive how quickly SP makes you analyse your ideas and strategies to the core. His feedback might be unconventional at times, but it honestly makes you think and that's what allows transitioning to the next level in the first place.“

Florian Kops – CEO of

I always enjoyed this sort of exchange and it really broadened my horizon.  I think M4F benefitted from that as well.  Launching and sharing my experience with others was the next reasonable step while it was also super exciting to enter this new territory.

And how do you reconcile your work at the agency and the start-up?

That’s working quite well because I’m only working a specific number of hours per week for external customers. That has two advantages: 1. Being a sparrings partner remains something new, fresh and exciting and 2. I can easily say that my start-up is running great and I’m fully booked! 😉

Awesome! Taking you up on that: Who books a sparring with you?

So far, my customers have been CEOs or managers from small or medium-sized businesses, who were looking for answers in their vocational but also personal questions. I helped them reflect their situation and gave first impulses to take into consideration.

I do, however, also work with small teams, who aim to find a new way of working together.

I definitely enjoy both of these tasks!

How do your clients like you?

That’s a very good question! In contrast to our music projects, I haven’t really put much effort in advertising Mainly due to the fact that I only have a limited amount of time to actually work with clients and had quite a few inquiries right from the start.  My approach to sparring is also different to other consultants, whose advertising is quite loud and guarantees their clients a “recipe to success”. I simply prefer to be found by recommendation.

How is your approach different?

I usually enter the first conversation with a mindset of “knowing nothing” and I simply listen to what my client tells me. Of course, after 20 years of professional experience, this assumption is not quite fitting. However, I find it helpful to start a sparring session with the concept of a “white sheet of paper” that is to be filled by our shared curiosity, listening and understanding.  Ideally this sets an individual path for our sparring.

Thank you for this interview!
Read more:
Exemplary service (only available in German): Sparrings-Partner-PDF

Sascha Poddey
Executive Partner
t +49 177 6882211
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