About travel and aliveness – an interview with Jana Schuberth

It is interview time again! Today, I’m talking with Jana Schuberth, a German born life coach, crossfitter, learn junkie and host & creator of Alive in Berlin.

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Zoé Namêche)

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Zoé Namêche)

The story of Alive in Berlin

Jana is the creative mind and acting body behind Alive in Berlin, a conference that first took place in Germany’s capital at the end of May 2014. The conference is a global gathering devoted to personal transformation and growth where I met an endless number of amazing and inspiring people from all around the world.

Alive in Berlin is something unique, and it is Jana’s creation.

So at the beginning of our interview, I wanted to know how she got the idea of organizing a global conference in the heart of Europe.

“It all started when I went to Phoenix, Arizona in 2011, to meet up with a group of women for a mastermind meet up. I was the only European, we had a lot of fun and that really brought home to me how important it is to have a community and meet face to face. There really was some magic to coming together at one place and connecting over mutual believes. We built strong friendships and relationships, and part of our brainstorming was about our visions and what we want to create in this world.

What I admired with people that I started following at that time was that they cross-promoted their ideas and really were supporting one another. I felt that we didn’t really have that culture in Europe and wanted to change this.

And so, on one of the days, I woke up in Phoenix in my hotel bed pretty jetlagged and started scribbling down my desire to create a European hub for personal development.

This European hub turned out to be not only a very inspirational gathering of like-minded people but also a unique challenge and opportunity for growth in Jana’s life.

“After the idea of Alive was born, I said to my coach at the time: “I really wish someone would take me under their wing and show me how to build a European community. And she replied: “Well, you really have to become the leader you are looking for, Jana.” That was really what kicked everything off!”

Struggling is part of succeeding

With the idea of Alive constantly being in her head, Jana wanted to make this conference happen. However, after a while a voice of doubt and anxiety crept in.

“One of the main struggles I went through was that I always thought I needed to have a specific amount of followers or a big email list to start a conference. I didn’t feel like I was creating something of massive value. I told myself: Who am I to pull something of like Alive?”

Thankfully, Jana kept believing in her dream and the thought of creating such a conference just wouldn’t go away. It kept coming up in conversations and eventually Jana thought, “Well, am I ever going to be ready for this?”

The thing is: We never feel ready to do what we dream of. There is no perfect timing or perfect moment. All we can do is to get started now, and figure everything else out along the way. Or as Jana puts it during our interview: “No one externally or internally ever has their shit together.”

True story.

“I was never going to have all the things in place that I felt I needed to get to work and I realized that I somehow needed to grow into it. It was just something I could not not do. And for a while, I didn’t even know what I was creating. But now looking back, I’ve created something out of nothing. I wanted Alive to be that beacon that stands out in the heart of Europe and it just worked.”

An outlook into the future

As Jana is telling me more and more about how the idea of Alive in Berlin evolved, I start to get curious about its future.

“When I first created the concept of the conference I wanted it to be a genuine European experience and that would mean it being a travelling conference. I would love to move it to Barcelona in 2016 because it is one of my favourite cities on earth. But it’s also important to pay attention to where people want to travel to. A lot of people travelled to Berlin because of the conference AND the city.”

Alive will be expanding and, like this year’s speakers and participants, it will evolve.

“During the process of creating Alive in Berlin I went through a lot of administrative hurdles: signing contracts, negotiating with suppliers, figuring out the legal and tax issues. So I don’t think we should waste our efforts and move it immediately but let it be in Berlin again next year and then move it the year after. For me, it would be great to see the conference in Barcelona or somewhere in Poland soon.”

These ideas are still just ideas and thus Jana tells me: “For now, we are focussed on creating another amazing Alive in Berlin experience in May 2015. If we can build something that people want to return to regularly that would be great! But of course it would be nice to eventually have to two events a year: a fixed one in Berlin and a travelling one elsewhere in the autumn.”

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Thomas Stibenz)

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Thomas Stibenz)

Where the name “Alive” comes from

I love to learn about background stories and to find out why certain things happened. And thus, I am curious how Jana got the idea of calling the conference “Alive”.

“Before travelling to Portland 2 years ago, I went to a couple of other places in the States and made a five week trip out of it. During a run in the mountains of Idaho with my friend Susan we chatted about our core desired feelings and I said that all I really ever wanted was to feel alive. And that’s really where the word came from”, she tells me.

A word I really love and that I can resonate with deeply. And I’m sure a lot of you can do, too.

Travelling as a part of life

The first half of our interview is all about conferences and gatherings, but I also want to learn more about Jana’s love for travel and the expat life. Born in Germany with Schwerin as her home town, Jana went off travelling at a quite young age due to being an international dragon boat racer and settled down in the UK over ten years ago.

“Life is a journey. For me, travelling internally and externally has a very strong place in my life and is a thing that always makes me feel alive. Since I live in the UK now, I regularly travel to Germany. But I’ve always been taking a lot of trips. Initially that was caused by being a dragon boat racer – I was racing with the German national team and thus got to travel across Germany, then to England and then the world. At the age of twenty, I was considering moving to Canada, but then I met my husband and we ended up moving to England. Travelling really is a huge topic in both of our lives.”

And how does Jana’s travel lifestyle look like?

“I do a lot of travel on my own: My husband is very comfortable with that because he knows that it’s a way for me to spend time with myself, growing and spending time with other people. I love being at airports – the whole idea of time just goes out of the window and that’s a really magical thing. I really like the idea of having a very nomadic life while keeping my home base here in England.” Jana tells me.

Jana’s most favourite travel destinations

I want to know what Jana’s most-loved places in the world are and this is her answer:

“The first one would be Barcelona. I was feeling very alive whilst I studied and worked there, and I met some really great people. I got to experience that carefreeness of travelling and I really didn’t have much to worry about at that time. I was feeling really free, alive and simply enjoyed the city. Barcelona is just the perfect combination of mountains, culture, history & beach.

Second for me is San Francisco. I’ve only been there for four days but there was something about the place that wanted to make me live there. I really like the Californian vibe even though it’s a bit clichéd. The entrepreneurial scene in California is so strong and the ocean is so close – two things I really love about the place!”

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Zoé Namêche)

Jana @ Alive in Berlin (Photo Credit: Zoé Namêche)

A final word on world travelling and being present

One of my most burning questions in this interview is how Jana responds when people tell her that they’re jealous of all the travelling or that they could never do something like setting up a conference or travelling the world themselves.

When people don’t do what they want to do, they are often not clear about what they actually really want or why. They might like the idea of travelling but really, they might seek a little bit more adventure in their life which they can also find in other ways. Travelling is just one mean of achieving more variety and growth in life. Another reason might be that people don’t have a strong enough reason for why they want to do it. It’s easy to say that we’re jealous or that we can never do it, but I think it often leads to something else that they’re not aware of. The most powerful questions we can ask ourselves thus are:

What would happen if I succeeded?

What if I did nothing?

And what would happen if I didn’t do it or failed?

Three amazing questions that help to figure out what we really want in life. For Jana, one of those things is feeling alive and hosting another great conference in May next year. If you’re interested in joining next year’s Alive in Berlin, get your tickets here. And if you want to learn more about Jana and her inspiring work, I recommend to check out her website Love Work Now.

At the end of our interview, Jana tells me something quite memorable: “For me travelling forces you to be in the moment. When you travel or when you experience something new with your friends in new places there is so much to take in. You can’t really be in the future or past at the same time. It’s about being fully present and taking in the moment, without cell phones and feeling the need to post pictures all the time.”

I couldn’t have put it any better and want to thank Jana for a lovely interview. Her dedication to follow her dreams really makes a difference in this world, and is thus a great inspiration for all of us to follow our own visions and values in life.

Be in the moment.

Go for the things that you need to create.

And just be you.


Always happy travels!


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