How to Facilitate a Team Safety Check

Loot Crate Team Safety Check Cards

Note: This is the first post in a series of posts about the importance of safety for highly functioning collaborative work spaces. Future posts will include The Evolution of Team Safety Checks, How to Build up Safety at Any Level at an OrganizationHow to Collect Anonymous Qualitative Feedback and Efforts to Boost Safety LevelsLet’s get started with this one…

The Team Safety Check is the fastest way I know of to gather valuable insights about team safety levels. Teams familiar with the exercise get tangible results in less than 60 seconds! I’m not kidding. Easy to facilitate and low cost, it is both fun for the team members to participate in and creates awareness. That’s why use it – a lot.

Before I continue, I would like to mention I was heavily inspired by Steven M. Smith’s blog post “Safety Check”.

What is it?

  • An awareness exercise only.
  • quantitative measure to gauge feelings of safety amongst the team members.
  • An anonymous exercise where people feel safe to participate without being exposed.
  • A feedback loop for the agile coach, scrum master, manager or team lead to get valuable insights without using authoritative behavior.

What it’s NOT!

  • Not a facilitation to create insights about why (qualitative data) people do or do not feel safe within their team space.
  • Not a format to discuss and handle feedback from the participants.
  • Not a space where to resolve existing issues regarding team safety.

Facilitator’s Preparation – What’s Needed?

  • Team members as the participants
  • Team Safety Check Cards to collect a data set playfully
  • A Team Safety Tracker to monitor results over time

Step One – Setting the Stage

Regardless if this is the first time facilitating a Team Safety Check or if the routine has already been established, it’s important to set the stage properly. Precisely because this is an exercise to measure the levels of safety for every team member, it is VERY important that each team member trusts the facilitator and how they handle the exercise. The facilitator must be flawless in the execution to keep the integrity of anonymity alive. Though demonstrating how everyone’s trust is valued the participants will provide more accurate data in return.

First and Foremost, This is About Awareness
The facilitator must deliver two core messages to the participants:

  1. The Team Safety Check is an awareness exercise and only that. Nobody is obligated to make comments once the results are revealed.
  2. The exercise is done anonymously so that everyone’s feedback will be honest and genuine.

Step two – Setting up the Game

Every team member gets a set of cards. Each set of cards is numbered 1 through 5. The participants hold the cards up as if they are playing a card game – well, they are. The facilitator explains what each number represents according to the following criteria:

  • 5 – Everything is discussable without filtering.
  • 4 – Almost everything is discussable without filtering.
  • 3 – Most things are discussable without filtering.
  • 2 – Almost nothing is discussable without filtering.
  • 1 – Nothing is discussable without filtering.

Filtering refers to modification of the original ‘raw’ thought, idea or message before saying it in front of the one’s team members. The more comfortable people are with conveying their unfiltered thoughts, the safer they feel with the team space.

Once the facilitator confirms that everyone understands what each card represents, there is only one question to ask the team members:

“How Safe Do You Feel With the Team Space?”

The Team Space is the space team members create together. It’s the combination of the physical space and the psychological space.

Once clarity of the card values is confirmed and the question to answer is understood, it’s time to play.

Step Three – Playing the Team Safety Check

The participants choose the card they want to ‘play’ and slide it up-side-down toward the center of the table – remember the point is anonymity.  All played cards are briefly shuffled so nobody can trace a specific card to any one person. All cards played are then flipped over to reveal the numbers.

Results of Playing Team Safety Check

Step Four – Tracking the Results

The following data should be gathered and tracked over time.

  • Date
  • Team name
  • Histogram: Counts per value played
    • e.g. 3×5, 2×4, 1×3, 0x2, 0x1
  • Team average
    • e.g. (3×5+2×4+1×3+0x2+0x2)/6 cards played =
    • (15+8+3+0+0)/6 = 26/6 = 4.3
  • Caveats to the results
    • Any missing team members  (sick, vacation, etc.)
    • Any new team members joined the team

One of the simplest methods to track these values over time is through use of a basic spreadsheet. Additionally, it’s helpful to create a line graph to visualize progress over time. By showing the graph to the team members openness and transparency is fostered about what happens with the data. That is another small step to increase safety within the team space.

That’s it for the facilitation itself. Once the values have been revealed and results tracked the exercise is over. Quick and simple.

Interpreting the Results

The question will come up how to interpret the results. I’ll write up a separate post to extend on this question, but here are some quick insights what I have noticed.

Team Averages

  • If the team average is between 4.0 and 5.0 there is no need for any action – the team space leans towards being safe.
  • If the team average is in the 3’s or lower, the team space is not safe enough to be a highly effective team. The facilitator should initialize a qualitative measure exercise to understand what is going on. The results from that exercise provide insights into specific actions to take. (Separate post on that coming…)


Sometimes an outlier is revealed. Let’s say the team average is above 4.0, where most people played 5’s and 4’s, but one card with a low value was played, like a 1 or a 2. That means, while the team average is high and the team’s level of safety is healthy overall, one person is an outlier and does not feel safe with the team space. The team as a whole it not reaching their highest levels of performance.

This is a great opportunity to offer 1:1 time with the person who threw in the low value. But it should be at the discretion of that person. It’s important to offer a space to talk privately and when that person is ready for it – not to demand it. Especially not immediately. Should that person not feel safe with the facilitator, then offer time with an independent trustworthy person (e.g. independent agile coach or people operations representative). A trained and skilled coach should be able to handle these situations well.

That’s it for this post. I hope this makes sense. Let me know, if something wasn’t.

Finding your life purpose


Many people feel they live their lives without a purpose. I have coached those who feel they are wandering through life, with no direction or intention. Some people have always known what they wanted to do in life, and are intentionally living it every day – they have purpose. Some people discover their purpose later in life, after having lived a life of what they thought they SHOULD do, rather than what they CHOSE to do. Usually, some major life change forces them to re-evaluate and make changes so they can be happier.

If you asked people, “What do you think life purpose means,” you would get as many answers as people polled. That’s because it means different things to different people, and there are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining life purpose: values, culture, background, education, location, and so on.

The way I help clients find their life purpose is through an analysis of four components of their lives: Passion, Mission, Vocation and Profession. Here are brief definitions of each:

• Passion: Is that which you love. The thing that sets your soul on fire. Something you think about constantly, and when apart from it, you count the minutes until you are with it again. The object of your passion could be a person, a job, a place, a food, a pet or a combination of all. When you are passionate about something, you can’t stop talking about it, or trying to learn more about it.
• Mission: Is that which the world needs, and you are going to provide it for the world. Your mission, like your passion, drives you. But rather than coming from an internal place, a mission is usually doing something for someone other than yourself.
• Vocation: Something that you can be paid for, usually your job. Your vocation is what gets you up each day and sends you off to work so that you can support yourself and your family. Some people are more attached to their vocation than others.
• Profession: Is that which you are good at, and is closely aligned with vocation. You can call yourself a professional when you have reached a certain level of expertise in your job.

When these four components all intersect, you have arrived at your life purpose, for example:
“Life purpose is when you have found something for which you get paid, and which you have a high level of expertise in that fires you up and inspires you every day to improve. Not only does your life purpose provide comfort for yourself, it also does good for others.”

Here is a story about someone in search of her life purpose:

Vanessa is a 50 year old woman who is at a crossroads in her life. She has had a varied career in education, corporate management and was even a small business owner. Her 50th birthday found her in a reflective mood, wondering if she had wasted half her life. She didn’t feel excited about what she was doing, and was seriously thinking about making a career change, but was worried she may not find a job that paid as well as her current position.

Vanessa decided to hire a coach to help her with this life decision. Her coach quickly zeroed in on four major components of Vanessa’s life: her passion, mission, vocation and profession.

What was Vanessa passionate about? In all her jobs, the one common thread was helping people improve their lives. When she would hear about someone she had worked with whose life was improving, it was like a weight lifted from her shoulders and she was happy for the rest of the day.

Her coach then asked her about her mission. What did she want to do to enhance her world and the world around her? Vanessa was always interested in bringing quality education to those less fortunate. She felt very strongly that there were inequalities in the education system, but was always pulled to jobs that paid very well, and what she was thinking about just didn’t pay like that.

What was Vanessa’s vocation – what did she do for a living? Currently, Vanessa was a vice president with a for-profit educational services company. It was a great living, although the hours were long, the pressures high and she just didn’t feel fulfilled at the end of the day.

Finally, her coach asked her about her expertise – what was Vanessa highly qualified to do? With a Master’s degree in Business Management and Marketing, Vanessa felt she could meet or exceed the performance of most people in her industry.

Over the course of several coaching sessions, Vanessa and her coach arrived at her life purpose. Not surprisingly, it would require Vanessa to leave her current position and do something completely outside her comfort zone…Vanessa was going to start her own company! The idea started to take shape over the months Vanessa and her coach worked together. The new business would be I the education world, but would also include elements of the non-profit world and focus on delivering services to children in low-income families. Programs and services they would not have access to in their public schools. Through her connections that she built through years in the corporate world, Vanessa would raise the initial seed money to purchase the technology and hire a software developer to create the program she had in mind. Vanessa was so excited, that the ideas were flowing like lava and her enthusiasm was contagious. Soon, she had hired two interns from a local graduate school to help her with the millions of things she needed to do to get the company off the ground.

Vanessa was working harder than ever, but amazingly, she didn’t feel tired. She couldn’t wait to wake each morning and get started again. She had finally found her life’s purpose!

To find your life purpose, complete the following activity:

Step 1: Think about each of the following four questions, and answer them with some detail.
1. What is your passion? What is it that you love to do and want to learn more about?
2. What is your mission? What is it that you are interested in that the world needs?
3. What is your vocation? What do you do that you are paid for?
4. What is your profession? What do you do that you are very good at?

Step 2:
Look for any synergy between your passion, mission, vocation and profession. You may have to think about it for a bit – the answer may not be obvious at first. This is where regular coaching can really help.

Step 3:
The intersection of the four components is your life purpose.


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10 Core Company Values of Buffer

These are the company values of Buffer from February 18th, 2015 (v0.5)

  1. Choose Positivity and Happiness
    • You strive to approach things in a positive and optimistic way
    • You avoid criticizing or condemning team members or users
    • You avoid complaining
    • You let the other person save face, even if they are clearly wrong
    • You are deliberate about giving genuine appreciation
  2. Default to Transparency
    • You take pride in opportunities to share our beliefs, failures, strengths and decisions
    • You use transparency as a tool to help others
    • You always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty
    • You share early in the decision process to avoid “big revelations”
  3. Have a Focus on Self Improvement
    • You are conscious of your current level of productivity and happiness, and make continual changes to grow
    • You have a higher expectation of yourself than Buffer does of you
    • You regularly and deliberately do things that make you feel uncomfortable
    • You practice activities and develop habits that will improve your mind and body
  4. Be a “no-ego” Doer
    • You don’t attach your personal self to ideas
    • You let others have your best ideas
    • You approach new ideas thinking “what can we do right now?”
    • You are humble
    • You always ship code the moment it is better than what is live on our site – no matter what
  5. Listen First, Then Listen More
    • You seek first to understand, then to be understood
    • You focus on listening rather than responding
    • You take the approach that everything is a hypothesis and you could be wrong
    • You are suggestive rather than instructive, replacing phrases such as ‘certainly’,’undoubtedly’, etc with ‘perhaps’, ‘I think’, ‘my intuition right now’
  6. Have a Bias Towards Clarity
    • You talk, code, design and write in a clear way instead of being clever
    • You over-communicate, repeating things more times than you would intuitively
    • You use more words to explain, even if it feels obvious already
    • You don’t make assumptions, you instead ask that extra question to have the full picture
  7. Make Time to Reflect
    • You deliberately find time for reflection, because that’s where your life-changing adjustments come from
    • You have a calm approach to discussions and ponder points in your own time
    • You find time to jump out of the trenches into the higher level thinking that will move the needle
    • You understand the value of patience and treat it as a muscle which needs practice to grow
  8. Live Smarter, Not Harder
    • You value waking up fresh over working that extra hour
    • You always aim to be fully engaged in an activity, or resting
    • You single task your way through the day
    • You are at the top of your game, as you focus on expanding capacity of your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energy
    • You choose to be at the single place on Earth where you are the happiest, and most productive, and you are not afraid to find out where that is
  9. Show Gratitude
    • You regularly stop and are grateful for your circumstances
    • You are grateful for the work co-workers do to push the company forward and help you move faster
    • You approach customer conversations with humility and the knowledge that it’s a privilege to serve these people
    • You have gratitude for platforms, tools and open source that laid the foundation for the possibility of the company: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – Isaac Newton
  10. Do the Right Thing
    • You choose what’s best for customers and the company in the long-term
    • You correct the mistake even when no one would notice
    • You strive to provide the best solution, even if that means foregoing profit
    • You get excited about opportunities to help others

8 Core Company Values of HomeHero

I came across HomeHero‘s core company values recently.

  1. “Focus on long-term success.”
  2. “Fearlessly contribute new ideas.”
  3. “Have higher expectations for yourself than others do for you.”
  4. “Focus on building real value over perceived value.”
  5. “Challenge yourself to do the hard thing.”
  6. “Treat every problem as an opportunity.”
  7. “Promote and protect our brand.”
  8. “Default to transparency.”

Movies To Watch

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men poster Rating: 8.9/10 (367967 votes)
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose (story)
Stars: Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall
Runtime: 96 min
Genre: Drama
Released: 1 Apr 1957
Plot: A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club poster Rating: 8.9/10 (1124850 votes)
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk (novel), Jim Uhls (screenplay)
Stars: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf
Runtime: 139 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Released: 15 Oct 1999
Plot: An insomniac office worker looking for a way to change his life crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker and they form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more...

Her (2013)

Her (2013)
Her poster Rating: 8.0/10 (277317 votes)
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Lynn Adrianna, Lisa Renee Pitts, Gabe Gomez
Runtime: 126 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Released: 10 Jan 2014
Plot: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.

Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar (2014)
Interstellar poster Rating: 8.7/10 (573918 votes)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow
Runtime: 169 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi
Released: 7 Nov 2014
Plot: A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Rwanda (2004)
Hotel Rwanda poster Rating: 8.2/10 (229539 votes)
Director: Terry George
Writer: Keir Pearson, Terry George
Stars: Xolani Mali, Don Cheadle, Desmond Dube, Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Runtime: 121 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Drama, History, War
Released: 4 Feb 2005
Plot: The true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugees during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda.

Citizenfour (2014)

Citizenfour (2014)
Citizenfour poster Rating: 8.2/10 (13692 votes)
Director: Laura Poitras
Writer: N/A
Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney, Jacob Appelbaum
Runtime: 114 min
Rated: R
Genre: Documentary
Released: 23 Feb 2015
Plot: A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

The Lives of Others (2006)

The Lives of Others (2006)
The Lives of Others poster Rating: 8.5/10 (221795 votes)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Stars: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Runtime: 137 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Released: 23 Mar 2006
Plot: In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

Whiplash (2014)

Whiplash (2014)
Whiplash poster Rating: 8.6/10 (208549 votes)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist
Runtime: 107 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Music
Released: 15 Oct 2014
Plot: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Will Hunting poster Rating: 8.3/10 (509632 votes)
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Stars: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård
Runtime: 126 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Released: 9 Jan 1998
Plot: Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

In the Mood for Love (2000)

In the Mood for Love (2000)
In the Mood for Love poster Rating: 8.1/10 (65441 votes)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
Writer: Kar Wai Wong
Stars: Maggie Cheung, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Ping Lam Siu, Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung
Runtime: 98 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Drama, Romance
Released: 29 Sep 2000
Plot: Two neighbors, a woman and a man, form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia (2011)
Melancholia poster Rating: 7.1/10 (112030 votes)
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Brady Corbet
Runtime: 130 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Released: 26 May 2011
Plot: Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Hurt Locker poster Rating: 7.6/10 (285605 votes)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce
Runtime: 131 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Thriller, War
Released: 10 Oct 2008
Plot: During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.

Almost Famous (2000)

Almost Famous (2000)
Almost Famous poster Rating: 7.9/10 (186315 votes)
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Stars: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Jason Lee
Runtime: 122 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Released: 22 Sep 2000
Plot: A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies it on their concert tour.

The King’s Speech (2010)

The King's Speech (2010)
The King's Speech poster Rating: 8.1/10 (412538 votes)
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler (screenplay)
Stars: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Robert Portal
Runtime: 118 min
Rated: R
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Released: 25 Dec 2010
Plot: The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix poster Rating: 8.7/10 (1023621 votes)
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writer: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Runtime: 136 min
Rated: R
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Released: 31 Mar 1999
Plot: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927)
Metropolis poster Rating: 8.3/10 (95449 votes)
Director: Fritz Lang
Writer: Thea von Harbou (screenplay), Thea von Harbou (novel)
Stars: Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Fritz Rasp
Runtime: 153 min
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Released: 13 Mar 1927
Plot: In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show poster Rating: 8.1/10 (560525 votes)
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone
Runtime: 103 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Drama
Released: 5 Jun 1998
Plot: An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show.

City of God (2002)

City of God (2002)
City of God poster Rating: 8.7/10 (459901 votes)
Director: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Writer: Paulo Lins (novel), Bráulio Mantovani (screenplay)
Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva
Runtime: 130 min
Rated: R
Genre: Crime, Drama
Released: 30 Aug 2002
Plot: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.

Life is Beautiful (1997)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)
Life Is Beautiful poster Rating: 8.6/10 (342133 votes)
Director: Roberto Benigni
Writer: Vincenzo Cerami (story), Roberto Benigni (story)
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano
Runtime: 116 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Released: 12 Feb 1999
Plot: When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society (1989)
Dead Poets Society poster Rating: 8.0/10 (246067 votes)
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Tom Schulman
Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles
Runtime: 128 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Drama
Released: 9 Jun 1989
Plot: English teacher John Keating inspires his students to discover their love for poetry and seize the day.

American History X (1998)

American History X (1998)
American History X poster Rating: 8.6/10 (667996 votes)
Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: David McKenna
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien
Runtime: 119 min
Rated: R
Genre: Crime, Drama
Released: 20 Nov 1998
Plot: A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day poster Rating: 8.5/10 (628378 votes)
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron, William Wisher Jr.
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Runtime: 137 min
Rated: R
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Released: 3 Jul 1991
Plot: A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her young son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg, made out of liquid metal.

Memento (2000)

Memento (2000)
Memento poster Rating: 8.5/10 (721795 votes)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Jonathan Nolan (short story "Memento Mori")
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior
Runtime: 113 min
Rated: R
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Released: 25 May 2001
Plot: A man creates a strange system to help him remember things; so he can hunt for the murderer of his wife without his short-term memory loss being an obstacle.

The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game poster Rating: 8.1/10 (254249 votes)
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Graham Moore, Andrew Hodges (book)
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear
Runtime: 114 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Released: 25 Dec 2014
Plot: During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi (1982)
Gandhi poster Rating: 8.1/10 (146046 votes)
Director: Richard Attenborough
Writer: John Briley
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud
Runtime: 191 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Released: 25 Feb 1983
Plot: The life of the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British rule through his philosophy of nonviolent protest.


American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty (1999)
American Beauty poster Rating: 8.4/10 (709269 votes)
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Alan Ball
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley
Runtime: 122 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama, Romance
Released: 1 Oct 1999
Plot: A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

M (1931)

M (1931)
M poster Rating: 8.4/10 (84941 votes)
Director: Fritz Lang
Writer: Thea von Harbou (script), Fritz Lang (script)
Stars: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke
Runtime: 99 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Released: 31 Aug 1931
Plot: When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

Amélie (2001)

Amélie (2001)
Amélie poster Rating: 8.4/10 (458901 votes)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Guillaume Laurant (scenario), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (scenario), Guillaume Laurant (dialogue)
Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta
Runtime: 122 min
Rated: R
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Released: 8 Feb 2002
Plot: Amelie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

Amadeus (1984)

Amadeus (1984)
Amadeus poster Rating: 8.4/10 (232709 votes)
Director: Milos Forman
Writer: Peter Shaffer (original stage play), Peter Shaffer (original screenplay)
Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice
Runtime: 160 min
Rated: R
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Released: 5 Apr 1985
Plot: The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey poster Rating: 8.3/10 (357727 votes)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Arthur C. Clarke (screenplay)
Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter
Runtime: 160 min
Rated: G
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi
Released: 15 May 1968
Plot: Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest.



Glühwein Recipe


Glühwein is a very common drink in Germany during Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. You can be sure to get a cup at the infamous German Christmas Markets. You’ll find one anywhere from small villages to large cities throughout the whole country in December. Having some Glühwein is one of the best ways to get into the Holiday spirit and to start winding down for the Holidays.

If you are not in Germany to get a cup at a Glühwein stand, here’s a quick and easy recipe on how to make some from scratch yourself. (Original recipe)

In short: It’s sweetened, warm red wine with winter spices that help fight off the bitter cold while the warm cups makes sure your fingers don’t freeze off.


  • 3 Bottles Dry Red Wein
  • 3 Oranges
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Apple
  • 3 Small Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 String of Saffron (pricey but worth it)
  • 4 Cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons Raisins
  • ~ 8 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Rum (optional)


Pour the red wine into a big pot and heat up slowly. Do not let the wine cook! Wash the apple and one orange. Cut the orange into slices. Remove the core of the apple and cut it into slices. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining oranges and the lemon.  Add the fruits and juices to the pot. Put all remaining ingredients into the pot (except for the sugar) and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste the concoction and slowly add the sugar. Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise when the spice reaches your desired intensity. The fruit can continue to stew. When serving, the fruit should not be poured into the mugs (strain if needed). Pour the hot Glühwein into pre-warmed glasses or mugs and the cold will be taken from your bones. The fruits should stay in the pot. Serve with a piece of dark chocolate to round out the experience. If you’re really adventurous, add a shot of rum to your cup. Zum Wohl!