“At the afd i was rejected”

Rhetoric trainer michael ehlers knows his way around languages. The 46-year-old receives his contact person in his office with a view over the chain bridge. Notepad, book, ballpoint pen: all bear the name of his institute. A certificate showing him as the winner of a consultancy award is not hanging, but leaning against the wall – exactly in the line of sight of the person opposite him. And even during the interview, ehlers pays attention to small details, not a single "ahm" slips out of his mouth. The subject: his presidency of the prestigious club 55, an association of marketing specialists.

Mr. Ehlers, what is club 55 all about??
Michael ehlers: the european community of marketing and sales was founded 60 years ago and has its headquarters in geneva. Two of the founders were the belgian jan waage and the swedish jens goldmann. These were also the first rough marketing trainers. 60 years ago these two disciplines were not scientific at all. The two of them were crazy pioneers who taught entrepreneurs how to market products properly and how to sell them. And these two had the idea: how do we get the best of the best together?? And this is how they founded club 55.

How to become a member?
The club allows a maximum of 55 members and access is extremely difficult. We get applications all the time, but they get nicely worded rejections that it doesn’t make sense. Invitations are only extended to those who are outstanding in the marketing field. And then follows the most difficult lecture of the life. Then you come on stage and have to introduce yourself. There are lots of books on my shelf – and all of a sudden the authors of these standard works are down there evaluating you. Only a few pass with this audience.

With klaus stieringer and you, two bambergers are already there. Bose tongues would say: the internationality of the club can’t be that rough if there are already two from bamberg in it…
We have next year even the next guest from bamberg. This can also speak for this city: that it produces outstanding minds. Of course i suggested klaus stieringer myself. But on the stage we are all alone.

With marketing specialists, it stands to reason that they market themselves first and foremost? Is the club 55 really so exclusive, or are there comparable associations??
There are of course associations like the german speakers association or the professional association for training, consulting and coaching. Only the access to these clubs is completely different, there one pays a contribution and becomes a member. This regressive way of dealing with new members, this deliberate selection, they make the club so special.

Which members are known to the public??
Hans-uwe kohler is certainly one of the most famous trainers, gregor staub is a well-known mind trainer. The whole list is excellent. The club is surrounded by a certain myth, because there are very famous people who did not make it into it. Forgive me if I don’t mention any names. And I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have their heart pounding when they were on stage. I still don’t know what I said in the first 15 minutes of my application speech. It’s a challenging stage. Some do not pass the human test. If you have to sit on each other for five days every year, it simply has to be a good interpersonal fit.

Are there also ethical principles?
There is the ethics and quality charter. This means that we refuse orders that we cannot ethically represent. So with me the border would be certainly, if a right-wing radical party inquires and liked that I train their party leaders rhetorically, and that was with me with the afd begin. I would have to say it loud and clear: no way!. Collegiality is also important. We always have guests with very famous names. You can go to us without being approached by ten top salespeople. There are no business cards flying around. All this is strictly forbidden in our country and repeated offences will result in expulsion. Discretion with customer data has a high priority.

How to become president of club 55?
I am as a type a clear speaker. But I have simply also been involved for many years. I became vice president four years ago. When it came to the question of a successor at the chairman’s office, i was myself very surprised when i was suggested. But i have accepted. I have a lot to thank the club for. Without the tips of my colleagues I would not have written a book, so I have already written six of them.

The conversation led
sebastian schanz.