The positive power of change

Our world is in a state of flux. We live in a time in which life circumstances and perspectives are changing rapidly. It's time to let go of the old and explore new paths. We talked to people who have questioned the familiar and dared to try something new. A search for clues about the power of change and trends that will continue to move us in the future.

If everything had gone according to plan, Otto Kaltner, Matthias Hierzer and Philipp Petschenig would be out on the seas of the world with their surfboards in every spare minute. Surfing is their passion. The longing for water, salty air and the feeling of endless freedom drives them. But then the year 2020 brought the pandemic, and the three architecture students' short trips to the hotspots of the global surfing scene were over for the time being. "We miss the sea," Kaltner tells us. But instead of getting angry about things that can't be changed at the moment anyway, the three friends decided to bring the sea and the surfing experience to Styria - at least in their minds.

The innovative trio began building their own boards during this time, on dry land. Their creative daily routine consisted of sawing, sanding and refining ideal lines and edges. But soon it became clear:

"The materials are toxic, it takes a lot of energy to make them, and they're hard to recycle," Kaltner explains. "We are surfers, we love nature and we care about our environment. "So they set out to make a difference. They looked for alternatives and developed the "Woaz Board."

Their product is a balance board, something like the little relative of the surfboard, only for dry training at home. The board is placed on a cork roller and then you try to keep your balance on it. It is handmade from local woods and is particularly durable.


Fabian Huss, a trained carpenter, complements the creative trio with his technical and craftsmanship know-how. In the meantime, the quartet is so successful with "Woaz Board" - the name alludes to the southern Styrian homeland with its woaz fields (cornfields) - that things are pretty busy in their workshop. There would hardly be time now for a possible trip to the sea.

During the months of founding the company, her view of her own mobility has also changed. They think more critically about the many air miles to the next surf hotspot. It doesn't always have to be a long-distance trip. With the Balance Board, you can easily bring the surf feeling into your own four walls.

Reorientation and new paths

Whereas with Otto Kaltner and his friends it was the impetus from outside that provided a new perspective and change, with Roland Essl the impetus came from within himself. For years, the Salzburg chef had a well-visited inn that was known far beyond the country's borders. In 2018, he decided to take a new path. "If I had continued as before, all the work would have burned me out at some point," he is convinced. "The time was ripe for a change." Essl has since devoted himself to his great passion - tracking down culinary traditions in the Alpine region. He collected recipes and stories and went among the authors. His first cookbook, "Geschmackssache," has been published, and a second book with stories about Alpine cuisine is in the works. Essl loves change, even if it is sometimes conditioned by external circumstances. Challenging times, such as we are currently experiencing, can inspire thoughts and creativity and create a spirit of optimism.


Despite their different stories, the surfers from Styria and the Salzburg chef have a lot in common: they are united by the enthusiasm with which they opened up new perspectives. They have taken action. The tightrope walk between globalization and regionalization as well as the handling of resources and climate protection play a special role. The passion with which Essl inspires other people for regional foods and traditional recipes meets the longing of many for more closeness to nature. The heart and soul that the Woaz Board team puts into the use of renewable raw materials is part of a trend toward greater sustainability. The world is changing and so are our working and living environments, leisure activities, consumption and mobility.


The past few months have brought movement into the major trends of our time. Topics such as ecology, regionalization and connectivity are experiencing a boost. Digitalization, in particular, has brought about major changes in society. It is hard to imagine a step back to a time without home offices and video conferencing. The new tools will stay and thus also influence our mobility as well as our lifestyle in the long term.

The question that remains is how to find one's own way in the face of so much movement. "Harry Gatterer, Managing Director of the Zukunftsinstitut, is convinced that "it takes entrepreneurial thinking and action, and you can't be distracted by the tangle of information and developments. Great changes require one thing above all - courage. It is the starting point for action, and with it, many challenges can be mastered.

Just like Roland Essl and the Woaz Board team.


Harry Gatterer,

Managing Director Zukunftsinstitut