Stefan Pollman has experienced a turbulent three years since our previous conversation in 2020. During that interview, we discussed his endeavors in the realms of social media, his passion for nutrition and workouts, and his role as an influencer. However, significant changes unfolded in both his professional and personal life in the wake of the pandemic.
Subsequently, we had the opportunity to catch up with Stefan once more, delving into the transformative events he has navigated. These include welcoming two children into his life, his journey into the world of podcasting, his commitment to sustainability, his passion for reading, and the significant personal growth he’s experienced in the past three years. The accompanying MMSCENE exclusive feature was captured by fashion photographer Ferran Casanova. In charge of styling was Cristian Betancurt.
Read the interview after the jump:
Now that you have two children, how has the dynamic changed in your personal life and in your career?
In fact it changed a lot. Before I got kids for I haven’t been more than 3 months in a row in one place. I loved about half of the year in the US and then between Germany, Tokyo, Sydney and London.
So I was only responsible for myself and sometimes I miss that feeling. When you get kids you suddenly realize it’s not just all about you and your needs anymore. You need to make compromises. At first Philine had some more flexibility in her studies so we could live in New York for a while. But then being more based in one location also has its benefits. Living mostly between Germany and Barcelona is a great compromise as you have amazing weather all year round and it’s a very kids friendly.
We found an amazing kindergarten for the kids and just now as our younger daughter goes to the kindergarten until 3:30pm we can slowly trying to focus a bit more on our own careers and projects. To be fair, Philine always had my back whenever I had jobs on the other part of the world and took care of the kids while I was gone.
Now as we are separated for about 1,5 years, it’s even more complex but we are doing a pretty good job co-parenting, I think. The kids live half of the week at my place and the other half at hers. Which is just a few walking minutes away.
What inspired you to start your podcast, and what has been the most rewarding aspect of that venture?
I was listening to podcasts for a long time. And I found it very valuable when other people are talking about questions of life’s and there perspectives on it.
But also I thought why should people listen to what we are saying?
Now almost 3 years later we have a great community and I have to say for myself the most rewarding aspect is just talking 1-1,5 hours straight without looking at your phone with a good Friends about different perspective on life’s and general philosophical questions. Really going deep and questioning your own goals in life. What is the meaning of life and why do so many chase fame and material things. Why are we so attached to what other people think and more.
As I think these days most conversations stay very shallow. So I can only recommend to do that with someone you respect for their values.
Three years ago, you mentioned starting a Spanish course. How has that journey been? Are you fluent now?
I hoped you wouldn’t ask this. I always feel embarrassed when people ask me these days as in Germany you would probably get some very bad looks if you would say you live in Germany since almost 4 years but don’t speak the language.
As we thought we might only stay one more year at a time I didn’t start a course when I had the time and then there came another masters and a PhD for Philine and we kept staying longer.
I took the extra time I had to work on my brand and also built up an online coaching app and Program for nutrition and training and then we also got another child. (Almost forgot that).
I think that time was better invested there. but I have to say by now I understand quiet a lot and I‘m fine getting around everywhere with very rudimentary Spanish.
Depending on what happens next year after Philine finished her PhD I definitely gonna start a course as I think it’s important to become a real member of the community.
04 Barcelona is known for its rich culture and arts scene. How has living in this city influenced you, both personally and professionally?
I think Spanish culture is definitely a bit more laid back and also business is done here differently than in Germany. It’s more about building good relationships. I like that a lot.
On the other hand, the vibe of the city especially in the area where I‘m living in, in Gracia, is very inspiring. You got tons of little shops and businesses that do creative things like building wooden furniture or painting and art classes. Just walking in the streets on an evening in summer and seeing all the people sitting on the Placa having a good time is very wholesome for me.
In the past three years, how has the modeling industry changed for you? Are there any shifts in the industry’s values or focuses?
As the pandemic hit, I could definitely feel that there was less travelling and less direct Jobs in the US for me. I’ve been flying regularly to L.A and New York before that, which used to be my strongest market.
But then at the same time we started producing advertisements for brands at home and also made me push my social media more. I like that because you can be creative about projects yourself versus as a model you just come on set and there is usually a concept given already.
At the same time, I feel like in the last few years diversity became really important for brands. I think that’s an awesome trend and movement to celebrate the diversity of our society. But obviously you can tell and my agents keep telling me that too. For classic more commercial faces around 30 there is definitely less demand in Europe right now.
So I’m happy that I’m starting working more globally again right now like the US and Australia.
At the same time, I’m also conscious about my C02 footprint. That’s another reason why I give away 1 percent of my profits to research for carbon reduction funds.
I think we have to become smarter and more efficient with using out energies and it can’t be the solution to just consume and travel less. As that would make the world collapse. There are very exciting projects and companies working on amazing solutions now as we speak that I’m very excited about.
Given your interest in health and nutrition, have you delved into sustainable living practices? How do you incorporate sustainability into your family life and career?
Over the last years sustainability and longevity have become more and more important to me. My main focus is not just looking good naked anymore. It’s more about slowing down the progress of aging and dying. And not just living longer, but my goal is to increase the health span as well.
So as now when people get 85, it’s common to become cranky with about 60 or less.
My main goal is to stay fit and healthy most of my life on earth. I wanna be able to throw my grand- and grand grand children around.
Obviously this doesn’t come for free. It’s about optimizing nutrition and your immune system. Doing a mix of strength and cardio training. Especially strength training is very underrated in older ages and there it’s even more important than ever. If you don’t work against it people loose up to 30% muscle mass between 50 and 70. It sounds detrimental but then a fall can eventually kill you. You can’t catch yourself, you break your hip bone for example. This makes you immobile and therefore not just lonely for a period but also the lack of movement and same (unhealthy diet) leads to faster atherosclerosis (which is happening a long time before it’s becomes and issue). And you increase your all cause mortality by many times. A good book I can recommend here if you are interested into that whole topic of increasing your health span and delaying or avoiding onset of mortal diseases is “outlive” by Dr. Peter Attia. He also has a great podcast.
For my every day life therefore I try to get in 10k steps a day, which is quiet easy once you have kids.
I also do 4-5 strength training sessions a week + 1-2 cardio sessions of low intensity or Intervalls. I don’t have a car and mostly use the bicycle or my feet.
I try to limit processed sugars unless right after a workout and I don’t smoke and don’t drink any alcohol for many years now.
I prioritize my sleep and another low hanging fruit for a better health is increasing fiber in your diet. Try to aim for 30-40 grams daily. If you eat the right foods that’s easy to archive, but most of us don’t even get close to that.
With our kids we also try to implement excercise and movement in their daily lives with sports they like to do like Ballet and acrobatics.
But longevity also goes for the planet and the environment. With some things this goes hand in hand with your own health. More foods that don’t need packaging. Less meat and dairy products. I’m plant based for over 10 years now and only eat fish when I eat outside from time to time. There is also great and healthy alternatives these days.
With saying that I’m not perfect and it’s always just a try to achieve the best version of myself for my own good but also for the environment and the society.
Earlier, you mentioned being an avid reader, especially of philosophy and psychology. What are the top three books you’ve read recently that made an impact?
I haven’t finished it yet, but “The molecule of more. How a single chemical in your brain drives love, sex and creativity – and will determine the fate of the human race.” By Daniel Z. Lieberman. I think it’s great to understand and control some of our behaviors, like social media use and addictions and it can also help to push your own habits into the right direction for more contentment and personal achievement.
Another book I always give as a gift is the daily stoic by Ryan Holiday.
It has a stoic quote for every day of the year and he translates it into todays life. For me it’s always astonishing how this ancient wisdom is still so accurate for todays life.
I love the stoic philosophy because it teaches you to stay humble and grounded no matter how high you fly.
And the 3rd one if 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey. This is one of the books that after reading it many years ago I still go back very often. One of the Most important learnings was the Eisenhower matrix which helps you to differentiate your weekly tasks into a matrix with important and not important and urgent and not urgent. I catch myself sometimes spending a lot of time on the tasks that have to be done but they are neither urgent nor important. The most important quadrant is the important, but not urgent one which is planning and strategy for your personal and professional life for example. So I try to make actively time for that.
How do you balance your rigorous fitness routine with family responsibilities? Have your workouts evolved now that you have two kids?
I definitely have much less time than I used to. So I try make it as effective as possible, which means using rather heavy compound excercises than isolation excercises and supersets to decrease the time spend time in the gym without decreasing rest time for the trained muscle. So most of the time I only need 45-60 minutes and I have more muscle mass than ever.
You mentioned a desire to show your family Tokyo and to visit your friend in Beijing. How do cultural experiences from trips influence your worldview and personal values?
For me seeing different cultures and life models are very inspiring. I grew up on the German countryside with a society that has a rather narrow minded view in life. So travelling and seeing how different cultures prioritize different values in life helps to understand todays diversity. That’s the beautiful thing. We are all different and bringing different ideas together can make for an awesome future. I like a mix of conserving culture and old rituals with modern point of views and using todays science to make our lives more efficient and comfortable.
Looking back over the past three years, in what ways do you think you’ve grown the most, both as a person and in your career?
I think the last 3 years especially have given me the understanding to take nothing for granted more than ever. On a career but also personal level. I don’t wanna complain about my genes at all but unfortunately I got the hair genes from my grandpa and that meant noticing hair loss from my early twenties on. I was able to maintain that for a long time with lifestyle habits, medications and certain treatments like PRP. But around one year ago I made the decision to cut my hair off and make a hair transplantation eventually. I thought the fashion world is ready for also more imperfections, but I had to the conclusion that this is unfortunately not the case and it’s really all about business. I had a few agencies dropping me right away. Which I have to say was very disappointing on a personal level. Because I had worked for many many years with them, making great jobs, having great relationships and then you just get a WhatsApp from an intern that you are no longer with the agency. In the end I’m happy then often change is also a good thing.
But realizing that this whole story telling of embracing all cultures and ethnicities and bodies is only so long wanted as is drives sales and business and feeling that most of it is only business driven and not authentic is very sad to see.
Still one year later I’m more than happy with where I am now. New awesome agencies that really wanted me and doing amazing jobs again is making me fee vey content at the moment.
The other thing on a personal level separating with the mother of my two kids and trying to balance co parenting was very challenging too. Realizing a relationship is not working anymore is very disappoint and can make you feel guilty towards your children, but now after 1,5 years this was the best thing we could do for our kids. We are also still on good terms and spend movie nights and dinners together. I think it’s important for your kids that you still treat each other with respect and work as a team.