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Dr. Dot: Building an empire one massage at a time

The Local's series "Making it in Germany" presents Dot Stein, the Berlin-based masseuse to the stars and saucy sex columnist better known as Dr. Dot.

Dr. Dot: Building an empire one massage at a time
Photo: Dr. Dot

Since arriving in Berlin in 1989, the Connecticut native Dot Stein has turned her passion for massage into a globe-spanning business catering to high-profile politicians (Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili), celebrities (American Idol’s Simon Cowell) and rock stars (Sting). As Dr. Dot she also offers advice to the lovelorn and sexually challenged.

Name

Dot Stein a.k.a. Dr. Dot

Age

Late 30s

Where do you live now?

I split my time between Berlin and New York. I lived in Berlin non-stop from October 1989 to 2002. That’s when I decided to start going back and forth.

What were you doing before you came to Germany?

I was massaging the Grateful Dead. But I also did odd jobs. I was a photographer. I sold bracelets I made at Grateful Dead shows. My family definitely got me started on going to Dead shows at a very young age: I started going to concerts when I was two years old.

What brought you here in the first place?

I met a German at a Grateful Dead show in Hartford, Connecticut and fell in love. We followed the Grateful Dead together for another eight months. Then I got pregnant, we had the baby there and then moved here. So I came for love pretty much.

What was your very first job in Germany?

I had a whole bunch of stupid jobs because I couldn’t speak German. I worked at the Europa Center Irish Pub as a waitress, I was a cleaning lady for a couple weeks. I hated it all. I was a Madonna doppelgänger. I worked at the American PX in the shoe department, and the army wives complained every single day about my clothes. So I finally got fired, they just hated me. I was also doing the Madonna shows at the time, so I looked like her with the hair and the eyebrows. Then I finally studied some German and got a job at a massage clinic where I worked for six years. It’s not like I got big overnight.

How did you find those first jobs when you came?

Many people who come to Germany can’t speak German, so they try to work in Irish pubs. I got the Madonna job selling some of those leftover bracelets from the Grateful Dead on the Ku’damm… on rollerskates no less! This guy came up to me one night and offered me a job. I thought he was trying to chat me up, so I told him to piss off, but he said “No, no… really”. So then I had to learn Madonna’s music and lyrics and all this stuff. I wasn’t really a fan back then like I am now. I’m more of a Hippie, so it was really hard, but it was fun.

How did you decide to become a masseuse?

Well, I really became a masseuse when I was five years old massaging my parents. So this is really a hobby that turned into a career. It was something I’d been doing my whole life. And at this point, I’m more of a dispatcher than a masseuse: I’ve got about 300 people working for me. People get fired and hired every single day. It’s just like a revolving door. They’re not employees, they’re more like independent contractors. I’m just a dispatcher. I still massage big stars, it’s not like I’m too lazy to massage. But most of the time, it’s being on the computer answering a thousand emails a day. I also write a sex column for Penthouse magazine, and I’ve written one for Exberliner magazine for eight years now.

Do you personally train the masseuses?

No, they all have to be certified. They have to have their own insurance, their own diplomas. I don’t have a school or anything. But they all have to audition by giving a free massage. It used to be that they all had to come to me in Berlin, to pass this audition. These days, we just require that they make it to the nearest “DotBot,” as we call them. Half of them I haven’t even met, not because I don’t want to, but just because I don’t have the time. I’m very fair, I take a very small commission. They’re basically renting my contacts from me. And they get their hands on some really big stars. Some of my girls have gotten to massage Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. So it’s good for people who like music. Some of the people on my team only want to do rich businesspeople in hotels.

You speak German now?

Ich muss aber deutsch sprechen. Na, klar!

What was the most difficult part of adjusting to life in Germany?

There’s so much hostility in Berlin. I don’t really know much about Germany. I know about Berlin. Goethe had a quote: “There’s a bold breed of people that live together in Berlin for which delicacy is of hardly any use. One must have hair on one’s teeth and be a little rough sometimes in order to keep one’s head above water.” This quote still holds true today. And he said it like a million years ago. He’s talking about how incredibly bitchy the Berliners are. It’s just insane. Even Goethe noticed it, and he hit the nail right on the head. I totally understand what he means. I really can’t speak for all of Germany because I keep hearing that they’re friendlier everywhere else. But in Berlin, they’re only friendly when the sun shines. And we know how often that is.

What’s the toughest situation you ever found yourself in here?

I’ve been knocked out when I was jogging. I was attacked. I’ve been attacked twice by German men, and they got away with it. I don’t like that nobody has respect for, or fear of, the law. The law is afraid of the people, so you can basically get murdered, and the person’s going to get off in a year or two anyway.

What’s been your favourite thing about Germany?

I think it’s positive that Germany is very liberal and Berlin is very inexpensive. The rent is very, very cheap. And you feel more free here. Nudity and hookers are legal, and you can drink on the streets. But on the other hand it’s sometimes too liberal. Like when I get attacked, beat up when I’m jogging, and the guy gets away with it.

How much time do you split between German and English when you’re in Berlin? I speak about 90 percent English and 10 percent German these days. When I order food I speak German, when I take a cab, I speak German. I mean, I’m not one of these people who comes here and forgets they’re American. I can speak German quite well, but if I hang out with Germans, they always insist on practicing their English with me. I try! I’ll speak German, and they’ll just answer me in English. They refuse to speak German with me, and it really pisses me off, because when I had a baby with a big stroller, nobody would help me up and down the stairs to the U-Bahn or up onto the bus. But you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. If you ask them in English they assume you’re not trying, and if you ask them in German, they answer you in English anyway because they want to practice their English.

What fascinates you most about Berlin?

I’d say the architecture. Like… wow. The men are definitely hot. That’s the superficial side. And as far as architecture goes, I’m not talking about the shitty buildings that went up after the war. I’m talking about Gendarmenmarkt and its beautiful buildings. It’s just majestic. And there’s a lot of water in Berlin. There’s a lot of green and a lot of water. Germany is generally extremely clean, and I really like that. The people are also more honest than they are in America. Dependable. But they’re slow. And arrogant. I mean you can’t win, there’s no perfect place. I can’t decide, which is why I live in two places.

Do you feel Germany has changed you as a person?

I became tougher. And more efficient. More punctual. I was late for everything when I moved here. I was a hippie thinking: “Whatever!” Now I’m really punctual. I’m very dependable. So, some parts of me are quite German. But I still have that New Yorker drive.

Do you ever feel especially embraced by Berlin?

Some people love me and some people hate me. I’m alone a lot. I don’t go out very much because I don’t smoke, I barely ever drink, and if I do it’s one glass of wine a month. When you run your own show, you can’t go out and hang out like a bunch of losers in a bar all the time. But people who read my column, I think they embrace me, they love me. The more popular you become, the more successful you become, the more fans you’ll have and the more enemies you’ll have.

What would be your advice to someone trying to “make it” in Germany?

You have to learn German right away. I learned by watching Sesame Street in German. You have to learn German. Because you don’t want others having the upper hand. I actually think it’s pretty easy to make it here because no one else wants to work. If you’re a hard worker, you’ll be successful. But then again if you’re lazy and just want to collect money from the government, you can also get by just fine. It’s just really easy to make it here if you’re driven and you’re ambitious. But Berlin is a bit like an amazing ex-lover. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.

Know someone who’s “made it” in Germany? Email us at: [email protected]

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WORKING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

For those considering relocating to Germany - or looking for a new profession - here are the most in-demand jobs out there, according to a study by LinkedIn.

EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

Germany is desperate to fill jobs. In autumn last year, authorities said there was a shortage of 390,000 skilled workers. 

The new government plans to ease red tape and overhaul immigration policies to make it easer for non-EU nationals to come to the country. 

READ ALSO: What Germany’s coalition proposals mean for citizenship and immigration

But many people already within Germany might also be thinking about a change of career, or pivoting to a related sector, especially after the Covid pandemic changed the world of work. 

For those who are curious, international job search engine LinkedIn has published a list of jobs that are in-demand in Germany. Although lots of positions in Germany require that you speak German, many companies are international and encourage English speakers to apply.

What is the list?

The so-called LinkedIn Jobs in Trend 2022 list shows the 25 occupations that have grown the most over the past five years compared to other other positions. 

The list “allows insight into how the job market is evolving and the long-term opportunities it presents – whether you’re looking to change careers, re-enter the workforce or upskill for future challenges,” said LinkedIn. 

It’s based on LinkedIn data between January 2017 and July 2021. 

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Here is the list of the top 25 positions, including the core skills required for each and the desired amount of experience for candidates according to LinkedIn.

In some of the descriptions below we haven’t translated the job name  to German – that’s because it is usually advertised in Germany with the English name.

1. Consultant for the public sector (Berater*in für den öffentlichen Sektor)

Responsibilities: Advising public and government institutions on the modernisation and digitalisation of administration and infrastructure

Most common skills: Public Policy, Management Consulting, Policy Field Analysis

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 2.8 

2. Product analyst (Produktanalyst*in)

Responsibilities: Product analysts use metrics to evaluate a company’s products to determine whether they meet current and future market needs

Most common skills: Tableau, Google BigQuery, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 3.7 

A man at his home office desk.

A man works at his ‘home office’ desk. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

3. Business development specialist or consultant (Beschäftigte in der Geschäftsentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Business development employees develop companies, enter new markets and evaluate sales opportunities

Most common skills: salesforce, account management, inside sales

Top regions hiring in: Berlin Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.3

4. Sustainability manager (Nachhaltigkeitsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Sustainability management employees are based in corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments and look after the social, environmental and economic aspects of a company

Most common skills: Sustainability reporting, corporate social responsibility, life cycle assessment management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

5. Cyber Security Specialist (Cyber Security Spezialist*in)

Responsibilities: Unlike IT security, cyber security is not limited to the environment of your own company, but also keeps an eye on wider threats from the internet in order to ward off viruses, Trojans or ransomware

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.1

6. Developer for machine learning (Entwickler*in für maschinelles Lernen)

Responsibilities: Machine learning developers create so-called artificial intelligence. They research and design models and algorithms that enable machines to recognise patterns in large volumes of data, among other things

Most common skills: TensorFlow, Python (programming language), Keras 

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

READ ALSO: Working in Germany – 7 factors that can affect how much you’re paid

7. User Experience (UX) Researcher

Responsibilities: User experience researchers find out what users need and want and prepare these findings for developers, marketers, designers and others

Most common skills: Usability testing, design thinking, human-computer interaction

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.6

8. Real estate finance specialist (Spezialist*in für Immobilienfinanzierung)

Responsibilities: Real estate finance specialists accompany and advise clients from the initial property enquiries stage to closing the deal and agreeing on financial arrangements

Most common skills: Construction financing, finance, sales

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 5.3

9. Head of Public Affairs (Leiter*in Public Affairs)

Responsibilities: Public affairs is the strategic aim to integrate the interests of the employer into political decision-making processes. Also known as lobbying, the job description should not be confused with public relations (corporate communications)

Most common skills: Politics, international relations, strategic communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.2

10. Information security officer (Beauftragte*r für Informationssicherheit)

Responsibilities: Information Security Officers protect data in analogue and digital form. To do this, they ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised persons at all times.

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Information Security Management System (ISMS), data protection management

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 10.2

11. Specialist in talent acquisition (Spezialist*in für Talentakquise)

Responsibilities: Talent acquisition specialists identify suitable job candidates and take care of the strategic development of the Talent Acquisition department

Most common skills: Employer branding, sourcing, talent management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

12. Expansion manager

Responsibilities: Expansion managers accompany the growth of companies and take care of things like the purchase or leasing of business space in optimal locations

Most common skills: Business development, marketing, strategic planning

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Düsseldorf and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.7

13. Test engineer (Prüfingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Cars, wind turbines, lifts, amusement park rides and countless other technical constructions must be regularly checked for safety. This is where test engineers come into play

Most common skills: LabVIEW, Matlab, electrical engineering

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Hamburg and Tübingen areas

Average years of experience: 4 

14. Marketing (Marketingmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Marketing employees (Associates) support the planning and implementation of marketing activities for companies and organisations

Most common skills: Social media marketing, online marketing, content marketing

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich

Average years of experience: 2.7

15. Data engineer (Dateningenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Data engineers deal with the collection, processing and checking of data

Most common skills: Apache Spark, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apache Hadoop |

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.8 

16. Personnel officer recruiting (Personalreferent*in Recruiting)

Responsibilities: Recruiters use job advertisements and various channels to search for suitable candidates for open positions in the company and personally recruit suitable candidates

Most common skills: Active sourcing, e-recruiting, employer branding

Top regions. hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

A woman sits at a desk.

Are you looking for a chance in career? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Finn Winkler

17. Manager in strategic partnerships (Manager*in Strategische Partnerschaften)

Job Purpose: Strategic partnerships managers are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with business partners to further the development and distribution of their own products and services

Most common skills: Business development, account management, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 6

18. Head of Software Development (Leiter*in Softwareentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Software Development Managers are responsible for all stages of software application development. They control and structure planning, organisation and execution

Most common skills: Agile methods, cloud computing, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 12.2 

READ ALSO:

19. Data science specialist

Responsibilities: Data science experts or data scientists help companies to make data-based decisions. They build a structured database from raw data, analyse data and prepare it with business background knowledge

Most common skills: Python (programming language), R, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3

20. Robotics engineer (Robotik-Ingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Robotics engineers develop and programme robots and other intelligent assistance systems, whether for medicine, gastronomy, or future cars.

Most common skills: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), UiPath, C++ 

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and the Hanover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg areas 

Average years of experience: 3.8 

21. Investment associate (Investmentmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Which areas are worth investing in, which companies are suitable for takeover? This is checked by investment managers through market observations, financial modelling and due diligence procedures

Most common skills: Private equity, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions (M&A)

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 2.7 years

22. Chief Information Security Officer

Responsibilities: Many companies are not only urgently looking for information security officers (see position 10), senior positions in this professional field are also in high demand

Most common skills: Information Security Management System (ISMS), ISO 27001, IT Risk Management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 14.3

23. Manager in strategic sales (Manager*in im strategischen Vertrieb)

Responsibilities: Strategic Sales Managers usually look after selected target and existing customers over a longer period of time. Duties include preparing quotations and negotiating prices

Most common skills: Solution selling, business development, account management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 9.3

24. Communications manager (Kommunikationsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Communications managers take care of PR work inside and outside a company – this includes planning communication strategies as well as implementing campaigns on social networks or organising press appointments and events

Most common skills: Strategic communication, public relations/PR, internal/external communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg areas

Average years of experience: 5.4 

25. Specialist writer for medicine (Fachautor*in Medizin)

Responsibilities: Medical writers produce documents in a medical context, such as study reports for scientific journals, texts for regulatory authorities and information sheets for medicines – but also journalistic texts for websites or magazines

Most common skills: Clinical studies, scientific writing, life sciences

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.2

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