Sunday Column (382)

Last week started on Sunday when I flew to Germany. I piggy-backed a long overdue trip onto a trip to some clients in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is not only a pain to fly to (Heathrow only), there aren’t that many companies in our industry. It has been 18 months since I have been and stayed one day this time to then train it to Düsseldorf. Germany is very scattered when it comes to big cities and there are important people in each one of them. I guess it keeps it interesting.

A bit of travel is essential to cover ground in Germany. One of the few countries without a centralised city for media, not like Paris/France, Milan/Italy, Madrid/Spain and of course London/UK. My next trip to Germany is Berlin in a few weeks time. That again will be from Gatwick, which is a lot easier. It seems that Easyjet changed their flight plan and doesn’t fly to some cities I need to go to. That means a long taxi drive to Heathrow.

On the note of train travel in Germany: my annual travel card from Hassocks to London, which I renewed this week, costs more than a travel card to use the train all over Germany for a year. On first sight my ticket seems like a rip off. Discussing it with people, it seems that Germany subsidises train travel and given you pay almost double on tax, this explains how it works. Guess every country has its pros and cons.

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I seem to hate flying out on a Sunday. It seems like I am cheating on family time but luckily this happens only a couple of times a year. Particularly as I got a good engagement going with the boys, playing chess and doing homework. We had a fantastic weekend.

However the meetings we had were awesome. The industry is very responsive to our solutions and we are pivoting. It is nice to see we offer innovation in a crowded market space and drive business forward. What is not to like?

My Hilton in Dusseldorf was a bit unliked by me. We got to a personal chat with the Operational head and a make good. Actually curious to meet him in person now 😉 He seems very much switched on. Next time. First unhappy Hilton stay so far. That’s a better track record in comparison to IHG. Let’s see how the next three Hilton stays stack up. Being away from home you want to have a good bed and a good service, a good place to stay and most of all, value for money. When staying in a very low frill hotel the other day, it ticked all the boxes. Yet, it didn’t come at the price tag of a Hilton. Same is true when we travel, as a family we go into a Premier Inn for the night. Anyway….I keep you posted, no doubt.

Overall it was a very successful trip. Definitely worth while with some very challenging and good discussions with industry leaders. Just the way I like it.

Work is very interesting at the moment. We are, as a company, innovating a lot around cross device data points. That and us playing in the biggest offline silo, TV, and the most engaging online silo, Social, leads to some interesting developments. It’s going to be exciting over the next few months.

My wife ran another race. I am very proud of her. She managed to hit her anticipated time. She also signed up to more runs. I am a bit afraid I would get addicted if I start signing up to races. Hence I am still refusing to join races but the one in July running a 24 hour relay race over the distance of 10K. Despite my exercises I seem to be putting on weight. Not a lot to be honest but it seems to be creeping up. So this week I have done a few more runs than normal. 30K and 45 minutes Cross Trainer. That resulted in the weight being down again but I was exhausted on Friday.

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For the matter of weight I need to look into my diet again. A few client lunches and boozing sessions with lots of finger food and crisps seem to take its toll. That of course is fair enough so I shall try to cut down on those wasted calories of nuts and crisps. Also I am wondering if this high fat diet, having a ham and cheese omelette every morning, is the best idea. I guess I need to do more research. If you look up athletes’s diets they eat ‘normal’ with focus on veggies, carbs prior to events and fruit as well as protein. Yet they never mention chocolate, cashew nuts or crisps as part of their diet 🙂

You only live once I guess 🙂

I am buzzing this week. Overall. The challenge is our bathroom. The tiles just don’t seem to be on there right. Uneven in any of the three directions. The builder keeps trying. I am hopeful we get there in the end. Quite a stressful experience. But for now, it was weekend. Time to chill.

Last but not least I decided to grow a beard this week, then took it off again. I just don’t seem to be able to decide on the right look. And the right itch. The right format of beard. Off again for now….we shall see.

The joys of life. Hope yours is going well.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (381)

A rather odd week if you ask me. I didn’t work my usual day from home, a window shattered next to me without me having anything to do with it, my back had a spasm when running and overall I am drained. The weather cannot make its mind up and my colleague handed back my old accounts as he was leaving. So things are stagnating a bit with new hires coming in soon.

And then….Winning. Being up there and doing things right. That is contagious. Isn’t it? Tuesday was one of those days. We won. We made progress. We made it happen. We are moving to the next level. Life is very much split sometimes.

Being on later train home than usual and thinking that whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. Patience. Fear is the key driver of procrastination. I am not fearful. We must move forward. Tomorrow is the future. The day after tomorrow, a step further. A step closer. Life is moving in the right direction.

Steve Jobs Last Day

This week I closed a chapter. Putting things to bed is good sometimes. It hurts. It’s not nice and we move on from there. But we had a good time. We can appreciate, agree and move on. The future is now. It is happening. Either way things are moving on, never stop, never being put on hold.

The most annoying bit this week was iTunes deleting my music library. And then they didn’t restore it properly. I wonder if it is just a technical glitch or a general iTunes problem. As it seems I am not the only one having those problems. The deeper you go into the dependence of Apple, the more you realise even they aren’t flawless. Guess no system is. However they still make the best devices in my opinion.

On Thursday night I had a bit of spare time, as the wife was away, and I watched a few Steve Jobs videos on YouTube. Also, I caught up with a few podcasts. I am making sure I am learning and moving myself forward. Patience is key. Things come to those who wait and things are moving.

Looking forward is the theme at the moment. Believing in positive change. That things will change. Things will improve. That is key. And this isn’t specific but in general having a positive and opportune outlook in life is very important. We cannot just stop, put it all down and give in, give up. We must fight, move forward and make it happen.

The moment we lose hope or wonder whether the path we go down is right, we lose power and energy. We must believe in making the right choices. We must believe. Always. There is no way you can give up. Or give in. You must work it out. Whether in private, your job or life in general.

Trusting the universe with what’s happening and that it will look after you. Action=Reaction. Your action determine the reaction. The universe gives back. Direct you if you like. Taking feeling into perspective and lead with your heart not your head.

And then, as I am finalising this blog post sitting on the train, I am listening to a conversation next to me about electric cars. Having just read the Elon Musk book on Tesla and how they push the boundaries for batteries. Yet the discussion, someone owning ‘an electric car’ arguing with someone else about “the charge will never be able to last the promised miles”. The reason I bring that up – a lot of people do not believe. They believe what they have, what they see. They are not visionary and cannot imagine this improving.

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We all live with limited information. Even if we are fully informed. That is, because we don’t know everything at any one time, as we are learning and as a human race expand our wisdom. Another report this week about the ripples from black holes puts life into perspective. Hawkings was mentioned and interviewed.

There are people that are pushing boundaries. That make things happen and move things forward. I still have a few beliefs that seem to hold me back, like security and barriers in my head.

They are moving, slowly but surely. And I am still young. I might never, and surely will never be a Hawkings or Musk. But maybe I will be able to push the boundaries in my little world. Moving the needle a bit. Contributing to positive change.

Enough thoughts for a day. When this gets published I am touching down in Frankfurt Germany for a family visit – having booked Monday off. Then business as normal in Germany for a couple days, back to the big smoke. Life is busy. Life is good.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (380)

If I look back at this week, it was a funny one to be honest. People are back from their Easter break, heads down, on with their work. So I had days at work just catching up on admin, last minute meeting cancellations and then days where I went from meeting to meeting. Some weeks are like that – not one is the same as the other. I suppose it is good for variety.

Evenings were filled with watching Outlander on Amazon Prime on Amazon Prime. Found some awesome Outlander Quotes, see one here. The wife and I finally found a series we both enjoy. I also watch Bosch, a police drama, which is ideal for treadmill runs. No thinking required whatsoever!

outlander quote

I also managed to catch up with a few friends this week which was nice. What I realise more and more is that one gets so busy doing things, that one can loose focus on the little, enjoyable things in life. Like meeting friends. Like making that difference to one particular person. It is great though and often I am sitting there on the train home, thinking it was a really good day. Most days anyway.

The bathroom arrived too. The next three weeks we are getting our wet rooms done and that will conclude house renovation part ‘one’. Means we have done the front door, back door, garage door, asbestos removal, downstairs loo, downstairs kitchen and living room completely with fire place, upstairs carpet, ceilings, floor boards, most radiators in the house and now the bathroom(s). Forgot anything? Once through, hurray. Last thing on the list is some garden work and the driveway which we hope to have done in May.

Then the new motor. I had another look on Saturday and we are test driving the car again soon. We made up our minds, and given the finance options, we might be able to do it as early as May….then we have to wait a few months to get it of course. We shall see. One step at a time. Oh, yes, the Skoda Superb with most the trimmings.

I ramped up my exercise routine this week also. After a 10 mile run (16K) on Sunday I swam on Monday and did 2 kettle bell sessions and two 10K this week. I am feeling fitter than ever, yet don’t seem to get enough quality sleep. I am struggling with lots of things going on in my mind atm. And this causes me a headache I am not sure how to get rid of.

Whilst I wouldn’t call it stress, there is strain on decisions and from discussions I am having. Sometimes when you wake up and think about things, it is difficult to go back to sleep. Yet my cats keep me company, they are settling in and got their last injection this week too. That means they can all go outside as of this week. Hurray. We are getting there. They are still a bit coy to venture outside but they have been. Of course Lula got herself locked into a neighbour’s garage on her first outing. The joys.

Guess life is about patience. The famous roses and perspective. Another great podcast this week said that you only create barriers in your mind. I tend to agree. Reading about Elon Musk who founded both SpaceX and Tesla, you realise human potential and what we are capable of doing. Yet not everyone is willing to take the same risk.

Elon Musk
Tony Robbins nicely summarised it with his human needs. Some people are more security driven then others. Some need more love and growth and others might thrive more on contribution and adventure. We are all individuals. And looking at it from a corporate perspective, a company needs to adjust to every one’s needs. Not just one person’s or the other’s. So understanding the individual, their goals, their background and what makes them thrive is key to being a good manager.

The reason I bring that up is that I am going through a bit of a recruitment spree at work, adding to the team and in the process restructuring some processes. That is fun and never ends. Not without challenges of course but great learning. As a company we are transitioning too, and are in a very sweet spot of our industry. Full steam ahead. I am excited!

One must trust the universe and that things fall into place. Having the above patience and enough stamina. That’s key to success in my view. Things never go as planned and nothing ever comes easy. Hard work always pays off and in the end we are going to be ok. Trust. That’s key to anything I suppose. Any relationship.

Let me leave you with those thoughts. It is just before 7 am on one of those days that I drafted my post. With the real time streaming on Facebook and Twitter, maybe I should consider a ‘Ballueder Video Blurb’ from the breakfast table. Maybe one day 😉

Have a great week and stay safe.
Volker

trust the universe

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Sunday Column (379)

The week started with a trip to Hamburg. A night and back again. I am getting used to the regular flights and short trips again. This time I didn’t take my running gear. An unbalanced run the week before paired with a 13K over the weekend left me tired and my knee(s) aggravated. So some needed rest and a treadmill run on Thursday was all. I am cautious of not pushing myself too far and not to injure myself seriously.

I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks. See last week’s column, that life could be over quickly without you knowing. Things might change. What is important in your life, what do you cherish. Where do you put most emphasis on, what is it that you enjoy and should do more of. I will cover that in more detail. Anyways…

When leaving home my fish tank was playing up. The temperature dropped and I worried a lot. Thanks to my wife and some last minute rescue measures we seemed to have avoided some major fish losses. I had just added some loaches to get rid of the snails, and feel that the ecosystem within the tank is striving.

Actually not my fish but almost ;-)

Actually not my fish but almost ;-)

My eldest wrote me a card to wish me well for the trip and he hopes that I will be meeting some friends. I did. It is nice to see them grow up and also understanding German (my sons, not my friends 😉 ). When my parents were over for Easter, they spoke German to the boys and the eldest clearly understood. Maybe there is hope and as they get older they get more of an interest to learn the language. I don’t think they will ever be native but if they manage to communicate and get by, it would be fantastic. Having had 1-on-1 time with both of them over the last few weeks really helps to seal the bond. It also helps me improving my football skills 😉

The remainder of the week passed very quickly. I spend two days in Germany, back to back in meetings, catching up with the local staff, and having in depth conversations about the industry. It is interesting to see the differences in markets and attitudes towards product deliveries. It is good though, and I do enjoy the work I am delivering, as we are pioneering in a new space, leading the pack for second screen advertising. But hey, I don’t want to market my company here, do I? 🙂

A good friend of mine invited me for lunch on Thursday. A healthy, good lunch, and a wonderful chat. Those type of chats and friendships last for a long time to come. He was joking I should mention him in my column, however, here we go 🙂 Thanks mate!!!

As I write this blog I pass Gatwick Airport on the train. Sunset. The daylight saving time and all, we are back to having light travelling home from work. I look at the sunset and think about the things to come. I keep forgetting about the past, putting it aside. We are launching new products at work. We are renovating the house and finish it the first time around. The wheel is turning and we are going faster and faster. Then I listened to two podcasts this week that told me to sleep enough and take it easy. Don’t get the burn out. I am not afraid, I look after myself. I am trying to anyway, being more easy going than I used to be (at least I think so) and more pro-active, forward looking than I used to. My thinking is changing.

The Germans have this saying “gut Ding muss Weile haben” – good things need their time. There is no need to rush and make too many avoidable mistakes. You hear it coming – time to stop and smell the roses. When flying this week, way after my working hours (in case you reading this, boss), I decided to not work but chill out. To sit and read, doze, listen to music and just take time off to think and reflect. I manage to split work and life. I am learning. Still. I am growing. I am proud of my personal development.

a sin. an awesome sin. loving it.

a sin. an awesome sin. loving it.

I am also proud of my wife. 12 years this week that we met. 9 years this year that we got married, had kids, a house etc. In another 12 years the kids would have left the house and another 12 I am probably still not retired. Wow. That means I have only been through the first third of my career. I am just warming up and boy, I am ready to go! Patience, Ballueder, Patience!

Life is good. I remind myself daily and make sure that life is going to stay as it is. That it won’t get worse or we stop looking after ourselves and the kids. No, I want fun, love, and live.

Have a great week. Summer is on its way!

We managed a first bike ride at the weekend. The little one on the tag along bike and I. We sat down, smelled the freshly cut grass, enjoyed the sun and some sweets. We laughed. We loved.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (378)

A short week one might think. It started off pretty hectic. We moved seats in the office, changed desks and added desks and we also had to deliver Easter eggs. Yup, 1kg of chocolate Easter eggs to our clients. Hand delivered. That was fun.

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Then, a friend and mentor had an accident which overshadowed the week a bit. It makes you think where the journey takes you, and why. You start reminiscing on the purpose of life. The familiar reader knows, you realise you should stop more often, and smell the roses. And that’s what I did on Tuesday. A spring festival at school, and a play at the Beavers. My eldest, who is not really enjoying plays too much, had to do three performances in a day. Pushing himself past his comfort zone. Very proud. Quality time.

One cannot but look forward. Not sure this sentence makes sense. We don’t have a choice but to accept what life throws at us. We pick it up. We leave it there. We ignore it, we take it on. We move on. Time is precious and can’t be stopped. So we must continue, like the hamster in the wheel, until we find a way to change….the wheel, the cage or the exercise.

And the same is true for Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels. We cannot stop the wheel. We cannot stop using planes or public transport. We mustn’t be afraid. As I said to a cabbie, whilst delivering above mentioned eggs, my philosophy is that when your time is up your time is up. He said, he had a lot of things still to do, and is far from ready to go. Neither am I. Far from it. But if I have to go, what choice do I have? And if there is an hourglass somewhere with my name on, I hope it has a lot of sand left. Fingers crossed.

Not wanting to go into more details of morbid stuff, but I had a virus that came out end of last week. Not that I am the only one: half the office and half the industry is having some kind of bug. It’s a nasty one, that seems to form different symptoms a day, so you never know if you have a stomach cramp one day or just feeling tired the other. Hence I couldn’t wait for a few days off over Easter. My parents came to visit, the weather is rainy, yet Spring is in town. As a matter of fact, we had a wonderful Friday in Nyman’s Garden. I smelled some roses.

I feel like I am accomplishing something, getting something done, things are moving forward.
I feel like life is moving forward, the wheel is turning.
I feel good.

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Yet the virus slowed me down a bit too. I skipped some exercise sessions this week and cut down on a few kilometres running. Now catching up again. I feel pretty fit, so that’s good, with lots of energy to go and I will get things done. I must.

I keep looking forward. We made arrangements for holidays. We are discussing options to see people and I am still dreaming of the new car, which we won’t have for our trips to Scotland or Germany this year. And there might be a school reunion soon. 20 years since I graduated from high school.

In the meantime I enjoy the time off. Tuesday starts with a trip to the fatherland. I will be on the road again in the next couple of weeks. It’s good. Likewise it is good to stop. Reflect and smell my roses. Springs is here, and they are blossoming.

Love, peace and happiness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (377)

This week brought on a few changes. Mainly work related and I don’t want to go into great detail. In reflection of my career, I have managed to learn a lot on how to deal with change, engage in situations and which approach I should take. Experience I suppose, age and maturity of course. Putting all of that together and going from a career level up to an industry level, I can see almost the opposite with the broadcast industry.

You probably wonder what I am on about. I attended a conference for TV people this week. They don’t know much about programmatic advertising. And, should they not change, the youngsters from the digital programmatic space will teach the older, maturer generation from broadcasting, how it is done. Upside down. Innovation and automatisation will always be ahead of rigidity.

I don’t want to have too much of a go, but the conference showed me that some of the broadcasters don’t really understand what is happening in the world. They seem to be stuck in their old business models, neglecting the insights they can drive. And when consultants then suggest the magical steps to change and list action points I haven’t seen since my MBA, my neck hair stands up. I honestly fear that the digital world will roll into the TV world, force change which the broadcasters should lead themselves. Seeing Sky winning most of the awards for being the most innovative broadcaster wasn’t a surprise. They are currently, at least to my mind, the leading force of change in the broadcaster industry. Where next?

Hawkeye

In other news we found out that our new pets haven’t been vaccinated yet. This meant a blood test, vaccination, another couple hundred in vet bills and further five weeks in confinement. You get what you ask for. We wanted to help those kittens, were under the impression to do good and ended up with a big bill. Just as well we didn’t pay for the cats and they all seem to get along. We will get through that as well, still learning in the process.

Life is good. Reviews in school were due and we are happy and proud of our kids. We have some bright, intelligent and lovely boys. Just when they are at home…no, of course they are good 😉 it is funny to see how their character develops and how you discover part of yourself, part of your spouse in them. Yet, they are complete own characters, humans with their own ideas and thoughts. I love them more than anything in this world. An inspiration, future and purpose in life.

On Thursday I managed the first 10K run in just under 45 minutes, that’s 4:30 per km. This for me is a big step. I never thought I’d could do it but pacing myself on some runners in Central Park made me determined to do it. I am winning. Thinking back that I used to be part of my American High School track team running 800 meters huffing and puffing because I smoked 60 cigarettes a day. I remember my first run after I quit smoking almost 20 years ago. It was for 10 minutes and I could hardly breathe and had to stop often. I obviously came a long way since then.

That pretty much sums up the week. On Saturday I had lots of time with Rohan, another party and time to prepare some thoughts. Life is full of change and challenges. Also I mixed myself my own Martini again. It has been a while but Americans like a good cocktail before dinner and so do I now again, after I used to drink Martini a lot watching Mash 4077 back in the days.

Anyway, have a good one, speak Easter,
Volker

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Sunday Column (376)

Hello to this week’s column which seems to really gain on popularity given the latest stats.

My Monday swimming is going well. It was fairly empty this week, as it seems that New Year resolutions are wearing off, so people stopped going first thing on a Monday. This is nice as us regulars, a lot of retired people and myself, get a more room in the pool. I aim to go bi-weekly and alternate with my cross trainer. Despite travelling I keep up exercising and on average manage 5 days a week.

The main challenge around it is that I eat a lot of crappy food to keep up the energy, which is fine as I am burning a lot, but if I stopped exercising tomorrow, I might gain a lot of weight again. A #firstworldproblem I suppose but still, my aim for Q2 is to get leaner and ‘meaner’. We shall see.

I did my run on Tuesday before heading to the airport, as I had to go to a meeting in New York. I have not been to NY since 1993 when I moved to Kansas for a year as a foreign exchange student. So this was somewhat of a treat. Very exhausting travel, yet very rewarding to be back in such a wonderful city. NY is special, no doubt!

Being on a long haul flight makes me think. Not that I am on a long haul flight often, but when I am, I like to wind down. The thoughts are about being disconnected. About missing out and not being able to do emails or call loved ones. On short haul flights it is a couple of hours, like a meeting. But long haul is a working day. And flying back in time, New York is 5 hours behind us, makes the day even longer.

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I guess life is what you are used to. And what you are getting and wanting to be get used to. And that is somewhat something we all know yet don’t apply on a daily basis. Makes sense?

Whether this is to have kids, take on three cats, change the layout of your house, changing jobs or dealing with any kind of change. Whatever gets us out of our comfort zone will make us learn. It will make us grow. It will help us pushing and extending boundaries.

But if we are not going to get used to things, we are just dealing with them. Then we learn behaviour for the next time. Same reaction. Same worries. Only by getting used to things we remove those worries. Sales works similar, where the first meeting to present a new product is pushing boundaries. Ten meetings down the road you will be used to it. It will be easier.

Guess by the time the kids leave the house and we prepare for retirement we have seen and learned it all. And we pass on to our kids what we have learned. Some learning they will take on and accept and apply. Some advise they will ignore. Just like we have done. Just like our parents have done. Some things never change I suppose. Sending them on a world trip, which I have never done, might expand their comfort zone and gets them to look beyond every day life. Will they do it?

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Coming back to my trip. I watched the story of Lance Armstrong on the way over. It is amazing, in a bad way, what he got away with in life. Like a bad sales person selling who is overselling on capabilities. I am glad it backfired. He destroyed hope in people. It was very unethical.

I also managed to go through a few podcasts that I had downloaded for while. If I listen to most management and productivity gurus and experts, I realise a few things. One is that I need to stop reading more personal development books. It is getting repetitive. I believe I have all the tools to make life happen. Yet, I have to stop more often, smell the roses and examine where I am, what I do and which 20% of my efforts result in 80% of my positive results. Time to tweak life perspective a bit and re-assemble, then move forward more focused and stronger.

2016 seems to be the year I am on the runway…I am getting onto that plane, ready to take off. Which airline will I be on? Which class will I be in? How long will it take until we reach flight height? Where am I going? Who am I taking with me? Who is the pilot? A nice analogy for life. I know who my co-pilot is and she was truly missed this week!

Before I get too sentimental…that said…when I was sitting in the bar at the airport waiting for my flight home I was reflective. Very tired. It was 2 am UK time, only half seven in NY. I had run 10K in Central Park, trying to catch some fast runners. Then I met a social media celebrity and some good friends. I soaked in some sights and some atmosphere. I love New York. Got a T-shirt too.

Life is good. Work was very productive. It was a good week. America is great. Space, friendly people and an energy one doesn’t find in Europe. Shame. If I was younger I might consider moving here. Or would I? It is great working in the space I am in, exciting times ahead. We are getting ready for lift off.

Yet travelling makes you tired and coming home is the nicest bit. I missed the kids. I missed the wife. At the weekend I tried to get back to my normal schedule.

Whilst I sit at the bar and bite into an amazing burger with fries accompanied by a glass of Californian CabSav, I realise how awesome life is and what opportunities lie ahead. Full throttle ahead. The opportunity is now.

I hope you have a great week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (375)

I am sitting by the fire. A cosy 25 degrees, wine at hand, heating off, and just above 3 degrees outside. The temperature plummeted over the weekend. We donated blood on Friday, and it was late and I ate that little, that I almost fainted. So Saturday I felt drained. Not sure why, maybe a bug, maybe the donation, maybe the temperature drop. Maybe my old age 😉

So sitting here by the fire on Saturday night is nice. Cosy. Comfortable. A nice Shiraz, my paper and the kids are in bed. We had garlic chicken for dinner with 40 (!) cloves. No vampires for us tonight then.

I get a lot of positive comments about my blog, and appreciate every single one. Even if I get notified of spelling mistakes. I actually appreciate being corrected, no way of hiding my heritage, despite close to 15 years in the country. Let’s see how long it lasts with the potential Brexit looming.

This week has probably been the most stressful one for a while to be honest. Not only was work challenging, I even had problems sleeping. Not even wine helped. It got better towards the end of the week and I chilled out a bit more. Still doing my runs and exercises in the morning. I am feeling pretty fit.

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However, next week I am in New York. For the first time in 23 years I am going to one of my favourite cities in the world. Not sure how I can say that but then again how can one not like New York? It has been a long time coming with about three occasions I remember where I was supposed to go to NY but never did. Now I am going. The flights are booked. Will I get a chance to jog through Central Park or see any of the city? I tell you next week I suppose.

I am dreading the flight a bit. It’s a bit longer than usual and I just hope to get an aisle seat or extra leg room at least. We shall see. One day it will be business class, right 😉 I got a few European trips coming up, some from Heathrow as well, because Easyjet has been changing their flight timetable against my schedule. Less business friendly to be honest. Actually I am surprised but guess they have done the research.

The world of business, travel and life life balance. Nothing has changed, yet in between I am doing an office job which feels like an ever growing responsibility, strategic mission, sales and product development. I am enjoying the challenge and it feels good to push boundaries.

Life is funny in that sense. I was home early one night and decided to completely engage with the kids. And I read two books with the youngest and did maths with the oldest. That was fun! It was a real pleasure to be able to switch off. I seem to be able to separate work and life better the deeper I get into either of them. That’s a bit odd but it seems to work.

There haven’t been many other developments. Without wanting to comment on politics it scares me what’s going on in the US re elections. It scares me to think what people think and do and what they think ‘is funny’ and what consequences it might have. Yet we don’t need to look too far, considering the discussion around a possible Brexit. It also surprised me to learn that Saudi Arabia had to borrow money as the oil price is so low and Korea as well as Russia launched test missiles. Hello? Get over it and make peace, live in harmony and sort out global warming. Never mind, why would Ballueder be able to change the world?

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Yet I changed a bit of the world this week. We took on two cats that needed rehoming. So we now have three tabby cats that are lovely and get to know each other 😉 When I say three, one went AWOL but I am sure she comes back at some point. And she did on Saturday night, putting up a fight to come back in. We hope it all works out. The kids are super excited. So after the dreadful animal experience with rehoming cats and letting the dog go, we are on an up in regards to the Ballueder zoo. Fingers crossed.

So I shall raise my glass to all of you out there. To those that don’t have a living room that is nice and cosy. The ones that are unhappy. I have been thinking a lot recently about my responsibility for others. For the world. The world we live in. I mentioned it in last week’s post.

You know sometimes you are waiting. You are thinking. And you are evaluating. Then you think you should do something and never do. Because there is always something that is not 100%. But nothing ever is 100%. What holds us back? What drives us on? What makes us decide?

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (374)

I start writing this post half way through the week. After a work do, I left in time to catch a train. London traffic resulted in me getting a later train than anticipated, yet it could have been the Uber driver as well. 20 minutes from Wardour Street to Victoria at 8 pm seems a bit off but never mind. Another 60 minutes to get home, changing trains. Two hours door to door. A long journey that adds to a busy day. I am not the only one though, most colleagues live in the suburbs so it seems.

But what you awaits at home, and the reason we moved, is well worth it. An affordable home in the country side, off street parking, free schools, no flight noise but only 30 minutes drive from Gatwick, 10 minutes to the sea, lots of outdoor activities….. And that’s the reason I don’t mind and if there are Christmas parties or longer evening events, I can always stay in town.

Anyway it was a great busy week, lots of good meetings and chats. Yet any week seems to be busy at the moment and my schedule is filled up to the end of June. I love it though. Whenever we have visitors in London from our Central European or US offices, things get really busy. One always tries to cramp as much as one can into one into any available time slots. We are getting a lot done. Onward and upwards, the next few weeks there are a few trips and exciting discussions planned. Full steam ahead!

buzzing

On the train home I started watching an Icelandic drama aired on the BBC, Trapped, which goes a bit in line with the weather here. It got a lot colder again and a bit unpleasant. You get the odd sunny day which gives you the false idea of spring. So sitting on a train at night and watching a drama which is taking place in a snow storm makes you feel extra cold. Luckily the trains are warm, and it is almost a comfort feeling of watching TV whilst looking outside the window, into the dark cold countryside.

The biggest highlight this week and the thing I am most proud of however is my wife. She not only had her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY), no she ran her first half marathon. A great achievement for someone who only started running regularly just over a year ago. She caught the running bug! She raised a lot of money, made a lot of friends and generally got a lot fitter – so well done for doing that. An amazing achievement and we are mighty proud of you!!!

It goes to show that anyone with the right attitude, planning and stamina as well as motivation can achieve their set goals. Being a CHAMPION was the theme of my article on Linkedin this week. My wife is amazing! The most amazing woman I have ever met.

Those moments make you reflect a bit. About purpose in life and self fulfilment, putting yourself into perspective. Since I have been to the Natural History Museum, getting my 23andme DNA results and watching a few evolution documentaries, it has been playing on my mind to grasp the complexity of mankind. If you were to take a snapshot of a tube escalator at a busy time in London for instance, you would get a mix of races, cultures, DNAs, attitudes, intellects and illnesses. Heritage would be different for most, origin too.

Those thoughts I find mind blowing. You couldn’t even try to map the complexity. Would you do it based on origin, race, colour, culture? Those multi complex scenarios are great. It just shows the complexity of life in general. We all carry our own little ideas, heritage and life’s little secrets. But maybe this is a philosophical approach for another time.

The moments we stop to smell the roses and take it all in. The moment we think about everydays’ little events. And we think what our purpose will be. How we achieve fulfilment. I am thinking a lot about how I can contribute more to mankind. The people who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act (Einstein). I shall keep thinking.

As so often, I am sitting on the train again. This time going to work. I had a great night sleep, six solid hours, done a 10K run this morning and there is still a lot of energy left for me to get through this day. Because I am buzzing. I am on duty.

Life is good.

Best wishes,
Volker

Einstein

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Sunday Column (373)

It was half term this week. That meant I took a few days off to spend with the boys and the wife of course. It was great. Three days of ‘peace’ and happiness.

On Monday we went to London and the Natural History Museum. Again. Yet every time we go, the boys seem to understand a little bit more about earth quakes, lava, dinosaurs and so on. It was great, and Rohan’s best part of the museum was how life is created as a dot within a mother’s womb. Then evolution….we must go back again soon.

mother's womb

Having had some time to myself, I decided to shut down my productivity blog ‘tidwows’ this summer. The content finishes end of March and I shall move it under my blog’s pages as an archive. The decision was made to focus on other things that are going on in my life. Life is fluent and I enjoy working on new projects.

With my second book on productivity far from being finished, I just don’t have the time to maintain two blogs and two separate sections of productivity, e.g. one on a blog and one in a new book.

Regarding our car buy…or not buy. We have been thinking a lot. There seems to be a lot of new SUVs coming out this year. Whilst I enjoy the thought of having a new Skoda Superb and drive it for three years, then get another new one etc., from a financial point of view it might make more sense to buy used and drive a car for longer. Or does it?

Having done some research, looking and offers and realising it is a huge financial burden to add a monthly payment to our outgoings, we decided to put our decision on hold until later this year. Our beloved Seat Alhambra works well and is ok to drive for another year or so. Yet, for longer distances, like going to Scotland or Germany, it would be nice to have a more comfortable car. And then again, Ford offers a better deal with better car features….decisions.

The challenge is of course that the new car deals are very appealing. However, if you have the money to buy a used car, or nearly new, out right, it doesn’t stack up to buy new. And financing a new car makes sense if the interest rate is lower than the one from the bank….anyway. Decision made for now. Yet of course we keep looking 🙂

There aren’t many other news this week. I kept up my 5 am routine when being off and also added some additional milage to my running. I noticed it more than anticipated, but won’t have time to keep it up. Even a 5 am start doesn’t allow more than 10K before work 🙂 I think however that this is enough, twice a week. I tried our new elliptical trainer which wasn’t too bad and worked on different muscle groups. I might just alternate between swimming and cross trainer. Oh, and I did eat too much this week 😉

Going back to work was fine, having two days in the office is just enough to get on top of things, go through your emails and catch up on 3 days you missed. Sounds fun, yet all set for next week. It is unbelievable sometimes as to how much you are missing in only three days. Never mind. And given next week’s activities and schedules, it is going to be very busy. Full steam ahead!

The weekend passed quickly. Given it was half term, there weren’t any kids parties. So that was good. A relaxing weekend to finish off half term was nice. My wife decided to spoil me with nice food and I did my part in choosing a nice wine. One tries 😉 A few errands and play time with the boys.

Also the week I discovered Blinkist, which is a tool that summarises non fiction books. So within 20 minutes I can read the main and important content from a non fictional book and get the gist of it. I like it. The only challenge is can I make it work for £5/month to read enough books? Or in other words, how many more non fictional books do I really need to read?

We shall see.

As with most decisions this week it is down to patience and time. Time will tell and patience will pay off. Fingers crossed anyway. Yet patience, as you all know, is something I have little off. But one tries :-p

Have a great week,
Volker

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