Awesome South Downs

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Sunday Column (266)

Crazy is an understatement when I look back at the beginning of this week. By Sunday night 11 pm we finished packing our whole downstairs minus couch and had removed all furniture from the living and dining room. The couch had gone the week before.

Monday at 10 am our builders rocked up. They took notes, discussed how to move the fish tank, which sockets need replacing, where the TV goes, and where to put the Sonos sound bar. By the time I left at 3 pm to catch a plane from Gatwick, the kitchen had gone. The floor had gone. The place looked like an empty shell.

My wife who I hadn’t seen that stressed since our wedding managed to take one kid to a friend and the other to the doctor, back on the rail replacement bus service. It was chucking it down. She organised a three night stay with friends, gave final instructions to the builders and out of nothing presented dinner to the boys.

In the meantime I had to take a taxi to Gatwick as there had been a fatality on the rails. I had dinner, wrote another article, caught up on emails and felt sorry for myself. Still tired from a challenging mountain bike ride on Sunday, I also caught a cold. Tired and exhausted I slept most of the plane journey, thinking how brave my wife had been. And this was only the beginning.

Why we do it? Because we hope that in two weeks time we will have a nicer place: my wife’s dream kitchen, a fire place, a new stereo system, wooden flooring and a nicer home for the kids. We cannot wait.

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Travelling this week: I don’t want to go on about it but going from city to city over the week, sleeping in different beds, having busy days and evenings, can be quite tiring. My colleagues are at a trade show, probably I got it much better to be honest.

It is a good life though too. I enjoy it. Experience. One hotel was dirty and the manager very apologetic; another had the greatest service. I experienced an “ironing room”, rabbits in a foyer and thanks to Foursquare I met with an ex colleague in Milan and another old friend in Milan also – we happened to be at the same time at the same place.

Yes, I enjoy what I do. It can be exhausting, being away from the family isn’t nice, but it is a good way of working, however stressful it can be at times. Oh, and it isn’t as glorious as in the movie “up in the air” with George Clooney. Not yet, I still haven’t got my golden Easyjet Pluscard. Maybe one day ;-)

We came back to an empty shell of house downstairs. Plastering, wet walls, cables hidden in the wall, a new window sun seat in the kitchen, the flooring got delivered and my wife had to paint parts of the wall to make sure we can mount the radiators next week. The floor has been leveled, the fish survived so far and we got an electric hob from next door. We manage. The kids are a bit worried but once they see the progress they should be ok.

This concludes a busy and stressful week, both for the family at home (or away) and me. Next week should get better, we have a home again, Easter is coming up, we got some time to ourselves. Life is good, we shouldn’t, and am not, complaining. Just moaning ;-)

Have a great week,
Volker

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Wee man leaving Milan

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Wee man in Berlin (2)

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Wee man (on a bull) in Berlin

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Sunday Column (265)

As you know I spent last weekend away from the family. On a stag. I didn’t know I could handle (or judgement thereof is down to my companions) that many shots. Never mind. Thinking you are still at uni whilst ‘rocking the dance floor’ coming up for 40….

It is odd to travel without family for pleasure. No one but myself to look after, nothing to worry about but myself. It is a bit selfish but also nice. I enjoyed it and truly relaxed.

This week was different. I flew to Paris late on Wednesday to start a long day early on Thursday. Busy with meetings and work, travelling and working. This is less fun, one is more engaged with work, less relaxed. But that’s what I do, and I still enjoy it.

One thing stays the same: You miss the kids. It is nice to hear that the highlight of school was me doing the school run. Nice to get the hugs and kisses before I leave. I am used to not being there for bedtime but the older the boys get the more I feel that I am missing out on not being there.

Colin suggested I should stop working. I tried to explain to him that this wasn’t a good idea. Whilst we are looking to rent a caravan we cannot live in it forever. A five year old’s mind works in mysterious ways.

But don’t get me wrong. I love my job, my travel and the European challenge. I enjoy what I do, yet need to be stricter in separating work and life, being more in the moment with the kids. I am improving at weekends. I am making it work.

Just this weekend, despite the stress of packing up our downstairs in anticipation of some renovation work, I didn’t even check my phone nor Facebook all day. I spend some quality moments with the boys and enjoyed their company. At the same time of course they are getting easier in entertaining themselves. Win/win as they say.

Next week I am travelling again, yet it is a good thing as the downstairs renovation starts. For the next four weeks, if we can sit in the living room at all, we will sit on chairs. Our couch went on eBay, the new couch will arrive early May. The result will hopefully be amazing. I cannot wait.

I am closing this blog with a video this week. When watching this, I got a lump in my throat and a few tears. This week I got good and bad news, and some very sad news. Life is a roller coaster ride, yet I am very positive about what is there to come. I am so ready for the challenge of it.

What do you think?

Should we sometimes be a bit more considerate with the people we tip…..

Have a great week,
Volker

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Wee man in Paris

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Sunday Column (264)

Giving thanks and feeling sorry for others, or focusing on your own miserable self. That’s a question I asked myself this week. It of course was Monday and I contemplated to work from home. I try to go to the sauna on a Monday night and decided to have a meeting in town, yet leave on time to get home in time.

Being at Victoria station early I followed a friend’s advice to jump on the first fast train to Haywards Heath. Stuck outside Victoria station for 30 minutes we eventually got back and sent on a different train. The train broke down and the later, direct train, overtook us whilst we pulled back. The one we all went on then got stuck at Battersea station for about 30 minutes. By now I should have been home for about 30 minutes. A broken down train and two persons hit by a train in one night. Pot luck.

It was my choice to move to the countryside and pay £4,500 a year for my train travel. I chose to live a more balanced life. Yet, I didn’t sign up for a crappy train service, no value for money which comes up with bad excuses why things don’t work, or why there are delays.

And just as I write my anger off my chest I look around me. People with heavy suitcases on the way to Gatwick airport. People with light luggage on their phones trying to change planes. Mothers with children, elderly totally lost. No internet, no twitter to air desperation. They are worse off. Some might have more time yet need more help and lack of information makes people short wired. Latter is very typical for Southern trains, who don’t even respond on Twitter anymore.

Emotions are high on these journeys. I should be thankful. I made it home that night to a warm place. No, I didn’t go to the sauna, and yes, I had a glass of wine. I am lucky really. That all happened on the same day people found out that the Malaysian airline was definitely lost. One puts life into perspective.

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One has to be thankful for what one created and what has been given to someone. It is not about money. It is not about health. Sometimes it is about accepting that your situation cannot be changed and that you need to get on with it.

Life sometimes throws these big rocks in your path. You just need to get on with it and move them. Or you go around them. Or you find another solution. Either way, no point of worrying about it. Trust things work out in the future. Trust, as Steve Jobs said, that the dots connect moving forward.

Enough philosophy. Enough moaning. Life is good. Actually life is quite good and I am working through a few things that should even improve things further. We are getting there. Always things to improve ;-) Always pushing boundaries.

On Friday I set off to a stag weekend to Edinburgh. I panicked when the flight which was announced as delayed on my app wasn’t announced delayed at the airport. I left late, got there in time, had food, and actually – whilst missing the family – also enjoyed some piece and quiet. My first trip away which wasn’t work related in a long time.

And if life was plain sailing, it would be boring wouldn’t it be? We wouldn’t even know what to do with half of our time. So let’s be thankful for what we have. And let’s give those that are less fortunate than us a helping hand.

In the meantime, enjoy your week,
Volker.

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Here is to the crazy ones

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Sunday Column (263)

I haven’t had much time to write anything other than my Sunday Column lately. This is due to a few commitments at work and some private commitments too. We are living in a world where one wants to be committed. To world peace, charity, family and work of course.

Commitment is about engagement, making it work and sticking to something, no matter what happens. It is a marriage like arrangement. You cannot just bail out, or because things aren’t rosy just now, you cannot walk away. It is about working through the differences.

Look at work commitments. You have good and bad meetings. As long as the team works in the right direction, and you all together work on the same solution, e.g. you are all solution focused, you are committed.

I had a fantastic chat this week with someone about companies in the industry, about mistakes that are repeated, sustainability and commitment. Followed by a chat about the whole industry and how it is changing. Giving three acquisitions this week alone, we are in times of change in digital marketing.

However, and maybe this is my Buddhist way of living, you can make mistakes as long as you learn from them and move on. Life is about learning after all.

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The future is key, not the past. It is not about what we have achieved so far or done. Whilst our experience and past successes count, you don’t want to talk about the failures which are embedded in the actual experience. It is about looking forward, trusting the dots connecting in the future. And they will. Trust your heart.

I love life for that. For what you can do and how you can play with it. How little decisions become big things and vice versa. You worry about something not worthwhile worrying. As long as you have trust and confidence, commitment and pride, you will be ok.

In the face of worrying. For the past two weeks we have, or rather haven’t, followed the Malaysian air liner. I said last week that it would be fascinating to find out it being cyber hijacked. Yet, as from information to date, the authorities think something went wrong and the plane crashed running out of fuel. Probably, very similar to the Air France crash a few years ago, it will take a long time to find out what the cause was, and it might come down to a small failure somewhere in the plane which caused a ripple effect, maybe a human mistake.

We don’t know, but prefer to speculate about terrorists, cyber hijacking, personal problems. That’s what makes the news. And hopefully we are wrong and my personal fear is that it was to try something new for a bigger thing. Hope it wasn’t.
My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one and endured the long wait between hope and uncertainty. Hopefully you will find closure.

An eventful week.

Have a better one next week!
Volker

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