Thursday Flash (12)

Flash….

Latest research suggest to NOT eat Bacon Sandwiches. Oh no, I just love those 🙁

On the data front, I found this article about small data. An interesting point around more specific, maybe less scalable, however more accurate data. Would you agree?

And whilst I shared this before on my Sunday Column, I wanted to share it here again. You should read this article in the FT about Brexit and Citizenships.

Have a great day and please share this post if you liked it.

See you in a flash 😉

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Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life 😉

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too 😉

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (11)

Flash….

Having just spoken on a conference about AI (Artificial Intelligence), it is just fair to share this opinion piece by Stephen Hawking about whether or not we all die in 1,000 years…because robots take over?!

To mix it up a bit, this post talks about Evernote alternatives. I was surprised that at my current work I’d say about 90% of people using Evernote. It is an amazing tool and whilst there are alternatives, I am not sure there are…. 🙂

And since I read a lot about productivity, this article on Morning Routines is worth reading!

Hope you enjoyed this week’s bulletin, and if you did, please share this forward.

Flash….

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#BeBetter: A book about productivity and life systems

After 4 years in the making, I have finally decided to publish my new productivity book.
I decided, after all, to publish it on Kindle to ensure most people can access it.

Whilst there is a price tag associated with it, you can download it for FREE until this Friday.

I won’t further promote the item. With the publication I finalise my studies in productivity and focus on other areas for personal growth. I will continue to monitor the space and work on new theories and systems mainly for myself.

For any questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Best wishes and I hope you find the book useful.

Volker

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Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

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Thursday Flash (10)

Welcome to this week’s bulletin. We are well into March! Wow, time flies, and we are celebrating my 10th Thursday Flash. That means we are 10 weeks into the year I suppose 🙂

In line with my interest in productivity, I am a enthusiastic user of Slack for private groups and work groups and communication. This article on ‘Slack Hacks‘ is useful for the user of Slack and makes the productivity tool more productive. Double win this week!

Tying your data to phone numbers? Oh yes, that’s possible and scary. There are endless possibilities, including cookie data. I am advising a start up in that space and I am astonished to what possibilities there are. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months I’d say.

And yes, there is more on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – this week is ‘only’ a summary of what AI is and how it is use and how useful it is for organisations. It also outlines the trend of acquisitions/growth of the industry. A worthwhile read in my opinion if you are interested in that topic.

I am sure there is more next week on AI.

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (9)

I got asked the last week why I don’t share all of those articles on Twitter. Good question. The reason, however, seems straight forward. Whilst I overheard some older people discussing on the train, whether to join Twitter, I have been using Twitter for 9 years or so. If I am not mistaken I joined in 2008. But since the engagement rate has gone down. So has the engagement rate on Facebook. For reach, I still use Twitter and for important things, I use Facebook as people are still reading it (yet less so I find). Hence the Thursday Flash got a place in my weekly blog to just collect what I find read worthy. And then I still share it via social media.

If you are enjoying it, please share it on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or where ever else you like to share it!

Thanks. Here we go with the Thursday Flash!

I am a big Tim Ferriss fan (4 hour work week, 4 hour body week, amazing podcasts!), and this article about Deloading is worth a read. A must read in my opinion. If you like it, please visit his website and look for more of his stuff.

Deloading is about having some time to just do things without purpose, to think, brainstorm, enjoy and chill. Loving the idea and coining that phrase.

The next one is an article you might have seen before, about work life balance, trust in employees and working from home. It is a great summary of how our work place culture is changing and how to structure and create a great work place! Did I mention that I work for a company that has been voted ‘Best company to work for’?

Last but not least, most people in the industry think of Artificial Intelligence (AI) being a fad. Let me tell you, it is not. We are just scratching the surface of applying AI to our lives. This article in Exchangewire about Deep Learning hit the spot with me. Ciaran, the founder of Exchangewire, and I are going back a while. I wrote about Deep Learning myself in this article about AI on Linkedin.

Great, that’s it for this week. Enjoy yourselves and see you next week.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (426)

Monday morning flights kind of suck. Although I should be used to them by now. The good thing? You catch up on your emails you got over the weekend, no replies until you are mid air, and a relaxing flight. Luckily I didn’t have to get up earlier than normal (5 am), so I was right awake and ready to conquer the week. Yet, having had little on the todo list, I enjoyed a relaxed flight listening to podcasts, dozing and enjoying a whole seat row to myself. And the hotel had a sauna. I know British people still think it might be odd to go to a sauna naked, and funny enough so do I now a bit, but it was super relaxing. A steam bath too. I enjoy a bit of spa life in the evenings, trying to not booze up and have fat German meat for dinner. I had it for lunch instead and rather enjoyed it 😉 Fatherland.

Now I still have this Easyjet Pluscard. Yes I jump queues and have fast track through the airport which is handy, and the seats are free to book, however looking at the boarding procedure, Easyjet just let’s people on the plane regardless of speedy boarding or not. I wouldn’t mind but some flights have problems with luggage on board, and children/families aren’t allowed to jump the queue either. I tweeted them a couple time before but so far I haven’t had a satisfactory answer. Children and elderly should board first. Then the ones that pay. Then the rest. This is not about being right but about caring from Easyjet. Everyone who has travelled with little ones knows what hassle it can be. Rant over 😉

Darren Daily, my daily motivational video I listen to at 5 am, reminded me to be happy in the now. I was very happy in the now on Sunday last week. We went to a nice National Trust place and the kids played, ran around, climbed trees etc. I was happy. They were happy. The wife was happy. Happiness is here and now, not when you earn another million pounds, own another car or finish the driveway. We often forget, and I find myself thinking and writing about it a lot, how good we have it and how much we enjoy life. Yes, there is always more to learn, always more to do. Sometimes we just need to stop and enjoy. I feel like I am at the point of doing that. Just as a plane accelerates, breaks through the clouds and almost seems to sail and glide on top of the clouds. To just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. To not push the envelope on things all the time, and just enjoy a bit of what there is. Stop to smell the roses.

My laptop of three years was officially announced dead this week. As I don’t need it anymore, a £400 repair to sell it at £350 or below doesn’t make sense. It seems a waste but my iPad mini set up with keyboard works just like a laptop. To be fair, I think I could easily work off a iPad Pro moving forward instead of getting a laptop again. We shall see. For the time being I have a MacBook Air from work and my iPad Mini for most private things; I shall try to sell my MacBook Air on eBay, or keep it and repair it when I need a laptop again. With most files and pictures now being in the cloud, the question really is for what you need a laptop for anyway. There is talk about having a computer screen at work, in a hotel or at home which just connects to your phone and this will give you access to all your files you need. Fully secure and fully functional. So all peripherals are sitting at one’s disposal and access to cloud based files happens via your ‘dock-phone’. I like that idea. It makes sense.

If you think back, at least for me, when I grew up it was all about owning a CD or vinyl. About having an amazing music system in the living room and owning a fast car. Nowadays it is all about sharing. Buying a part of the ownership, to lease cars, music and streaming movies. Less ownership, less hassle, less responsibility. It is much easier to have access to files these days. Remember libraries? I can’t help the feeling and enjoy the atmosphere of a library. Books, dust and more books. The comics I used to borrow and read. Then cycled back to the library and got new ones. Sometimes more than twice a week. Those were the days. Or at university, sitting in the library doing research, using one of the few computers available, slow, to look up magazine titles. All this can now be done from the comfort of your home. How nice and easy.

Overall I had a great week. The boys were on half term and came and visit me in the office. We had fun! The weekend was good too. My wife ran another race and we went for her early birthday meal. Nice. Life is great.

Be happy and enjoy life.
Love and Happiness from little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (8)

Thursday Flash!

This week I thought it is worth sharing an article from a couple weeks ago, fuelling the discussion around Snapchat and TV. Is TV moving more mobile? Is TV as we know it dead? How do screens look like in the future? I am curious to see all that, and also how things will move along with content consumption for our kids. What is the main medium (video?) and on which screen (mobile) – or will new forms emerge? The future is going to be interesting, no doubt. I already commented on it via a Linkedin article.

On productivity I enjoyed reading about Evernote tips for mobile. I love Evernote and use it all the time. Most notes, meeting notes and reminders go in there. On the go, in the office, at home. Work notes, private notes, industry news, or how to tape my leg. Or the video below on back pain. I love Evernote, and if you ain’t using it yet, maybe you should look into it.

For the first time I also like to share a video. Why? Because my chiropractor recommended it to me to solve mobility challenges in my back. So I am sure some of you might find it useful:

Did you like this weekly read? Did you find it useful?
Then please don’t forget to share it with your friends and let them know about my Thursday Flash.

Thanks you and see you next week.
Volker

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