Sunday Column (338)

What a great week off I had. Or did I?

For weeks we wanted to go camping. If I say week, more like years. I have been putting it off, but this year really wanted to go for it. Earlier on this year I got a cooker, cutlery, crockery, sleeping bags, coffee and all the little things that last forever to spend this week camping. And, of course, I got a tent too. New as much as £450 we got it used for just under £100. I was chuffed, little did I know about tents… :-(

To cut a long story short. We got the tent up, had a fantastic BBQ, kids playing, evening sun, chilly wind, but great evening. We knew the weather forecast wasn’t too good, so here were we….the kids in bed by 9ish – to sleep is a different story – and when I woke up the first time it was because the campsite was under a flight path. They flew until late, I am not used to that anymore. I woke up later because it started to rain. I woke up again, water dripping on my cheek. I kept being awake, hearing dripping water in the ‘living room’ of the tent.

When I finally woke up I saw three or four puddles of water on the floor. I knew camping was over. The tent wasn’t watertight. There is a difference between condensation water dripping and water blowing into the tent and it leaking. No fun.

The worst part was that I started to enjoy it – the camping that is. The most awkward thing was for me to pack it all in the car, little did I know how much stuff you need to take, then of course particularly when going home and we had this wet wet wet tent in there. However, it went to the bin straight away. Maybe we get a different one. New of course.

For myself, and maybe this sounds daft, another learning. I thought a tent lasts forever. I didn’t know you could repair the seams. I was fed up of it too btw, and maybe I was too hasty binning it. A bit annoyed, and given the weather we probably would have called it a day anyway, but the equipment didn’t give us a chance. Maybe I am just too comfortable….and I book ready pitched tents next time again, another Yurt, Tipi or something.

How did we make up for it with the kids? Day trips as you would.

Tuesday we went to Sea Life in Brighton, got soaked and even our jackets didn’t withstand the gale force winds and rain. We went to London to spend a tiring but great day in the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The boys loved the tube, the bus, the train, the museum – a long but worth while day. We even visited daddy’s work 😉

Colin got his fish tank, as promised for his birthday. We got the first fish in, but decided to place it in the kitchen, to make sure the kids behave with it. We went to see the Minion movie, we didn’t go to Littlehampton Beach as the A27 was closed but had fish and chips….and we continued our decoration of the spare bedroom, played games, coloured in, watched TV, had the fire place on and and and.

No, it wasn’t a boring week. It was a great week, good bonding time and we truly enjoyed each others company. What we didn’t do as much was spend time outside. This weather isn’t August or summer. This is more like autumn. I am back to work on Tuesday (Bank Holiday Monday) and will then work until half term. The last few months of the year tend to be very busy for me, so this will pass quickly. R will start school. He will be shattered. C starts year two. Time goes by. As it always will, it never stops.

I love being a dad. I love having time for the kids.

Have a great week, make the most of it, come sun or rain 😉
Volker

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Sunday Column (337)

This week I watched the movie about Stephen Hawkings’ life and subsequently read his autobiography. When I was young, my brother who studied physics, read his first book, a brief history of time. While Hawkings gets a lots of attention due to him sitting in a wheelchair, also living longer than anyone anticipated, I like him explaining science in a common way.

He must have patience, speaking/typing at a speed of three words per minute. Whilst this would be difficult for most, I am personally someone that runs at a million miles an hour. Recently I have been practising to take my time, to meditate, to slow down. This helps me a lot. Yet, reading Hawkings’ book I wonder what else is out there to explore? Should I read Einstein’s book? Or should I go back to university? I have those thoughts regularly, often think an academic career would have been nice, yet I believe that I am doing well with what I am doing and I am very happy with my life.

black hole

My next book however needs to tick the box of a more intellectual work than the last one. More research. However, unlikely I philosophise about the universe, black holes and time travel. I am writing an eBook at the moment which is more of a summary, similar to the last one, yet embarking on a bigger project for publication later in 2016. We shall see, it might not be the phd thesis though 😉

Ever since I was a child I refused to think about what could be beyond the universe. What is in space and what does it do? Will we ever find out? Did we become humans by pure chance? Is there a god? Latter is the only question I could answer for myself, and by common definition the answer for me is ‘no’. Yet I believe in energy, infinite greater conscious, a common unconscious everyone can tap into. Some might call it god though.

Other thoughts this week are around music. For many years I have been struggling to expand on the music I am listening to, listened to few new artists, realising that I am missing out on potentially nice stuff. The above mentioned rush doesn’t help. With the addition of another Sonos system to my beloved spare bedroom and the arrival of Apple Music, subject to them two integrating, I am keen on changing my approach and exploring new music. For many it is difficult to understand but I am running on iOS. I like what is easy to use cross device, for work, for pleasure and it being fully integrated. So the more this ecosystem develops, the more I will be sucked into it. Hence only Apple Music is appealing to me, Spotify never was. Silly, I know.

I guess Steve Jobs’ approach works. A closed system that works 99% of the time, or at least more often than other systems. Windows seems to crash by far more often, and maybe Windows 10 will change it all. Or Android for the masses. Is any approach just for the data or as Steve said about user experience.
I (like to) believe that Apple is good, and puts customer and their experience first. Ever since I know, and my wife has done it, that you can buy your new phone and renew your mobile contract through the Apple Shop, I love it. The best of both worlds. Give back your old phone, get a voucher, get a new phone, get a contract and…the Apple service on top. You can’t beat that. No upsell in the Vodafone shop, no silly calls, no waiting for a phone to return to one of the many phone ‘recycling’ sites.

Maybe I am a bit naive. Maybe I just like it simple. Life is complicated enough to not worry about certain things, and having things that work, and not thinking what is beyond our universe, just keeps it simple :-)

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (336)

Today to the day I left from Dusseldorf, Germany, to go to the USA for a year as an exchange student. I was 16 I believe, so 1993. 22 years ago. Life passes very quickly! On the way back I remember smoking and drinking whilst being stuck on the run way in Chicago, sitting in the last row of a Lufthansa jumbo. Those were the days.

smoking in an airplane

On Tuesday, 18th of August, I will have another anniversary. On that day, 14 years ago, I left from Dusseldorf to Aberdeen, via London, to move to the UK to finish my university degree. I never returned to Germany permanently and met the love of my life just before I finished my studies. Our anniversary is later this year 😉

Isn’t life amazing. You never know what you get. You step on a plane, you go places, and you it might change your life forever. For the better, hopefully not for the worse.

Anyway, let’s not be sentimental. What has happened is the past. History really.

The highlight of the week was actually very personal. My wife managed, thanks to the MIL (mother in law) babysitting, to come into London and go out for a meal with me. It threw me a bit out of my comfort zone, not having had the wife out in London for a good while, 3 odd years or so. Wow. And there she was, looking stunning as ever, to go to dinner with me and drinks pre dinner and post dinner of course 😉 The full programme. We loved it. A great night out. Genuinely enjoyed it.

The second highlight happened on Monday this week when the carpet layer came. We now got underlay in each room, a good carpet, and a new feel to the house. It is fantastic. We are very proud of the achievements we have made with the new home office/guest room being my new ‘hobby’ really – my wife painted the walls, but I will decorate them with quotes from Steve Jobs, Buddha and also ‘installed’ a fairy door. Yes, a bit of fun, a grass carpet, vibrant colours, a bean bag, desks to work on and soon a Sonos system to complement the room. A second family room, a home office too. Creative, funky, productive. Whiteboard, soon flip-chart, bouncy ball, height adjustable desk, plants and meditation cushion.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see a lot more pictures. I am happy. I now need to make sure the family will enjoy the room as much as I do 😉

Other highlights this week include…
– I picked up my new passport from the embassy, so now got another 10 years until I go through that procedure again. By then I am almost 50 :-(
– My parents have been married for 45 years. Congratulations!
– We got logs delivered and I finally stacked them properly into my new shed, hopefully with another load to come soon. I am getting all domestic and prepare for the cold winter to come….or more autumn evenings like these. And yes, we had the fire on this week already!

Having the MIL around is great. As mentioned, not only could my wife come to London, we also had a lie in, lots of help and someone who enjoys and does a great job entertaining the kids. We got invited out to a new Indian restaurant, and got a chance to buy a picture frame without kids annoying you. Not that we mind, but sometimes it is nice to get some one-on-one time back.

In the meantime work is busy, steady but not mad. That’s good. With people coming back from holidays next week and week after, it will get busier in the lead up to dmexco, our biggest trade show of the industry. I am excited! Q4 will be mad but good.

That’s all for this week really.

Enjoy the best of the British summer,
Volker 😉

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Sunday Column (335)

We are back from a week off. Similar to Marissa Mayer from Yahoo, I believe that I rather take a week off, and that more often, than having a longer holiday. Particularly at the stage I am in life with family and job. As long as you don’t worry and don’t work that week at all, you can really wind down. And having a few ‘one weeks’ off a year suits us currently well as a family and also works best in my current work situation.

We went to Devon, glamping, glamorous camping, in a yurt. That was fun! Back to basic staying on an organic vegetable farm. The yurt was spacious, heated up during the day and was pleasant at night. The roof light made me wake up reasonable early, 6-7 am, so I fit in my exercise and meditation routine. The family stayed asleep.

The kids and even I slept 12 hours often, a real wind down, I am chilled. Back to nature, a roof light through which you saw the moon. The door opened to the East to get the morning sun in. A fantastic, peaceful setting. A somewhat miraculous space I have to say, and we could sit outside some nights enjoying the moon rise and a glass of wine. It was great. Unfortunately we had some rainy days too, so ended up driving home Friday night rather than Saturday during the day. However, this wasn’t due to dislike but a decision based on traffic, things to do and yes also comfort and weather 😉

yurt

The yurt experience was back to basics. Firstly, and most annoyingly, not even 3G coverage, no emails, no Facebook. Latter wasn’t bad of course but not being able to use Google Maps when lost, Strava for tracking your runs or looking at (personal) emails I found challenging. Yet it was a good digital detox. After two days I found a Costas, and then regularly free wifi in shops and tourist attractions to get my digital fix.

The toilet was wood chip based, or flushed, e.g. no water. The hand basin, both located a short walk up the hill, was ok to wash hands yet for UV filtered water to drink we had to walk down the hill to the farm. A power shower, solar powered lights and hot water were there too. Sustainable. That’s where we charged our phones, which batteries lasted forever not being used often, wifi turned off most of the time. That was a first.

It makes you think about rubbish, recycling and a self sustainable life style. A bit hippyish, sharing the communal space. We liked that. Veggies and fruit as much as we liked. Fresh eggs. However, we almost had a bad conscious eating our pre-packed chicken thighs and sausages from Tescos creating a lot of rubbish. Was there guilt?

Not really. They didn’t try to make us feel bad, it was us! What I mean by that is that one reconsiders. Could I buy things differently packed? In Germany when I was 14, so well over 20 years ago, they introduced a 5 cents (10 Pfennigs really) charge for plastic bags. We, in our environmental group, bought things in supermarkets which were packed a few times and unpacked them to demonstrate the amount of unnecessary rubbish. Nothing has changed but that I accepted the rubbish. Dropping principles I suppose, giving in to the money making machinery of supermarkets.

That makes me think. Did I accepted the fact that we pollute the planet, that I cannot afford individual wrapped sausages from the butcher, that I buy ‘convenience’ or that I, me personally, will not be able to change the world?
It is probably a combination of all of the above. I alone cannot change the world and life moved on, so I went the path of least effort and resistance. Why would I want to be the odd one out, trying to explain to others how it is done? I was never confident to do that, and also believe circumstances didn’t allow me to.

I would encourage it though. The hippyish lifestyle of our yurt owners is something to envy. The idea of living of your own land, sustain yourself, stick to your principles. And this is more a guess than me interviewing them about details. The bit to be a bit different. Hence it is nice to be back to basics for a week. Re-learning and letting the boys understand that not all packaged food has to be packaged and some food grows on trees. One can pick one’s own raspberries, beans, blackberries, salad…and collect fresh eggs. We try that at home sometimes too. So maybe we aren’t that bad after all. Maybe a week in the country side does help us to connect, connect with Mother Earth, in a very old fashioned hippy way. And it feels great, calming, soothing.

It almost feels romantic, giving something back to life, to humanity, to world peace maybe. Could I do it? I always used to say I am a banker and work 24/7 or a sheep farmer in the Australian out backs. Black or white, extreme. I am never going to be a farmer, rather a monk, and I don’t believe I will own a Harley Davidson driving through America either. No, I work more like the banker but with additional family time. I have just a usual life. Happy. Content in my own world. Probably just normal. Nothing wrong with it I suppose. Ordinary really.

That doesn’t mean I can’t dream or try. Every now and then escape. Being able to waste a day, being in bed doing nothing. Letting the kids roam ‘wild’ and enjoying the being in the now. Exploring the woods, nature and sitting on a wood chip toilet overlooking the countryside. Having a digital detox in a first world country.

It was a great week away.
We loved it.
A first trip of a journey back.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world.
Volker

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Sunday Column (334)

I am writing this post with a heavy heart. This is not only a post, it is an article I suppose about coping with change, making decisions and being self critical. I am sad, devastated. Yet the decision we made is final and right. This isn’t easy. But who ever said life was.

Whilst last week all looked very well with Rosie and we were hopeful to have new training methods that stopped her from jumping on people and snapping at them, we decided to give her back to her breeder after all. It broke the family’s and my heart. And the questions are asked whether we gave up? Did we fail?

We got Rosie despite knowing that C was scared of dogs. He turned out to be her best friend, and to that extend the person that loves dogs more than anything else. His whole attitude changed towards animals in general. He loves any animals and isn’t scared of dogs anymore. Rosie helped us to transform his life. But also she helped transform R’s life. He loved that dog too, and cuddled beyond acceptability, and she let him do it. True companion and friendship. This dog didn’t have a malicious bone in her, friendly, good with children, yet she needed a lot of attention too.

As you might remember we went a long way to get Rosie. A long journey every weekend. Proving that C would be fine with big dogs. We put a lot of research in which breed to get and settled for the GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer) as this breed is intelligent, good with children and easy to train, willing to run for hours. That was the plan, once Rosie was old enough, we wanted to take her on daily runs.

However, the main problem we had with her was her jumping up. This started from day one. The first dog trainer at early puppy stage said this was a puppy behaviour and you tackle it when they get older. And that is where our inexperience came in, we had to believe that dog trainer. As time progressed and she started jumping up and snapping at our kids, it was time for another trainer. Even at that stage we put it down to puppy behaviour, yet she did jump up on strangers, out of the blue, after excitement, without excitement. The kids learned (!) how to kneel down and seek cover when she ‘attacked’.

The next dog trainer put it down to the dog, saying maybe this GSP in particular wasn’t going to stop jumping and might have to be on a lead all its life. This wasn’t an option or isn’t an option for a GSP. So we soldiered on, always on the look out for strangers, then putting her on the lead if she was off it. We stopped going to the park or the beach as we couldn’t take the dog.

We tried more training. We went from buying a citronella collar, to almost buying an electric collar but couldn’t bring ourselves to do the latter. My wife spend hours training her, any free minute she had, sacrificing a lot. Yet it seems as if Rosie needed more than 3 hours of attention a day, taking the attention away from the kids. Rosie then jumped on R again at a walk a few weeks ago, and shortly thereafter on an elderly woman. There was nothing I could do, I had no control of that dog. For all I know, I could be in jail if that person had pressed charges or had had a heart attack.

Rosie

Don’t get me wrong. There was not a bad bone in that dog. She wasn’t evil, just very excitable and very jumpy. A GSP through and through. And maybe the jumping was normal and will go away as she gets older. But maybe not. The snapping got worse and we continued to solve the problem. Yet, with her ‘attacking’ (playing with) a friend’s child and out of the blue, without any playing involved, coming up to C to snap his face (luckily nothing major happened), we felt we compromised on the safety of our children.

If we cannot trust the dog we love, the one we put so much hard work into, and yet the dog without prior warning comes up and snaps one of our children, a decision must be taken. Whether this is puppy behaviour, wrong training from our part, or whatever, the safety of our family and friends must come first.

We just had got another dog trainer involved who had the best approach yet. We are almost through the first year, her birthday coming up, how much longer can we wait? Will Rosie be ok when we go camping? We cannot put a GSP on the lead, can we? What if she decides to jump on a baby, another older person or seriously (if not deliberately) injures one of our kids?

Again, this dog is far from aggressive. She, and maybe it is just her personality, wants to play and expresses her needs by snapping at people. If she does that with a grown up, this might just be ok, yet not acceptable, but with elderly and children, vulnerable people, this isn’t going to work.

And yes, maybe we had to try it for another few weeks. Another, third, dog school. A gun dog trainer taking her away. And maybe she would have been fine. Maybe she would have hurt a child. We do not know. And giving her away for someone else to train didn’t feel like the right thing to do.

It is devastating. We miss her. It is one of those logical decisions, not emotional ones. I tried explaining it to the kids but one cannot. They will get over it. We re-homed our cat because of the dog. We cut our personal life and visits to friends short to accommodate Rosie and trying to make it work.

Yes she was a hard work, like any dog would be, to be dependent when you go on holidays, travelling in general, taking her for walks in bad weather, making a mess. The inconvenience she caused, not least of her behaviour, that limited us to do things, all that we could and would have and did deal with. She was the greatest joy and transformed our lives for the better. She taught me patience most of all. It is empty in the house without her. No one that greets you in the morning or when you come home from work. And, without a doubt, I would get a new dog tomorrow. But I suppose we wait for a while…before we decide on another pet.

I guess, my honest conclusion, is that we got the dog at the wrong time. A time when our kids still needed most attention and they weren’t in school yet. Also, I believe we got the wrong breed at the wrong time. A smaller breed, or quieter breed might have been better. One that might have needed less constant attention, less energetic. Whilst of course there is hassle, and the dependance, and all the negative things that come with a dog, we were happy to do that. I remember the pain of going to Germany, putting my parents through the experience of a hyper active GSP. This was all fun :-) However much inconvenience it caused.

This isn’t about blame. Whether the less experienced breeder had the right limitations with giving us the dog or whether we should have been less determined to get this breed. It is not about whether the breed is bad (which it isn’t, we would get one again), and maybe it was just Rosie’s personality. Maybe we did a mistake from the beginning or should have waited another few years. Hindsight is always easier. The only thing I would do if I could turn back time is to wait another 2-3 years before getting a GSP. So the kids can be more involved and hence the dog got more attention. Then again, more than 3 hours are hard to find…and I still wonder if there was something wrong with ours (Rosie).

But we don’t know and can only speculate. The decision was right. We were not able to judge if the snapping develops into a more malicious biting, and whether you could have friends with children around – and it wasn’t fair on the dog to put her in the crate when all others were playing? Or, we likewise didn’t know whether she might just stop snapping tomorrow. Speculations.

So we are glad the breeder took her back. Matter of fact she managed to re-home her with an experienced dog handler who already has a GSP. We are glad about that. I could have not brought myself to put her into a dog home. I love her too much. We couldn’t risk injury of the kids for the sake of a dog. And that is what the kids will understand over time.

Things in life, I tell them, happen for a reason. Rosie transformed us, tested our patience, was a true companion, a lovely cuddle and great friend. She was a challenge and we loved her. She gave the boys so much confidence in dealing with animals. She made us learn so much. Rosie, you will always have a place in our heart and we will miss you. When we put you in the car to drive you back to the breeder, you knew. Your eyes told me that you knew you were in trouble. Yet you loved being back with your sister and mother.

And we tried a lot to make it work. I hope, for my Karma, and for Rosie’s sake, that Rosie will be able to forgive us. That she understands that she wasn’t the right companion for us in the long term. That she went one step to far, and that we couldn’t bear the thought of her not being controllable. That she understands that we tried, and tried again but at the end of the day, the life and health of our family is more important than her. And I hope she understands that she enriched our lives, and will always be in our hearts. And that we love her. We cherish her and wish her well. And we believe we put her in a place where she will be happy.

Farewell Rosie. You have been amazing!
We lost a true companion.

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Sunday Column (333)

July. A month that is traditional quiet, even in media. Not so for us this year or last year tbh. Whilst a few meetings got moved about, and yes you could argue a lot of admin catch up is going on, there is also still a lot of work todo. It doesn’t seem to stop, which is good I suppose.

Also, which doesn’t seem to stop, is the renovation work. Finally we made some progress. Builders, with all due respect, are not easy to handle. You kind of know you have to pay a bit more than anticipated. And you know they are dodgy or sleazy somehow. Not all of them, and the one we have is really good, and does a great job too. Yet, in stereotypical manner, they are what they are. Two more projects to finish, then we are done.

We also saw the dog trainer – that is good news. It is a bit down to us, a bit down to the breed and a bit down to the dog and its age. But overall we learned a lot more about what we have to do with Rosie to keep her stimulated, and train bad behaviour out of her. Nothing anyone before told us in that way and it looks like she is a keeper. After a very stimulating 2 hours work with the dog trainer she was mentally exhausted. Fantastic, yet a lot of work we still have to do with her.

Creative Space

Now, maybe I write a bit about my plan for our spare bedroom. When we moved to Hassocks we got a 4 bedroom house, with the intention to turn one room into a guest room/office. However, I noticed we don’t have too many overnight visitors and often they come alone. So we have an extendable bed/sofa bed and a height adjustable desk. This in itself is great but when you start putting a 22 inch screen and an iMac on it, it gets too small. My dream was to get a big office, with a desk for the family with the desktop, printer, Jen’s stuff for her photography etc. and a desk for myself or later the boys to hot desk with a 2nd screen to increase productivity. This is now happening. I am excited!

Also, we reduced the amount of books, reducing the shelf space needed. Based on that we free up floor space for both a green grass carpet and an orange bean bag. The room, to increase harmony and productivity and stimulation will have grey and green walls. The walls will be getting motivational quotes, a Buddha wall paper, white board and furthermore some pictures.

Overall we aim to create a creative, yet energetic room where anyone can relax, use it as a second living room without a TV, read, work or study. A family room that is used for work, play and fun. Whiteboard sessions for the family, boys, or work; Flipchart demonstrations and planning sessions for anyone. Top of that, it is a guest room, ironing room, laundry room and meditation room. Calm yet energising.

Once the new carpet is in and we have the first walls painted, I shall post some pictures. Hopefully you agree with me.

I am excited about the room, the space and the possibilities. Hopefully the wife and the boys agree to use it regularly for all kinds of activities.

Stay tuned and have a great week. I don’t believe next week it is going to be August already!

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (332)

I survived, actually really enjoyed the long weekend with my boys. Having dad time is great, yet juggling the school run, taking the dog for a walk, particularly in the rain, with two little ones….anyway, it was all fine. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it and I did too.

This week at work it was still busy. Looks like next week a lot of people are on holiday, then another busy week and July is already gone. Wow. Time flies when you are having fun! We interviewed for a German Sales Director position based in Germany and are in the process of appointing someone soon. So that’s good news, we are moving forward. Lots of things to do, targets to achieve. Exciting times.

On the private side of things I am looking at my health again, my exercise patterns, my sleeping patterns. I am tempted to experiment more. My 18K run encouraged me to extend my running cycles but looking at having to spend 2 hours running and being tired for 2 days, just doesn’t work for me. My ambition is to stay fit and healthy. Also, my leg pains are back, not as strong, but I believe it might have to do with my shoes. If you run 20K a week, 800-1000 km are quickly done. Time to get new trainers.

So this week I went back to a 10K, a 5K and another 10K over the weekend. This plus 2 sessions of kettle bells and 3 sessions of own body weight exercise, plus my 10,000 steps a day, keep me fit. Given I continue to eat healthy, I shouldn’t put on more weight.

xk8

What’s my aim?
I want to spend as little time as possible away from my family exercising. I want to stay healthy. I don’t want to regain the weight I lost.

Along those lines I have been looking into my sleeping patterns and the 90 minute cycles. I seem to really be refreshed after 6 hours of sleep (that is 6:30 in bed). 4×90 minutes. I wake up ready for the day. The next one would be 7:30 of sleep, e.g. 8 hours in bed, catering for half an hour of going to sleep.

So rather than sticking to a 5 am start, I might change to a 6 am start but a later time to go to bed? It is all about routine, accepting your body’s internal rhythm and monitoring what works for you, extending on what you have learned. Personally, I find that very interesting and fascinating 😉

mercedes

But let me not bore you with all that. On other notes, our dog got into a habit of jumping up on strangers, licking them and ‘play biting’. Nothing malicious yet unacceptable behaviour, particularly with older people and children. So we seeing a specialist to hopefully get on top of that. She is otherwise such a lovely dog and has positively transformed our kids’ lifes over the past 12 months.

We are also in the process of renovating upstairs. Good bye artex ceilings, new skirting, new design/outlay of our spare bedroom/home office and some electric work on top, matching downstairs’ design. Last but not least we are getting new carpet too. Exciting times.

There is not much left to renovate now, a bathroom and a shower room and my long anticipated driveway….all that to be concluded for my 40th when I then park a birthday present on it…the dream. I will continue dreaming :-) See pictures.

Not long now! Things are falling into place.

Whilst summer is on and off, we managed to have a lovely BBQ with friends today, enjoying some of the outdoors, a good chat and some wine 😉

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Stay tuned,
Volker

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Sunday Column (331)

A while back I have been looking into applying some app that would let me write my blog posts offline and send them whenever I am online. That app in form of WordPress exists on my ipad/iphone yet not on my Mac. What I found for my Mac was too complex for me, and I ended up writing a draft into my notepad instead. Why not. Copy/paste is simpler than trying to learn a new system.

Thinking about what I wrote just now, it sounds like I am getting old. Maybe I am. Maybe I am getting a bit inflexible in terms of using new systems, or changing some processes. Don’t get me wrong, I love processes, and I love implementing them. Following the rules, black or white, yes or no. But, these rules and processes need to have a purpose, fulfil a sense for the workflow. If they don’t, what’s the point.

The latter is the case for most organisations I worked for. And this will always be the case, in days of change, in days of growth. Growing a company above 50 employees is when it gets critical to implement the right processes. Having different people involved, across time zones, doesn’t make it easier. Never mind, to my satisfaction, things are well where I am.

Yet the same is true at home. Having the right processes in place as a family, ones that make sense, rules that everyone can adhere to, is important. There is no other way for people to work or play or live together, than accepting each others’ territory, freedom and stick to certain rules and processes. So work and life are really similar.

Despite July I have been busy at work. Advertising doesn’t seem to slow down, yet in my line of work the summer frees people up to catch up on things they neglected most of the year. Pitches are usually finished by mid/end July, then there is room for holidays, catch ups and strategic thinking. I love those meetings with a loose agenda, brainstorming potential synergies and partnerships. I am excited. But before I know it, September is back and the buzz is to start again. I am loving adtech!

This week I was off from Thursday lunch time. I had that booked for a while as my lovely wife went off on a jolly to Lisbon with some friends. Good on her! I am very happy for her to be able to do it, to be able to let go and enjoy herself. When Rohan was upset when she was leaving, I told him we should thank Buddha that we are in a grateful position for mummy to be able to go away. Not that I think he understood it, but the distraction helped to calm him down in no time.

I was looking forward to that weekend for a long time, not for her to be away but on the one hand I think she deserves a break; on the other hand, I want quality time for and full attention from my boys.

kids

So how did the weekend go? Mixed to be honest. We had lots of fun, some tears, some shouting, some time outs, some cuddles but overall very positive! They adhered to the above mentioned rules, accepted my authority (they really didn’t want me to get cross), and helped me where they could with the little chores. In times of test you realise the characters they are building. One rather behaving, being the big brother, the other being more the disruptor. Both great in their own way.

The oldest got his scorecard – he has done fantastically well. Needless to say I am very proud of him, reading the report with a little tear in my eyes. What a lucky dad am I? The youngest asked a lot of questions and going for a walk with him is great. Having time with either of them, conversations about their little world without thinking of work or worrying about anything else is great. Of course it is a full time job. My wife is doing a fantastic job of keeping them entertained, and helping them to grow up.

Having to look after the dog, keeping time of appointments, managing food intake, and yes food was high on the agenda, plus trying to fit in me time, doing the laundry and doing the chores…..it was a lot of work. Just as well I am back to the real world and my wife is back next week. She is a hero, every mum is, at least in my mind. The work they putting in, the love they share, and the things they put up with.

Of course it is all good, and them and I enjoyed it, but somewhat I don’t seem to be born to be a stay at home dad. However, being able to share a day with them, joining in activities like sing and stomp, seeing what joy they have doing activities and playing with their buddies, sitting down and making things with them, that is great. I miss that. I sometimes wonder how much I have missed already from seeing the boys grow up compared to my wife. Whilst I love my work, love working and wanted a career, and I fully understand my kids can do so much because of me wanting a career, it is sad to think that one cannot have it all. The little sacrifices in life.

But the older they get the more enjoyable it gets, the less activities they want to probably share with me. Not long and I will go fishing with the boys, choosing things we can do together, then I embarrass them by going out with them at uni (I think I will be cool, but guess it is never going to happen, I won’t get an invite, let’s stay realistic 😉 ), and then I shall look after my grandkids….

The cycle of life.

Oups, maybe we are looking too deep into things.

Have a great week ahead.

Love and Kindness from my part of the world.
Volker

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Sunday Column (330)

The week, or last weekend, started with really good catch up time with my boys. Being away for a week in Cannes, I got really popular at the weekend. Plus on Sunday was our “Hassocks Bike ‘n Ride”. Mummy got herself a puncture. That resulted in her pushing the bike back, yet we tried to fix it on the roadside. I shall say someone did whilst I fixed a girl’s bike. C of course got all disappointed that we ended up being almost the last ones that came through. Lesson in life, and difficult to sink in for a 6 year old, was to help others beyond yourself and being patient and not grim about “loosing”.

The other one threw a tantrum too. So an all fun weekend. Life is hard if you are under 10 I think :-)

At work things got interesting. Lots of (positive) things happening, yet a lot of work in the heat, but luckily with shorts and my infamous green shoes with pink socks 😉 I am not complaining but when you know you are at the pivotal point of something … it is so much fun! :-) And we are. The product we launched 18 months ago is really getting its maturity now, market adoption is happening and we are having a good time. We are releasing new stuff almost weekly and expanding into the German market. So very exciting times ahead.

Enough about work. The heat and being back from Cannes, re-starting my exercise regime, trying to cut down on the booze and eating less and healthier again, wore me out a bit. I ran three 10 K in a week, and did my planned work outs. It is fun to be back, but I slept most mornings on the train. And the train, how didn’t I miss it. Short formed, overcrowded or just delayed. Reasons are “animal on the line”, or “slow train in front”, “heat”…not an excuse I haven’t heard so far. But never mind, let’s not waste our energy moaning about the rail system every week!

330 life is good

Our youngest got his class allocation. I don’t believe he is going to ‘big school’, e.g. reception this year. Both boys in school. My wife will be bored 😉 Seriously, they are growing up so fast, learning so much and understanding the world … almost better than ourselves. Next weekend I will have them both to myself, and I cannot wait to have LOADS of fun with them :-) I promised them parties, pizza, Indian, Chinese….and BBQs.

On the note of BBQ, I got into Instagram this week. Taking pictures for the sake of having a picture diary is fun. You don’t keep them all on your phone but your snaps document your life. The interesting ones you share on Facebook, the others you don’t. Get the concept now and I am snapping away. Follow me there.

My parents visited at the weekend. It is nice to have family over. An extra pair of eyes to look at the kids. Great weather, a BBQ of course and good catch ups. The kids love it to have the grandparents over, to spoil them rotten, to play UNO, to have fun. Gummibears are a good currency, and chocolate always wins. Unfortunately Rohan fell and really bumped his head and nose. Och well, happens. The first proper cut, surely not the last!

I sometimes take myself back a bit. Look at my life and realise how happy I am. A healthy family, some well behaved kids, good parents, good upbringing, enjoyable, nice job and a supporting wife. Life is so good to me. Our dog is getting better behaving, and I start enjoying having her around, unless she really annoys me again. But that’s normal, isn’t it. She is teaching me to be patient, to keep calm. We can enjoy life and it seems that it never has been better. Almost a bubble of happiness in our own little world.

Let’s not forget how good life is whilst we are in the middle of it.
Let us enjoy life.
Let us be thankful and grateful.
Let us embrace it and spend lots of our time with friends and family. They are worth it.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (329)

This week was rather pleasant. I got to spend most of it in Cannes at the international film festival, the Cannes Lion, where my industry (advertising technology) has been represented for a few years now. However, it is not so pleasant when we are looking at sleep patterns, food and alcohol consumption. Being on yachts, drinking Rosé and enjoying stunning views sounds good, but at the end of the day it is still work, networking, meeting, greeting and getting business done. Yet, I am not complaining about my ‘office environment’ this week.

So coming home on Thursday was a bit of a nightmare, mainly because of a taxi strike. I just don’t understand how taxis can go on strike over the innovation of UBER and blocking an airport? What about my right to choose services and paying what I think is correct? Public transport got us there in the end. A bus. Almost on time, and a walk in the heat. Because the trains were on strike too. Luckily, I don’t have more travel planned for the next few months. Of course this might change. And, I was lucky as some passengers and UBER drivers even got attacked. Burning tyres. A war zone…..a bit OTT if you ask me.

running on a beach

Another amazing moment was on Wednesday morning in Cannes. I ran my 10K along the beach boulevard, just before it got too hot. 7 am and I was off. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well, so little sleep, lots of booze, yet the run was good for the soul, and my body I hope. Keeping fit and having to do runs is a new experience. Am I addicted to exercise now?

Running along the water front, looking at yachts and enjoying the views, seeing lots of like minded joggers – that was a pleasant experience. I will continue to take my running gear to conferences I think, it is such a nice thing to do. Whether you do 5K or 10K, that’s up to you, but get it all out of the system and explore the city in a different way.

On that note, there was another thought that crossed my mind this week. Middle aged men, you know the guys that are old and have family and … yes, that’s me now. It sounds silly but somewhat I catch myself being this middle aged man. Lots of us going around, getting lazier and overweight, enjoying life because we can. Yet I focus on exercising and loosing weight because I don’t want to end up like most of us. I got that from my dad I suppose, he never wanted to get fat, and he never did.

And I am, we are, getting greyer. I am now that person I looked at in the past and thought, this is this middle aged person, the family dad … I arrived I suppose.

Life just moves on. In a good way I suppose. Life is good and I am not complaining. I even got a tan this week :-)

There is a German saying, “von Nichts kommt Nichts”. From nothing comes nothing. Hard work, sweat and honesty, patience and good values get you somewhere in life. Whatever you want to achieve.

Say well and safe,
Onwards and Upwards!
Volker

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