Sunday Column (508)

I want to start with giving thanks this week and share some personal notes. My grandmother turned 98 today and it gives me great satisfaction to see that life is still good for her. On the other spectrum someone I know lost his mother, and in a Facebook post he said ‘you taught me everything I know but how to live without you’. Isn’t that true? Whilst all of that happened, I wrote a card to someone close who was diagnosed with cancer. That’s life for you.

Hence this week might be a good post to read and have some take away from it. A post from me wearing a coaching hat, hoping to help you to develop yourself. I want to talk about focus. A topic I have been looking at for a few months now. Focus is something I am applying to more and more areas of my life. My old manager used to say, “focus, fight and change the conversation”. If you are anything like me, a productivity buff, family person, ambitious, career oriented, and interested in a variety of topics, you can easily lose yourself in it.

As most of you know, I recently started my new job, a new beginning. Sometimes I forget about this blog being public, as for me blogging is my creative outlet, something I enjoy doing. Sharing my thoughts, getting them on ‘paper’. So it was nice to hear that some new colleagues read my blog too!

Without clear focus and priority, I cannot do everything I would like to do. If I’d try to do everything, I’d probably end up doing nothing right plus I’d run out of time. And that’s not the standard I live by. It wouldn’t align with my values. I want to be the best I can be in anything I do.

One of my podcast guests ask the other day, ‘who are you’? Can you answer the question, on how you define who you are? My answer would be that I am someone who loves his career, and achieving. Security is important for me. Something I get a whole lot from is helping others and making a difference. There is more to it but that’s a summary.

The best personal development book I have read for a long time, and I highly recommend it, is ‘The code of the extraordinary mind’. Along other things, a key take away is that happiness MUST be the basis for anything you do. Don’t live in the future, live in the now, be happy now, then build a career on top of it. Because, so he argues, happiness cannot be tied to your goals. You must be happy before you attain them. Have a think about it. For me, it seems that this book concludes a personal development path, what is next?

This is where I think life becomes clear. The next is the now for me. Do things that make you happy. Enjoy the people you hang out with, the job you spend most of your time with, and the family situation you are in. Set yourself goals, one at a time, and attain them out of a happy state. Don’t chase your tail!

If I look at my life, I noticed that I had too many things going on in order to focus properly on the things that are important. This includes my job, my family life, my podcast, my marathon in November and its time commit as well as reading personal development books. Not to mention the book(s) I want to write and other things I want to do like building another Revel model. All that whilst being in the flow at work and life? Surely….FOCUS!

What do you think? What are your areas of focus, and what might have to give to be in the happy state? Get into the flow, the happy state, and start attaining your goals from there. You will soon see how you will become more successful.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Lots to think about isn’t it? Don’t we just love life? I certainly do!

See you next week,
Volker

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Principles of Success – Success is a Journey (3)

SUCCESS is a journey that never finishes; giving, creating and improving situations creates SUCCESS

The third principle of success is all about success being a journey. I believe it was clear from the beginning with the interviews of Brian Fitzpatrick and Caspar Schlickum, that we realised that success isn’t an achievement where you stop. Often Success is perceived by the people surrounding you, and defined by society to a large extend. However, if people look at you and think you are successful, you are often just on your way to where you want to be.

I personally believe you can compare a career to a rocket flight. You need a few years and a lot of energy to get off the ground. Once you are off the ground, trajectory sets in and catapults you where you meant to be. On that trajectory path people will think you are successful, however you are just on your journey to the moon or mars or you might not even know where you are going yet.

And as a successful entrepreneur or individual you might look out of those little windows on your rocket and think that you haven’t come far yet, and nothing has changed for the past few years; however, you haven’t realised how you got higher into the orbit and closer to your goal. Yet the success is all about the journey you are on, and actually you might feel quite deflated when you reach the moon. What’s next?

That’s why most entrepreneurs don’t hang around the moon or the company that acquired their start up, but actually jump on the next rocket. The success is the journey not the destination. Enjoy it!

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Sunday Column (507)

I was travelling this week, attending the biggest online and digital marketing show dmexco in Cologne. It was a reunion of industry veterans. I noticed that a new generation came along and I am one of the older ones now. Gravitas and experience start to show I hope, and friendships form. You almost feel like a pioneer having attended 11 of the last 13 years of the show, being in the industry for 13+ years. But I also made a lot of new connections, meeting people from my new company. A great trip, and well worth the time spent. Thank you again industry.

But I also reflected a lot during my flight. For once I had a window seat and a great view of London, then of planes taking off against the sunset whilst we taxied to our gate. When flying to Singapore for our first big international holiday, I found myself having one of those moments too. Those reflective ones. I am not one for binge watching movies, or downloading millions of episodes on Netflix to watch on the plane. So I started listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast on the way to Singapore, and dozed off. As I woke up people had lowered their blinds and all I could see was a variety of screens lit up by various TV shows. In flight entertainment everywhere, and quite frankly what else would you want to do on a 12.5 hours flight?

Flying on an A380 airbus is a lot nicer than a smaller plane from Europe to the UK (saying that, we have not left yet). I took my youngest up the spiral staircase at the back of the plane and not only did the staircase move a lot, on the top you found the first class cabins and we got some amazing chocolates. How the other half of the world lives 🙁 Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that for a moment, as I awoke, I saw someone watching a drama about a child, others watched the Asian version of X-Factor, then a comic, a love story, a kids movie….and it became a bit surreal, and I couldn’t even really explain why. As if you had loads of different views and experiences put together into the same place.

It must be the influence of Homo Deus (that’s the book I read, remember me mentioning it before?)) – “Human God” if you translated it, that made me become so openly philosophical. Maybe this is the start of a new era of blog posts that are more philosophical and trying to enlighten you as a reader, making you think 😉 The differences of choice of movies, the different cultures, the heritage across our planet makes it so wonderful. The variety of taste and taking a 10,000 feet view of humans, is something I haven’t done consciously before.

You might have read my column on climate change. After the heatwave, the rain and of course the humid weather in Singapore, things were forgotten. The summer at home was back to the best British weather, rain, muggy and stinky 😉 No sign of climate change. Is it real then? Something is happening anyway, and we just don’t know what influences it.

So that’s what I think when I travel. And I enjoy the podcasts. And when I run, like this weekend, I listen to audio books. It takes my mind away and it gives me new perspectives. On AI, on human kind and human behaviour. Those snippets you experience. Isn’t life wonderful?

Anyway, enough for this week, I am off to Germany again next week – maybe a few more stories of philosophy from a plane 😉

Cheers,
Volker

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Principles of Success – Make a difference (2)

SUCCESS is about improving the world around you, making a difference.

This is the second principle of success which I learned from my guests who I interviewed on Stories of Success, my podcast that examines habits of successful people. We already discussed the first principle which stated that success isn’t all about money, but about creating something.

Now leading on from there, we need to look at what we can create. If I can throw in a curveball here, if you have been watching Dragon’s Den in the UK, or similar shows across the globe, then you would have seen lots of entrepreneurs having ideas on how to improve the world and trying to raise money. A few of them are quirky ideas but you soon realise that the idea will never take off. Some entrepreneurs are looking to solve a problem that either doesn’t exist for the majority of people or that isn’t a problem in the first place.

However, and my revelation came when speaking to Gareth Davies about his motivation. I remember him saying ‘I wanted to make a difference in my industry and improve things from the way they were done before’. Essentially that meant that he knew there were problems to be solved, and that he thought he could improve it with his way of thinking and developing a new or improved solution. Needless to say he succeeded.

And those are the prime examples of success. Identifying an existing real problem and improving the existing solution and or finding a new solution to that problem. Cleaning the Oceans, helping agencies and brands to communicate, helping others post retirement and redundancy, helping homeless to think about the future, and so on. You have listened to my podcast of successful entrepreneurs and leaders that have shown you how it is done.

Making the world or the little bit of the world you are looking after a better place. Helping others and making the difference to society and entrepreneurship. That’s another part of the puzzle on how you create success.

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Sunday Column (506)

This week I listened to a podcast called. Transcende hosted by Jeff Riddle who I got introduced to a while back. Jeff and I had a good phone chat the other day discussing the way you can structure podcasts and exchanged some notes on learning around podcasts. Anyway, I listened to his episode this week. It was about finding peace with your parents and upbringing. I have gone through that, and won’t go into details here, but in life we make a lot of assumptions on what others think, and what is right or wrong, and how things are perceived. As I mentioned last week, the best advice I got in ages was to ‘not worry and live in the moment’ – have you tried it? It gives you almost a new perspective on life. Most of our thoughts and assumptions are, naturally, based on our perception and digestion of what we learn from our upbringing, with our parents being the biggest influence in life. It makes me think whether I have a good influence on mine….

The reason I share that is because I got a few comments from my post last week, wanting to constantly better myself. I do. Yet, I also enjoy just being somewhere, being in the moment and enjoy what I have. I don’t think one must exclude the other. There are clear tasks I want to achieve today, and there are others I want to achieve tomorrow. I seek to understand those, prioritise and work accordingly. Personally, I believe by putting the puzzle pieces together in the right order, and that includes your history, influences and future aspirations, life becomes the flow it should be. Giving you the confidence you need. I also believe that you need someone to help you with that, a coach, mentor or partner. Whatever it might be, but that must be the aim for high achievers. Would you agree?

There was another time of reflection this week. I was running before work, trying to keep up some interval trainings. It hit me unexpectedly, my thoughts went back to our holidays. It was warm, nothing to worry about, nothing to plan, just go with the flow. A mind and attitude flow that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Maybe it was because it was so much warmer, or it was a lot more different to home, but other holidays never gave me that relaxation and the feeling of being so close to my family. This year was so different, in a very good way. So I looked back at my holidays and for the first time in many years would have loved to stop the time. That’s how much I enjoyed it. Time to book the next one. Giving the kids are getting older, the holidays are more enjoyable too. It makes a difference to them.

It’s those moments you need to keep sacred. Last week I spoke about clearing out the now, the past, but cherishing the moments in your heart that you want to remember, not the ones that drag you down or back to a history long gone. All that whilst living in the now and being there with whoever you want to be with in the moment. It’s another balancing of things.

And then the decision was made. Marathon. That’s all I say. There is a chance and hope that I might get into the London marathon, as my podcast listeners would know. So I started training a bit beyond my usual 10K runs. I started running outside. At time of publishing I should have finished my third half marathon distance and I am on my way to run 18 miles (28K) next weekend. If all goes well, given I am travelling a fair bit over the next few months, I should run a marathon early November. Fingers crossed. The entry fee is paid 🙂

That’s all folks. Let me know if you like the mix of topical and private thoughts and what else you would like to see on the blog. As you can see I have a lot of podcast related, success related posts until end of the year on this blog. I also want to change my podcast concept next year. I also want to be sure to have focus on the things that matter. My job for instance which I really enjoy, a mix of operational and commercial, just right, dealing with lots of interesting and smart people. Is life falling into place? I think so. I am very content, and as my podcast guest this week said, success means contentment, means happiness. Yes, I am happy.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Principles of Success – Money and Success (1)

Money doesn’t equal SUCCESS; the focus isn’t on earning money but on building something that matters.

When I set out with my podcast back at the end of 2017, I compiled a few questions for my guests. One of them, and the question I always ask first, is ‘how do you define success’. To my positive surprise, not one guest so far has mentioned success would mean money.

I am going back a few years, mainly when I worked in start ups and full on sales roles, that money was the main motivator for me. It was about ‘retiring at 40’, something I didn’t manage, and which was to a certain extend illusional. How could I imagine making that much money by just working for a start up rather than founding one? Money was all I cared about at some point and it was important to own things. Anyway, that changed for a variety of reasons.

With me being past 40, not retired, and I slowly but surely realise that money isn’t everything, I wanted to find out what success is made of. Success for me is about my family, having a secure income and progressing with my career. Personally, it is about making a difference and creating something that lasts. And this is reflected in the answers I got from most of my podcast guests. It is the long term game, staying in a job, making a positive difference, and passing on my experience. It’s about helping others to achieve their aspirations.

If I start comparing this wisdom to the one of my podcast guests, I am surely not alone. What I find even more amazing is that the younger start up entrepreneurs also didn’t set out to become rich but their sole motivation is to create something that matters and makes a positive difference to their industry or the world even. Of course they make money on the way, and the idea of selling a business is not about not having to work anymore, it is about launching the next thing. Money becomes a by-product of success.

This explains why successful people carry on to have more success and do not stop until they become even more successful. But it is this drive to succeed that spurs them on. Just look at Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, it is all about creating more meaningful things, making this world a better place. To quote Steve Jobs along the lines of “you cannot buy anything if you are the richest person in the graveyard”, sums it up. You could become rich and being able to afford nice things, but on the other hand, you never get rich if you don’t create something meaningful. And that’s probably where many people went wrong, focusing too much on earning the money, rather than creating something meaningful.

I have this dream that one day, maybe in a different life, I am setting out with an idea, like a proper entrepreneur. And I would create something meaningful, that ultimately lead to something bigger and something that creates value people want. Maybe my podcast is the beginning of a media company, a content creation company, for which one big media house might pay me one day. But I didn’t set out to start a podcast to make money but to create value and help people to learn from entrepreneurs, successful people, and make a difference.

So for you out there, who want to be successful, find a passion and go for it. Create something meaningful and make a difference in your industry, your line of work, in something you are interested in. Focus on having fun and enjoying the process of creating. Money will follow if success is there. And, as many podcast guests and I philosophised about, you might be a lot happier too.

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Sunday Column (505)

You know, this week saw the beginning of season 2 of my podcast. I really enjoyed recording loads of material over the summer, meeting interesting, successful people and recording their stories. However, I also know that I probably end up having less time doing that moving forward. So this season is similar to season 1 maybe a bit more topical and next year I am planning to potentially shift the podcast a bit into a longer form concept. Let’s see how it goes.

I must say this weekend was fantastic. Life is about creating memories. I managed a 25K run, and it was fun, pleasing somewhat. It was weird, running through fog, cold patches as the sun came up, then warm muggy patches in the woods. I love where I live and whilst discussing Brexit a lot this week, I don’t want to leave. I am sure things will work out. Will I end up running a race after all? Maybe, I still haven’t made a final decision yet.

Then the little one and I enjoyed a fabulous football game in Brighton. It makes for a whole afternoon just to get there and back. And what fun we had. Who would have guessed that I enjoyed football that much, after I had never been to a game until 2 years ago. And now, we got the premier league at our door steps, why wouldn’t we go?

I wrote it before, life is about focus. So when the family disappeared for 10 days and I had some spare time, e.g. a long bank holiday weekend, I decided to crank out lots of content for my podcast and blog (watch this space over the next few weeks). Also, I started clearing out some old stuff. Every now and then I go through old folders, picture albums and decide whether I keep them or not. So this time, a lot more went in the bin than I had anticipated but it is good to discard pictures from 25 years ago, just keeping a few of good friends or special occassions. Clearing your mind, your house and letting go of things is important. As the only thing we can do is live in the now, and be present in the moment. That’s where we create memories, we don’t need pictures of them or post them on social media.

I also wanted to thank you for the positive feedback about my more topical blog posts, including the one around success which includes my podcast. Are we obsessed with success, or am I?

Maybe. And how are we defining it? When joining my fraternity in Germany many years ago, I transitioned into a ‘career driven personal development’ person, developing a sense of ‘always give your best performance to achieve the most possible results’. And of course there are limits for everyone, discussing this recently with a fraternity brother of mine, a mentor for over 20 years, there is always a new boundary to push and a new angle to develop on your personal approach, in order to push yourself further. This could be in a job or outside work, most things are mind games. My running training for instance. You can always improve a bit more. You compete with yourself not others.

I discussed that with an executive coach this week too, trying to find the best approach to get some professional help to push things a bit more. The last couple of years I have invested a lot in self finding, career development and have been battered by redundancies due to industry change. Life is a constant change.
I seem to have this urge to constantly better myself. I know a few people that do not understand that, but I love a great challenge. I strive of the learning I get from new exposure, people and concepts.

So to conclude, as I get deeper into my work and get busier learning new skills and apply my experience, the further I develop and apply focus. Hence my podcast concept will probably change come 2019; as I keep closing chapters, discard of the past in a physical and/or mental sense, I open new doors and opportunities. Exciting times.

As one door opens, another one closes. Or the other way around, as one door closes, another one opens. Similar things, aren’t they. And yet they can be seen differently.
Life is a constant change and I am learning to embrace it, enjoy it and think less about it. But I will be more present in the moment, the now.

Have a good week,
Volker

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Principles of Success

Hello followers,

Just as I start season 2 of my podcast Stories of Success, I wanted to share the Principles of Success. Those are 12 principles which I will write about over the forthcoming weeks.

I’d appreciate any feedback on whether you think they are relevant and whether they are useful.

Do you have a similar experience?
How do they compare to the old principles from 2013 I published a while back?

Feel free to sign up to my newsletter here.

Or go an download a free copy of Principles of Success!

Thanks for your interest and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (504)

There have been a few topics on my mind this week. My wife, including kids, went to visit the MIL and left me alone for the bank holiday weekend. That is fair enough, as I usually organise a cracking weekend with the lads. However, this time around, people are busy, non committal and are still on holidays themselves. Hence the appetite wasn’t there. I ended up working a lot on my podcasts and some content I will publish over the forthcoming weeks and did some training to improve my long distance running.

What I wanted to note was the bachelor life. Similar to above’s reason, I wasn’t out every night, just instead binge watched Amazon’s Bosch every night, and enjoyed good food, great sleep and my own routine. I noticed that dishwashers aren’t made for single households and that shopping delivery seems almost useless given the amount I need. My drinking went right back, as drinking on your own just isn’t the same anymore. I would even go as far as I was lonely. But of course I wasn’t, having had calls from my son, the above podcast recordings, three cats etc., I was busier than I was hoping for to be honest. No complains though.

It’s just different when no one is around, despite the cats. However, it is also a great time for reflection and doing what ever the f* you want, including sleeping in and napping whenever it suits you 🙂 But it is only ever enjoyable knowing the family comes back.

When we went on holidays this year, my wife offered our house to a family to stay. Their renovation overran and they couldn’t stay in their place. Also, they had guests arriving from afar, which didn’t allow for any rescheduling. We didn’t know the family that well, maybe the odd exchange on a kid’s party, and went with trust and gut feeling and let them stay. I remember speaking to my dad about it and he said, that there should be nothing to worry about. Of course one imagines what someone staying at your house could do, but honestly, the majority of people are good. The ones staying in our house were great actually.

Where am I leading with that? The family staying in our house of course lived differently to us. And this is not criticism but pure reflection. Things broke which is normal wear and tear, and things got moved. Things that broke got replaced, and misplaced things got moved back. No big deal. And whilst I might look too much into it, for me it was realising that actually it does not matter where you put your plates and glasses. Or whether someone does things differently. Because in the end of the day everyone does their own thing, their own routine. Similar to when you are home alone, you don’t run the dishwasher that often, fill up the fridge or empty the bin. Or whatever it is.

I enjoyed both. The experience of being solo again and the experience of someone staying at our place. I actually consider the latter again, but only if I find similar great guests again 🙂 We were very lucky and hope to stay in touch and maybe even become friends down the line. Who knows. After all we literally lived in each other’s beds 😉

Expanding your horizon they say, and we did that, and going with your gut, and we did that too. And doing a weekend what you want to do without being considerate to others at all, I did that too 🙂

Enjoy the week ahead and the bank holiday tomorrow, another day off 😉

Volker

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Sunday Column (503)

Hello. I am now back from holidays and rested, started my new permanent role, finding my feet. As always things are new, exciting, and it takes some time to really get to grips with everything. That’s it. So I had some thoughts again I wanted to share. This time it is about the future and all.

My oldest was born in the year I turned 32. The next one when I turned 34. Just imagine at that time, I would have had my great grand parents still with me? Wouldn’t that have been crazy?
This week’s column is triggered by something I read somewhere, probably the FT, that the first person who turns 1,500 years is already born. I am not sure 1,500 is a good age, and I am not sure how that is justified, but it got me thinking. What if technology and bio-tech is accelerating, and what if the first person turning a 150 is already born, or alive? That for me is more of a scenario to live or die with. Maybe a bit more realistic.

So imagine I turned 120 years old. Not only would it mean I am about one third there, or still had almost 80 years to go, I would have to think hard about my pension and retirement age. All that aside, wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in one form or another for that period of time? Maybe we live as a brain in a glass container kept alive by robot nurses? For the ease of calculations, if I was 120 years old, it would make my sons around 90, their kids 60 and my great grand children 30. That’s four generations with the 5th generation just being born. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I certainly like to think so. Whilst I am not the most adventurous person, and I despite flying a lot I am not too keen on flying, and I never liked hospitals nor I am able to watch operations (I am very squeamish), there is this thought of going on a space ship. Actually, did you ever notice that in science fiction films there are less turbulences than flying in an aeroplane. Hmm, does that suggest it is smoother?

The dream of maybe living as a brain, or just emotions as consciousness detached from your body, or maybe in a younger body, transplanted onto a planet far away, or living in a space ship, being able to tell stories of what human kind once was to a generation that would laugh at the way we travelled in the 21st century in a way we look at the Stone Age. A generation that would look back on how we destroyed our planet Earth and how we escaped the Doomsday scenario. How we inhabited uninhabitable planets and how we managed to survive as species. I have definitely listen to too much Homo Deus and Sapiens as well as AI (Artificial Intelligence) books, however I have not given up on the thought that humans will survive. One way or another we will. We are clearly a species of innovators and inventors that push on and beyond of our visible capabilities, re-inventing the wheel or life as we know it.

I am optimistic and think it could happen. Me being 120 is a very comforting thought in my opinion. Then again I would be a pain in the bum for my kids 😉 Payback time I suppose. When I was younger I never read many science fiction books, and the thought of not being around to see how life on earth and beyond might evolve makes me sad. Maybe we are the generation that just see so much more and so much longer to be able to see how human kind evolves. I would like that. And if not, I will continue to write about it and educate the next generation to not be afraid but embrace technology.

All that comes as I am trying to detox from digital. I finally got my pay as you go phone, my emergency number. It is like a landline we have sitting in the corner (we disconnected our landline a long time ago) which we can take with us. That means we can turn our smart phones off, the disturbing and distracting ones, whenever we wish or we leave them at home when we go away for the afternoon. Let’s see if that works.

That’s all. As of writing I just sorted the setup of my laptop out at work. It has been a long time since I worked with a Microsoft Exchange, and I can clearly see why that has been the case. I haven’t seen such a clunky system for a long time, trying to find my productive way with that system is a challenge but I think I am just about there. Early days 😉

Have a great week and years ahead 😉
Volker

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