Thursday Flash (3)

Another Thursday, looks like people are enjoying those reads. Feedback has been to be more concise. I try.

Overthinking? This article in Success Magazineis a nice teaser to stop thinking, making decisions based on idols or mentors. What would someone else have done? Are you overthinking? What are the voices in your head saying, and how to control them….

An hour nap to boost brain fuction? Whether you are at an airport or Starbucks where I have seen people snoozing in the corner of the cafe. An hour nap, and believe me I have done the research myself, can boost your brain function. Research confirms.

My last recommended article this week is about EQ – Emotional Intelligence. I noticed more and more senior people showing feelings and emotions. This is a handy guide to EQ. I did my MBA thesis on EQ and have been sceptical as some of it is common sense. For me anyway, yet not everyone is as self conscious as me.

Have a great rest week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (420)

Ok. I have some time on my hands, don’t I. Actually I don’t have as much as I would like, and I got a lot busier than anticipated. That’s a positive thing, things are happening. So what do you do if you have some waiting time in London? People just went back to work properly this week being busy, so I had a few meetings in town, but then a few got cancelled last minute. Then I got some additional ones in. The train strike took me to London Blackfriars and this can be a bit inconvenient given most digital businesses’ location in London. Cut a long story short, I managed to walk a bit in London. Yes: W-a-l-k, take things in, smelling the roses. It was fantastic.

Yes, I absolutely loved it. Not only did I manage to burn some calories and make some phone calls, I also managed to just wander around London. I was thinking for a moment to stop all the time and take some pictures, but I found this would distort my idea of experiencing London. I almost went into the National Art Gallery. When did you last have time to just wander through the streets of London, look up the buildings and take in all the architecture. Did you know that from Farringdon you can see the Shard with St. Paul’s Cathedral in between?

What else did I spot? Lots of people smoking and vaping, more than I anticipated. Hipster cafes where I stopped and rested, starting to write this post. A Ferrari mountain bike. Old writing and signs on buildings just on the main streets. New buildings and building sites. Builders looking bored, some being very busy. A few new building sites I hadn’t noticed, some nice facades, a new hidden Neros off Jermyn Street. And I went with the flow, just chilling out and enjoying myself, looking at the world to go by and take it all in.

How much more time do I have to enjoy some down time? When is it getting serious again to go back to work? When would I have to, when would I want to get back to the grindstone? I tell you all next week (teaser).

I learned about priority this week. I was focusing on two important things this week, and those were my only priorities, but only one at a time. This was important. I tried to blend out any thoughts that would interfere with my priority at the time. Mind games, voices in your head, external influences, ideas. Like meditating with your mind fully switched on. I think it worked well. Being in full control of your mind and thinking really helps.

Then there is another topic I am giving priority and I am looking into at the moment: My 40th. Yes, it is coming closer and I cannot deny it or make it go away. It is coming closer day by day. It will either be a party or a mini holiday – the prices seem similar. We are evaluating. I let you know what we decide, not if it is a party though 😉 Anyway.

There is one theme on Linkedin and Facebook since the beginning of the year: Make the most out of 2017. Celebrate life. I am not sure if that mood is connected to the, as it seems, high amount of celebrity deaths last year, or whether it is a general mood to get on with life and make the most of it? Maybe it has been like that every year, but I didn’t notice it that much. This year I do. As if we, as people, are anticipating the world to end in 2017. I hope not. I have so many more plans, and ideas and want to see so many more places. Yes, maybe I should start doing that soon. I don’t want to run out of time. I must trust that there will be a life beyond 2017, despite all uncertainty in the world.

Life seems to be a bit like evaluating things, making decisions, living with it. Jobs. Life. Parties. The way you bring up your kids. We had tantrums this week which brought back memories of having a toddler. Do you let them cry or use reasoning? I tried both, and the former worked in the end, falling asleep being exhausted. Will they learn from it? Probably not. Just another phase, until in a while that phase stops and another one starts. The oldest becomes more of an adult now, and you sometimes wonder how grown up they seem. Wowsers.

Life is moving so fast, and we are evaluating. We make decisions and we move on. The flow. Go with the flow, don’t get stressed about it and feel at ease. In the end things will work out, and you must believe in the end. Have trust. Things never stop. You must trust things will be ok, because they always will be. Don’t let others pressure you into a situation you don’t enjoy and don’t let others make you feel a certain way. It all works out in the end. Trust in it going to happen!

If the video below doesn’t show, please see this Joe Biden article.

But then there was one last thing I noticed this week. Whether it was Obama’s speech, his wife’s speech or Joe Biden: some great leaders and people you look up to that, in public and in very powerful positions, admit to something amazing: Emotions and feelings. It is not about crying but about bringing emotions back into what I would call ‘corporate and public life’. Ever since I have read and written my MBA thesis on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), I believe that the human aspects, emotions, feelings and the sharing of values is sometimes more important than red tape. Humanity prevails. I am moved by what happened in 2016. I have shed more tears and shared more emotions than ever before. Maybe that is why, as mentioned above, people are increasingly coming out with making 2017 the best year ever and to go for it. To show their appreciation, feelings and true emotions. Let’s do it. Let’s share more love and make 2017 happen!

I have a great feeling about it.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (2)

Happy Thursday!

My first article is about something different: Earwax. Maybe not the most interesting topic to talk about, if you talk about those topics at all; yet the interesting bit is that we all have it, and a lot of us are using those cotton buds to clean our ears, actually doing ourselves more harm than good. And since I am very interested in any topic and any learning, I thought I share the importance of earwax with you.

Then, after my article on Artificial Intelligence, I saw more of those articles around. This one in particularly on Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence is worth a read. If you keep your eyes peeled you find more and more articles. And as some of my commentaries state, the topic isn’t new but I believe the application of AI becomes more diverse and you see more of it in our every day life. That is fascinating.

Another article I enjoyed reading was about AR (Augmented Reality). Whether that is Pokemon Go or more advanced applications, we will see more of that happening. I am actually due to meet with a start up that is looking into advertising applications around AR that go beyond what we have seen so far. Definitely an area to watch!

In my opinion, the rise of AI in every day life and AR will be the key developments in 2017.

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Sunday Column (419)

I hope you enjoyed my new blog post on Thursday: THURSDAY FLASH, where I wrote about what I enjoy reading, and which information I found useful over the past week.

And a quick reminder, if you enjoy this blog, please don’t forget to share the content forward:

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Funny picture for my blog

What is next?

What is happening in 2017?

We had the Brexit, Trump takes office, the world hasn’t really moved since the New Year. So essentially, we are still in 2016.
No! This year has already been busy. At least it has been for me. Constructive, forward looking meetings, discussions and idea exchanges. I am buzzing after this week about opportunities out there, and changes to come within the industry. The world. Let’s embrace the change and let’s make 2017 a never to forget year, for the right, positive reasons.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of good will, help and support in the community. What ever happens next, I will never forget and pay back to the community whenever I can. Thank you and a shout out to friends, helpers and mentors out there. One of the best meetings this week was a discussion around ‘gut feeling’ and ‘you know what is right’ with a very experienced industry veteran. We are all the same, and we just need to trust our guts more, our instincts, our bodies, our minds. They already know what is right and what is wrong for us. Interesting isn’t it?

What about my New Year resolutions?

I don’t have any to be honest. Why? I will continue to work out, and try to reduce my weight again and trim up. Get in shape. Work on a new exercise routine. So if I talk about weight, this means more physique/circumference/body shape than absolute weight itself. Weight itself is not as relevant, key for me are measurements and fitness level. Back at the end of 2015 I was measured to have the metabolic age of a 23 year old. Did I mention I turn 40 this year? My aim is that by summer I shall have a similar fitness level, eat more healthy again, drink less etc. The usual. And I will do that, as I have done it before, particularly as I haven’t really slipped up too much. I need more of a constant reminder. Every now and then I get a cold or a temperature and stop doing weights, it gets colder etc, but I always keep my fitness up. I am actually thinking of buying some more equipment for body resistance exercises in order to increase fitness levels. We shall see. I also aim to do another 24 hour race which I couldn’t do last year. So things moving along nicely on that front.

Then, the other big thing this year is to focus on family. I think I realised that living where we are living, having the job I love and the career I want, I need to focus on the weekends to spend time with the boys and my wife. The week is just not feasible to calculate arrival times for trains, particularly with the train strikes, and calculate work commitments. The only other way is to move and we are not going to do that. So weekends are family time, Monday to Friday is all about exercise, work and commute, latter being me-time with lots of readings and podcasts and personal development. Maybe another book to write 😉

Overall, I just want to improve my life style even further, progress with my career and give my family the best life. All I want is to make life work – based on our expectations, values and commitments. Simple really. And this is more ambitious than it sounds. Just think about it for a bit. I am not thinking I am demanding a lot, but it is complex to align everything that is going on in your life to make it ‘perfect’ (or close to it).

I constantly improve myself by working and checking against my quarterly goals and objectives. I track my progress and make amendments to both expectations and execution to achieve those objectives. My resolution is changing daily/monthly/quarterly, as I constantly try to better myself. I try to freshen up my toolkit on a weekly basis to sharpen the saw, as Covey would put it in the “7 habits of highly successful people”. My daily exercise, both physically and mentally, is part of that. A new addition is a daily journal to recap of what I appreciate in life. I use “Gratitude Journal”, the top one on this list of Gratitude Journals, for it.

And Dry January? I still hadn’t decided when I started writing this blog but had a glass of wine on Thursday. It is good to take some time off alcohol, but it isn’t as if I drink excessively. I enjoy a drink, particularly over Christmas and New Year, but during a ‘normal’ week, it is good to just have a glass or two every now and then to relax, chill out, or chat with people, being social. Nothing wrong with that. So on to 2017.

So that’s my blurb for the week really. A quiet, yet intensive and fairly busy start in the year. You might have seen my Thursday Flash which is my newest bulletin about articles I think are worth reading each week. I started collecting them and publish about three or so articles, related or not, that I found a useful read each week. Please let me know what you think.

Picking up the earlier comment again: A lot of things feel right at the moment. Some feel wrong. Some feel like they are moving in the right direction. Trust your feelings, and trust you being you. Because you are the one that knows you best.

Enjoy yourself,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (1)

Happy New Year….again.

I have been thinking on how I can improve this blog – besides a new profile picture – to add content that you find useful. Since, for the time being, I have more time for writing, I have more time for reading and sharing. I finished writing and editing and reviewing my next productivity book, so please stay tuned for more news over the next few months. Each week I want to share my most interesting articles and findings besides my personal opinion. Let’s see how we get on. And, I figured an own post would do justice, just because my Sunday Columns are getting quite long already.

It is a bit like Tim Ferris’ 5 Bullet Friday, however I think it is more useful to publish it on a Thursday. So I called it the Thursday Flash.

Top 3 articles I read:

1 How to only work 40 hours a week – really? Yes, I believe with the right company culture and the right attitude of your manager, you can be as productive as you are now with only 40 hours a week. Or even less to be honest. We measure far too much on time spend on the job than results. Being a veteran sales guy, I always remember the one guy who spends his whole day playing golf, not being in the office. Some would argue he never worked but playing golf was his working day – making connections, building relationships and closing the deals. Quality over quantity.

See also:

Tony Schwartz Energy Project

Six Hour Work Day in Sweden

2 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning. This very topic is key to the future of adtech. I have been researching a bit for this article and you can find references in the article itself. No, I am not a scientist or data geek, not yet anyway, but the nature of machines taking over to do some of my work, would be amazing. Or wouldn’t it be? The application of more and more technology in the adtech space is giving us so much opportunity. Having been on the forefront of RTB (real time bidding), later programmatic, now machine learning is exciting. Something I am truly passionate about.

3 Exertion Headaches – yes, I agree, we all had too much booze, cheese, fun and little or too much sleep in my case over Christmas. I am just not used to sleeping more than 6-7 hours. Also I felt like I didn’t exercise enough. I kept running, but then had a massage and took it easy. Why wouldn’t I for a while. Now, January being January, I am back to my routine. The 5 am alarm and weight lifting, strength exercises. And as usual it comes with some headaches as the body isn’t used to it anymore. They should be gone in 1-2 weeks but we shall see. They did disappear last time when I took a break from strenuous exercises. Also, I am cutting some food intake again, so January should see me slimming down a bit. Not yet decided on the ‘Dry January’ or not. Probably not 😉

Hopefully those articles are useful for you too, and you enjoy reading it.

Thanks and see you next time.

Volker

*****

I have a favour to ask as well. Could you please all do me a favour and share this blog with friends on social media. Thank you for your help!

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Sunday Column (418)

Happy New Year. Hope this year turns out to be what you are wishing for. I have been waiting for this year to happen since I was a small boy. Yes, I am turning 40 this year, and it was always going to be a mile stone for me. Oh dear, you cannot stop time, and why would you want to? It has been a great journey so far, and I just continue to enjoy the ride whilst it lasts. I believe it was Tim Ferris who put a thought in my mind the other day: if you live to 90, that means you have about 2,600 (52*50) weekends left – or he used other examples of less occurring events. Time doesn’t stop and we all have the same hours in the day. Make the most of it. Work, live, be happy and make others happy. And that’s the key for 2017 for me I suppose.

Darren Hardy is talking about looking back, to take stock and move forward into the new year. I do. I naturally do and enjoy looking back. For me, from a professional point of view, 2016 was a great experience and learning. I finished a job this summer after 2.5 years. It was a successful one, 3 company names, one acquisition and a lot of evangelisation. I enjoyed that, deeper discussions around data and more channel sales, an interesting product. Then my first consulting project. Privately, I enjoyed it too. The boys are growing up, some great family holidays, lots of improvement in the house and I sometimes even sit there and go ‘what next‘. What will 2017 bring.

I have dreams and hopes. I have plans. I want to achieve more. I am far from done with my life or ambitions. Coming of age, I am entering the most existing times of my career, the second 10ish years. Time to put the pedal down and change the world. A job and idea at a time. I am excited about my career, yet it needs to fit in with my life, e.g. the kids’ and wife’s ambition. We work it out. We always have done, we always will. You must trust in the future, in life moving forward and the great universe to assemble to make it work for you. And things in life come at the right time, they come to you for a reason, and things happen for a reason. I am a strong believer of that and have a lot of faith. Many moons from now we will be looking back at life and paths we took, just to realise what we learned. That is taking stock. I do that yearly. And I examine a lot, and question and accept a lot.

We must choose and win. We cannot stop and smell the roses all the time, yet never forget to do it regularly. No one said life is easy. It certainly isn’t. But it isn’t that difficult either if you are organised and willing to give. Coming of age I notice the changes I have been through and changes of which I know others went through too. Life is similar for most of us, some are open about it, some are not. And whilst you keep meeting the same characters, you also find new mentors, new guidance and gain new input and understanding. Life is funny like that. But I am a big believer of embracing it. I am keen on challenging myself in 2017, publish my next book on productivity, and also start writing on my next book idea. I cannot stop thinking and improving and working. I love what I do.

So as this year is coming to an end, I came to a hold a bit. The last week I was standing still. All my energy was put towards the family, some reading and meeting friends. Wow. No emails, no work, no powerpoint, no strategy discussions. Just going with the flow. Looking back and realising how lucky we are. How others haven’t been that lucky. Some who lost their fight with cancer, some who won their fight. Life and death are so close together and, besides the celebrity deaths across the UK and Germany, there were some personal losses too. I used my downtime to refocus a bit and decide on what 2017 and beyond should look like. Let’s hope for it to be good and long lasting dreams.

Come Tuesday life is back. I got meetings lined up, things to explore, and hopefully decisions to make.

For you and yours, all the best for 2017. May your dreams and wishes come through.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (417)

Please accept my apologies for the late publication of this blog – the scheduling let me down 🙁

Merry Christmas.

We have been, and are celebrating, with our families today. So I have already written the post and by the time you read it, I hope you are sitting down, chillaxing after a fat turkey dinner, glass of sherry or wine, maybe a cheese board, and you are creating an experience and memories with your families. That is what Christmas is about. Having a good time and spending some amazing time with your loved ones. For years to come you will look at your pictures from Christmas, remember the moments when the kids unwrap the presents, the sound of the fire and the taste of cheese and wine. There are so many experiences you’ll remember, the funny and sad stories. Moments that matter.

Christmas, end of year, is time to reflect. An amazing year it was. It started actually with an interview on the first day back after Christmas in 2016. This year was for me to create my life. To find out what I want to do and how I want to do it. Given the recent developments, I mapped out what I want to do what I shall focus on moving forward. And the reasoning for anything is around a few things that are very important for me: values. What I value. What I cherish in life and what is important to me. And my career is important to me. Lots of things to do, so much opportunity out there.

One value for me, without any question, is family. I want to have the flexibility to see my boys growing up and make the good night story more often than just at the weekends. Or the school pick up. At least once a week I’d like to be at home and be there for them, around them and help them grow up. I want to be their sounding board and advisor, friend and lecturer all at the same time. That is important for me. And, it is important for me to allow my wife to go back to work too. That will hopefully happen early 2017. So more change to come.

Another value is energy. I want to put energy into things and projects where I get energy back. I enjoy working with people that work hard and put a lot of energy into things to make them work. Honesty. Trust. Not being able to funnel your energy into the right direction or not being able to funnel energy whatsoever, just doesn’t work for me. So a part of 2016 is learning about my energy household, about meditation techniques and on that note I concluded more than 365 days of daily meditation. It helped me a lot!

This year saw my oldest joining middle school. The youngest going into year one. Those are big steps. I don’t believe how quickly or too quickly they grow up. Whichever cliché you think it is, we don’t have enough time to see our kids grow up. See earlier point. My wife re-trained and is ready to go back to work. Life is moving on slowly but surely. You would have noticed me mentioning the driveway a lot, yet it is a completion of the house for now. All work has been done, the next few bits and pieces are repairs and cosmetics, some plastering, some decorating etc. After 4.5 years we are finally done with the house and the outside in a way we wanted to have it. A great, satisfying feeling. I can sit in my chair, have a glass of wine and happily say we are done with the house. A very satisfying feeling. We have good health. My wife even ran a marathon. We are surrounded by family. What else can we ask for?

We saw Trump’s election this year. We saw Brexit. Latter resulted in me sending off for the naturalisation this week, to become a British citizen. I love this country, love living here, so might as well have a British passport in order to be 100% sure I can stay. Most probably I can anyway, but after 15 years it was about time to get this sorted. The likelihood of me moving back to Germany is very slim. And Trump – I follow politics and I am a bit concerned, yet we have to evaluate as we go along. As anything in life, there is a German saying, nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked – let the news die down, see them taking office and see how much they actually do of what they threaten to do. Yet, given the German history, I am cautious to not ignore early warning signs. Fingers crossed.

At the same time we see terrorism in Germany and I am glad I don’t know of anyone being affected. I lived through 7/7 in London in 2005 and that is over 10 years ago now. We almost expect terrorism daily and luckily not much is happening. Let’s hope that we will see less of it rather than more. Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin….why can’t we all live in peace. Aleppo. I feel better by donating £50 to Unicef for some winter blanket, shoes and cloth for a child. But I am still very detached from what is actually going on. I wouldn’t say bubble wrapped but distanced. Fortunately or unfortunately. Trying to explain to your kids that having a turkey for Christmas, presents and the fire on, sitting in the warm and enjoying ourselves is something that they shouldn’t take for granted. I am trying. We should value every little thing in life and cherish those moments we create. Share the love whilst it lasts. Enjoy the good moments, and cherish them.

We also had a few nice holidays. Nothing fancy but great memories for the children. Memories and experience that matter. York in autumn. Centreparks. A few days at at the beach, Scotland with the MIL. The kids do not care if it is Cacun or Littlehampton, and when they are older I hope to show them more of the world. At the moment we are struggling to communicate some basic principles of what the European Union is or that the world is round. And just because Power Rangers are in New York, doesn’t mean going there we will see them 🙂 The world isn’t that simple, or maybe it is and we lost touch with the simplicity of it by making it more complicated than it should be. Anyway.

What I wish for in 2017 is simple: more time with the family, more happiness and health – latter is key to anything we do. Nothing is more important than health. So I continue to run my 20K a week, doing some weight training and maybe take up swimming again. We encourage the boys to take on different sports. Food is key too. What you put in, results in energy and output. Bad food will result in diseases. Very simple, so making sure to choose the right ingredients, cooking and eating healthy is in stock for 2017.

And maybe this is the same tune I had on last year. Sunday Column 364 and 365 talk more about sick bugs which we seemed to have avoided this year, at least the nasty stomach ones, so far. I also talk about my exercise routine which I kept up throughout the year, and still even then the work life balance wasn’t 100%. Guess it never is. And I do talk about the driveway LOL.

With that closing, thanks for being a regular reader of my blog and thanks for your support and help throughout the year.

Have a Happy Christmas, great start into the New Year and I hope that you are as excited as myself to embark a new journey in 2017. A year where I like to look back to and say it shaped my future. Yet every year does 🙂

All the best and stay safe and well,
Volker

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Sunday Column (416)

A week of train strikes. Early mornings, late nights, different trains, packed trains, impact on work and family life. Wow, I survived. It was utterly ridiculous. But then the ease set in from Thursday. What a lot of people didn’t know was that I had a few discussions with management over the last few weeks and we decided to finish off on a high after I finished a project earlier this week. So this concludes my first consulting project on programmatic and I hope I added value to the company (positive references are available upon request). I took the first step into freelance/consulting. So I now got a few weeks off.

What’s next? I will announce further consulting and advisory roles in the New Year. Having said that, one has been announced already, another software start up working with real time data. Exciting times (See Linkedin). Whilst I don’t want to rule out a f/t position, my remit and interests are very wide. Focus is key, yet also my life and values. I have had discussions with my mentors for a good while, and the key to any success is that the values of your job match the values of the company. Additional to that it needs to match your life style. What I mean by that is for me, with Southern Strike for instance, I can work from home. This isn’t always possible of course. Or I can work around my wife’s shifts. Or do some school runs. When I told the boys I would be home a lot over the next few weeks, they hugged me for 2 minutes. Needless to say I was humbled. I haven’t seen much of my family for the past few months. See reference in earlier posts. So life will be good!

The best conversation I had this week was with a fellow MBA who put some management theory into practise: a proper matrix organisation that works independently by vertical team and owns the product line. Empowered, in charge and happy at work with retention rates beyond industry standards. Very impressive. I haven’t come across too many organisations like that, but it brings out the best in people. Trust is key in any employer/employee relationship. The only other organisation I have seen previously working in a similar fashion was an agency which had given 70% of its shares to employees. That means they were directly impacted by the growth and revenue and owned part of the company. It works. Not many organisations are willing to set it up like that.

This is a keen interest of mine. Company culture and staff empowerment. Maybe a topic for the next book? Not sure. I now have 2 weeks to finalise my productivity book, identify publishers etc. Things seem to happen for a reason and life is too short to worry and not get on with it, to give up even. You know sometimes you have to go to the edge of the cliff. To see what it is like. Not to end your life but to take stock. To think. How often have you taken time out in the last 6 months to just sit and think? To reflect and see the world go by? I haven’t but I look forward to do that a lot more. I emailed my coach a few weeks ago, unfortunately he has been busy assisting Tony Robbins, and the reply I got, ever so short, already gave me kick up the bum. You know what I mean? Life is happening!!!

The best way to describe my cliff is I am on a plane ready to jump. I am at the edge, taking stock, have taken stock, and I am now ready to jump. But not without a parachute of course and a plan for when to open it. To take the leap, to make it happen, to be, to create MY life. You must create your life and be in control of your destiny. Anything else does not matter. Things will always fall (no punt intended) into place. One cannot make people feel a certain way or shoe-horn them into a situation. It is not going to work.

I am overwhelmed by support. People that I didn’t expect to say that, to be very supportive for me to take the leap. People offering me parachutes as I jump out of the plane. I have a small one but they offer me bigger ones. Some offer me safety nets and cushions. It is amazing. I am ever so grateful and thankful for that. Life is good and good to see that people are helpful. I am loving life. Seriously, could it get any better.

There will be more announcements to come after Christmas. For now it is wind down. I can go back to 10K runs in the morning, swimming, saunas and school pick ups and good night stories. Maybe some Lego and Power Ranger play too.

You have a nice last week before Christmas.

With all my love,
Volker

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Sunday Column (415)

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2 weeks to Christmas. The kids are getting excited, and before I hear a ‘hello’ in the morning, it is ‘where is my advent calendar’. If I hear them say anything in the morning, as I might be out of the house at crack of dawn. Southern rail put an emergency time table on. Busier trains, less often….great. For 4,000 GBP a year. The wifi stopped working on some trains (I know it is a first world problem), yet what I am trying to say is you getting less and less service for your money. And the price is probably going up by 2.4% again next year. So whilst the train companies get richer, we get poorer and have a worse service. And no choice. We can’t switch providers or drive, really. I heard of the first few people that had to stop working in London as it was too unreliable due to the train situation. Whilst I take that with a pinch of salt, luckily most companies I ever worked for understood, it is probably the bitter reality. Is that ever going to end? Not this year, that’s for sure, but it has been ongoing for 8 months! And my latest app shows me: 1:40 in transit. Yes I work, and yes I study and read, but that’s over 3 hours a day. If you cannot plan that part of your day, it becomes quite stressful to be honest. So I had to cancel a few Christmas drinks already, and I dread leaving our Christmas party early just to be home and not stranded in London. Yes, whilst I could stay over, that just might result in a day on bus replacement services due to weekend engineering works. Not taking any chances at the moment, and I cannot win with Southern.

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After my temperature last weekend, I stayed at home on Monday, without working, so I rested up. Tuesday I felt a bit better but if I compare the status of my wife’s virus with my stage, I won’t feel much better than I did on Monday for another week. Never mind, I just have to get on with it. I hope for the sake of the office that I am not contagious (don’t think I am, otherwise I wouldn’t go in!), and that my output isn’t affected too much. By about 3 pm my brain starts to shut down and needs some relaxation. 10 hour days don’t help I suppose. Fingers crossed it lasts! So whilst I am loosing a bit on the health front, I am also winning. And from mid week things felt better, and I even managed a run on Friday. Fingers crossed this was the last bug of the year!

Yes. I am winning. I am winning in the game of life. You know how I can tell? On Wednesday I had a day off (still having to use a few days before the end of the year) and I attended R’s nativity play. This was great. He was a Robin 🙂 The engagement from his end and the looks, and the shared breakfast, the play time at night. The boys love me being around. When I was travelling a lot to Europe, I didn’t see them for a few days but then worked from home for a day. They loved it. On the other hand, I now see them daily but for less time. Keeping the balance is difficult and the ongoing discussion with my wife is, whether it was the right decision to move out of London. We agree, it was, and that the current state of trains just don’t help the situation. We will get over it, and I will be able to win even more. Life just needs to fall into (the) place that it aligns with your values and proposition. With Jen hopefully going back to work soon and trains hopefully getting better, we should be in a much better place already come my birthday. The big one, you remember 🙁

Anyway…On my day off I decided to spend the afternoon with my friends and meet a start-up. I am crazy, I know. I love doing those advisory roles and helping people and discussing options. That’s what I enjoy doing, yet I was home for just after dinner, time for bath and bed time reading. A full on, full rounded day off. If I had felt any better, and the weather would have been warmer, I would have thought of having some good food, wine, chocolate and maybe a cigar. I haven’t had a cigar for a while but feel like it might be time to have one again – post bug, post cough. We shall see what Santa Claus will be having in s(t)ock for me 😉 But seriously, being able to just have time and not hurrying. Not worrying which train to take. To not worry and just wander around. To relax and spend quality time with the boys. This is nice, relaxing, healing.

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A friend of mine launched his business this week. Amazing. I have known James for many years and it is great to see that he is very open about his experience, his life and how he came up with what he launched: Measurematch. Another mate published a post on how he set up his own consultancy three months ago. It is fantastic to see how more and more people setting up their business to service the community and help others to understand the complexity of what we are doing. Something I think isn’t actually that complex. Latter is what I discussed with mentors, the knowledge just isn’t there and I feel like nothing is complicated but we have done it for a few years, haven’t we?

Another highlight of the week was that I finally passed my ‘Life in the UK’ test. Yes, the test that I need to become a British citizen. I studied for it in the summer but wasn’t allowed to take it as I didn’t have the right ID (mine was expired and cancelled and whilst they accept expired ones, they don’t accept cancelled ones). So I got my German ID card which took a few months and I studied for the test again. I passed. It was harder than I thought. Some of the questions were completely different to the app that I relied on. Yet I also used a different app before which I believe saved my life. Anyway, it is done. I now wait for my ‘residency permit’ to be approved – this was supposed to take 8-10 weeks but has now been ongoing since early August and should not take longer than 6 months. Then I can apply for naturalisation. Subject to waiting times, I assume at least another 6 months, I should be a British citizen by end of next year. Why I want to? Because I think that I will always live on the island. That I will always work and live here. And I like to be able to not worry about Brexit and what is happening with Europe. Yet, I also keep my German passport. The best of both worlds I suppose.

Today we were supposed to meet with an old uni friend of mine and his family. Unfortunate they had to postpone last minute. We never spend enough time doing those kind of days. We don’t take enough days to just wander and chill. See comment about about not being rushed and hurried. To meet friends. To carve out time for longer than a pint. To not worry about everything else going on. We should. We should stop every now and then and take stock. Smell the roses – I haven’t used that phrase for a while. Apologies if those posts are less inspiring at the moment, but the winter blues has set in. The mad rush to Christmas. There are a lot of things to balance. We try to finish as much as possible before and then realise on the 23rd that we can’t finish it all. That’s fine. We then postpone and go and have a good Christmas break. I will be working a couple of days, catching up on a few emails, some reading and conference videos. And I will wander, I will take time off with the kids and chill. To rejuvenate.

Hope you are planning your festive break and life is good for you!

From my little corner of the world, have a great week ahead!
Volker

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Sunday Column (414)

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Life is heavy going at the moment. I am loving it though, or do I? Of course I love it? Where do I start? We had a great weekend with my folks, discussing some heavier topics. Guess that’s what you do when parents reach a certain age. Then Monday I felt rubbish. The virus that has been lurking around hit me hard. I should have stayed at home but went in instead. Result was that I worked from home Tuesday trying to rest up a bit. It helped so by end of week I was back on the treadmill. Still not 100% but 100% better than Monday. Then last night a temperature hit me, I felt rotten most of today. I guess it is end of year and I am running on empty a bit. Lots to do, lots to sort out before the end of the year, and not much time left. We will be ok. I envisage myself to sit there on Christmas Eve with a glass of wine in my hand, looking back at the year, and smile. And to be honest I will. I know I will. There are some other challenges going on I cannot speak about in public. Things I have seen and experienced before, but to see them with closed and loved ones gets harder. They touch you differently. It is different. But before you panic, it won’t be as bad as it might sound. Sometimes it is difficult to share things here which I cannot speak about as people might interpret it the wrong way, so don’t even try 😉 And just when you think you got things aligned to work through, someone hit our car at the car park and made a runner. WTF is going on? It feels a bit like I cannot win, which makes me even more determine to succeed. In ALL aspects.

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So what’s the exciting bits at the moment? My book is almost there. I’d say end of year is the time I publish it on Amazon or find a publisher, who knows. Yes, I am very excited about it. Another deadline to become more British. I signed up for the next attempt to pass the Life in the UK test. Actually it seems rather simple (touch wood) once you lived in this country as long as I have. It makes sense in the process, yet the first time around they didn’t accept my ID. So the pressure is back on and I am planning to do it all before Christmas. Fingers crossed. Another step closer to Brexit and Naturalisation. A friend of mine is considering to leave the UK, another one already has. Theresa is aiming to negotiate better deals for European Citizens to stay and vice versa, British people to stay. There is a lot of insecurity in the air, making life a bit daunting. Hammond fights with the budget, as more people getting self employed to evade taxes. I totally get all that, yet I couldn’t leave Britain. I love it here. I consider myself more British than German. And where would I go? Even the wife isn’t considering NZ anymore, so it might be Hassocks for a while longer. Or Bali as a friend suggested, but I have never been. That is, if Southern gets their train services sorted. Whilst I had one train this week being early, next week the drivers start striking on top of the conductors’ strike. I guess I will be working from home a bit, and the economy will suffer more. Southern is so sh*! The only silver lining are a compensation of one month rail ticket and delay repay for 15 minutes delay. Wow, that means I can claim every other train! The next weeks are going to get tough train wise but we will survive. Think Christmas. Think wine.

The kids are excited about Christmas. They wake us up early and ask if Christmas is happening yet. Bless. I thought they might have got behind the Santa Claus story by now. But they haven’t, which is really nice. Of course I could do with a lie in rather than being woken up at the weekends but who am I to complain. An afternoon nap in front of the fire sorts me out.

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I look around the train, then out of the window, as I started writing this post, and the houses on my early commute and a touch of frost covers most roofs. It looks idyllic. Life is great. There are millions of people that got up this morning, thought it was cold, put the heating on and a cuppa. However, then I am thinking of those that are not. Not getting up, not getting a warm cuppa. We are in a very fortunate position where and how we live. And in times like these, when winter blues sets in, I keep reminding myself of it. My wife said she read a ‘rubbish’ article suggesting the world comes to an end in 10 years time (see quote above). Let’s assume for a moment that this could be right. What would that mean for you? What if you once of a sudden had a deadline to miss. Would you pack your bags and live your dreams? And if so, what are your dreams? What is on your bucket list to do in the next few years? What is the plan if it fails, either the world coming to an end or your dreams. I don’t believe that dreams can fail. You don’t want to look back in ten years and have regrets, do you? If the prediction fails, you would just go back to what you did. You cannot loose. It is not possible! So you would try and do what you should and most probably succeed, as your energies align positively. Wait for my book!

As I am sitting on another train journey, studying and reading, I think this was a good year so far. I am in an amazing place with amazing people doing some outstanding work. I feel I am making a difference, and touching lives for the better. That’s amazing. That’s fun, and it gives me a great inner satisfaction. As I am getting older, I am more intrinsically motivated, a discussion I had with one of my staff this week. I blink against the morning sun and see the world go by, listening to my favourite tunes. Life is actually quite amazing.

Have an outstanding week. Touch some lives. It makes you feel great.

Best,
Volker

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