Sunday Column (312)

Two months into the new year. It has been a busy start with an acceleration towards end of Q1. I just came back from a trip just to go on to another, then another, a bigger pitch and an exciting conference plus another trip. Wow, the next few weeks will be busy. Good busy. 

I enjoy the travel, and have written about it at lengths. They are a bit of an escape and an opportunity to carve out disconnected time. Disconnected time you usually don’t take, as I feel like I am constantly connected, 5 am to 8 pm. That is wrong, no question, and I will deal with that over the next few months. It affects my sleep and downtime, however I have big goals for self improvement this year. Losing weight, changing my diet, running up the South Downs are part of a bigger picture. And I started. 9.9K up the South Downs, down to almost 90kg from 95 at Christmas. Dropping chocolate, snacking and disconnecting more often is next. 

The main challenge I have at the moment is tiredness. Whether this is the 5 ams catching up with me or the vivid dreams, the disconnectedness or some other stressful things in the back of my mind, I am not sure. Getting 7 hours of sleep should surely be enough, yet the animated, vivid dreams are what seem to crack me up. No nightmares but processing things way down my past history. I believe there is a certain stress factor with challenging times across my life.

A computer generated image of a chain with a broken link.

What I mean by that is manifold. The above mentioned travel and associated business at work cause a strain of course. Don’t get me wrong, it is good and I enjoy it, but life is coming with some challenges. I have some challenges outside work I don’t want to discuss here, but it never pours, it rains. Life is good though, with those precious moments; and we should never forget that, I get reminded when going to bed and seeing the little ones’ blanket off, when you pull it back over their tiny bodies, hugging them, and enjoying the moment to feel so close to them. To be able to teach them gratitude and to challenge the status quo. To build their own vision yet pursue their dreams, regardless of money. I want to be able to support them to do that. 

Those moment you can perish. Enjoy the hugs, and hug them a bit more. Sharing the love. When you, out of the ordinary, take their warm milk to their bed in the morning. When they wake up and smile at you. The smile saying that, I love you dad, and thanks for me being able to stretch in bed and drink my warm milk whilst waking up. The love you feel. The satisfaction you get from them being able to have some special moments. Small things in life.

And when you set up the first computer profile for your son to use the computer. And you explain him what a profile is. And you ask him to find out about which games he plays in school, and what he likes to do at home on a computer. They are growing up so fast. My parents always said you have to be 12 to use the computer. But things change of course, technology and exposure to it accelerates dramatically. Mad.

The ever accelerating spiral of technology advancements. The connective-ness and strain, faster moving world, pressure to perform, reply to emails quicker and deal with more in shorter time.

That is it for the week. My WordPress doesn’t show me the visual editor, just the html one, so the post might look out of order.

Love and Kindness.

Volker

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Sunday Column (311)

I started my week with some travelling. Frankfurt this time, just in time for “Rosenmontag”, the night of carnival in Germany. Neither my client partner nor I had this on the radar yet we managed to get three great meetings out of it. I also flew with a small airplane from City Airport and enjoyed the more “elite style” flying experience. This wasn’t because it wasn’t Easyjet, I love my Easyjet, but more because it seemed to be more intimate, 2 seats each side of the gangway, closer to the sky somewhat and faster. The City….

Once I arrived in my hotel, I realised the higher standard leads to the hotel being a bit more complicated. The computer system, the room service, the housekeeping…..oh dear, I am just made for simpler things sometimes. That includes simply customer service, like Marks, but that is now all solved too. Just a shame you need to kick a fuss to get attention :-(

In the hotel, I got all those things for comfort I don’t need, and I miss those simple things I am used to, like decaf instant coffee. Working in start ups for most of my life, being brought up on modest pleasures. Yet it was a great stay for one night and I didn’t end up in a hotel in the red light district, so that’s a bonus. That’s what could happen when you are working with external booking agencies that don’t know the country ;-)

Carpe Diem

I enjoy travel, and believe that you should feel comfortable when you stay away from home. It is a burden to you and the family. However, I am still a big advocate of spending a night or two away from the family sometimes. It makes your heart grow fonder as they say, but it also gets you and your partner some ‘me time’. I usually get more work done and write more posts, work on presentations etc. Shutting off the screens when travelling seems to be harder than at home, as you are out of your routine. Your weight bench is replaced by “own resistance” exercises unless you got a gym in the hotel you are staying at. Soon, I am contemplating of taking my running shoes. All depends on the length of the stay.

This week I finished another book on Steve Jobs and Apple. Working off a Mac now on a daily basis for two years, I couldn’t go back to any other system. It just works. I am waiting to upgrade my iPhone as the battery life on mine is appalling, and I am contemplating of replacing my iPad sometime this year to upgrade after about three years. Hmm, we shall see. I used it mainly as a kindle and for mind mapping, then as a laptop replacement at home. I could do all I do there on my laptop but if you are in confined spaces on a plane or train, you end up preferring a smaller device. Decisions decisions.

Whilst this week has been a bit of a roller coaster ride too, I will write a more detailed post about some other developments later this month. All is well, and sometimes we just have to be very grateful for what we have. I have experienced a deeper connection to my loved ones recently and a an urge to spend more quality time with the boys. I feel like time becomes so precious if you start thinking about it.

Overall it was a good week. Work has been busy too. I have been thinking a lot, laughing a lot and continued with my framework of “no drinking days” and exercising despite travelling. Or at least in moderation, and that is a good thing Food wise, I managed to order a kid’s portion without chips to keep off the weight. No need to eat a big meal before bed, is there? Just by being more aware of what you drink and eat, you can keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle without the need to overeat, put on weight and ultimately being unhealthy and unfit.

I also managed my first 9.5K run outside (my calves and shins are still hurting from the hill up to the South Downs) in 54 minutes. For a first time this isn’t too bad. For me, 2015 is about positive change. Better healthy diet, better exercise, outside running, more quality time with the family, more balance at work. I am making progress on most points.

We need to enjoy life, yet in moderation and balancing the good and bad days, without beating ourselves up.

With these thoughts, have a great week.
Volker

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Dear Marks….

I have been a bit peeved recently with Marks and Spencer. Since we seem to be unable to communicate via phone or Twitter, here is a copy of the email I just sent.

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Hello,

I am fed up to put it outright. I tried helping you to help me but I came to the conclusion, that Marks and Spencer, once known for best customer service, just doesn’t seem to care.

It all started on Valentine’s Day. I got flowers ordered, as I normally do for every occasion, normally always do via Marks, but then I got an email at 7 am telling me that you aren’t sure whether you can deliver on the day? What is happening there, I thought.

Your customer service didn’t answer until 8 am, so finally I got through and the lady said that she could neither confirm or deny that the flowers will be delivered in time and if they haven’t arrived by 7 pm I should call back. I said that this is useless as I am not going to wait until 7 pm to find out that, potentially, the flowers won’t be delivered, as at that point I couldn’t go out and buy new ones. Whilst she clearly said that she got my point, there was nothing she could do, as the order was processed and she couldn’t stop it for a refund.

As she got my point and she then couldn’t do anything, I asked to speak to her superior who wasn’t available but according to her “would call me back soon”. I waited.

By 10 am I figured it would be good to double check. The rep on the phone said that the flowers are out for delivery and reassured me. Also, someone from the management team would call me back within 24 hours. So by 10 am Sunday 15th.

The flowers arrived. Beautiful flowers, wife loved them, great! Thanks. The quality and service I expected. But why the hassle and email misleading me, causing much aggravation?

I thought I can wait 24 hours. By Monday I hadn’t heard. I aired myself on twitter, and @marksandspencer got involved. I emailed my order number and email address and still no reply. Finally on Tuesday, so 72 hours later, I got this call from Fiona. Missed it as I was at work. Called her back as I was on the airport and she wasn’t available. Asked for her to call me on Wednesday.

Of course that wasn’t passed on and someone, I don’t think Fiona, called me when I was about to take off in a plane. I tried to be as polite as possible saying please call me back tomorrow. Your rep however insisted the account is in my wife’s name. NO, I said, we cleared that up on Saturday. The flowers and all orders go to my wife’s name, but I am the account holder, cc holder and so on. You must be calling because of my complaint, I said, so please call me back tomorrow.

It is now 8:30 pm on Wednesday. You could argue 108 hours past my first contact with Marks. The issue isn’t about the flowers anymore but that neither your twitter account (and I just aired my frustration to them again) nor the lady from yesterday or anyone has been in touch. You could have sent an email saying “when is good to call” or tried calling again.

I am now under the impression that Marks and Spencer quite frankly doesn’t care anymore. Yupp, that’s it, I think. My wife’s birthday coming up. Mothers day coming up. I spend on average probably around 30 GBP on flowers, 60 GBP spend elsewhere. Plus lost opportunities moving forward.

Shame?

Not for me. In this day and age it is so easy to change supplier. To move along and go elsewhere. Less guarantee on quality and less guarantee on … oh wait a second, the customer service aspect has not been true this time. Whilst for everything else I bought at Marks, my sofa and chairs (which we could argue about the quality), the customer service was outstanding. Returning my shoes in the past (and I wear shoes from Marks since 2006 I’d say), my underwear, jackets, my wife’s underwear, suits, jumpers and of course stuff for the kids…..why would you want to annoy me.

I guess you don’t. I guess you just having a bad week. We all do. Yet…..what are you going to do about it.

Likelihood when you try calling me again this week I won’t be able to answer. I am busy. So are you. So are we all.

Email me, let’s arrange a time to sit down and talk.

Aren’t we both grown ups?

Yours faithfully,
Volker Ballueder

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Sunday Column (310)

lk rohan colin rohan volker geenee nanee goodis ome oallp croopesh volker ule volerstela and stooit kasdon and rcaila rosee lilee

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I guess that is Colin’s first blog post. Can you spot your name, Judith, Michela, Krupesh, Oma, Opa, Karsten, Stuart, Stella, Rosie, Jenny, Lilly…..and Nanny of course. Not only did he win a prize in football this week, his brother turned 4 (officially), our neighbours got locked out, I had a doctor’s appointment I didn’t like and also I got a new filling, had to go to the dentist. And the dog went crazy, work was challenging, but overall as I am sitting down to start writing this blog on Friday night, I am content and happy.

Why? I keep asking myself what makes me happy and content?

I guess it is about accepting the challenge that you cannot change things. Things like life plays with you. Whether that is the wrong label from Amazon or the flower delivery on Valentine’s Day. The minor things or the major things.

It is the challenges in the job and the progress I make on a daily basis. Really enjoyable work. A great company, exciting space and of course it comes with challenges. And I love them. And next week I will be travelling again, then every week until Easter break. Will see the family less. Yet, I look forward to it, evangelising the world for 2nd screen TV Sync.

On top of that I have a fantastic, engaging family. I worked from home a day or two, was home for bathing, got lots of work done on the days as I got less disturbance and wasn’t held up in meetings, and can balance work life. Work is dominant, of course, after all that’s 8 hours a day, yet being able to relax for 10 minutes, tickling your youngest, or having a coffee with the wife makes life and work nicer. A great benefit of our company.

lifebalance

Being able to live where I am, and how I am. I am managing my early morning, exercise before work, breakfast with the kids, walks with the dogs and long extensive country walks with the dog at the weekend. How can’t you love that? Helping the neighbours to break into their own house (as they locked themselves out), being able to light a fire, have a glass of wine and just relax and feel at home. I am very content and happy, can’t you tell :-)

Now, all of above of course comes down to personal taste, personal development and feelings. And there are things that throw you off that balance sometime. But one has to believe that things are good, don’t we. Own circumstances, external influences, love and connectedness, contentedness and knowing what you want. Shared love, values and a strong partner, valuing my wife for Valentines of course. Life takes its course, good or bad, and will continue. Being able to stop, internally, put the screens aside, the disturbance and breathe in, breathe out, enjoy the moment with the dog and the fire, the taste of a good red wine, a good book or movie, the escape or the push forward….all that is key. To a balanced, healthier life.

I strongly believe I have the best framework in the world, receive the best love I can ask for, have the right job and challenges, and seem to balance it quite well, with being in the moment.

Yes, I am just lucky. Why wouldn’t I be?

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (309)

Early February and if there is no other event than family birthdays that determine February, I don’t know. My dad and my auntie have their birthday, my cousin one removed (?) and of course my wife. It is Valentine’s Day too.

But the biggest birthday, yet smallest in numbers yet, is my youngest son’s birthday, at the same day as my dad.

It is a date and birth-day I won’t forget in my lifetime. It was at the peak of my social media career, just when I moved from (search) agency to media provider, that Rohan was born. Well documented on Twitter and Facebook, he didn’t make an appearance until late at night or early morning to be precise. Quickly he came, and I thought I had all the guts to hold him, would be a confident dad having my second son.

Instead, I was numb, curious yet scared to hold him. Him who one day shall succeed me, be ‘king of the castle’ and carry on the family traditions and hopefully will have kids himself. How could I be scared? Have I not done it all before?

Yet, and most people who have more than one child might agree, the second one is always easier and within a few hours my non confidence was overcome by routine. Cuddles, nappies and calming him to sleep. The ones with more than two will most probably be laughing yet for me, two were enough (work). I am very proud of both of them. Started teaching the older one chess, and both how to behave.

Looking back this week, celebrating his birthday party this weekend with 20 kids, I am amazed how a four year old can be such a charmer, friend, clown and serious person at the same time. Cuddly yet stirn, curious yet determined, angry and pleasant.

Where has the time gone? Where will you be in a few years time? Will you be the monster truck driver, the police man, the fire fighter or just the charming little man I see today? You probably grow to be taller than your dad, smarter and more driven to achieve your goals. Coached by me, nurtured by your mother, I think you might turn into a superhero after all ;-) As long as you be yourself. I will ever only be guidance but you need to live your life and make your own decisions.

Whatever that means for you. Running away with 14, world travel with 16 or elite university with 17 – I don’t mind. As long as you are happy, content and value the right things, the ones we teach you and the ones you come up yourself. Things you value in your life. A healthy mix of traditional and new values, and we hope you retain your charm and openness. Your trust and caution.

Rohan, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your 4th “anniversary”. I cannot tell you how much I love you and how much it means to me to get those incredible hugs from you. Making up for the missed very first one. Every single day. Every single birthday. As long as I can guide you.

Love,
Dad

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Sunday Column (308)

Last weekend, we missed a birthday party of a dear friend, however had a lovely visit from a friend who was very keen on seeing Rosie. It reminded me of what I always thought would happen when you get older: people coming over for lunch, you have a hearty winter lunch on a Sunday, then you head out for a long walk with the dog, come home and put the fire on. Then of course you fall asleep on the couch. I think I always envisaged Sundays like that. But maybe the consume has taken over, the bargain hunts, the Tesco deliveries and the exercise schedules, kids’ birthday parties and doing all those things you don’t have time for during the week. The social pressure really.

I am busy, and try to stay busy between the hours of 5 am and 7 pm but then it is all ‘down time’. At least the couple of hours before I go to bed. I trimmed my beard down and I am not sure if I like it yet. I am not even sure I keep it. It is February too. We are getting out of the January blues and into the winter months leading to hopefully an awesome warm spring that will ignite the fire within us. My mood is changing between winter blues, midlife crisis and an utter urge to drive things forward in life. It is this inner urge a lot of people don’t understand. It is awesome really.

Dry January: I will published a post about dry January on Linkedin tomorrow. But I made it. Despite a client meeting on Wednesday, a conference on Thursday and drinks I had organised for Friday, it wasn’t until Saturday, 31st of January, that I had a glass of wine. With a small one on Friday to ease me in though ;-) Very determined. I kind of enjoyed it to be dry but it felt silly at times to give something up you enjoy and which gives you relaxation.

Having said that, I shed half a stone, which is also diet related, and listened to lots of podcast episodes in January. I had more time to do things, concentrate better and probably saved a small fortune. Moving forward I aim to have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as dry days. Which means it leave me with Thursday through to Saturday with drinking days. Maybe I can swap the odd day and keep Sunday a flexible one. Having said all that I am meeting a few friends for drinks on Tuesday ;-)

Never mind, unless you really want to give up drinking, it doesn’t really matter. Drink responsibly, have a few days off and avoid too high alcohol content as well as too fattening drinks if you want to keep off the weight. Red wine, however, is just fine :-)

janus

Also, in January, I managed to do a lot of blog planning for tidWOWs, my productivity blog. With the publication of my book chapters I am up to middle of the year for content. The aforementioned podcasts I am listening to about personal development, productivity and life hacks really encourage me to keep going and write more about those topics. I enjoy researching them and started looking more into nutrition, food and weight loss/gain too. There should be no topic one cannot learn if you put your head to it. And currently, understanding which foods are great for my body and which ones aren’t, which ones make me fat and which ones don’t, how to rightly train to gain muscles vs. how to train to get bulky, is a keen interest of mine.

January. There we are. Named after the god Janus, the god that could look into the future and the past at the same time. The month we look back to the old year and the month we look ahead into the new year. I used to be part of an environmental youth group called Janus, trying to look back what damage we had done to our environment, trying to predict what was in store to save it. Those were the days.

But before I get all sentimental, have a fantastic week, enjoy February and … I can now rise my glass to a fabulous 2015!

Cheers!
Volker

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Sunday Column (307)

This weeks started off with bad news that I need a new filling for my tooth. It would be the 4th time this tooth gets done, and the 3rd dentist doing it. Wish me luck, the date is set for early February. Then I went to Amsterdam for a conference, but due to the lack of early flights on Tuesday, I had to go on Monday afternoon. Never mind.

However, it gave me the chance to watch the movie “ROAD” which is the story of the Dunlop brothers. I’d like to use this to reflect a bit on life and living:

I never heard of those guys before but since my wife forbid me to ever get a motor bike again, and I used to have one back in the days, I was quite interested in their story. This movie got my memories flowing. The memory of sitting on my bike, helmet yet barely any other protection flying down the roads in Denmark. Cutting it fine around tight bends in the alps through snow, wet conditions on windy, narrow roads. Almost causing or having accidents. The adrenalin of chasing one’s fear, testing one’s limits. I enjoyed it. I was able to enjoy it as the only person I really had to think and care of was myself.

But now I understand my wife; the fear that the kids might one day have a motor bike. However careful they would drive, it is the others, the surroundings that could kill them. And we know about that. I knew of it back then and ignored it. And I knew of my mother lying awake at night when I was on the road, on the bike. How awful would a worst case scenario feel, or the constant fear. I’d rather not think about it.

I remember that one afternoon in Ireland, I was ahead of my mate. I saw a light going across the road in my rear view mirror, it was raining. A truck honked and flashed its light. I turned around. I expected the worst case which luckily didn’t happen. A few scratches when my mate didn’t make it around the bend. Not his fault, a pot hole. Pot luck I suppose. We celebrated life that night, a few drums and thinking about how short life could or could have been. That was then. Hungover we continued the next day. Visor shut, brain turned off. We were flying down the country roads again. No fear.

You see some pictures of me of those days then (excuse the quality). That was then. A different me?

I enjoyed those times, yet I don’t wish them back. I had some bad experiences, crazy manoeuvres. We lived it and rode it, close to the limit. And we didn’t even have very heavy and fast machines.

No, I think I won’t encourage my boys to go into any extreme sports. Whether this is road biking, mountain biking or motor cycling. It doesn’t really matter, any extreme sport has its risk. Of course some more than others. I got quieter by now, wiser I like to think…

Just this week my youngest, who isn’t yet four, looked at someone smoking saying “you are going to die”. We have to be careful to not educate them to the other extreme either I suppose. My eldest decided to take his few pennies from his secret money stash and donate it to Africa. He even got a head teacher’s award for it. They both like watching me exercise on the treadmill or doing my weights. How do they come across to others. Is it in a good or patronising way….questions we have to face as parents. Amazing the influence you have on those lives.

Anyway, enough thoughts as a parents, and a trip down memory lane.

Have a great week!
Volker

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Sunday Column (306)

Another week. At time of writing this post, second time around due to the WordPress app not saving the draft, I am sitting on a cold carriage on the 7.29 from Brighton.

This train became famous this week, as it was in the press. I have been complaining about it a lot before, that we always arrive 10 minutes late, but rumours now have it this train is never on time. Even the Prime Minister got involved and journalists flocked on the train to interview people. Allegedly it is on time less than 30% of all journeys. A bit appalling.

It leads me to my most favourite subject, which I was trying to avoid. The train system is in shambles. Worst about it, at least to my mind, is the reliance on the train. Whilst I believe the majority of the population commutes by car, the ones that commute by train, and particular for an hour or more like myself, need to rely on it. With close to a month’s salary this service is not worth what we pay for. The constant rail fare increase without the felt modernisation isn’t fair or value for money, whilst we are stuck without alternatives. And I suppose that is where my grief comes from: I have no choice but to use a highly priced service that doesn’t offer value for money.

Maybe a lifestyle change is in order? A local job, working from home or for a sole online business? Not being able to rely on trains, on a service, which you are dependent on, e.g. you don’t have an alternative for, is crippling. We are in 2015 not 1896.

Never mind. It sometimes makes for good yet boring and repetitive conversation. Sometimes, you get more work done before you arrive in the office. But no 9 am meetings. I am restricted by my train company. The argument of course is to get an earlier train which there are two: one leaves 9 minutes earlier and arrives 10 minutes earlier but is totally full, no seat and standing only for an hour. The one I take has plenty of table seats, from carriage 2 downwards. So quite a luxurious travel in comparison to some services (see, it isn’t all bad). The other direct, earlier alternative train is 50 minutes earlier, yet somewhat it gets me into the office too early, I miss out on breakfast with the children and would have to restructure my whole day. Of course, a train in between would be great, but I don’t say that because it is necessary but because the late running of our service makes it a necessity almost. In other words, bring the “7.29” in on time and we are all happy or make it 10 minutes early to arrive late on the current scheduled time?!

I guess this week was about trains. Much better than the draft I had before. Next week my air travel starts again. Also, whilst physical transport, my physio seems to pay off with less problems and pains during my 10K runs which I do twice a week. It all moves in the right direction.

steve jobs

I have been up early to do the physio and do it regularly, together with my weight training. I am back to the weight I had 6 months ago! It comes to show that routine and habit is what drives a base line efficiency. I will cover more about that over at tidWOWS in due course. A 5 am start followed by some gentle physio and a bench press session whilst catching up on productivity podcasts set me up nicely for the day. The only drawback is that the kids usually wake up the moment I finish showering, so I am missing almost an hour of early morning writing and meditating. Having said that, to spend the first hour of your day with the two most important people in the world is something I am truly grateful for! I can always work on the train… I very much enjoy the time in the morning. As it happens they sleep longer on the days I take the dog out for an hour in the morning, so it makes me question if they might know?

So back to 2015 and the now. I am pushing forward. Productivity, meeting A-Players and thinking about the future, defining the strategy, my strategy. I am refining my strategy. Improving. Pushing further forward. Becoming and being an A-player.

Life is good. I enjoy what I am doing, the space I operate in. This was a good week!

Have a fantastic 7 days ahead of you, make sure you make the most of every single one.
Volker

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Sunday Column (305)

The first week back is always a struggle. Changing from a 6 am lie in to a 5 am start, new physio exercises, new weight routine and the blimming man flu. Got a few 8 hour sleeps to recover and feel like the week has passed by very quickly. Managed 10K without too much pain at the weekend. Struggled a bit though, coughing and all. But needed to be done.

So besides the car playing up and needing repair and the usual commute, a busy start at work and lots of meetings, there is not much to report. The family is well, the weather was mostly ok but we got some rain and I didn’t miss the booze at all. Drinking is all about habit, having a glass of wine at the fire at night instead of juice. It’s not that you need to have it, and if you did that would be a big problem I suppose.

Regarding the car: we also, additional to last year’s repairs, need a new alternator which wasn’t picked up at the major service. Dispute with the Seat garage too, trying to charge me for a diagnostic which according to the Seat website is part of the major service. Yet, the garage says they only do a visual inspection. To be continued… There is nothing more than bad service that I hate, and people trying to rip me off. Working client facing, I am disgusted, particularly after very bad experience with Volvo a few years ago. Anyway, let’s not assume too much for now.

Yet this week was somewhat funny. Amongst all the daily routine, there were calls from people, visits to people, meetings with friends and clients that suggests one thing, and one thing only: 2015 is going to be exciting. It seems like the digital world is ready to ramp up in Europe!

I can’t put my finger on it yet. Whether this is job related, money related (lottery win?), or exciting in some other, maybe sad way? But when I look back in a year’s time, I will surely say, 2015’s excitement was all about ???.

happiness

This is a good feeling to have. New year resolutions are all fine given we are a week in. That means no take aways yet, no alcohol, little carbs and some exercise at least. But that is nothing that has changed from last year with the difference of having less steak for lunch as the Christmas lunches are over. All sushi so far. I am confident to drop a few more kilos over the next three month. Bikini figure for the summer they say ;-)

Ok, enough of that :-) It is great to see how the kids grow up and being able to spend quality time with them at the weekend. Let it be experiments (Colin got an engineering kit from Oma and Opa for Christmas) or watching Tarzan, cuddling because the wind is a thunderstorm, or taking the dog for a walk. Fun, shared experience and lots of love and happiness. That is what it is all about. When you are on the couch, cuddled up with two little boys and a puppy, the fire is on and you watch an emotional movie. Why not just enjoy and let go. Forget about the negativity and bad things in life.

I leave you with those thoughts as there are too many bad thoughts out there this week: the awful things that happened in Paris, the drowning of two people in Brighton over the weekend.

Stay safe! Enjoy and live the moment.
Volker

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Sunday Column (304)

The first post of 2015. Funny that. Happy New Year to all my readers! I hope you had a great start!

I will post some motivational and new year planning thoughts on Linkedin tomorrow, so watch out for another post. And, this year will see a lot more productivity and personal development thoughts over at tidWOWs.

We started off well, sound asleep by midnight, and a long walk with friends and kids in our woods around Hassocks. Afterwards we had coffees, good chats and lots of homemade chili. What a day to start the new year!

So what’s in stock for 2015? What are your plans?
We got our car repaired as it failed its MOT. That wasn’t the best start. Then, I decided, after losing all the fat around my waist, that I need to get rid of is my belly. Nothing better than starting the year with a “dry January“, e.g. giving up my beloved wine and any alcohol for that matter. Time to beat the belly. A better routine, some more physio to improve my running and a lot more focus on weight exercise to shed off the extra belly fat. Wish me luck!

Matt Cutts, ever since I was first introduced to him back in 2008, has a 30 day challenge every month. Maybe something I will consider this year. I keep thinking about it for 7 years now, gave up alcohol or meat for a month, but maybe this year I should look into doing something each month.

The idea is to let go or do something additional for a month. Whether this is giving up booze or writing a chapter of your book every day or just not checking Facebook for a month: it is entirely up to you. Making a difference to a fellow human for a month by helping someone on/off the train or across the road. We shall see what I am going to do this year and if I am working with those 30 day challenges or just add things to my motivation in order to lose weight. The other big aim is to get even happier, more engaged with my family.

The aim of all of my efforts in 2015 is to become a better family man whilst not losing out on my career. Balancing the ultimate home experience with the best work experience. Hope that makes sense. And part of that is to be more in the NOW, more engaged with the kids, be healthier and fitter (and setting an example). Actually, I just want to take the status quo to the next level. Modest as it might seem.

life life balance

So balance is the key word for 2015. I anticipate some exciting times in my job and career in 2015 which will challenge me to stabilise that with the family time. To balance the train journeys with todos on and off the main job. Having enough family time whilst also having me-time and wife-time, ensuring friends and family are catered for. Whilst I am not the most popular person in the world (or am I ;-) ) – I do like to be sociable and hence need to prioritise how to spend my spare time, and with whom. Due to these constraints I have decided to not continue as a Rotary member. Whilst it breaks my heart as I am strongly believing in the good that Rotary offers, it was a decision based on travel, work and home commitments, paired with the thought that Rotary will still be around in a few years. Maybe I join the local club post retirement.

All of that will lead to the decision on our holidays this year, and maybe a new car, some home improvement works but nothing like last year. Who knows what we can afford, needs doing and how to progress in 2015. Without a crystal ball it is difficult to see what is going to happen.

So there is to 2015. A year my gut tells me will be very exciting, very positive and it will lead to something bigger and better. In other words, I will progress in life this year. If that is work or private, or what it is, ….. make sure to stay tuned so I can tell you all about it.

Have a great 2015. A great start back to work.

Cheers,
Volker

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