Sunday Column (404)

She has done it. I am super proud of my wife this week who finished the Loch Ness Marathon. What an achievement. Given she didn’t really start running until a few years ago, she has transformed her life by running half marathons, 10Ks and now the ultimate goal: a marathon.

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I have always said, I am not interested in running a marathon, yet given the achievement I have seen, maybe I am. Yes, if you follow a routine and you train hard, you can do it. Even my wife says everyone can do it. However, the mental power, the will to do it, must be there. I am a bit jealous as I had to cancel my challenge this year and I am not sure what I put my head towards to next. We shall see. Something will come up, I am sure.

This also meant I had the boys all weekend. So what do three lads do at the weekend? Take away and beers. No, maybe not beers but take away and a football game. We went to see Brighton Albion play Barnsley in the Amex Arena in Brighton. 2-0. What an experience. My first ever live football game (after almost 40 years) and the first for the youngest. The oldest watched his first game earlier in the summer in Scotland. Yet 26,000 people create a different atmosphere than the few 😉 in Dingwall. I can’t say I am more interested in football now but genuinely enjoyed the atmosphere and the joy the kids had. Luckily we had some great company to make the experience a bit easier. Also the seagull welcomed us, and my manager from my new job, a Brighton season ticket holder, helped out with some introductory gifts. A fantastic, yet busy, day. Great fun, I would certainly go back and watch another another game.

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The common experience is what we create and what we look at in years to come. That is what we remember. You remember when the first McDonalds came to Detmold, Germany in 1986 (?)? I do. It was a big deal for a 9 year old and a Big Mac too. That’s the most important thing in life. The stories you create in your life. That’s my priority for the kids. For the boys to engage in sports, seeing their mother running a marathon and dreaming of becoming athletes. That is the spirit we are trying to spark, not with the ambition for them to become the next Rooney, and most likely they won’t, but their engagement with positive things like sports and exercise. We have to lead children into the right direction and help them to develop and then ultimately make the right decisions moving forward. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what will make us great parents?

Productivity – as you know I am still drafting on my next book release – it is fascinating. From a variety of views, I am exploring theories. From a book I read to focus on one thing only, and ever only have that one thing that is on your mind, I realised that some of those applied techniques will make you more productive. Instead of exercising regularly on a moderate level, the BBC proved you can get better results by doing high intensity exercise. Saving you time and fitting better into your life style. Then, another book I am reading focuses on the intensity of your work. Deep, uninterrupted, work. Our attention span, as previously suggested, is below that of a Goldfish, at around 8-9 seconds. New devices, reminder, alerts and constant interruption and attention seeking reminders are taking its toll. Meditation and deep breathing exercises are helping to concentrate, increase your attention span, helping you to work deeply on your one thing. That makes sense. Productivity is intensity over time.

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I covered a lot of personal development with the team this week. I am learning how to navigate around the agency and how to say no to some meetings. I am learning how to say yes to others and how to prioritise effectively. I enjoy what I am doing and I am happy in my world. Exciting things are happening and I am managing more and more to take less work home. And I am happy. Anything else I could ask for? I have arrived. This is my destiny.

So this way my week concludes. It has been a good one. I have been in my job for four weeks, yet it feels a lot longer. I am keen on making more progress quicker. Not because I must but because I want. When you know your goal and you know you have the tools…don’t you want to build your house quicker? Yet it needs to be sturdy, properly and lastingly build to withstand stormy weather. It will. Watching the100 (see earlier post for reference), I truly believe we as human kinds are ones that survive. Our species is build to move forward, to succeed and survive what we do. Because we like winning and achieving things. Most of us do.

There are always two sides to each coin. Being with people that only see the positive and better side of the coin spurs me on.

And then there was this light on Friday. An autumn morning, a light that just makes you vibrate, to embrace life. A life that gets you moving, motivates you get things done, to live and to actually embrace our little but foremost reason to be on this planet: To live, to give to make a difference and help others. The opportunity to grow and give back to the system, to mother earth if you will. I am writing this as I watch the sun setting over Gatwick airport and the South Downs as I am on my train home. The intensive sun with an energy that makes you soak up every drop of light prior to a long and cold winter.

I hope we’ll have more of those days. And Friday was a very good day. A day to look back at and think if life is going to be like that, then life is ok, isn’t it? Let’s be grateful.

We are winning!
We are giving.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (403)

What a week! It ended with a walk today where I took this picture:

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Never know where your path is leading to. Yet you have to trust your intuition and faith. Take massive actions towards your goals. Be you. Succeed. You will be ok.

However, the week started with an amazing Adtech event. ATS, Exchangewire own Ad Trading Summit, which I have been attending since the summer of 2010. Ciaran put on an amazing line of speakers, insights and discussions around the real time bidding, programmatic advertising technology market. Well done! This was amazing. An industry get together. A catch up with publishers, suppliers, vendors, media owners and tech heads; geeks and friends. This year felt special, as I find that the industry is growing up, and maybe because there were a few acquisitions announced or talked about, a big tech IPO due soon, and all of those rumours bring the excitement back. dmexco is the largest global online and digital market show. It’s predecessor used to be a competitor show to one I launched and the founders of dmexco once offered me to join them for a sales role. Maybe I should have….hindsight. Anyway, 10 years on my friends have done very well and it is the second time this year, in the aforementioned 10 years, that I haven’t been to Duesseldorf (OMD) or Cologne (dmexco). That’s ok though.

My focus has changed. Not only do I feel more UK focused, I also feel more inward focused, both from a job and a personal perspective. I feel like my new job and challenge is what I was seeking. It is something that uses a different part of my brain, makes me use my intellect and people skills, yet has less pressure on sole revenue figures. Less travel. More home time. Less email strain. More fun. It is a change, and I openly say it, but it feels right and a change for the better. And I am not only saying that. I am convinced this is the step in the right direction. Thanks for the opportunity!

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When you, like me, see an industry growing up. Changing. It feels great. When you are told that you put companies on the market and my name is in line with ‘TV Sync’, it is nice to hear. I achieved something. I made people rich, as someone said, but I also made myself rich. Not in terms of cash but in terms of experience, in respect to contacts and reputation. I am thankful for that. And whilst this sounds like a bit of a funeral speech, I am looking back at my career and feel like I have finally arrived. It has been a good journey, and it will continue to be amazing: that I am sure about. I feel a lot more balanced and content. Isn’t that a good thing? And I haven’t really started yet, have I? My careers is only started, the most important part has just begun.

The remainder of the week flew past. Meetings. Training. Pitches. Management. Kids up late. TV watching the100. New trainers. And on Friday: the Apple Watch. Wow wow wow. Steve. You would have seen a predecessor of that beast. I feel like 2011. When I researched tablets and realised the only device that does what I want and all others are modelled on is the iPad. When I searched for fitness devices 18 months ago I could find the one that was right for me. Garmin was the closest but it wasn’t wearable tech. Now with the Apple Watch I have the fitness tracker and wearable tech in one. I was waiting for it. What a treat. Given I only used it for a weekend, I am impressed by the technology. I mainly used it as a fitness device and still figure out which other added value it has, besides being a gadget and makes me use my phone less often for things like checking the weather, emails, timers, stock market and so on.

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And the kids? The kids settling in well in school and enjoy the time with the child minder. The wife started her journey back into work. Life is changing once again. It is a good change, feels like we are growing up. As a family. We went to London this weekend too. We can do things. We can experience things together. The boys understand it. They gain from the experience. It is a joy. We went to London Borough market, a bit crowded and more touristy than we remember it from 10 years ago. Then the underground and DLR to the Emirates cable car. Did you see my live video on Facebook? I was a bit scared to be honest but enjoyed the day out with the kids. When they wanted to buy books, yes physical books, I couldn’t deny them the educational piece, could I. Back home via Victoria with a bus. Yes, we love living close to London. Next time we are eying up the London Eye and maybe a river boat journey. We shall see.

And during my meditation and walks, I every so often get reminded to not take things for granted. To treat each moment as being precious. To be sure I cherish the love of my family. To be thankful for what we have. What we can give and the difference we can make. The responsibility we have for our life and the life of others.

I meditate on it often. I am feeling blessed and truly grateful.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (402)

push-yourself

It is still dark outside. The street lanterns aren’t on, yet the air is hot and muggy. I haven’t had breakfast. Which sounds like a normal start for me, giving I am up early anyway, was the start to my day on Wednesday and Thursday. A quick weight lifting routine followed by my meditation, a mad dash to catch the 6:30 train. Conductor strike, so any train before 7 am should get me a seat. And it did. Still a mess. I cannot understand and will never understand the unions. I am grateful for my job, my opportunities given in life and just want to get on with what I am doing. So why do others impact the life of thousands of people to fight for what they have or haven’t got. Isn’t that almost comparable to terrorism, where a few mad people impact the life of others to alert people of their situation? Maybe a strike is less radical. However, same selfishness. Anyway, trains operated better than anticipated, let’s move on! I can change my routine for a couple of days. I am winning.

What does it mean for me? Inconvenience. But foremost it means that I haven’t seen the kids after their first day back at school. Can’t kiss them good night. Cannot chat with them in the morning. This strike made me change my workout routine. Some might say ‘poor you’, but hey, can I not expect to get the service I pay 4 grand (that’s 4,000 sterling!) for to be half way decent. What a fuck up! I could expect a bit more.

The challenge is that we work within our thinking boundaries. I mean, we decide how far we stretch ourselves. We are in control of our feelings and ambitions. So when we are going into the strike thing, we know that we are out of control. We play their rules and we are winning. Still. That’s achievement. That’s making it happen. We need to always look outside our comfort zone, make things happen, go some places. I effing love that. Push yourself daily!

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But let’s move on. The commute got better in another sense. I treated myself to some new wireless Bose noise cancellation headphones. The main difference to my old ones is that they are wireless. It is easier to wear them, walk around in them and connect them to two devices at the same time. I am shutting off the world around me if I want or listen to music. Yo Yo Ma is a classical cellist whose CD I bought this week. Steve Jobs himself allegedly said to him ‘you are the closest proof of the existence of God‘, as he is an amazing musician. I enjoy him playing Bach, yet I seem to enjoy a lot of things Steve enjoyed 😉 I don’t believe he has been gone for almost five years, which is when my love relationship with Apple started.

This week wasn’t different. After my car manufacturer, Skoda, revealed an SUV which is our car on stilts, I am keen to see in real life and maybe exchange ours for it in a couple of years. The new Skoda Kodiaq looks really nice and seems to have the space of our car. However, my other brand, Apple, revealed new products this week.

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Whilst the innovation around the iPhone 7 and it finally being water tight are nice, the main thing for me was the watch. Water tightness, particularly using the microphone to keep the water out. GPS. So finally a smart watch and fitness tracker in one. The wait was worth it. I ordered mine on Friday. 8:01 🙂 It is mind bobbling to see the advancement of technology. About 20 years ago we worked off computers that had less features and speed than the watches we can wear on our wrists. That’s amazing. If we fast forward 20 years I would be curious to see what our kids wear, or when we retire. An implanted chip that communicates directly with our thoughts? Probably.

I try to embrace it all but sometimes it goes to my head. I wonder what is going on in my kid’s mind when he wakes me having nightmares. I see the world, in my job this is most noticeable, from a different perspective. I enjoy that very much as the input and learning are so very different. So by using technology and trying to understand what is going on and what is possible, we are pushing boundaries. I am trying to encourage the boys to think big. I said to the youngest that someday he might just go to the moon on a train as he said he wouldn’t want to go in a rocket. And he might. One day, a flying train, might just get him there. And he asked about gravity and why things fall. I love those questions and trying to encourage them to think outside the box. What if they would just come up with a little bit of technology that will make all our lives easier and better, this planet better to live on. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Nelson Mandela said, that the most powerful weapon in the world is education. That must be the key to mankind. Educate. Educate your children and encourage them to learn, to think and question. And to push boundaries. To expand their horizon. To make a dent in the universe.

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Whilst Apple, no doubt, is a big corporate, the Steve Jobs thought of changing the world seems to still be there. Changing the world, making amazing products people like to buy seems to be a call for the engineers at Apple. Details like the above mentioned microphone that pushes out water, or the ear buds that work only when they detect your ear based on temperature. They are pushing boundaries. I like that.

In that sense, have a great week. Push your boundaries. Question every day if you can do a little better in what you are doing. Be better. Learn a new skill or optimise your day. Make it happen. Take massive action.

Have a great one!
Volker

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Sunday Column (401)

andre agassi

I am reading Andre Agassi’s biography. It is a good read and in one of the chapters this week he said that when he finally ranked number one, he didn’t care. If I say he didn’t care, what he meant is that he had to tell himself to be happy. Inside it didn’t bother him too much to have achieved such a a fundamental milestone.

From my perspective I understand that. I like to win. Be on the top. Be the one people look up to. Of course, most people would enjoy that. Now I don’t do that for my benefit. My motivation is for others. I am motivated by helping others to succeed and others to progress. Whilst this usually follows with the succession and progress for myself, this isn’t the main reason I am doing it. So if Andre got a nice ranking, and people wanted him to achieve that, then this is for others, not for oneself. His motivation to win is different. I get that. And people get motivated in different ways.

My first week back to work. My first week after the long summer. Summer has been great this year, compared to the last few years, and I truly enjoyed some downtime too. And we had some amazing family time this year. This week it was good to be back. It was busy, good busy, and yet it takes time to find my feet and get things going. I am trying hard, I am enjoying it.

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Last weekend we started watching Star Wars. Most people don’t believe I never watched it before, and watching a movie that is now 40 years old was amazing. I genuinely enjoyed it and we will continue the sequel over the next few weeks. Also I started watching ‘The Americans’, a TV show about Russian spies that have been part of the US society for many years. It is a fascinating watch and takes place in a time I grew up in, with the Cold War and everything. It is great to see how much has changed for the better over the years. Yet with Brexit looming, they say that they expect 140 years worth of applications for residence permits in the UK in the next 12 months. Wow. I will be one of them, as I intent to stay and therefore will go through the process of naturalisation. On the other hand I have been speaking to a lot of British nationals that are keen on getting a EU passport to have the chance to leave. Europe, the world, is changing. Let’s wait how the US elections will turn out later this year. Part of me is scared.

We also went rock pooling last weekend. I have never done that before so it was a lot of fun. We found shrimps and fish, caught some not others. We had ice cream and the kids went for a swim in the sea. Contentment. Happiness. What else could you ask for in life. It is the end of summer but I have the feeling the kids really enjoyed it and got a lot of positive experiences and memories out of it. This weekend feels like autumn already. The hanging baskets are coming down. Memories, that’s the main thing. For them it was another summer, new things to explore, doing more of the things they enjoy. I tried to wean them with new food, like cheesy garlicky bread or charcuterie, even Frikadellen. But never mind, they eventually will explore more.

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So with summer over, a new beginning at work, it seems like a new beginning overall. I am relatively content. I enjoy my life at the moment. This might change, with the wife going back to work, my work to pick up more towards Christmas, and other changes and hurdles to come our way. I treated myself to new noise cancellation headphones. I can’t even hear myself typing anymore, can connect them to the phone and the laptop at the same time and they are wireless. With Apple’s anticipated new phone not having a headphone jack anymore, things change. And I wanted to go wireless for a while.

I finally decided on a design for my illustrations in my book, using Fiverr. I used the platform before for a logo, but not sure I made the right choice this time. The discussions going back and forth. I guess I see when it has been delivered as a final version. So I am progressing on a few fronts, however the first designer has cancelled their order, full refund 🙁 Shame. I persevere.

Lastly, I listened to a podcast this week quoting ‘Discipline is freedom’. Allegedly an old war poster from the states, this quote, again, makes a lot of sense to me. Any (useful and good) habit you have, will free up your time to think, work, do things you enjoy. Essentially by being disciplined and sticking to routines and habits, you are having less time at which you are pottering around organising yourself. As David Allen says, ‘I am lazy, hence I organise myself in order to spend less time looking for things’. I am the same. I like my routines, my habits and workflows to free up time, thinking space and allow for growth to happen. And yes, I am still growing. Whilst hopefully not vertically or horizontally, my mind should continue to grow and expand. Let me make sure to challenge it daily.

That’s all for this week, have a fantastic one.
Volker

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Sunday Column (400)

400 Sunday Columns. Wow. That’s 400 weeks, just about….seven and a half years. Well done me!

dont ever give up

Holidays. Yes, we spent a week in Centre Parks, Elveden Forest, last week. It was great. I have always been a bit sceptical of holiday parks. Yet I was very positively surprised. Given you can book a week, we had essentially four full days of fun, activities and (family) togetherness. And not too far to drive either. Maybe when the boys are older we consider a bigger accommodation or we might stay longer, but a mid week break with lots of activities was just right given their age. A run in the forest most mornings, some wine at night, take aways, good (?) and too much food, swimming, going down a cyclone (check out cyclone video: https://youtu.be/yggVvOid7TI, it scared Colin and me. Both of us luckily did not know what we got ourselves into), lots of water plays, hot tubs, wave pool etc. Then bowling, owls, play parks, cycling, pony riding, adventure golf and the list goes on. Fun. Utterly enjoyed a week off and away. Spending quality time with the family.

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For many years I have not been a big fan of holidays to be honest. I am quite content sitting at home doing nothing. I did that this year already whilst the wife had the boys in Scotland. And as the boys are getting older it is nice to go out and do things. Even though they fell to bed totally exhausted most nights. But that is how it should be. Wireless throughout helped to stay connected, yet I tried to stay away from social media as much as I could. However, being able to follow the news was nice or not so nice given the earthquake in Italy. I pray for my friends and families who hopefully are fine. I start to enjoy going away and experience things with the family and find new relaxation in doing so. It is nice and great to see the kids engaging in new environments and exploring new things. I believe it is good for them, and me, and the wife of course too. Centre Parks even offers baby sitters so we had a date night too. Result! Only things that lets it down is the quality of food eating out. Yet the spa visit whilst the kids joined a Pirates’ party was amazing. We even consider rebooking for next year already 🙂 Maybe a different park though.

Above are the highlights of the week. I am mentally preparing for a new challenge, a new start of my career. If I say start, it is more of a new beginning. Already, I feel like this is the right move and things will be great. They will be different but I can make a positive change and move my career in the right direction. And, it will be a lot of fun, and hard work. Latter is what I enjoy a lot, so it is all good I think. Given tomorrow’s bank holiday, I look forward to a new start on Tuesday.

There is little else happening in my world at the moment. I am exploring options for diagrams for my new book, e.g. to outsource the drawings. Then there is still a lot of editing to be done which I hope to get done by end of year before publishing it next year – maybe. Time is the main challenge, as I have a few projects on the go at the moment. The other one is to see which or if I can get myself a toy for my 40th birthday next year. When I say toy I am thinking Porsche, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Audi….but to be honest I am not sure how much I have to spend and how much I want to spend for something I do not need, but I do want. Not sure if my common sense prevails over my appetite to own and enjoy. A fine balance to strike, and still a lot of money to earn, which then puts things into perspective I suppose. Maybe we postpone to my 45th….

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What is life all about? Fun, family and memories? Ownership and wealth? Creation and making a difference? I don’t think life is as black and white and I also think it is a combination of above. As a Buddhist it is definitely not about ownership, but about fun and enjoyment. Little attachment, lots of fun, as far as I am concerned. If you realise that, you can own too. Maybe a loop hole but there is no reason to not owning nice things as long as you are not attached to them and they are the only thing you care about. Health is sitting on top of all of this, and you cannot buy health. And if health isn’t great, you end up cutting your life short, excluding most of the above, no? It helps to drill on that every now and then and put life into perspective. And value one’s holidays. To allow the odd indulgence and enjoy life – not excessively but consciously, not knowing when it will end. Yet we must assume it won’t end anytime soon, else we will not be able to enjoy it as much. And this week we enjoyed ourselves a lot!

I hope to look back on life in a few years time or hopefully many years from now and I might even look at my blog and read this – and I’d like to think that most of my decisions and thoughts were right. And that we made the right choices for our little men and pushed them into a happy, content life! It is a balance what you say to them, what you explain to them and how. They suck up your explanations like a sponge and don’t question it at all. Dangerous sometimes.

To finish….I had a dream a while back. I was breaking into a bank and was with two friends. One of which I remember. And we stole some gold bars or tried to anyway, and got caught. Instead of going to jail we were told that we will find out in a few weeks time what would happen. So we went home. Whilst on holidays the dream came back to me. This time being anxious that I haven’t heard and they hadn’t been in touch. I was hoping work wouldn’t find out about me having broken into a bank and trying to steal gold. No, I didn’t think of nor executed breaking into a bank. But maybe that dream tells me something. About waiting for the gold to come to you and not chasing it? Of being patient and seeing the gold in front of you rather than stealing it? Or maybe it was about letting go of ownership and chasing the dream with a friend? Maybe it was just a weird dream. Any ideas?

Have a great bank holiday. Spend it with the people you love and cherish. Share your love and gold and avoid short cuts. Life is good and you should appreciate it when it is there. Don’t live the future dream, enjoy the now.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (399)

Iron-Sharpens-Iron-So-one-man-sharpens-another

Iron sharpens iron – one man sharpens another. Darren Hardy spoke about Rivalry this week. It’s a proverb. Nothing wrong with that of course, the key is what the quote stands for. Iron sharpens iron – as one iron, one man grows, the other grows too. If you are getting up every morning and have someone to fight, you want to better yourself daily to become better than the other person. You want to win. Then he wants to win too. You might become friends and you strive by competing with each other. You help each other to stay focused, motivated and push each other towards the top. Like a sparring partner. I like that analogy and think you should too. Find someone to work against, someone who motivates you and take massive actions towards ‘beating’ that person. In a good way of course, become friends and push each other to success!

A different, in between week, this week it was. I mean, it was my last week at my old work. I tidied things up, did a final hand over, updated what had to be updated and put my work and mind to rest. I reflected on the last 2.5 years. The accomplishment of putting another product on the map. The ability to put something out there in the market, position it, sell it, make it successful. I enjoy that part. There were struggles, challenges and fights but overall, it wasn’t a bad time. I had a few managers I learned from. Good mentors. It was good and I am truly thankful for the opportunity. It was also time to move on. One email I got this week summed it up. Farewell, Goodbye and Amen, as Hawkeye Pierce said in Mash4077.

Listening to another Mentee Podcast, career development is not only about money and what you do, but more about why you do it. The ultimate thing is if you can give back, and if you are able to make a difference. And I deep down believe that I can make a difference and help, support and develop myself and others. That in itself is worth the change in career and focus. Having met most of the people, it will be a fun time ahead! I really look forward to start working with my new team. A team to grow and coach. Unlocking potential and driving business forward. Working on strategies, new technologies and deep diving into some industry topics. What is there to learn? Where can I make a difference? Getting direct input from clients, that will be different. Weren’t they the holy grail to sell to a little while ago? Also, the ability to change suppliers and technologies if they stop performing. Not relying on one but more than one supplier if you like. There are many solutions that are interchangeable, so building the relationships with the right ones is key. Spotting the sales people talking BS when trying to sell you the latest programmatic solution.

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For now I still have some time to reflect. I start at the end of the month. My priority for the coming week is to spend as much time as possible with my family and give them some time back. When you get to the cross roads of your career, open a new chapter in your life, one likes to think about life. About priorities. Those are clearly with my family and the progress of my children – personally and in education. I guess for any parent, there is no doubt that health, development and happiness of your family comes first. Then it is you/your partner, and what you have decided to do with your life. Both of which will impact the main priority of course. I have been thinking about how we model our life on what we know from when we grew up and realised that over the years the technology advancement, let it be iPads or iPhones as the obvious ones, have influenced the way our children grow up. The younger generation is working seamlessly it seems with the challenges of technology and uses it to their advantage whilst we use it as a necessary evil almost. And by the time they have children, things and life as we know it would have changed again. When I was a kid I was dreaming of this big house with this big stereo in the corner. CD shelves. Video cassettes. I enjoyed libraries and always thought I would have one myself. And virtually we do. We have the videos, the CDs and books I wanted. It is still the same, yet different, and in a different format. The world is changing, advancing and nothing will be the way it was. That’s not a bad thing though.

So let’s embrace future developments. Let’s embrace change and let’s embrace technology. Let us accept change in our life and the opportunity to influence the outcome. To trust in the positive outcome. That is fun, that is helping you to grow and make a difference for the better.

Go get them and enjoy the last days of summer.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (398)

The news is out this week. It is official. I am leaving my current job, and I will be officially leaving the end of next week. I has been a great 2.5 years of exploring a slightly different angle of the industry, going through another acquisition and finding new friends and colleagues across the world. It was nice to hear just last week that clients would have loved to work with us, just because it was me. Those compliments are amazing and make me appreciate the lives I am touching, and the lives I am touched by. I am a people person, I care about people, in business and private. I am feeling flattered and it shows that sales and business relations still come back to personality first, product second. Sustainability, honestly and win/win go a long way. I was always keen to deliver on promises, and learned lessons early in my career that you don’t over promise and under deliver.

Now, the new role is different. It is still about promising to clients, internal and external, yet it is also about evaluating the sales people and technologies I have been representing in the last 6+ years! I am turning the table and apply my knowledge on the other side. It feels like I move from sales to procurement, get a lot more managerial and strategic tasks and joining a company that is on the edge to really move the needle in the space. I like to hope so anyway, and I cannot wait to join them at the end of August! I am going agency side. When working agency side in 2007, being responsible for sales, I enjoyed it and then got dragged into the tech sales, which in all honesty I enjoyed a lot too. Now I am back, with more experience and knowledge about the space, and I am excited to not pay the bills for lunch and ask those questions to sales people trying to sell me the latest tech. If you cannot summarise your solution in 30 minutes without a powerpoint…. 🙂

So the news is out, and the dates are set. I am very much looking forward to my new direction and another step in my career.

hand-over

I kicked the week off with another 25K run. I started early at 5:30 am and was back just around 8 am. It was fantastic, running with the sun rise, overlooking the South Downs being dipped into the golden morning light. Not a lot of people around and it was great to just get on. It cleared my head, made me think and came up with some solutions and ideas. Great start to the week!

Unfortunately my adidas Adistar Boost trainers are broken again after only 350K. My first pair was broken, the 2nd pair lasted, the exchanged first one now broke and I am ‘breaking in’ another pair just now. Definitely my last Boost pair, I can assure you. Having said that I went to sweatshop on Saturday afternoon and tried the new UltraBoost trainers. They are amazing, very soft and cushioned, and feather light. I am keen on getting a pair but it all depends what adidas says about whether the old pair was a manufacturers fault. Given I contacted Sweatshop 3 days after they sent the replacement, I have to take it up with adidas directly. I emailed them, let’s see, sending off the old pair on Monday. Definitely something wrong with that shoe! I did a cheeky 7.5K later in the week with the new pair of Adistar’s, just to be ready to hit the 10K in them next week again. Over are the days where a pair of trainers lasted me beyond a year.

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Then I have been back to Scotland this week. I flew up on Wednesday and then drove the family down again on Friday, with another stop over in Preston. This time the journey was a little bit more pleasant as traffic was better then going up. So we arrived on Saturday morning. Enough time to get the washing on, settle back in and be home again. It was good without the family but it is even better with the family! I missed my two boys and my wife of course. Now the cats pester the others not me 🙂

Also it marks my last flight for a while. At least my new job won’t demand me to fly regularly around Europe. An era of good 10 years in a European role coming to an end. There will be travel and potentially more international ones but for now I can hope for some fewer flights and hotel stays abroad. This will be nice for a while.

Some people asked me what I did, 10 days without the family? I can tell you that much: it felt a lot shorter, as I had been very busy. Partly I was working on some forms and test assignments, and on the other hand I made progress with my book. Yes, I now need to find the best way of drawing up some nice graphs, put the overall flow together and get it finalised. The end is in sight, early 2017 I should be able to publish my new Productivity on Life book. I thought of calling it #bebetter but feel free to come up with better suggestions.

I also found a lot of time to watch TV, movies, chill out and read. It is almost weird to be able to organise your own days and work around your work. Not sure I ever watched that much TV in a long time. And I also ate healthily, didn’t drink a lot (besides the stag do without a stag at the weekend in Brighton), and overall got a lot of chillaxing time in. A holiday as it should be on my own terms.

Now, having the family back is great. Catching up on 10 days of excitement and experience with my boys is fantastic. Almost a lifetime at their stage. The next break is with them, and I look forward to sharing experience with them too and maybe give the wife a wee break too. Life is hard, yet beautiful 🙂

That’s about all folks. I love driving the new motor, particularly the cruise control that breaks on your behalf and then accelerates if it can. Just like a self driving car.

Have a fantastic week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (397)

bright side

I have been to Scotland over the last week. A long drive up, a short and delayed flight back. I love Scotland. It is a peaceful country. It feels kind of rough and you feel close to nature. Whether that is the rain, the cold or the rocks and trees. It is an outdoor country where you don’t necessarily have the weather to be outdoors much. So the coal and peat fires go on. The heat from the natural resources keep you warm. You are close to the heart of yourself, the earth and close to what’s happening deep inside this planet. We did a 25K run which was nice too. Very connected to the elements I have to say.

That’s how I feel. I also felt a bit detached from civilisation. Whilst of course Tesco is still there, same products and offers, which gives you the consistency you are not necessarily longing for, there are a lot of new things. Paying with Apple Pay got a reply from the waitress that ‘this is the first time she has done this’ or looking at the mobile phone reception, you might think you are somewhere in the bush in South America. Other than that, it feels so good to be there, and maybe it is because of these isolation that it does.

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I relaxed a bit. My MIL helped with the kids, I had snoozes, was cooked for and enjoyed some down time. I shared my bed with my eldest and he was literally heating the bed whilst outside it was down to 3 degrees. Yet it was bright light at 9 pm at night. So when I came back to London it was dark at 9 pm, I thought of putting the fire on and with the drizzle it felt like October or November even. Autumn arrived, the summer is over. Yet we managed to have a great sunny day out on Saturday – boy’s day out.

So I chilled out on the flight back, to turn on my phone and got a message from someone on Facebook. Nothing too uncommon but that I haven’t spoken to her for 21 years. If I say I had forgotten about her, some memories came back. We met 21 years and for some reason she went through some old stuff discovering my name, looked me up, and got in touch. That was rather nice. A blast from the past. Sometime in 1995 our life lines touched. We then went off in different directions. She got a kid, I got kids, I got married and to be honest, the past 20 years, I probably forgot who she was, and this is not meant in a negative way. I am fascinated by those stories of people that come to your life and the reason they do. Some show you a different side to yourself, sometimes you help someone and sometimes you just have a fun time together. So it is without offence that I forget about people sometimes. I discussed that with a friend this week, that we both had friends we tried to find closure with. A few years ago I sent out a couple of letters to reach out to people, thanked them that they were part of my life, and that I never intended us growing apart without clearing some things. Some never got back to me, and of some I don’t even know if they ever got my letter. That’s life I suppose. Life’s little stories.

ppl in life

This week was very productive in terms of getting a lot of reviews done for my next productivity book. No, it is far from being finished, yet I made some progress this week. Now a lot of tidying, adding and stuff to do. But my hope is that by end of year this should be finished. Fingers crossed. All depends on undisturbed time I suppose, which is getting less. There are so many plans moving forward and life will change a lot. But it can only get better, as things always improve in life. Things change for a reason, and those reasons are always worthwhile. I have been meeting up with interesting people over the past few weeks. Again, everything happens for a reason, some reasons to be discovered further down the line. Job opportunities, product discussions, industry discussions, chewing the fat, discussing life over lunch and wine, partying even with friends. I am having a great time. Every now and then I am in the position to reach out to my network and give back and receive. This was one of those weeks, amazing people!

People are fascinating, so is life. It seems a theme this week, which makes me think how much I appreciate the life I have. The people that are close to me which I miss. The people worth dying for if you like and the people that are close to me, part of my life, and the ones, like above, who came into my life. And I could fill a whole life just to speak to people and philosophise on things, but then I have to focus again on everyday work, and do what I have to and what I want to do. That’s happening too. And then you bring focus back into your life and push back on some meetings. You naturally prioritise.

And I guess that’s how we all live our lives. Bound to our own little back yard, own little circle of friends which every now and then expands. And you suck a few new ones in the circle and you get sucked into other people’s circle, and then you continue as you were. A pulsating way of extending your horizon and circle of influence. I am pulsating. I am breathing. I am alive and I am enjoying my life and my circle of influence and friends. I appreciate you. Thanks for being part of my journey.

Have a fantastic week and make the most of the summer!

Volker

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Sunday Column (396)

image

The end of July. Wow. This year flew past. It is Thursday when I start this post, and this week passed quickly too. I don’t even know what I did on Monday. Amazing, and good to see I am busy. There are so many things I need to be sorting.

Let’s see. I updated you on my job situation last week. More updates to follow, once hopefully things get a bit clearer, once people are back from holidays. Emails are quiet. News sites are quiet. I keep writing my own news on Linkedin, so if you haven’t seen my articles there, please have a look. Holiday season means slow response times, no decision making. Hey, keep looking forward, enjoy the quieter time, and some of the nice weather. It will get busier before you know it.

In Germany we call it the Sommerloch, literally the summer hole. No, nothing rude, not an a*hole, but the hole the press and everything else falls into when it gets really quiet. My FT is getting smaller by the week, and the content worth reading too. Hibernation almost. I did notice that I got more tired, but a few runs sorted me out again. Some more sleep would be good but too many things are going around in my head. Summer hole. I like that term. It reminds me of home, of the smell of grass from the fields, the freshly cut one. The one they collect later on in the year for hay. It is like the beginning of Autumn, my most favourite season. I know we make it to the end of the year. Things are moving forward. When I grew up I didn’t have hay fever. I now seem to have some allergy. Things are in constant change.

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Talking about change. I noticed this week in particular how change is affecting fast growing organisations. I wrote about it a while ago that when people join organisations at the early growth stage, and they then evolve and these people leave, they might leave with a bad memory. Yet a lot of companies then attract new people. I overheard at an event a few weeks back, that someone said ‘how could you join this company, they are not doing well’. I don’t ever say that about any company. And this is not in regards to my current situation. But companies go through changes and if one person leaves, others transition in. It might just be the right opportunity for them at the time, and works very well. They grow with the company probably for another 2-3 years and then a new group of people transition in, the new old ones out. Only bigger cooperations can afford to job rotate you every 2-3 years, and only a few hang around to grow with smaller companies and continue to have an interesting job for life.

That is one of the reasons of digital staff turnover. Too many small to medium sized companies grow too quickly. Some people cannot cope with the amount of change or like more stability. Some people grow and some outgrow a company, growing personally quicker than the company. Then there are changes, and it is very common. Whether that is redundancy, voluntary leave or head hunted to another position, doesn’t really matter. But this change must be managed very carefully. Companies who do, are the ones that survive, grow and outgrow competitors.

No this picture isn't really the way we live in Scotland ;-)

No this picture isn’t really the way we live in Scotland 😉

So when I am speaking to companies about jobs, I don’t only look at the job. Given my experience I can do most senior jobs unless they require a very specific skill I might not have. Equally important for me is due-diligence within the industry. What is it like to work there? How high is the staff turnover? And if high, why? If low, why? What are the points of differentiation? Are we onto a winning organisation? What are the values represented within the company, what do they stand for? I am a people person and my next step needs to be right. Above is just one example of a whole array of questions and talking points when discussing jobs and positions. With the change of guard there are opportunities and they might just be right for one person and not right for another. That’s what makes our industry so exciting.

In the meantime I spent a fantastic weekend with the family in Scotland. I love being in Scotland and enjoy the Scots, their mentally and the fresh air. No kidding. 15 degrees, slight drizzle and some fresh sea air. Nothing beats that. Whilst you looking out of your living window, across the Black Isle, having a coffee, the peat fire on and think about the things to come, the things to accomplish. You hug your kids as they wake up. You makes sure they are happy and you think, that this is now the only thing that matters. Everything else must wait. Everything else is secondary.

I cherish those moment. The moments that fully fill that summer hole for me!

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (395)

Has this week finished yet?

IMG_6281

Yes it has. We won 3.60 GBP in the lottery. Must have been a lucky week. And warm it was. 30+ degrees, little sleep, a cold and some runs. 25K runs this week and then a minor operation on Wednesday. All back up and running again 😉 But running has to wait until mid next week.

It was a busy week. Ups and downs. Despite having some time off for above op, it was very stressful. And the main reason, as outline below, is that I am in between jobs. That’s probably the best way of putting it. But more below.

Sometimes it is helpful to reflect. To see what is happening and good to chill out and come down. Reflect and take stock. What is happening, what is working, what isn’t. Where have I gone wrong lately? What has worked well lately? How can I improve?

Life shows itself in various ways, and sometimes one has to let it happen. One has to lean back, take it in and enjoy the ride. I am trying, and sometimes it is easier said than done.

How can I improve myself has been a major topic of mine for a long time. Personal development. Productivity. And just when I end up thinking that most things have fallen into place, I am where I am, and ready to learn more, to conquer the world, to make it happen. Then things seem to fall apart again. Can you win?

Yes, you can. Believing. The end is near, life goes on, and you are unstoppable. You can win if you put your mind to it and if you believe you can. What if you changed your whole life, take a side step in your career, or change your career entirely. You will make it work, no matter what. And it is exciting, isn’t it? Lean back and enjoy the ride that life has in stock for you. It always works out in the end and that for whatever reason the universe decides.

Driving is a new feeling, as I found out earlier in the week. I took the motor for a spin, and boy, not a sports car, but the difference to the Alhambra is immense. I am loving it, and looking forward to many fun years with it. Until of course they bring her/him out as a SUV, next year allegedly. Now, maybe I change the lease then 🙂 Having flexibility and fun in driving…I feel like life is back in town. The struggle of starting a career whilst having young children seems over. To the next 10+ years of my life. NB: I am not 40 yet, however statistically I am at the point where my career and life should really take off! I believe it will.

enjoy the ride

But seriously, the last few years have been functional. Family, small kids, the right child seat, the functional car, etc. We are now moving on, out of the baby stage into a more fun stage with the boys and at the same time we are in a position to finish the house renovation, make our life the way we want it and offer a good life to the boys. Yet, we are also looking around how we can increase and improve other people’s life. And that’s important to me, one of my values in life. I would like to spend more time on that moving forward.

The highlight of the week was Thursday. School leaving assembly. Yup, my oldest finished primary school. Wow, at his age I only just started school. He loved it. And I found that he was very mature in ‘moving on’ from it, very functional about ‘I am not going back, ever’. Guess he got this unemotional side from me, yet I did shed a few tears when one of the kids started crying as he didn’t want to leave school. Bless. They are at a fantastic age. Now on to 6 weeks of summer holidays.

In other news:
I can now say that I signed my settlement agreement at work, in other words, I am leaving my current employer. I cannot talk about why and how, but in the public domain it is known that the company decided to change the way they offer the service I have predominately been selling. The service I evangelised for them over the past 2.5 years. Hence I am now seeking new employment, the next exciting step in my career.

Feel free to contact me with ideas or anything you think we should discuss. You will understand that I won’t speak about any details here, for legal and professional reasons. It was all amicable in the end, so all good, it always is. They will do well as a company, I am sure, and I am confident things will move on for me too. Fingers crossed. For the time being I help to wind down the current product and my official end date will be confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

It isn’t the first time I took redundancy. Relocation of offices, changes in structure, product and politics have lead to redundancies in the past. It often happens in our industry and I can say that I know many people, see last week’s post, that took redundancy. In other industries this is being seen as a problem, and most companies rotate employees every 2-3 years to avoid people getting bored, but in our industry redundancies are very commonplace. Acquisitions, change of strategy, start up and growth companies, changes in direction….are all too common in a young and dynamic space.

So where does that leave me this weekend?
I am dwelling on a few things. I am thinking about a few things. I am moving forward. I don’t dwell on the past. I am excited about what is there to come actually.
Because I BELIEVE. I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I know that things work out in the end. That’s the key and as long as you believe that, and trust in the universe, things are going to be ok. They will always work out. Believe in the universe sorting you out.
Positive Energy creates Positive Energy and causes a ripple effect.

If you can be bothered, have a look at Anthony Robbins “I am not your guru” on Netflix. It is a documentary about his five day workshop ‘Date with Destiny’. What he does is very simple, and yet very effective. By using a variety of techniques, and a lot of love and emotions, he shows people their real value in life and why certain situations in life haven’t worked out for them. Together with his team of coaches he transforms lives for the better, for good. For some this might be too much, or a bit cheesy, for me it is a great example on how someone dedicates his life to transforming people and making this world a better place. Amazing.

So this summary shows that a week can be very varied. On Friday night I met a few folk for drinks. London. Ale. Friends. It cannot get better than that. We spend a relaxing weekend with the family. The kids are off school. I am trying to find some peace and wind down. Getting my wife’s cough 🙁

Breathe in, breathe out. Life is good. And it goes on and on and on….

Speak next week, no doubt! 😉

Volker

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