Sunday Column (297)

This week’s highlight was my trip to Germany. Not only did I attend some really great meetings and a fantastic conference for work, but I also stayed over for a night to catch up with my old fraternity friends in Darmstadt, south of Frankfurt. This was for the first time since 2006!

To get there I treated myself to a 1st class rail ticket on the German ICE train. I was very excited and it was fantastic. Matter of fact, as many people asked me when I write my posts, I am writing my column on the train just now, to be published on Sunday as usual. I got WIFI, I worked, I chilled out and got a lot of thinking done. I enjoy rail journeys (no, not the daily Southern Railway commute) but overall, I find it quite relaxing. And compared to driving, this is much more chilled out and you get so much more done. Fantastic really.

Fraternities, mine is Corps Franconia, sometimes have a bad reputation. Yes, we used to drink a lot, and yes we are very good networkers, high achievers and usually a bit more conservative. But we are a band of brothers for life, friends for life, as we all stood at some point for the same ideas and values – and most of us still do so today. We are not in any way discriminating against anyone, have many members with a variety of political views, integrate our women (yet they can’t become members but there are sole women sororities too), accept foreigners as members and we do NOT tolerate any racial discrimination of any kind plus would never accept a member with extreme views (either way). So we Corps are good.

Our network is globally yet based on the time we spend together whilst studying in Germany. Our principles are around personal development, growth, and success in a career. This of course can be defined by each individually. A community, bonded by common experience (academic fencing) which is compulsory. We have all done it, from our 19 year old members to our 90 year old members. It is something special and difficult to grasp for someone on the outside.

Coming back to the 125 year anniversary and seeing old and familiar faces was great. A unity and a great event catching up with ¾ of our120 alumni. There aren’t many clubs where you meet the majority of members over 15 years since you have been an active member. And the bond is stronger than ever.

But never mind, enough about that. As of this weekend we were allowed to take Rosie, our dog, outside. Finally we can tire her out, get her used to noises, smells etc. and get her to learn that there is a world outside the house. Exciting times once again. I am glad the baby stage with a dog only lasts a few months rather than years. I cannot wait to start running with her in the morning and getting her to be my “running buddy”.

Work, I have to say, was fantastic this week also. It shows the 2nd screen market is really taking off. I have written a bit about it over on Linkedin, and I can see very exciting times ahead with the cross screen/channel tracking. Isn’t it great if you enjoy what you are doing? You never work a day in your life again ;-)

So I am thankful for what I have. I enjoyed Germany, and nothing like coming out of an agency to meet a good friend from the UK having a meeting just after me with the same agency. That cannot be coincidence. Things happen for a reason and when I was sitting down with some of the guys for dinner on Thursday, we could just feel that the real stuff is just to begin. There is an exciting buzz in the industry.

I leave you with those thoughts, and the idea of more to come, more to look forward to whilst being really grateful for what we have.

Amen.
Volker

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Sunday Column (296)

This week I feel like I have been there before. When the baby (puppy) cries, I roll over and wake my wife, or vice versa, and one of us attends to Rosie. Taking her to the loo at 11 pm, 1 am, or 3 am. At 5 am it is my turn. I am getting up and whilst Rosie needs the loo and some entertainment, I have breakfast whilst doing some work. That’s fun, yet I can’t exercise as I cannot let her howl in the corridor waking everyone up. Soon, in a few months, I will be able to take her for a run in the mornings. I cannot wait.

In the meantime I go running at night, and did 3x10K this week – that is if I a not watching Twin Peaks. If you are the generation I am from, you were either just old enough or just too young to watch it. I enjoyed watching it as a kid but don’t remember much. It was more for my brother, I was 13 at the time I believe. Just maybe a year or two too young. Now, revisiting it with my wife (who was definitely too young ;-) ) I enjoy watching it all over again. However, after watching the pilot and the first episode the other day, I did dream about it. A very intense, old school David Lynch movie/series. I really enjoy it!

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It is bizarre watching a movie without internet, mobile or smart phones being present. People smoke in the movie too. That is odd, besides the “80ies” hair styles (which of course are 90ies). Yes, I guess I am getting on a bit. And my most favourite quote so far: I like my coffee black as midnight on a moonless night. Yupp, I am getting a Twin Peaks geek I suppose LOL. Also, Colin commented a bit about my wrinkles, and me getting old and all that stuff. The old charmer ;-)

Rosie, on which most attention is focused on, has now had her 2nd jab, which means we can take her out between one and two weeks from last week. So soon we can get her socialised and walking her for 20-30 minutes. Things are improving and her baby stage won’t take as long as with human babies, so we will be alright.

Looking back at half term, particularly at the weekend, I come to the conclusion that there are two important things for me at the moment. One is to really put my phone away at the weekend unless I am going out or having down time. Down time is defined as not spending time with the kids or when the kids are occupied elsewhere. Playing Lego or actively engaging with the kids for 2 hours each day on the weekend is key. They love me being around and I enjoy unwinding from work with them. This of course is normal yet I do want to do this much more consciously as they really deserve as much attention as I can give them. It is part of the effort to enjoy every moment, unfiltered and without distraction. Living in the now and making it count. Each and every time.

So the forthcoming weeks, or 45+ days to Christmas going to be passing quickly. I am travelling again a few times and also stream line some processes and workflows prior to year end. That will be done with some help of a new employee which I am looking forward to welcoming shortly. This year has been great in terms of development for me and the product I am evangelising, and it has once again shown how I can scale even smaller products across Europe within 10 months. I have done it again :-) I enjoy what I am doing and getting better at presenting and placing companies at the heart of the European adtech industry. It is a lot of fun.

I will have my yearly review of course at some point around Christmas and will have some guidance and help over at tidWOWs about goal setting, new year resolutions and how to achieve what you want to achieve in 2015. Make it your best year ever. I am confident it will be.

In the meantime there is also a lot to achieve on the private side of life. Besides the aforementioned time with the family, I plan to attend a fraternity meeting I haven’t been to since 2006 (!) and spend some quality time with my wife; I also want to increase my exercise output and decrease my “bad food” input. That as a balance should see me out in a good way of making 2015 my best year ever too. Stay tuned.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Is it Winter yet?

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@southernrailuk #railchallenge 2015

Ok, as most of you know I commute from Hassocks in West Sussex to London Victoria. I try to do that 3-4 times a week and work 1-2 days from home (or try to work from home as much as possible to avoid the commute).

If on average I have 3 journeys a week, this means 6 journeys, of which the morning journey is on average (!) delayed by 10 minutes. The evening one is between 5 and 15 minutes delayed. So on average I have a 20 minute delay a day, accounting for approximately 60 minutes a week, 1 hour.

In 2015, given we have 365 days, taken off weekends (104), holidays and working from home days, leaving me with approximately 200 days of commute. Given I am travelling, there are probably only about 150 journeys a year. Not too bad. However, if I am delayed 20 minutes on those (150 return journeys, 20 minutes for each return journey), I look at 3,000 minutes delays.

3000 minutes = 50 hours = 2.08 full days or one working week.

On Twitter, I just asked @Southerrailuk for a #railchallenge, asking whether they reimburse me my annual travel card, currently just over £3,700 (GBP) (!!) if I am delayed on average 20 minutes on 400 journeys (200 return journeys).

Maybe I am missing something in the Maths, yet either way, I am happy to agree on either a minute number on average or an average time of delay for each leg or for a return journey. Happy to discuss staggering it, e.g. bringing in tiers of reimbursement based on average 5, 10, 20 minutes delay?

Either way, given cancellations and recent delays, I cannot loose. It is a safe bet!!!

Now the question is, will @Southerrailuk be up for it or not?

Watch this space as I report about the #railchallenge 2015!

Yours,
Volker

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Sunday Column (295)

It is November. Time keeps flying and only another 6 weeks to Christmas. Wow. I just had a week off with the family. Nothing was planned but staying at home at half term, taking care of the puppy, spending time with the kids.

Having a puppy is great yet hard work. Potty training, entertaining, particularly if you cannot take it for walks yet. Chewing on anything, playing with the boys’ toys and generally just wanting to be entertained. A 3 year old too forceful, and a 5 year old too shy with it. We made a lot of progress and in less than 2 weeks time we can take her for walks. I cannot wait.

What I enjoyed most about the time off? Getting on top of things like putting away the firewood for the winter. Cooking. Sleeping. Running. Sitting in the living room, putting the fire on at 4pm, having a glass of wine, chilling out, trying take aways… Not everyday though ;-) Doing some minor DIY things. As mentioned, thanks to the dog we couldn’t really go anywhere for long.

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We managed to clear the loft out a big. Old toys, cloths and baby stuff. Something I was looking forward to for a long time. It feels like we made the cut, we moved on. We don’t have babies anymore. We have two boys that are growing up. Now we got a puppy. With 8 months they should be ‘grown ups’. So from mid next year I can say that I have a 4, 6 and 1 year old child. That’ll be nice ;-) And the cat. Yet it has to be seen if Hänsel will hang around. And the wife is talking about dog number two already…let’s see what is there to come.

In the meantime I focus on the NOW. The very moment I enjoy spending with the boys and the family. Building Lego, going swimming, polishing the car or tidying away the firewood. Whatever it is and whatever we can do as a team. It is nice to create shared experiences. Things they will remember for years to come.

And in a subtle way you teach them about life. That the old toys from the loft going to people that have no toys. That cannot afford toys. And that there are people that don’t have hot water or warm houses in the winter. Those little things we keep forgetting and we must remind ourselves and our children about. Every year, coming to Christmas, I reflect on where we are and what we can do for others. And I do want my kids to be involved. In school they teach them Africa doesn’t have any money. But it isn’t only Africa, it can be in your own country too. We too often forget.

But don’t let me get too sentimental. After all we still got six weeks till Christmas. And then another year will commence. I got the feeling 2015 will be a year full of positive changes. I can’t put my finger down yet but anticipate that whilst a lot of things change, for better or for worse, we will see a very positive outcome from it, even if this is still years away for us to realise.

I also managed a great MTB ride and a few runs. So trying to stay active.

Have a great November,
Volker

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Winter may come

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Sunday Column (294)

There are few joys as great as having a baby. You do the poo duties, you don’t sleep and you have to teach them things over and over again. Let me tell you, a puppy is not much different. At night time a puppy cries for its mummy, and you have to let it get on with it. It breaks your heart but after a few days it stops. No sleep, whilst worrying she might pee or poo into her den (cage). That of course happens, accidents are prone to happen. So is poo or pee on the floor, so thanks for putting in laminate earlier this year, carpet would have been a disaster. Getting up at 5 am, my daily routine, had to change. I cannot go running whilst a super hyper puppy, which has yet to get along with our cat, is jumping on and at me. So running moved to the evenings and poo duty to the mornings, sitting in the kitchen catching up on work. We make it happen. A content puppy to your feet, chilling out – after 3 poos (!), and jumping on my freshly washed pink shirt. Nice. We love her to bits though.

Wow, I got this blog post off to a good start, didn’t I. It is difficult, yet one has more experience these days, to not shout at a puppy when an accident happens. Not to loose your temper when things go wrong. Trying to make her sit or stay or anything is hard work but after a week we are making progress. It is actually very pleasing to have a puppy (or dog for that matter), this true companion that wants to sit with you, keeps you company and brings you lots of joy. And above all things, this puppy will only stay a baby for 8 months, not 3 years :-) On that note, if you are considering getting a puppy, make sure your kids are ok with it. We have one that is a bit shy/scared but makes daily progress (which makes you think that you made the right decision on adding a dog to the family) and we have one that is super hyper thinking it is a toy (which makes you think we should have waited another year). Either way, it is a great challenge for the family, a new chapter and overall we really enjoy having Rosie here. And she is more pleasing than the cat really.

Rosie

I personally start looking forward to taking her for long walks and chill out after work. Instead of sitting down and get comfy after dinner, I get some “exercise” and some nice fresh air prior to going to bed. That will wind me down after work – that is the theory anyway until it starts getting wet and windy like this week, snow and the like. Surely, I will keep you posted.

But what else happened this week? Not much compared to the above. Three conferences, lots of work and deals and trying to wrap things up before I was off for half term next week. I might have to do some work next week, just to keep on top of things, as a restructure makes me even busier than before. Having said that, I really enjoy the remit and products I am selling, adding value to the industry I work in. Great stuff! And a conference this week I do believe I made a difference explaining what it is all about. Let’s at least hope so.

As of next week I haven’t got much planned. Repair my bike, get new firewood stacked in the garage, play and train the dog, play with the kids, check the lego set for Christmas we got from eBay is complete, chill out with the family, have a dog trainer, go to the vet, watch a few movies, get a hair cut and just do all those things that need to get done and I have been putting off for a while. Like clearing out the loft. And cooking for the family. Going for walks. And I will be sitting here next week realising I didn’t do all those things I was hoping to do. But that’s life, isn’t it?

So I hope you all have a good week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (293)

The week began with watching Noah on Sunday evening. I wanted to watch this movie for a while, and whilst my bible reading days are long gone, I wasn’t too sure of the interpretation of the story. Yet it was entertaining and Russell Crowe is one of my favourite actors.

Monday saw an early start into the day and a busy start into the week. A trip to Milan, a moderation at a conference and a good catch up with industry friends – a week how it should be, making lots of progress at the end. Flying in and out of Milan is still one of my favourite sceneries, the Alps, the right light and the feeling of coming home. Just nice.

When sitting on the 652 train in the morning you realise why you prefer to get up and exercise. I bet everyone on this train will not have the energy to go home tonight after work, commute an hour, and then exercise. I am still convinced that the early morning starts for exercising are the way forward. My main bug bear I had to overcome was to be able to go to bed at 10 pm. For years we wanted to stay up longer, were forced to bed early. Now that we can we don’t – it goes a bit against our instinct.

The highlight of the week of course was the arrival of Rosie. Adding a dog to the family is a big step, a huge responsibility. Well thought through and lots of effort put in. We picked her up on Saturday lunch time and brought her home. It is like adding a baby to the family. I remember, just a week before we found out that my wife was pregnant with our oldest, we got two kittens. It changed our life then as the dog will change our life once again now.

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But what is it what we hope to be able to achieve by having a dog. An exercise partner, a loyal friend, a playmate for the kids, a companion, a friend, someone to look after. We hope to add joy and fun to the family, particularly for the boys, ridding them of fear from animals.

I had one morning this week where I was thinking ‘I am on top of the world’. That was on Tuesday. I went to bed rather late for my liking but slept extremely well. Very deep sleep, got up to do some weights and running, to then play Lego with my oldest. A chirpy chat with the station person, a joke with a mate whilst boarding the train, big smiles all around. Those are the days your confidence creeps up on you and all day long I pushed boundaries, made things happen.

Those are the days you are on top of the roller coaster ride. The days you don’t want to let go to waste, the days you are on top of the world. Then a part of our company got sold this week, good news all around, some organisational changes and more focus on the advertising space. Again, all good news.

It has really been a busy and exhausting week. But a good and satisfying one at the same time.

Let’s hope next week is going to be fine, as I am off the week after for half term.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Wee man back in Milan

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Sunday Column (292)

I start writing this post enjoying yet again the best bacon sandwich at Gatwick airport, at Apostrophe in the South terminal. Maybe not in line with my healthy eating ambitions, it serves as a treat for the 5 am start, the 4.15 am alarm. I will be back here the coming week.

This time it was a bit worse as C was up at night, having nightmares. We have been exposing him to dogs almost on an excessive basis to secure utmost preparation for the arrival of Rosie. I will update on that below. As a parent having to do manipulative work with your five year old is fine yet not if it is forced and needs to be done quickly. Never mind, things will work out at the end. I am actually a bit chuffed that my NLP and personal development work has had such a great impact on my son. A bit of anchoring and positive reinforcement, a role play and his fear of dogs was cured :-)

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After my trip to Turkey last week, I was in Zurich for a day, and will be going to Milan next week. I enjoy it somewhat but it is tiring and exhausting. I have done little exercise due to some restrictions from the cold. I also got some tape that hopefully will improve my pain when running. Fingers crossed. I did some stationary biking, the weather was far from pleasant this week. On Saturday the changing weather put me in a right pickly mood. Not good and not happy.

I couldn’t even say it was a busy week. Busy enough yet not crazy busy until Friday afternoon of course. I had two solid days in the office being able to catch up on lots of things and almost getting on top of everything – as if that is ever going to happen…..being able to let go and take a step back sometime also helps. Having support at home, someone to fall back on helps too.

Anyway, the highlight was the visit to Rosie, our German Shorthaired Pointer. It was a bit up in the air whether we would get her due to C’s fear of dogs but with my work and his brave effort to face different dogs this week, the breeder was happy. C even jumped on a trampoline with a Vizla this week and totally lost his fear of dogs. We cannot wait for her arrival next weekend which is going to be so good.

I dog proofed the fence and gates this weekend, we went shopping on Amazon and Pets at Home and make sure everything is set for Rosie’s arrival. We cannot wait. The kids are very excited and so are we. Whilst the last few weeks I was wondering how cute a dog could really be, the puppies at 7 weeks are just adorable! Seriously, they are amazing. I got all soft ;-)

It was also nice to have my cousin over for the weekend. She is really good with the boys and good to us too. Whilst I was in Zurich myself I didn’t have time to buy chocolate. She did :-) Again, this is going against the healthy eating regime but how couldn’t you ;-) Swiss chocolate is heaven. And an extra pair of eyes to watch the kids is nice too.

A mixed bag of feelings this week. Mixed weather. Yet it all worked out at the end. Another two weeks before I have half term off to really work with Rosie. You can just see her loving me already, I even ordered an extra bag of treats ;-)

Have a great week yourselves, enjoy what is left of the Indian Summer, rain and winter are slowly taking over.

Cheers
Volker

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