Sunday Column (425)

A funny, mixed week that was. Lots of things going on at work and at home. Discussions, ideas, strategies. My head was spinning most days, days turning into a big blur. After two full packed days in the office where we made a lot of progress, I went off to lovely Milan. In the meantime the team even made more progress. I have the feeling we are winning. I know it is early days, just about a month in, but it seems like we are ‘getting shit done‘. It feels good.

Ever since I helped getting Milan and Madrid off the ground for a company I worked for a few years ago, I love going to Milan (and Madrid). Itโ€™s the people, the city, the smell, the taste, the food, the wine, the atmosphere, the alps – and being able to visit my new companyโ€™s regional office there and spend some time with the guys, was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the trip, and I found it very useful and fruitful to bring things together, learning a lot too. The team is super advanced and I learned a lot.

The flight was fun. After a rough night with kids waking me up at 3 am and a 5 am pick up by my taxi, I slept through the whole flight. Yet when approaching the airport we pulled up again last minute. Another plane was given priority due to a person falling sick on that plane. Fair enough. So we turned up and around and landed on the second attempt. That was a first for me. Next week I am going to Germany, which in regards to culture will be at the other end of the spectrum to Italy I suppose. I really enjoy those travels again and being part of a bigger international team. Working in international companies is fun, and we have some very smart people in the company.

Anyway, letโ€™s not talk about work every week 😃 I spend most of my time with work, so it is good to get some downtime now and then. Last weekend I got little. Last weekend I was very jet lagged. This weekend I had to go to the Apple Store because my MacBook Air gave up on me, I cannot start it any longer. Maybe I just give it back and trade it against an Apple TV? However it turns out that the repair is probably more costly than it is worth in value, as I don’t really need it anymore. So before I find out next week, I got the new Apple TV and the kids (and I) are happy. New games, new fun. There are not many Apple products left I adore and would like to have. Maybe the new MacBook, the slimmer and nicer one, yet having an Air from work suits me fine. If I have to upgrade my iPad mini, I would potentially get a iPad Pro. Never mind, not for a long time I hope.

The main challenge is to see my boys so little at the moment. Because of travel, late trains home from work, them getting up later etc. And yet, when I do see them they seem to change so quickly. It is difficult to keep up with their development, their latest ideas on toys, their wish list for Christmas (already!), the things they enjoy doing. Although they spend most of their pocket money on toys this weekend, leading into half term. However, every night when I do see them, it is a new miracle of thoughts that are coming out of their head which I enjoy exploring and questioning. One responds nicely, the other one doesnโ€™t like it. They are like chalk and cheese, so different, so differently motivated, it is a joy to see, however painful it can be too.

Balancing their needs and mine. Wondering if I am a good dad, do I do a good job? It is a job or is it fun? What is the desired outcome for the boys? You cannot treat it like a work project. I listened to a lot of podcasts travelling, and one of them was about a chess player. He got involved in chess heavily at the age of 6. Should I push my boys more into that? Anyway, just when you think things are going well, I ended up listening to a podcast of a woman who lost two husbands and had two kids, one from each. At least I think that’s what it was, as I lost track a bit dozing off. But it is a sad podcast about a family with lots of challenges.

Those are the moments I thank the greater universe for the health we have. I remind myself to eat healthier and drink less. To look after myself and the family more. To be a better dad. A better husband. To have more time for things. I am sitting next to someone on the plane who seems to write an academic article. Should I have written a phd after all? Should I have gone into academia? I sometimes wonder but I am very happy with what I do and the progress I am making in my career. So life is good and most people I know are healthy. I am blessed, truly thankful for what I have and hopeful that it stays that way.

It has been a good week. I am content and life feels right. I sorted my citizenship ceremony and look forward to become a full blown Brit. Did I mention there is another 88 GBP fee to attend the ceremony? It really seems as if getting the citizenship is also a money making machine. Never mind, I am almost there.

Have a great week, make sure to give your loved ones a big hug.
Volker

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Thursday Flash (7)

Thursday Flash!

As most of you know I enjoy a 5 am routine. I wrote about it before:

5 am routine not for everyone?
5 am productivity booster

And I like to quote a new article I found. One critical one around a 5 am routine – Fastcompany. The author forced themselves to a 5 am routine and didn’t find it useful, yet didn’t last 30 days either. I suppose, and hence my articles above, it is down to you and how you make use of your time. It seems to work for me at this stage in my life. That of course might change.

In line with that, I do agree on a good morning routine. Again, the early morning wake up doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I have a routine. And I am flexible to allow for early morning flights or calls. But generally speaking it works if you are organised and routined. I am doing it on and off for at least 3 years if not longer. And even if you are getting up just before you need to leave the house, I bet you have a morning routine that works for you. Even if it is just to hit a quick breakfast, coffee and a wash before heading out the door.

My last article for this week is different. I don’t want to overload you with too much productivity tips. Hence here is an interesting article on AI (artificial intelligence), Ford and self driving cars. The future we will be living will be a lot different when it comes to transportation.

I hope you enjoyed this flash – forward it to other people please, and share the love.
Thanks,
Volker

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Sunday Column (424)

What an amazing week I had. I spend my week with some amazing people seeing some amazing things. As I started writing this on my flight to San Diego on Monday, I am not sure why I use a cable for my wireless, bluetooth headphones. I had to connect my keyboard to my iPad via wireless bluetooth connection. Is that dangerous? I guess by time of reading this, you will know. I am, in all honesty, not the biggest fan of flying. I have done it a lot in the past, but not the long haul flights with 8 hours time difference. Yet it seems so easy and with enough planning you keep yourself busy. Having proper thinking time, going through endless podcasts and audiobooks and preparing presentations is not a bad thing. Not being connected and constantly interrupted. And the odd glass of champagne – I got an upgrade ๐Ÿ˜‰ That also means I got some sleep both ways and the flights overall were very bearable.

All those “posh” things don’t matter too much to me tbh. I enjoy them, don’t get me wrong, but I am far too much down to earth. Hence I happily admit a tear jerker of a movie called Brooklyn which I watched last weekend. It was about an Irish lady that leaves home for America to fall in love. A simple story, yet ever so timely with Trump trying to ban immigrants. The quote at the end reads: And one day the sun will come out – you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize… that this is where your life is.

It made me think. I arrived in the UK in 2001. As my teacher always said, when I came back from an exchange year in the USA in 1994, he didn’t think I would stay in Germany. Something had changed. I always wanted to go back stateside to live. Yet life hasn’t worked out like that, and I am far from complaining about the life I have. I am very happy. The wife is happy. The kids are and don’t want to live anywhere else either. That is nice. Yet, I sometimes wonder what if things had gone differently. But then we always will. And we make people in the country we move to ours, and whilst it feels like my wife has been part of my entire life, she has no connection to my past prior to me meeting her. That is odd but yet a lifetime since we met. The film definitely hit a spot.

In relations to that I got a letter whilst I was away: I become a British citizen! All application approved and I can pledge my allegiance to the Queen in the next couple of months to then get a British passport. So technically I am already a Brit I suppose. And a German. However, I keep both my German passport and my accent. It is good to know that I am not different to my family any more and I am part of what I have been living for the past 16 years. A new chapter I suppose, but I know where my life is. It is kind of an odd feeling. On the one hand it is a tick box in regards to Brexit and my life here, rather unimportant. On the other hand, you are giving up some of your identity (without loosing your German passport or nationality) and adopt more closeness to a country you chose to spend your life in. A bit of a step to become closer to things in this country. I cannot use my excuse of being a foreigner any longer either.

In other thoughts…when I was at the airport, going out, my youngest had a small accident. He hit his head, broken his glasses and my wife took him home. Nothing to worry about. You cannot be there all the time. But it is a shame that you cannot be there yet of course it is good that someone can. One thinks of what could happen on a long journey. Maybe I shouldn’t but I did. What if… The wife and I discussed it, and yet, we aren’t worried. We are both people that get on with life, we succeed in life. And if anything might happen, this would just be the end of the world for one. The other one moves on, gets on with life. But let’s not even think about it.

I enjoyed the companies of my colleagues on the trip. I am not only saying that but I do feel home. Friends in the industry, good guys, friendly, helpful and they are looking after me. I am still the new guy, ain’t I? It feels longer than 3 weeks. It’s good. It’s fun and I genuinely enjoy the new company. It is nice to feel welcomed and at home, thinking I can add value. The camaraderie, them making me sing my first karaoke in my life and us enjoying ourselves sitting in the sun in San Diego after a few exhausting conference days. I even got a sunburn. We went to the gym most mornings being jet lagged, had some good wine but never really stepped over the line. We met the CEO who is great and down to earth. I met with lots of colleagues from the US. It was amazing and I cannot wait to go back and learn more. Some of the stuff I saw in terms of technology is mind boggling. I am very excited to be part of the company’s journey!

Then it was my son’s 6th birthday party, and my dad’s birthday too. I arrived just in time for the cake. Jet lagged, tired, exhausted, sun burned and knackered. But nothing of that mattered the moment I got the longest hug in the world. The biggest kiss, him telling me all about what he has been up to since I left. And the other one too! We cheated a bit and didn’t get him any toys from the US as it would have been too much hassle to organise last minute with the delivery and all. So instead we ordered some PJs pretending they were from the US. Never mind, when you read this when you are older you will probably kick a fuss yet understand it. And I didn’t really say they came from the US anyway. So you will understand or might not even remember. You didn’t mind and were the happiest boys in the world. Boy did I miss my family this week!

It was a tiresome week. A kick off to a few weeks travelling. A kick off to my new job. A kick off to enjoying world traveller status. A well spent week. Thank you, yet it is good to be home.

Have a fantastic week everyone, love to you all,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (6)

Flash!

My most loved articles this week, send to you from sunny California.

And since we are in the land of positivity, I wanted to share an article about positivity and culture in the office. How to make positivity go viral in your office! Let us celebrate success and help each other, be friendly and get on with it. I have to say, my job is very positive with some good vibes in the office. We got it covered (hence we have been voted as good place to work a few times before ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Another read I enjoyed is about Storytelling. As sales you want to show perceived value. And from a product and development perspective you want to package things up. On the agency side you want to tell the client’s story. I have been reading and debating storytelling with people a lot over the last few months. Hope you enjoy it too.

Last, but certainly not least, I love reading Mark Ritson’s comments. This one is about Live Streaming. You can agree or disagree with his view but his view is worth a read. On anything related to marketing in my opinion.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s edition. Have a great week and see you next Thursday!

And if you enjoyed it, please forward and share with your friends and colleagues.

Volker

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Sunday Column (423)

Loads happening this week. Late nights working, getting my feet under the table, early morning runs and getting stuff done. Yes, I had a fantastic week. Busy busy but also demanding and tiring. All good, all happening. I am enjoying myself!

My highlight, clearly ๐Ÿ™‚ , was an unexpected meeting with my old ‘boss’. I haven’t seen him for 10+ months, he was in town, and we discussed life, work and what it is worth living for. It wasn’t all sentimental, but it was. A great mentor and friend, it was so good to see him again. I know you are reading that, and hope to meet up again soon. Good to see you!

My lowlight on the other hand was the whole story around Trump. I guess that was everybody’s lowlight, no? Segmenting people because of religious belief, origin or maybe even colour of skin? I thought human kind, being German in particular, passed that stage. I don’t want a 4th Reich, another Fuehrer that ends up causing a world war. Peter Maffay, a German (refugee from Romania btw), sang in his song “It’s time” about signals show red, the piper leads you to death, it’s time to realise and look around you, all signs point towards war. I don’t want a 4th Reich, no destruction and war. I freely translated this and think it is so valid, given it was written a while back. Why….why would anyone do what Trump set out to do? I see danger ahead. I feel fear. Yet I also feel encouraged that the supreme court in the US is stepping in and ruling above the president. That’s how democracy should work, similar to the UK re Brexit. Even if the outcome doesn’t change in this instance, we have tried to make sure we are holding up our values of democracy. Yet what the US government is trying just seems to utterly wrong.

On another note, the train services are back to normal and more reliable. One day of delays but particularly evening services are going ok. It is nice to relax a bit more about getting home. Particularly when the weather is wet, cold and you just come from the pub ๐Ÿ˜‰ On the note of weather, my cold didn’t allow me to train as hard as I wanted to this week. I cannot wait for the weather to warm up a bit and me hitting the gym harder again. And I got outdoor, muddy weather, running shoes. I cannot wait to try those bad boys out either. It’s going to be a fun year in terms of exercise I think. Not sure what I plan besides the 24 hour race… but time will tell.

My biggest compliment this week: I am happy, said the wife. She has done well to get a job, so things are falling into place. We renewed our mortgage for the next 5 year on a good rate and we are sorting some other bits out. Winning I think. At least from our perspective. We are happy as a family, and love where we are living. I managed to spend some time with the kids this week, yet R was ill and it was a bit difficult around that. But we managed in the interest of all of us. I couldn’t be more on top of the world at the moment.

I also listened to Kara Swisher being interviewed by Tim Ferris. She mentioned that one of her regrets, if I didn’t misheard, was that she wasn’t as passionate about her kids/family as she was with her job. I am not sure if I am similar. I love my kids to bits, so does Kara, yet we sometimes put work first, and this isn’t right. And it is difficult to understand or for anyone to accept unless you feel similar. I know a few people like that, and it doesn’t mean they do not love their kids, it is more about being so driven in a job, that it seems to overtake everything else sometimes. It is as if you were as passionate about your kids and could spend 50 hours a week with them, it would be awesome too. But we seem to enjoy the work we are doing, and it ultimately benefits the family and kids too. I will be working on that, improve on it, being more mindful. It isn’t a bad thing, it is a thought of priority and passion. And passion is there, priority is difficult sometimes. I am on it.

And on that not, there is nothing like getting this 2 minute hug from your youngest in the morning before going to work. To chat with your 7 year old about how he solved the Rubix cube. To see them succeed and better what we never achieved. You want them to win, be part of what they do. That ignites my passion. I often think of them during the day, what they would be up to in school and what would they be playing just now. And I trust them being young intelligent human beings, making their own decisions. They are growing up far too quickly.

I cannot wait to take them to my new office. To show them around the free snacks area ๐Ÿ™‚ To let them draw on the whiteboard wall (paint) in the board room and look at all the goodies we have. They will just love it. Half term is near! I want them to be involved in what I do as I am getting more involved in what they do.

Life is good. I am happy and content and feel like things have just began.

From my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (5)

Flash! Here we go again.

Working for a company at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence, AI, I enjoyed reading this article in Adage.

We have applied AI for a while and we monitor it closely. The results are phenomenal and are only getting better. I believe 2017 is when AI goes mainstream, away from ‘simple’ machine learning ๐Ÿ˜‰

Industry predictions – I enjoyed reading Exchangewire which predicts our industry, online/digital/programmatic marketing, adtech and martech. Whilst I don’t buy it all, it is a great read if you work in the industry.

Last but not least, a personal development article about The stories we tell ourselves, had to be on the list of my articles I enjoyed reading. The narrator in your head, the one you can tame. I am reading a good book about that at the moment, about someone who started a journey to discover himself after having had a panic attack. No, I don’t think I am at risk, but being able to deal with your inner voices and inputs – let it be via meditation or other means – is something I enjoy studying at the moment.

Hope you enjoy those.

See you again next week, and remember, if you enjoy reading those articles, please share them forward.

Volker

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Sunday Column (422)

This week was rather busy. In a good sense. Learning, testing and evaluating. That’s for work and commute. My first full day of commuting and the trains went back to normal on Tuesday. Not sure what normal means anymore. I was late on a couple of days, minutes really, but at least I am now learning which trains I can or cannot use moving forward. Testing the new commute but at least my journey in London is quite predictable as the tube seems more reliable than the bus I used to take over the last 3 years. All change.

It also means I don’t see the kids that much. The youngest is up with me in the morning and we catch up, the oldest I see at night for a chat. It works. It is the life we are living with the decisions we made on commute and where we wanted to settle. A lot of other people in the business are in a similar situation. Yet, I still cannot accept the fact that Southern makes me look like I am late. It is the train ๐Ÿ™ It isn’t me, I have no control over it. Anyway.

I was asked this week what my management style is. I believe, in a new job, this is a fair question. I asked my manager. It is very interesting to compare types of companies and different leadership styles and motivations. I so love to be back on the tech side, where people just get on with their work, everyone working towards the greater goal, no time for BS. And I love managing people, in a coaching and consultative style. I want them to do well, to develop and to succeed. I am of the opinion that if people in your team are doing well, you will do well yourself. That doesn’t mean I am not controlling, supervising or checking up. But I wouldn’t want to be micromanaging; why would anyone else wanted to be micromanaged? We are all intelligent and adults, no? Most anyway. It will take some time for the team to figure things out, and for myself, to find the best way of working together and making sure things get done. It is something called ‘trust’, and that builds over time. I always managed to build strong trusting relationships with my managers and my direct reports and teams. But for the time being, we made some organisational decisions this week. Full steam ahead, I am very excited.

Looking at the news this week there were two topics. One was around Brexit. The trigger of article 50 now needs to get parliament approval. I don’t think that changes much but it shows how the Supreme Court is not afraid to step up against the government. This in itself is a good sign as it shows a strong democracy. I personally think this won’t change things, but it might cause further delays. Hopefully I get my citizenship from the Home Office soon. Then my passport. Fingers crossed.

The other news are, and my Facebook feed is full of it, that Trump does want to build this wall to Mexico. The costs are horrendous, just to maintain it they estimate 2bn USD per annum. How many families could you feed with that? We had a wall in Germany for 40 years, and it won’t last and neither should it. You cannot separate people. People are always stronger than barricades, fear and walls for that matter. I am astonished. What is next? Segregation in the USA all over again? Please don’t do that to this world. We must stand together, worldwide, for the USA not to turn into a 4th Reich. We cannot let history repeats itself and must be cautious of populist movements across the globe. I am just a little person in the world, and I know that there are smarter, more influential people seeing this already. Yet, we should not forget and everyone can do a little towards peace, community and humanity.

This video from New York sends me the chills. #alwaysnewyork

Another advantage of my new routine is that I run and exercise a lot in the morning again. I feel fitter, watch what I eat (despite the free snacks in the office) and make sure I walk a lot. It seems to work, 3 weeks into the new year, and my weight is almost where I want it, but overall I just feel better and stronger. I also revisit some of the Anthony Robbins personal development ‘tapes’ and experiment with goal setting and focus exercises. My commute allows for a lot of studying and reading again, so watch this space moving forward. Although, I need to factor more time in to reflect and take it all in. One cannot learn and study all the time without reflecting and putting it into action.

A full packed week and weekend and looking forward it won’t change for a while. I love it. And this weekend… I got my battery in my phone replaced (FOC due to a manufacturing fault); the oldest had a sleep over and the youngest was properly spoiled by my wife and I ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy days.

Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to share this blog if you enjoy reading it. Thanks.

Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (4)

Happy Thursday. I am getting busier, but feedback and statistics on the side shows that you like my bulletin. Enjoy this week’s edition:

Willing to do whatever it takes? Are you ready? If you want the ultimate success and you want to be on top of the world, retire on that beach, you must be ready to do whatever it takes. I enjoyed reading this article, a bit motivational and makes you think, how much you want to sacrifice in order to push things forward.

Simon Sinek suggests some questions to ask when starting a new (junior) job. Whilst I think it is more relevant for junior jobs, there are some takers for senior interviews too. Asking the right questions is key when applying and interviewing. One should not forget, ‘inter view’ means ‘between views’ means it is a two (or more) way process. I remember hiring someone once because he clearly impressed me with the questions he asked, how he asked me and his thinking behind those questions. So remember, it is not a one way street and come prepared to ask the right questions.

I put this in my Sunday Column as well, but this video is just a must watch in my opinion: The man with no limbs who never gives up and is a very happy person. It goes in line with the first link, are you ready to do whatever it takes to succeed. And if not, why not? Maybe you are happy with your current state and don’t want to develop, which is fair enough. But if you do, watch this man. No more excuses. For anything!

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Sunday Column (421)

I am starting to write this blog after watching a video of a man with no limbs.


If the video doesnโ€™t work, visit Nickโ€™s video on YouTube.

Isnโ€™t that amazing. The attitude and positivity of a man who mastered life despite disabilities. And we are whinging when the wood for the wood burner is a bit wetter this year or Tesco delivers expired products. His life puts our misery a bit in perspective. Living in the 1st world as we call it, we are spoiled for things. As he states in the video, if he falls over and cannot get up, he will try a 100 times. He never ever gives up until he achieves his goal. However simple or small it seems to be.

Achievement, or however you want to define Success, is your true Potential minus any Interference. Whether that is Interference from the outside (physical) or internal, the things you are telling yourself that holding you back to develop your full potential to progress and achieve. Stop telling yourself how little you have achieved but focus on the whole lot you have achieved. Look at 2016 for instance: realise how many days you have done so well. You made it through, 365 days of success. You made progress, had success. You can do it and unleash your full potential, decrease your interference. Go for it.

Putting life in perspective. I have been trying to do that for a while through
a) meditation and focusing on the things I appreciate, giving thanks and quieting my mind from the hustle and bustle out there, and
b) I started a gratitude journal this year to write down what I appreciate each day and what I am thankful for.

A more religious driven person would do that in their evening prayer, and I suppose the personal development industry has realised that it works to reflect on your day, give thanks and make sure you are focusing on positivity and progress. And listening to a podcast on Buddhism this week, there was another realisation: it doesn’t matter whether you believe in re-birth or not. You can only change this very moment, this very life. Be better now, and make the most of your existing life. If you do, and there is re-birth, you have nothing to worry about. And if there isn’t a re-birth, don’t worry about it. We must stop worrying. Instead we must be living in the moment, being the best person we can be – both from an ethical and achievement perspective.

Similar to the theme we talked about last week, 2017 is all about making the most out of life. The insecurity with Donald Trump taking office this week and the Euro falling thanks to Brexit. Things are changing fast. To not loose any momentum I have made a few decisions. One was to have a fantastic meal with the wife on Monday lunch time – when else will we have the chance to do that again? We went to a place Jen wanted to go for the past 5 years and we finally went and really liked it. The Ginger Fox. We highly recommend it ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I made the decision to take the kids to see the latest Star Wars movie in the cinema. And we made the decision how to celebrate my birthday ๐Ÿ˜‰ And, last but not least, I made the decision to meet some good friends on Tuesday. So in summary, I made the most out of a few days prior to (drum roll) starting my new adventure:

Since finishing my last project, I have been debating for a while whether to do my own thing, to work on a contract basis or joining a company full time. I chose the latter, as I think this is the right step in my career. It is a company I have known for many years, 6 to be precise, and which has seen ups and downs, and I have seen them going through the phases from being a competitor, a partner and a supplier. They are now at a point where I am more than excited to join them, where I believe I can add significant value to their growth, using my experience in Programmatic and client handling. In return I am working with some very smart people in the space. Some of the smartest I have seen on the tech side for a while, people with a variety of background and strong leadership. And it is an outstanding technology. To say the least, I am very excited to step into the new role, back on the technology side of things. Back to an EMEA wide role. I am pumped for 2017, I am ready for the new challenge!

So the first few days were good. I love starting a new job on a Wednesday. It gives you an easy week to tune in, set up IT and get my feet under the table. Research suggests it takes 6 months to fully fall into a role, yet I am confident it will be a lot quicker. My KPIs are ๐Ÿ™‚ So much to do, so exciting to go back on Monday.

This sums up an almost perfect week. Trains are back to normal (whatever that means) as of Tuesday. I have a few trips planned already. Back on the road, so just as well I have my passport back. I made plans on some personal development goals too. I feel this is going to be a good year.

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (3)

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

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

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

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

Have a great rest week.
Volker

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