Merry Christmas – from Apple

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Sunday Column (301)

We are getting closer to Christmas.
My wife took a few pictures of the boys last weekend and I jumped on the bandwagon for some nice new head shots. Let me know what you think?

Subsequently I updated my blog, Linkedin and Xing profile etc. Just to keep it up to date, making sure people recognise me. It happened, believe it or not, that people didn’t recognise me thanks to the beard. Or maybe the grey hair or the wrinkles. Maybe I am getting on a bit?

I write this post whilst sitting in a train from Eindhoven (HQ) to Amsterdam/Schiphol Airport. My last trip of the year. Things are getting more quiet, and the festive season slowly but surely starts kicking in. Catching up with clients, nativity plays from the boys and cold walks with Rosie. My reflective time started, meaning I am now settling down a bit to reflect on 2014.

Reflection is a big part of growing up and growth / development. For me it is to look at the good and bad times, what I have learned in a job or at home, and how I can have more of the good times and less of the bad times moving forward. It is about being honest to yourself and configuring your growth for the next year. Taking into consideration both family, friends, the kids and dog and expectations. As before mentioned, I am very positive about next year and think we will have a lot positive (!) changes.

When looking out of the window I see grey. Grey forest areas, boggy marshland, empty fields and brown grass. Nature is at its low point too. The point where it is too cold to grow or do anything and where it make sense to just lie still until the next spring comes and wakes you up. Business of course isn’t that way. First meetings have been booked into the first week of January already. Things are coming together for 2015, plans are already being made.

Onwards.
Upwards.

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I am excited to see the kids growing up. To grow closer as a family. To cherish the dog. To spend more time with people I like. From my perspective I sometimes think that I am not sure what happens next year or the year after. How long will I still kick about? Seize the day, carpe diem, get on with it and enjoy. Yet we are all worried about things and sometimes, we just over engineer things. True happiness comes from within. Only from deep inside a person. Like love.

When travelling, HSBC had an advert with a cow on the tunnel to the airplane. I loved that cow. I took a picture and share it here. Do you notice why that cow is special? If it takes you a while it is because you don’t look for the differences but the sameness. You are looking at what you are used to. And you might overlook the detail and the difference in (beauty) of the cow.

Yet, don’t worry. You are probably or most certainly one of many. We are living in fast pace environment where we are missing out on the detail, missing out on the slight differences.

And if you still can’t see the world map on the cow….then never mind ;-)

Have a great weekend and see you next week.

Be good!
Volker

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Nothing like the countryside

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Sunday Column (300)

Three hundred Sunday Columns!

Amazing. Almost 4 years. And I get more and more committed readers. Thanks for the support and kudus over the years. I keep on going, maybe stop with column 2,000 – around the age of 70. But who knows if blogs still exists by then, or the Internet. A life’s work by then.

Tomorrow I am off for my last trip of the year. In the first half of the year I spent 22 nights away and had about a return flight within Europe every other week. Yet the 2nd half of the year seemed a lot busier. That’s because I spent two full weeks away, did a longer flight to Turkey, but overall actually had less flights. But the run up to Christmas only seems busier as it starts around September but then it is full on from there. More work in less time. Never mind. I believe travel also helps to get away and clear one’s mind a bit. Whilst the separation from the family isn’t nice, the coming home is fantastic. The balance is key as so often.

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My week has been very productive and I created lots of new content over at tidWOWs. The best quote I read, from Johann Wolfgang von Göthe was “as soon as you start trusting yourself, you learn how to live.” How true and I almost feel that has happened to me over the past two years. Not only job wise but also in regards to my private life, commitment to success and being clearer of what I want to achieve. This quote came to me for a reason, that I am sure about.

On other news we continue to enjoy Rosie. She is growing a lot and learning a lot and seems better behaved. Having said that she is just after any food crum there is, peanut butter toast or crisps. We get through that too.

On Saturday we went to Littlehampton beach. We left early in the morning to be there for sunrise and Rosie had a fantastic run on the beach. It was a bit chilly but it was great to go and the light was amazing.

Being at a beach early in the morning, seeing the sun coming over the horizon, the tide coming in whilst enjoying the fresh crips air with the ones you love. The odd fisher boat leaving the harbour and all you hear is the rattling diesel engine. Is there something better in life? The winter sun was very intense, the temperature pleasant, almost warm, not windy. The kids loved it and Rosie was running around like crazy. Not another soul on the beach. We spend an hour there but it felt like 5. Peace.

Often, I get humble in these situations. I look at the bigger picture, I think about what is important in life. How small the world is compared to the sun. And the little place we are living in compared to the size of the globe. In those moments I just think: Life is amazing! I am happy. I have a good life.

I hope you do too!

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (299)

It is the 1st of December tomorrow. Who would have guessed this year passes so quickly? I remember last year deciding whether or not to stay in my then main job. Sometimes things don’t work out and this year, the question is not about whether to stay but how quickly to grow. Times have changed, and I am a much happier person. I made the right decision.

Making decisions doesn’t always mean making the right decision. What I mean by that is that sometimes you have to make a wrong decision, which then guides you to your destination. Decision making is key. Whether this is regarding the upbringing of your children, how you spend your money, which job to go for or which sales leads to pursue. As long as you keep making decisions you are moving forward. And latter is key for personal development. Any decision will carry some weight for your final destination, so essentially the only wrong decision is to not make any at all.

Any decision we make, however small, moves you in a direction. I made a decision this week I cannot announce yet. I also made a decision regarding my fitness level – with a lot of people giving up drinking in January, I should do the same and step up my fitness level once again. With two 10K this week, a session of squash and a MTB ride today … yes, I feel very fit at the moment.

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What else is happening? The dog seems to settle in better, we had a couple dry beds this week, we walk her more and would love to do more with her but have to hold back whilst she is a puppy. The kids are wary of the dog and we work on their relationship – it is challenging to teach children how to behave around dogs and a dog how to behave around kids. It is a good challenge though as you can already see how they benefit from looking after Rosie, helping us and taking responsibility. I am glad we made the decision to have the dog.

Then there was Light Up Hassocks – the yearly get together for the village to share a drink, some lights in the dark and switch on the Christmas lights. It is fun and a good opportunity to catch up with everyone. My parents were over from Germany for that – they and the kids had a great evening.

A few times this week I was lying in bed thinking that I am a very happy man. It seems like I am on top of things, life is coming together and things are moving in the right direction. This is a good feeling. The kids are growing up, and with every week they are further developed, asking further questions and you can help them finding their direction and making their own decisions.

I feel blessed. I cherish the moments with the family and look forward to Christmas, to be there fully in the moment with my two boys and wife, finding some rest hopefully, and some sleep.

Before I finish, I wanted to share this cute conversation with my 5 year old.

“Next week, Colin, I am at a conference”, I said to my oldest. “Is that what you do, daddy?” “No, I sometimes speak at conferences”, “oh yes, I thought that’s what you do, with that funny thing (microphone) in your face.” “But Colin, actually I make sure when you are on mummy’s ipad, that you get the same ad as you see on TV. But I don’t think you understand that yet.” … “That’s easy, TV you just switch on. And adding, daddy, we do that in school. I didn’t know you are adding things?” “See, I just add things to peoples’ lives. I make their life better. Time to sleep….”

Actually, life is simple. Adding and subtracting :-)

May your week be the same.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (298)

Summing up a week like this isn’t easy I believe. It all started with me coming back late on Saturday, so I had a short weekend. Fair enough, Sunday was a great day. A proper walk with the dog at 5:30, a 10K run and the feeling I am gaining weight again, despite loosing it. I am off balance a bit with no routine thanks to the dog.

My training schedule is changing. I try to do two 10K runs a week, then walk the dog more. Then I am travelling. I need to find a bigger bag to carry my jogging shoes when travelling. Then Rosie will be able to go running, and routines change once again.

The dog, another topic in itself. We enjoy her. But….she is getting to the biting stage. She is snapping at the kids, bit them whilst playing. Tough negotiations on behalf of the dog, and the kids, to make sure the family is happy. We are working on it. Overall she is a great addition to the family and well loved. The vet bill is raising, and according to the vet it is totally normal.

The mornings have been cold but clear skies and foggy with some amazing cloud formations in front of the sun rise. I love living close to the sea and getting to see those amazing views. It is great being up early and enjoying nature and the silence.

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On getting up early: I am well and truly in my 5 am routines. That means even if I am not going to bed early or had a few beers, I would be awake at 5. The only day I tried going back to bed for a wee whiley, Rohan was up from 5 am play. Nothing worked to settle him, despite him having a temperature and a cough. Poor him. He later slept 2 hours in the afternoon, I didn’t.

We then had a relative staying with us for half of the week. Working out the relation, I am her great grand uncle or so ;-) It was good to catch up on some old memories, family gossip and times that seem so far away. It brings back memories of me being 13 or 14 – way before finding myself, when one thought that doing it right all the time was the right thing to do. I suppose there is nothing wrong with that. Reflecting on different upbringings and what life has thrown at us over the years was good.

Today, as you read this blog, I will be in the clouds flying to our HQ in Holland. Needless to say I am not overly impressed for not being home on a Sunday night. Sundays for me are the holy family day, I am the one making pizza for dinner. Not tonight. Yet, I suppose, sometimes it is unavoidable to commit to work on a Sunday, and this is for a rather important meeting. One gotta do what one gotta do, not like this is happening very often. So all good :-)

So and up and down week. On top of that Anthony Robbins released his new book, I started becoming more specific about the topic of my next book, I had lots of fun, spend lots of time with friends and overall, I cannot think of a day I was unhappy.

Hope life is treating you well.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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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!

Twin Peaks

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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