Thursday Flash (33)

Flash…

Social media use may have its benefits, but it also has a disturbing impact on our health and well-being.

Learn how a minimalist lifestyle could help you focus on your core priorities.

Habits to kick in order to be more successful. This post just demonstrates how you can still and always improve on your habits.

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Sunday Column (450)

What a fantastic week we had. Taking some friends’ advice we went to Longleat Safari park. Monkeys all over the car, pooping on it too, yet no damage compared to other cars where rubber parts where hanging off after leaving the enclosure. Lions, Tigers – a proper safari out of the comfort of your own car. The boys absolutely loved it and we went on to see a few more animals, played in the play park, did some rides and went into a maze we almost didn’t get out of again. A full on day and three exhausted boys by the end of it.

Holidays. I never was one for taking much time off work, but given the last few months, which have been very intense, it was good to get away for a week. Centre Parks – you either love it or hate it – an organised week of relaxing, too much food, activities and family fun. Even on holidays I wake up early. Good for runs, taking care of the kids and letting the wife sleep. The weather wasn’t too great but we made the most of it.

We did a lot of swimming. What strikes me most is how grown up the boys are. You can let them go down the slides themselves, watch them loosely around the pool and things are alright. They are growing up so quickly. Too quickly sometimes. Having just finished their swimming lessons, they are now safe in most waters, subject to its depth. This takes so much pressure away. Food wise, they are still not experimental. That is a bit of a shame given the international cuisine available in the park. So pizza, chips and fish fingers are still winners 🙁

Then someone shared a video about the Buddha and the Beggar.

This story reflects on any life. You trust that things work out. That life is going to be ok. Your job is ok. That you can continue to provide for the family. You give to others, as you are better off than others. I am trying to teach that to the boys that there are people that need help more than we do. They understand that, they donate to a partner school in Madagaskar, Africa. Everything you give comes back in life. This is like the energy system in mechanical engineering, mechanics. All forces in the system have to be equal. You give, you will be given. The forth dimension, time, is not being taken into consideration.

But let’s not be sentimental on holidays, you might think. The weather wasn’t nice at all, until finally Wednesday night we lit the BBQ. Yes. Result. I have been waiting for this the whole week. LOL. Burgers. Bacon and Cheese. Wine. Holiday mood, that’s it. Thursday turned out to be even sunnier. I managed to slightly burn myself playing tennis.

Whilst being in Centre Parks, we are thinking if we would return again. Two years in a row. The boys enjoyed fencing and archery. We did too. New experiences, new things to do. That is great. A safe environment, lots of swimming, food and little worries. Yet, of course you are confined to the compound. If the boys were older, they could go off, play pool and enjoy themselves without us. They are now in the “in between stage”. They still love crazy golf but are not 100% competitive to play it against each other. They play a bit of pool but aren’t good enough to compete against each other. Same for most sports. Whilst that is fine, I believe, given I grew up with a brother, that if they were 2-4 years older, they would just love to compete on various sports and run around all day. Cycling around the campus and spending their own money, making friends. On the other hand, my wife and I would love to show them more of other countries and experience, more variety of things. So that’s what we are planning for the next few years, yet probably come back to a Centre Park break in the near future. Or we ask the whole family to go somewhere in Europe for a week.

A great week. Just spending more quality time, not worrying about work and being there with the family is de-stressing. I don’t actually feel too stressed so no need to de-stress really 😉 Just not having to worry about day to day was nice. And last but not least, I watched (too many) kids’ TV commercials. Clarks’ ones was the worse. They are getting a beating on social media for their gender ‘enforcing’ models. I asked the kids what they thought the advertising was about and they had no idea. Wow, I understand TV ads build brands but they aren’t really tailored to kids, or if they are, they seem too influential. Crazy. But I guess that’s the industry we live in, and glad we control a lot online in terms of targeting.

Anyway, I hope you had a great week too.

Cheers,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (32)

Flash…

Maybe things calmed down out there a bit. However, never too late to be productive and improve your productivity over the summer.

Then there was an article about the iPhone in 2020. A longer read but if you are interested in some futuristic thoughts and like Apple, this one is for you.

And last but not least, there are dangers of measuring performance. Not in general but for some start ups, and some not so start ups, as you measure the effectiveness of the system and not the performance of the individual. Some interesting thoughts there, so worth a read.

Enjoy your summer,
Volker

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Sunday Column (449)

Oh yes. No Monday morning 5 am taxi pick up and a delayed flight after a bad breakfast to Hamburg. No, this Monday it was the normal 7:29 train service to London. No travel abroad and lots of catching up with my UK team. This was fun! I even squeezed a civilised dinner in with our American visitor, and made it home before 10 pm. Great result and great way to start the week. After having spend the last few days trying to cure the man flu, having my parents to visit, and sorting my infected toe, this was nice. Actually, I had a really nice, productive, day. 
The train home was quiet. My inbox also, given it is slowly getting to the quieter weeks of the year. This is nice, as I can focus on some not so urgent but equally important work tasks as well as catching up on some BBC iPlayer videos whilst writing my blog. Having the super sized screen, the iPad does allow for multi tasking, even if your brain doesn’t. Reading a book about the flow of things and how you best utilise your brain to be happy – the flow. I will update you on it as I read along.

The week stayed calm, or did it? Whilst the emails coming in are fewer than usual, the amount of work associated with each seem to go up. In other words, I was booked out back to back the remainder of the week, with requests coming in, needing a lot of my attention. But, and I said it before, I love what I am doing and I am GSD (getting shit done). However, coming home Tuesday night, after having had a few pints instead of coffee, I ended up with a Chinese and more wine. The weekend seemed to have started early this week, trying to cramp it all in. Despite all that, I was back to my first 10K on Wednesday morning at 5 am. Yes, that felt good. The first longer run since the Spitfire event. The first after my toe infection and the first after the man flu which slowly disappeared this week. I am getting back on it. I even fitted in a first weight session on Thursday. Winning it back. One morning at a time. Life is all about the daily routine.

Given the boys are off school and I hear about all their fun activities, I feel like I should be off too. During breakfast, the eldest sits with his huge fluffy teddy bear in the living room reading. The other one sits closer to me, colouring in. I have a rushed bite to eat, a quick kiss to say good bye, and off I go. Back long after they have been to bed. I sometimes wonder what a life would be like where you are home for 6 pm or 7 pm every night. I wouldn’t gain much time I don’t think. Being on the train from 7-8 gives me my hour of work, fun, chill out and declutter my brain time, something I don’t have to do at home. Yes, I miss bath time, but as they get older I see more of them in the evenings. The life and life balance we choose. The choices we make, to live close to London but not in London. To live close to the sea but not by the sea. The choices of houses, schools etc. I feel I made the right choices. However, as a friend of mine said this week over lunch, with Brexit and the current state of affairs, the government is harming it’s own country. Will Britain be strong enough to sustain a healthy economy in the long run. I believe, so I believe things will work out. And if not? I do not know, but maybe we move the family in a few years. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

All of that influences our happiness. Our balances, our systems. I wrote about that in my book. It is up to us to define what we would like to do and achieve. What goals are we working towards to, or do we just go with the flow? Which values do we have and what is important to us? Where would or wouldn’t we compromise. I haven’t read a fiction book for many years. I like to spend my time constantly improving myself. I enjoy that. And that is my flow I suppose. My daily flow of things, my busy weeks balanced by chilled out weekends, shared activities with the family. The discussion around success vs. achievement. Being busy vs. productiveness. One doesn’t mean the other, and each of us has to find their own definition of it. Focus goes where energy flows. Focus on the things you want to achieve, that drive you on, your purpose. Remove noise and time wasters from the equation of your inputs, eliminate news and social media input. Strive for being better every single day.
As I prepare for some time off, rushing through things I know I won’t finish this week, and thinking the world will not end if I don’t, I reflect. Shutting down the brain and trying to relax. Letting go and recharge the batteries. The world will be the same but busier after the summer months, leading into Q4 and Christmas. What will it be like? What does the journey ahead look like? 

Trusting in the power of the universe and that things will always work out, I put my head to rest. I had another almost scare this weekend, a worry that comes with age. All is good though. Thank you. 

Time to reflect, recalibrate and learn from experience. 
Have a great week,

Volker

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Thursday Flash (31)

Flash…

Rohn: 9 Things More Important Than Money – yes, money isn’t everything. It is important, but as I teach my kids, happiness is coming from within….

The iPhone in 10 years won’t be a phone anymore. Really? There are a lot of rumours around what the next iPhone will be and what other changes might happen in the future. The article is for sign-in users only, but even if you watch the video on the site, you will like the thoughts on how things might change.

20 mantras – to help you change and adjust your attitude. Pick and few and see how you can improve your life and happiness!

If you enjoyed the read, please share with other people that might like it!

Thanks,
Volker

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Sunday Column (448)

Finally, reaching some milestones this week. Firstly, I am writing this post on my iPad Pro. Yes, after the contemplation of upgrading or not, I decided I’d go for it. The keyboard is fantastic and better than the one (the good one) was for my iPad mini. Size wise, it is almost a bit too big, or too close to a laptop. However, the screen size is good for reading and, with my continuous bad eyesight, I enjoy it. It is less strenuous on my eyes. Now, essentially it is a laptop replacement, and with the new iOS coming out later this year, it will even be more productive. For emails, for anything else, it is already what I always wanted.

What about the Apple pencil? Now this is a good question and as I would say: too early to tell. I love the opportunity to have one, but recently I haven’t done too much brain storming on the road. Yet, ultimately, the pencil and the screen sensitivity, is a white board in a pocket. So what are the next steps? Moving to paperless completely, and removing my notebook at work and moving everything to Evernote and notes. Why not? After all those years, it still doesn’t seem acceptable to use an electronic device where you could just do your emails instead of taking notes. I am certain this is going to change moving forward. Also, having drawn a few sketches this week, it really works so much better than any pen I had before, e.g. the Evernote stylus which I sold on ebay.

The next milestone? My last trip to Germany for probably 4 weeks. Yes, it feels like my job in Germany is done. We turned it around and kick-started a few important meetings this week. Now it is all about the regular follow up, building relationships and establishing needs. That must be done by the guys in market, from the market. No more need for me; at least for now. I am here to mentor, to support and help, but it feels like the main job is done. That is nice and deeply satisfactory. A job well done, and I am a bit proud of the achievements over the last few months. I will still go back to Germany for a few visits and the dmexco exhibition in September, but that will hopefully be it. Then, I would not be surprised to do another international role soon which requires me to travel, but hopefully less often and to a more variety of destinations (I technically already have an international role). Time will tell, it is all change.

So what is next on the time line for me. With the sales of the company being announced, the next 3 months will be business as usual. I am working on a very interesting project and hope that this will continue once the companies come together. That is about all I can say at the moment. However, the quieter summer months should allow me to work on a seminar of my book. I also want to look into podcasts and webinars potentially. We shall see, but my ambitions are to refine my #BeBetter book material into more bite size chunks for people to utilise in their daily lives. This probably takes me to the end of the year at least. From there I am keen on working on my next book. I have a few ideas that are kicking about and I like to put it to paper.

I also started looking into my training schedule. Clearly, and you might remember my writing on weight loss, exercise alone won’t make you loose weight. So whilst maintaining my fitness level and increasing my distance to a half marathon distance by mid September, I also want to do two other things; firstly my diet needs to have a revamp as I am falling into the habit of eating badly, particularly (and no excuse here) when travelling. Secondly, I want to focus more on strength training and support the wife in her efforts to do so too. As a result I’d like to reduce my weight by about 3-5 kg, more measured around circumference and body strength as well as fat content. Over the last few months I have been a bit relaxed with what I eat and need to revisit my daily eating routine. As anything, it will be looking at new habits. Less travel should allow me to do so.

On the note of health, my toe which I ‘damaged’ running, got infected. That, the man flu, the travel and the weather being so awful for summer, got me quite into a ‘down slump’ this week. Not that I am not motivated to get things done, never ever am I not, but it feels like things are dragging on a bit. Trains seem to be back to normal but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the hot weather we had for a bit longer? After all it is the end of July. My parents came to visit over the weekend, stocking up my wine ‘cellar’ and I managed to chill out and relax a bit over the weekend. That was nice and needed.

Overall it was a very nice week, slow but good and I do feel like I accomplished something. That is great.

Have a great one yourself,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (30)

Flash…

This week is a good mix. The first article is about SMART Goal Setting: a goal is a dream that has actions associated to it, isn’t it?

Then, this article I came across when researching the benefits of Meditation: Yoga – Tai Chi – Mediation – why this is all good for you. And the mind changes the DNA for the better. Wowsers!

Tackling Information Overflow and how a navy seal helps corporates by setting goals and work towards a win – looking at what the difference hierarchy levels can support the top.

Hope you enjoyed this week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (447)

The running event is done. My knee is healing. Ibuprofen consumption went up and the sports massage yesterday morning released the tired muscles. I loved the event. I enjoyed feeling my body and feeling totally exhausted for days. On Monday I ‘treated’ myself to a glass of wine. After eight days of not drinking it was nice to have a glass. It didn’t make a difference of having it or not, that felt nice too.

I am determined. Determined to strengthen my body more systematically and more specifically to last longer in endurance events. Whether that is Spitfire 2018 or anything else, we shall see. This week I started on my training plan. The game is on. I am hooked, the challenge is on. Time to find my next wall.

Given I just turned 40, mid life crisis they say, it is more about finding myself. No, let me correct myself here. I am not finding myself. I am creating myself. This is true in all aspects of life. We are creating our own destiny by making decisions on what we eat and drink, how we bring up our children, what we choose to do. We are in charge and control of our lives. Yes, 40. Maybe it takes that long to realise which potential we have as a human being. Or it is because life becomes more systematic then. The experience kicks in? Whatever it is, life couldn’t be more exciting than this.

Then on Tuesday I was off to a Germany again. Another trip with lots of important meetings. The main one was the announcement of us (my company Rocket Fuel) selling to Sizmek. So I am now part of another company. This is my third merger/acquisition. That is how our industry works and how things turn out. I got flooded with messages what it means to me and at this point in time it is too early to tell. Usually it takes a couple months for things to align, for paperwork to get done. In the meantime we will discuss company structures, company synergies and determine who or what will have to change. Given we are very complimentary, I don’t fear for many jobs. That said, there will always be some churn, as this is what happens. A big event, and I am a bit proud to experience another exit. It is not for me to comment on any of this, so will leave the discussion here.

Life isn’t a constant. As of above, the event and the job, things are fluid. I was discussing this with a friend of mine earlier this week, and I have mentioned it here before. When growing up, as children, we always envisage that life will be similar to our parents’ life. I came from a good upbringing, mum and dad always had enough money, a bit extra and we had a good life, some holidays. Never anything flashy or extraordinary. I need to ask my parents if that was because they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to. I assume it was a mix of both. Mum was always good in book keeping. And I guess that is what I do with my kids. Yes, I could get them their own iPad, but that feels like the wrong thing to do. They need to learn how to save up for one, and honestly, they are still too young anyway. What I am saying is that they need to learn values. Core values of being able to appreciate things in life.

However, my life is nothing like my parents life I don’t think – my dad had a secure job (teacher) and my job changes every 2 years (that’s on average 😉 ). I live in a high pace, high impact, London, work environment, and commute 1.5 hours each way. Dad drove to work and finished early afternoon. He was around in the afternoons and sometimes worked at night if he had to finish a lot of marking.

There was more stability in life for them. And I sometimes wonder if I am missing that? I cannot say I am not having a stable job or not enough opportunity. Of course, I am saying that my industry is more volatile and at the brink of consolidation (and has been for years). And having said that, I could not imagine to do the same job for the next 30 years. I love the buzz and change, and opportunity. Yet, it just isn’t like in the olden days. Plus we are having an overload of information. Our phones, social media, news. There is so much more noise out there, trying to influence us and taking focus away from what is really important in life: our family, our values and our health. Those are part of life’s system I am describing in my #BeBetter book. The underlying system, the stability, comes from there. And from the belief that things will always work out in the end, happen for a reason. And they do. Believe!

And many years from now, I will look back at my ‘40ies’ and think that life was great. I will have little regrets. Maybe a few but overall I am very happy. The regrets you have are compromises. Those are ok I find. One cannot connect the dots moving forward, but the dots will connect looking backwards. Never forget. Never stop believing.

Have an amazing life, and week!
Volker

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Thursday Flash (29)

Flash….

Early bird..yet again. Whilst this article is more about the general benefits of waking up early, the next article goes in line with it.

I have been looking at morning routines again, and whether I should change mine, maye less running. So the next article is about what successful people do NOT do in the morning. Interesting?

The last article is about what I studied at university, matter of fact I wrote my Master Thesis on EQ: Emotional Intelligence example by Elon Musk. It’s an email snippet he sent to his employees.

And that’s it for this week.
See you next Thursday!
Volker

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My #spitfirescramble 2017 review

Wow – it has been a day since the Spitfire Scramble. My first ever running event. I was told by my experienced runners and team mates, that there is no such thing as a race. It is an event. You do it for yourself, the team, but not to race but to enjoy. And, a bit surprisingly, I did. As you might remember from my last post, one of my biggest challenges was the camping, believe it or not. The camping itself I really enjoyed. I loved the camaraderie. Maybe it was because I had little to organise, no tents to put up myself or take down myself – I tried to help more or less successfully, and the whole cooking and meals were organised by a fantastic and very experienced team. I was welcomed into the arms of a functioning group of people who have done those events before. Thanks once again!

But how were my laps? What happened?
So I finally got to go out around 4.30 in the afternoon. Adrenaline kicked in big time. I was off to a far too fast start, raced around the track and it took me until mile 4 out of 6 to find my pace. Once I did, I finished in a reasonable time of around 46 minutes for the just under 6 mile course. Far too quickly to sustain it I thought. And I walked a bit in between due to getting side stitches, being off too quickly.

My next round, just about 3 and a bit hours later, still light, was better paced, no walking, and I came in at a similar time. Interesting enough this round I found hardest of all the ones I did. Mentally and physically. I noticed my head playing tricks on me, my legs being really tired, and you work yourself into a pace and just run. I then managed to sleep about an hour before setting off at midnight again.

This time it was dark. With a head torch and a flash light, some glow sticks put down by the organisers, I made my way around the course. Mentally not as hard, as you concentrate on not falling over. Some drunk teenagers on one part of the route made it interesting and with the runners field spread wide apart, it was lonely at times. But it was fun, enjoyable. Then my left hip and ITB started to seize up a bit and my knee started to hurt. Not pleasant at all, I came in just around 53 minutes. Still happy enough.

Now, so far I enjoyed it. Really loved it. The third lap seemed easier than the second and mentally I was in a good shape. My left hand site would relax again, wouldn’t it? I saw one of the on site massage therapists and he taped my knee, stretched my glutes and said that my left upper leg muscles were just far too tight. He tried loosing them, suggested others had exactly the same problem. I figured with his help and the following 2.5 hours of sleep I should be fine. I didn’t get a great rest, and woke up in pain a couple of times. When it was time to get up I meditated first. My head was in a very good place, and despite the exhaustion I think my brain was more relaxed than I have seen it in a long time. I was ready. I didn’t even feel tired.

With doubts I made it out into the early morning, around 5. Luckily it was warm, and the little rain we encountered throughout the day was neglectable. But as soon as I set off I knew this time, the leg won’t last. I managed to run around 3 miles without stopping too often, ran with the pain and continued. It felt to me that if I get to the half way point, I make it through to the end. It reminded me of my long night walks and trainings when I was at the navy over 20 years ago. I felt strong, and I felt mentally in a very strong place. I loved the fresh air, the views across London, the lights of the early morning. It was my 5 am time, my usually running time.

But then the pain set in more and I had to start walking a bit more. From there on it was running a bit, longer stretches of walking, running. I spoke to some solo runners who only functioned on ibuprofen. Was I willing to do that? Does that make sense? For what? But I was determined to finish in a good-ish time to not let the team down. I am not going to fail in this lap, even though I knew this lap might well be my last one. Whilst in a combination of walking and running I got up the last hill, I had to be careful to go downhill. My knee pain alternated between the pain I knew and other ligaments wanting to join the party. It wasn’t nice. I finished in just over an hour and that was me done.

My first event. My first wall. I was looking forward to doing that for a long time. Whilst some team members went on to do a 5th and 6th lap, I couldn’t. I am very proud of their achievements. I was afraid of damaging my knee.

So what is the post mortem? Was I not prepared enough? I felt very well, my fitness felt great, mentally I was ready. Maybe I should have stretched more? Maybe more massages in preparation? Or is my body which isn’t used to running longer distances? Should I train a few half marathons or do a marathon before attempting an event like that again?

You can hear from my voice, that I am already thinking about the next event. The next wall in my life. Will it be this event in a year’s time, or something similar. I love the endurance challenges, but maybe I need a different preparation? No, not maybe, I have to work on strength and distance. More focus. I wondered what the point of solo running for this event was and why people end up walking. Some people explained it to me, that this is all about the mental and physical challenge and not about winning, but about having a platform to compete against your natural limits. Solo running. Solo walking. This sounds appealing… or does it?

Whatever my wall will be for next year, I think preparation needs to be better planned. Last year, before I pulled out, I was fitter. I weighted 3 kg less which can make a difference, and I was better prepared. But you don’t know until the day of the race. The day of the event I mean. It made me understand my wife better and her drive to do another marathon. And it made me acknowledge the effort and preparation that goes into a marathon. And maybe I just need to do that. A better preparation, a more planned approach. A marathon? As I keep preaching about, a habit, routine or system, based on the event you are doing. And maybe this comes with experience, yet the main part is to prepare your body for it. Systematically.

My thanks goes to my team mates. The ones that kept up my spirit. The ones that guided me to and from the event track. The ones that cheered for me, and put up with my mood and my dead brain the next day. The one that was awake driving home whilst my body just shut down. Thank you, and maybe, just maybe I see you again next year.

And my knee? I think it will be ok. With some more taping, some TLC, some cooling, lots of Ibuprofen, a sports massage and some rest. I am certain there was no long term damage done. So yes, I am sure I will be ok. My calfs, my abdominal muscles, my brain and all other parts of my body will comply. They always do 🙂

Thank you team!

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