Category: Personal

Anything in this category is personal, not family yet not the Sunday Column.

Don’t schedule more than 70% of your time! Productivity Tip 2

How does your time management work? When I first started uni many many moons ago, I was told about time management. I started with scheduling the big things in first, the long term objectives, the things that take longer, then working my way down to daily actions. That was before the life of smart phones helped us manage our day and before to-do lists were on every phone.

One thing I remember is to not schedule more than 70% of your time. Why? Because there is always something unexpected happening. Instead, maybe have a list of things to do when having ‘downtime’. But hey, we don’t even have to fill every minute of the day, we could just use free time to think. Yes, sit there and think, digest the information you collected over the day. Particularly during difficult and challenging times, it is so important to relax your brain. Maybe even try some mindfulness

Are you answering the phone after 6 pm, working through the night or sacrificing your lunch?
Do you get enough sleep?

All those things you sacrifice to work more? Surely that’s not the aim of the game, is it?

Start taking charge of your time today and be in control. Build successful routines and habits to support regular hours and down-time too. Now more than ever, this is especially prevalent if you are working from home like most of us have or are during Covid19.
It will help you to divide the day between your ‘work’ and ‘life’ even if there are no physical boundaries.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all. If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return leads you to more success and productivity.

You can’t give up. Ever. A personal look at life.

After an inspirational podcast recording the other day, my guest ask me if I ever thought I’d have a burn-out, given all the stuff I am doing. I wanted to pick that question, because this is a passionate topic of mine. I have always been work focused, enjoyed work and love being busy. I could never imagine not being busy or doing something. It’s an inner drive I have, however …

I am no King, but I like a laugh
I am no King, but I like a laugh

Reflecting on my work life, I have gone through seven redundancies in my career. That’s more redundancies than some people had jobs at my age. But, I haven’t given up. And, I have not had a burn-out or struggle with mental health problems. Given ‘blue Monday’ was last week, I have been reflecting on how lucky I am. Whilst I have to deal with anxiety when I hear the words of ‘restructure’, as it just has this negative association with redundancies, given my history, I believe that is fair enough.

There is something to be said about being able to get up 8 times when you have been knocked down 7 times. What I struggled most with was that people didn’t see the value I added, or if they did, they were bound by politics and ‘that’s the way it has to be done’, e.g. following ‘bullshit rules’. Redundancies are never personal, and once you understood that, it helps you to deal with them.

I am freeing myself from those bullshit rules more and more, in life and work, and focus on doing a great job. Simple. And the jobs I am doing now following a theme and passion of mine.

At the moment, I still maintain a foot in adtech, in an area I absolutely love and adore (data!), and which is changing massively over the next few years with Google’s recent announcement to abolish the 3rd party cookie; additionally, I work with companies that I can help and that can help you! I am excited by both sides, which is why I now work for myself.

I offer Mindfulness Trainings for instance to improve mental health, and to improve resilience and therefore productivity in the workplace. My start-up Moment Pebble is working in a similar area. I have been training Mindfulness for myself since 2006, and I believe that it made me more resilient, and therefore I never had a burn-out or struggled with mental health when taking redundancies or faced the challenges of life. Unfortunately, I know too many people who weren’t that lucky, and I want to help them, and help others to avoid that experience. Does that make sense?

Productivity, resilience, mindfulness – all of those topics have been part of my life for many years, as I have always had a focus on ‘live to work’. I love achieving, whether that is to write a bestselling book, or have a can do attitude at work. I am a doer (manager’s quote) and I get shit done. Simple. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it. Striving, but not over-striving, resulting in not having a burn-out or doing too much. It’s a fine balance, but you can learn it. For many years, I have optimised my approach, refined my productivity (remember I wrote a book on it years ago), and tried to be better, running a more optimised life. And it has paid off, multiple times. The constant improvement, holding yourself accountable. That’s self-coaching, and yes I had help from external coaches and mentors too. Thank you!

And, with me being trained in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and other techniques, it means that I know when things get too much. I realise that when I am juggling too many balls and have to put one aside before I drop it and it breaks. I know when people around me struggle and I know how to help them. And, I discussed that with my podcast guest too, I never turned down a favour to help people. I never asked for more than I give, and always pay a favour forward. I believe in the greater good and the good things in life, the good people, and that the majority of people are genuinely nice people and are in this life to do a good job and achieve the most for others first, then themselves. This has always been my motto for many years, as I believe as a good manager, you rise with the tide.

Hence, in conclusion, I know where I can add value and whether I can take on more work. Yet one thing is changing, and that goes in line with what I preach: I start to live my life more in a way that family will always (!) come first, and that I work more around family commitments; ‘working to live‘ rather than ‘living to work‘. It’s about choice and balance.

This won’t impact my output or productivity, the opposite is true, it will make me even more efficient; with my 5 am routine I am already doing that, but it’s about balancing life, prioritising, and making sure all parties involved are happy. It’s not about slowing down, it’s about channeling the energy in the right way, applying focus. Maybe what I read in the One Thing finally comes to fruition.

Giving up isn’t an option.
Changing the way you do things is.

The most important thing is to be happy, enjoy what you are doing, put focus and effort into what you are doing, do a good job, and be good to people who surround you. It will always pay off in the long term.

Have a wonderful week.
Reach out for comments or contact me for a chat, I am always happy to help!

Volker

New Year Column 2020

It’s 2020 – so what’s now?

Happy New Year, and maybe a happy new decade. If you ask some people, the decade doesn’t start until the year 1, e.g. 2021. If you ask me, let’s go for it and call it the roaring 20ies. I always admired the 1920ies, and when did they begin? 1920 or 1921.

We are in times of change. Having started the delivery of my first mindfulness course, I noticed two key learning points already. One was that I have been involved in meditation and mindfulness since 2006. I have studied, practised and developed my mind. This, in all fairness, probably made me cope better with life, and what life threw at me, over the years. I haven’t suffered a burn out or depression, and I am grateful that I didn’t. But mindfulness has been a key part of my personal journey and I feel privileged to teach it to organisations, individuals and showcase the benefits in our ever hectic world. If you are interested in finding out more, please download my pdf on my website about mindfulness.

The other point I noticed is a quote from Eric Schmid. In 2010, so 10 years ago, he said that we generate the same amount of data in 2 days that we did from the beginning of civilisation to 2003. This has surely increased since, and I am not sure what that is in MB, GB or whatever ‘measure’ you have to give it, but the sheer amount of data and information we have is too much. The mind is not made to cope with that long term.

Steve Jobs

2020, a year where the information overload probably more than doubled, e.g. exponentially increased, since 2010. This is a year where I want to help more people coping with that. Whether that is through my involvement in Moment Pebble, Coaching or Mindfulness. However, I continue to consult with a few companies, and still love the buzz of my old industry.

Particularly, there is one company which goes from strength to strength where I can add so much value. That means opportunities and I am a bit torn where 2020 leads me. At the same time I am exploring new industries, the ones that can cope with the information overload, and are able to use new technologies to make sense of it all. There are two conversations I had this week which were mind boggling. One I don’t want to talk about yet, the other is at the forefront of building a new industry on my doorstep.

And maybe, we can connect the dots looking backwards in a few years time. Wouldn’t that be great?

If I say it is an exciting time to be alive, it sounds very cheesy. But I believe it is. When you start to connect your calling with what you do, you create an energy and momentum that really catapults you forward. And, there are more plans for 2020. Let’s just see.

Smart Devices & why I ditched my Apple Watch (kind of)

I have been mulling whether to get the Apple Watch 4, or is it series 5 already, for a few weeks. And my decision has been to not get it. I looked at what I used the watch for, and realised it is all about fitness tracking. Quite frankly, that’s why I got it in the first place. It measures my heart rate, which I hardly check whilst exercising, and it gives me my measure of calories burned.

Now, I can achieve that with a Fitbit (recently bought by Google, what a surprise), and I can achieve that with a smart ring. So instead of ditching my Apple Watch completely, I keep it for my outdoor runs and added a smart ring to my gadget list. The ring measures my steps, my heart rate and my sleep. Actually, my sleep app on my phone is as accurate as the ring, but it never harms to have too many devices measuring the same thing, does it?

My overall aim was to simplify my life, not make it more complicated. Hence, adding a ring instead of a watch, makes my life a little bit easier. Whilst I cannot really charge it overnight, as I want to track my sleep, the charge of 90 minutes two times a week can be done whilst writing a blog post or doing emails for instance.

Then, I will add a new item to my list shortly. That’s a moment pebble, a device that naturally reminds me to be more mindful during the day. Not like the Apple Watch, buzzing me, but naturally just reminds me. Without any additional noise or at moments that are inconvenient for me. No doubt I write more about it in a few weeks time.

For me, any smart devices need to add value. From a mindfulness perspective, it makes sense to disconnect devices and being able to be in the moment. Not checking your emails or alerts but be in the here and now. That’s my ambition whilst still making best use of the technology out there.

When coaching my clients, it is important for me to establish first what they want to achieve, before coming with a big toolbox and show off what all can be done. If a smart device should add value, it is about what you want to achieve. And whilst the Apple Watch is a great piece of tech, to have one just to measure my heart beat and calories, seems a bit too pricey for me, as I need to replace it every 3 years at the latest due to the battery dying.

As with anything, let’s make it work for your needs.

About Principles for Success (4)

I have a few more chapters I want to share of my book Principles for Success.

So if you haven’t bought and read my book, have a look at it. And feel free to tune into stories of success on any podcast outlet or www.storiesofsuccess.fm

We discuss life-life balance, realising that work-life balance doesn’t work, given we are spending more time at work than with our family. Maybe it is just a phrase but the underlying thought is that you only have one life. Why divide it between work and life, if you can combine the two. My prediction is that the way we are working is changing in the future.

And we discuss visualisation. Did you know that the brain can’t necessarily differentiate between the real experience and a good visualisation? This is a huge thing for athletes who go through a run or a swim over and over again. Just to get the brain and body to think you have done it. I did that for my marathon and it helps. Try it!

You would have guessed that mindfulness and meditation foster success, whether that is through journaling, reflection or whatever it means for you. I found that most of my guests had some means of finding calm in their day to relax their brain. With the information overload this is super important, and it helps productivity.

The values and culture, similar to the team and trust, are key to a successful businesses. Are you authentic. Is the team a team or a group of individual? What does your business stand for? What do you stand for as a leader of the business.

Be yourself, follow your dreams and make it work. You only got one life, so make the most of it.

Thanks for supporting me by buying the book Principles for Success and joining me on my podcast www.storiesofsuccess.fm

About Principles for Success (3)

How has your week been?

I wanted to continue sharing some content from my book, Principles for Success.

We spoke about teams last week. Another important factor is diversity in teams. I cannot stress this point enough, and still don’t believe that there are people who discriminate based on gender, race, political or sexual views. WTF? It drives me potty. The only way you should ever judge people is on their performance, if they can do the job and if they fit within the team. And if they don’t fit into your team due to them being diverse….now think what this says about your team?

Hard work and discipline. My grandmother used to say, that I will always have a job, because I am good with people, disciplined and hard working. Make sure you keep those skills up. Don’t slack and be good to people. Emotional intelligent!

I want to be honest, since launching my own business, I realise how hard you have to work to get anything off the ground. But I enjoy it! But of course you have a huge motivation too.

The other thing, and you would recognise that from my first book, is about routines and habits. Try to automate things as much as you can. I keep mentioning this. This is so important. When working on a project last year, the questions from the company were always the same:

– Do you need it?
– Can you automate it?
– Can you do it better and cheaper elsewhere?

Then you decide. I like to outsource some of my marketing, and automated some of it too. Why? Because I only have 24 hours in the day, and my time is best used creating content.

You find out more about my podcast on www.storiesofsuccess.fm or in the book itself.

About Principles for Success (2)

Today I wanted to share a few more chapters of my book Principles for Success.

Thanks for the overwhelming feedback and ‘likes’ on social media so far. Please continue to share the book and buy it of course :-).

I have had, and many of those I interviewed, mentors all my life. From early in school to business. They help you to achieve your success, and similar to coaches, give you an external opinion. They are trusted advisors.

Having mentors and guidance in building a business, helps you to be more successful. Learn from those who have done it before you. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Good coaches know of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming), allowing for modelling behaviour. This can really accelerate things.

But also learn from your team, be good in delegating, a good team player and trust in your team and people. Be a compassionate and empathetic leader, someone with a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Trust is such an important topic.

One want to trust the leadership to get the business where it needs to be. Or, as Jim Rohn says, and I mentioned this in most episodes, surround yourself with the right people, as you are only as good as the 5 people you surround yourself the most with.

Who are your 5??

Enjoy season 3 of the podcast which is live in your podcast outlet now, or feel free to get yourself a copy of the book to find out more, what success means.

Launching my book Principles for Success (1)

I can officially announce the launch of my book.

I want to be honest on my blog here, I am quite chuffed to have achieved that. Yes, I wrote a book before, but juggling a full time job, family and writing a book on the back of a podcast….but it can be done. It is down to time management, discipline and routines. Latter you heard over the years, and it is mentioned in both of my books.

After interviewing 40 people in 18 months of my podcast Stories of Success, I am delighted to summarise what I have learned in terms of What makes you successful.

Thanks again to all my podcast guests for sharing their stories. I name them all in the book!

In the next few days and weeks, I want to share those principles in short videos. You can find them on my LinkedIn feed, Facebook or Instagram.

The first few chapters are about understanding and identifying your WHY, the why of your business and what it means to you. Understanding yourself and what drives you on. It is such a fundamental question to ask.

We then solve the question if money means success. A question I was surprised most guests answered with no! Or did they? Actually they did, and it gave me confidence that success isn’t related to money, yet you might not be able to reverse this, e.g. money often comes with success. But is it a main driver?

And we learn how success isn’t a “thing” but a journey you are on. It doesn’t stop. It is continuous. Isn’t that interesting? You don’t achieve success, but you are on a journey of success.

Discover those principles above and more, and feel free to either get a copy of the book or join me when I continue to interview successful people on my podcast in season 3.

Personal Update – June 2019

Hi folks,

I haven’t posted for a while, but want to continue with my blog on a quarterly basis to give people updates what I am up to. Hence, this is my quarterly update for you 🙂

After leaving my latest project 4 weeks ago, I have now concluded to work for myself. For the past 3 years, and those following me know that, I have gone through redundancies due to acquisitions in the industry and worked on projects. I enjoy being involved in those projects, and quite frankly believe that I am born to work on consulting projects, helping others to achieve their goals. It lead to me deciding that the best way forward is for me to focus on this kind of work moving forward.

At the same time, I have been contemplating for many years to become a full time business and executive coach, mentor and trusted advisor. Whilst this is straight forward, given my qualifications and validation through years of experience in this field and my business experience, this area is a lot bigger in terms of positioning compared to digital marketing.

Volker Ballueder

I am on a fact finding mission, in terms of where I will focus the business. However, it is clear from my experience that I know how to position companies, how to grow companies, and can help people to understand how technology works and what technology can do for companies. Carving this out for owner managers or businesses executives and making it work, has been a passion for me for many years.

So without going into too much detail in this post, I will be working with businesses to help them grow….revealing the how and why in the forthcoming weeks. Very exciting, yet of course scary times.

In the meantime I work with some clients already, from a small business owner to a career mover. Hence, if you feel that there is a conversation to be had, or someone you know needs a business, career or life coach, please be in touch.

Also, I can reveal that I am close to publishing my 2nd book. After publishing my book on productivity a couple of years ago, it is time to reveal my book on success, based on the podcast which is going from strength to strength. I already started recording for season 3 which is going live from late August 2019.

Please subscribe to my blog and updates, so you won’t miss out any official launches and further updates in the forthcoming weeks.

Thanks for the ongoing support, all help and insights are greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Volker

Spring 2019 Blurb – Happy Easter

Hello friends,

I hope you still remember me, and I am allowed to count you as my friends. It has been a while since my last post. No, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. As a matter of fact, I am still writing regularly, I finished the first draft of my book on success, on the back of my podcast, and have drafted a few blog posts. However, I haven’t published any in a while, as you are aware 🙂

Why is that? I find a new peace and reflection in not having such a public life. Of course, I am nowhere close to being famous or feel like I am walking down a red carpet, however whenever I put something in the public domain, I am conscious that people are reading it. This has never been a problem, and still isn’t, but I am currently not keen on sharing too much, unless you ask of course 😉 My focus has shifted from ‘one to many’ towards more ‘one to one’. It allows for deeper relationships I find, so I caught up with a few people over the last few months. And it is good. If we are also friends on Facebook, or you might follow me on one of my Instagram accounts, you might have seen that I am more selective than ever in terms of what I publish.

It’s all about what I said at the beginning of 2019: life is about focus for me, and particularly 2019. I am connecting, to myself, the family, the job, life. I am making decisions and prioritise. A friend of mine uses the expression, that if you want to make an omelette, you need to crack an egg. Changing the form or your state, mind or physique takes time, and it involves giving one thing up and transforming into another. A bit like a butterfly. Do you remember the hungry caterpillar that ate and ate and ate? Whilst weight loss is one of my objectives for this year too, the metamorphosis for the caterpillar to become this beautiful, happy butterfly, is what I was angling at 😉

It took me 5 months since the marathon, half an hour of physio exercises every morning, and lots of patience, to run a 10K again. Never ever give up! I cannot deny that this is something I loved sharing on Strava, and that is something I am proud of. Persistence, continuity, and a lot of hard work. My aim is to recover from my knee injury by summer and run a half marathon, as one of the 12 my wife is running this year for RNIB. She has been busy doing one half marathon a month and I plan to join her for a few if my knees allow.

Focus on what you can change, and there is so much to change and remodel, reframe etc., and one of those focus areas are my knees. Btw, I am drafting this post looking at Bournemouth Beach whilst my wife runs her 4th half, and the kids enjoy some climbing activities. Thinking time is so important, having some ‘me’ time to write and reflect. Another things I got more of this year already. I attended a silent retreat, spend time connecting with myself.

Change work is very important I believe. As a matter of fact, going back as far as 1997, the year I left the navy after my military service, I got involved in NLP and change work, always striving to be a better version of myself. What success meant to me back then, heavily influenced by German society, the navy, school and society – that ‘success’ means something completely different now. If you haven’t heard of Mindvalley, check out Vishan’s content online or read his book. It is one of the few personal development books I happily recommend. The idea of letting go of old BS (Yes, BULL SHIT) rules, and making way for new rules, is so important. What things meant to you 20 or 30 years ago, is not the same they mean for you now or in the future. Change is permanently happening, and you MUST realise that. Embrace it, find your focus, and understand what is happening inside yourself. Be happy, it is that simple.

In terms of success, my podcast has a lot of influence on that change work too, in case you were wondering, and it is still going strong. My focus shifted a bit, away from advertising technology success stories, to people I love speaking to that have a focus on mindfulness and success. Now, to define mindfulness, this is a complete different story, and for another time, but it is about awareness, thoughts and happiness for me, managing change.

Having recently completed an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course and a recap on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), which I researched back at university as part of my MBA degree, I am now more than ever keen on bringing this to more people. My children love to meditate every night with me, and agree that they fall asleep easier and sleep better. Isn’t that wonderful? With mental health awareness week coming up in the UK, I want to draw some attention towards something that is often hidden to most people, and can be helped with more awareness.

This is just a small part of my happiness I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to reach out to me at anytime if I can help you in any way. Advice, happiness thoughts, or just for a chat over coffee or a pint. I love to help and support, connect one on one, and share my journey with you!

Have a wonderful spring and Easter.
Kindness and love from my little corner of the world.
Volker