Archive for category Personal

#BeBetter: A book about productivity and life systems

After 4 years in the making, I have finally decided to publish my new productivity book.
I decided, after all, to publish it on Kindle to ensure most people can access it.

Whilst there is a price tag associated with it, you can download it for FREE until this Friday.

I won’t further promote the item. With the publication I finalise my studies in productivity and focus on other areas for personal growth. I will continue to monitor the space and work on new theories and systems mainly for myself.

For any questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Best wishes and I hope you find the book useful.

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 😉

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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Brexit again

I have been thinking about the Brexit again. Not only are we nearing parity with the Euro, we are wiping off money by delivering uncertainty to the markets.

My favourite topic, Brexit, got a new twist last week. Yet it was quickly withdrawn, the argument that every company should list their foreign workers. Blimey, this sounds to me like an outing of some kind. Discussing it with my Irish mate today, it feels like a counting of people with a different twist. Are we going to wear a certain sticker to identify us as non British? What is going on in this country I so felt settled in until the 23rd of June this year?

I am worried, admittedly, not that I cannot stay in this country, but what my chosen home country portraits to the outside world. Whilst I enjoy living here, what is Britain going to be like in a few years time? Nothing is forever, yet what if our plans to retire here won’t work out? Just as we finish the house, could we consider re-locating again, in 2019? Germany, New Zealand, America, Singapore?? I don’t know. There is a lot, if long term, uncertainty out there.

The six human needs have uncertainty as a need, but for me, I prefer certainty over uncertainty. I like my roots, my house, my home, and a regular routine. Doesn’t mean I am not flexible and cannot do my running at 4 am so I am not affected by the Southern train strike. Whilst I try to better myself in my job and my career and being a better dad on a daily, weekly, continuous basis, for my home and life, I like it to just stay the same and never change. Maybe that is an illusion.

That isn’t just me. A lot of people, I might even argue the majority of people are like that. A home, a castle and a place for the kids to grow up. A quality service of trains to and from work. A quality of life. Nothing else. Yes, the odd uncertainty if the exchanged Bose headphone will work better or if there is a problem with my phone. Is wireless bluetooth technology not good enough yet or is London full of interferences. But those uncertainties are fun in a way, geeky and solvable.

My cousin is going to visit from Singapore soon. She lived abroad a lot of her life time, e.g. away from Germany, yet she is happy and young, no kids, not as many roots and dependencies as us. But would re-locating kids mean un-rooting them? Surely not. But as my dad said, it is far too early to think about all that, as we got 2 years to brexit.

By that time, so I think, we will have no EU left. Then it doesn’t matter who threw the first stone. It doesn’t matter which side you are on, and where you live. Or does it? Guess time will tell, but only the uncertainty is certain I suppose. I love Britain, I chose to stay in this multicultural environment and form my life and career here. At the forefront of digital marketing, and I am hopeful, yet not certain, this will continue to be like that for a while.

Fingers crossed and let’s hope we get confidence back in the values Britain stands for: democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect/tolerance.

God bless the Queen!

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Brexit – some personal thoughts

I have been in the UK for pretty much 15 years. That is almost as long as I lived in Germany in any one go, as I left the country when I was 15 to spend a year in the USA. I have seen democracies and understand that the people are the ones in control. When I was young, too young to understand politics, the Berlin Wall came down. That is now over 25 years ago. However, I still vividly remember the visits to East Germany. The discussions with my granny who we took back to where the Russians tried to harm her and the family in the war. The place where my grandad took his two boys, probably not much younger than mine, on his old motor bike to drive them to freedom.

My generation has been lucky. No wars and no conflicts in Europe. We have heard about the war and have been repeatedly told about the evil Nazi machine which had a humongous influence on my grand parents and of course my parents generation. My generation broke free from that. I broke free from Germany 15 years ago.

When I left Germany the primary goal was to study in a more international environment. An environment that supports me. I couldn’t even count the amount of different nationalities that I met whilst studying in Scotland. Then I met my wife and we consciously decided to move to London, a cosmopolitan city open to the world, where we still live – at least in its proximity. This is where my boys were born. This is where I (re)build a base to bring up my boys in a safe environment, with a good education, and where I can pursue both my family life but also my career. Easy access to Europe via Gatwick and Easyjet (and other airlines but I am also part of generation Easyjet).

I never bothered to get the British passport. My boys have both passports: German and English. I work hard and don’t see them often enough to teach them German. Maybe that has to change now. They need to have access to a wider world than ‘England’.

What does Brexit mean for me? I don’t want to leave. I choose this country to live in and bring up my family. I have been planning for the next 20 years to stay where I am, probably longer given retirement age. My pension fund is here, my investments, my mortgage, my bank, my friends.

Here we go with a video from the Wolf on Wallstreet, summing up my mood:

Yet of course we are contemplating. Should we go elsewhere. Would I need a British passport. I shouldn’t have any problems getting one but what for, in a free and open Europe? I guess I got 2 years to decide, and maybe they give me one because I am married to a British citizen? I am not too worried that I will be kicked out of the country and I don’t think that the discussions around ‘immigrants’ that fuelled the Brexit vows are meant against people like me. At least I’d like to think so.

However, it still leaves a bitter taste. There are people in this country, and from what I gather the majority, that don’t understand. People that go with propaganda, the same kind of propaganda Hitler once used. Of course it works, and if you get enough critical mass, you will win a petition.

I am hoping we won’t execute on the petition. There are so many rumours at this point in time, that we will never leave the EU and that article 50 to start exiting the EU will never be executed. We will get a new Prime Minister, the opposition will fall apart over the next couple of months, re-elections etc. The country will reset. The majority of people that are leading the country will have seen the fall out by then, the damage already done, and will do their utmost to stay within the EU or make sure that the impact of us ‘leaving’ will be minimised.

Brexit

Where does that leave us?

I think we stay of course. We are settled here, grew our roots. However, it will leave a bitter taste of knowing you are less welcome that you ever were. That the majority of this country doesn’t understand the wider consequences. Democracy doesn’t differentiate between people’s intellect. And quite frankly it shouldn’t. We are living in a democratic state. And hence I am confident that the government will look at the petitions, the damage done so far and will paddle back. Just in time to limit the damage.

And over the years we will see other countries doing the same, until eventually, the EU will fall apart. Until another person, state or power will try to reunite us again….this is up to the younger generation, which luckily are the future of this country. And they overwhelmingly voted to stay in.

There is hope.
There is a future.

Let’s work positively towards a better Britain, remaining in Europe!

PS: By time of publishing, this might be already out of date. Things unravel very quickly here in the UK.

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AdTrader Germany 2016

Here is the video of my recent panel appearance:

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Sunday Column (384)

A short week. A difficult week. An alright week. This week I thought never finished and I had to leave a lot of unfinished business on the table. That’s not like me. But what you going to do. Each day has only 24 hours. Prioritisation and time management comes in handy. The important and urgent stuff gets done first. And, come Friday, I was on top of things. Hammering out meetings and making progress, training new staff and having home runs. It can be done! Nothing is ever impossible.

We got a new starter at work. The same week the toilets didn’t work. He must have been well impressed. Plus me being rushed off my feet doesn’t help. Hopefully we have more starters soon. I guess we are getting somewhere. The industry seems to be at a pivotal point. We are at the points or take off with exciting product launches in the pipe.

And the weather! Sunny London. You beauty. A funfair in Hassocks, play in the park, football in the street. Those were the days and they are here again.

Change is in the air. I had a good chat with a friend I haven’t seen for 13 years and he gave me some really good guidance. I felt like connecting to my interests and roots. To my inner self. I plan to do more of that soon. With a lot of change looming I will have to put a lot of my theories into action. And I will. For a better life and more love. So here I am, committing to change.

kick ass

In the name of change: the most important thing this week was to get a stand up desk at work. It’s great to have a company looking after your health. A nice lunch with a client in the first summer sun and a chat with some old friends. Life could hardly get better but spending time with the boys at the weekend.

Running took a backseat after a 17.5K on Monday I had to recover. So I just did my essential maintenance runs and some body resistance exercise. This was after the half marathon distance last Friday. I am finally getting fit and healthy. I feel like life is coming together. As if the petals of a flower are interlocking and spinning and taking off. It is happening. Not sure this is the best analogy. And boy did I need that massage on Saturday. Full MOT please 🙂

And one day we look back at the small things in our life that are now the big things. The things that matter now and make us moan are so miniature tomorrow. Learning to live life and enjoy the moment and what you have. The ever changing moment that goes away so quickly.

Life is positive. Life is good.

And we will eventually finish the bathroom and shower room. And do the drive way. And will get on top of things. And then…we start all over again.

Let’s stay happy. Stay positive, be good.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (376)

Hello to this week’s column which seems to really gain on popularity given the latest stats.

My Monday swimming is going well. It was fairly empty this week, as it seems that New Year resolutions are wearing off, so people stopped going first thing on a Monday. This is nice as us regulars, a lot of retired people and myself, get a more room in the pool. I aim to go bi-weekly and alternate with my cross trainer. Despite travelling I keep up exercising and on average manage 5 days a week.

The main challenge around it is that I eat a lot of crappy food to keep up the energy, which is fine as I am burning a lot, but if I stopped exercising tomorrow, I might gain a lot of weight again. A #firstworldproblem I suppose but still, my aim for Q2 is to get leaner and ‘meaner’. We shall see.

I did my run on Tuesday before heading to the airport, as I had to go to a meeting in New York. I have not been to NY since 1993 when I moved to Kansas for a year as a foreign exchange student. So this was somewhat of a treat. Very exhausting travel, yet very rewarding to be back in such a wonderful city. NY is special, no doubt!

Being on a long haul flight makes me think. Not that I am on a long haul flight often, but when I am, I like to wind down. The thoughts are about being disconnected. About missing out and not being able to do emails or call loved ones. On short haul flights it is a couple of hours, like a meeting. But long haul is a working day. And flying back in time, New York is 5 hours behind us, makes the day even longer.

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I guess life is what you are used to. And what you are getting and wanting to be get used to. And that is somewhat something we all know yet don’t apply on a daily basis. Makes sense?

Whether this is to have kids, take on three cats, change the layout of your house, changing jobs or dealing with any kind of change. Whatever gets us out of our comfort zone will make us learn. It will make us grow. It will help us pushing and extending boundaries.

But if we are not going to get used to things, we are just dealing with them. Then we learn behaviour for the next time. Same reaction. Same worries. Only by getting used to things we remove those worries. Sales works similar, where the first meeting to present a new product is pushing boundaries. Ten meetings down the road you will be used to it. It will be easier.

Guess by the time the kids leave the house and we prepare for retirement we have seen and learned it all. And we pass on to our kids what we have learned. Some learning they will take on and accept and apply. Some advise they will ignore. Just like we have done. Just like our parents have done. Some things never change I suppose. Sending them on a world trip, which I have never done, might expand their comfort zone and gets them to look beyond every day life. Will they do it?

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Coming back to my trip. I watched the story of Lance Armstrong on the way over. It is amazing, in a bad way, what he got away with in life. Like a bad sales person selling who is overselling on capabilities. I am glad it backfired. He destroyed hope in people. It was very unethical.

I also managed to go through a few podcasts that I had downloaded for while. If I listen to most management and productivity gurus and experts, I realise a few things. One is that I need to stop reading more personal development books. It is getting repetitive. I believe I have all the tools to make life happen. Yet, I have to stop more often, smell the roses and examine where I am, what I do and which 20% of my efforts result in 80% of my positive results. Time to tweak life perspective a bit and re-assemble, then move forward more focused and stronger.

2016 seems to be the year I am on the runway…I am getting onto that plane, ready to take off. Which airline will I be on? Which class will I be in? How long will it take until we reach flight height? Where am I going? Who am I taking with me? Who is the pilot? A nice analogy for life. I know who my co-pilot is and she was truly missed this week!

Before I get too sentimental…that said…when I was sitting in the bar at the airport waiting for my flight home I was reflective. Very tired. It was 2 am UK time, only half seven in NY. I had run 10K in Central Park, trying to catch some fast runners. Then I met a social media celebrity and some good friends. I soaked in some sights and some atmosphere. I love New York. Got a T-shirt too.

Life is good. Work was very productive. It was a good week. America is great. Space, friendly people and an energy one doesn’t find in Europe. Shame. If I was younger I might consider moving here. Or would I? It is great working in the space I am in, exciting times ahead. We are getting ready for lift off.

Yet travelling makes you tired and coming home is the nicest bit. I missed the kids. I missed the wife. At the weekend I tried to get back to my normal schedule.

Whilst I sit at the bar and bite into an amazing burger with fries accompanied by a glass of Californian CabSav, I realise how awesome life is and what opportunities lie ahead. Full throttle ahead. The opportunity is now.

I hope you have a great week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (368)

This week started with a surprise. Things that meant to happen will happen of course. After a very relaxing weekend things just wouldn’t stop. And this wasn’t even work related. Luckily it all worked out and to that point one needs to trust that things will be working out. The famous dots will connect in the future. Looking backwards.

connecting dots

Whether that is for work, career or personal things. One must trust the greater universe for what there is, what there will be and things work out in the future.

My biggest concern, besides money which will always be a concern, is health. For myself, my loved ones and friends. Hence I run, reduce drink, swim, exercise, meditate and try to eat well. But will that be enough given circumstances like work and the commute, stress and the environment? Are we having enough influence on our own well being?

I don’t know is the honest answer. Maybe we will develop enough new technology for healthcare that we don’t have to worry in the future. But I guess we cannot bank on it.

Work was busy this week, or intense seems to be the better expression. Good intense and it felt like we made a lot of progress. Signing a big deal is always a great fulfilment. Touching base with people that are pushing boundaries and move things forward is satisfying. This was a good week. There will be some things I hope to share soon, but I am in a very happy place.

Also I gave up on my dry January. Not because it is difficult, actually I could do with never drinking again. It’s not that difficult but I do like my wine. I didn’t drink for two weeks, it wasn’t a big deal but thinking of having a glass of wine, sitting by the warm fire, coming in from the cold…that is a piece of heaven. I can do without drink, don’t need to prove that to myself, and a detox of two weeks is enough. As a matter of fact, I would like to consider an alcohol free week every month. With 14 units being the limit, this will be a good idea. What would Donald Draper have said to that?!

On that note I am down to the last few episodes of Mad Men. I cannot wait to finish it, or not to finish it as I really enjoy watching it. It is escapism, yet within my industry.

mondeo

We then test drove a car at the weekend. Looks like the only spacious saloon car out there big enough for us giants is the Ford Mondeo so we are thinking of getting one. The new car finance deals are tempting, yet we aren’t convinced whether we a) need a car just yet and b) whether a good used one might end up being the better deal. Or, we could wait until we can afford a SUV.

No rush, so we shall see. Still waiting to win the jackpot 😉 After two wins over the weekend of around 10 pounds, I am hopeful LOL

On the note of jackpot. My wife is running a half marathon on her 35th birthday and raises money for RISE. She really goes out of her comfort zone and pushes boundaries to achieve both the fundraising and the fitness. I am very proud of her and hope you spare a few pennies.

Last but not least the boys have been good lately with trying new food. We printed off food charts showing the different things they tried. It turns out to be a competition. We find it very important for them to be exposed to different foods, try things, go out of their comfort zone. Big steps for my little people. I am a very proud dad.

Guess that is enough of an update. Today we mainly enjoyed the snow, a long walk, some yummy hot chocolate and cake, another log fire …. a fun day!

Have a great week. Wrap yourself up warm. Winter is finally here.

Love and kindness from me.
Volker

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Sunday Column (346)

Starting the week with a day trip, whether to Paris or anywhere really, sets you up for the week. A little bit like a 5am routine for the day, a day trip to Europe is for your week. You feel energised and ready to take on the world. It is that feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of achievement. That’s why I enjoy doing what I am doing. That’s why I enjoy productivity, sales and leadership. Because you know you are the one moving the needle.

Of course, given it was a 15 hour day, it was tiring too 🙂 Yet it was a successful trip, and it is what I enjoy really.

So the rest of the week flew past. No punt intended. I noticed my 12K from the weekend, some early training for my Dawn Wall (see last week for context) exhausted me a bit more than anticipated. However, and this isn’t a moan about the man flu, but there are a few bugs going around. So far I have avoided to be off work or feel bad, but something seems to be lingering around for a few weeks. I am certain it all comes out, literally, given recent stories at school, when we break for half term tomorrow. Yet, with some more nice weather on the way, I am eager to do more training outside. Just difficult at 5 am as it is a bit dark still, so my 7.5K on Thursday on the treadmill was a pleasant ‘walk in the park’. Again, a feeling of achievement to be able to do your run first thing.

Another mile stone this week was our 8 year anniversary. Sometimes hard to believe that you can spend over 10 beautiful years together with as little fights as my wife and I have. Who would have guessed anyone would ever be able to cope with me for such a long period of time 😉 I guess that makes her extra special. My wife is a very special person and we have experienced so much together, ups and downs, yet it has been a wonderful time so far. And I am more than certain there are many more years to come. I love you Jenny.

cat

On that note, one sometimes wonders if there is a higher force that sorts out your partner. We know people come into your life for a reason and people leave it for a reason, I mean not dying but entering your life, you learn/laugh/chat together, then they disappear forever. Some stay and some are your life time partner. Is that all down to chance? Why do some never find a perfect match?

I guess this is a philosophical question, similar to who do you meet at university and where do you find your first job. This can determine your whole career and 50 years ahead. The small things in life, the piece of chance, luck or destiny that shape your life. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Let’s not get sentimental…yet the picture above shows our new family partner. We picked him up on Friday – not really a replacement for Rosie, and it never can be, but my wife always had cats, and the last cat we had to re-home because of the dog. I am sure he will settle in fine, and the kids will love him.

The end of the week marked the start of half term. I was actually off from Friday! The kids needing the time off. So do I to be honest. It has been a long time since my last break with lots of changes since. So just before we really hit Q4 I am taking a week off. My parents arrived with lots of wine, filling up the shelves. Plus it gave us an opportunity, my wife and I, to celebrate mentioned anniversary. They are staying for a few days which gives the kids and us a great chance to spend some quality family time together.

As I grow older family time becomes more important. Not that work becomes less important, it is more that other things take priority. I am still working on my career, probably always will, but being able to see my kid’s harvest festival performance, being there when they need someone to talk to or just reading about the ‘burgling cat’ before going to work. Those precious moments are never there to return.

That is life. And I really loving it. I love to be in the middle of it, falling on my back, like a dog in the mud, and really enjoy life for the reason of love and friendships.

Buddha bless,
Volker

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First wifi flight

This might be a small step for most of you but for me, Norwegian Airlines offers me my first in-flight wifi experience. 

Guess I will get used to that. So far I enjoyed disconnected time. 

   

 

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