Archive for category Personal

Sunday Column (440)

Another Monday morning flight it seems, yet given the late spring bank holiday Monday, it was actually a Tuesday. A short week to get as much done as in a normal week. The usual rush, stress, escalations, de-escalations and so on. Just another week. Ups and Downs. I have to say, and this is common knowledge, my learning curve is exponential at the moment. As much as I love it, I hate it too. LOL. I am fine, honestly, actually I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Easyjet was delayed, again. Incoming. The weather was the reason and as my German colleagues confirmed, it must have been a bad storm sweeping through Hamburg. Never mind. I am not minding the idea of travelling less, which I will do from July. June is still fairly busy with events coming up in Hamburg and Munich. Also I need to see some clients in Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. As stated last week, I need more focus in London and the boys and wife are fed up of me being away every week. And understandable so. There is a fun aspect too. And the boys love the Gummibears I am bringing home. There is an adventurous aspect to some extend, but not regarding the ‘commute’ but to be able to make a difference, to have an impact. So when I used to travel every other week to different cities in Europe, that was different to me travelling at the moment. Then it was more about helping and advising; now it is more about day-to-day, doing a job in a different town. Not sure that makes sense.

The weather last weekend, and how else could it have been on the last spring bank holiday, was mixed, rainy, muggy. My wife did another 10K run (well done) and the kids and I went to Tailgate park near Crawley. A great day out, lots to do for the kids and we escaped the rain. Just. Some board games, a relaxing afternoon nap, lots of food and a movie. Chill out time prior to the kids’ half term. They enjoying a week off. Just doing nothing, sleeping a lot, and watching movies. Pokemon hunts. Mine craft worlds. Yes, they are having a good time. Lucky them. Brighton, Indian, candy floss, new cloths.

In other news, I think I am getting closer to making a decision on which car to get. Unfortunately I had to rule out the old Mercedes due to the lack of seats in the back. So I am back to dwelling on the Jaguar XJS vs. XK8. Former is older, hence more maintenance and likely needing some electrics sorted at some point. The latter is younger, yet certain engines are having little problems, and the car is not yet a classic. Also it is on average about 1-2K cheaper. I got myself another book to see what the status is on either. Whilst I still need to save up the money, it is getting closer to deciding which car to get. Focus is key. And not getting too excited is key also. Latter is the more difficult part it seems.

Further we are contemplating holidays. So far we booked the summer ones, and for half term in October we booked Legoland. We (I) wanted to stay in the Legoland hotel and do a two day trip to the park. It will be lots of fun. But we still got a few days left before/after where we need to decide on an action plan. We contemplated to go to Hamburg, but now the wife wants to come too, having seen the miniature world on YouTube. So this is maybe for another time when we drive to Germany. This is more cost effective for 4 people. Let’s see. Maybe a few days down at the sea, some days over in Devon or Kent. I am not sure yet. I love staying in the UK and exploring my adopted home.

Whilst I have to say that I try to stay away from politics, it might be at the time to air some thoughts. I cannot see Corbyn being our PM. Yet, I cannot see May getting the absolute majority either. What that means for our country – maybe a hung parliament, a strong opposition and a new referendum? Maybe, and only maybe the future is wide open again. Who knows if in 6 months time we might pull out of Brexit and return to a Europe which will support us, maybe even adopting the Euro as a currency. You will call me crazy. And I am. Yet if I had told you 5 years ago that Britain will exit the European Union and that we have solar cells in every roof tile and cars that are electric and accelerate quicker than petrol cars….you know where I am getting at? We can’t tell the future.

And this is exactly my point. Life is fluid. I don’t know where and if I work in 12 months time. I don’t know if cancer hits me when I am 42, 45 or never. We don’t know how life plans out. What was standard last year, might be no standard this year. House prices are going down in the UK and we having more people renting. 10 years ago this was unheard of. Nothing stays the same and we are in the midst of it. And we need to embrace it.

It took me a while to learn all of that. And whilst it is bl* obvious, we don’t live like that. We, as humans, are pre-programmed to worry about the future. That is what we do. So it becomes more difficult to be a Buddhist and live in the moment. We can train to not fear the future but we naturally do. Because fear drives us on, uncertainty and new situations. If we start embracing this, we manage better, become more resilient and succeed. In life.

As I mentioned before, the evolutionary coaching book I am reading helps me understand the obvious. Yet we are struggling to comprehend or wanting to comprehend. We refuse to accept and instead strive to fight what we actually should embrace. If you asked me today, that’s why I would love to coach people. Helping high achievers to push through that barrier. Helping people in my team to move the goal post. Because we can.

Enough for today. How was your week 😉

Volker

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Sunday Column (439)

Hello friends. I noticed that, if I am awake early on Mondays, that this is good writing time. So I am on another flight. Just about 16 hours after I disembarked my last. Yet the last one was for fun. My wife took me to Edinburgh for the weekend. It was amazing. Not only did you not have to worry about the kids but could do all the grown up things kids are not interested in. Culture, sight seeing, castles and whisky tastings. Plus, my wife took me to a restaurant, allegedly the best one in Scotland, the Witchery, where I ate the best steak I ever had in my life (and I had a lot), and I discovered the most interesting and tasting Italian blue cheese I ever had too. What a great weekend. Thank you again.

Later in the week I got a belated birthday present. Two actually. One was the picture of a Buddha my youngest drew. I love it. I even got two copies, one for each office. How sweet is that? The other a book of pictures and quotes collected by my wife from my closest friends. It was very emotional to read the impact I can have on lifes. I love you too guys, and this is only the beginning. 40 is the time you turn up the heat, put your foot down and enjoy the wind in your hair. Because you can. Because you don’t know how much longer you can do it either.

So as I wander through the airport on Monday morning, I am tired. Of course I am. The cold I had is still lingering around. Maybe it is more of a hay fever. The weekend was exhausting. I am happy though and that’s what matters. I am trying to think how we best plan our holidays over the next year(s). Also, I am listening to my podcasts again. This time it is all about passion. That someone should not necessarily want to be like someone else, but everyone is an individual. Realising you don’t want to be Steve Jobs or Anthony Robbins is the first step to realise that you are not like them. As I have learned over the years, it is about what you can take from any of those individuals and how you can put it together to form your self. The podcast guest suggested that you shouldn’t quit your job and start working on your passion. A passion is still what you do in your own time. And if that takes off from a side project, so will be it. Those podcast paired with the book I am reading about evolutionary coaching just make a lot of things come together. What an amazing life we are living, and slowly it all seems to make sense. The dots are connecting more than ever before. Wow.

Discovering your passion as something like ‘helping others’ and ‘developing others’ is great. That’s what I did. And if you as a reader of this blog or someone reading my productivity book is interested in what my opinions are, then please share and get engaged. I am just someone with some strong opinions on certain topics. I believe I know how to set up a productive work life scenario and work efficiently for others. I believe I am mentally strong and have a good working routine. A routine that allows me to cope with the workload and life load. And whilst doing all that, I still have a lot of fun. I cannot see myself being the Jim Rohn or Darren Hardy or Anthony Robbins but I can envisage to offer seminars for lifes’ little tricks in years to come. Not in my 40ies though 😉 And one of the reasons is that once I stopped university, I started learning. Life experience, personal development books and so on. Experience of others that helps me to go through life. And that experience is something I’d like to pass on. But I am far from perfect and yet have many years of (life’s) training to come. Embracing this makes it even so exciting. Evolution at its best.

Bad news this week are coming from Manchester. A terrorist attack killed teenagers and hurt a lot of people. Terror at a ’teenager event’. 22 people died. A 22 year old was named by the police. I am speechless. Those kids had their whole life ahead of them. A 22 year old, someone who just started out in life, what did he know? Was it hatred or religious reasons or just someone being confused. At time of writing I am not sure, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It is awful. My thoughts go out to those affected. And it impacts things in London. Fear of attacks, disruption and anger. United we stand. We will get through this, terror will never win.

In other news, as I still recovered from the weekend, I took it easy this week. A lot of work to catch up on, not too crazy tbh, and I managed to even fit in two saunas. I got a haircut in Hamburg (never as good as home) and caught up on a lot of catch up TV. I haven’t done that for a while, so a relaxing and very productive trip at the same time. Some me time to catch up on important things, testing my new Asics trainers which aren’t as good as the Nike. My pain creep back up running in the Asics but not in the Nike trainers. The weight of the shoes, the way I run in them etc. So the Asics are going back. I might still try some Ultraboost, but at least I am getting back on track. I even managed my first 10K in ages on Friday. Somewhat I haven’t been in a good place with running and the 24 hour race is coming closer with only eight weeks to go. So I better find the right trainers and the right mojo to make it. It’s going to be epic. It must be. Another wall to climb, to break through and move forward from.

When waiting for my plane on Wednesday I was wondering why those trips are so draining. And my conclusion is that you cannot do both of your jobs 100%. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I enjoy what I do. I chose my job to make it successful and be there fully, giving my best and make sure I have an impact. But by doing two jobs, it seems as if I do one or the other, and both only 90%. That is just not satisfying to be not as good as you could be because of restrictions you cannot change. Not sure that makes sense. Nevertheless the support from my boss, HR, colleagues is overwhelming. A great place to work. And so much more to learn and walls to climb. I definitely put my ladder on the right wall here.

However, I enjoy things as I used to. It is a cracking challenge, lots of fun with some really great people and amazing tech. Things are good, and I am not complaining. I am just tired this week, that’s allowed sometimes too I suppose. As the week moved on, my tiredness turns sleepless due to the heat. I am up most nights at 4:30. So I fit in the above 10K, a cheeky 5K and time with the boys before school. Challenging at times, but hey, isn’t that fun. 40 – life is only just beginning. Only now got I the tools to break through those walls. Keep them coming.

From my corner of the world, have a great week ahead. Enjoy the bank holiday weekend! Sun. Summer is almost here. BBQ. Family!

What else to live for?
Volker

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Don’t say it cannot be done.

I was very moved and got very motivated today, seeing Patrick Barden walking and finishing the London Marathon.

As the BBC reported: Kent man with cerebral palsy finishes marathon.

What an amazing achievement.

I donated. I don’t know Patrick. But I think what he has done is amazing.

Donation Link.

All the best.
Volker

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#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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