Archive for category Personal Development

Success like it was 2013

As recent as 5 years ago I wrote a PowerPoint with the ‘Top 10 Principles of Success’. I rediscovered them by accident when researching for my latest work on ‘Principles of Success‘. The principles are based on my interviews on my podcast, Stories of Success. A lot of success in there.

So in 2013 I collated the following:

1. Begin with the end in mind, focus on the outcome and make sure you have stepping stones which are like mini goals on your todo list for your big goal
2. Communicate: whether it is active listening or understanding people
3. Think Win/Win: sustainable business and business ethics, trust and belief in building a relationship
4. Have fun, be positive about work and enjoy what you are doing; be passionate
5. Reflection: take time off to relax, calm your mind and meditate
6. Time Management, whilst a topic in itself, made it on the list with planning only 70% of your time and using a trusted system
7. Financial Planning: Taking a calculated risk, be able to live of less than you have, creating a buffer for unexpected expenses
8. Helping, developing and coaching others
9. Having mentors
10. Balancing life and stay fit, looking at hobbies and purpose for yourself in life

Fast forward and the Principles of Success I collated from my podcast are not much different.

Success is …

1. Not all about money
2. About improving the world around you
3. A journey
4. Being lucky
5. About balance
6. Created and helped by visualisation
7. About values
8. About routines
9. About meditation and relaxation
10. About Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
11. Accepting failures and move on
12. Having mentors

Over the next few weeks I will go deeper into my learnings from the podcast and share more examples, a more in depth analysis and more content around each principle.

But I love how over the past 5 years things have not changed that much really.

Old vs. New:

– 1 matches 6
– 2 is somewhat related to 2
– 3 is related to 2, but also to 1
– 4 is underlying in 1,2, 4, and 5 – a lot of my podcast guests mentioned to have fun and enjoy themselves
– 5 matches 9
– 6 matches 8
– 7 isn’t really reflected, if it was then in 11
– 8 matches 2
– 9 matches 12
– 10 matches 5

So you can see that there is a lot of correlation and my new principles are very much a development of the old ones, without having taken the old ones into consideration. So it is nice to see that what I developed 5 years ago is still strong today and supported by my own research via the podcast.

Watch this space for more content around success later in the month.

Have a successful day,
Volker

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Happiness, Success and Chemicals

This is a post about an article I read recently. This article was suggested to me by one of my podcast guests from Stories Of Success. Happy Valentines Day.

We talked on the podcast (release date tbc) about how success and happiness go together. There are a few chemicals that are actually responsible for happiness:

* Dopamine
* Serotonin
* Oxytocin
* Endorphins

The argument goes that when we are happy, this will result in us being more productive, motivated more and healthier. As a return of those impacts you could argue, that success is higher too. So the happier you are, the more successful you are. Is that conclusive? Maybe not, but that’s to be discussed on the podcast.

The article goes into depth of each neurochemical, but I wanted to summarise the main ones here for you:

* Dopamine motivates us to take action towards a goal. Low levels lead to procrastination and self-doubt. So whenever you achieve a goal, a todo and take it off your list, there is this little kick, the reward for having achieved something. Then on to the next one.

* Serotonin flows when we are feeling significant. One of the six human needs. Significance. The opposite is loneliness and depression. So if you don’t feel important just now, live through past experience. The brain doesn’t know if you visualise or your experience real. Quite a trick isn’t it? And sunlight helps too, 20 minutes a day which might be tricky if you live in the UK just now 😉

* Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust and healthy relationships. That will make you happy – orgasms will release those chemicals. It’s also called the ‘cuddle hormone’ and little (or big) gifts increase the level too.

* Endorphins – most of us would have heard of them. They are released in response to pain and stress to remove anxiety and depression. When you push yourself in the gym, have a ‘runners high’, that’s when your endorphins kick in. Laughter releases those chemicals too. And, the article suggest that the smell of vanilla and lavender (ever wonder why you love that smell) is linked to the production of endorphins too. Also dark chocolate and spicy food triggers those chemicals.

In conclusion, to release your happiness chemicals, just follow the list above: have sex, eat chocolate, tick things of your to-do list and make yourself feel important. Simple this happiness thing, isn’t it?

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Success – Positive Giving

After interviewing a good friend and successful entrepreneur on my podcast Stories of Success, he sent me an article and a link to the positive encourager website, which I read with great interest.

Success, so far looking at only a few definitions from my podcast’s guests, has to do with encouraging people positively during our time on this planet. I phrase this a certain way on purpose, this is for the greater good of human kind, and NOT about short term financial gains. It’s about the great unconscious (Carl Jung) and the bigger picture.

It is about finding people’s strengths, develop practical strategies and achieve their picture of success. THEIR success, is what THEY want to achieve. To be loved, live in peace, achieve a career, or whatever it might be. The same, according to Mike Pegg, who is the man behind the positive encourager, can be applied to teams and organisations. So in that context, we are looking at superb work, forming good habits (see my book), to provide a good service, achieve goals, and finish those activities successfully?

As I go through Mike’s website, and I encourage you to do the same if you are interested, I find lots of material on positivity. It is a person’s choice to be positive, to create and take responsibility. As human beings we are in charge of our destination by making decisions, making choices between options.

Looking back at my experience, I have been looking to stay positive more than once in my career and life. When I started meditating, and letting go of situations I couldn’t influence, I learned to deal with situations differently. I was even told I come across of not caring, which isn’t true, but I am a lot more chilled out. Being able to prioritise your feelings and your reactions towards a situation is important in my mind. If you cannot change a situation, monitor it until you are able to make a positive difference.

The LOA (Law Of Attraction), which hasn’t yet been mentioned by any of my podcast guests, is about energy. The way I personally describe it is that you put a lot of positive energy and thoughts into something, and you get the same positive energy back; same of course with negative energy. So by wishing your competitor all the best and hoping the best for her, will in return win you a similar contract even if it isn’t this one. Patience is key to understand those principles and practising them continuously. You wouldn’t notice a difference with one thought only, so persistence is key too.

Following the positive path will lead to gratitude. Essentially this is what I described above. Also, from this path you gain more confidence as the world seems to conspire to help you. You will have more success on the back of being more positive. When writing this article I am looking at a few presentations from Mike Pegg which are published on his website.

Meditation not only allows me to choose when but also how to react to a situation. This is particularly important when you are in board meetings, heated discussions and deal with emotionally involved people. That’s when having a mind like water (David Allen’s expression of being able to have enough computing power in your brain), paired with experience and the ability to retain your thoughts, comes in handy. Self Awareness and Emotional Intelligence. Meditation taught me to let go, stop thinking and to not contribute to a discussion and wait until things sort themselves out naturally. It works, try it out!

On the topic of energy and heated discussions. How often do you find people that drain your energy? They talk about themselves, are selfish and don’t share the same positive attitude. Those people are challenging and don’t bring you forward. Try to help them bring themselves forward and if that doesn’t work, let them go. They shouldn’t be part of your life, should they? Make room, time and space for people that give you positive energy and provide you with fun, and enrich your life.

Following discussions and looking back at my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training many years ago, I was remember of the long term goal. Imagine you are on your death bed, looking back at your life, what would you have wanted to have achieve?

If you believe in Steve Jobs’ last workds or not, someone published them on Facebook as the following recently:

I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.
At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.
In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.
It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, he will give strength and light to go ahead.
Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.
What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.
You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.
Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.
Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbours.

Wow, wow, wow, which I thought were his last three words, but it tells you something. Even if it is a story that is partially true, the message is simple. Life isn’t about money but about having a positive impact. About sharing the love and enjoy every moment. It is about learning and love, success and fun at the same time. I encourage everyone to go through the exercise and decide what your life goals are. I am sometimes wondering if I have set mine, yet they are dynamic as we go along. The reason is simple, as I get older and wiser (I hope so anyway), I end up having a different focus and changing priorities. The sports car in my 40ies might be less important in my 60ies or 80ies, yet my health is much more important now than when I smoked like a chimney back at university.

People seem to forget that life is a journey and is changing. So is success as you start defining it differently as you grow older. Your life changes with life stages including marriage, kids, building a house, career progression and parents dying. The circle of life is ever present and influences your thoughts and objectives, definitions of life.

Coming back to Mike’s approach on positivity for a moment, he writes about vocation. What is your vocation and can you match your purpose in life with a job that matches it? What can make you really happy? What activity gives you this inner satisfaction? And if you cannot get it at work, where can you get it?

I am embarking on a journey where I started to examine my strengths. A mentor of mine, not the same that pointed me to Mike’s theory, coincidentally suggested to me a test to examine where my strengths lies and which ones I need to develop. Which are my weaknesses? I have done the test and loved the results. As we move along on the journey of life, I would love to offer this as a service to companies and individuals to understand their personal profile better, to understand which areas need to develop for them to achieve their individual success.

Once identified the strengths, find yourself some mentors. Jim Rohn said you are as good as the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are your 5? Which 5 people do you spend the most time with and which 5 people do you ask for advice. Find yourself some smarter, more experienced people who are willing to help you on your journey. Importantly, do the same for younger, less experience people. Give back what you receive, and close that energy loop!

I hope you took something out of this article, and please share it on other sites. This is an important milestone for me to bring a few thoughts together early from my podcast but also from discussions around my job search. I am not sure if this gets me closer to the meaning of life, but it shows the energy flow and the practises that work to put life in perspective, figuring out where you want to go and how you want to approach life. Isn’t it exciting to fail and adjust, to try and succeed, to make decisions and go along with things. Identify your strengths (contact me for details) and make yourself better, every single day.

Volker Ballueder

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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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Customer Service 2014

Ok ok ok. I know I am having high standards for some measures, am picky with builders and customer service. That is because I believe in doing a good job and servicing clients exceptionally well. That is important for me. If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing it well.

Now what are the things that piss me off most? Probably wasting my time, letting me wait without an update. That happened at a branch of Metro Bank recently. Once escalated, the branch manager called me, totally got it, said how annoyed he gets at these situations, and that he will do better. On the back of it, I got a present to make up for their mistake. No hard feelings left.

Customer-service-meme

My builders, even if my wife said things are fine, I got quite picky with sometimes. Their patience and resilience in fixing things, moving things and helping was amazing. Not your average builders, and they didn’t do anything wrong, it was just me trying to perfect things 🙂 I love them, they doing an amazing job. Others we had doing some work were not so good, others were pickier than me 😉

Then there was TM Lewin. They needed some pushing, a VERY long email from me, and then they responded. They asked me for the receipt to identify and blame the staff that served me, yet the issues I addressed were not only the way I was treated, but really about the way they handle their staff, shop and business as well as clients in general. Maybe they didn’t appreciate my feedback, despite they said they did. Yet I decided to walk away from a further dispute, some companies just don’t care or don’t want to care. My next lot of shirts will be bought elsewhere.

If you think this is all in the last four weeks, think again. Apple of all companies sold me a faulty computer. Can you imagine? But the way they dealt with it was amazing. Based on the in-shop Genius team’s feedback, the online shop, where I bought my refurbished MacBook Air, replaced this one outside their normal time frame. And when waiting at the shop they kept me informed every step of the way, were friendly and helpful. Now that is what I call superb customer experience.

complaining

As I sit on the train writing this, I remember endless conversations with Southerntrain, or being stuck without communication. It is the same as being on a plane, when you circle for hours and the captain doesn’t tell you why, you get worried and annoyed. Happened before!

And before I post this post, just waiting for the official email from Apple when they dispatch my new machine, I opened a birthday present from my wife. A new Christopher Ward watch. It ain’t working though. Wow. Of course they will return it, send out a new one and all, they apologised and all, but WTF is going on?

Bad karma? Things happening in 3 (that is product not customer service) or just bad luck?

So key about any good customer service is:

– Clear communication: good listening, good understanding and keeping you informed every step of the way.
– Resolution: acceptable solution that makes client happy. This doesn’t always have to be money.
– Follow up: Are you still happy? Did we keep you informed every step of the way?
– Be friendly.

And if you tick all those boxes, you are on a winning street.

Good luck. I seem to need it!

Volker

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Will Smith on Success and Life and Life Success – Enjoy!

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Memory Loss – Memory Gain

Another fantastic TED talk on memory and how we make it up….crazy to think, isn’t it?

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AdMonsters European Publisher Forum Berlin 2013

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Over the past few months I have had the privilege to put the programme together for a part of the industry that was new to me. A steep learning curve for someone working mainly on the demand side, I chaired the programme of the European Publisher Forum in Berlin.

So what is the supply side like? Is it more traditional, slower to adopt and generally speaking behind the curve as most industry folk would suggest? I don’t think so. Publishers are increasingly innovating.

Actually, their innovation is at a speed not seen in many areas of the industry. Yet they don’t necessary talk about it. The demand side, particular the agencies, brag about ‘how great they are’. Publishers don’t, however that doesn’t mean they aren’t. There is a lot going on behind closes doors that agencies could only dream about.

Today’s challenges, mainly around monetization, RTB vs. direct, premium vs. long-tail, big data and omni screen multi channel – they all were addressed at this year’s forum. I attended and moderated Monday’s sessions with the exception of a few tracks in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I had to leave for another conference and didn’t stay for Tuesday.

This is my own account of the event, my thoughts and impressions of the burning issues publishers are facing, but also about the innovations happening on the publisher side. I don’t want to give a summary of each session yet reflect the main points. I hope you find it useful and engaging, realising how much publishers are innovating and progressing.

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At the beginning of any ecosystem is the question how demand and supply come together. In the old days this was via networks or direct, now via exchanges, technology providers or direct. Interesting however is that the publisher doesn’t get a higher pay for his inventory yet the 50% ‘network margin’ has been transformed into five 10% margins for technologies. This somewhat cannot be classed as progress, can it?

The ad operation guys need to become more commercially minded, trying to understand how they make the most margin for their business. Similar to the sales person needing to understand the data and technology spiel to survive. The job functions are changing, with increasing demand for ‘commercially minded ad operational data analysts with 10 years experience’. And, the argument comes from the premium publishers, that the best net revenue margins are still coming from the direct sales. Yet there are businesses where a complete automatisation of inventory sales makes a lot more sense. Different means for different publishers.

The picture of a football pitch from the BBC’s presentation stuck in my mind. We are running into corners of the pitch: search one year, social the next, then participation and now RTB. What we should do instead is going back onto the pitch and consider the whole game and get on with it….Instead of thinking of different devices and channels, we are essentially just looking “at glass”, with the end user not being bothered where, when and how big it is. We need to wake up to a new game, different layers and middle field action.

The majority of engagement, over 40%, is still on TV. Data and context are helping the targeting. Some screens fit one purpose more than another. However, the rules of engagement are changing. With services having logins across screens, the user can be targeted cross device. And one suggestion came up over and over again: why don’t the publishers and the advertisers work much closer together?

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Transparency issues are still there with programmatic buying. This is not only true for the price and the value (?) chain above, but publishers holding back on URL disclosures as they don’t want to disclose all their inventory to everyone. This on return stops brand campaigns to be run and it brings back the argument for closer collaboration between publisher and advertiser. On that note, the question came up whether the ATD (ad trading desks) are just a profit extension of agencies, allowing to keep the “network margin” in house?

Incisive Media shed some light on the possibilities of using data, in house and external, to increase their premium inventory. Firstly they streamlined the cookies that were dropped on their site, and with the help of private marketplace, minimum CPMs, login-qualified 1st and 3rd party data overlays paired with floor prices allowed them to keep the premium prices for their inventory. A great approach!

What other key learning did I take away? Publishers started taking their optimisation in house. As an in house SSP or trade desk. The margins that once were taken by networks are now being taken by technology vendors (see above) so the publisher per se doesn’t end up with more money, nor does the CPM change much for the advertiser over the years. However, publishers are getting more clever with their data, using internal data across portfolio sites to sell audiences to advertisers. Whilst some might still be low volume, the impact and quality is high. On external sites via audience extension they can grow their reach and some do so already.

As a summary I can suggest that there is a need for ad operations to consider the P&L and being part of the bigger picture. They need to think outside the technical box yet getting the recognition and responsibility to drive innovation forward. According to some there is no remnant inventory just different tiers, similar to airline seats. A right thought highlighting the misleading perception of inventory when it is called ‘remnant’.

Agencies seem to take more of the revenue in house, building their demand stack, so it seems advantageous to have a tech, eg SSP, in house for publishers. High floor prices keep low profile adverts at bay whilst still monetizing premium inventory via programmatic. The combination of data and content helps segmentation and profit, leading back to the P&L consideration mentioned earlier.

A fascinating forum, lots to learn for a demand side person, yet it shows how much the publishers are pushing innovation in order to stay competitive and fight the attack to sell their inventory below value.

I hope I got the challenges across and looking forwards receiving any comments.

Best wishes,
Volker

Upcoming AdMonsters Events
– Ops Munich, 17th October
– Screens London, 22nd November

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Dream

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TED on Shortcuts and Time Saving

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