Archive for category Sunday Column

Sunday Column (434)

Easter is over. We spend a lovely week in Germany where we met with lots of family and friends. We chilled, I really came down and relaxed. It was amazing. I was hoping to catch up on emails on the night before I went back to work but just was too involved in the family and too tired. That’s a good sign I think as I really detached from work. Result. And the boys were tired that night. A pizza, some wine and an early night for us, just after the boys hit the hay 😉 Travelling is exhaustive. I also picked up a bit of a tan, so I was told anyway.

Germany, my fatherland, but only one of two nationalities I hold. My relationship has changed a bit. It is a country in which I speak English with my family, feel less connected to and less understood. A nice and beautiful country where the standards of living seem higher than in other countries. But if you pull back the curtain, things are the same everywhere. Where is my home country now? Where do I feel home? I have had numerous discussions, and home is where your heart is. My heart, without a shadow of a doubt, is with my family. My boys. That’s where home is. Will it change again in the future? We shall see.

The future is more unknown than ever. A new general election was called. It won’t reverse Brexit but gives us a chance to change governments. I personally believe it will strengthen Theresa May’s position, catapult Corbyn out of the Labour lead. Then we reshuffle, have Brexit and a new election in 2022 or so. We shall see. We will master whatever is ahead of us. Politics. Oh, maybe Corbyn is underestimated and will make it. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?!

A note on driving in Germany or generally about driving. The speed, 120 miles/200 km per hour is fast. Yet it seems to work without too many accidents. People fill safety gaps I am leaving to the car in front of me, making it dangerous to drive. Yet still we survived but somewhat it doesn’t make sense. Maybe a good thing. But I enjoyed the freedom of driving as fast as I could. As of May the European governments will share a database of all drivers to prosecute beyond boundaries – something that hasn’t been done yet. Having said that, I think I would have had a few tickets. Fingers crossed I won’t 🙂

I also brought back some nice wine from Germany. Tax on alcohol is a lot lower, making it feasible to buy Australian wine or French wine at half the price compared to the UK. Also, just going shopping, taking me back to my childhood with a filled wallet, being able to buy all those sweets and crisps I enjoyed as a kid. Senses, particularly smell and taste, take me back to my childhood. Some things will never change. Just tasting the cherry lollipop I bought for the boys took me back to the doctor’s surgery where I got one after every visit. Strange, no?

In other news, there is a new Star Wars trailer which got my kids all excited. And me. They seem to be a lot more involved than me and understand more details of the movie and the personal relations of the characters than I do. Maybe I don’t concentrate hard enough? Or I am distracted, fall asleep or am less engaged. Great to see them identifying themselves with these stories which I think are brilliant material for thoughts on the future.

But I don’t want to get too sentimental. Life is great at the moment. It is changing, constantly, and busy and challenging. Just the way we want it.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world.

Volker

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Sunday Column (433)

Happy Easter. I love Easter, mainly because I can spend a lot of time with the family. Good food, great chats and quality time with the kids. Particularly if you have the weather and can spend some time outside. It is nice and meeting great friends, chatting about what was and what there will be. Easter, for me, is about reflecting on the winter, the dark months, then to move forward towards the summer. It is also very close to my birthday, so making it a reflective time for me.

I started Easter with a run – a 10 mile run turned into a 23K run – as always I got lost. A lot of uphill and downhill. With the wife – and it was fantastic. I was knackered though. Being out in the woods, spring in the air, some drizzle, some views. Amazing.

This week I have been debating what and how much to write. It will be a shorter post I thought, just because I am really chilling out, relaxing and staying offline more than anticipated. This is a good thing. A friend of mine recently suggested that the trend goes towards digital cameras, MP3 players and any other ‘not connected’ devices. Away from an all in one, phone, connected device. I am not sure about that yet. However, maybe it is a trend and ‘humans’ will try to disconnect again. Hmm. Time will tell.

On productivity, a few weeks ago I started using Inbox for Gmail (by Google) which essentially let’s you snooze your emails to a time/date which is convenient for you. By doing so it removes the emails from your inbox. This way you easily get to inbox zero and also read emails when they are relevant (e.g. important ones in the morning, newsletters on a Friday afternoon). It gives you an immense satisfaction to clear your inbox by the end of the day, before a holiday or sometimes during the day. Latter is less often the case and it helps you to chase and remind people of actions.

Having more control over emails and being able to use inbox as a todo list, something I never recommended to do with a ‘standard inbox’, is a good way to keep your todo list small. On the other hand, the amount of articles lately that suggest to schedule time in your calendar for actions to get them done rather than using lists, is getting more. I will share them via the Thursday Flash, but only partly agree. Blocking time to get through your todo list and work on time relevant things is important and good practise. However, to schedule every task down to the hour only makes sense if your work is very task based and then you work through one after another anyway – hence could use a list. But as outlined in my book (link on the right hand side), the important thing is that you find a system that works for you and that you are consequent in using and applying it.

I enjoy my Easter break. The last 3 and a bit months have been very intense. In a good way though. Time to reflect, recharge and fly to the moon when I am back! The sky is the limit, really! Powered by Rocket Fuel 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t resist. LOL

Whilst I would say that, over Easter I had to explain a few people what we do and how we do it. Our industry is still so young and so far away from the big boys. No surprise there are the big boys like Oracle, Times, Adobe that get into the game. Fun. And surely more mergers and acquisitions ahead. What will life look like Easter 2018?

Anyway, I am disconnected too – a bit anyway. Not fully of course, that wouldn’t be me.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (432)

The joys of travel makes it almost enjoyable to sit on an old Southern train on a Friday, bumping in the seat, as I go into the office. The usual routine is back and I had a chance to see both the wife and the kids before I headed out of the house. The life I chose to be living. As I finalise this piece, my kids are sitting in their PJs entertaining themselves, the wife is making lovely bacon butties and I have a strong cup of Joe. Saturday, sunny, and maybe a BBQ on the cards. Life can be pretty awesome.

Friday, and that is not what I anticipated, a terror attack in Stockholm. As I said on Twitter, I was in Stockholm when it happened in London and I was in London when it happened in Stockholm. My friends are safe in Stockholm. I am shocked. I said it then and I say it now, we will see more of those attacks. Terror. Not a lot of casualties but fear. Cheap, little preparation. Stay safe everyone. Then there was Syria. Wow. I don’t know what to say but I am more scared of stupid people than of smart people. And you know what I mean by that.

Anticipating how the week would develop, see comment above ‘or not’, I started my ‘new routine’ this week of flying into Germany for a few days with a lazy Monday night. That was very much needed, and deliberately planned. So I started the week with a long sauna session followed by eating healthy salad, watching ‘The motorcycle diary’, a story about Che Guevaras. The right thing to do. Balancing your life.

I cannot say I know much about him, but he travelled and experienced a lot new input biking across South America. I have not travelled much to new and exotic places (yet) however lived in different cultures since I have been 16. That’s a different experience. A different input. So watching the movie and for Che Guevaras to realise that he is no longer the one he was, stroke a cord with me. I am no longer the me I was when I lived in Germany 16 years ago. Or in the USA 20 years ago. Life moved on and experience took over, and one got busy having a family and all. But we are still we, aren’t we?

Those experiences determine how we react. For our German team we did a personality test (red=driven, blue=organised, yellow=creative, green=team person) which determines your main character. Similar to Meyers Briggs this test just looks at your favourite personality treat but uses colour to determine your preference (see above as a rough guide). I am, of course, red. Driven, determined and GSD (getting sh* done). I strive on productivity and love getting lots done doing two jobs at the time. I try to not let anything slip through the net, but cannot promise to go into every little detail as necessary. That is a challenge for me but as they say, it is interim. This interim position got a lot of traction in the German press which I sincerely enjoy. See my Linkedin profile for details.

So whatever made you the person you are, determined your connections between your left and right brain, and whichever experience helped you to be who you are and achieve what you got, you will always go back to your childhood values. Can you tell I have been in Germany, getting back to making those long winded sentences (Schachtelsatz) 🙂 Values often don’t change but come out in different ways. The basic you, the one that doesn’t change, is still there, even after all those years and experience. And this is what I find fascinating, to still get adjutated (sometimes) with the same things by getting a trigger in Germany. Pushing the button on small things that I had long forgotten. That includes words, actions and attitudes. An amazing muscle/brain memory function of going back and making those connections mentioned above.

As I start writing this post I am about to take off from Hamburg. A lovely city. A nice city. It is funny how every airline seems to take off slightly different, like a different driver of a taxi, getting used to Eurowings. Moving forward I will go back to Easyjet at least for the outbound journey due to a) costs and b) convenience. Also, in all honesty I enjoy the extra challenge of having two jobs on one company, however difficult it is to manage sometimes. It is fun and satisfying. I strive on a challgene and love the company I work for. I do. And the more challenging it gets, the better the job right?

So I managed to wrap up the week from London and focus my energy on my two little boys over the weekend. Actually I don’t think they are that little anymore. It is great to see them again and make sure they know I am still there and love(d). I cannot wait to spend more time with them over Easter. I managed to bring back some new Pokemon and some Pokeballs. And some Gummibears of course and NicNacs which are still not available in the UK. Allegedly, so I heard years ago, there is some licensing issues around it. You’d never knew.

With those thoughts about the constant evaluation of life and work, character and personal destination, I want to close for the week. I can see an increase in downloads for my book which is nice and encouraging and hope it helps people to organise their life’s systems. Link on the right hand side.

Have an amazing week ahead of you.

Love and kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (431)

An immensely intense week I may say. A highly enjoyable week though. It went very quickly too. A normal busy Monday lead to a 3 day off-site in London. That meant I stayed over in London, didn’t sleep well and was sitting in marathon meetings, working early until late. But it was inspiring, useful and drove the business forward. Given one doesn’t have a commute, is used to getting up early, a 7 am start in the office is amazing. One gets so much done. Yet it is intense, but also enjoyable. GSD = Getting Sh*t Done! To finish off the week I met with a friend from NY and ex colleagues on Thursday. That was nice. Friday I made it home for bath time and the boys were delighted to see me. So was I.

Having tried to get over some virus earlier in the week and hence didn’t exercise, I just had to do a 7.5K run plus I had to take an early train to get to the Home Office. The, hopefully, final step to get my British passport, the interview where they ask you all those questions to verify you are, who you claim you are. The guy interviewing me tried to make it funny and entertaining. At least that’s how it came across and I felt very awkward. Anyway, my passport should be with me in the next few days. Some questions were who my parents are, where they were born, which way I drive to take the boys to school etc.

It definitely concludes a successful week. A week when you don’t sleep well, feel under the weather, yet have so much energy and drive to work throughout. I was buzzing on Friday. I so enjoy that. What I didn’t enjoy? Not seeing the boys. So coming home on Thursday to see one still awake at 9, it broke my heart to tell him off to go to bed. I would have preferred to cuddle and listen to him about his week but he had to go to sleep. And the other? He woke just before 10 being thirsty, came downstairs and gave me the biggest smile and cuddle. That made my week!

Besides work and life, there are so many things going on in this world. Article 50 was triggered this week. That means Brexit gets real. There is no way back now and just as well I now have both nationalities. I am safe to chose but hope I never have to. As I mentioned before, the future doesn’t equal the past. With the world changing, we need to realise that years from now we might decide to move elsewhere. Maybe years from now I find myself applying for another nationality in a country far (or close) to home. One just doesn’t know. I will watch the next 2 or more years to see what is coming our way. We must stay flexible and vigilant, always trying to better the situation for us and the generations to follow. That’s our duty.

This weekend we did what the boys wanted to do for ages. They were so taken by the lambs last year, we had to go back this year. So we went to a farm to see the newly born lambs. What a lovely site. Also we saw a sheep giving birth, another one trying and a newly born calf. It was amazing to show the kids and even for us. I am not as taken with the little lambs as my family is, but it makes you think about the time your kids were born. How much effort it was and how much we were fearing for them and the mother. How much pain mother had to endure. It is good to be reminded, yet the main purpose was for the kids to cuddle with the little lambs. They absolutely loved it.

Tomorrow I am off to Germany again. I have taken a temporary assignment to help out leading the office in Hamburg. That not only makes me more busy, which is the part I mind less, but it takes time away from the family. Weekends have to make up for it and hence my wife and I, having known each other for 13 years this week, really plan the weekends and quality family time. So far so good. Easter break is around the corner.

So have a fantastic week, stay safe.
From my little corner of this world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (430)

If I look back at the weekend, this is last weekend, it was a great family weekend. I enjoyed myself, spend quality time with the boys and we even went for some Pokemon hunting. It gets the youngest out and keeps him entertained. I personally do not understand the game, but maybe I don’t have to anymore. Of course I am trying, trying to be the understanding daddy. I guess there will be a time in the future where I will be having more difficulties understanding what the youth is up to and of course how they use technology. On the other hand, I am speaking at more conferences explaining people what programmatic and predictive marketing can do.

Is that mad? Our company is at the forefront of digital advertising, using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and literally predicts the future. Moment by moment. Yet Pokemon Go gives me a headache 😉 It is a funny old world out there. This week I went to Stockholm, then to Hamburg and back to London on Friday. Given the age of the kids, this got a lot easier for both of them and my wife and myself, for me to be away. So me travelling regularly to Germany for a temporary assignment won’t be too difficult, unless I travel the days my wife is working. But we can arrange and plan in advance. Exciting times ahead, challenging times ahead. Time to make sure the weekends are planned and well thought out, making it the quality time the family needs.

Given EasyJet’s 4 hour delay a couple of weeks ago, I will change airlines to then travel from Heathrow. This is another headache given the time it takes to go to Heathrow. However, I’d rather have a reliable airline than getting stuck somewhere. EasyJet has been great but the last trip was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 7 years of EasyJet Pluscard, regular European travel come to an end. You could argue I didn’t have many problems looking back, however problems seemed to be more common recently. Of course never say never, I might be back but don’t bank on it. Delays were just too often in the last two months, causing some not needed inconvenience. If the same happens with the new airline…I guess I am back 😉 Watch this space. Eurowings, here I come. I just hope to get my passport soon, as not being able to go through the automated passport gates is a pain and took 30 minutes on Friday night 🙁

I remember thinking travelling was glamorous but if you have done it for years, despite being used to it, it is not glamorous. It is fun sometimes, and it is great to travel upgraded on long distance, but really it is a pain. No matter how short the trip is. At least I stay in nice hotels with both saunas, fitness rooms and nice beds. Life isn’t all bad. And I look forward to the additional challenge looking after the German market for an interim period. Onwards and upwards. The me-time is nicer too. Whilst I normally get a lot of time to myself on the train, the time on a plane is better. No disruptions, no emails, no worries. I can work on presentations, read, or watch movies, sleep or catch up on emails without the inbox filling up again. This is nice. And it gave me another excuse to buy a messenger bag. I love my little bags 😉

Sweden. I was in Stockholm for a day and a night to visit the local office. That was great. The Country Manager and I had a great time, good brainstorming and made progress on a presentation we needed to prepare. However, the stay was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in London. I was glad to not be in London. We have survived 9/11, 7/7 and we will get through this period of time. The scary thing I suppose is that those attacks can happen anytime. At any one time someone could just drive a car into a crowd and launch an attack, in whichever form. And that is the unsettling bit. I guess we soldier on, and get on with our daily lives, hoping we won’t be affected ever. That’s the hope I suppose. But there are no guarantees, life could be over tomorrow.

But I don’t want to dampen any weekend or general (spring) moods. This weekend was sunny and I caught up on some proper boys time. Then it was Mother’s day. I almost missed it if a friend hadn’t pointed it out. Useless Marks and Spencer didn’t even allow me to order flowers for Sunday delivery, so I had to do it ‘manually’. Never mind, I am just too much dependent on online shopping. We had a great weekend!

Being back in Germany is interesting. I noticed how much I have changed since I moved away 16 years ago. My travel companions (you will remain unnamed) and I shared a lot of chat around corporate values, expectations and challenges. We are so aligned, that it is great to see the progress we are making. It’s those shared values and common understanding, hard work and fun that makes or breaks a job. Whilst I am still very ‘young’ within the company, I am still learning a lot, yet loving the challenge and the people I work with. Plus of course, we do have the best product out there. The share price has grown massively since I started (this is not necessarily a correlation) and it feels so good to be there.

Onwards and Upwards.
Have an amazing week ahead.
Volker

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Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life 😉

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too 😉

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (426)

Monday morning flights kind of suck. Although I should be used to them by now. The good thing? You catch up on your emails you got over the weekend, no replies until you are mid air, and a relaxing flight. Luckily I didn’t have to get up earlier than normal (5 am), so I was right awake and ready to conquer the week. Yet, having had little on the todo list, I enjoyed a relaxed flight listening to podcasts, dozing and enjoying a whole seat row to myself. And the hotel had a sauna. I know British people still think it might be odd to go to a sauna naked, and funny enough so do I now a bit, but it was super relaxing. A steam bath too. I enjoy a bit of spa life in the evenings, trying to not booze up and have fat German meat for dinner. I had it for lunch instead and rather enjoyed it 😉 Fatherland.

Now I still have this Easyjet Pluscard. Yes I jump queues and have fast track through the airport which is handy, and the seats are free to book, however looking at the boarding procedure, Easyjet just let’s people on the plane regardless of speedy boarding or not. I wouldn’t mind but some flights have problems with luggage on board, and children/families aren’t allowed to jump the queue either. I tweeted them a couple time before but so far I haven’t had a satisfactory answer. Children and elderly should board first. Then the ones that pay. Then the rest. This is not about being right but about caring from Easyjet. Everyone who has travelled with little ones knows what hassle it can be. Rant over 😉

Darren Daily, my daily motivational video I listen to at 5 am, reminded me to be happy in the now. I was very happy in the now on Sunday last week. We went to a nice National Trust place and the kids played, ran around, climbed trees etc. I was happy. They were happy. The wife was happy. Happiness is here and now, not when you earn another million pounds, own another car or finish the driveway. We often forget, and I find myself thinking and writing about it a lot, how good we have it and how much we enjoy life. Yes, there is always more to learn, always more to do. Sometimes we just need to stop and enjoy. I feel like I am at the point of doing that. Just as a plane accelerates, breaks through the clouds and almost seems to sail and glide on top of the clouds. To just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. To not push the envelope on things all the time, and just enjoy a bit of what there is. Stop to smell the roses.

My laptop of three years was officially announced dead this week. As I don’t need it anymore, a £400 repair to sell it at £350 or below doesn’t make sense. It seems a waste but my iPad mini set up with keyboard works just like a laptop. To be fair, I think I could easily work off a iPad Pro moving forward instead of getting a laptop again. We shall see. For the time being I have a MacBook Air from work and my iPad Mini for most private things; I shall try to sell my MacBook Air on eBay, or keep it and repair it when I need a laptop again. With most files and pictures now being in the cloud, the question really is for what you need a laptop for anyway. There is talk about having a computer screen at work, in a hotel or at home which just connects to your phone and this will give you access to all your files you need. Fully secure and fully functional. So all peripherals are sitting at one’s disposal and access to cloud based files happens via your ‘dock-phone’. I like that idea. It makes sense.

If you think back, at least for me, when I grew up it was all about owning a CD or vinyl. About having an amazing music system in the living room and owning a fast car. Nowadays it is all about sharing. Buying a part of the ownership, to lease cars, music and streaming movies. Less ownership, less hassle, less responsibility. It is much easier to have access to files these days. Remember libraries? I can’t help the feeling and enjoy the atmosphere of a library. Books, dust and more books. The comics I used to borrow and read. Then cycled back to the library and got new ones. Sometimes more than twice a week. Those were the days. Or at university, sitting in the library doing research, using one of the few computers available, slow, to look up magazine titles. All this can now be done from the comfort of your home. How nice and easy.

Overall I had a great week. The boys were on half term and came and visit me in the office. We had fun! The weekend was good too. My wife ran another race and we went for her early birthday meal. Nice. Life is great.

Be happy and enjoy life.
Love and Happiness from little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (425)

A funny, mixed week that was. Lots of things going on at work and at home. Discussions, ideas, strategies. My head was spinning most days, days turning into a big blur. After two full packed days in the office where we made a lot of progress, I went off to lovely Milan. In the meantime the team even made more progress. I have the feeling we are winning. I know it is early days, just about a month in, but it seems like we are ‘getting shit done‘. It feels good.

Ever since I helped getting Milan and Madrid off the ground for a company I worked for a few years ago, I love going to Milan (and Madrid). It’s the people, the city, the smell, the taste, the food, the wine, the atmosphere, the alps – and being able to visit my new company’s regional office there and spend some time with the guys, was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the trip, and I found it very useful and fruitful to bring things together, learning a lot too. The team is super advanced and I learned a lot.

The flight was fun. After a rough night with kids waking me up at 3 am and a 5 am pick up by my taxi, I slept through the whole flight. Yet when approaching the airport we pulled up again last minute. Another plane was given priority due to a person falling sick on that plane. Fair enough. So we turned up and around and landed on the second attempt. That was a first for me. Next week I am going to Germany, which in regards to culture will be at the other end of the spectrum to Italy I suppose. I really enjoy those travels again and being part of a bigger international team. Working in international companies is fun, and we have some very smart people in the company.

Anyway, let’s not talk about work every week 😃 I spend most of my time with work, so it is good to get some downtime now and then. Last weekend I got little. Last weekend I was very jet lagged. This weekend I had to go to the Apple Store because my MacBook Air gave up on me, I cannot start it any longer. Maybe I just give it back and trade it against an Apple TV? However it turns out that the repair is probably more costly than it is worth in value, as I don’t really need it anymore. So before I find out next week, I got the new Apple TV and the kids (and I) are happy. New games, new fun. There are not many Apple products left I adore and would like to have. Maybe the new MacBook, the slimmer and nicer one, yet having an Air from work suits me fine. If I have to upgrade my iPad mini, I would potentially get a iPad Pro. Never mind, not for a long time I hope.

The main challenge is to see my boys so little at the moment. Because of travel, late trains home from work, them getting up later etc. And yet, when I do see them they seem to change so quickly. It is difficult to keep up with their development, their latest ideas on toys, their wish list for Christmas (already!), the things they enjoy doing. Although they spend most of their pocket money on toys this weekend, leading into half term. However, every night when I do see them, it is a new miracle of thoughts that are coming out of their head which I enjoy exploring and questioning. One responds nicely, the other one doesn’t like it. They are like chalk and cheese, so different, so differently motivated, it is a joy to see, however painful it can be too.

Balancing their needs and mine. Wondering if I am a good dad, do I do a good job? It is a job or is it fun? What is the desired outcome for the boys? You cannot treat it like a work project. I listened to a lot of podcasts travelling, and one of them was about a chess player. He got involved in chess heavily at the age of 6. Should I push my boys more into that? Anyway, just when you think things are going well, I ended up listening to a podcast of a woman who lost two husbands and had two kids, one from each. At least I think that’s what it was, as I lost track a bit dozing off. But it is a sad podcast about a family with lots of challenges.

Those are the moments I thank the greater universe for the health we have. I remind myself to eat healthier and drink less. To look after myself and the family more. To be a better dad. A better husband. To have more time for things. I am sitting next to someone on the plane who seems to write an academic article. Should I have written a phd after all? Should I have gone into academia? I sometimes wonder but I am very happy with what I do and the progress I am making in my career. So life is good and most people I know are healthy. I am blessed, truly thankful for what I have and hopeful that it stays that way.

It has been a good week. I am content and life feels right. I sorted my citizenship ceremony and look forward to become a full blown Brit. Did I mention there is another 88 GBP fee to attend the ceremony? It really seems as if getting the citizenship is also a money making machine. Never mind, I am almost there.

Have a great week, make sure to give your loved ones a big hug.
Volker

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