Archive for category Sunday Column

Sunday Column (507)

I was travelling this week, attending the biggest online and digital marketing show dmexco in Cologne. It was a reunion of industry veterans. I noticed that a new generation came along and I am one of the older ones now. Gravitas and experience start to show I hope, and friendships form. You almost feel like a pioneer having attended 11 of the last 13 years of the show, being in the industry for 13+ years. But I also made a lot of new connections, meeting people from my new company. A great trip, and well worth the time spent. Thank you again industry.

But I also reflected a lot during my flight. For once I had a window seat and a great view of London, then of planes taking off against the sunset whilst we taxied to our gate. When flying to Singapore for our first big international holiday, I found myself having one of those moments too. Those reflective ones. I am not one for binge watching movies, or downloading millions of episodes on Netflix to watch on the plane. So I started listening to Tim Ferris’ podcast on the way to Singapore, and dozed off. As I woke up people had lowered their blinds and all I could see was a variety of screens lit up by various TV shows. In flight entertainment everywhere, and quite frankly what else would you want to do on a 12.5 hours flight?

Flying on an A380 airbus is a lot nicer than a smaller plane from Europe to the UK (saying that, we have not left yet). I took my youngest up the spiral staircase at the back of the plane and not only did the staircase move a lot, on the top you found the first class cabins and we got some amazing chocolates. How the other half of the world lives 🙁 Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that for a moment, as I awoke, I saw someone watching a drama about a child, others watched the Asian version of X-Factor, then a comic, a love story, a kids movie….and it became a bit surreal, and I couldn’t even really explain why. As if you had loads of different views and experiences put together into the same place.

It must be the influence of Homo Deus (that’s the book I read, remember me mentioning it before?)) – “Human God” if you translated it, that made me become so openly philosophical. Maybe this is the start of a new era of blog posts that are more philosophical and trying to enlighten you as a reader, making you think 😉 The differences of choice of movies, the different cultures, the heritage across our planet makes it so wonderful. The variety of taste and taking a 10,000 feet view of humans, is something I haven’t done consciously before.

You might have read my column on climate change. After the heatwave, the rain and of course the humid weather in Singapore, things were forgotten. The summer at home was back to the best British weather, rain, muggy and stinky 😉 No sign of climate change. Is it real then? Something is happening anyway, and we just don’t know what influences it.

So that’s what I think when I travel. And I enjoy the podcasts. And when I run, like this weekend, I listen to audio books. It takes my mind away and it gives me new perspectives. On AI, on human kind and human behaviour. Those snippets you experience. Isn’t life wonderful?

Anyway, enough for this week, I am off to Germany again next week – maybe a few more stories of philosophy from a plane 😉

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (505)

You know, this week saw the beginning of season 2 of my podcast. I really enjoyed recording loads of material over the summer, meeting interesting, successful people and recording their stories. However, I also know that I probably end up having less time doing that moving forward. So this season is similar to season 1 maybe a bit more topical and next year I am planning to potentially shift the podcast a bit into a longer form concept. Let’s see how it goes.

I must say this weekend was fantastic. Life is about creating memories. I managed a 25K run, and it was fun, pleasing somewhat. It was weird, running through fog, cold patches as the sun came up, then warm muggy patches in the woods. I love where I live and whilst discussing Brexit a lot this week, I don’t want to leave. I am sure things will work out. Will I end up running a race after all? Maybe, I still haven’t made a final decision yet.

Then the little one and I enjoyed a fabulous football game in Brighton. It makes for a whole afternoon just to get there and back. And what fun we had. Who would have guessed that I enjoyed football that much, after I had never been to a game until 2 years ago. And now, we got the premier league at our door steps, why wouldn’t we go?

I wrote it before, life is about focus. So when the family disappeared for 10 days and I had some spare time, e.g. a long bank holiday weekend, I decided to crank out lots of content for my podcast and blog (watch this space over the next few weeks). Also, I started clearing out some old stuff. Every now and then I go through old folders, picture albums and decide whether I keep them or not. So this time, a lot more went in the bin than I had anticipated but it is good to discard pictures from 25 years ago, just keeping a few of good friends or special occassions. Clearing your mind, your house and letting go of things is important. As the only thing we can do is live in the now, and be present in the moment. That’s where we create memories, we don’t need pictures of them or post them on social media.

I also wanted to thank you for the positive feedback about my more topical blog posts, including the one around success which includes my podcast. Are we obsessed with success, or am I?

Maybe. And how are we defining it? When joining my fraternity in Germany many years ago, I transitioned into a ‘career driven personal development’ person, developing a sense of ‘always give your best performance to achieve the most possible results’. And of course there are limits for everyone, discussing this recently with a fraternity brother of mine, a mentor for over 20 years, there is always a new boundary to push and a new angle to develop on your personal approach, in order to push yourself further. This could be in a job or outside work, most things are mind games. My running training for instance. You can always improve a bit more. You compete with yourself not others.

I discussed that with an executive coach this week too, trying to find the best approach to get some professional help to push things a bit more. The last couple of years I have invested a lot in self finding, career development and have been battered by redundancies due to industry change. Life is a constant change.
I seem to have this urge to constantly better myself. I know a few people that do not understand that, but I love a great challenge. I strive of the learning I get from new exposure, people and concepts.

So to conclude, as I get deeper into my work and get busier learning new skills and apply my experience, the further I develop and apply focus. Hence my podcast concept will probably change come 2019; as I keep closing chapters, discard of the past in a physical and/or mental sense, I open new doors and opportunities. Exciting times.

As one door opens, another one closes. Or the other way around, as one door closes, another one opens. Similar things, aren’t they. And yet they can be seen differently.
Life is a constant change and I am learning to embrace it, enjoy it and think less about it. But I will be more present in the moment, the now.

Have a good week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (504)

There have been a few topics on my mind this week. My wife, including kids, went to visit the MIL and left me alone for the bank holiday weekend. That is fair enough, as I usually organise a cracking weekend with the lads. However, this time around, people are busy, non committal and are still on holidays themselves. Hence the appetite wasn’t there. I ended up working a lot on my podcasts and some content I will publish over the forthcoming weeks and did some training to improve my long distance running.

What I wanted to note was the bachelor life. Similar to above’s reason, I wasn’t out every night, just instead binge watched Amazon’s Bosch every night, and enjoyed good food, great sleep and my own routine. I noticed that dishwashers aren’t made for single households and that shopping delivery seems almost useless given the amount I need. My drinking went right back, as drinking on your own just isn’t the same anymore. I would even go as far as I was lonely. But of course I wasn’t, having had calls from my son, the above podcast recordings, three cats etc., I was busier than I was hoping for to be honest. No complains though.

It’s just different when no one is around, despite the cats. However, it is also a great time for reflection and doing what ever the f* you want, including sleeping in and napping whenever it suits you 🙂 But it is only ever enjoyable knowing the family comes back.

When we went on holidays this year, my wife offered our house to a family to stay. Their renovation overran and they couldn’t stay in their place. Also, they had guests arriving from afar, which didn’t allow for any rescheduling. We didn’t know the family that well, maybe the odd exchange on a kid’s party, and went with trust and gut feeling and let them stay. I remember speaking to my dad about it and he said, that there should be nothing to worry about. Of course one imagines what someone staying at your house could do, but honestly, the majority of people are good. The ones staying in our house were great actually.

Where am I leading with that? The family staying in our house of course lived differently to us. And this is not criticism but pure reflection. Things broke which is normal wear and tear, and things got moved. Things that broke got replaced, and misplaced things got moved back. No big deal. And whilst I might look too much into it, for me it was realising that actually it does not matter where you put your plates and glasses. Or whether someone does things differently. Because in the end of the day everyone does their own thing, their own routine. Similar to when you are home alone, you don’t run the dishwasher that often, fill up the fridge or empty the bin. Or whatever it is.

I enjoyed both. The experience of being solo again and the experience of someone staying at our place. I actually consider the latter again, but only if I find similar great guests again 🙂 We were very lucky and hope to stay in touch and maybe even become friends down the line. Who knows. After all we literally lived in each other’s beds 😉

Expanding your horizon they say, and we did that, and going with your gut, and we did that too. And doing a weekend what you want to do without being considerate to others at all, I did that too 🙂

Enjoy the week ahead and the bank holiday tomorrow, another day off 😉

Volker

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Sunday Column (503)

Hello. I am now back from holidays and rested, started my new permanent role, finding my feet. As always things are new, exciting, and it takes some time to really get to grips with everything. That’s it. So I had some thoughts again I wanted to share. This time it is about the future and all.

My oldest was born in the year I turned 32. The next one when I turned 34. Just imagine at that time, I would have had my great grand parents still with me? Wouldn’t that have been crazy?
This week’s column is triggered by something I read somewhere, probably the FT, that the first person who turns 1,500 years is already born. I am not sure 1,500 is a good age, and I am not sure how that is justified, but it got me thinking. What if technology and bio-tech is accelerating, and what if the first person turning a 150 is already born, or alive? That for me is more of a scenario to live or die with. Maybe a bit more realistic.

So imagine I turned 120 years old. Not only would it mean I am about one third there, or still had almost 80 years to go, I would have to think hard about my pension and retirement age. All that aside, wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in one form or another for that period of time? Maybe we live as a brain in a glass container kept alive by robot nurses? For the ease of calculations, if I was 120 years old, it would make my sons around 90, their kids 60 and my great grand children 30. That’s four generations with the 5th generation just being born. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

I certainly like to think so. Whilst I am not the most adventurous person, and I despite flying a lot I am not too keen on flying, and I never liked hospitals nor I am able to watch operations (I am very squeamish), there is this thought of going on a space ship. Actually, did you ever notice that in science fiction films there are less turbulences than flying in an aeroplane. Hmm, does that suggest it is smoother?

The dream of maybe living as a brain, or just emotions as consciousness detached from your body, or maybe in a younger body, transplanted onto a planet far away, or living in a space ship, being able to tell stories of what human kind once was to a generation that would laugh at the way we travelled in the 21st century in a way we look at the Stone Age. A generation that would look back on how we destroyed our planet Earth and how we escaped the Doomsday scenario. How we inhabited uninhabitable planets and how we managed to survive as species. I have definitely listen to too much Homo Deus and Sapiens as well as AI (Artificial Intelligence) books, however I have not given up on the thought that humans will survive. One way or another we will. We are clearly a species of innovators and inventors that push on and beyond of our visible capabilities, re-inventing the wheel or life as we know it.

I am optimistic and think it could happen. Me being 120 is a very comforting thought in my opinion. Then again I would be a pain in the bum for my kids 😉 Payback time I suppose. When I was younger I never read many science fiction books, and the thought of not being around to see how life on earth and beyond might evolve makes me sad. Maybe we are the generation that just see so much more and so much longer to be able to see how human kind evolves. I would like that. And if not, I will continue to write about it and educate the next generation to not be afraid but embrace technology.

All that comes as I am trying to detox from digital. I finally got my pay as you go phone, my emergency number. It is like a landline we have sitting in the corner (we disconnected our landline a long time ago) which we can take with us. That means we can turn our smart phones off, the disturbing and distracting ones, whenever we wish or we leave them at home when we go away for the afternoon. Let’s see if that works.

That’s all. As of writing I just sorted the setup of my laptop out at work. It has been a long time since I worked with a Microsoft Exchange, and I can clearly see why that has been the case. I haven’t seen such a clunky system for a long time, trying to find my productive way with that system is a challenge but I think I am just about there. Early days 😉

Have a great week and years ahead 😉
Volker

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Sunday Column (502)

This is my holiday post. So a bit more personal, less topical. I am sure I wrote it the other day – apologies but I have a few articles sitting at the ready, so I don’t remember where the wording is – that I am not much of a holiday person. I find it difficult to switch off, so this time I tried to force myself to switch off, which of course doesn’t work either. Having said all that I had a relaxing time, and the amount of sleep I got was amazing. Plus, thanks for the feedback regarding my topical posts, I am glad you are enjoying them.

Having finished my contract work and got my first few days at the new job, having a two week break should be easy. And actually, it was. I was yet thinking a lot about the job, but I refrained from checking emails etc., as I am too fresh into the job as someone really needs to rely on me. Hence, this was probably my only chance for a while for a “work detox”. And I am keen to get busy for one job only too.

On the other hand, I cannot sit still. I am creating an article a day almost, topical blog posts, thinking about my career and developing my podcast ideas. As the brain relaxes, there are new brain connections to be made, resulting in new input, new ideas and fresh thoughts. I try not to write on my book though and focus on other things first. There are podcasts I am going through whilst running and seeking new inputs. Not many podcasts recently chime a chord, and I found books that I put away after a few pages. Time for change is on the horizon. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got!

However, holidays 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed our two week break. We went to Singapore. A lot of people warned us that 10 days were too long but given we lived in a hotel/flat complex where we had our own little flat, pool and breakfast, this was as much a pool holiday as exploring the city as visiting family living out here. And it wasn’t too long. It also was the idea of introducing the kids to a different culture, whilst knowing it is one of the safest places you can imagine. What’s not to like? A holiday where we could use the gym to keep up with our training, park the boys in the pool for half a day whilst writing blog posts, and meeting expats that just came over to Singapore and stayed at the complex before the final move to a long term arrangement. The kids and us both loved it. The weather of course was amazing, hot and humid, just as it was when we left the UK 🙂

I finished reading Richard Branson’s ‘Loosing my Virginity’ biography (the latest one) as well. It was a stunning read and I read a lot about things I didn’t know he was doing. It almost felt like he had me around for a cup of tea, whilst telling me the story of his life. Not only do I agree with him on most topics like Brexit, Trump, Obama and others, the Elders, climate change and saving the world, are all topics I am keen on investing more time on. It almost feels like I would love to work for him on some projects now and help him make a difference. Let’s see where my life will develop into, as I only turned 40+1, wrote 500 blog posts and finding my own path as we speak. I got plans, they slowly materialise and are put on the right tracks I feel. Patience, as always, is the key to everything. Anyway, I tweeted that man, allegedly he reads them all, maybe I might get a reply too.

Another thing I learned on holidays, and would love to have people’s opinion that experienced similar, is the saying ‘Sorry, I don’t think it is worth it’. I said that to (luckily) a friend who when I apologised laughed, but I didn’t mean it in an offensive way at all. I texted him saying ‘attending his birthday party, giving timing and train journeys, is not worth it’ – in German ‘lohnt sich nicht’. It made me think, as neither the German expression or the English one is meant in a negative way. However, the Germans are very direct in their language and appeal to the nature of the event, saying it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be at a party for 1-2 hours. The Brits on the other hand see it as ‘you are not worthwhile my time at all’. Latter is very rude, former is German directness, hence I me translating one with the other isn’t working at all. I can see that now and hope I haven’t offended anyone prior to this, or won’t in the future. Anyway, if I come across to anyone as rude again, just let me know. Most of the time this isn’t intentional and might just be down to a wrong translation.

And that’s really it from our holiday. I was asked why there haven’t been any pictures shared on social media, and I’d like to answer it here. I enjoyed the holidays. We took about 850 pictures and we had a fantastic time. Family and friends would have seen some pictures, but I personally do not think that I need put an album up on Facebook or Instagram to share what a great time we had. I have been thinking a lot about social media recently and it is nobody’s business to see the intimicy of our holidays, or for me to show off what a fantastic, expensive hotel we lived in. Does that make sense? Oh and it wasn’t that expensive either. I have never done that in the past, and that was partly due for me not wanting people to know I was away, but this time we had someone staying at our house at home, so this was the time to let people know where we went. It is different when you are on work trips I believe, and you will find the odd picture on social media, but the majority….I do not know, not for me anymore. In the past I shared far too much, not thinking about implications but these days I feel a lot wiser tbh.

I came a long way, as did Facebook for the past 12+ years, of how I use social media. And when I think back to when I was a child, I had 2-3 rolls of film, 36 pictures each, and had to develop them after the holidays for expensive money. Now over 20 times as many pictures are sitting at the palm of my hand. I saw people running around with GoPro cameras and I wonder if anyone ever sits on holidays and takes on the experience, and to remember it the way they want it to be remembered? What I mean is that we had good and bad times, as you always have anywhere you go, and I just want to remember the good bits. That’s what I have always done, I don’t need to monitor everything all the time and sometimes like to let go.

Actually, I do feel a lot more relaxed than before, a lot better for it and fear the jet lag, the shorter nights, the going back into the routine and….I will be fine. And unlike me, I am planning the next holiday already. The boys would move out to Singapore in a heart beat, let’s see if we can discover more places like that. Let’s be Brexit ready, but before we know it I am in a new job, new routine, the boys will attend the same school and we get a deal for Brexit and life will just move on as we knew it. Won’t it?

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (501)

How are we doing? The height of summer and it is warm. Or it has been warm. Allegedly this is due to the jet stream not moving air and weather around the way it normally does, because there isn’t enough cold air above the Artic which means hot and cold air aren’t making the jet stream flow. See this article for a more scientific explanation. I did some research for this topic and want to share accordingly. But also as this heatwave goes on globally (!) there are more articles emerging, including one that had highlighted the high temperatures above the Nordic hemisphere being above 30 degrees Celsius for far too long, and higher than ever before 🙁

We shouldn’t complain, yet the heat gets to me. It’s not what I am used to. And I am probably too British to not complain about the weather. Either way, too good or too bad. What I really worry about though if that’s the start of global warming or if that’s a one off. The Independent says that our minds are ‘clouded’ with our own short term memory and that the weather might just be going through cycles and there is nothing unusual about it. On the other hand, of course, climate change results in spring happening earlier and the seasons being affected, yet is the heat wave down to climate change?

The Guardian on the other hand says the heat wave is due to carbon monoxide, and again not unusual but supported by climate change if I read and understand it correctly. So if I summarise, we should get used to the weather being more extreme and warmer in the spring, colder in autumn, seasons are shifting but the heat wave as such isn’t due to climate change on its own but more a result of a few factors coming together, which as such are also influenced by climate change. Not sure if that is all sensible or not? And surely the Arctic being warmer is due to global warming. Maybe it’s just another earthly cycle, which means we get a colder atmosphere and ice age again sometime too?

I cannot help myself but getting worried. And maybe it is because of the books I read like Sapiens and Homo Deus. The Doomsday scenarios of the world, historical and futuristic, are there. Should we put people in charge who think the world is going to end and we are all ending up in an escape pod or spaceship? Are we relying on finding a solution to the problems humans have created in the first place? On top of that we have Brexit, see my comment last week. Are we living in the most peaceful times on our planet yet instead of going after other nations and cultures we decide to kill ourselves via carbon monoxide emission, ocean pollution and all of the changes affecting our weather? And if that isn’t enough we start changing the political system to add a bit of spice to life? Sorry for a big rant 😉

We should just worry about everyday life, our jobs and families, about not having too much sugar and how we pay for our pension and mortgage. And maybe we should worry about AI and it taking over the world (Human Deus)? Shouldn’t we be happily engrained in society, helping others, and wonder what our kids want to do with their lives? Wasn’t that the life our parents had just one generation ago, or is that me painting a rosy picture of the past? Have I forgotten the struggles they had? Instead, we are worrying if the first person living to 150 years has been born, and if we all live past 100; and in the same breath we talk about our planet being destroyed and us having to go to space. I sometimes don’t really know what to think anymore. And maybe I should stop reading books like Homo Deus and just enjoy the weather as it is…. What do you think?

Given my nature, I just cannot stop thinking about the global impact of those changes. Over 25 years ago I was part of an environmental group warning about the pollution of the oceans and global warming. What have we done to our planet since? I feel like I am turning into a philosopher to a certain extend, and wonder if we end up in space ships driven by AI? Or if we all die young, so we don’t have to worry anymore. Or as Elon Musk or Homo Deus states, maybe we are part of a big model, actually living in the year 3000, and we went back to experiment with the planet to see if we can save it. And will we? And are we? If it is an animation, we would, wouldn’t we?

Given the other part of my nature, I am an optimist. I am positive and believe that we will always come up with a new solution, something that will save mankind. Of course I would not rely on it but somehow we will. There might be mass exodus and mass extinction, and maybe another war, but similar to the TV Series of 100, there will be few of us that will be saved. Maybe that’s what the planet needs? Aren’t we all in it together?

Maybe not my most motivational post, but I thought I share this, as there aren’t any other news. Sommerloch, the German saying of ‘summer hole’, no news in the summer. And I don’t really want to bore you with my day to day all the time 🙂 Hopefully an entertaining, yet thoughtful post. Next on my reading list is a book about AI – maybe you get more posts like that.

I hope you enjoy the summer.
Have a good one, wherever you are,
Volker

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Sunday Column (500)

Today is my 500th blog post. That makes it 9.62 years 😉 Wow. I have been writing a lot. If I assume that I write about 500 words on average, that makes 250,000 words, similar to a phd thesis I suppose or double the size of an average novel. Oh I love a bit of writing. Thanks for staying with me and reading regularly, participating in my thoughts and life.

Today I want to write more topical…the heat and Brexit! The weather, the British most favourite topic, and I am seriously more British these days than German. Then I flew to Germany again this week for a farewell of an interim Managing Director position I have been contracting for. It was a nice farewell, but with over 30 degrees, just a bit too hot for my liking. Never mind, I survived. Just.

I worry about the weather and decided I write a more topical post about it next week. To spare you with weekly summaries. Maybe you have more ideas on how I can change my Sunday Column a bit, as when I originally started it was about opinions on topics. And I kind of do that whilst reflecting on the week. Yet maybe I need to research topics and give you my opinions on it? Let me think about it.

Let’s look at Brexit. There is a doomsday scenario of food being shipped to Northern Ireland, and border controls taking part of the motorway to deal with backlog of customs. Really? We are preparing for that and a potential additional 3,000 people we might need to employ in order to deal with it? But we have so far failed to negotiate anything with the European Union? The new Brexit minister inherits a tough tasks and of course opinions are divided if the new government proposal is working, but hopefully we agree something with the EU this autumn. Some people seem positive.

As a native German, a British passport holder, and someone who not only enjoys living in the UK but also has his life in the UK, I don’t want a Brexit. I want more freedom for Britain to be in charge of what they can negotiate, and I do want certain rights, but I am not an advocate to leave the EU. Not currently anyway, over time this might be different, as I have been saying for 20 years that the EU will fall apart. But there are so many positive things about it, like the agreements around healthcare, free travel, custom union, cultural exchange, people exchange, and Europe coming together in any aspect. Think about agreements to work with other companies across Europe to foster innovation in healthcare, technology etc., Airbus being a prime example. Wouldn’t it be awful to isolate ourselves?

I am hopeful. I am positive and usually an optimist. Things will be ok, as most people don’t want to be in a worse situation than before, e.g. they will make sure Brexit will work. Will Brexit mean Brexit how 50+1% of the population wanted it. Maybe not. Maybe Brexit 2019 will be a first step towards a new way of working with the European Union which then will continue to be negotiated over the next few years to come. Who knows at this point in time. Stay positive.

And of course we have asked the question whether to leave the country. We have friends that did. But I am about to start a new job. My sons are going to be in a good school, and they have their friends. On the other hand they could benefit from learning another language and getting different cultural influence. This isn’t an easy decision and we decided to stay. For us, Britain means home. This is where my heart is, where I feel home. I have yet to find another country I would like to live in. What I mean is that I wouldn’t want to go back to Germany which would be the obvious choice. I will always carry my accent and heritage, but a return to Germany just can’t be the solution for me. Of course we monitor things and my new job is very international, so I am sure I will be alright.

See, I can fill a Sunday Column on a topic rather than writing to you how exhausting the week was and how pleased I am that the youngest loves cycling. And we went on a cycling tour and had so much fun. That is all still happening whilst everything else is going on.

Life is full of change. Change is happening all the time and the only constant we have. Let’s embrace it and hope it is for the better.

Love and kindness from my corner of the world.
Volkerbrexit

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Sunday Column (498)

Often, when I am asking for feedback about my blog post, the answer is ‘it’s the same, it’s ok’. What I would really like to hear is ‘it’s great, it is inspiring’. But I guess I am not inspiring to the readers that I ask 🙁 However, please provide me feedback on what you would like to see and read on here. I feel like it is a weekly summary, with some thought-excursion based on my weekly experience, and then some. It is less topical, more personal. And the blog definitely provides myself with an opportunity to digest my experience. Also, I hope it provides you with a snippet of personal entertainment 🙂

So this week, as usual recently, I started a new contract, the one that leads to my new full time position. That makes it interesting, as essentially I am getting my introduction over the forthcoming weeks, then start fully later on. It’s a good way of doing it, because you get all the administrative things out of the way, and can focus on the task in hand the moment you start fully. In the meantime I went to Dusseldorf again, a slightly shorter trip which seemed convenient because of the football game, but actually was because we planned the week differently and it didn’t make sense to hang around all day. However, it was nice to see England from the comfort of my home with my boys.

And what a fantastic result for England. Not like Germany, England made it all the way to the semi finals. A shame they didn’t win against Croatia, but hey, it is what it is. It’s a young team, a team that in 2 years at the Euros or in 4 years at the next World Cup stand a much bigger chance to win. We will bring it home eventually. They brought it home to the nation, a nation crazy about football, and it made us all get a bit closer together, living the same dream. Of course, as expected, France then won the World Cup and all the money I bet on the individual games came back to me, as I put a bet on France very early on. I don’t normally bet but the Grand National or the Euro or World Cup.

Anyway, what else is going on in the country? Besides the Trump visit which I just ignore to be honest, Brexit looks like a disaster. I hope it will stay like that, e.g. the Brexit turns into a soft version of what everyone voted for, resulting in us staying in the custom union, the economy not being hit as hard, and yet carve out some rights as a non EU member state. But what a mess, no question about it. It is troublesome to see the government falling apart, no leadership and no progress. Shambles. Boris Johnson being gone can’t be a bad thing, but I am sure he comes back on the scene sooner or later.

Of course travelling makes you tired, yet running in Dusseldorf early morning felt a lot easier than in London. I am wondering if that’s the milder temperature or if that’s anything else? I feel like having a virus recently but besides a sore throat there are not many other symptoms. Is it hayfever that’s worse in the UK? I don’t know. I just hope it will go away soon. But I don’t want to bore you with my ailings. Just the opposite. I tried for another 15K on Saturday but had to stop and finished a 10K instead. Too warm, too tired.

The week concluded with another amazing thing: a street meet in our cul-de-sac. I started collecting some emails a while back and put the idea forward for a BBQ, some games and get together for our street. It was a great success and turn out, and we all came together, chatting, meeting each other and got a bit closer. Isn’t that what life is all about.

So a nice week, productive, thoughtful, and maybe a bit inspiring? Let me know and hope to see you again next week.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (497)

Whilst I am not sure what the main highlights were this week, yet surely England playing in the World Cup would be one of them. A stellar performance beating Columbia, finally winning a penalty shootout in a World Cup. The nation deserves a good football result in the World Cup, it would surely boost its confidence and get the nation closer together. And we are on our way to bring it home, what a great game against Sweden as well.

I know, we Brits always complain about the weather. But seriously, we are not used to good weather, heat waves and that lasting for more than 4 weeks! We are blessed somewhat with a proper summer this year, however I find it too warm and too muggy and just not very pleasant. 15 degrees, sunshine, that’s all I would ask for. Then next summer it will be all wet, raining all the time. I bet you, we will complain again 😉

Then, I spent another two days in Germany this week with one of my contracts. Not only do I get the feeling that I can help, it also makes me think about Germany. What is it like to live there? Could I ever consider it again? And one of the conversations I had was about ‘the lost generation’, a phrase I coined a while back, and I wrote about ‘my Germany’ before on this blog, and you find a few reviews when you search for it. The generation I am talking about, and I am not 100% sure you can nail it down to specific years, but if I had to I’d say people born 1975-1979. A generation heavily influenced by the generation that lived through the war, or was born during or just after the war. People that heavily influenced your upbringing based on old views of the world. Yet the generation is also heavily influenced by what came after, a Germany open to foreigners, growing up with a large Turkish community for instance. A multi cultural, open Germany. So having found someone who understood my theory of sitting in between the young, integrated and the old influencer society, was nice. I truly enjoyed chatting about the feeling and meaning of ‘being German’ and how it has influenced our decisions to e.g. move abroad, travel or explore other homes outside the fatherland.

You can see I still have strong bonds to Germany and interesting enough met someone too, who has done the opposite swap: moving to Germany from the UK due to finding love there. And those are the reverse stories of myself, the stories life writes. I like to look at all of them at some point and tell them to people. I think there are so many great stories surrounding a closer Europe. As I mentioned before I went through a lot of interviews with French people recently in my job search, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Isn’t it great, a united, borderless Europe. Now, there was this thing called Brexit, wasn’t there? Don’t get me started.

So a thoughtful week, an intense week, a very warm week. A good week though, it was good to have the conversations I had, the emails I sent and received. I could have slept more, particularly the hotel I was in, but that’s part of a travelling job. I slept a lot over the weekend trying to make up for it. It is what it is, and I enjoy it, which is nice. I love seeing the progress and how things just fall into place. Buddha bless.

And next week? Another trip, another start, and hopefully it all falling into place.

Wish me luck, you can never have enough of it.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (496)

I don’t believe it’s the 1st of July already. Half ways point. The days are getting shorter and we are closer to Christmas now. The weather is spoiling us.

This has been a very busy week. Admittedly, I started out with a day off on Monday. Funny how when you not contract for a day, you take the day off. But isn’t it a mental thing to mentally shut down and off? We, the wife and I, went down to the beach, got a bit sun burned and enjoyed an ice cream. I am storing energy, producing some great content around my podcast and getting ready for what lies ahead of me.

The days in the office were busy this week. I love the company I am contracting with at the moment, and love the product offering they have. My main role is in Germany, so Thursday and Friday I spend in Munich, next week Duesseldorf and then Hamburg. It is good to be able to help and to reconnect with friends across Germany. Life is good, busy, or as Darren Hardy says ‘we strive on stress’. To a certain extend I agree, we are by default used to flight/fight responses, to exciting situations and to stress. Yet, I am not actually stressed, which is nice also 🙂

Also, this week I decided on what to do next. Where is my career taking me. I decided to join a service unit of a big agency group to position their product within Europe. Sounds not very clear? I know, I will fill in more details on LinkedIn and personally over the next few weeks and after I start in mid August. Things falling into place and I am relieved that things are moving forward too.

But I have to say, and I am not sure who all is reading this, that the decision was and wasn’t easy. I was humbled by the offers I received and it came down to two companies in the end, out of four (who would have believed that back in February), that I thought were a perfect match. It wasn’t easy to make that call to say no. Naturally one wants to say yes to all the good fits. The way I described it to a close friend this week: you have to make a decision, it isn’t personal, it is business at the end of the day. So I made the decision, however difficult and yet easy it might have been.

I can only repeat my thankfulness for everyone who helped me on the journey. The beginning of the year has been rather dark, yet people are generous, pick you up and maybe it was always GDPR that slowed things down, who knows. We will never know and it doesn’t matter. I learned from it. I learned about consulting, see below, and I learned about believing and patience, and that over time things will always work out.

I have been enjoying the freelancing, consulting and contracting world. I enjoyed helping and making a difference in a short period of time. And I continue that for another four weeks. But at this stage in my life I prefer a pay cheque at the end of the month. A pension scheme. That might change again in the future but for now, that’s what I would like. And I am delighted to join people I have known for a long time and I trust and I look forward to learning from them, working with them, making things happen. Yes, I am excited!

So, as the Germans would say, “Ende gut, alles gut”. All’s well that ends well (Shakespeare). I always knew it was, and I never doubted it yet there were a handful of days that challenged even me. Some nights you wake up worrying. But the future will always be better than the past, and things will always work out and be ok. Trust in you. Trust in the universe aligning things to help you.

On the note of Germany. The football team was playing awful from the start in this World Cup and frankly I prefer the way Columbia or England are playing. Funny that both of my favourite teams are now facing each other in the play offs. Then I don’t know much about football. What I do understand is that there is something missing in the German team: support, comraderie, team spirit. I can see and judge that. And as I said a few times this week, the guys out there on the field are all top players, it’s the team that makes the difference. The team spirit I shall say. As in any job or sport. Anyway, let’s hope the World Cup is progressing nicely for England, they would deserve a good ending.

With that in mind, Ende gut, alles gut.
Volker

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