Archive for category Sunday Column

Sunday Column (515)

Hello. I got about seven regular Sunday Columns left. That means Christmas is not far away. I managed two early Christmas presents for my boys, one is a trip to Manchester in order to see Man City play; the other one is a basketball hoop. Latter is also an early present for myself, but that aside. I can’t stop myself supporting the boy’s ambition to play sports, be healthy and exercise. How could I?

Today it has been 100 years since the end of World War One. It is hard to believe. My grandparents would be over 100 years old now and the world has moved on. Thinking about it, I introduced my youngest to some ‘oldies’ music from the 60ies and 70ies, another (Vietnam) war generation only 50 years ago. He wasn’t too keen. It reminds you to appreciate the peaceful times we live in. Despite mid term elections in the US and Brexit. A year from now, the world is a different place.

On that note, I read an article on the BBC about the decline in fertility rate. It is scary that we might not have an overpopulation problem but a problem of not too many kids to sustain our ever growing older people base. We are all going to live longer and no one there to follow us, meaning we need to work longer potentially. Our generation will see a lot of change.

For myself, post marathon, I just felt hungry this week. A bit out of place, not having anything to strive for. I was surprised how little I felt in terms of ‘weakness’ after the marathon. My knee felt fine from Tuesday already and all worries about that are gone. Some niggles around an insect bite I got during the run, and still some stiff legs. Nothing a massage, a stretch and a short run on the treadmill couldn’t cure.

The feeling after a marathon is interesting. You are in a hype bubble for a while, then it sinks in. It’s a super high and then a huge come down. It’s a phenomenon called the ‘marathon blues’, I read up a lot on it, and it isn’t nice to be honest. You spent three months or longer working towards something and then it’s done. It’s over. I can see the addiction to do more and more. It reminded me a bit of smoking cigarettes, you get this super high, then the low down, so you have another, and another. It is addictive for sure.

I find, at least for myself, that once it sunk in, it is almost as if it wasn’t there. But then it lingers around, that feeling of achievement. Not that I run around smiling, but it is that feeling of ‘yes, I have done it’. It definitely gives me energy, and wants me to run another one. So we shall see.

I was warned. The challenge is really to have the time and commit or sacrifice precious family time to running. That’s the hardest bit. The fitness and the mental strength builds up as you go along. I haven’t really decided yet, the next few weeks are quiet in terms of running, so plenty of time to think about it. But I might have just caught the running bug 🙂 (not that I didn’t run before anyway). Who knows. Maybe time to channel my time and focus to other projects, like basketball or building car models again. Who knows, nothing has been decided.

But those moments are decision moments. When running the marathon I was thinking of situations in my life where I went out of my comfort zone. The navy came to mind, now over 20 years ago. Night marches. Going beyond your limits. And compared to others, my training wasn’t that hard. And university, when being in the fraternity and fencing with sharp blades. Those moments of discomfort and going beyond the usual are moments that define you. They never go away. The wall as I call it, the next wall is there to come.

As I started writing this I am on an earlier train. If you don’t exercise in the morning and your body is used to a 5 am start, there is only that much you can do. My new breakfast routine takes 5 minutes (a nutrition shake), so I will be at work early. There is always something to do and sort. It was occupational therapy this week, work and food, and from next week things will change again. Time to go back to the gym, do more runs and decide on the next wall.

Don’t worry, there are still things on my bucket list. And maybe some of them have less impact on my knees. Maybe I need to learn a new skill. Maybe something to involve the kids. I believe I am through the blues. The weekend was great, getting on top of loads of work this week and being able to have a nice meal out with the wife. For our anniversary, to celebrate life.

I dreamed I had the chance to go up in a rocket to see the ISS (International Space Station) and paid a lot of money for it. And when it was about to take off, I wasn’t sure if I should go. What’s the worst that can happen to you out there? You never come back, you die. But you won’t. You will be fine, and things will always work out. If someone offers you a ride in a rocket, take it. Fear is a good thing.

I felt that last weekend, I went into that rocket, despite fear, and I came back. Yes, it was a hard come down, but now it is time to find the next rocket ride. Some training at basecamp and up to the next stars.

I almost don’t want to quit this post, but it’s time to let go. Literally. 7 more weeks.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (514)

This is a special post. Why? You see below.
I have made a few decisions this week, based on having a few hours to think about life and life’s priorities. From January, I will stop writing my Sunday Column. 10 years, over 500 posts and a collection of over 1000 pages are enough for now. It helped me in my personal development, my reflection and I aim to use it as a base for some further book writing, including a publication of the posts in an e-book. It might just take a few months/years to review and publish.

When I started my blog in 2009 I was childless, working in search marketing and just bought my first house. Things have changed. I have developed over the years and have found my blog both a creative outlet and therapeutical. However, it is time to channel that energy elsewhere. Stay tuned. This doesn’t mean I will stop writing, and occasionally you will find a topical post here. Instead I want to continue with my podcast, another creative outlet where I personally, and hopefully the listeners, gain more from too.

Finding a wall. You might remember that I took part in a 24 hour endurance race last year, having had to pull out due to injury after about 35K. I wanted a new wall, and leisurely went for a marathon. When I say leisurely, training in the heat, on the treadmill during our holidays in Singapore, and running my longest run after a week in India, literally off the plane, jet lagged and having a cold. It was awful and I feared for the worse for this weekend. Life is about those walls, the challenges, the things that push you further. That’s how you learn and grow.

This weekend was marathon time. I spent the last week worrying. As a mentor of mine says you can be a worrier or a warrior. The former dominated my last week. It’s a phenomenon called ‘maranoia’. Any little niggle might stop you running the marathon. The worry something could go wrong. My knees not holding up, too much pain, too much food, etc. – a lot of the marathon training is in your head. You need to be physically fit but the “head fitness” should not be underestimated. And everyone who knows me has said, if I don’t have the headspace to do that, who does? Maybe. Anyway…

And so I did it. Saturday we embarked to Kington upon Thames, for me to run the Thames Meander Marathon. A non gradient run, officially a trail marathon, but really a mixture of gravel, soft and paved grounds. Along the Thames river, watching the rowing boats, and too many people in your way at the water front. But that all aside. I didn’t hit the wall until Kilometer 38. I walked a bit around that mark and closer to the end. Mainly to refuel, to digest, and to drink. It was hard, in my head, in my bones, in my knees. My aim was to run it all which I mainly achieved, and also to come in under 4:30 hours. I did that too.

This is probably one of the few times where I would admit I am proud of what I have achieved. It’s an achievement, and I enjoyed it. Whilst running a marathon is for oneself, it is also the official rubber stamp to have achieved one – if that makes sense. Joining the club. And without my wife, I couldn’t have done it. The endless hours of training, the impact on the family, the grumpiness. And she has done 5 😉

A lot of people already asked me what’s next. You can see above, and I wrote about it this summer, my life gets more focus. I am feeling settled in my job, and I have done a marathon. I will cut back on my blog, focus more on my podcast. And there are more plans, which I will share when appropriate. Life never gets boring.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (513)

Berlin. Taking the family to Berlin for half term would always be an adventure. A 7 and a 9 year old on a city trip with lots of history? This wasn’t to meet family, it was about showing my family a Germany away from the grand parents, it was to experience Berlin and a couple days in Hamburg. So before we set off, we talked about German history, about the war and how this resulted in Germany being split in four parts; and it resulted in Berlin being split in four parts.

For me, Berlin has always been the capital. From Prussia to the modern ages. I never, probably similar to most Germans, saw Bonn as a real capital city. Berlin just has this charm, this feeling of being able to host big statesmen and to have the space to parade in front of presidents. It is that flair and history that attracts me to Berlin. However, and I want to be as honest as I can be, yet not being rude, Berlin in parts looks tired. My sons pointed out the massive amounts of graffiti and when you started to look under the hood, what we saw at least, was a Berlin that is a bit run down.

I guess, given it’s size, there are different areas. When visiting friends of ours one night, we loved the big side streets, high ceiling flats and quality of living. Our AirBnB on the other hand was in an area which seemed a bit less upmarket, yet had a flair, which at least I love about Berlin. The multi cultural aspect you don’t find in every city around the world: openness, togetherness, community.

So we did what you do with two little ones on a city tour. We visited the main attractions like Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. We looked at famous squares, hopped on a tourist bus and went for walks in the park, finding some play grounds. We met friends, caught up over locally made pizza, gyros, ouzo and wine. We went up the TV Tower for the sunset and had a drink at the bar, taking in the view. We met with extended family, school and university friends, as well as having a night in whilst autumn weather was blowing the rain outside. We just enjoyed ourselves with no agenda, made our own chocolate, went for our runs, watched TV, went on a boat tour and visited a planetarium. And above all, we had a lot of fun as a family. Thank you Berlin.

On Thursday came the highlight. Something I wanted to do for a long time. We went to Hamburg on an early morning train to see the Miniature world, a model of the world out of minituare trains, planes, cars and everything that belongs to it. It was mind blowing. 3.5 hours of miniature world watching. And, we managed to have a look around Hamburg, a harbour boat tour again getting close to big container ships. For me, Hamburg is a city that portraits itself so differently to Berlin, and we enjoyed our time there very much. It might have been that it is smaller, more affluent, or that the shower in the hotel just gave much more comfort than the one in the AirBNB. But in the end, Hamburg as a city, won over Berlin, it just impressed more.

Now back to reality, back to work.

Have a great start in the week, it got colder out there.
Volker

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Sunday Column (512)

I wrote this post about mobile usage in Asia during my holidays in Singapore. However, I only got a chance to publish it now. Too many other ideas on content and sharing of thoughts, and new ideas. Seems as if my brain is always buzzing. I suppose it is, and I love writing as my creative outlet.

My recent trip to Singapore, 10 years since I have been to Asia properly with the exception of a trip to Turkey, times have changed with the arrival of smart phones. A podcast mentioned 300m middle class mobile phone users in China, and some research suggests a population of 260m in Asia alone (stats from 2016); in comparison the USA has 325m people (2016) and Europe about double that: 741m. Asia as a whole counts 4.5bn and Africa 1.2bn people. Take those numbers in. Just because I have been to India recently, you can count another 1.25bn people in India alone, an emerging and tech savvy market.

Let’s digest that for a minute and look at (observed) behaviour. People are constantly on their phones. In Europe, London, they are, but Asia I found that behaviour even worse. That is of course if it is a bad behaviour, or is being on the phone constantly the new norm? In Singapore people were on their screens 24/7, playing whilst being on the tube, whats app and wechat when queuing, and voice messaging being quite high. Particularly younger people listened to voice messages on chat applications constantly, recording and sending them. A new generation of people with a new usage behaviour. I bet their call charges are non existent. Some stats already show that phones are used less for voice calls than ever before, and that the use of text, data and internet access has long outweigh the use of the phone as a phone (as in calling someone). Weird no? I just renewed my contract and pay less per month but have 20 GB of data. That’s a lot of data!

So the phone as we intended it has disappeared. People don’t talk to each other anymore but use it to send messages. See the picture, who remembers those kind of phones? Anyway, the intensity and the phone being the main internet access point for a younger generation is new. That means the phone is the gateway to shopping and ecommerce, banking, saving and retirement planning; gaming and entertainment, food orders and life style choices. Anything happens on the phone, from watching movies to news, to reading. And of course social media usage. It’s a mobile first generation (Kudos to Mr. Mobile, Mark W).

From a business point of view I could do the easy maths. Let’s assume 50% of the population is 16+ and in the market for smart phones. Probably even more. But even 50% of a population of 1.2bn or 4.5bn people is a lot. That’s 600m or 2.25bn (!) people respectively. If 10% buy an app or a product they like via a phone for 1 US$, your turn over is in the millions with the app purchase alone. Anyone not getting the scale of things here? It justifies the investments companies like Grab are making, WeChat, Facebook, Amazon and others by accessing any of the markets above. The sheer scale of things is crazy. If you are investing in Grab now, an Uber like service for anything from transportation to delivery, then you are getting an ROI that is manifold. Of course that’s why the big boys are doing it, and why I started investing in Asian tech Fonds 🙂

The recent experience sparked a lot of thoughts around mobiles, mobile usage and how the other part of the world accesses both resources and the internet. It showed me the commerce opportunity and the way we are using the mobile phone in the future, as I am certain our European way of trying to avoid screen time will vanish with the new generation. Not a week my 9 year old is asking for his own phone. Laptops seem old school, tablets with keyboards might just be accepted, but boy, if you have a mobile phone and a credit card, you have all you ever going to need. Or do you?

Life is changing, I keep saying that. Having purchased an iPhone XS recently, the main justification was that I use FaceID. I liked the sound of it, and so far it has been better than fingerprint technology. The Apple Watch is nice, and I love the health tech (a market soon worth over 1 trillion US$), but maybe I wait for the 2019 model. I am not sure yet. Normally, I am not a first mover, but early adopter. But as technology moves on, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up. How will our boys live when they are our age?

Hope this sparked some thoughts. Isn’t it a fascinating world we are living in?
Volker

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Sunday Column (511)

India. This week was my first trip to this beautiful country. Like most business trips I mainly saw the hotel and the office, besides a few bus trips and an additional day spent on a temple tour. So at least I got some flavour of what the old town of Chennai, Mylapore, is like. The temples, the way Hindus celebrate religion and how India developed. Included was a ride on a motorised rickshaw or tuk tuk which was a lot of fun given the crazy traffic. When most people travel to India for the first time, they have a culture shock, I didn’t so much.

I guess I have been in the job a while now, and I have been working with my Indian colleagues quite intensively. So for me it was a lot about putting a face to the name, connecting to real people in person. People I have known. Also, it reminded me of other emerging markets, e.g. Cairo where I spend some time in 2006 and also Thailand in 2007. A combination of emerging, high tech offices and crazy traffic; cows on the road, dogs, and organised chaos. I enjoyed India, Chennai to be precise, and hope to return many times over the next few years.

The friendliness is amazing. I have many Indian born friends in the UK, and I have to say, I love the culture and people. They are very friendly, forthcoming and helpful. The food for one is very flavoursome, yet after a week, I was glad to have something more Western tasting again, I have to admit. Being able to visit the team, and particularly work with my colleagues in one location, was not only useful from a job perspective, but it gives it the human factor. Too often do we underestimate the power of real, personal meetings. There are things you cannot achieve via a video conference, it just isn’t the same. Also, people from a variety of backgrounds in the business joined, location and function wise, which gave it an even more important angle. A fantastic trip!

What I missed most were my boys. Seriously. I couldn’t wait for today, or yesterday for you readers, to take my youngest to karate. That is the thing I do with him, and I missed that last week. Then we had the boys’ rooms re-plastered and made decisions on furniture. Exciting times for us, but foremost for the kids. It’s great to see them excited about their new bedrooms and seeing the walls being done. It feels like the last bit in the house we haven’t touched, and it is good to know we are now 100% done … when do we start again 😉 I suppose with a house that’s how it goes. Once you finish, you start over again. You are never really done.

And over the weekend, and my colleagues said I talked about it a lot, I ran 22 miles or 35K in preparation for my marathon. Yikes, this was hard. Still not 100% recovered from my cold, and exhausted and jet lagged. It had to be done though. I must have spoken about it a lot, as most of my focus outside work is going into it at the moment. That’s a good thing I think, however I don’t like the time away from the family at the weekend. Three more weeks to the big day. Fingers crossed.

Could life be any better I was asking myself this week. What do you think? I am very happy. I find the job is going well, things are progressing and privately we seem to get into more of a flow too. Life is good. Is it good for you?

Have a great week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (510)

I wanted to publish a different post this week. As you can imagine I have a lot of thoughts and love writing to comprehend them, to work through new input I am getting from podcasts, work and life in general. That’s one of my things. My creative outlet. So there are always a few posts in the pipeline. But then a few things happened which made me think, and I wanted to share those thoughts.

After last weekend’s 20 mile run, I wanted to run 22 miles on Friday. However, I came down with the man flu, aka as a common cold, and therefore didn’t run. I guess I am ready to go the marathon distance already, but will have to do a 22 mile run before the event. Hopefully I am better by next weekend to tackle that one.
And, we are lucky with the dry weather. The crystal clear air, filled with cobwebs and mist, that slowly burns away by a low standing sun. It’s mystical almost. One of my most favourite times of the year, and I was told that San Francisco is like that all year around. Wouldn’t that be nice?

In Germany we celebrated the reunification, it must have been 29 years since the wall came down. We plan a trip to Germany again soon. I want to show the boys the fatherland, introduce them to Berlin, some history. I couldn’t imagine to ever go back and live there but I want to at least experience it. So as a matter of fact, I am looking forward to it. Hope the boys and the family will like it too.

A podcast I recorded with a German living in Los Angeles this week, brought up the topic of greater German (or any nation’s) collective unconscious. Allegedly it takes 7 generations (or 140 years) for it to clear. So Germans still look at the Great Depression and two worldwars in their collective unconscious. That would explain some of the stereotypes and values I see in myself as well, like a need for security, cautious, not wanting to make mistakes, and being the good person. Interesting isn’t it? Or it is over-interpretation? It’s difficult for me to compare that to any other nation of course. The inheritance of a nation or even family, I remember studying family constellations at university, is a highly sensitive yet fascinating topic. Watch out for the podcast with Conni when it goes live, I really enjoyed that conversation.

Life goes in cycles, and there is only one certainty. This week I learned that an industry friend died at the age of 49. When I attended the industry trade shows recently, I saw him and we had a chat. This week I also caught up with a mentor who had health problems when I was working for him. It was good to see he is better for now. Those moments are when you pause for a second, take a deep breath in, and breathe out. I don’t know about the exact circumstances, but I know that in our small industry I know a few people, and we are close. We look after each other, and it is always with great sadness to hear someone passing away or being ill. It affects me. One reflects on priorities, the focus we discussed a few weeks back. One thinks about their own lifestyle, health choices and how long one might have back on the clock. And then it’s business as usual, isn’t it?

So a bit of a melancholic week almost. Taking a flight on a Saturday missing a family weekend isn’t nice but to see a bit of the world prior to a conference makes up for it. Monsoon season though 🙁 A weekend to myself, 10 hours of uninterrupted time on a plane. To relax, reflect, write, read and sleep. What’s not to like?

I will tell you all about it next week. For now, have a great week, enjoy the autumn and stay well.

Volker

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Sunday Column (509)

What a great week, wasn’t it? Sunny, yet cold mornings. Proper autumn with lovely sun sets. Nothing else to ask for. I felt I made a huge leap at work, and my marathon prep is going well. I left the house early Saturday before dawn, had some lights on, and came back about 3 hours later. 20 miles done, some walking though. This was tough. I call this success, or achieving means goals, goals that mean something towards an end goal. That’s a new thing I learned this week. The end goal is the achievement of running a marathon, the means goal is to hit 20 miles. As satisfying as it is, it is bl* hard.

But let me have a rant at cinemas, or showing my pure ignorance that I don’t understand the value it brings to me. I work in advertising and I love it. But when I go to the movies, I hate the ads prior to the movies. You cannot skip them, and I always wonder how relevant they are. First of all, you almost always rush to the movies, get there just in time, and your boys want sweets. When you finally settle in your seats, you spend up to 30 minutes watching adverts. Those additional 30 minutes are ‘make or break’ whether you have to have a toilet break with a 7 year old throughout the movies. Again, no chance to pause it either.

If you think of someone going to the movies with their children, maybe a Halifax mortgage ad is fine. I don’t think it is too relevant for the kids, but I can understand the thinking of showing it for the parents. Seeing babies and follow on milk for Aptamil, maybe justified as you have some mothers there. They could have another child at home, as the Incredibles age range is far too old for follow on milk. Maybe someone has a huge age gap. In my opinion not the right audience at all. Most kids in the movies would be around 5-7, so yes they could have smaller siblings, but relevancy isn’t that high I don’t think. Worse even was Qatar airways. Nice ad, fun to watch, but no relevancy for children. Maybe for adults? Same as Comparethemarket, kind of being funny with the meerkats, the kids laughed, but just because I am a parent, insurance isn’t really relevant.

Of course you cannot target products at kids, and the restrictions and all, but on the other hand, come on, some ads are just not relevant whatsoever. Why not show family holidays or Nintendo game stations or something like that. And why show a short movie in front of the main movie. An irritated 7 year old blaring into your ear that we sit in the wrong movie. I started considering that possibility.

Now to the economics. For my two kids and myself I paid £30 for the tickets and another £15 for drinks and snacks. Sitting through 30 minutes of awful ads that I cannot skip to then see a pre-movie and having to have a toilet break wasn’t the best experience. The movie was ace though 🙂 So do the experience outweigh the costs? In my opinion not at all.

I just cannot see how cinema is surviving. The appeal is getting smaller. The dreaded arriving in time race, overpriced snacks and then irrelevant ads you cannot skip and toilet breaks without pausing the movie. The bigger screen and sound is the only argument but with home hifi system and decent TV sizes, it just doesn’t cut the mustard. For me anyway. For £45 I rent up to 6 or buy 3 movies for the kids which they enjoys multiple times at home. Peace of mind there.

Rant over. I guess I enjoy cinema again when I can go there to escape. From home, the kids and watch a nice movie with the wife. As if that happens often. Is there a future in cinema, what do you think?

I finish writing this during my youngest karate grading. That was the most important bit of my weekend. Another money making machine but here I see the value for money. And really, I am just annoyed I never founded a karate school or similar. In the end, he passed. Proud daddy.

Until next week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (508)

I want to start with giving thanks this week and share some personal notes. My grandmother turned 98 today and it gives me great satisfaction to see that life is still good for her. On the other spectrum someone I know lost his mother, and in a Facebook post he said ‘you taught me everything I know but how to live without you’. Isn’t that true? Whilst all of that happened, I wrote a card to someone close who was diagnosed with cancer. That’s life for you.

Hence this week might be a good post to read and have some take away from it. A post from me wearing a coaching hat, hoping to help you to develop yourself. I want to talk about focus. A topic I have been looking at for a few months now. Focus is something I am applying to more and more areas of my life. My old manager used to say, “focus, fight and change the conversation”. If you are anything like me, a productivity buff, family person, ambitious, career oriented, and interested in a variety of topics, you can easily lose yourself in it.

As most of you know, I recently started my new job, a new beginning. Sometimes I forget about this blog being public, as for me blogging is my creative outlet, something I enjoy doing. Sharing my thoughts, getting them on ‘paper’. So it was nice to hear that some new colleagues read my blog too!

Without clear focus and priority, I cannot do everything I would like to do. If I’d try to do everything, I’d probably end up doing nothing right plus I’d run out of time. And that’s not the standard I live by. It wouldn’t align with my values. I want to be the best I can be in anything I do.

One of my podcast guests ask the other day, ‘who are you’? Can you answer the question, on how you define who you are? My answer would be that I am someone who loves his career, and achieving. Security is important for me. Something I get a whole lot from is helping others and making a difference. There is more to it but that’s a summary.

The best personal development book I have read for a long time, and I highly recommend it, is ‘The code of the extraordinary mind’. Along other things, a key take away is that happiness MUST be the basis for anything you do. Don’t live in the future, live in the now, be happy now, then build a career on top of it. Because, so he argues, happiness cannot be tied to your goals. You must be happy before you attain them. Have a think about it. For me, it seems that this book concludes a personal development path, what is next?

This is where I think life becomes clear. The next is the now for me. Do things that make you happy. Enjoy the people you hang out with, the job you spend most of your time with, and the family situation you are in. Set yourself goals, one at a time, and attain them out of a happy state. Don’t chase your tail!

If I look at my life, I noticed that I had too many things going on in order to focus properly on the things that are important. This includes my job, my family life, my podcast, my marathon in November and its time commit as well as reading personal development books. Not to mention the book(s) I want to write and other things I want to do like building another Revel model. All that whilst being in the flow at work and life? Surely….FOCUS!

What do you think? What are your areas of focus, and what might have to give to be in the happy state? Get into the flow, the happy state, and start attaining your goals from there. You will soon see how you will become more successful.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Lots to think about isn’t it? Don’t we just love life? I certainly do!

See you next week,
Volker

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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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