Sunday Column (455)

Autumn has arrived. A cold, rainy and windy Sunday last week, building rafts, then a hot bath for the boys and a nice warm fire for all of us, cosy. The natural things, the things we have always known, like fire and blankets, provide shelter and comfort on days like that. We cleared away our garden furniture, cleaning the BBQ and prepare for winter. It isn’t quite there yet, but it won’t be long. Comfort. With hurricanes sweeping over the Caribbean and the US, we can consider ourselves lucky. Yet, the signs this might be global warming can no longer be ignored. Raising sea levels and different sea temperatures make nature more powerful. This is scary as this is only the beginning and seems far away. That might and will change. And I have been saying that since I joined a local environmental group in my early teens. And what have we, as human kind, done to prevent it?

9-11. It happened 16 years ago, just when I arrived in the UK. We seek comfort, we never forget. An event that changed the world and influences our generation as much as the wars have influenced our parent’s generation. Troubled times. We are lucky to not have seen more attacks of similar scale over the years, and I hope that we never will, given improved security at airports etc. We cannot be scared of flying or getting around following our daily business. We shouldn’t. We must trust that the majority of people on this planet are good people, looking after one another and share love and compassion. However, Korea is trying to prove us wrong. Another missile towards Japan. 9-11 is a reminder for us to not forget what has happened, why it has happened and how we learned from it.

Germany hosted the biggest digital advertising exhibition and conference dmexco this year. It has been 11 years since I started attending that event, and I since missed it once or twice. It has grown phenomenal and the owners are doing an amazing job to deliver an event relevant to the industry. Globally. I noticed that I have been in digital marketing for over 10 years, and 8 out of those I deal with programmatic. Even back then I said that the ecosystem will just adopt programmatic as standard. I wasn’t wrong so far. Yet the hype isn’t over yet, it takes 10 years for things to normalise I suppose, hence we seeing so much consolidation in the industry. When at the show I heard that my old boss said to someone at a meeting that ‘I was the best sales person he ever hired’. It is nice to have these things said about me, of course it would be nicer to have heard it from him. The industry is a village, lots of familiar faces, networking, and shaking hands. That’s what I love about it, some great friends you find, connections you make.

In between coming back from Germany and going out to New York, I try to spend as much time as possible with my boys. Travel is full on again, and more than planned, but the job needs to be done. It isn’t glamorous. On Tuesday I got a chance to take them to school and chat with them in the morning. A lovely autumn day it seemed. I missed them coming home delayed and exhausted on Thursday but we made up for it on Friday and Saturday. They do not like me being away and I do not like the travelling either. But it is part of the parcel and it will get better. Important in my opinion is that we talk about it, and that I carve out the time with the family when I can. This is to make sure you do not neglect the most important part of your life. They need to feel valued and given attention, being the most important things I have. Given I love my job, always enjoyed working, family is still there forever, and building a relationship with your kids starts now. As my boss once said, success doesn’t mean being successful in your job only, there is family and other things to consider too. That goes in line with a book I finished reading this week which examines how we – you – measure your life.

In other news, after my wife gave me an amazing bracelet for my birthday, a Buddhist one that makes me feel more grounded and reminds me to be mindful, I got myself another one. It has seven different coloured beads, representing chakras and remind you of virtues too. I enjoy wearing them, alongside my colourful and changing watch straps, in order to remind myself daily of how grateful I am. When on flights and trying to relax my brain and taking a moment to just not think, I touch those beads, reflect on what’s happening in life and cherish the love and focus on the important things in my life. This is important to me, and I am pleased to have those reminders with me.

Before I finish off a few thoughts on the Apple event this week. The iPhone X is amazing. The technology is the future of what is there to come. In my opinion Apple has pulled off an amazing phone packed with mind blowing technology. I also believe that technology will become available to mainstream iPhones in the years to come, and for now is more a gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one, but I cannot justify the money for it. So I might just hold on to see how the technology will find its way in the more affordable versions over time. Hence I need to check how to upgrade to the iPhone 8 for now.

It has been a busy week. Exciting with the official showcasing of our new company joint proposition at dmexco. Fully booked, exhausting flights. Networking, fun filled conversations, discussions, open exchanges about the things there are and things to come. I am happy, content about the life I am living and the situation I am. Zen. It is busy but change is good. I am excited about change, whichever way it might turn out. When you read this on Sunday night I will be on the plane to New York for a quick trip. Life isn’t bad as long as we are aware what is important to us, how we measure whether we prioritise correctly and as long as we are in zen with ourselves.

Thanks for reading and tuning in. Have a fantastic week,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (37)

Flash…

This week’s first article is about the Japanese Way Of Life and how happiness and a fulfilled life leads to a higher life expectancy.

And whilst I am a Slack user, there is fabulous guide on How Slack uses Slack. That’s like looking at Google and asking them how they search stuff. Very insightful I find.

Last but not least, this article tells you all about focus and priority based on entrepreneurs’ views of the world. Great insight if you aske me:
Things Entrepreneurs tell you to do.

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Sunday Column (454)

This week was an awkward one. Somewhat anyway. I left the house on Monday, just as the installers of our new multigym arrived. My kids had their last day of holidays and went back to school on Tuesday. Daddy left Monday morning and came home late Tuesday night, important meetings with dinner/drinks in the evenings. I was home on Wednesday though, partly to make up for it, but mainly because I had a small surgery, removal of a mole, nothing big. Nothing serious. Yet with it all taken a bit shorter than anticipated, I managed to pick the kids up from school. That was nice.

Those weeks make me think of what would it be like if I am not around at all. No, I am not afraid of dying, or that the mole might be cancerous, it is more about prevention. Hence the multigym, my runs, the diet. I want to be fit as long as possible to see as much as possible of my boys. Guide them, listen to them. Yet, and partly this is due to our choice of moving that far out of London, I often don’t see them. And with the three busiest travel/trade show weeks in the industry, September is a tricky month. I have to admit. Long hours, out of the office, late nights. This is just part of what I do. And I was around a lot in the summer. Not that I need to justify myself, but somewhat this is what I do. At the end of the day, you cannot make up for lost time. The age they are in makes them notice it a lot more. Hence when travelling for most of the week, I try to work from home a day a week.

So when you come home only after being away for one night, it is great. It feels like being away for ages, as you missed them so much. School started. The wife shared some amazing pictures of the boys, and the little one does so look like me! Very proud!!! And when you come home late, and they are asleep, and you tug the oldest in, without waking him up. The moment he turns to his side, enjoys the comfort of the blanket, sighs and continues to sleep. Priceless. That’s when I feel humble, sentimental and I am full of love. Or the youngest, after taking him to the loo, snuggles up with his soft toy and goes back to sleep. And they feel that you are back, and that you are watching over them, care for them. And you feel their love and that they feel safer and more comfortable with you being around. That’s the bond, the invisible touch, no one will ever explain to you, cannot explain to you, but every parent feels it. It’s a mixture of love, trust, comfort, protectionism, challenge as well as fear and safety at the same time. It works both ways. That’s when I feel truly blessed.

Work: we finally announce the merger/take over. I knew when joining my company in January that either we will be sold or we will have lots of challenges. I cannot speak about it in detail, neither do I want to, but we officially sold to Sizmek this week. That puts us in an amazing position within the ecosystem. A full stack solution. End to end demand side. Creative, DCO, DMP, AI, execution, ad server, reporting, analysis, brand safety and much more. Amazing, and exciting times ahead. The potential we have moving forward is immense. My third exit in the industry and I am excited about the prospects. The meeting this week actually showed me how much I care about building a useful and exciting demand side technology stack, yes I can actually get excited about what I do! I usually do πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I keep you posted on any developments but for now I am super pumped.

With the pain in my back (see above minor surgery) I  didn’t exercise the rest of the week. So I took a break and caught up on some sleep. The next few weeks will be rather sleep poor, as I also just confirmed another international trip. The joys. But I love what I do, see above, and shall not moan.

Saturday happened my long planned ‘boys day out‘ of the year. A few friends of mine and I met in London to hit the pubs, eat lots of food and play some pool, drink some whisky and so on. Yes, it was a great day! Whilst on the one hand I dread those days, they give you so much back by just letting your hair down a bit, talk ‘men talk’ and having a good time, forgetting about everything else. So another long sleep on Sunday and a first trial at getting back into exercise despite the back strain.

Anyway, have a fantastic week ahead.

Volker

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Thursday Flash (36)

Flash…

How resilience works: This HBR article was recommended to me by my CEO. This is a great article and worth spending the time to read and understand.

The brain reset button – or when I thought that getting drunk as a student did the same as pressing reset on an old 486 PC πŸ˜‰ Life doesn’t quite work like that but this is a very useful article to ‘reboot the brain power’.

Use systems to make your life easier. Those of you who have read my book would have read similar. The better the system, the easier the habit, the more simplistic your life can become.

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Sunday Column (453)

Welcome back. Yes, another very quick week passed. Last weekend was actually the hottest August bank holiday I remember. We were spoiled and spend most of the weekend at the beach – a variety of beaches to be precise – and enjoyed the BBQ weather. I love a sunny Bank Holiday in August! Didn’t I write about it being autumn already in last week’s blog? I guess it is getting colder in the evenings, the sun is lower on the horizon, and we nicely move into the Indian Summer. If it wasn’t getting colder, this could be my most favourite time of the year. It is I suppose. It almost seems as if the summer in England shifted to June/July and end of August/September. Maybe that’s the way forward and we plan our holidays accordingly next year. Rain July/August. Take notes.

This week was short. On Monday I managed a 10 mile/16 km run. I was struggling to be honest. Whether that was the elevation or the weather, I just don’t feel that fit at the moment. Similar on another run later in the week. With my diet on the go I eat slightly less than I should, but my multigym arrives next week. So full steam ahead to loose a few kilos which I will notice when I go to another running event. No decisions as of yet. With busy weekends ahead, I don’t see myself doing another 16 km for a while. Maybe I rest my ambitions until I know whether I was accepted on the London Marathon and once I have done some more strength training. I guess 15-25 km per week is enough to keep fit.

Whilst running I love listening to podcasts. Usually at 2x speed, I get through a few. One was about ‘when do you know when to quit’. And I believe it was Seth Godin who described things not going well as either being a dead end or a slump. So you need to evaluate quickly if it is a temporary slump you get out of again or if it is a dead end. That’s true for business or private life. For the dead end, there is no escape: quit. Even the most persistent sales person won’t be able to make a difference to a product that is a dead end. He also suggested that most ideas have been taken to market before. They have been tried and tested in one form or another. Learn from industry peers, understand the market, get an understanding of what is happening. Then re-evaluate before making a final decision.

The business and life advice I am getting through podcasts is immense. I almost believe it is too much at times. Physically I cannot read or listen to more advice, and everytime I think I heard it all or listened to all podcasts, read all the development books, there is a new spin, a new angle to a similar story. And I love reading about different spins of the same thing. Because essentially, most personal development theories are similar. So is mine. I actually noticed that some of my book #BeBetter looks at similar theories as the Energy Project: it is about bringing your life systems into balance. And this summarises most theories, yet every bit looks as a slightly different way of doing so, with a different emphasis on what’s most important, depending on your slightly different approach to work and life. And some focus on one area only and go a lot deeper. Fascinating – I find anyway πŸ˜‰

On Tuesday something interesting happened. Instead of my usual breakfast I had a protein shake for breakfast. This is part of my exercise and weight loss routine. Accidentally, as a few other things were going on at the same time, I ended up forgetting to have my daily double espresso. At work we don’t have the greatest of coffees, so I decided to wait and see. By the time I got home my headache was that bad, that I needed a coffee. Unbelievable. It is interesting to see how dependent you can get on caffeine, yet an article I read this week suggested that three coffees a day really prolong your life. So I should be good πŸ˜‰ As my mentor Darren Hardy says, every now and then you should give yourself a break from something, just to make sure you are still in control. I am. I decide what I do. I am in charge.

Travels went well this week. Another couple of days in Germany, supporting the team and meeting some important people, catching up and strategising. The hotel was noisy, sleep poor and I am struggling to come to terms with the quality that Hilton offers vs. my recent experiences. It must be very hard for a brand to represent values and standards and enforce them across a variety of businesses on a global basis. I suppose it is part of my job to ensure exactly that on a B2B level. Not always easy, yet my team is excellent, I have to say. The team at the Hilton in Hamburg seems to be not so well trained, particularly to the Hilton I stayed in in DΓΌsseldorf, and the difference is mind blowing.

More disturbance happened when two appointments that got confirmed got moved last minute, then moved again and I got different confirmation from different people. Again, people in client services. Very frustrating and in line with the service level I mentioned above. I guess it all turned out ok in the end, and it always will, but time is passing quickly and there is so much to do and so much to sort. Time flies, literally. I am struggling sometimes to focus on the right things and channel my energy to the right things. There were some aggrevations this week where I clearly wasn’t in charge of my energy, and then I have had a few situation where I decided how I felt about where to channel my energy to. Balancing my energy system and being on top of the feelings is not always easy, rather hard at times. Keeping my zen and adjusting, learning. But I am managing better as I get deeper into meditation and balanced life, mind and better sleep πŸ™‚

On that note, I had a relaxing weekend. Travel makes you tired.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (35)

Flash…

You Can Reprogram Yourself to Be a Positive Person and You Should. This article shows how. Similar to last week’s post about being positive, this article shows more technique on how to do it.

And did you know. There is a time perception difference for bi-lingual people. Who would have thought πŸ˜‰ Maybe that’s why time seems to expand for me, or not?

Why Buddhism is so important in modern times like ours. The Meditation Cure: When the Buddha Meets Darwin. A very interesting piece on modern day and the usefulness of meditation.

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Sunday Column (452)

If feels like autumn, no? I went back to work. It surely doesn’t feel like summer anymore. The sun seems gone, the warmth, yet the golden summer or Indian Summer hasn’t arrived yet either. A great week to get back to work. Five days of full on fun and then 3 days off for the last bank holiday weekend of the year. Yeah! And not long now and the kids go back to school. They missed me this week as I went back to work rather than continued to be at home. Bless. Yes, one can get used to just sitting around doing nothing I suppose πŸ˜‰

The commute. Did I miss it? A bit. Seriously, I have got hardly any reading done. Now I got my 1-2 hours back where I sit on the train, read, write or listen to podcasts. I am back. For those actitives, I don’t mind the commute. The only challenge is either the length of the journey when you are in a rush to get home or of course delays or cancellations. But my major aim this week was to continue changing my routine. Small things in the morning, staying within the flow, cut out calories, and keeping a relaxed and sane mind. Is it working. I am not sure πŸ˜‰ But I tried.

I love those first days coming back to work. Things seem in harmony, your body and mind are relaxed and you go with the flow. You breathe differently, you get wound up less, and you seem to be full of energy and anticipation of what is coming next. This feeling usually lasts about 4 weeks max before it returns to normal. Actually by Friday, I was almost back to normal. Crazy. Maybe a 1 week holiday every week, will that keep us sane? Kidding aside, if you are as self conscious as I am, you will notice the effect of full relaxation and, how as a matter of time, it wears off and you fall into old habits. A few small habits but habits never the less. To change those all will be difficult, just conquer one at a time. As my mentor Darren Hardy would say, improve 1% at a time at everything you can. All small changes are adding up.

Talking about habits, I changed a few and made a few tweaks to my morning routine. Given I don’t run for 10K any longer on most mornings, I tuned down to 5 and 7.5K and some weight training, it gives me more time to sort other things and catch up on emails etc. prior to work. Less rush. Also, I am keen on catching up with more friends after the holidays. It seems like I am always rushing, so given that approach, my Tuesday night beers turned into a few more. Lack of sleep, short nights and I was in bed at 9 pm the next day, feeling like newborn on Thursday. I love random weeks, but reduced calorie intake and bad sleep do drag you down πŸ™ Full on, one week in. And yes, I am loving it, and truly enjoyed the catch up too.

In life, I am still trying to figure out what the best approach is. In my diaries, and I found an old letter from about 20 years ago, I wrote that in life you can either be the CEO of Mercedes or the Shepard in Australia. The text book career or the wild life. Now, given I am neither, and given I have family, the latter is probably out of question. However, I do question if the CEO of a big company is actually the goal. Does it matter whether I work for a big corporate with a big name or for start ups and small challenger brands? Exactly the same discussion came up with a friend who I met randomly on the street this week in London, after we tried catching up in Hamburg for the past 4 months. And if it matters, to whom does it matter? Will it be reflected in money and status? And if so, what is the tradeoff? Politics vs. Fun? Reputation and CV vs. Being in the Flow, hoping for the big exit?

For now I don’t have to worry about this question. Watching the TV Series (season 4!) of Silicon Valley brings back the dream, and reading this 20 year old note, almost makes you melancholic. What was it like to grow Mexad from zero to multi million? Often, most thoughts we have in life, have already crossed your mind at some point. You remember my post about me inventing both Facebook and Twitter. But wrong time, wrong place. Will I be smarter next time, or am I just not the Zuck of the future. Did you watch The Founder, the story about McDonalds? As a 54 year old, a sales man, the chap spotted the opportunity to go for it and build a franchise. He succeeded. And why wouldn’t have he? I love those stories, and miss the newest inventions of Steve Jobs – not saying Apple will not innovate, but I guess it will never be the same. The new iPhone is coming soon, then copying Amazon Alexa, Netflix. Are they catching up or are they ahead these days? I don’t really know. Anyway, maybe that is a discussion for another time.

To relax from my first week back, I enjoyed the long weekend, or will still tomorrow.
Have a great, if short, week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (34)

Flash…

Be more positive – yes it is that easy. There are 9 ways to say no to negativity. Get out there be positive!!!

Gmail to Inbox – yes I love Inbox! You should know that by now. I yet have to change my private email yet. This is the best motivation to do it. I keep you posted and try yourself. If you don’t use Gmail, there are third party providers that offer similar solutions.

Number 1 Management Hack for 1-on-1s – make sure to get this quality time set aside with your staff. Time worth spending!

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Sunday Column (451)

The second and last part of the holidays took us to the Isle of Wight. We wanted to go for a long time. Unfortunately we didn’t have a whole week, so left on Sunday and spend the most day on the beach. I even went into the sea. The next day we spent at the Needles, an old navy outlook and defence system dating back to the 19th century. We didn’t expect an old ‘fort’ but had an amazing walk along the seaside. Attached to it was an amusement park/tourist trap where the kids saw how glass and sweets were made, and we ended up on a beach with different sand colours via a cable car – I decided to walk back as those heights still freak me out a bit. Before heading home from the short trip we experienced an amazing Indian meal. Yes, the food on holidays has been treating us well! We also spend some time at the sandy beach in Ryde which we very much enjoyed. Not to mention my slight red face too πŸ˜‰

Again, whilst not going very far, we had a fantastic time away. Just being able to spend time with the boys in a relaxed atmospheres, learning about things like how glass is made (this is so comforting to watch) – all those things are precious and it means we are growing closer as a family. I genuinely enjoyed our holidays this year. Let’s see what we are planning for next year. The kids however were glad to be back home. 10 days away is still very long for them. The remainder of the week we spend at home, chilling and getting ready to go back to work really, whilst the wife was away for a family matter.

Every time I go on holidays in the UK, I keep thinking of having a holiday home we could go to everytime we have time off. The challenge is simple: costs first and foremost, but then location. And how often would you go, based on location. Can you drive/fly there and be there within 2 hours? Can you rent it out 20-30 weeks a year through AirBnB? Most people I spoke to that have holiday homes, don’t like the idea of going to the same place every year. So you are bound to a certain holiday destination or you consider renting it out the whole year, probably yielding more than you do on a second home. It sounds quite appealing to me, whether in Devon, Isle of Wight or the Scottish Highlands. Yet the financials aren’t there yet, still saving the pennies for my beloved Jaguar.

Holidays, and I wrote about that last week, make me feel detached. It makes me realise a few things. I do love work. Yep, I am happy to admit it, I actually like to fill my days with commercial and management challenges. It’s my idea of fun and I always enjoyed doing that, developing staff, solving problems, making things happen, GSD. It also makes me realise that my biggest hobbies are fitness and family, as well as my fish tank. Hence the need for a hobby like a car or holiday home to keep me busy with things πŸ˜‰ Guess not for a while. But by spending more time with the family I realised that I should do that more often. Get away with them, or have 1-on-1 time with the boys and spend quality time together. Things come up which normally we only scratch the surface on in our day to day life. And that is important to form the relationship with our kids.

On the other hand there is fitness. Yes, I decided to invest into a multi gym for home. Delivery should happen within the next couple weeks, luckily they also assemble it for me. This and my new regime for eating (I am using my fitness pal again to track what I eat), should counteract my weight gain. After loosing a lot of weight in 2014/15 (my guide here is pretty much two years old) it slowly started creeping up on me again. It settles differently to before, so instead of just being blown up and fat, I have an ever growing gut. Saying that, the holidays and lots of food didn’t help, but a few runs counter acted it to a certain extend. Speaking to a friend it is simple why that weight came back: change of routine, new job, more snacks. Then a lot of travel with no routine and in my case lots of bread in Germany. Whilst you would say it is up to me to decide what I want to eat, you are somewhat bound to the availability. So the fight is on, from Monday I will count calories again and follow my own guidance on loosing weight again. It will significantly improve my running performance too and the weight training should do its part. Fingers crossed.

Now, going back to work on Monday will be great. I do miss my team and getting involved. Likewise, I will miss my long sleeps and live into the day. I will miss the time with the boys.

And the days are not getting longer. I am not sure if it is only me, but it seems to be dark towards 9 pm already, some trees have brown leaves, and I wore my jumper more often than I used to. It is only mid August, the time I consider to be the height of summer. But autumn, the golden autumn usually in the UK, is around the corner. Two more weeks and we enter September. Two months of my favourite time of the year, before we enter into winter. Before we know it is is going to be Christmas.

Ok, I stop with those depressing sounds. Let’s focus on the good things, the good times and the quality time we spend with friends and family. Let’s cherish the moments of love. And, let’s share the love amongst our friends.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world. Have an amazing week!
Volker

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Thursday Flash (33)

Flash…

Social media use may have its benefits, but it also has a disturbing impact on our health and well-being.

Learn how a minimalist lifestyle could help you focus on your core priorities.

Habits to kick in order to be more successful. This post just demonstrates how you can still and always improve on your habits.

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