Sunday Column (466)

We are expecting the coldest night this year…or by time of reading, we would have had it. Nice, finally winter, and again from tomorrow it should get warmer. Is that global warming? Is that the beginning of the end? Anyway, the cold days are lovely, particularly if you have time to spend it with the family in front of a fire, after attending the annual ‘Light Up Hassocks’, the annual pre Christmas fair.

Some of you have noticed my more spiritual approach to things, my motivational quotes on Instagram. I have daily mantras, LOA (law of attraction) and believe the mindset is key to survival, future developments and success. Part of it is getting out of bed at 5 am – despite not working 9-5, I am still getting up at 5 am, go running or do my weights. It is getting harder, mainly because I challenge myself a bit more, but also because it is so cold. However, the effort is worth it, my circumference is back down to where it was a year ago, my weight is on track. I stopped counting calories and continue the journey. That’s what it is: a journey to weight loss, a healthier life. The bigger picture: a journey of life to survive, to live happily.

Having time is one thing. Starting a business is another. And combining the start of a business with having time is a good thing, I suppose, as you can focus on the business and have time for it too. Yet there is no income as you start and build your pipeline. There is time to do some training, hence I got a certificate for business and life coaching last week, but really I need to balance all those things “I would like to do” with “business essential things I want to do”. I am very positive about it. Before Christmas, there will be little work, and just enough to justify some business expenses. From January it looks more promising, and I am hoping to sign a contract before the end of next week.

What does that mean? It means I am now committed to work for myself in Q1. A big step. I am still keeping my ears to the ground, keeping that safety net with me. And, if there will be a big job, a great challenge, I could be tempted to go back into the security of a regular income. There are reasons for it, a master plan. I cross that bridge when I come to it, and running my own business also means I will be pickier in what I do. It comes as a gradual process going from doing a 6 months project at an agency to a 10 months project at an adtech provider to new projects next year. I just didn’t call them all consulting but essentially that is what it was. An article on that is still to come. I enjoy writing articles and hope you all read the one on DMP and CDP predictions for 2018?

There are some huge things I am learning at the moment and I am confident you can gain from that too.

– I see my kids almost every day and spend a lot more time with them. Hence I can have a lot more influence on their behaviour and teach them things about the growth mindset, personal development and watch them growing up. I am feeling blessed being able to do that. Also, I understand that will change again whether I do consulting work or a full time job. Either way I will be working more in London or abroad.

– I went through the exercise of a thorough understanding of my finances. Starting at ‘how much do we need’ and ‘how much are we willing to spend’ to ‘what’s the bare minimum’, questioning some of the things we have spend money on. I should add ‘I have spent money on’. Hence I deleted my Amazon app, as it makes it too easy to just spend a few quid here and there.

– Despite being in charge of my own time, I am not having more time. I fill the days with learning, chasing, working on databases, pitching new business and exploring everything I need to know about coaching. It is a fascinating stage and I have met some great people since starting this only 2 weeks ago.

– It puts your whole life in perspective. Thinking about the fear you have, the confidence you need, the admin you have to go through and what you are missing out on vs. what is important in your life. How do you define happiness, and how are you managing balancing fear and happiness?

Whatever comes out of the next 3+ months will be a huge amount of experience. No one prepares you for that, yet it is a mental exercise like no other. That’s it. If I end up with an employer in Q2/2018 then I have learned to much, that I add even more value than I would at the moment. If I continue as I am, then I hope I end up in two year’s time where I want to be. And from there, the sky is the limit.

You know, trusting yourself is a huge step. I always have done, and I am so grateful for the support from my family. It bolsters my confidence!

That’s my week really. How was yours?

Volker

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Thursday Flash (48)

Flash…

This Seth Godin mini blog post on negative reviews is quite crafty, and quite true. Love it.

David Allen’s one and only productivity tip, or the most important one anyway is a must read 😉

When tomorrow’s dreams become today’s actions is a nice closure for the week.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (465)

This week had a busy start, and a busy finish to be honest. I am starting to write on Monday night, which is late for me. No trains, no commute at the moment, still trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Strategizing life, guess that is one of my fortes, as I love strategizing. Taking a proposition to market. Turning around a market and making sure everyone is on board. People management. Process management. Allround talent for management. Team and individual coaching.

Hmm, what should I do?

I know my skills are there, and I also know – and speaking to a lot of industry friends lately – that my programmatic skills are there and they seem to be rare. Those paired with commercial acumen. Operations plus commercial. Running companies, managing big teams. I have never taken redundancy by being fired for being shit. It sometimes feels like that but I am not taking it personal, I had to let people go this year too. There is no guarantee and no stability anymore from what it looks like in the industry, which suggests to me that self-employment is the way forward. Essentially it is the same risk but with a higher reward. Plus I will be able to manage my own time. And I will be good in what I am doing, I am not worried about it. But there is fear to overcome, it is a big step being used to a senior exec salary, pension payment, and a life style. Having to pay a mortgage, putting kids through school and education and so on. Whilst I rummage about what I am going to do next, I think the there are a few full time positions still to consider. Why not being more focused, more directive and selective, and in the meantime embark on the self employed journey. Yes, this sounds like a plan!

I am open. Why wouldn’t I be? If you read that, you either are an industry friend, we met sometime ago or met randomly, or you are interested in reading my columns.
Then you might feel like you know me. So if you are reading that, from my perspective you are a friend, and with friends I am happy to share my feelings, my thoughts, my ideas. Because everyone has similar thoughts and feelings. I know I am not alone and no one is. Maybe you are in a similar situation – feel free to reach out and we grab a coffee. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks to my friends who so far helped me on the way. Giving thanks for the opportunity I have had and that will be there to come. All beginnings are hard, but there is so much help out there, I am ever so grateful for. Thank you. Thank you.

I could tell you what I did this week and particularly on Monday, I did two school runs and had dinner with my boys. I don’t remember being home for tea time for a long time and it was good to spend that much time with the boys. I am really enjoying that. I feel like I am actually part of their lives rather than rushing to another plane or meeting. Those moments are very important for me, and I enjoy that time. I didn’t have much of that this year. Now it is all about balancing my time with the kids with a future employment. I want to be more with the kids, whilst also knowing it won’t always be feasible. Balancing this is scary and challenging but if I don’t try, I won’t succeed by default. So I must try and I have the time and finances to try it for a while. Things will work out in the end. They always will, one way or another.

So let’s look forward. Let’s conquer the fear and get over it. Christmas, quiet time, is around the corner. Time to reflect. Then there will be a new year, 2018. We still don’t have flying cars, and we yet have to invent teleporting, but recent videos of robots doing back flips and mini drones killing people based on facial recognition scares me. Having worked with AI (artificial intelligence), it shows what’s possible, what humans can do. It is about opportunity without fear, trusting that technology will be used in a good way, for good causes. I guess the future will tell.

Here is to the future. And to better blog posts, but that depends on the input.
Let next week be the week that takes me a step forward.

Have a successful, peaceful and great week ahead.

Volker

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Thursday Flash (47)

Flash…

An article worth reading about the nostalgia on the internet. You might get some flash backs afterwards 😉

Then I read: Top five career lessons learned. It is all about experience and what you learn from jobs. So that’s fun!

And last but not least, and I recently read a whole book about it, there was a good find on bad body language and which behaviour you find difficult to quit. Take note!

See you next Thursday.
Volker

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Sunday Column (464)

Another week, another flight. Yes, you read correctly. As time of writing I sit on a cramped Easyjet flight back from Amsterdam. People smelling of stale cannabis and I wish I had booked a mid week flight rather than the ‘Monday after a long weekend from Amsterdam’ flight back. But I was only over for one day, one interview which turned into meeting people from the whole company. Worth the trip and experience. And when I say that, this isn’t necessarily that I got the job, as a matter of fact the positive noise in the meeting turned into a silence. It turned into something I knew would happened because I trust my gut. I trust myself and I know what I am doing. But when did you last turn down the chance for a final stage interview with a company for a big international role, a big salary because your gut told you not to? Anyway, consider it done.

However, nevertheless, the trip was very successful as it helped me in my decision making. As my former boss would say: Focus, Fight and Change the Conversation. That’s exactly what I am doing. More to come as things emerge over the next 6-8 weeks.

It finally got colder and the condensation is back in the house. We had to turn the pressure (speed) on our air distributor thingy up again. It also meant cosy nights with the fire on and it meant cold mornings in the gym. I am down in the garage 5 days a week now. 5×45 minutes of exercise. Slowly but surely I have the feeling that my body transforms, stabilises, I am getting somewhere, not gaining weight and not loosing more. That’s a good sign for me, at my age anyway 😉

Whenever you meet people in the industry, you always discover something new, or something you knew and look at it from a different perspective. I enjoy that challenge. I enjoy going out of my comfort zone and learn. Further I learned a lot about how people perceive me on LinkedIn. How one topic is seen as industry changing by some, yet hardly noticed by others. What I have been missing in some conversations this week is simple: the growth mindset. I am reading that book by Carl Dweck. The fixed mindset is about people believing their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. The growth mindset is about people who believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. A love of learning. Like me, reading self development books and listening to podcasts all day long. You never stop learning.

Again, there will be more on that topic over the next few weeks. I am working on a concept to take this to the wider market, coaching and developing people. And people who want to be coached, want to learn. They want to develop. This week I spoke to mentors and coaches. I am getting the input I am looking for, the advice I was hoping for, but I only have 24 hours in the day. So I need to slow down, reflect, focus.

Life is about focus and about doing what you want to do and not what other people expect you to do. Life isn’t the way our parents perceived it and told us to perceive it. No fault of theirs, but that’s how it was. And what do I want to portrait to my kids. I vividly remember sitting with my mother in the living room and I said to her that when I come back from the exchange year in the US (I was 15 at the time), I might just become a car mechanic. She said that I should do at least A levels, and university or a good apprenticeship. A good foundation. She wasn’t wrong, and from what she knew then, this was the right thing to say. Now I wonder what would have happened if I did do a car mechanic apprenticeship. Maybe I would own a few garages now, making more money than I ever made.

However, there is something else: opportunity costs. Money is only one part of the greater life equation. How much money does one have to earn to compromise happiness? Which figure can you put on it? Can you really? Tell me. Direct message me and tell me how much your happiness is worth to you. And then put that money on the table and let me help you find it. Deal?

So how does a life look like for me 2 years from now? Ideally I work with a variety of companies in one capacity or another. Board memberships, non executive roles, advisory boards, hands on consulting and strategy, positioning, connecting and selling….a variety of things to make sure that companies are represented the way they should be. Additionally I would work with companies on corporate and cultural development. Coaching their employees to perform better. 1-2-1 sessions, analysing profiles etc. I would very much enjoy that plus management coaching. I have been coaching friends for a long time and mentored many, however there is so much more I can bring to someone’s life by helping them discover and connect with their inner purpose, connecting to their systems, and discovering happiness.

The right things come to your life for a reason, and at the right time. Be patient. Trust your gut and trust yourself.

To exciting times. More as my positioning is strengthening.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (46)

Flash…

This week you can find out 20 Ways to Build Empathy – something to improve your EQ?

Also, why strong leaders attract the best talent, and why leadership is important. It is about choosing your boss as much as your next role when looking for a new job. Definitely worth reading.

And last but not least, some hot tips and tricks around working from home (wfh).

If you liked this week, don’t forget to share it!

Have a good one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (463)

Good evening. Sunday night and as usual a busy week for me. To start out with a summary, my Monday was super busy. Working from home to get an air ventilation system installed that pumps dry air into our house in order to reduce condensation and therefore the build up of mould around the windows. We don’t have a huge problem with that so the unit we got should solve it and I am excited to slowly but surely finalise the house and get it into the ‘perfect’ state. So far it is working fantastically. I know it sounds like a daunting task but over the years you want to know what’s going on in your house and make sure the systems are running smoothly and the heating is working, the lights, etc. – guess it is my German efficiency and I just want to keep it in good repair I suppose. Sad life but as I enter middle age, the house is becoming a priority 🙂

I also added some new features to our spare bedroom in order to display my Lego model I build and also to declutter my desk, anticipating I might work from home more often again. Then I don’t want to anticipate too much, as I am still not sure what I will or want to be doing next. My last official day was on Friday, so 10 months, two jobs (running operations and Germany), and some great people and experience. I worked my butt off, flew to Germany every week and I feel like I accomplished something for the company. Some people said to me that this isn’t fair, however it is a job, and life in business isn’t always fair, is it? I never thought about it, as my thoughts are about the future, about what I will focus on moving forward. No point of looking back, I cannot change the past.

Having a few drinks with the crew, reading the leaving cards and looking at a fantastic leaving present (a nice bottle of whiskey), I cannot resist to say thank you. The team has been fantastic, a great time at Rocket Fuel, a great culture and fantastic people. Thank you. You have been fantastic. It is a small industry and paths will cross again. If I am not misinterpreting the notes, I had a positive impact on most of my staff. For that I am truly greatful. Not often can you look back and think you made an impact on someone’s life or people’s life for the better. Gave them some thoughts, some advice or just helped them to get perspective. And as always, I am happy to continue this and be there as an advisor or mentor moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out. My mobile is the same and most of us are now connected on various channels. Thank you once again.

Coincidental with me having my last week at work, my wife had 4 shifts to work. That meant school / child minder runs every day with the boys. Great times and thinking about it, I really enjoy waking them up in the morning and having that one on one time with them. We adding more of that individual time too, so moving forward I plan to take the youngest to Karate on a Saturday morning. Not long I will find something with the oldest too. I think that’s super important to build the bond and trust with the main priority in my life (see article on LinkedIn too).

Then I attended an industry event this week. Wow. I am impressed. Or not. I know I have been in programmatic coming up 10 years, but really, the amount of “non existing knowledge” is crazy (and no this is not lack of knowledge from the host or speakers!). Lotame invited for an amazing industry event which really show cased what needs to be done on the data side of things. However, the comments coming from the audience and some of the panel members set me back years. I had an interview earlier that day asking me about how many industry relationships I have and how many people I know, and how much I know about certain tech providers. Maybe it is stating the obvious, but if I need to speak to any industry tech or need my way into any agency, I find a way. Yet even the best relationships won’t get you a deal. I am sales by trade and I know people. People know me, this is surely not a criteria to employ or not to employ me. I have so much more to offer: leadership, management skills, processes, fun, industry knowledge, connections above and beyond and knowledge how to sell technology. Oh yes, I do listen to customer needs and if I don’t know I only sell once the integration or product team actually gave their go ahead. Sales pitch over 😉

Anyway, in the process of networking and knowing people, now that I don’t really manage people at Rocket Fuel anymore, I add them on Facebook. It seems to be a nicer way to connect and be part of people’s life, rather than the ‘professional’ LinkedIn. Latter is becoming cluttered with similar posts to Facebook and is moving into that direction. I wonder where we end up in years to come, if Snapchat can close the age gap and become an important platform, or if a newcomer will enter the market. Who knows. As with most things in the industry, you cannot predict the future or the outcome.

As the week comes to a close I reflect. It has been a good week. A good 10 months. Life is good, and I am healthy and happy. The house is better and I can put my last 10 months aside to focus on my next … 10 years maybe. The future is key and it is going to happen. I might not know how yet but it will and we will be alright. We always will be. Believe.

Things happen for a reason.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (45)

Flash…

This week, there is an article about five ways to improve focus at work – some useful tips, don’t you think?

In line with that, have a think, as a business owner, how to become a great place to work! Even if you don’t own your business, how can you contribute to it?

Mike Vardy writes about ‘This is What You Do’ but really asks the question whether what you do is what you should be doing and why is it that you are doing it. Enjoy. A good read IMO.

See you soon,
Volker

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Sunday Column (462)

How are we all? My webanalytics and the feedback I receive from friends and family suggest that the amount of people reading my blog is increasing. Thanks for listening to my rants, my moans, my diaries and my joys and attempts to be a modern philosopher. I love sharing. My life, my joys and my experience. I enjoy giving and seeing others strive. And I am a firm believer that as everyone around you grows, you grow with them. We are all in it together. One team, one dream. One world. My mentor Darren Hardy said it just this week, give and you will be given. As I state in my book, I believe life is a closed system. Anything that goes out, comes back to you. LOA = Law of Attraction. The first time I learned that was in my mechanical engineering studies, it is the first chapter in technical mechanics. Simple really, the equilibrium of forces.

But my engineering and university times are long gone. This week I had another cold. Didn’t we just have a gorgeous weather spell? Warm weather in November, and bang, another cold. After I recovered from my stomach bug, which I now found out others caught in Belgrade too, I managed to catch a cold. Just as it is in full swing it gets really cold outside, killing the last germs there are. The weather is worrying. I don’t remember having this warm weather as a child, and this is only 20-30 years. Global warming is real, and as a teenager I used to protest against the use of FCKW or CFC in English (chlorofluorcarbons), the gas causing the greenhouse effect. And as always, my thoughts on the Monday morning train are drifting to ‘where is it best for us to live if it gets worse’, thinking about Brexit too. Just as the latest rumour hit me last weekend, that allegedly we are moving to New York. Yeah, I’d love to but not with the kids I don’t think. Particularly with the latest terror attack. No, we are not having any plans to leave this country anytime soon, but the Economist just had an article stating that the ones that can leave are more likely to do so. And the ones that can, are the ones that have a good education, well paid jobs and whose skills are in demand. This is the same when mergers happen between companies: the good people don’t have to worry, they move on or do something else. Retaining talent is the difficult part.

But not all is doom and gloom. As the week moved on I managed to sort my thoughts out a bit. This isn’t always the easiest in the current situation. However, on the other side I have time for a lot of reflection and thinking. Actually, I managed to figure out a few tricks on how to be even more productive on LinkedIn, Gmail, Inbox etc. Whilst doing that I also enlisted some support from friends to sort my thoughts. Isn’t it just amazing what some talking and coaching can do to you. And it isn’t that I just speak to them when I need help. As my mentor Darren Hardy would say, help others first, then help yourself. I believe I wrote about that last week or if not, I have an article on LinkedIn which goes live soon. Actually life is pretty good, and I am not complaining. Just a bit uncertain at the moment, but I got lots of encouragement from friends and colleagues this week. It was also nice to hear some positive feedback. Thanks guys and please share the blog if you like it, it would be nice to increase the readership steadily.

We had a few leaving drinks this week for people who have been at my company for 6+ years. I of course haven’t been with the company that long, and it is great to see what culture there used to be and what friendships have been established over the years. And culture was the focal point for me this week when speaking to a friend of mine who I haven’t spoken for a long time. She is dedicating a lot of her time to cultural coaching, and how to change and establish great, successful cultures in companies. Not an easy task and something I write soon about on LinkedIn, speaking about the podcast ‘Eat Sleep Work Repeat’. The dots are starting to connect, I am able to bridge two worlds it seems. Life is moving in a good direction, good vibes. A nice night out with loads of the old crew showing up, many familiar faces. This is the beginning, not the end. Something excitingly new, as we leave the old.

On another note, one night this week I treated myself to some German music. I have been discussing listening to German folk, Reinhard Mey, a few time, and sitting on the late train, reflecting on his stories about his families…makes me think how much the boys enjoyed Halloween this week. Something we never celebrated back in Germany when I was younger, plus something I am not too fussed about. Yet I was able to help them with the carving of the pumpkins, eating the sweets and giving them confidence that their scary designs are great. Whilst I reflect on that and listen to Reinhard how he picks up his son from the train home from university, I manage to reflect deeper on my upbringing and how things have changed since I was a boy in Germany. All that growing up is to come with my two, but I don’t want to wish my life away – as he says “you sometimes only ever realise your luck and happiness when you see it from the outside”.

This is true. When you enjoying life and you are in the midst of it, you forget how great things are and how much you are enjoying them. And I have been focusing on how lucky I am, having my two amazing boys and my lovely wife and the life I am living. My first priority in life. Hence it was good to be able to work from home this week to do a school run and help with some smaller bits in the house. Life is good, and one should never forget how many people don’t have such a good life. So I am entirely grateful for the life I am allowed to be living. The warmth we have, the food we eat, the wine we drink, the clothes we wear. Never take anything for granted.

Before I close there was another sentimental thought this week. The poppy season is upon us and as the November morning are getting gloomy, there was a huge collection effort at Victoria station. Many soldiers in uniform, clean uniforms and polished shoes, silent, standing there collecting for the Poppy Appeal. It takes me back doing the same in Germany. When I was in the Navy. A lot of people might not know but I am one of the last generation of Germans who had to serve for at least 10 months or do social services. I used to be a radio operator in the German navy. Clean, tidy uniforms and polished shoes. Collecting money for a good cause similar to the Poppy Appeal here. Those were different times, and it is over 20 years ago. But the discipline, the routine and the mindset hasn’t faded much.

There is a commitment, an inner urge to serve and be grateful for what you have. To help others and stand up for what you believe in. I do. To this day. And fight for freedom. Having lived in the US, there is more acknowledgment for the armed forces, where if a soldier eats in a restaurant and wears his/her uniform, someone from the public would naturally pick up the bill. To say thanks for the freedom they provide. For protecting it in the future. To potentially give their life for others.

Long this may continue and lets remember all soldiers next week on Remembrance Sunday that fought for our freedom and for us being able to live in peace for as long as we have. Let’s be grateful for what we have. Always.

Have a great week ahead.
Volker

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Thursday Flash (44)

Flash…

This week is about six rituals from ancient wisdom that will make you happy (if you follow the advice) – a rather long but worthwhile read on things we have known for generations, yet have we applied that knowledge?

And if you want to become rich, try to work on those seven wealth mentalities. No guarantee from my end though.

Lastly, if you learn the 7 traits of the most resilient people, you might become rich too. Again, no guarantee 🙂

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