Sunday Column (481)

Spring is in the air. If you listen carefully as you board the early morning train, you can hear the birds singing. Our cats got a lovely mouse I rescued from them, and there is a ‘new beginning’ in the air. I signed another advisory role for a blockchain and ICO/ITO (Initial Coin/Token Offering). This is exciting for many reasons. On the one hand I get to work with some very smart people and on the other hand, I am able to learn a lot from them and the product/offering itself. There is no doubt this part of technology is going to be big, so getting involved early is never a bad thing. Exciting times ahead, and more info will be shared on LinkedIn when appropriate.

So as you can see I keep myself busy. That is essential. It is interesting how weeks evolve and things happening out of nothing and your week just gets a different spin. For example I spoke to a company one day which after only 30 minutes thought I wouldn’t be commercial enough, despite my experience definitely being able to do that. Then just a few hours later I was in knee deep discussions how to help a business to structure their sales and account management team across EMEA. Wowsers. Let’s see. I am hopeful.

I won’t, for obvious reasons, discuss any details here, and I am deliberately vague. However, the point I am trying to make is that with every interview you learn. I even discussed my education and went back throughout my whole career. I enjoyed the thoroughness and the chat, being very reflective, it helped me to focus on what I enjoyed in each job, which is what my interview partner wanted to know. It is somewhat fun this journey, to explore opportunities, technologies, and meeting very interesting people. Yet is can also be tiring adhering to time lines, chasing etc. I am hoping that at the end of this journey, besides a job, I will come out with a position that will last me for a few years. And as of the paragraph above, people see and spot different things in different people. The reason that’s the case is because everyone has their own filter of the world, I am going back into NLP here now, but if you are someone that is keen on finding X in someone, then that’s all that matters. Chin up.

On top of that I recorded 2 of 4 scheduled podcasts this weekand, and I scheduled another 2 to be recorded next week. Amazing conversations, each of their own kind. Maybe I need to increase the frequency and the best thing is, I so love doing them. The thought crosses my mind to build my own media company in years to come. Producing podcasts, events and venturing out into new areas. There is no limit to what you can achieve in life, is there? And I am still trying to identify the perfect way, but to be honest, is there ever going to be something that is perfect? Is there something ever going to be the life you dreamed of? As my wife pointed out, life isn’t a straight line, and once you accept it being up and down, ride the wave. F* it. Easier said than done when you are the breadwinner. Who knows what life holds. One interview this week might have lead to some media deal – oh I love those days in media really LOL – Don’t I?

I am trying to figure out bigger questions in my head, and to be honest, my question supporting those thoughts are around ‘why did we dream of the perfect life in the way we did’. Maybe I should have studied philosophy and psychology, but if we imagine for a moment, and I discuss that in my podcasts, that our dreams are influenced solely by upbringing and parents. So success, and however you want to define that, is based on what ‘seed’ was planted for your dreams. Did your parents suggest you dreaming big or small? In colour or black and white? Were they taking risks or not? One of my podcast guests coined the phrase of ‘entrepreneurial GM’ which I like to adopt for myself. Fits the bill, dont’ you think? He made me a great compliment too 🙂 . And he made me think whether I am already at the right place at the right time, but I haven’t noticed it yet. You ever thought that sometimes you step out of the future you dreamed of, to be sidelined into what you should do (or what seems right to do), but not realise it?

My other theory which goes in line with that is that life is constantly changing. So if I discuss what my career looks like in 5 years time, there is no point. I believe that in 5-10 years our lives would have changed so much, that we essentially work and live completely different to the now. I shared Elon Musk’s theory this week which suggests we all live in a simulation. Maybe we do. Stephen Hawking died this week, one of the greatest philosophers based on physics/science of our time. How is the universe and the universal conscious putting things together to move you forward as an individual? How do we know what is right or wrong, and can our intellect really rely on our gut feeling at all times?

I am drifting again. And people keep telling me that my blog is getting too long. So apologies. Feel free to reach out – with jobs, contract work or for a chat or feedback re the blog 🙂 – as someone said the other morning when we both met on the train ‘Volker, feel free to reach out anytime for a chat, things will be fine, but happy to listen’. Thanks, and you know who you are. And for anyone out there going through the ups and downs as well, ping me, I am always happy to help if I can. Life is about giving back and rising with the tide.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (480)

It has been an interesting and very intense week. I don’t really know where to start but I had a few experiences this week I’d like to share. As someone pointed out to me this week, my blog is very detailed, yet as I explained, I enjoy writing it and it is my creative outlet. And usually I write on the train or during my son’s karate lesson.

I published another podcast and recorded my first 90 minutes long podcast. If there was a way to earn enough money doing that I would consider that full time, maybe one day. For the time being it is a great hobby. If you haven’t seen or HEARD it, Dominic Joseph speaks about his story, and I believe there are lots of learnings you can take from him. Thanks for being my guest!

The main thing this week was my wife’s laser eye correction. I am quite squeamish, so don’t want to go into detail, and whilst I shouldn’t complain as I don’t have the pain, she couldn’t sleep and it kept me awake too. Just to be sure we don’t have a misunderstanding here, I am not cursing her for it, but having had an 8 am interview on Friday, a 6.23 train and being awake half the night knocked me out on Friday afternoon. How did I cope when we had babies?? I remember going from hospital and night feeds straight into interviews in 2009. Maybe a good omen?!

At time of writing she is getting better. And that’s the main thing, and I caught up on some sleep too. It feels a bit like Dusk till Dawn at home, as all the shutters are closed to avoid sunlight coming in. No, she hasn’t turned into a vampire 😉

On Wednesday I tried a new massage therapist. Mine had to cancel and since the meeting didn’t get re-arranged, I figured it was time to try someone else to keep my muscles entertained. I am believer that change is good and that you need to change things on a regular basis to keep yourself or your body from being complacent. For someone who doesn’t get massages on a regular basis this might sound silly and odd, but the massage I got was a mixture of massage and physio which my body responded very well to. If you need a recommendation, I am happy to refer you to her.

Recruitment or job search was another topic of course and I know some people read this hoping for some news. So do I 🙁 I got some new leads, had interviews, managed to schedule some really good interviews for next week, awaiting some more, and of course got some rejections too. It is difficult to balance chasing without annoying the recruiters, so any job that comes direct is so much easier to manage. I feel things are moving forward and definitely I found one job I would love to do. Fingers crossed. Any of my recruiters reading this, let me know if I annoy you, yet most say call me whenever you want….some say every four weeks, others just don’t answer or bother. The industry is an odd one, but hey, I also made some friends in the process. Having this extra layer in between allows you access to the bigger jobs. But on the other hand, it comes with less control. So finding the balance with the middle man can be hard sometimes. Anyhow. I have some interesting discussions at the moment, and I am so curious where I end up in a few weeks time. Or I hope it is weeks and not months anyway. I keep you posted.

Oh, and after some contemplating and meetings, I have now decided to take on another advisory role. I heard headhunters saying I am too young to do that. Other would question whether I am too old to work for a 20 something entrepreneur? Neither is true. I quite happily work for a young entrepreneur and have done so in the past, as that is how the industry rolls. At the same time, I am not too young for advisory roles, yet depends which start up and what area. I have, and that wasn’t intentionally, found one where I am curious to learn more about the topic (it is about blockchain and crypto currency) and at the same time can add value with my experience. It happens to be run by a very smart and young entrepreneur too. I announce it formerly once the paperwork is signed.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that a job search has an impact on one’s mood, and one’s surrounding. My kids keep asking when I go back to work and luckily I got some contract work which keeps me sane. I want the right job (fingers crossed), not any job, and I am keen on keeping it that way. Patience is getting less, but on the other hand I need to keep on going, filling the pipe until things are sorted. And of course they will. The next job should be 3-5 years ideally, so better make it a good one and I am keen on staying somewhere longer to make a proper impact.

Now, coming to another experience I wanted to share. My youngest is wearing contact lenses for a couple of weeks now. They shape his eyes over night and he takes them out in the morning. On the one hand they stop him from having to wear glasses and on the other hand it stops his eyes from getting worse. Fingers crossed that will be the case. I am so heartbroken seeing my seven year old putting contacts in, his struggle when he is tired. I am so very proud of him doing that whilst myself I am too squeamish to even consider it. See above, the eye problems run in the family (that’s my wife’s line btw, just saying 😉 ) and I am glad we have the possibilities to make things better moving forward. It all will be good in the end. But it is a struggle to make things better sometime and putting this on children early is balancing pushing and understanding. Not easy to be a parent sometime.

I have been networking this week too, and my Instagram followers would have noticed, I have a new drink of choice: an Old Fashioned. A drink that lasts longer than a pint and taste nice and is still ‘cool’ after the Mad Men era. Having said that, depending who you are speaking to, Mad Men is a thing of the past. The right comment given it was IWD this week (International Women’s Day). This could be another post in itself, I think it is great that the world wakes up to equality, but as I have said here and elsewhere before, I am still buffled that people would treat others differently based on gender, or race, or age, … Anyway, we as a global society are on the way to improve things.

With that hope and wish, my wife being on the mend, and a roast dinner in the oven, I hope you had a great weekend too.

All the best for the week ahead.

Volker

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Sunday Column (479)

6.52 – Monday – my train is leaving my local station to get to Victoria for an 8.30 meetings. It is minus degrees, and bitterly cold. As I am waiting for the train I reflect a bit and realise that I should have taken a woolen hat and some gloves. But no, I never really think about this. As most of my readers know I am an early bird. I lost over 10kg a few years ago and ever since had to bake in exercise into my daily routine. The only way it works for me, given I have a 90 minute door-to-door commute, is at 5 am routine in the morning. So despite people asking me if I am mad, I am not, I am just scheduling things so they work. 5 am wake up, about 45-60 minute exercise, 15 minutes meditation, getting ready, breakfast and out of the door by 7ish. Simple, isn’t it?

Having done some research recently into my sleep pattern, I realise that I have been waking up earlier than 5 am. What happens is, as my body must have got used to getting up between 4.45 and 5.15 every morning for the last 6 years, that the sleep cycles, the 90 minutes cycles, kind of start messing up my sleep. So what I noticed recently, going to bed around 9:30 pm, that I wake up at 3.30/3.45 fully awake. This suggests a theory I have been following by someone who only sleeps about 6 hours (4*90 minutes cycle) and gets up at 3.30 am, yet goes to bed at 9 pm. The theory is that if you get 4 good sleep cycles, that is all you need, rather than 4.5 cycles which leaves you actually more tired. Or you go for 5 of course, e.g. 7.5 hours sleep, about 8 hours in bed. You could argue if I go to bed at 9 pm, I should get 7.5 hours, getting up at 5, but it seems not work like that for me. So I shall continue to experiment, and maybe go to bed around 11 pm. The challenge is that I do not want to compromise on sleep and definitely don’t want to run around like a zombie. Just planning 8 hours for sleep seems a big ask on my time I find, that’s ⅓ of the day. But if I get 4 full cycles, e.g. 6 hours, and wake at 5 am, then 11 pm seems to be the right time to go to bed.

What do you think? Are you an early bird? What works for you? Please reach out to me and let me know. If you read that and have done some studies, please let me know, I am curious on how to master this.

Now the #uksnow – panic set in from Monday yet most trains were running as normal on Tuesday. I was impressed. And pleased. Good to see that the system works and that enough preparation didn’t kill the infrastructure. Well done Southern and Thameslink. I wore my old Navy boots to town, yet changed into more formal shoes once I got there 😉 It is a shame that the UK seems to normally collapse under an inch of snow, the more I was delighted to see it didn’t. And the boys loved it, they haven’t seen proper snow for a while. Personally, I love the cold weather. A few weeks of bitterly cold weather, snow and chaos sometimes doesn’t hurt. But then again…..it is easier without, isn’t it?

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I decided to stay at home. Weather was ok-ish on most days, but deteriorated on Friday. So I postponed a meeting I had to go in for on Friday but thought it’s better than getting stuck on a train half way home. A Skype call worked just as well, and after all, the trains were running fine. I actually enjoyed the cold snap and having the fire on most days, getting cosy and drinking wine, and maybe taking it a bit easier, was actually rather nice. Cheese boards. Oh yes, I love a good night in. I have a busy week ahead next week. Fingers crossed I will be getting closer to making progress towards finding a job. I keep saying that every week, but I feel like things must come to an end before Easter. Fingers crossed, I keep you posted as always.

So not a hugely eventful week but with the snow and all, that’s what happened. For a few this was the perfect excuse to not do any work on Friday at all. It is wonderful for the kids and only ever happens every 5-10 years. So not a big deal but disruptive. It slows down a lot and given it was MWC this week in Barcelona, half the industry was out of the country anyway. Easter is getting closer with 3 weeks to go, so let’s see how things plan out. I definitely enjoy being out there doing some contract work, being busy and having a purpose. It helps not going stir crazy.

Additionally I booked a few new podcast guests in, and almost filled the schedule until the end of the year. I finally got some women committed and also started having some guests that are not in the adtech industry. We are moving in the right direction and I enjoy listening to my guests, discussing the Stories of Success.

Apologies for a rather diary like column. My focus at the moment is on the job hunting, the contract job and juggling a few things on the family side. Life never stops.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (478)

I am thankful for the support and conversations I had this week. I cannot thank people enough whether they spend time making a nice comment about some work I have done, or wether they brainstormed with me over a coffee and a walk. Or some really experienced headhunters approaching me for the roles that would take my career to the next level. I feel like there is opportunity, and listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast interviewing Bob Metcalfe – oh wow, there is so much that can turn out well and of course it comes down to luck and serendipity, but who says I am not in the vortex now. Are things happening as we speak. And where do we end up? Wow. Wow. Wow.

As you can see I am enjoying my journey. That is of course until the cold reality kicks in and I realise that contracting only covers part of my costs at the moment, but there is more contract work on the horizon. I am trusting the path and that the dots will connect looking backwards. That is what I am learning with every podcast I am doing, and you will be pleased to hear that I am in the process of getting some female guests signed up. And another coach. I could spend more time making this into something bigger but fear it takes focus away from the job search. Maybe that’s for the next part of my life?

So this week started out with an interesting discussion on my podcast. Yes, I interviewed a friend and mentor and, given it was 9:30 on a Monday, we drifted in some deep philosophical thoughts around happiness and success. As we finished the podcast it felt like we have talked forever and connected on some deep values, a very intense start into the week.

What am I saying here? My podcasts on success help me a lot to reflect of what is important. Whether success is important and whether happiness is related to success. Or success related to happiness. And with some of my guests I drift down to the question of what’s important in life, and it most often is achievement, the journey, a good life, health and family. Most are high achievers and for them it is important to be top of their game and make a lasting difference. And a lasting difference seems to be set equal with a long and healthy life. It is also NOT set equal with money. Something I always thought growing up.

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Please not that I have now put up a page on this blog to refer to a reading list of books recommended on my Stories of Success podcast and books I recommend anyone to read. Check out those recommendations.
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My question, and this is unrelated to the above, is if it is an illusion we are living in. Have we not always expected to grow old in the same way as our grandparents did. Our parents and the generations before. I have. And, for whatever reasons, we seem to hear from more people that die young or are ill younger, and if I say young, I mean 50-60 years of age. Putting it into relation, I am sure the statistics don’t show more people dieing younger yet, but there seem to be more touching my life. Now we can philosophise as much as we like, and Anthony Robbins invested heavily in stem cell therapy to improve life expectancy (that’s the way I interpret it), but one thing is certain: we will not grow old in the way older generations have.

It is a fact. And the reason I am so sure about that, is that life is changing constantly. We work differently to the generations before us, we consume different foods, we consume different media, get different stimulus, we are living in more polluted cities, we have more reliance on money, ….and the list goes on. Our lives are already fundamentally different to our parents’ life at the same age. And you just need to look at our kids using tablets and iPhones at an age we weren’t even have computers. The exponential acceleration of technology, for better or worse, results in us having a different life when we are older. Whether that is computer and robot related, or better health technology, or us never reaching that age as we all die of some disease or blowing up the planet.

This fact fascinates me, and I’d love to get involved in the development of some of those technologies that might make our life easier and better. One day, I believe so anyway, I come up with an idea that will change people’s life. That is when I will get self employed and go for it. I just haven’t had this yet, but given all the podcasts, when you deeply know you need to do something to make a difference, you will. I sit patiently and observe my thoughts. And maybe it is something small. And different to what I thought it might be. And it won’t be about money. Who knows what the future holds.

For now I am back at work. Not in a full time position but I am doing some contractual work. That keeps me occupied and stops me from going stir crazy. It is fun, I can make a difference, and maybe it leads to some full time employment – one way or another. I said to someone last week that I feel that things fall into place and I am now in a place I wanted to be 3 months ago. But 3 months ago, maybe me or the universe, things just weren’t ready. Timing, patience, believe and positive thoughts are what drives us forward.

Serendipity. And who listened to my 2nd published podcast with Caspar Schlickum knows, I quoted him a lot today. I am grateful for mentors and grateful for giving back. Latter I believe I have done this week too. Give and take. Greater unconsciousness.

Love and kindness to you, wherever in the world you are.
Volker

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Sunday Column (477)

Here we go again. Another week. Half term and we had the MIL and her partner here, which was great for them to take over some of the child duties. My wife managed to work and I went to do some work on stuff too. No news on the job front yet, still waiting to hear, working on a pipeline – this is a full time sales position where I am the product and the more people know about my job search, the better. So please spread the word and if you know anyone seeking a senior commercial person, let me know!

Whilst I have been out of a job, the real job hunt has only just started, thanks to Christmas it has been a slow start. Not a good time for redundancy but a brilliant time to spend with the family and clear your head and understand what life is all about for you. Not wanting to play down the challenges that come with redundancies, but it has helped me to bring more focus to my life, and also everyone always says something better comes out of it. And I believe this is because you have to start thinking about what you really want. What is it you love? What is it you enjoy doing? What is important to you? A fascinating exercise and a journey full of fun and discovery. Not always easy though, but with the right mindset and support, it can be useful too.

I am about to put out another podcast this week, and the podcast keeps me busy. With two more recordings scheduled for next week, a few in the pipeline, this is a part time job. And it is so much fun, to really find out what success is all about. And how hard success is and why money doesn’t matter. This is going to be a fantastic research piece. This week I speak to Bruce Daisley from Twitter who has been an amazing guest and has a unique view to most people I interviewed so far. I cannot wait to hear your feedback and it was the first podcast I recorded face to face. They are more fun, but more difficult to arrange if you believe it or not.

Last Sunday, and not in time for last week’s column, my wife and I finished the newest Twin Peaks series. I loved it. I even loved it more than the first one and I cannot say I understood either to be honest. It’s almost as if the cult of Twin Peaks is so much stronger than the story itself if that makes sense. I remember watching the first series when I was maybe 14 and it was more something my brother watched. Then I got into it when my wife and I revisited it about a year ago. Now the new series I could watch again. Whatever strangeness there is, and whatever they suggest might be out there, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. You ever wondered, and of course you have, what might be in the twilight zone and what might come our way from external sources, planets etc. The creepiness and yet helplessness is fascinating. Like the fear of spiders that essentially cannot do anything to you but you are afraid of them nevertheless. Do you think they are afraid of you? Maybe they are, we never know. I am sure they aren’t out there to scare us, yet I don’t like them at all.

The weather – always a good topic – I spoke to a friend in the US this week and he says there are 280 days of sunshine where he lives. I am thinking Australia would be better yet a quick Google search reveals that the US and South Africa as well as Egypt and Sudan are the sunniest places. Not sure if sunny means too sunny though. Having had a terrible rainy day on Wednesday, being miserable, then a sunny day on Thursday, when does it stop and it is spring and summer again?? Or could we have it properly miserable for a few weeks, and how much does the weather affect our mood? I think it does and it isn’t helping to change from one day after another, particularly if you are ‘grounded’. Keeping up morale whilst wondering what is next and debating where to put the focus, I demand sunshine and happiness. Latter I get through the excitement of my children who just love having their nana around; the oldest started doing Sodukos and the youngest loves some puzzles. That’s what grannies are for, I remember mine used to show me all those cross words puzzles when I was younger.

But did you notice, back in the days we used to have a magazine from the butcher, one from the bakery and so on. They all had a cross word puzzle, and we could win something. A horoscope was in there and you read those every week. Even the pharmacist did have their own. I don’t think they exist anymore. The reason I am saying that is because I watched an article this week about the overflow of information. We had a lot of information in the days of no internet, now everything moves online and the amount of information to siev through to find the ones relevant to you is getting worse. Maybe soon every butcher, pharmacist etc. have an app for information? The people that are most active online and pushing themselves the most, are actually developing ADHD – attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder – and there is a new term about ‘developed ADHD’ as we are changing our nerual pathways based on the information we try to process at any one time. Overload!!! Scary.

I am watching this with great interest. The fear I have is that it happens to me or has already happened to me. No, it won’t have an impact on my performance, will it? Will it cause more stress or make me more productive even. I believe the latter to a point of inflection where we start getting less productive. So be aware of it and make sure you get enough rest, down time and off-line time. Like when you are very smart and at some point you are going crazy. That’s similar I suppose as you are at the point where the overload just gets too much. I won’t be that, LOL, maybe stark raving mad, but not crazy. Pending on my new position and whether I will have a work phone, which of course is unlikely but my reason to put it off, I might just get a cheap pay as you go phone which allows me to be ‘available’ yet disconnected.

The envy of others, the advertising in social media like Instagram and Facebook that makes us think that what others have needs to be owned by us. And that is true for most channels I suppose. With more exposure, more frequently, we are getting to the point of not being able to escape, process and actually understand what’s happening, and if we aren’t consciously aware of it, we might get sucked into it. Sometimes, despite being in the advertising industry, it feels like we need to press the pause or even the reset button. I tried to explain to my 9 year old what an algorithm is and how it works, data and AI (artificial intelligence) and how it can improve lives. We haven’t even touched on blockchain. I love technology and eventually I find my passion in one that makes our lives better. Watch this space.

Here is to another week.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Happiness, Success and Chemicals

This is a post about an article I read recently. This article was suggested to me by one of my podcast guests from Stories Of Success. Happy Valentines Day.

We talked on the podcast (release date tbc) about how success and happiness go together. There are a few chemicals that are actually responsible for happiness:

* Dopamine
* Serotonin
* Oxytocin
* Endorphins

The argument goes that when we are happy, this will result in us being more productive, motivated more and healthier. As a return of those impacts you could argue, that success is higher too. So the happier you are, the more successful you are. Is that conclusive? Maybe not, but that’s to be discussed on the podcast.

The article goes into depth of each neurochemical, but I wanted to summarise the main ones here for you:

* Dopamine motivates us to take action towards a goal. Low levels lead to procrastination and self-doubt. So whenever you achieve a goal, a todo and take it off your list, there is this little kick, the reward for having achieved something. Then on to the next one.

* Serotonin flows when we are feeling significant. One of the six human needs. Significance. The opposite is loneliness and depression. So if you don’t feel important just now, live through past experience. The brain doesn’t know if you visualise or your experience real. Quite a trick isn’t it? And sunlight helps too, 20 minutes a day which might be tricky if you live in the UK just now 😉

* Oxytocin creates intimacy, trust and healthy relationships. That will make you happy – orgasms will release those chemicals. It’s also called the ‘cuddle hormone’ and little (or big) gifts increase the level too.

* Endorphins – most of us would have heard of them. They are released in response to pain and stress to remove anxiety and depression. When you push yourself in the gym, have a ‘runners high’, that’s when your endorphins kick in. Laughter releases those chemicals too. And, the article suggest that the smell of vanilla and lavender (ever wonder why you love that smell) is linked to the production of endorphins too. Also dark chocolate and spicy food triggers those chemicals.

In conclusion, to release your happiness chemicals, just follow the list above: have sex, eat chocolate, tick things of your to-do list and make yourself feel important. Simple this happiness thing, isn’t it?

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Sunday Column (476)

We are getting closer to 500 Sunday Columns. That’s close to 520 weeks, which is close to….10 years Sunday Column blog posts. I love writing weekly, actually I journal daily and focus on what I like the best. I like to focus my energy on positive things and things I enjoy. As of my latest podcast, a healthy mind in a healthy body, positivity is key! See more below.

I have been asked in interviews what I have been doing since I left my last employer. Theoretically I just finished gardening leave. And I have discussed that with people too: looking for a job is a full time job. But me being me, I cannot just do that. I record podcasts, met coaches online, networking, speaking to people, advice companies and consult. I just said to my wife the other night, I am so super busy, what am I going to do when I actually get a full time job 🙂 And just on Friday I got another consulting work through, so yes, I am NOT sitting on the couch waiting for recruiters to call. I could wait a long time for that it seems at times.

When launching this week’s podcast, Pascal Finette, the downloads sky rocketed. An amazing guest and I want to have him back on my podcast. He is such an inspirational interview partner. As Pascal said, we are needing to focus on the bright spots in the world and the ones that drive us forward, not the black spots associated with failure. I am trying my hardest. I am entertaining, that’s how it seems, some opportunities for work, which I know will not result in bright spots, yet they keep up morale. And every opportunity is learning. For some I am too sales lead, for others I am too operational. You cannot win, no matter how much you explain what you have done, it comes down to personal connection and chemistry. I am doing well though, and I am sure things will work out in the end. They always will. It is an up and down, and I want to be honest, the market only picked up mid January, so all I am really looking at is 4 weeks of job hunt. I am doing well for that. Keep your fingers crossed. As above, it’s not that I am not busy.

This week, I heard a sad story from a friend of mine, which puts a job search into perspective. It puts life into perspective and sometimes makes your think why we doing what we are doing. Life ain’t fair, and sometimes it is hard to believe that things will happen for a reason. But they do and the dots will connect moving forward. Trust in the greater universe. But they might just not connect in the way you expect them to. Funny isn’t that? Actually on Saturday morning I had a thought whilst meditating that put life into perspective once again. About energy fields and love – that’s really what connects us humans, and some are better at that than others. I need to give it more thoughts but honestly, Jung’s theory around the collective unconsciousness makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe my next book will be more philosophical. What is life all about? Who determines ‘success in life’? I love that research and part of it is of course my podcast.

Whilst naturally my job hunt dominates my life, there is more to it. My boys and time spend with them. This weekend was my 7th year old’s birthday. Mighty proud he was, and should be. He is super sweet and I couldn’t cuddle him enough, the innocence and heart warming stories he tells me and the things we make up as we go along. Teaching him about life and watching him just now, this moment of writing, warming up in Karate. He has his whole life ahead of him, curious and driven to learn. It is the best thing in the world, no matter how tiring and annoying kids can be at times 😉

I remember as if it was yesterday that I was speaking to the nurse who delivered him. And whilst my wife was about to go into the delivery room, I was still on the phone with my former boss about priorities of hiring a Sales Director. Full on and committed in a start up. Only 7 years ago. I have done a fair share of ‘sleeping under the desk’ within a start up and sacrificing my family life for the sake of companies. And, I would do it again. Yet as I get older I wonder if it is too much to ask to just have a ‘normal job’, which I appreciate doesn’t really exist. What is normal these days. But I am drifting into work stories again. Also, I am not that old yet, and there is still a LOT of fire burning in my belly. One is for a job opportunity I am waiting to hear, which would allow me to do something I have done in the past, but this time I could apply a lot more learning and it would accelerate things. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there are other interesting opportunities I found out this week too. Sitting tight was the advice from a good friend and mentor this week.

It is funny how work is always a major part of ones life until work becomes something pleasurable to do and you hardly notice it. Not sure this make sense. And yet I wouldn’t do anything different if I had to start again. Or would I? My first podcast host mentioned that when you leave university, you should try to work for a big name in the industry. Funny that my first two jobs were with big names and I didn’t even plan it. It didn’t help so far. However, the dots will connect looking backwards. They will. I cannot wait to discover it all.

Anyway, a clip-and-climb afternoon at the local leisure centre followed by a night at the Indian. For someone who isn’t too keen on food, he loved the experience. But experience is all what it is about and that really means, and that means being around and spend time with your first priority. And that is always your family, the work life balance, the life balance, needs to be set right. I can do that. Never ever did I have so much time to focus on my most important things in life. I feel blessed, almost too blessed sometimes. I will look back in years to come to realise which opportunity I had. I might have missed some of it too. But I won’t know until I start looking back. Hindsight in life, isn’t it?

As of my meditation above, I thought of my grandparents this week. Partly because it was my dad’s birthday too, but also because Rohan asked me how my granddad died. And that’s when I remember sitting with my grandma, the summer of 2002, I just had lived a year in the UK, when I came back to my granddad’s funeral and an internship for the summer. I remember the emotions and love and discussions we had, sitting in the shade on their balcony. When you feel that deep connection with someone, this inner bond, the energy flow – that special feeling, then try to hold on to it. Be there in the moment and let go of everything else. It is called love. Don’t ignore it. There is nothing wrong with having bonds with people through positive energy.

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

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Success – Positive Giving

After interviewing a good friend and successful entrepreneur on my podcast Stories of Success, he sent me an article and a link to the positive encourager website, which I read with great interest.

Success, so far looking at only a few definitions from my podcast’s guests, has to do with encouraging people positively during our time on this planet. I phrase this a certain way on purpose, this is for the greater good of human kind, and NOT about short term financial gains. It’s about the great unconscious (Carl Jung) and the bigger picture.

It is about finding people’s strengths, develop practical strategies and achieve their picture of success. THEIR success, is what THEY want to achieve. To be loved, live in peace, achieve a career, or whatever it might be. The same, according to Mike Pegg, who is the man behind the positive encourager, can be applied to teams and organisations. So in that context, we are looking at superb work, forming good habits (see my book), to provide a good service, achieve goals, and finish those activities successfully?

As I go through Mike’s website, and I encourage you to do the same if you are interested, I find lots of material on positivity. It is a person’s choice to be positive, to create and take responsibility. As human beings we are in charge of our destination by making decisions, making choices between options.

Looking back at my experience, I have been looking to stay positive more than once in my career and life. When I started meditating, and letting go of situations I couldn’t influence, I learned to deal with situations differently. I was even told I come across of not caring, which isn’t true, but I am a lot more chilled out. Being able to prioritise your feelings and your reactions towards a situation is important in my mind. If you cannot change a situation, monitor it until you are able to make a positive difference.

The LOA (Law Of Attraction), which hasn’t yet been mentioned by any of my podcast guests, is about energy. The way I personally describe it is that you put a lot of positive energy and thoughts into something, and you get the same positive energy back; same of course with negative energy. So by wishing your competitor all the best and hoping the best for her, will in return win you a similar contract even if it isn’t this one. Patience is key to understand those principles and practising them continuously. You wouldn’t notice a difference with one thought only, so persistence is key too.

Following the positive path will lead to gratitude. Essentially this is what I described above. Also, from this path you gain more confidence as the world seems to conspire to help you. You will have more success on the back of being more positive. When writing this article I am looking at a few presentations from Mike Pegg which are published on his website.

Meditation not only allows me to choose when but also how to react to a situation. This is particularly important when you are in board meetings, heated discussions and deal with emotionally involved people. That’s when having a mind like water (David Allen’s expression of being able to have enough computing power in your brain), paired with experience and the ability to retain your thoughts, comes in handy. Self Awareness and Emotional Intelligence. Meditation taught me to let go, stop thinking and to not contribute to a discussion and wait until things sort themselves out naturally. It works, try it out!

On the topic of energy and heated discussions. How often do you find people that drain your energy? They talk about themselves, are selfish and don’t share the same positive attitude. Those people are challenging and don’t bring you forward. Try to help them bring themselves forward and if that doesn’t work, let them go. They shouldn’t be part of your life, should they? Make room, time and space for people that give you positive energy and provide you with fun, and enrich your life.

Following discussions and looking back at my NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) training many years ago, I was remember of the long term goal. Imagine you are on your death bed, looking back at your life, what would you have wanted to have achieve?

If you believe in Steve Jobs’ last workds or not, someone published them on Facebook as the following recently:

I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.
At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.
In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.
It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, he will give strength and light to go ahead.
Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.
What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.
You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.
Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.
Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbours.

Wow, wow, wow, which I thought were his last three words, but it tells you something. Even if it is a story that is partially true, the message is simple. Life isn’t about money but about having a positive impact. About sharing the love and enjoy every moment. It is about learning and love, success and fun at the same time. I encourage everyone to go through the exercise and decide what your life goals are. I am sometimes wondering if I have set mine, yet they are dynamic as we go along. The reason is simple, as I get older and wiser (I hope so anyway), I end up having a different focus and changing priorities. The sports car in my 40ies might be less important in my 60ies or 80ies, yet my health is much more important now than when I smoked like a chimney back at university.

People seem to forget that life is a journey and is changing. So is success as you start defining it differently as you grow older. Your life changes with life stages including marriage, kids, building a house, career progression and parents dying. The circle of life is ever present and influences your thoughts and objectives, definitions of life.

Coming back to Mike’s approach on positivity for a moment, he writes about vocation. What is your vocation and can you match your purpose in life with a job that matches it? What can make you really happy? What activity gives you this inner satisfaction? And if you cannot get it at work, where can you get it?

I am embarking on a journey where I started to examine my strengths. A mentor of mine, not the same that pointed me to Mike’s theory, coincidentally suggested to me a test to examine where my strengths lies and which ones I need to develop. Which are my weaknesses? I have done the test and loved the results. As we move along on the journey of life, I would love to offer this as a service to companies and individuals to understand their personal profile better, to understand which areas need to develop for them to achieve their individual success.

Once identified the strengths, find yourself some mentors. Jim Rohn said you are as good as the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are your 5? Which 5 people do you spend the most time with and which 5 people do you ask for advice. Find yourself some smarter, more experienced people who are willing to help you on your journey. Importantly, do the same for younger, less experience people. Give back what you receive, and close that energy loop!

I hope you took something out of this article, and please share it on other sites. This is an important milestone for me to bring a few thoughts together early from my podcast but also from discussions around my job search. I am not sure if this gets me closer to the meaning of life, but it shows the energy flow and the practises that work to put life in perspective, figuring out where you want to go and how you want to approach life. Isn’t it exciting to fail and adjust, to try and succeed, to make decisions and go along with things. Identify your strengths (contact me for details) and make yourself better, every single day.

Volker Ballueder

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Sunday Column (475)

I am pumped. Oh yes, my 2nd interview went live on the podcast and I have recorded 4 more this week. I am on fire. I am ready to ignite the space of success and already identified patterns of success. If you haven’t listened to any of my podcasts yet, head over to my website Stories of Success and register for updates.
It is so much fun and I am learning so much from speaking to successful people. I’d love to start writing a book and talk to people about it already but I want to do more interviews and understand the deeper meaning of ‘success’ before I consider anything else on the topic. I shall keep you posted and I hope you enjoy the podcasts; please let me know of any feedback and share my podcast, rate it and most of all, enjoy!

This week I interviewed four people for my podcast, and they were all different. All different good. Tell me who you think I should interview? Who do you think has an opinion on success and how it plans out? Which person inspires you?

Also this week I had a few interviews for jobs. One was outside the industry and it was different, as you don’t have the common ground. There was no chat about header bidding and supply path optimisation, name dropping or the common frustration of the state of the adtech industry. Yet GDPR affects us all. Again, and independent of the outcome, it was a great learning and a fantastic opportunity to meet a senior leader.
Other interviews were somewhat easier, as they were within the industry. Yet each interview comes with its own challenges. No matter what you prepare, there is a question you didn’t prepare, or you have to be careful how to phrase it. It is a full time job to prepare for them, do research and get feedback from current clients and industry peers. Again, great learning no matter the outcome, and as always I keep you posted. One thing to add is that when you get really nervous you starting to care – what I mean is that there are some interviews I just go in and have a chat, but the more nervous I get, the more I know it is the right step and I want the job. Does that make sense?

That covers two topics I spend a lot of time on: my podcast and my interviews. All in the name of finding a job, positioning and learning. The other time I spend is mainly with the family. As I get busier, I do less school runs, yet had the boys all Thursday afternoon, e.g. had to pick them up from school, take them to tennis etc. That is hard work, and doing it once in a while makes you really appreciate what my wife is doing every week. With her being at work more often now too, it is nice to be able to help and work around her schedule. If money was no objective, I could imagine doing that for a while, but the reason one goes stir crazy is not only because of ‘not having a job’, it is that feeling of ‘not adding value’ and ‘not contributing’. And that is not only true for myself but for the wife not working regularly either. Focus and balance is key, similar to when you are back at work. I cannot wait to go back to the next challenge in order to apply a lot of the learning from the past few years to it. And the learning from talking to very smart people on my podcast. Fingers crossed.

I am reflecting on the week before I send this off. Honestly, I believe things will change once I am back in full time work. Less over engineering, more living in the moment and going and investing things that matter to me. To be able to create an income with or without an employer in the future, the ability to survive and just make it work regardless of the state of the industry. There is a plan I am working on…

With those thoughts, I hope you have a great week ahead. In the spirit of my podcast, what is the one thing, the item on your priority A list, that you will tackle this week. Which frog are you going to swallow first?

Good luck,
Volker

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Sunday Column (474)

I thought I start differently this week. The weather: cold, yet warm. Sunny yet rainy. Lack of Vitamin D (supplements!) and it all seems slow. But, there is energy. Positivity. Fun times and conversation with people that make you rock. A hot chocolate with a neighbour who just gets it. A benchmark to mastering life and to understand I am not alone with the problems I face. The challenge with the kids to make their bed, wash their teeth, get dressed in the morning and eat breakfast. Being at home brings those things into focus. It is good to be home, and it has been a fun time, but it is time to go back and work, to contribute, to make a difference.

Anyway, next week Tuesday, my 2nd interview goes live on my podcast. I cannot wait. I got loads of feedback (shoutout to Debbie, Anna and Spencer) and the third episode will see some changes; from the 4th episode onwards the quality should improve. I am recording 4 (!) podcasts next week. So this week it is going to be a different angle on Stories of Success. Another great industry friend, a fun conversation about life. As I investigate jobs I think about what he said:

1. Can I make a difference to the job?
2. Can I learn something?
3. Is it going to be fun?

I found a few jobs where that is the case, e.g. where I can say YES to all of those questions. Some are more formal, some are more fun, and at some I will learn more, others I can make more of a difference. Weighting, values, priorities and what I learn more and more, there is an emphasis on meeting your manager early on. If the chemistry sucks, you are out. For both parties this makes a lot of sense.

However, the companies need to want me first. And I am not at the stage yet where that’s necessarily the case, and I update you as I go along. I am hopeful though, and everything else would be worrying. The pipe isn’t as big as it could be but things only started to pick up. When I first left my last job I had one verbal offer which turned into a ‘no more recruitment before Christmas’ and another where I lost against an internal candidate. Things happen for a reason and things will work out in the end. I am very positive about things and I am keen on moving on.

That’s my update. Or is it?

The most important part happened over the weekend. My youngest got a red belt in Karate. Only a few months in, he managed to get the first accreditation. He was chuffed and proud, and so should he be. And I am too. I am very pleased he enjoys it and keeps going at it.

We also saw my mate who recently had twins. It is somewhat weird to see these small babies. It is as if it never happened to us. It seems so long ago, I feel so old ;-( No, actually I don’t, but I am glad the days of nappies are over. It was a great afternoon with lots of industry friends.

Weekends can be super to chill, spend time with family and friends. That’s how it should be!

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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